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WhyPanama
Costa del Este
Panama City, Panama 







Donna


Tom


Tom



More News -

December 2013

Christmas was excellent - we had some friends over for dinner and we were invited out to celebrate Noche Buena. We missed having Jose Luis and Sandra and we will miss Alan and Geri next year - but it is the one constant of life - "things change".

We talked with all our friends and family back in Canada - and other than the weather being ugly they all enjoyed their Christmas save one - Mardi - she had some surgery and is still recovering so she was house bound and you have to know my sister, being house bound is not her favourite thing.

Christmas in Panama City was its normal boisterous self with an almost New Years amount of fireworks on the 24th at midnight - we watched from Patricia and Mauricio's condo in the Pearl

This has been a year of meeting new people around Costa del Este and in the city. I've met a few new dive buddies and am looking forward to diving with them in January and throughout the year. Who knew at 58 I would discover diving. Just goes to show you can teach an old dog new tricks.

Our little one Cricket bopped Donna in the nose this week causing her to bleed for a very long time and now every time Donna bends down too much she starts all over again - what a pain but if that is all we have to complain about wow - seems pretty small compared to some of our friends.

We took a drive out to the causeway this morning with all three dogs - they all loved the new area and the new sniffs. This area continues to grow and evolve and is fun to visit but I am not sure I could live there - at least not until they get the 4 lanes in - it is so busy even on a Sunday morning at 7 am with walkers, bikers, and runners. We read in the Visitor that the new Gehry museum was open - sure didn't look like it to us as we drove by - some aspects seem "almost" done but lots don't even appear close.

We celebrated our 38th anniversary this week by going to 10 Bistro in the ManRey Hotel on calle Uruguay - see my review in the food section here - to say I was disappointed would be putting it mildly.

Before Alan & Geri leave we want to visit the sushi restaurant in the Waldorf Astoria hotel and a few other restaurants - maybe the new Sushi Ito here in Costa del Este.

If you are a Canadian thinking about Panama - email us - we're happy to try and answer your questions. We have nothing to sell nor do we make anything from any recommendations. We built this site to help other expats decide if Panama was the right choice for them. That is why it is called "Why Panama" meaning - why did we choose Panama versus some other area in the world.

You will find if you ask or read more on this site that we are realists (one of my friends Alan would argue - he'd say I am "the optimist") but we understand Panama is not perfect. After 8 years we are still thrilled with our choice to move to Panama but we still know this is not Canada in any way.

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Christmas is just 3 days away and this will be our 8th here in Panama - incredible how fast 8 years have gone. We've seen so many changes in our lives, business, family, friends, and Panama.

When we went for our walk this morning we were reflecting on how fortunate we are in so many ways - we love where we live - we both enjoy what we do, we have many great friends and we have our health.

When we bought our condo here in Costa del Este 8 years ago it was a relatively sleepy suburb - boy, not so today. It has grown - more like exploded. When we looked our balcony that Christmas we saw 8 apartment towers - now we see 30 apartment towers and 7 office towers - there are 11 more apartment and 2 office towers we can't see. And now they are building 2 shopping malls in addition to 4 or 5 strip malls.  Little did we know. But we still love our morning walks - everyday feels like walking in a warm climate on a holiday.

This time last Christmas we were really worried we were going to lose Cricket - our 15 year old little pup. But as things would turn out we've had another great year with her - everyday she is healthy and happy we count as a blessing.

When we moved into our condo we met two very special people - our neighbours Sandra and Jose Luis. They became very close to us very quickly. When they move to Argentina a year ago we felt a big loss in our lives. We did get a chance to visit them this October - Donna let me come on her tour to Buenos Aires and Mendoza - wow - was that incredible - good people, food and wine for almost 2 weeks. Our oldest and very close friends Wayne & Elaine from Canada joined us. We met Sandra & Jose Luis when we arrived and when we left - it was so good to see them again. This year on Christmas morning we will raise a mimosa to their friendship and health.

Here are two pictures of Donna & me and Wayne & Elaine in a restaurant in Buenos Aires - we will go back for sure - a great country.

And on another Christmas note here is what the Christmas spirit is all about. When a lady had a flat tire on the bridge next to our building not one, but 4 police came to her aid. Way to go guys and Merry Christmas.

We have always had an open house at Christmas and when we moved to Panama we kept that tradition alive but our neighbours in our building did not really "get it" so very few ever came to our condo - so we decided to make it a bit different this year - we invited everyone to a Band and BBQ. We had X'Ile the bank my dive master Rey Sanchez is in - they play 80's music. It was a hit - there were about 100 people all enjoying themselves. I guess we will repeat this next year. Here are just a few pictures.

Here is another look at Christmas in Panama - this is the house we are fortunate enough to rent near Portobelo - we are heading back out in January to enjoy a 3 day long weekend and I will get in 4 or 5 more dives with Rey and a few new friends we met recently that turns out are divers too :}

Merry Christmas from Donna, Cricket and me.

If you are a Canadian thinking about Panama - email us - we're happy to try and answer your questions. We have nothing to sell nor do we make anything from any recommendations. We built this site to help other expats decide if Panama was the right choice for them. That is why it is called "Why Panama" meaning - why did we choose Panama versus some other area in the world.

You will find if you ask or read more on this site that we are realists (one of my friends Alan would argue - he'd say I am "the optimist") but we understand Panama is not perfect. After 8 years we are still thrilled with our choice to move to Panama but we still know this is not Canada in any way.

 

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We visited our foster dogs today and they look so much better. The vet visited last week, removed the other ticks Donna could not get and gave them all some medication. Great to see them doing so well.

It seems official - our good friends will be moving from Costa del Este to somewhere near Boquete. I am happy for them as their condo sold in record time but I am sad we will not have their company except once in a while. This will be the second set of friends who have moved in a year. Things are different this year without Sandra & Jose Luis to see our other friends moving next year will be really odd at this time of year.

You know it is Christmas when - I just picked up our turkey :} or our friends in Canada call to see what the weather is like because they are snowed in and not liking it - or you go to the mall and it is jammed with people running around with bags - or you see the cars on the street with the reindeer antlers and Rudolph nose on the grill -- it used to be here in Costa del Este you knew it was Christmas because they installed lights on all the trees up and down our main street and it was really pretty at night - sadly that tradition is gone. But the others remain.

We broke down and bought a BBQ for our buildings social area - kind of tired of waiting for them to do something - a great deal at Novey and I am sure when we have our friends over we will use the barbie :}

I ran across another interesting site that has a lot of great information about Panama. It is called Panama for Real http://www.panamaforreal.com/ run by Chris Powers - it is a really interesting site in that Chris chronicles all sorts of stuff about Panama from first hand experience - he goes and does stuff and then writes about it. I've had fun reading some of his articles and I am sure you will too.

There are many good sites with information - be careful, remember there are some not so nice people in this world.

It is Christmas and it is that time of the year when we think about the less fortunate. Less fortunate families who need presents for their children or food for their table - and we help where we can in those areas but I want you to think of another thing you can do - help those who can't help themselves - I mean our four legged friends - dogs and cats that are living on the street either because their parents were strays and not neutered or spayed or abandoned by some person or family who no longer wanted them - here is just one example -

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/13/dog-trash-heap-miley_n_4441863.html

If you have even as little as 10 per month that can make the difference between Mari being able to give one more dog or cat a home - she has hundreds of abandoned dogs that no one wants to adopt - she cares for them, feeds them, gives them love and affection - she does this all without any salary - this is her passion - she gave up her career in law to run the shelter when it started to grow beyond a few dozen animals - now it is her full time passion -

Can you help - if so go to http://www.theyneedyourlove.org or to her facebook page called https://www.facebook.com/hogaralbergue.sanroque?fref=ts

Give once or give every month - please

If you are a Canadian thinking about Panama - email us - we're happy to try and answer your questions. We have nothing to sell nor do we make anything from any recommendations. We built this site to help other expats decide if Panama was the right choice for them. That is why it is called "Why Panama" meaning - why did we choose Panama versus some other area in the world.

You will find if you ask or read more on this site that we are realists (one of my friends Alan would argue - he'd say I am "the optimist") but we understand Panama is not perfect. After 7 years we are still thrilled with our choice to move to Panama but we still know this is not Canada in any way.

 

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The rainy season is almost over and we had a BBQ last night and expected rain the whole time and we were so blessed to have a gorgeous night. We  had our favorite band X'Ile - they were over the top - they played from 4 to 8 pm and even practiced two new songs for Donna from ABBA - how cool. If you ever want a live band who love to play the 80's - hire these guys - you will not regret it. We finally broke down and bought a BBQ to use on or social area. I think maybe it was the trip to Argentina and all the BBQ we enjoyed.

Our Canadian partners came down last week and we spent a good week with them - I think they really enjoy havng their own 3 bdrm condo versus staying in our guest room. We spent a week in strategy meetings for 2014 in our Cdn software firm and our Panamanian company that does services for Canada. Susan said how amazed she was at the expansion in Costa del Este and how the traffic pattern had exploded - we've seen this too but it is even crazier on the Corredor Sur - it can take 45m in to an hour to get to or from the airport in bumper to bumper traffic - even if the they expand the lanes - there are two now and people drive on the shoulder to make 3 and it still drags - I hope they make 4 each way and add at least 2 overpasses to Costa del Este - one can at least wish.

We went to visit our foster dogs today- Pastor and Pastorcita - they are looking really good but poor Pastorcita had so many ticks - Donna was really annoyed - we're going to have to have them checked out and we will need to talk to Chito about spraying more. One of the things you get used to here - the number of ticks and how vigilant you need to be. Tick fever is so hard on dogs and cats - virtually every dog or cat here has some brush with fever and it needs to be treated to ensure it doesn't cause long term harm.

It is hard to believe it is almost Christmasr. You would think that after 7 years we'd be used to the oddity of having 30 degree weather and Christmas but it is still odd to see Santa or Christmas trees on car roofs heading down the street.

I think I told you about Donna taking the repositioning cruise from Royal Carribean - the sad part is this is their last season in Panama - we've gone 8 times - one year two times - it is so convenient to just drive out to Colon and walk on board. In 2015 we will need to find another port to use for our annual cruise. If you can't tell - we're hooked on at least one cruise per year. It is such a good respite for Donna and I love the no brainer holiday it offers.

Almost every month we talk to some expat or North American considering Panama asking what it is really like to live in Panama and we try an answer as honestly as we can - we love Panama but we can see how it is not for everyone. For instance, we decided to get our Panamanian "cedula" or ID card and we've now been waiting since September - just something you need to get used to or you'd go crazy.

If you are a Canadian thinking about Panama - email us - we're happy to try and answer your questions. We have nothing to sell nor do we make anything from any recommendations. We built this site to help other expats decide if Panama was the right choice for them. That is why it is called "Why Panama" meaning - why did we choose Panama versus some other area in the world.

You will find if you ask or read more on this site that we are realists (one of my friends Alan would argue - he'd say I am "the optimist") but we understand Panama is not perfect. After 7 years we are still thrilled with our choice to move to Panama but we still know this is not Canada in any way.

 

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Again another 2 weeks have gone by without an update - incredible how the weeks go by.

We just got back from a long weekend in Portobelo - I had the chance to go diving both Friday and Saturday and get in 5 dives total. I met some nice people that joined us. Diving is like lots of other hobbies, you meet some nice people while enjoying your hobby :} We actually got to see a really cool turtle during one of our dived - he had to have a 3' ft shell - he didn't seem too concerned about us - he just moved on. We saw a ray and an eel - as well as some amazing tornados of small fish.

It is such a nice break to get out there and just relax. We feel very priviledged to have found this place.

Our good friends Alan & Geri have been looking for a place near Boquete for the climate and quieter life - they've been there a couple of times recently and came back last week to tell us they found a place an are moving soon. I am happy for them but sad we will be missing another couple we've enjoyed spending time with here in Costa del Este.

I spoke with Sandra last week - our neighbour who moved from here to Argentina - they found a condo and are feeling like kids again having to furnish an apartment. I am really happy for them - but sad as we miss them.

I went to Bon Vivant the other day to pick up the second batch of wine in the wine club - this time all the wines are from Mallorca -  a couple I knew - AN2 and Mas Sinen but the other 3 are new to me.

It is hard to believe it is almost December. You would think that after 7 years we'd be used to the oddity of having 30 degree weather and Christmas but it is still odd to see Santa or Christmas trees on car roofs heading down the street.

Donna got home last week from a 3 day cruise from Miami to Colon - it was Royal Caribbeans repositioning cruise - sad thought - after 7 years they've announced this is their last season running the cruise out of Colon - that will leave Pullmantur Cruise lines as the only option. Interesting that this line is owned by Royal Caribbean and the ship used out of Colon used to be a RC ship. We're not sure what we are going to do in 205 - maybe find a ship out of Miami and use if for shopping too.

Our partners are coming to visit again in December - it will be a great week as we have our buildings open house with a live band - the X'Iles - Rey and his crew do a phenomenal job on 80's music and promised to learn ABBA for Donna - should be a great night.

If you are a Canadian thinking about Panama - email us - we're happy to try and answer your questions. We have nothing to sell nor do we make anything from any recommendations. We built this site to help other expats decide if Panama was the right choice for them. That is why it is called "Why Panama" meaning - why did we choose Panama versus some other area in the world.

You will find if you ask or read more on this site that we are realists (one of my friends Alan would argue - he'd say I am "the optimist") but we understand Panama is not perfect. After 7 years we are still thrilled with our choice to move to Panama but we still know this is not Canada in any way.

 

 

November 2013

It's been two weeks again since I've done an update as we had so many guests visiting there never seemed to be any time to post an update.

Plus we've been having some very valuable lessons in employment contracts in Panama again. It seems in their zeal to protect employees, (and applaud that if it is sincere and done with the right motives) the Ministry of Labor only wants to work with their rules and not common sense. Too bad but we are here for a long time so we need to adjust.

Entertaining guests in Panama is always fun. We enjoyed some restaurants and some we tried were so so. I am pretty sure our guests enjoyed themselves, I know we had a good time with all.

I went diving again with Rey at Golden Frog - i am still not up to 50 dives but every dive is more comfortable than the last. I am looking forward to expanding my dive experiences with a dive or two in Coiba when I can find a group to go with next year. I am also looking forward to diving in Bonaire, Curacao and Aruba during our upcoming cruise. Do you know any divers looking to create a new group?

