Regardless of how close some place is, Panamanians like to drive, even if this means taking more time to get there or wasting gas or having potential problems finding a parking space. If you want to make a good first impression on Panamanians, it is recommended to suggest eating somewhere down the street (within view) and then open the door to your car and imply for them to get in. It is important that you not ask “do you want to walk or drive?” because in Panama, there is only one way to get short distances and that is in the car.
For many Panamanians, the love for driving short distances is eclipsed only by the choice, should they be confronted with it, to take taxis short distances. Were a Panamanian to be transplanted in Europe, he/she would surely receive crazy looks for, say, asking a taxi to drive 2 blocks. But in Panama, it is the reverse: the only crazy look comes from someone threatening to actually walk that far.
In some cultures, if someone on foot is to pass someone in a car due to traffic, it is looked upon as ironic or even comical. But Panamanians would only view this as a shame, seeing as though the guy walking doesn’t have access to air conditioning.