In Tom Brymers weekly email he included a link to a HD video of Panama - the only odd thing is they include a shot of pyramids - and I have no idea where this is supposed to be - check it out as the bulk of it is pretty good http://vimeo.com/69647182

When we visited Portobelo I was reminded of how sad I was when we saw it the first time - there is so much they could do with that site with all its history - imagine something like the sites where they reinact the various happenings like the pirate attacks, the gold that the Spanish removed and the workers in the area. Here is just one of the pictures from our visit.l

If you are a Canadian thinking about Panama - email us - we're happy to try and answer your questions. We have nothing to sell nor do we make anything from any recommendations. We built this site to help other expats decide if Panama was the right choice for them. That is why it is called "Why Panama" meaning - why did we choose Panama versus some other area in the world.

You will find if you ask or read more on this site that we are realists (one of my friends Alan would argue - he'd say I am "the optimist") but we understand Panama is not perfect. After 7 years we are still thrilled with our choice to move to Panama but we still know this is not Canada in any way.

 

 

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It's been two weeks since I've done an update as we were in Argentina. I was so pleased to be able to join Donna and her tour group (www.gardeningtours.com) as she took them from Buenos Aries to Mendoza to the Uco Valley. What an amazing tour. Buenos Aries surprised me with its size - over 13 million in the city area - 1/2 again bigger than New York. The most interesting thing to me was while it is a Latin American country and Spanish by birth the population is almost 1/2 Italian and it shows. The food - the bakeries - the culture - you can almost close your eyes and imagine Italy :}

The main street - the 9th of July is a massive street in the heart of the city - 9 lines each way plus bus lanes down the center - it is only 1km long but it is so impressive - it takes at least two lights to walk across all the lanes. There were so many things to see like the Tigre area and the Paran Delta. The four days we were in Buenos Aries was just not enough. We need to go back.

Then we flew to Mendoza - a city in the Province of Mendoza - a desert area - but a city with more trees than you could imagine and a park in the center of the city bigger than New York's Central park (almost 20% larger than Central Park) - imagine a city of 1.2 million having a park in the middle of a desert bigger than a city like New York with 8 million people. The most interesting thing is how they water this park and trees - they use an old Inca method of small canals to use the snow run off of the Andes through the entire city.

Our last stop was the Uco Valley near Mendoza - the Napa Valley of Argentina - wow - I've never eaten more food or drunk more wine in such a short period of time - no one forced me but there were so many wineries to visit and so little time :} We need to go back in their fall to see the Uco Valley in full grape harvest mode.
 

We're back home and happy to be home. Panama may not have all of what Buenos Aries has but we were still happy to be home especially the more stable economic base in Panama. No currency issues - no currency black market.

My sisters and business partner went home yesterday and today - and it was sad to see them go. I really wanted to spend more time with them - hopefully they will be back again for a visit while we are here and not to just look after Cricket while we are away.

Our other friends from Alberta came back from Buenos Aires yesterday and will spend a couple weeks with us and so that is fun.

We also have one of our other partners coming with his wife next week - so busy few weeks but I enjoy having them here.

Our business is starting to heat up as it does every fall - and I am looking forward to moving into a brand new market - Latin America - I had the privilege to speak to a group of business men and women in Buenos Aires - it was interesting not only doing a Spanish speech but also a Q&A in Spanish :} - certainly not my strength.


If you are a Canadian thinking about Panama - email us
- we're happy to try and answer your questions. We have nothing to sell nor do we make anything from any recommendations. We built this site to help other expats decide if Panama was the right choice for them. That is why it is called "Why Panama" meaning - why did we choose Panama versus some other area in the world.

You will find if you ask or read more on this site that we are realists (one of my friends Alan would argue - he'd say I am "the optimist") but we understand Panama is not perfect. After 7 years we are still thrilled with our choice to move to Panama but we still know this is not Canada in any way.

 

October 2013

My business partner from Canada came and went this week after visiting Medellin with his friends. Even though it was a short visit it was good to catch up face to face.

My sisters from Vancouver Island arrived Saturday night. They are here to house sit and look after Cricket while we are in Argentina.  I can't wait to see our neighbours Sandra and Jose Luis. They moved from our building across the hall from us last December and they were such great neighbours we decided we didn't want to ever try and replace them :}

Ted is coming back down in a a week or so for at least 2 weeks to look after the office for me - it will be a good time for the staff and him.

I've been back looking for a buyer or renter for Ocean 2 - so if you know someone who wants to live in undoubtedly the best area of Panama City they want to live in one of the most sought after buildings in a 4-5 bedroom unit have them contact me.

Check out a couple of new reports on Panama - one done by Kent Davis of Panama Equity http://www.panamaequity.com Kent is a very progressive businessman - hoping to bring Panama into the 21st century in real estate.

The other report on Panama came from Bob Adam of Retirement Wave. http://www.retirementwave.com Bob has lived here for years and has a very well grounded insight into Panama, where it has come from and where it is going. If you haven't followed both - sign up for his newsletter - you will not regret it.

We went to Os Segrado de Carne again on Frederico Boyd on Friday night - we love the place and the food but you have to work up to it - there is so much food and its all great.

I likely won't be updating for a couple of weeks while we are in Argentina - I can just imagine how much we are going to be doing. Our oldest friends Wayne and Elaine are meeting us in Buenos Aires - so it will be a great time - busy but great.

If you are a Canadian thinking about Panama - email us - we're happy to try and answer your questions. We have nothing to sell nor do we make anything from any recommendations. We built this site to help other expats decide if Panama was the right choice for them. That is why it is called "Why Panama" meaning - why did we choose Panama versus some other area in the world.

You will find if you ask or read more on this site that we are realists (one of my friends Alan would argue - he'd say I am "the optimist") but we understand Panama is not perfect. After 7 years we are still thrilled with our choice to move to Panama but we still know this is not Canada in any way.

 

September 2013

Donna returns from Australia tomorrow - and that's her last big trip without me for the year - :} She sounds tired but I think she was really impressed with Sydney and Melbourne as well as Tasmania - who knew what a little island at almost same latitude as Portland could be so pretty. Knowing her she will tons of pictures for me to work on so keep an eye out for them on her www.icangarden.com/picttour.cfm site - there are already thousands and thousands of pictures of her travels - and if you are considering visiting a country or area and wonder what gardens are near check our her interactive map of the world with almost 1000 of the worlds best gardens - www.icangarden.com/garden.cfm

It's funny when I read the article on the US government committing to remove its unexploded ordinances in Panama my first thought wasn't "how great" or "finally they are getting around to cleaning up their mess" - it was "I wonder what politically connected wealthy Panamanian decided they finally wanted to develop that area of the Caribbean" - I wonder if that means it takes 7 years to become cynical :} ?? - It will still end up being a good thing as that area of the Caribbean is really pretty and more people should enjoy its beauty.

Its election year next year and the promises have started - One of the candidates promises to increase the size of the port at Isla Colon, Bocas del Toro - and add a cruise ship port. I always wondered why Panama with one of the wonders of the modern world at their disposal and with all the cruise ship transiting the canal the port (singular) was so poor. I say it's about time they made a huge port in Amador and Boca and make the one in Colon more inviting.

I've gripped in the past about the police and their lack of enforcing the existing laws - well I heard they were actually beginning to tow illegally parked cars and fining pedestrians not using the overpasses. I doubt we will see the police in Costa del Este removing illegally parked cars - there is too high a risk of them removing the wrong one owned by someone who might be too well placed. I was driving by the school here the other day where dozens of cars were parked on a yellow curb and right beside me driving by the same thing was a police truck. Guaranteed if I'd tried to cross the double line I would have been stopped - but he drove right by the illegally parked cars.

I mentioned last week I was going to make chewy brownies - hah - not so - not even close - they were so dry - but I believe the fault was mine not the recipe - so I will try again and just be more careful with our convection oven - it cooks way too fast :}

Another week and my sisters will be here to visit. I asked for their passports so i could arrange the VIP pick up at the gate at Tocumen for them (it's a great service if you've never used it for an arriving guest) I am sure glad I did - turns out one of the passport was due to expire in November - and I am sure she would have had some grief either leaving Canada or arriving in Panama. All is well - she has a new one coming Wednesday.

On a completely different note - our little software business we started in 1999 has now grown to #3 in North America in our market - (mind you there is a huge gap between us and #2 but I am still thrilled.) I believe our success can be attributed to our willingness to work harder. I was reading an article on Inc.com by Jeff Harden where he said one of the traits of the successful it to go the extra mile. He went on to say that most people never try to get there and when they do they don't like being alone so they don't come back :} (paraphrased) our company loves going the extra mile and surprising our clients in a pleasant way.

As a result of our move to Panama almost 7 years ago we now have an opportunity offered to us in Latin America - who would have known. We never dreamt of a Spanish market - but we have the resources and we have the will - so I say "let's do it" I get to present to a Spanish audience (in Spanish) in a couple of weeks. I am really excited. Our competitor is like a Goliath - but hey we know how that story turned out :"}

If you are a Canadian thinking about Panama - email us - we're happy to try and answer your questions. We have nothing to sell nor do we make anything from any recommendations. We built this site to help other expats decide if Panama was the right choice for them. That is why it is called "Why Panama" meaning - why did we choose Panama versus some other area in the world.

You will find if you ask or read more on this site that we are realists (one of my friends Alan would argue - he'd say I am "the optimist") but we understand Panama is not perfect. After 7 years we are still thrilled with our choice to move to Panama but we still know this is not Canada in any way.

 

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I decided in the spirit of Crickets birthday I would make this weeks update short and all positive.


 

 

Our little 15 year old Bichon Shitsu "pup" is 15 years old today. She came into our lives 13 years ago - we had decided after the passing of our 2 previous dogs we would have no more - until Cricket came along. She has an attitude for sure - (but then so do I so who am I to throw stones) - she has brought so much love and joy into our lives in the past 13 years. Last Christmas we thought we were losing her - every day was a challenge and we prepared for the worst. She came through what ever it was and we are so thankful for every day.

We now take her for a car ride in the morning and afternoon as she seems to look forward to that so much more than a mere walk. Her walk part of the trip has become a lot shorter over the years but we still enjoy the time together.

Here are just a few pictures of her favorite time of the day - going for a car ride.

This past week she had her two best friends over for a full week sleep over - these are the two pups of our friends Alan & Geri. They went to the interior for a week so we looked after Lucky and Sheeba. Lucky is a 3 year old male Papillon - Cricket loves him and treats him like her "toy boy". Sheeba is a 2 year old female Shitsu Poodle cross.

It is so funny to watch as Lucky is extremely hyper when it comes to anything unusual - sounds, vibrations - anything - when it's really important so how he alerts Sheeba who joins in the alert and that sparks Cricket - what a hoot to see and hear all three tearing around the condo - I get the feeling Cricket really doesn't know what is going on but wants to be part of the ruckus. I always remember a really cool old friend of the family Miss Sanders - if she was a dog she'd have been right in there like Cricket.

We don't how much time we have with Cricket but that doesn't matter - we love her every day and cherish every day. May she live happily and healthy to 20 :}

Normally I tell you every week about people wanting to drop off dogs at the shelter - an added burden to Mari even though I know that is not how she sees them.

This was different - we had two pieces of great news - first a really great friend of the shelter by the name of Ida stepped up with a really generous donation. This donation will allow Mari to do some of the things in the shelter she was not sure she'd ever get done and she will be able to have the vet do so many more vaccinations then she thought possible. It really makes your week when you run across someone like Ida who doesn't know Mari or the shelter - but she saw a need and she helped fulfill that need. I've never met Ida - I have spoken to her via email a number of times over the past few years and she has always been faithful in her giving but this was over and above - thanks Ida - the pups thank you and I know Mari is overwhelmed.

The other was a fellow who just moved to Panama and wants a new best friend and instead of buying  dog he decided to contact the shelter and let Mari help find him a new best friend. No matter which one he chooses I am sure they will both have a great life together - thanks.

very week I hear from someone asking about taking a dog or cat to Mari's shelter - but rarely do any offer to help financially - some of our friends in Canada are faithful in their monthly donations - and we try and match all the donations so they go further for Mari and the shelter - if each person we knew that loved dogs or were pained by their plight gave just 5-10 per month Mari could do so much more.

Do you have $10 you can spare - $10 once a month would go a long way to help feed and keep an unwanted dog safe in a shelter. You can either contact Mari directly using her facebook page Hogar San Roque or you can go to the page we built to help www.theyneedyourlove.org

I love SpayPanamas new slogan - It's Hip to Snip

Other good news - the other condo is almost done with the painting and repairs - not too soon either as Ted will be here in a week and then my two sisters - it is going to be a busy 4 weeks but I am really looking forward to it.

Donna is in Australia this week - she just got back from Singapore to spend a week with us - then off to Australia - I spoke with her this morning and she is really enjoying seeing Sydney - tomorrow Canberra then off to Melbourne and then Tasmania. How cool.

I am going to make some chewy brownies today - just because - I know I can do without the calories but I said this was only a good news week - so what the heck.

I can only wish for more weeks like this - it really does lift your heart. 

If you are a Canadian thinking about Panama - email us - we're happy to try and answer your questions. We have nothing to sell nor do we make anything from any recommendations. We built this site to help other expats decide if Panama was the right choice for them. That is why it is called "Why Panama" meaning - why did we choose Panama versus some other area in the world.

You will find if you ask or read more on this site that we are realists (one of my friends Alan would argue - he'd say I am "the optimist") but we understand Panama is not perfect. After 7 years we are still thrilled with our choice to move to Panama but we still know this is not Canada in any way.

 

 

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Living in Panama brings its own set of issues. Every week we are reminded we are not in Canada any longer. Some of these things can be very positive - like the weather and cost of living - but others can be down right annoying. Some are just cultural things. My friend Alan keeps reminding me that I should be looking to lessen my aggravation levels - maybe some day I will learn how :}

Donna returned from Singapore this past week and she brought a number of newspapers and stories of Singapore. She loved the country. Clean, safe, green, and full of friendly people. The cost of living though is incredible. One fellow she met works in the tourism industry and would be in upper management. He loves his wine and cigars apparently but the cost per month for this enjoyment runs him 1000 SGD (about 780 USD) I was thinking about how I enjoy my wine too but I'd have to drink a 25 bottle of wine every day - and even if I drink a bottle a day (which I don't) I typically spend under 12 per bottle to have a really nice wine. Cars in Singapore are even crazier - there they want to limit the number of vehicles as it is an island and has limited space - so while there over 5 million people they just hit 1 million vehicles - the reason is the fees - a luxury car can cost as much as an additional 78,000 usd to register - beyond the cost of the car, the taxes (41%) and the duties -  - I saw an add for a BMW M6 series - 600,000 SGD or 468,000 usd - yikes - no wonder Donna never saw an old car - only the well off can afford that luxury. And homes/condos are just as crazy - a small 2 bdrm can run almost 750,000 usd - not a likely spot for retiring Expats :}

We went to visit our foster dogs - Pastor and Pastorcita today - we enjoy taking them some treats every time - Donna thinks they only look forward to the food - I think they enjoy our company too. One of the things Donna now makes them is a bag of frozen chicken broth that we break into small chunks - all three go absolutely nuts over this treat - like a popsicle to us on a hot day. Check them out chewing these treats.

I told you a few weeks ago about the governments decision to jack up the taxes on properties in areas like Costa del Este - we asked our lawyer the cost to fight it - 1200 - with no guarantee it would even help - so we decided there was not to bother. I guess that was their idea making it impossible to fight as a group.

There is no question the rainy season is still with us - some of the lightning storms have been incredible - if it wasn't for how bent out of shape Cricket gets with this kind of storm it would  be great entertainment.

If you are a Canadian thinking about Panama - email us - we're happy to try and answer your questions. We have nothing to sell nor do we make anything from any recommendations. We built this site to help other expats decide if Panama was the right choice for them. That is why it is called "Why Panama" meaning - why did we choose Panama versus some other area in the world.

You will find if you ask or read more on this site that we are realists (one of my friends Alan would argue - he'd say I am "the optimist") but we understand Panama is not perfect. After 7 years we are still thrilled with our choice to move to Panama but we still know this is not Canada in any way.

If you are considering becoming an expat for the first time there are lots of things you need to consider before you decide to move permanently. It is not all about economics although that is normally a huge factor for people deciding to leave their home country in search of a better place to retire. It's interesting how the North American market has gravitated to the Central and South American locations. Places like Panama, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Mexico are amongst the top destinations. Not so for Europeans or British expats. In some respects they are much more adventurous. A number of the English look to old colonies as a location - places like Malaysia, India or the Fijian area. Others choose places like Thailand or now even Vietnam.

Culture, location, temperature, language all play a part in deciding where to start looking. There are hundreds of expat sites on the Internet - the downside is it can be tough to sort out the "chaff" from the "wheat" - there are so many sites there to simply sell something or are out of date.

Every week I hear from someone asking about taking a dog or cat to Mari's shelter - but rarely do any offer to help financially - some of our friends in Canada are faithful in their monthly donations - and we try and match all the donations so they go further for Mari and the shelter - if each person we knew that loved dogs or were pained by their plight gave just 5-10 per month Mari could do so much more.

Do you have $10 you can spare - $10 once a month would go a long way to help feed and keep an unwanted dog safe in a shelter. You can either contact Mari directly using her facebook page Hogar San Roque or you can go to the page we built to help www.theyneedyourlove.org

I love SpayPanamas new slogan - It's Hip to Snip

 

----------------

If you are a Canadian thinking about Panama - email us - we're happy to try and answer your questions. We have nothing to sell nor do we make anything from any recommendations. We built this site to help other expats decide if Panama was the right choice for them. That is why it is called "Why Panama" meaning - why did we choose Panama versus some other area in the world.

You will find if you ask or read more on this site that we are realists (one of my friends Alan would argue - he'd say I am "the optimist") but we understand Panama is not perfect. After 7 years we are still thrilled with our choice to move to Panama but we still know this is not Canada in any way.

If you are considering becoming an expat for the first time there are lots of things you need to consider before you decide to move permanently. It is not all about economics although that is normally a huge factor for people deciding to leave their home country in search of a better place to retire. It's interesting how the North American market has gravitated to the Central and South American locations. Places like Panama, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Mexico are amongst the top destinations. Not so for Europeans or British expats. In some respects they are much more adventurous. A number of the English look to old colonies as a location - places like Malaysia, India or the Fijian area. Others choose places like Thailand or now even Vietnam.

Culture, location, temperature, language all play a part in deciding where to start looking. There are hundreds of expat sites on the Internet - the downside is it can be tough to sort out the "chaff" from the "wheat" - there are so many sites there to simply sell something or are out of date.

Within Panama it can be difficult to decide where to settle down. There are a variety of options all perfect if they are what you are looking for - from the city with its variety and hustle and bustle to the tranquility of a Caribbean beach house near Portobelo. From the high country in Boquete or Vocan to the less travelled beaches near David to totally unspoiled areas in the Azuero peninsula. Each have different climates - temperature, humidity and winds to different social economic feelings. I was chatting with one couple by email who are in the process of trying to decide where in the world to settle down and their idea is to live in as many as possible for 3-4 months to really get a feel for the country and its culture. How cool.

Donna is away this week in Singapore - if you don'f follow her on Facebook you should just for her travels and her pictures. She got to sit in the pilots seat of the new Dreamliner 787 - how cool - the cockpit and instruments were amazing. She also takes phenomenal pictures of plant material and food - every where she goes she brings back thousands of pictures. We've been posting her travels and her pictures for more than 15 years on www.icangarden.com - check out the pictures section.

While she was away I decided to make another massive pot of paella and more chocolate chip cookies - I've never been a cookie or cake baker - always bread but my mom used to love her sweets. And it would have been her 100th birthday this last week if she was still with us  - still miss you mom - you were so good to us as we grew up - too bad I never told you that often.

It's a week for birthdays it seems as it is our little Crickets 15th this week - feliz cumpeanos little one - I hope you are with us for many more.

We decided to try Chinni Chinni on via Porras last night as we'd read that is was - read the rest in "food" here.

I updated the monthly pictures we do from our balcony - we've been taking the same 3 pictures every month for 7 years. The changes just from our window is amazing. From the proliferation of new towers (from 5 you can see in 2006 to the almost 30 you can see now) to the changes in the height of the trees. We are on the 7th floor and our original view 7 years ago was much less obstructed. - check out the monthly pictures here.

Every week I hear from someone asking about taking a dog or cat to Mari's shelter - but rarely do any offer to help financially - some of our friends in Canada are faithful in their monthly donations - and we try and match all the donations so they go further for Mari and the shelter - if each person we knew that loved dogs or were pained by their plight gave just 5-10 per month Mari could do so much more.

Do you have $10 you can spare - $10 once a month would go a long way to help feed and keep an unwanted dog safe in a shelter. You can either contact Mari directly using her facebook page Hogar San Roque or you can go to the page we built to help www.theyneedyourlove.org

I love SpayPanamas new slogan - It's Hip to Snip

 

August 2013

If you are a Canadian thinking about Panama - email us - we're happy to try and answer your questions. We have nothing to sell nor do we make anything from any recommendations. We built this site to help other expats decide if Panama was the right choice for them. That is why it is called "Why Panama" meaning - why did we choose Panama versus some other area in the world.

You will find if you ask or read more on this site that we are realists (one of my friends Alan would argue - he'd say I am "the optimist") but we understand Panama is not perfect. After 7 years we are still thrilled with our choice to move to Panama but we still know this is not Canada in any way.

For instance this past week we were informed by our lawyers that our condo was reassessed by the Ministry of Finance and they have decided that our condo has jumped in value more than 50% in less than 4 years. And our land tax will reflect this new value - we can appeal but no one can tell us how long and how much this will be and what chance of success we might have so we are trying to decide whether to fight it or not. And how would we have known about this new reassessment - apparently they announced our condo was subject to this in a newspaper announcement. Imagine your local municipality changing the mil rate you pay on taxes by almost 50%. We asked if we should band together with our other condo owners and we were told "no, each condo has to fight their own battle - MEF will not accept group appeals". How nice for the lawyers.

This is the kind of thing that drives Donna and me wild. I have other examples with out employees - - turns out it is not up to the employer to decide if they want to fire an employee it's up to the Ministry of Labour to decide if they will permit you to fire the employee - even with penalties they can simply deny your "request" to fire an employee.  And finally one more example. If someone has a financial dispute with you and they know where you live or the bank account you operate, they can petition a judge to sequester your account or put a lien on your property without ever having to win a court case. They just need to ask. And if you want to hear some horror stories ask a lawyer what it is like to get the same judge to remove the sequester or lien even if you can prove that you have "settled" the problem.

That is why I say at the outset - email us - we're happy to help.

On a lighter note - I talked to Rey about doing dive vacations around Panama - arranging days or weeks from Portobelo to the edge of San Blas to Bocas on the Caribbean side to the Pearl Islands and Coiba on the Pacific side. I've talked up Coiba to a few acquaintances and I think there could be 5 or 6 people without too much problem. I am sure if we got the details together we could end up with at least 10 to make it more affordable. Are you a diver? Are you interested in getting to know other divers who are about the same level of expertise and managed by the best dive master in Panama. Email me - tomd@whypanama.net

I got Tom Brymer's weekly email and he had the chance to try out the new sail boat sailing near Coiba. I remember reading about this couple who brought the boat over from Turkey - an 80 footer. They are doing upper end sailing with only 6 guests - 4 star food and wine and as few as 3 day sailings being offered. Because it is near Coiba I think this is something we just have to do. All I need to do is convince 2 more couple who want to sail and dive to enjoy this trip. The site is http://www.sailing-albatros-feliz.com/

For almost 7 years I have bemoaned the fact that the beef here was horrible to be kind :} - Tasty but tough. And to tenderize it I have found you lost the great taste of a steak. Also, if you go to Riba or any other market and look at the meat market the first thing you will notice will be the lack of fat or marbling in the meat. Everything is just lean meat. Cut thin it's fine. Thicker - not so.

So hooray - Donna and I stopped in to the a meat shop on Calle 50 called Pretelt - wow - the first thing I noticed right away was a huge rib roast - my mouth watered. I asked right away if this was fresh or previously frozen. "Fresh". We decided to buy one Ribeye steak and try it. We had it Saturday night - it was tender, juicy, and very, very tasty. Now I can't wait to buy a Prime Rib Roast. The other good news is they have now opened a new shop in Costa del Este - how great. Check out their web site www.pretelt-meats.com I am going to send them an email this week to see if they take orders for specific cuts and if so how long. Be prepared this is not inexpensive meat. It is definitely high end. But for Donna and me it's great as we don't eat a lot of red meat but when we do we want something we enjoy.

Mari sent me numerous pictures this week of pups she is looking to try and have adopted.

Thanks so much to Ida - what a great surprise to get her generous gift this week - Mari really needed it.

Every week I hear from someone asking about taking a dog or cat to Mari's shelter - but rarely do any offer to help financially - some of our friends in Canada are faithful in their monthly donations - and we try and match all the donations so they go further for Mari and the shelter - if each person we knew that loved dogs or were pained by their plight gave just 5-10 per month Mari could do so much more.

Do you have $10 you can spare - $10 once a month would go a long way to help feed and keep an unwanted dog safe in a shelter. You can either contact Mari directly using her facebook page Hogar San Roque or you can go to the page we built to help www.theyneedyourlove.org

I love SpayPanamas new slogan - It's Hip to Snip

 

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Panama goes through a presidential election next year. This will be our second since we arrived in Panama. The last election was interesting as one party seemed to have the lock on the election as it had the largest membership of registered voters but part way into the election one party suggested 3 parties pool their resources, agree on one presidential candidate. The long and short they won. Not without some post election issues trying to work together. Most people have a problem sharing the sand box - imagine dozens of politicians :}. After almost 5 years, the current president seems to have struck a cord with the country. Apparently the bulk of Panamanians agree that there has been more done in 4 years than in the previous 40. So the experiment may have worked after all. It will be interesting to see what the next 5 years bring. At a minimum we will see the opening of the Metro, the new lane of the Canal, the new storm and sewage system, the completion of the Cinta Costera, a new bridge over the canal, and road works all over the country too numerous to mention.

No matter where you live unless you are a world traveler you have a narrow view of your country and world. My friend Alan sent me a link to a series of maps put together by www.TwistedSifter.com  that help open your vision of the world. Check it out at here. Warning - once you start looking at this site you can spend hours - some of the pictures are just incredible and they just go on and on - thanks Alan - I think :} I spent way too long this morning going from picture to picture as the next one looked so cool it was hard to stop.

We went to the Caribbean this weekend to the beach house we rent near Portobelo. Despite some rain it was great. Went diving again with Rey from www.goldenfrogscuba.com - the water was odd in that some areas were very clear and another area so silty the visibility might have been 20 feet. I still had a great time. We saw 3-4 foot barracuda patrolling around us to make sure we didn't intrude on his territory. I bagged my first lobster all by myself. There were actually two in one small area and I initially thought I'd be greedy and try for both but then I decided to go for one. Lucky I did as that one took all I could do to get him and hold him. Rey wasn't so lucky with his - it was smaller and it bolted from his hand in an instant. I decided not to take mine home, I gave it to Rey to take home for Dawn and the girls - I am sure they would enjoy it - and we had our dinner planned already.

I talked to Rey about doing dive vacations around Panama - arranging days or weeks from Portobelo to the edge of San Blas to Bocas on the Caribbean side to the Pearl Islands and Coiba on the Pacific side. I've talked up Coiba to a few acquaintances and I think there could be 5 or 6 people without too much problem. I am sure if we got the details together we could end up with at least 10 to make it more affordable. Are you a diver? Are you interested in getting to know other divers who are about the same level of expertise and managed by the best dive master in Panama. Email me - tomd@whypanama.net

This time of year back in Alberta, Canada we'd be resigning ourselves to the fact that summer is almost over. The summer in Alberta is so incredible - the daylight hours expand to sunrise occurring at 4 am and sunset as late as 10:30 pm. The days are temperate and shirt sleeve all time. Periodically it would jump to hot (30 degrees C) and sleeping was tough (no AC). Funny looking back when most nights now are 25-27 and we don't use AC. The end of August heralded an annual ritual. Every year at the first weekend of September we would be attending Symphony under the Sky in Hawrelak Park knowing that in less than month we'd be seeing the temperatures drop and the onset of snow. Fall was always really pretty and some of the best days but it was bitter sweet too. In contrast, we love the fact that every month the weather is essentially the same - our only decision is do we want to go the beach again. Mind you this last week in Panama City we had a mountain of rain. When we headed out to the beach it was raining so hard you could not see the freeway. But it rarely rains more than an hour or two without letting up.

I've said on many occasions we feel blessed to live and work in Panama. To us as Canadians the biggest thing is the lack of taxation. Compared to our American friends it is hard to believe what the simple difference makes. For the most part if you compared Canadians and Americans you would find more similarities than differences on the surface - we eat the same type of food, watch the same type of TV and movies, drive the same cars, but our underlying backgrounds make for some huge differences. Canadians are always being described as "those friendly people" or "those people that apologize all the time". Our governments too are so different - parliamentary to republic - Prime Minister versus President. Doesn't sound like much but when you talk to Americans or Canadians it is generally pretty easy to pick one out from another. (Panama is similar to the USA in its Republic form of government - understandably when you consider the history.

We are off to the Ancon theatre this week to see th new comedy - Deep Fried Comedy - we haven't been for a couple of years. I am sure it will be a fun night.

Every week I hear from someone asking about taking a dog or cat to Mari's shelter - but rarely do any offer to help financially - some of our friends in Canada are faithful in their monthly donations - and we try and match all the donations so they go further for Mari and the shelter - if each person we knew that loved dogs or were pained by their plight gave just 5-10 per month Mari could do so much more.

Do you have $10 you can spare - $10 once a month would go a long way to help feed and keep an unwanted dog safe in a shelter. You can either contact Mari directly using her facebook page Hogar San Roque or you can go to the page we built to help www.theyneedyourlove.org

I love SpayPanamas new slogan - It's Hip to Snip

If you are a Canadian thinking about Panama - email us - we're happy to try and answer your questions. We have nothing to sell nor do we make anything from any recommendations. We built this site to help other expats decide if Panama was the right choice for them. That is why it is called "Why Panama" meaning - why did we choose Panama versus some other area in the world.

 

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I think the knee is almost back to normal - I will know more when I go for my final check up with Dr. Saldana next week. I am also excited that I will get a copy of the knee surgery video he does for all his surgeries. How cool - I get to see the inside of my knee while he worked on it.

I understand we are a part of something called "binge watching" - because we gave up cable years ago and we use the Internet for all our TV needs - and Netflix offers entire series of shows - like 24. We never watched 24 when it was on TV but now we can start with episode 1 season 1 through all 8 seasons with no waiting for a new season to arrive. I may even go back and watch Star Trek - I already watched the entire series X-Files - and I never realized how many episodes I never saw. We get to watch Netflix US because our Internet provider - Panetma ensures our IP for Netflix shows up as US not Central America. It's kind of funny when we to to the beach and look up Netflix - everything is Spanish as we are not on Panetma.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago about another online TV option called watch-tvseries - pretty cool - and the savings on cable is at least 80 per month.

A lot of discussion the expat forums again this week about "where is the best place to live in Panama"? It's almost humorous - like asking someone in Chicago or Vancouver - "do you know my friend Ralph Smith - he lives there too". Panama is a myriad of different environments. I said this before but it bears repeating - Panama has everything from island living (ala Bocas del Toro) to high mountainous expat full towns like Boquete to almost uninhabited beaches on Costa Abajo to well developed, high rise condo on the beach - Coronado to the two main cities - David - close to Costa Rica and the main city Panama City.

Donna starts her travels again soon - she has been home for almost 2 full months - it's been such a treat - I am sure she is getting a little cabin fever but that will change as she is off to Singapore then Australia and then Miami - all before October - then we get to to go together to Argentina - I can't wait.

Panama continues to announce new projects that will change the future of Panama - two more Metro lines to reduce traffic jams, to a brand new road on Costa Arriba that will link to a brand new Decameron resort (the first sizable resort on the Caribbean coast). I have no idea what the Decameron is planning - I hope they decide to do something different and in keeping with the culture and pristine nature of the Caribbean compared to the over developed Pacific coast. This new road and development will open the Caribbean coast to so many more people that have never ventured "out there". As I've said many times in the past there is a racial and cultural bias against the Caribbean. Historically it has been the "dark coast - costa oscuro". This feeling goes all the way back to the 1500's when the Caribbean side, Portobelo, was the working port to send the gold and silver back to Spain and was worked by imported black slaves and local indians.

I've been talking to my friend Alan about an idea for a business. Almost every expat I talk with moans about the same thing - there is no where to buy custom cut tender beef. And there is no where to buy quality seafood. Everything in both those items are sold frozen or previously frozen in predetermined sizes. Where can one buy a tender Prime Rib Roast or 2" thick prime rib steaks - no where - also, where can one go for a farmers market in Panama City - there is the local market downtown but it is mainly chicken and vegetables - nothing like a "market" we are used to - sigh

Do you have $10 you can spare - $10 once a month would go a long way to help feed and keep an unwanted dog safe in a shelter. You can either contact Mari directly using her facebook page Hogar San Roque or you can go to the page we built to help www.theyneedyourlove.org

I love SpayPanamas new slogan - It's Hip to Snip

If you are a Canadian thinking about Panama - email us - we're happy to try and answer your questions. We have nothing to sell nor do we make anything from any recommendations. We built this site to help other expats decide if Panama was the right choice for them. That is why it is called "Why Panama" meaning - why did we choose Panama versus some other area in the world.

 

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The knee continues to feel better day by day. I have to continue my exercises to strengthen the muscles around the knee. I'm not ready to run again but I will start walking as part of my exercise, not just to and from the office. I have to work on losing some of the weight that jumped back on during the past month. Oh well, it will take some time. A friend of ours here in Panama had to go into the hospital for surgery. He was in for 3 days but he came out raving how nice it was to have no more pain. Still lots of recovery necessary but he's sure happy to feel better. It's comforting to know the quality of health care exists here in Panama.

I belong to a number of Yahoo expat groups, read a number of expat sites and get emails from expats all the time and it is incredible how different everyone's experience has been with Panama. Some have had so many challenges and are so jaded and if they were the only posts you read you would think this was the worst place in the world and others sound like paradise. It is both of course in some respects. I read a warning posted this week about gangs operating in Costa del Este, Punta Pacifica, Paitilla and other affluent areas of the city. These gangs apparently are very well organized and their modus operandi is to check out a building or community, and to send a couple of their guys in dressed as maintenance men and then break into an apartment and rob the owners. Scary thought for sure and more reason for buildings/communities to have procedures in place to verify workers before they have access to the building. All building have locked front doors and should not be opened unless the people are verified. Sounds simple but rarely done.

On the note of expats I read or get asked all the time about getting a visa to live/work in Panama. When we applied in 2006 there were several visa options but there was only one that made sense - the Pensionado Visa - today the same options exist, a little more strict I hear but there is a new visa type - the Friendly Nation visa - if you want to to come to Panama to work versus retire this is the visa for you.

We were talking to our friends in Alberta this week. They are coming to visit in October before and after their visit to Argentina. I am really looking forward to see them again - they are not going to believe the changes in our area of Costa del Este or the city. I was telling Donna I saw an ad for the new Santa Maria business park and how it reminded me of the huge green business parks in the suburbs of Seattle. If the ad is correct, Santa Maria will have more than a dozen buildings lining a business park street just off the corridor.

We went to Al Dente for their Wednesday Italian buffet  - check out my comments in the food section.

Sad to hear the US has to raise their terrorist threat level again this weekend. Incredible that there is still this kind of problem 12 years after 9/11. I only hope the next number of weeks pass uneventfully. I am happy Donna is not doing Morocco this coming year.

I know its the rainy season but there have been some pretty incredible storms in the past couple of weeks. Some areas have seen flooding that have caused some closures. It's still surreal that there are very few days that Donna & I can't take Cricket for her morning or evening walks. Virtually every walk is so pleasant - light breeze, warm but not hot.

Do you have $10 you can spare - $10 once a month would go a long way to help feed and keep an unwanted dog safe in a shelter. You can either contact Mari directly using her facebook page Hogar San Roque or you can go to the page we built to help www.theyneedyourlove.org

I love SpayPanamas new slogan - It's Hip to Snip

If you are a Canadian thinking about Panama - email us - we're happy to try and answer your questions. We have nothing to sell nor do we make anything from any recommendations. We built this site to help other expats decide if Panama was the right choice for them. That is why it is called "Why Panama" meaning - why did we choose Panama versus some other area in the world.

 

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start of race 6 am
start of race 6 am - close
wheel chair in race - paseo del mar7 am

We went to bed last night with music blaring from the central area of Costa del Este - Donna nailed it when she said it was someone getting ready for a running race Sunday am. We woke up to the same music and the DJ announcing the race - 5:45 am - how nice - I am an early bird but I prefer to get rolling on my own terms not be jumped out of bed by someone yelling in my ear - or that is how it felt :} Here are some pictures Donna took to show you what it looked like. There must have been close to 1500 or 2000 runners, walkers, wheelchairs - they even had the first race as "kids" - some were so tiny. I just can't imagine St. Albert letting a group like Power Club to hold an event in the middle of a dozen high rise condos with blaring music at 5:45 am.

I went back to see Dr Saldana this week to get my stitches out - not one of my favorite things but I am very pleased with how much better the knee if feeling. I asked him if he ever videoed his operations - he said absolutely - the arthroscopic scope is digital so he gets a DVD of every surgery - he asked if I wanted a copy - "for sure" - so I will have a DVD of the inside of my knee in a couple of weeks when we go back again. How cool. The doctors name for any of you that need orthopedic surgery is Doctor Ariel Saldaa.

We're off to see our pups again today - Pastor and Pastorcita - I really enjoy how excited they are to see us and to get their treats. We try to get their every week but most times it ends up every two weeks.

 

While we were out this morning Donna took some other pictures of plants along the Paseo del Mar - she loves how the red Ixora plant is used all along the roads in Costa del Este - when it blooms it is really quite showy. Here are a few pictures - some  of them are planted in rows like these shots - in other areas they are planted like flower pots at the base of trees.

I ran across another website that makes watching TV using the Internet - check it out - http://www.watch-tvseries.net/

Do you have $10 you can spare - $10 once a month would go a long way to help feed and keep an unwanted dog safe in a shelter. You can either contact Mari directly using her facebook page Hogar San Roque or you can go to the page we built to help www.theyneedyourlove.org

I love SpayPanamas new slogan - It's Hip to Snip

If you are a Canadian thinking about Panama - email us - we're happy to try and answer your questions. We have nothing to sell nor do we make anything from any recommendations. We built this site to help other expats decide if Panama was the right choice for them. That is why it is called "Why Panama" meaning - why did we choose Panama versus some other area in the world.

 

 

 

July 2013

Surgery this week - Yes - I had my appointment with the new orthopedic doctor Monday morning and as expected he confirmed the need for surgery - he had already booked a surgical suite for Wednesday. Wednesday morning we showed up and by noon I walked out unassisted = no crutches, no cane - nada - Thursday morning he removed the bandages and all I had left to proof I'd been in surgery were two same stitches that come out next Friday. Everything went like clockwork. No hitches, no pain, no anxiety. He is a consummate professional. Compared to the first doctor - well - suffice to say there was no comparison. I had worries about the first doctor but after meeting the second doctor I am now terrified how close I came to having my knee permanently damaged. I asked the second doctor if he felt he any more confident about removing versus repairing and he looked at me with puzzlement - "with someone beyond 30 years old we never consider repair - it would never heal" - I am pretty sure the first doctor knew I was over 30 - so why would he be talking to me about repairing the meniscus. Phew - I believe I dodged another major bullet.

The doctors name for any of you that need orthopedic surgery is Doctor Ariel Saldaa - he operates on the same floor of the Consultos Paitilla as "the other doctor".

We moved into our new offices this week - I actually walked to work Friday am. It does not mean the offices were really ready - they are not but we needed to get everyone back together again to begin building the team again. The building itself is not really occupied - I think there is one other office in use besides us - which means it hasn't worked out its elevators, garbage etc.

I had a long chat with a couple in Alberta this week. They are planning on visiting Panama this year with the hopes that it will be their choice for retirement. They have been doing lots of research on Ecuador and other places and they liked the sounds of Panama - especially Boquete. Most of you who have read my notes for the past almost 7 years know I liked visiting Boquete (although I found it cold) but I would not personally consider Boquete to live.

I told this couple that Panama is more than any one place. It is a tiny country but it offers numerous very different areas from the city (hot, humid, but all the services) to places like Altos de Maria and Boquete that are cooler and less crowed. Then there are smaller towns or beach areas all the way to the islands of Bocas or the Pearl Islands - if you've never visited you owe yourself to check them all out to see what might suit you. One size does not fit all.

I have a couple of credit cards here. The first one is my HSBC card. The one feature I've always liked is the instant notification that it sends to my cell phone whenever a charge is processed. Funny to watch when you are standing in a store paying for something and your phone buzzes to say you have a new charge. Funnier still when Donna does it in France or England - she has a really hard time getting me a surprise gift :} - This week I had a charge go through I did not recognize but it was like 24 so I thought I would just ask if someone might have put it through - no one stepped up. Then Friday a 310 charge was processed for concert tickets - I knew that was not us so I called - sure enough someone had personally gone in to the ticket store and used a credit card with my information - HSBC cancelled the card and I have to fill in a form but the 310 will be reversed. This happened once before in December when 3- 400.00 purchases were done in el Rey store - they cancelled that card too and reversed the charges - I may now use my CITI bank card as it is has a security chip in it that only real professionals might have a chance at counterfeiting.

Do you have $10 you can spare - $10 once a month would go a long way to help feed and keep an unwanted dog safe in a shelter. You can either contact Mari directly using her facebook page Hogar San Roque or you can go to the page we built to help www.theyneedyourlove.org

I love SpayPanamas new slogan - It's Hip to Snip

If you are a Canadian thinking about Panama - email us - we're happy to try and answer your questions. We have nothing to sell nor do we make anything from any recommendations. We built this site to help other expats decide if Panama was the right choice for them. That is why it is called "Why Panama" meaning - why did we choose Panama versus some other area in the world.

 

--------------------------

Surgery this week - wahoo :} - NOT - or I should say the surgery I had hoped for last week did not materialize - and it was me who stopped it. I had been asking the Dr via email what I needed to do the night before and after not getting an answer and getting worried I had one of the "kids" call and ask. Well, no big deal, quit eating by midnight, be at the clinic before 8 am - and oh, by the way, bring your blood work and EKG - WHAT - when did that come up - I asked Donna if she remembered him saying anything, I checked to see if he sent anything - no on both counts - so I called him myself - I was very, very concerned - if he didn't have the presence of mind to make sure something as important as arranging blood work in time or getting an EKG I decided he might be a nice guy but I didn't want to risk coming out of surgery missing a left leg or finding out he did the right leg instead. He was shocked - "you always need blood work and EKG" well that might be true but "what blood work" and who was supposed to know. I even called my own Dr to ask if he thought it was odd - yes, he said it was very unprofessional as every Dr should have a checklist to give patience before procedures like this.

So I found a new Dr. - I meet him Monday - and if all goes well and I can get the required tests done in time, we will do the surgery Wednesday. I will keep you posted.

It was an auspicious week in other ways too. We visited our friends Alan & Geri and had to park in front of the new building next door - it was later in the afternoon and there were some workers still there but we never thought about it any more until we came out some 3 hours later to find the car covered in concrete slurry - we weren't happy but there was no one on site and so we simply decided to have the car washed in the morning. Before we got out we noticed a sizable hunk of concrete on the roof and Donna noticed a steel bolt on the hood - both had made some indents but again - what do you do. In the morning, in the light - yikes - turns out the whole back window was smashed - totally ruined. We called the building to see what they would do - we were told " there were no workers there after 3:30" so essentially - $#%$#% off :} nice response. Nino called a few people, found a fellow in Arraijan - the car went out on Wednesday - done - finished - all in looking good $350 - so while I was not happy with the damage, the outcome could have been a lot worse.

Then I woke one morning to find the my screen on my notebook had decided to die - I really didn't want to replace the notebook until the beginning of year as the Haswell Intel chips will be in full force in ultrabooks by then - so I ordered a replacement screen online for $80 - should be here by Tuesday thanks to eBay.

On a lighter note - We went for dinner at the new Smoke Shack on Friday. We had tasted their food at last years Gastronomic at Atlapa. Good pulled pork so we went back. Check the review in the Food section.

We are desperately trying to get our new office ready. Juan has been working to get his stuff done and we have enough ready we could move in tomorrow BUT our landlord still has not enabled the water - so we can't clean nor can we have 11 employees working in a office with no toilets - we call, email, shout - the response - its coming. We've been paying rent for 2 weeks now - and yet we have no real office to work in - nice. It is also hit and miss if the elevators are enabled without having to wait for someone to come to your floor. I am sure I am going to be thrilled to be in and working but the "birthing" of the office is very frustrating.

Did some more cooking this am - followed the recipe of Julia Child making croissants - yummy but really difficult in Panama - it is almost impossible to work with the dough / butter in a "cool" state so it doesn't run when it is being formed. Still tasted good but I will have to work on the technique. Don't you just love the way Donna "plates" and photos the food :}

I saw an article this week in the Visitor saying the new 3rd bridge in Panama is coming along but based on the vagueness of the article it is likely not going to be ready for a couple of years. Depending on what they do with the roads and the titling on Costa Abajo it could explode that areas growth. I've mentioned dozens of times on this site how pretty that side is but how backward compared to the Pacific. This might make a difference.

There was another interesting article this week - Tom Brymer mentioned it in his email newsletter. It was an article published in the New York Times entitled "Explore the messy, exciting rebirth of Panama City. Check the article out here.  The author describes Panama in some not so flattering terms but they are honest. He also points out that while Panama is 100 years old next year, in most respects it is really only 13 years old as that is when it was given full control of its destiny in that it took control of the canal authority and it got rid of the dictator Noriega. So in that light - for a 13 year old country it really is not doing to badly at all.

A year ago we met a nice young lady at our favourite wine store and cafe - Bon Vivant - if you have not visited you should - its like a bit of Europe in Panama. The owner Oriol I've known for 4 or more years. He used to have a tiny little store in Parque Industrial - and I'd walk by every day and return on weekends to buy wine and goodies. This young lady - Julie, was hired by Oriol to help create his new store and source out the goodies other than the wine, that is his specialty. Julie did an amazing job. A year after the store opened she left and with her husband started a new venture called Simplify Panama - great concept. Julie is from Portland Oregon and she and her husband had met many North Americans finding Panama difficult to navigate for things like property management, sourcing goods and services. So this new company - Simply Panama offers all these services for a fee. If you are a North American living in Panama or if you own a property in the city you want to rent - check them out. The site is located at www.SimplifyPanama.com - you will not meet a nicer person than Julie.

Do you have $10 you can spare - $10 once a month would go a long way to help feed and keep an unwanted dog safe in a shelter. You can either contact Mari directly using her facebook page Hogar San Roque or you can go to the page we built to help www.theyneedyourlove.org

I love SpayPanamas new slogan - It's Hip to Snip

If you are a Canadian thinking about Panama - email us - we're happy to try and answer your questions. We have nothing to sell nor do we make anything from any recommendations. We built this site to help other expats decide if Panama was the right choice for them. That is why it is called "Why Panama" meaning - why did we choose Panama versus some other area in the world.

 

--------------------------------------

Surgery this week - wahoo :} - and getting over a cold - which it seems I gave to Donna. We were supposed to have friends over for a fondu on Saturday but we had to postpone for a couple of weeks. My sister in Canada is needing some surgery too but she has no idea when that might be. That's one of the huge differences between social medicare like Canada - you pay a little (a lot really when you consider taxes) and you are at the mercy of the system. Here you pay what you want - e.g. you decide on your how high you want to go for quality and deductible - but then you can go and get work done immediately. My MRI was next day. My appointment with a specialist was within 3 days and my surgery could have been within a week. I will let you know the outcome but I am not expecting anything but the best. His estimated surgical time is 30-45 min.

The new office is "close" but I suspect we won't be in it later this coming week as I hoped. Thankfully we have an alternative. Everything takes longer, costs a bit more and is a bit more frustrating than I'd like. It will be nice to be done and in and working. We have such a great year ahead of us I don't want the office to screw it up.

Ran across a new Facebook group called Expats in Panama - like the Yahoo groups but easier on the eyes as you can see the people you are dealing with :}

It was the birthday of our neighbour Sandra this week. Kind of sad as she and Jose Luis moved back to Argentina last December. We used to really enjoy having them over for a glass of wine or gin & tonic and getting caught up. We are going to be visiting them in October. Donna has a tour going to Argentina for the first time and she has allowed me to join the group. Our friends Wayne & Elaine are coming along so we are going to spend some time in Mendoza after the tour to visit with Jose Luis and Sandra and all of Jose Luies family. And all of the vineyards around Mendoza - boy am I looking forward to learning about Malbec and other wines I just don't know much about at this time.

I bought a BlackBerry z10 a while ago - I finally broke down and joined the 21st century. I chose for a couple of reasons, not just because it was Canadian. My partners have used BB for years and have loved the instant messaging - well there is WhatsApp for non BB but BBM was the first real messaging in real time. I also liked the main central messaging area - it just made sense. And finally I guess it was I didn't want to have to tinker with Android or I had a hard time supporting the Apple Conglomerate. Sorry Apple friends. I never subscribed to Steve Jobs idea that the clients were idiots and needed to be told what they needed. There is my bent showing through. Well I am sure you've seen the BB shares tanking this week. So I went looking as to why - they have tons of cash, a solid revenue stream, lots of patents - what was wrong - One analyst that is supposedly well respected said "he felt BB just didn't get it - I mean how can you be a mobile provider and not have Candy Crush supported on your latest device - I mean really" - I am sorry I did not buy a phone to play candy making games :} - so I guess I am unusual. :}

On a lighter note - have you seen a web site called Rap Genius - amazing - it allows you to search for any song (or book as it turns out) and look at the lyrics and see what they really are and what they mean - check out American Pie - or some other song you've often wondered about like one of Bob Marleys songs - really really cool

Do you have $10 you can spare - $10 once a month would go a long way to help feed and keep an unwanted dog safe in a shelter. You can either contact Mari directly using her facebook page Hogar San Roque or you can go to the page we built to help www.theyneedyourlove.org

I love SpayPanamas new slogan - It's Hip to Snip

If you are a Canadian thinking about Panama - email us - we're happy to try and answer your questions. We have nothing to sell nor do we make anything from any recommendations. We built this site to help other expats decide if Panama was the right choice for them. That is why it is called "Why Panama" meaning - why did we choose Panama versus some other area in the world.

 

--------------------------------

 

Monday is Canada Day - a day to celebrate all things Canadian. Odd I should be talking about celebrating Canada when we are living in Panama. I know - but it's really hard to find great weather and beaches in Canada :} I know Vancouver and Vancouver Island have has some great beaches but I am sorry - nothing like Panama. And the weather - well, this time of year we always loved St. Albert weather - long days, cool evenings but great sunny days of warm weather. But not so in January - so here we are are in Panama. But we still love Canada.

Saturday morning saw us driving with Alan & Geri to the Cuidad de Saber where we had the pleasure of going to a breakfast hosted by the Canadian Embassy and the Canadian Ambassador Sylvia Cesaratto. We met some of the embassy staff and several Canadians living in and around Panama City.

How can you not love a country that is so tolerant? How can you not love a country that is so loved  around the world? How can you not love a country that produces some of the best science, art and music? And finally - how can you not love a country that allows you to move to Panama and does not expect you to continue to pay Canadian taxes :}

Gotta love Canada

This week also celebrates Americas Independence Day. While I love Canada I also am very close to America. I don't have to agree with everything American (like I don't have to agree with all things Canadian) to appreciate that the USA has been a great friend and ally to Canada. We hope all of our Canadian and American friends take the time to reflect on and celebrate their country.

We met with the doctor who will be doing my knee surgery to repair my torn meniscus. First impressions were very good. He seems to be very experienced having trained in New York and he does several knee surgeries each week so while I am still apprehensive about surgery I am a bit more confident that it will come off without too many issues.

I get asked all the time about how could have adjusted to the weather in Panama - isn't it like crazy hot and humid. Well, yes, compared to St. Albert - for sure in the winter - but have you been reading or listening to the news about the weather all around the world - it's either 128 degrees in Death Valley (114 in Las Vegas) or it's flooding like Calgary or the monsoons in India or Thailand - our weather is so predictable - it is either dry and sunny (ready hot) or it will rain sometime during the day (read really really rain) but the actual day time temperature is almost the same every single day - to some people this is boring I know - to me - I love it - what pair of walking shorts am I going to wear today :} Here is a picture Donna took last week as we were driving back from the city to Costa del Este - a perfectly formed thunder head lit up and showing how big it is - the buildings to the left side in Costa del Este are up to 72 stories high.

I had to share another picture. When we went for our walk this morning we ran across a pelican sitting on the sidewalk. We aren't sure if it is hurt or what but Geri says it has been there for a couple of days. Cool to be this close to him/her but kind of sad to see it just sitting there. We will see if he/she is still there tonight when we do our afternoon walk. I hope it has found its way home

Do you have $10 you can spare - $10 once a month would go a long way to help feed and keep an unwanted dog safe in a shelter. You can either contact Mari directly using her facebook page Hogar San Roque or you can go to the page we built to help www.theyneedyourlove.org

I love SpayPanamas new slogan - It's Hip to Snip

If you are a Canadian thinking about Panama - email us - we're happy to try and answer your questions. We have nothing to sell nor do we make anything from any recommendations. We built this site to help other expats decide if Panama was the right choice for them. That is why it is called "Why Panama" meaning - why did we choose Panama versus some other area in the world.

June 2013


 

Friday was Donna's birthday so we decided to celebrate with our friends Alan & Geri by going to a local restaurant called La Vitrola. We've been before but it was worth going back. The service and food was excellent. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed their appetizer and main course. Not often we are able to please everyone both courses. Here are some pictures of the food and Donna & I with Cricket. Check out the rest of the food pictures in the food section. Cricket got to have a visit with her buds Lucky and Sheeba while we ate :}

When I think about the cost of an upscale restaurant here I am reminded of an upscale restaurant in Vancouver. A main dish in Vancouver would be 45-70.00 versus 20-30 here. Wine - well here I might spend 30 here - there it would be 80 so everything is relative. I can't imagine an upscale restaurant in New Yorks upper east side for instance.

To all our friends in Canada - especially Alberta and especially southern Alberta - please be safe and we hope the floods don't affect you any more than being an inconvenience. It seems so surreal to be listening to CNN and Aljazeera in Panama and hear them talk about the flooding and problems in Calgary and Medicine Hat. We live in a tropical country where rains are a fact of live every day for more than 1/2 of the year and we do have areas that are affected by flooding but places like Calgary or Canmore have million dollar homes sitting on the bank of a river that overflows.

Donna just posted an incredible picture of my brownies I baked - she pout a piece on a white plate with some chocolate ice cream and a flower - she is so talented.

When we moved here in 2006 one of the first person I ran across was Bob Adams from Retirement Wave - www.retirementwave.com. Bob posts his take on Panama and its future. His reports are well documented, thoughtful and provides information more than it does answers. Bob is the first one to say you need to make up your own mind. He just posted his recent report - it is worth checking out - sign up with your email - you can feel comfortable as he does nothing with your email except send you a note when his new report is online. He talks this time about the "other canal" that is being talked about in Nicaragua. Also he talks about the upcoming election in Panama. We've been here now for 2 elections - they are very, very lively and full of the same rhetoric as anywhere in the world. All I can say is Panama has changed a lot since we moved here in 2006. From roads, to the coming metroline to the changes downtown and the causeway. This might be a third world country but it is definitely on the move.  

I went to get an MRI last week as my doctor felt it was necessary to determine exactly what was wrong with my knee. Well it is a torn meniscus and ACL so I do need surgery. I am off to meet a doctor Tuesday. My MRI was done at the Punta Pacifica Hospital at 536.00 but I found out after the fact there is an MRI clinic downtown that would have done it for 350.00. Oh well - some of you will benefit from knowing that :}

Our new office is coming along. We should be able to move in before mid July. Things never move as fast as I want but I am happy they are at least "getting there". It will be great to get back to having a real office. I never thought I would say that but I will enjoy having the office.

I had to share a fun picture of Cricket - Alan & Geri brought a hedge hog toy back for her and she loves tormenting it - it "grunts" when it is squished - how fun.

We received an email from a fellow considering Panama. He asked many very specific questions regarding ROP (rights of possession) land ownership in Panama. We are always happy to try and answer questions about Panama - but we are always careful to point out so often the question is something that should best be answered by someone living or working in an area or from a lawyer knowledgeable with the type of issue.

People ask all the time - what do you miss the most about Canada or what do you wish Panama had - maybe I have not found it yet but the biggest thing is a real butcher shop that offers roasts with marbling and home made sausage. Here are some pictures from a butcher shop I visited when I was in North Vancouver in the Village - oh man - the steaks, roasts, chops, and sausages were just so yummy looking - nothing like this exists in Panama that I am aware of - if there was one business I might be persuaded to work on opening this might be the one - especially with the free trade agreement with Canada.

Do you have $10 you can spare - $10 once a month would go a long way to help feed and keep an unwanted dog safe in a shelter. You can either contact Mari directly using her facebook page Hogar San Roque or you can go to the page we built to help www.theyneedyourlove.org

I love SpayPanamas new slogan - It's Hip to Snip

If you are a Canadian thinking about Panama - email us - we're happy to try and answer your questions. We have nothing to sell nor do we make anything from any recommendations. We built this site to help other expats decide if Panama was the right choice for them. That is why it is called "Why Panama" meaning - why did we choose Panama versus some other area in the world.

 

------------------------------

Mixed feelings this week as Donna's Malaysia trip was postponed until the fall. I am really happy to have her home but I am sad she won't be enjoying the trip with her gardening friends.

We did get a chance to take Cricket for a drive to the causeway and a short walk. It was good to see what was happening out there. Amador continues to add new buildings - and the new convention center is going to be built right next door to the old Figali center. The Frank Gehry Museum of Biodiversity is coming along but it has to be a long way off its original delivery date. I know lots of people don't like it but it is very different and you are not likely to forget it. I hope the color stay bright in this climate

I am off to get an MRI this Monday to see what I did to my knee. My Dr. is pretty sure it is the meniscus but before he suggested I go to a specialist I should get an MRI to either confirm or eliminate the diagnosis - and if it is the meniscus then how serious is the tear - will it need surgery or just physio. We'll see :}

Donna & I went for sushi last night with Alan & Geri here in Costa del Este's Sushi House - good food but when I think back to last week in North Vancouver I am left wondering how Panama can cost more than 2 times and serve good but not great sushi? Especially when you consider the cost of labour here would be 1/10th the cost of North Vancouver and the rent has to be less considering the economy of North Vancouver. Someone is making some good money :}

Two more weeks until Canada Day and USA Independence Day. On Saturday June 29th the Canadian Ambassador Sylvia Cesaratto will be hosting a breakfast to celebrate Canada Day at the City of Knowledge.

I was downtown yesterday picking up some server parts and it seems amazing that the government is still saying that the new metro will be online in 7 months. Via Espana is so torn up and some of the main sites like the Via Argentina station have barely been demolished. I hope they make their schedule as it would be really nice to have it in operation to lessen the traffic all over the city and also to have Via Espana back to normal.

Speaking of new or ongoing work in Panama - the government have announced two new road projects. One is a new bridge/entrance/exit to the Corridor & Costa del Este - badly needed but I know it will be a few years to see it completed. By then the traffic in Costa del Este will become so bad in the morning and evening. Great planning in Costa del Este - poor planning in Costa del Este - both very visible. It's almost like the promoters/developers of the area never really believed it would house this many people or it would become so successful.

One of the other announcements was a new road from Cuango to Santa Isabel - I've driven the dirt road through 3 rivers and around one "mountain" and a new road would be incredible. It would make Costa Arriba a very attractive place to live or at least own a weekend house. Titling is still the biggest issue outside Panama City on the Caribbean coast of Panama - almost all the land is now held in Right of Possession - Derecho Posesorio (ROP) and a bit scary as it is a shifting ownership :}

The second announcement is the new bridge over the canal on the Caribbean side by Colon - another huge change to the Caribbean coast of Panama.

Most of you know I believe the Caribbean coast is by far the prettiest coast of Panama. But so overlooked and so hard to actually own. The only beaches that rival them are the ones I've seen in the Pearl Islands on the Pacific side.

My friend Ralph sent me a link to a really cool video showing Panama in the 60's - check it out on youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnGD6eTbUUw&feature=related

Do you dive? Have you been to Portobelo to dive? Are you looking for a dive buddy? I would really like to find someone around my level of expertise that wants to dive in the Caribbean. If you know someone - please email me tomd@whypanama.net

Do you have $10 you can spare - $10 once a month would go a long way to help feed and keep an unwanted dog safe in a shelter. You can either contact Mari directly using her facebook page Hogar San Roque or you can go to the page we built to help www.theyneedyourlove.org

I love SpayPanamas new slogan - It's Hip to Snip

If you are a Canadian thinking about Panama - email us - we're happy to try and answer your questions. We have nothing to sell nor do we make anything from any recommendations. We built this site to help other expats decide if Panama was the right choice for them. That is why it is called "Why Panama" meaning - why did we choose Panama versus some other area in the world.

 

----------------------------------

It has been a long time since I've visited Canada. I took a really quick trip to Vancouver this past week. Donna & I lived in the Vancouver area 25 years ago and I was born in Victoria so it's no stranger to me - but it has grown so much - wow. And the home prices. Yikes. In North Vancouver, albeit a very upscale part of Vancouver, people are buying 50-60 year old homes that look in pretty good shape just to tear them down and build a new home because they like the area. And spending 1-1.5 million just to get the lot. Then they build 4-7,000 sq ft homes that are very, very well done so I can only imagine (maybe not) what the finishing cost per square foot would be. Easy to see why a small home is a mere 2 million :}

Then I reflect on what 2 million would buy in Panama. But then do you need 10-14,000 square feet :}

Some things are just crazy in price - then others are a steal. We went out for some amazing sushi at a little tiny restaurant in North Vancouver. I ordered one of their special combos - 3 unagi nigiri, an unagi roll, gyozas, miso and tea - 8.99 - unbelievable - in Cosa del Este that would have been 18.00 at least - maybe more.

We walked along the sea wall and there is no question it just feels more civilized but then I remind myself what it was the took us to Panama in the first place. I found it chilly all the time - then I remember the taxes - both personal and corporate as well as property taxes. Most of the homes in North Vancouver run 9-15,000 per year in property taxes.

Donna is getting herself ready for her next trip. She's off to Malaysia with a group of garden writers she organized for tourism Malaysia. Then she is home for a few months - it will great to have her around so we can go back out to the beach and do some diving.

I went to the doctor last week as my knee was just not getting any better. He is convinced it is the meniscus - but he wants me to have an MRI just to be sure - then based on how bad it is we can decide on surgery or not. As anyone who knows me will attest - surgery is not my most favorite thought so here's hoping it is not bad.

Speaking of diving. Do you dive? Have you been to Portobelo to dive? Are you looking for a dive buddy? I would really like to find someone around my level of expertise that wants to dive in the Caribbean. If you know someone - please email me tomd@whypanama.net

Do you have $10 you can spare - $10 once a month would go a long way to help feed and keep an unwanted dog safe in a shelter. You can either contact Mari directly using her facebook page Hogar San Roque or you can go to the page we built to help www.theyneedyourlove.org

I love SpayPanamas new slogan - It's Hip to Snip

If you are a Canadian thinking about Panama - email us - we're happy to try and answer your questions. We have nothing to sell nor do we make anything from any recommendations. We built this site to help other expats decide if Panama was the right choice for them. That is why it is called "Why Panama" meaning - why did we choose Panama versus some other area in the world.

 

-------------------------------

The rainy season has been in full swing this week - lots and lots of major thunder and lightning - it's too bad Cricket reacts so poorly as they are really something to see and hear. It would only be better to be on the beach somewhere where it is pitch black until the lightning strikes and lights up the world.

Donna arrives home tonight for a few weeks before she heads off to Malaysia - she said she was really impressed with Bulgaria - she saw the entire country from one coast to the other. She has a whole series of "firsts" from Bulgaria I will have to get her to remind me of when she is home so I can share them.

We've been off regular cable for several years now and don't miss the monthly bill or the trying to keep up with the shows or remember to record them. I really do enjoy Amazon prime or Netflix - some great stuff to while away the time - I ran across one that caught my interest and watched called "the Panama Deception" - done in 1992 - 3 years after the invasion of Panama, it shows the invasion more through the eyes of the Panamanians than the version I remember on CBS or CBC. From this perspective it is no wonder there is so much anti-American sentiment in some circles of Panama. It seems the middle to upper class were "happy" about the invasion whereas the middle to lower classes were understandably much less thrilled.

I had never really asked or seen the destruction in el Chorrio area - it was incredible - huge sections razed to the ground - burned and leveled. Nor do I remember hearing about the various areas of Panama where the American forces invaded from Colon to Penonome. This account albeit is one sided but it brought out lots about the invasion I don't remember - nor do I remember it lasting almost 4 years. The casualty rate ranges from the "US" figure of 516 to some groups listing over 4,000 when they found numerous mass graves. I also didn't know that this was what lead Panama to abolish the standing army. The documentary said this was to ensure the control and presence of the US after it turned over the canal but in hind sight that does not seem to be the case. Non the less the film was interesting just to get a perspective.   I guess ones perspective on a situation is everything - it shapes how you view some historical event or how you pass down how the event took place.

We worked on changing our home office this past couple of weeks and I am thrilled with the results - so much more room and it looks so much more organized.

Now I have to get to work on our office for our staff. We are supposed to be in within 4 weeks but we will see how we do :}

I was asked if I wanted to go to a presentation at the Sheraton on Friday night - there was a guest lecturer from England talking on the world tour of Sir Francice Drake and his time in Panama. As Donna was out of town and I had nothing else I thought why not. It was really interesting as again I got a very different perspective. Most people remember Sir Francis Drake for his sea battles with the Spanish and his Golden Hind. What I wasn't counting on was this was the Panamanian Historical Society - read Spanish - what an interesting group to be a part of when an Englishman talks about Sir Francis Drake to a group of very knowledgeable Spanish :} I don't think I have ever been to a lecture where the audience participated so much in "correcting" or "adding" to the lecture. It was obvious that again, ones perspective on an issue or historical account is so different in how one sees the various players. I am sure if we had some people in the audience from Colon and the West Indies slaves it might have been even more interesting. Micheal Turner, the presenter, has been studying and following Drake for more than 25 years and his future desire is to find the coffin of Drake in Portobelo. How cool. What's interesting is that the "talk" on Friday was deleted from the Panama Historical facebook page ??? 

After the event I had the pleasure of having a glass of wine with our friends Clarita and Ralph - they introduced me to a couple from Boston - Paul and Sarah - nice couple. I love hearing why people choose Panama.

Do you have $10 you can spare - $10 once a month would go a long way to help feed and keep an unwanted dog safe in a shelter. You can either contact Mari directly using her facebook page Hogar San Roque or you can go to the page we built to help www.theyneedyourlove.org

I love SpayPanamas new slogan - It's Hip to Snip

If you are a Canadian thinking about Panama - email us - we're happy to try and answer your questions. We have nothing to sell nor do we make anything from any recommendations. We built this site to help other expats decide if Panama was the right choice for them. That is why it is called "Why Panama" meaning - why did we choose Panama versus some other area in the world.

 

--------------------------------

Pastor is recovering really well. He had his stitches taken this week - he looks and seems really good. He and Pastorcita were so excited to see me today - I love going to visit - I know they love the food - as it so different from what they normally get.

Here are just a few pictures of both of them today.

We went to our new offices this week to arrange with the landlords contractors. They are still confident we can be in by July 1st - there just seems so much work to be done.

We were going to have one of our senior programmers go to Canada to visit with the other part of the team but he had to go through the "new improved" Canadian Visa application process. Incredible. There are a series of online forms to be completed. Once done, he needed to go to two different banks to get two different checks - one certified and one as a bank draft - and then take all of these plus photos and letters from both Canadian company and our Panamanian company - plus plus plus - and then wait 2-6 weeks to hear. At the end of 2+ weeks - "declined" - why - turns out they would not let him send his old passport with the application so the Visa center said he had no travel history. No appeals - no one to talk with. The answer - Reapply and repay. Unreal.

We visited our foster dogs Pastor and Pastorcita today as we normally do on Sundays to bring them some special food and to see how they are doing. When we arrived it was obvious there was a problem. Pastor was limping pretty bad. Chito explained that last night he tore a chunk from one of his toes. So we piled him in the truck and took him to the vet. A few dollars (:{) later and some 2 hours he is back home and with stitches he will need tended over the next 3 days but no worse for wear. I just felt sorry for him as he really didn't like getting the area prepped or the stitches put in. Just like children I am sure - it is harder to have them go through it than go through it yourself - at least he ate a good meal when he got home. Pastrocita was really happy to see him return. It so good to see the both of them doing so well. We will keep checking over the week to make sure everything heals as it should.

Every week we hear from someone on the www.theyneedyourlove.org site asking about the Hogar San Roque shelter - either how they can help with volunteer labour, adoption or how to rescue a dog they've seen wandering the streets. All of the work Mari does is a labour of love not money - she has given up so much to help the hundreds of dogs and cats in her shelter - the shelter is a true no kill shelter - every dog no matter how dire its circumstances is turned away or put down. This means not only food put vet bills every month. 

Do you have $10 you can spare - $10 once a month would go a long way to help feed and keep an unwanted dog safe in a shelter. You can either contact Mari directly using her facebook page Hogar San Roque or you can go to the page we built to help www.theyneedyourlove.org

I love SpayPanamas new slogan - It's Hip to Snip

If you are a Canadian thinking about Panama - email us - we're happy to try and answer your questions. We have nothing to sell nor do we make anything from any recommendations. We built this site to help other expats decide if Panama was the right choice for them. That is why it is called "Why Panama" meaning - why did we choose Panama versus some other area in the world.

This past week has certainly been the start of the rainy season. I woke up one night around midnight to see a major storm with a massive downpour along with thunder and lightning. The good news is everything is green again and the hydro electric power plants should be having no issues with this much water :} The bad news is every change from wet to dry or dry to wet brings out a new series of insects. This time it was the flying ants - they were everywhere - certainly not like what the US east coast is expecting with the cicades but still amazing non the less. When they are done there are left over wings everywhere :}

It seems every week I am reminded of "why panama" and every week I am reminded of "why did we come here" - the "why panama" is easier and thankfully we are reminded more often of the positive. I love getting up to warm weather. I love being able to jump in the car and go diving or go to the beach. I love the cost of living, albeit that cost has risen a lot in 7 years but still way less expensive than Canada, especially when I factor in the taxes or lack of taxes. The "why did we move here" always seems to come over me when I have to deal with a bank, a lawyer or some government agency. Not being retired means I still have to live in the city and still have to interact with this stuff.

Every week we hear from someone on the www.theyneedyourlove.org site asking about the Hogar San Roque shelter - either how they can help with volunteer labour, adoption or how to rescue a dog they've seen wandering the streets. All of the work Mari does is a labour of love not money - she has given up so much to help the hundreds of dogs and cats in her shelter - the shelter is a true no kill shelter - every dog no matter how dire its circumstances is turned away or put down. This means not only food put vet bills every month. 

Do you have $10 you can spare - $10 once a month would go a long way to help feed and keep an unwanted dog safe in a shelter. You can either contact Mari directly using her facebook page Hogar San Roque or you can go to the page we built to help www.theyneedyourlove.org

 

May 2013

It's mothers day in North America - and I want to remember and honor both our mothers - both of which have been gone for some time. I am sure I am not alone in not recognizing how much I loved and how much I missed her when she was gone. It's one of those things I guess that everyone tells you but it never sinks in until it's too late - that spending time with your family and your parents is important. We love you - both moms.

It seems odd to live in a tropical rain forest country and to hear everyone complaining about the lack of rain. We've had some rain in the past month but apparently nothing like what's anticipated or needed to keep the dams and hydo electricity levels. So as a result of the lack of rain, the government has closed schools for several days, cut the hours of government offices to 7:30 am to 1:00 pm and insisted commercial buildings shut off their A/C units at 3pm unless they use their own power plants - all in an effort to save electricity.

Today we got some rain. Not a days worth of rain but a good rain none the less. I doubt it will be enough unless we see the same amount of rain every day.

Donna is off traveling again tomorrow so it will Cricket and I looking after each other for a couple of weeks. We always miss her but I am really proud of the business and following she has developed. Donna could teach a lot of businesses how to develop a business on very little budget. Way to go sweetie:}

We start renovations on our new office in Costa del Este in the coming weeks. I am sure it will be a challenge as it normally is but I am looking forward to getting it done.

I also finally got the details on how to get a "cedula" (an ID card) just like a regular Panamanian. When Donna gets back we will both go and get our cards. It will mean we won't need to carry our passports everywhere.

I love SpayPanamas new slogan - It's Hip to Snip

If you are a Canadian thinking about Panama - email us - we're happy to try and answer your questions. We have nothing to sell nor do we make anything from any recommendations. We built this site to help other expats decide if Panama was the right choice for them. That is why it is called "Why Panama" meaning - why did we choose Panama versus some other area in the world.

 

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Went to Portobelo again this weekend as Donna is only home for a short time so it's nice to get away for a bit of rest. Saturday I went diving during the day and again once at night. I had to try out my camera with the red filter and my new night light. Happier with the camera for sure but I doubt I will ever get the quality of picture I want - check out the two pictures - it can be very clear if you anchor yourself to something but as soon as you move even a bit it becomes fuzzy and hovering in the water is not conducive to being "still". I will try the small camera out on its video setting the next time but I am going to start hunting for a larger camera maybe with a flash. As to the light - way too heavy and not near as good as Reys smaller unit. Check out some of the pictures from the dive here.

Success - we may have found an office - and its in Costa del Este so I can continue to walk to work - cool.

I think we've sorted out our banking over the past couple of weeks too - just in case the switch over in Sept from HSBC to BanColumbia does not go well we now have another account in another bank.

The New York Times wrote a pretty good article on Panama. Some articles are so fluffy or overly generous. This one I thought was well done. Read the article here.

I checked in on the weather all over the world this weekend - amazing the craziness - tea cup sized hail in Italy, drought in other parts of the world. Panama may have some nutty weather sometime but the consistent daily temperatures is actually really nice :}

Every week we hear from someone on the www.theyneedyourlove.org site asking about the Hogar San Roque shelter - either how they can help with volunteer labour, adoption or how to rescue a dog they've seen wandering the streets. All of the work Mari does is a labour of love not money - she has given up so much to help the hundreds of dogs and cats in her shelter - the shelter is a true no kill shelter - every dog no matter how dire its circumstances is turned away or put down. This means not only food put vet bills every month. 

Do you have $10 you can spare - $10 once a month would go a long way to help feed and keep an unwanted dog safe in a shelter. You can either contact Mari directly using her facebook page Hogar San Roque or you can go to the page we built to help www.theyneedyourlove.org

I love SpayPanamas new slogan - It's Hip to Snip

If you are a Canadian thinking about Panama - email us - we're happy to try and answer your questions. We have nothing to sell nor do we make anything from any recommendations. We built this site to help other expats decide if Panama was the right choice for them. That is why it is called "Why Panama" meaning - why did we choose Panama versus some other area in the world.

------------------------

Seems like spring has finally arrived back in St. Albert - finally. I was wondering when they were going to get some weather above single digits.

Donna made it home safe and sound from China. It was funny as she worried so much about going as the weather and the smog were reported to be so bad she worried about her group and how they would react. Turns out in the years she has been visiting China it has never been clearer in places like Beijing and Shanghai - some of the pictures she got were great. Nice to have her home - albeit for only a few weeks.

I had another example of the odd commercial real estate market again this last couple of weeks. We thought we found an office - finally. The owner had bought a number of offices in a building with the idea he could flip them. Well - no luck on that front - or not at what he wanted I guess - so he decided to offer them for rent. And from the real estate agents comments he was motivated and wanted to get it done and was willing to negotiate - some. So after looking at a unit we decided to move ahead and we asked some really basic questions like sublet and deposits and if he'd be willing to negotiate modestly on the maintenance. The response to all - NO. How odd - either the agent read him wrong or the guy decided he had a "hot one" and that we needed the office more than he needed to rent it. I decided if he would not budge one step we'd continue to look.

I didn't hear from anyone with suggestions on inspiring biographies - other than Steve Jobs. Do you have any ideas?

We're going diving this coming weekend in Portobelo - at least 2 day dives and 1 night dive - we still have room if you are interested.

Another holiday this Monday in Panama - it should have been the 1st but the government decided to move it to Monday to give people a long weekend.

We went to the Pavo Real Friday night as Rey's band - X'Ile was playing - they expected to be starting at 9 so we went a little early - turns out the Pavo didn't want them to start until 11:15 - anyone who knows us know that we don't do that very often. The music was still great so we didn't mind getting home very very late. We hope we will have them for our Christmas get together this year. We were thinking of holding it on the social area instead of the condo and having someone cater a BBQ with X'Ile playing 70's and 80's music - along with some Christmas music too.

Every week we hear from someone on the www.theyneedyourlove.org site asking about the Hogar San Roque shelter - either how they can help with volunteer labour, adoption or how to rescue a dog they've seen wandering the streets. All of the work Mari does is a labour of love not money - she has given up so much to help the hundreds of dogs and cats in her shelter - the shelter is a true no kill shelter - every dog no matter how dire its circumstances is turned away or put down. This means not only food put vet bills every month. 

Do you have $10 you can spare - $10 once a month would go a long way to help feed and keep an unwanted dog safe in a shelter. You can either contact Mari directly using her facebook page Hogar San Roque or you can go to the page we built to help www.theyneedyourlove.org

Again this week we heard from someone who found some kittens and needed to bring them to the shelter - no money - more mouths to feed - but that is what Mari does. Offers a home and shelter to the unwanted.

I love SpayPanamas new slogan - It's Hip to Snip

If you are a Canadian thinking about Panama - email us - we're happy to try and answer your questions. We have nothing to sell nor do we make anything from any recommendations. We built this site to help other expats decide if Panama was the right choice for them. That is why it is called "Why Panama" meaning - why did we choose Panama versus some other area in the world.

 

 

April 2013

I know I didn't post an update last week. Whenever Donna is gone it seems my whole schedule gets turned upside down. Thankfully there are only 3 more days before she is home from China. I can't wait.

Went over for dinner with Cricket to visit with Alan & Geri and the pups - had some great paella and got trounced again in their tile game. Anyone who knows me well knows I hate to loose - maybe this is my life lesson in learning to accept a bit of defeat :} - doesn't mean I won't keep trying to win :}

So much going on in the world it seems odd to talk about the happenings in Panama. Imagine, a bombing at the Boston Marathon - I haven't heard from Eduardo - I am sure he is fine or I would have heard from Sandra. And while Donna was in China they had another massive quake killing lots of people. So many other senseless acts of violence or natural disasters all around the globe. When people ask me "do you feel safe in Panama - I always stop and realize that yes, compared to so many other places in the world I do feel safe. That doesn't mean Panama doesn't have it share of crazies or criminals - they are everywhere in the world. I don't choose to live in fear. I choose to enjoy life where I live.  I don't go out of my way to make myself a target either.

I just got caught up on some of my friends posts on facebook - I have on friend Karen from St. Albert - she writes a blog with some really great inspirational thoughts. She and her husband are a great couple working and playing together and now raising an adopted son. I am pretty sure when I check back in 10 years they will have built a very successful, thriving practice and have at least 2 well grounded kids. One of my business partners is recovering from very serious brain surgery in December - incredible how something like that can turn your life upside down but I am really proud of how he has chosen to not let it put him down - he is out of bed, learning to walk again and still enjoying his electronic life. Just a couple of my interesting friends on facebook.

I need to start adding some inspiring books into my reading mix - I used to read one fluff and then one factual book as a habit - somehow I slipped out of that and I need to get back into the mode again. The one challenge is finding someone who I'd like to read about. There aren't many business people I hear about that I think - I need to know more about them. I have enjoyed reading Richard Branson's books - I like what he has done as a business person. I also read Warren Buffets Snowball. I chose them because I liked the way they ran their business and their lives. I am going to have to hunt for some more.

Every week we hear from someone on the www.theyneedyourlove.org site asking about the Hogar San Roque shelter - either how they can help with volunteer labour, adoption or how to rescue a dog they've seen wandering the streets. All of the work Mari does is a labour of love not money - she has given up so much to help the hundreds of dogs and cats in her shelter - the shelter is a true no kill shelter - every dog no matter how dire its circumstances is turned away or put down. This means not only food put vet bills every month. 

Do you have $10 you can spare - $10 once a month would go a long way to help feed and keep an unwanted dog safe in a shelter. You can either contact Mari directly using her facebook page Hogar San Roque or you can go to the page we built to help www.theyneedyourlove.org

Mari Pily send a very long report about Hogar San Roque this week. They continue to take in more dogs and cats and some have been in need of some serious medical care. If you are able, please consider supporting the shelter - the dogs and cats will really appreciate your help.

If you are a Canadian thinking about Panama - email us - we're happy to try and answer your questions. We have nothing to sell nor do we make anything from any recommendations. We built this site to help other expats decide if Panama was the right choice for them. That is why it is called "Why Panama" meaning - why did we choose Panama versus some other area in the world.

 

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Donna started her traveling today. She's off to China for a couple of weeks and by August she will have visited China, France, England, Bulgaria, Singapore, Malaysia and Australia :} So Cricket and I will be enjoying each others company for a few months. I will need to add several new pins this year to her world map. 

I am so proud of what Donna's accomplished with her tour business it's hard to put into words. In a little over 15 years she has taken two passions - travel and gardening - and created a sizable business. It is not without effort and trials. This trip to China for instance is especially concerning as she wants everyone to enjoy themselves and with 25 people in  totally foreign country it is a challenge. Compared to say her Chelsea tour that is almost a no brainer, China has her seeing several cities in several areas by train and plane. She always comes home from China pumped but is always anxious before the trip.

I won't be scuba diving until May with Donna away but I am looking forward to the next dive as it will include a night dive. I've ordered a new diving light and red filter for my GoPro so I am really hoping my videos and pictures will actually show off how cool the coral is around Portobelo. I've talked to Rey, my dive master and teacher from GoldenFrogScuba.com that I want to prepare for dives off Coiba and the Pearl Islands this year.

Every week we hear from someone on the www.theyneedyourlove.org site asking about the Hogar San Roque shelter - either how they can help with volunteer labour, adoption or how to rescue a dog they've seen wandering the streets. All of the work Mari does is a labour of love not money - she has given up so much to help the hundreds of dogs and cats in her shelter - the shelter is a true no kill shelter - every dog no matter how dire its circumstances is turned away or put down. This means not only food put vet bills every month. 

Do you have $10 you can spare - $10 once a month would go a long way to help feed and keep an unwanted dog safe in a shelter. You can either contact Mari directly using her facebook page Hogar San Roque or you can go to the page we built to help www.theyneedyourlove.org

Mari Pily send a very long report about Hogar San Roque this week. They continue to take in more dogs and cats and some have been in need of some serious medical care. If you are able, please consider supporting the shelter - the dogs and cats will really appreciate your help.

If you are a Canadian thinking about Panama - email us - we're happy to try and answer your questions. We have nothing to sell nor do we make anything from any recommendations. We built this site to help other expats decide if Panama was the right choice for them. That is why it is called "Why Panama" meaning - why did we choose Panama versus some other area in the world.

 

---------------------------

The dry season is over - started to rain today - nothing crazy - just rain for 20 minutes but rain none the less - Donna hates the dry season - she calls it the brown season and she'd rather see green than brown.

When we moved to Panama and purchased our condo in Costa del Este we chose it because it was quiet (compared to the city center), it was clean, organized (the roads were east-west, north-south) and it just felt right. Today it is much busier - we've gone from less than 6 condo towers to over 40. The traffic has increased exponentially. We still believe Costa del Este was the right choice and we still believe the choice of building was the right one. The asking price per square meter has doubled in 7 years (meaning a 10% growth) - not sure everyone is getting the asking price as real estate values are somewhat vague as there is no real MLS. Check out the pictures Donna & I have been taking from our balcony every month for over 6 years. It is incredible to see the changes in the skyline.

Several new projects have also been announced in our area including what appears to be a mall covering a huge tract of land. Hopefully they don't fill it with just high-end upscale stores. It would be nice to see a real bakery, new large fitness club, neighbourhood bars, flower shops, and theatres. It would mean we wouldn't have to go into the city :}. Then all we'd need to do is convince our dentist Dr. Lee to open an office here. Our doctor, Dr Paz Rodriguez opened his new Wellmed Clinic just down the street.

I started a new section this week called Diving. I decided to start diving after our cruise in 2012 took us to Rotan Honduras and I tried snuba. In the past 6 months I have been learning from Rey Sanchez at GoldenFrog Scuba in Portobelo. I've finished my Open Water and Advanced Open Water certification. During our latest cruise I went diving in Bonaire so I decided to start a section to share my diving experiences check it out here.

I also added some pictures from our trip to Contadora when Ted & Susan were here with Andrea and Tyler. We booked online through http://www.perlasyachtcharters.com/home/  site - Alejandro was our host and they have a great boat called Las Perlas Dreamer. Everyone that we've had visit that have chosen to go to Contadora have raved about it so we decided to see what the enthusiasm was all about. You know we really like the Caribbean side of Panama (versus say Coronado) but after visiting Contadora I can see the appeal. The water is great, the beaches amazing and there are lots of services and places of interest. The Pearl Islands have had generations of tourists, I imagine in 15-20 or so years Costa Arriba and Costa Abajo will have similar depth of services. Check out the pictures here

Donna is getting ready to head out on her trip to China. Over the next few months she will be in China, France, England, Bulgaria, Singapore, and Australia. My map in my office is amazing - it shows all of the places in the world she's visited.

Over the next several months I need to find a new bank just in case. As you may know the HSBC bank sold their Panamanian locations to BanColumbia. I know nothing about BanColumbia and I have no idea how this will impact our personal or corporate banking. I met with CITI and Banco Lafise this last week. Once holy week is over I expect to hear from each and will have a chance to see if either can offer an alternative. I've written in the past how hard it is to open and operate an account in Panama so I wanted to start early. I will let you know.

Do you have $10 you can spare - $10 once a month would go a long way to help feed and keep an unwanted dog safe in a shelter. You can either contact Mari directly using her facebook page Hogar San Roque or you can go to the page we built to help www.theyneedyourlove.org Mari Pily send a very long report about Hogar San Roque this week. They continue to take in more dogs and cats and some have been in need of some serious medical care. If you are able, please consider supporting the shelter - the dogs and cats will really appreciate your help.

 

March 2013

I am sure it will sound a bit crazy to some of you but we just returned from our cruise out of Colon - we've taken this same cruise five previous times. It is so simple - we drive out of the city - less than an hour an a half and we are on the ship and in our room. We were pleasantly surprise - Royal Caribbean had upgraded us to a larger room. Wow - what a nice way to cruise.

This time I had a chance to dive Bonaire not just snorkel. Snorkeling in Bonaire is pretty amazing but diving was incredible. The water was so clear - you could see at least 100 feet down. I tried out my new Hero 3 and while the pictures were really clear the colors were terrible. Turns out that without any artificial light below 10 feet the red part of the spectrum disappears so it needs to be added back in by adding a filter.

We went to Portobelo this weekend to the house we rent and I went diving again with Rey. He had another couple diving with us. What a tiny world - I've seen this fellow walking around Costa del Este every day for the past several years. I finally got to meet him and his wife. Even odder - his family used to own the entire area of Costa del Este, Chanis, Campo Limberg and the surrounding area. His family sold it all to the Motta and Bern organizations - his family didn't want to joint venture the property as they didn't think the area would ever amount to anything :}

My sister went home last week. I wish she could have stayed longer - we really appreciated her looking after Cricket while we were on the cruise but we didn't get much chance to visit. I really want her to return and spend longer. 

We had the Mitsubishi detailed from a company through Groupon and they almost destroyed it - we had to get Rafas dad to come over with his crew and redo the cars exterior. Thank goodness for them - I thought we'd have to repaint it - not a happy thought.

We had such a great time with Reys band a few weeks ago that we are going to see if he is available at Christmas.

This site is for our friends and other Canadians or expats thinking of moving to Panama so I am sure marriage is not the top of the pile in things to find out about Panama but in case it is - getting married in Panama is nothing like getting married in Canada. There are two marriages - one is done in the civil courts and the other in the church. The first is obligatory and is the only real marriage - the church is just to make the families happy. One of our staff is going through this process now and the number of documents he needed to do and the number of tests he had to have done were incredible. Even with all the paperwork he needed to find out when the offices were available to do the marriage. He didn't get to choose - the government worker decided. Then they need to decide when to do the church wedding - some couples wait more than a year to have the formal church wedding. It's almost like they want to discourage marriages.

Finally, in the past week or so the garbage dump outside the city was on fire and the smoke and smell was ugly. Hopefully they get it under control.

Mari Pily send a very long report about Hogar San Roque this week. They continue to take in more dogs and cats and some have been in need of some serious medical care. If you are able, please consider supporting the shelter - the dogs and cats will really appreciate your help.

 

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The last couple of weeks have been really, really busy :} - We've had my partners from Canada and their nephew and his wife. We had a great time showing them around Panama but that coupled with the meetings on the business it was hectic.

We did have some great times - we had a BBQ at our condo on Saturday and we had a life bank X-Ile - cool group - great music - they were on our social area by the pool and I am sure all of Costa del Este heard some of the songs when they played songs from the Who or the Stones :} - we shut it down early so as not to bother our neighbours sleep. I wish others would show the same consideration but it is what it is.

We went to Contadora on the new fast ferry that leaves from the Trump Tower. We reserved a full day with http://www.blackvelvetent.com - Alejandro was our host on the 54ft boat and he picked us up in Contadora and took us to Survivor Island to snorkel and enjoy lunch. If you want to see Contadora it was a great trip. The fast ferry trip was interesting going out but a nightmare on the way back - he was going 20+ NM an hour and the waves meant that the passengers were tossed around like toys. Not fun and not easy to recommend.

Tyler and Andrea were visiting Panama for the first time and loved MiraFlores and Casco Viejo as well as the malls. We hope to see them again often. 

Mari Pily send a very long report about Hogar San Roque this week. They continue to take in more dogs and cats and some have been in need of some serious medical care. If you are able, please consider supporting the shelter - the dogs and cats will really appreciate your help.

Visited our foster pups at Chitos yesterday - we look forward to bringing them treats and spending some time with them and I know they enjoy the love and company.

The banks never cease to amaze me. We had one bank give another bank a letter of credit and after more than 2 months the first bank came back and said the wording in the letter was not acceptable. Two months. Incredible. Also, I found out my passport number was incorrect on my account records so I asked them to change it - I could fill a form out and wait 3 business days or call the help line and they would do it immediately. The catch with option 2 is getting a live body on the help line. I finally gave up and went back to the branch.

My sister is visiting and I only wish she was here for a longer time as there seems to be no time to go with her to show her around Panama. All I can do is to make sure she comes back often. She's avoided coming in the past 6 years as it was "too hot" - I hope she finds it ok and will come back again.

We've been out for dinners a few times in the past week but all our normal haunts like Steinbachs German pup, Tre Scalini, Il Grillo and Carbon de Mangle - all great places to eat.

 

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We were invited to a friends place for wine and nibbles last night. What an interesting eclectic group of people. I had a great time learning more about each of them. I met a Dutchman  who had tried Florida and Malta before deciding on Panama. After being in Malta for some time he'd heard from a number of people he should check out Panama but it wasn't until he saw a full page ad on the back of a magazine for direct flights from Florida to Panama he decided to visit. He was in Panama for 3 days before he decided he could live here. So funny as it took Donna and me 4 days to reach the same decision :}.

Another fellow we met was from Turkey but came to Panama to open a textile export business in the free zone. He has since sold his business and is now enjoying his retirement. His passion is opera. He is off to Argentina to see the Marriage of Figaro - he has booked for 3 consecutive performances. In his opinion the Marriage of Figaro is the single best opera as all of the songs are unique whereas so many other operas have songs that are virtually all the same. I have no basis on which to argue as I have no extensive knowledge of opera :} He is also a "healer" and was able in 5 minutes to relieve the back pain of another guest.

The last one I will mention was a professional baseball player. Panamanian by birth, he went on to play AAA and major league with Montreal and Seattle to name just a couple. He is now back in Panama and very actively involved in the current governments sports ministry. He knew the other baseball player who lives in our building Gil Garido - turns out there have been lots of Panamanians who have played professional ball. How cool.

You know it's summer in Panama because the air contains so much black soot from all the grass fires set in the hill area around Panama City. If you have the windows open like we do this soot gets everywhere and you have to be careful how you pick it up so it doesn't set in to any cloth or upholstery. You know it's summer in Panama because the school buses are all being used to move construction workers instead of children and a tropical rain forest area turns totally brown from lack of water. I am originally from Victoria BC and this is so like Victoria. The summer sees all the grass going a crunchy brown. Donna hates the brown season - she much prefers the green. I enjoy the lack of rain - the sunshine - the breeze. Each to his own.

I went to my favorite wine store yesterday - Bon Vivant in San Francisco to pick up some more wine as my business partners are coming in a week and I know how much he likes his wine :} I asked Julie if she knew where in Panama City I could get a real prime rib roast - I figured if anyone would know she should as she is from the USA, works at Bon Vivant and is in contact with all the best suppliers in Panama and all of the best restaurants. She suggested a small store in Bella Vista I've heard about before but have never visited - I will now.

Mari Pily send a very long report about Hogar San Roque this week. They continue to take in more dogs and cats and some have been in need of some serious medical care. If you are able, please consider supporting the shelter - the dogs and cats will really appreciate your help.

We're off to visit our foster pups at Chitos today - we look forward to bringing them treats and spending some time with them.

 

February 2013

It was so quiet in Costa del Este this weekend we were convinced everyone had left the city so we decided this morning to take a drive out to the causeway to see what's changed. So off we went. Well - we were wrong. The police had cordoned off the end of the Cinta Costera so we had to find another way out to the causeway. It was all well in the end. We enjoyed the drive out and we enjoyed seeing how the new Frank Gehry museum was coming along. I thought the museum would be almost done but it's not - there is still lots to do but it is coming. The government has been making new land on the forth island, not sure for what, maybe new restaurants. As always, Cricket loved the ride and the new smells at Amador. We took some pictures of the boats - there seems to be so many more than usual - maybe the season. Donna also took some pictures of the skyline of Panama City. If you look close you will see off to the right a series of towers. That area is Costa del Este where we live. When we moved here almost 7 years ago there were a couple of towers - ours being the only apartment condo. There are now almost 40 apartment and commercial towers. Quite a difference. Check out the pictures.

I've been talking to our old neighbors Sandra & Jose Luis who moved back to Argentina a few weeks ago. We still miss being able to pop over to say hi but we will get to see them when we visit Mendoza this fall. Two of our friends are joining Donna & I so that will make it even more fun.

Carnival in Panama. The whole city seems to shut down. Employees look forward to getting out Friday night and then all through the weekend. Most get Monday and Tuesday off. Some take time right through to Wednesday. In the seven years we've never gotten involved. I understand the festivities in the countryside are something we'd enjoy more but I'm not sure. Seems to me to be to much of a crazy party time. When we used to go Carnival in Mazatlan a lot of it was more family oriented versus a late night party.

We're looking forward to our visitors in the next few months. My business partners and another couple are coming at the end of February. We're going to make a day of going to Contadora. I found a package that lets us take the fast ferry from the Trump Tower and then go on a 52 foot motor boat to do snorkeling and see Contadora Island. Should be a great Sunday outing. I know we will also spend lots of time enjoying restaurants. We'll end up back at Os Segrado de Carne as well Fenicia. If we have the time I will probably suggest we go back to the Segundo Mueelle. Read my review of this restaurant in the food section.

In March my sister and brother in law are coming to visit for the first time. I am sure they will love it here and I hope they decide to come back often. I am pretty sure we will see our old neighbors from Canada again this year. I know Wes & Stephen had a great time when they were here last year.

Mari Pily send a very long report about Hogar San Roque this week. They continue to take in more dogs and cats and some have been in need of some serious medical care. If you are able, please consider supporting the shelter - the dogs and cats will really appreciate your help.

We're off to visit our foster pups at Chitos today - we look forward to bringing them treats and spending some time with them.

 

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In the past 6 years we've watched a number of projects around Panama go from promises to reality. For a country of 3 million (1/3 of Canada and 1/100 of USA) it's taken on some pretty sizable tasks. For what is essentially a 3rd world country the roads are in surprisingly good shape. The old road from Panama City to Colon has been updated to a toll road and has dropped the time from over 3 hours to less than an hour. The main waterfront road downtown Panama City used to be a congested nightmare - it is now a beautiful walkway and new roadway called the Cinta Costera. While I think they could have done more to beautify it, the difference is still remarkable. Around the city itself there are a number of overpasses and new roadways that have either been built or are under construction. Each of these improve the travel time through very busy areas. Some new projects are controversial like the road around the world heritage sight Casco Viejo but I do believe the new 4 lane proposal the causeway to be a welcome change. And one change not as many people will know of at this time is the new road way around old Panama Viejo - it will allow the original city site to be restored without a crazy road cutting through its heart.

Beyond roads, they are 1/2 way through a massive doubling of the capacity of the Panama Canal - considered one of the construction wonders of the world. This new lane will be big enough to handle the largest US super carriers including the newest one not yet in service and the worlds largest cargo ships owned by Maersk the Triple E - there are however a number of oil and bulk carriers that would not fit.

In Panama City the government has introduced modern buses to replace the very touristy looking but dangerous "diablo rojo" (an old school bus converted to passenger bus) and is less than two years away from opening its new metro line of above and below ground metro system.

In addition to all of this it has expanded and added airports, government buildings, added a new museum of biodiversity by Frank Gehry, a new bridge over the Panama Canal, and the new sewage treatment system to help clean up the Panama Bay

All of these accomplishments are incredible when you consider they have all been undertaken in 6 years. But, I don't want to leave you with the impression that Panama is all roses - its not. At its core it is still a third world country, based on very poor ethics, very questionable decisions, almost no rule of law and where the adage that you can buy anything is so true. I know that every country struggles with all of these things but it just seems to me that here in Panama they just jump out in your face. For instance recently the government realized that it had allowed a construction group to develop a new island system off one of the wealthiest areas of Panama City and decided that it needed to amend the constitution to the titling of the sea bed. Up to now all of the coastal land - the first 10 meters, from the high water mark were reserved for the people of Panama. Well now you can title the sea bed to allow for an island to be built. Convenient. And the government decided to introduce another new law to allow them to remove what they define as squatters who may have been living on a piece of land for years and repatriate the land to government ownership so it could be resold. When I went to all the land titles hearings 4 -5 years ago it was drilled into us that the constitution had "rights of possession" entrenched in it - if you sat on a piece of land, improved it and cared for it over 10 years - it was yours. But I guess some businesses want some land somewhere so the constitution just goes away. Amazing when you think of how fervent the US citizens hold to their constitutional rights and how they are willing to die for them.

We still love our decision to move to Panama 6 years ago. We wished we had moved 10 years ago. It is tough sometimes - the language. the culture, the attitudes - I can see why some choose not to continue living here but for us we still think the good things like the weather, the lack of taxes, the cost of living and the did I mention the weather (it was 39 below in Saskatchewan this last week) - it was 33 above here :} Need I really say anything more - it might rain, but it is warm and I don't need to shovel it.

If you've Canadian, and you've moved here recently let us know - we'd love to know some other Canadians in Panama.  

If you have any questions about Panama - feel free to email us. We're happy to answer what we can.

 

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As soon as Donna arrived home the first job was to either fix or replace her small netbook computer. While she was in Ecuador it just crashed and would not start. When I tried it I was convinced it was just the harddrive so we purchased a new drive and I had Mark install it for me. Then it was a matter of reinstalling Windows and then downloading her latest online backup at Carbonite. It took us almost 5 days to complete the entire restore but within 2 days she was back online doing her email. Even though it all worked out it convinced me the next round of notebooks will be solid state vs harddrives. Not only faster but more reliable.

I am needing a few more dives to finish my Advanced Open Water certification so when I had the opportunity to tag along with some divers from the Smithsonian I jumped at the chance. We dove on 3 sites on Friday. Some amazing fish and colors. I did not get in the last needed element of wreck diving (we had trouble locating the downed plane) but I will get that sometime this month. Watching Rey and the two young people diving it showed me what diving can be like after hundreds of dives (versus my 15 :) something to work toward.

I know that most people wonder about Donna & I moving to Panama - is it really safe - don't you worry about the drugs - the government - crime... Before we moved to Panama we'd vacationed for 20+ years in Mexico and we knew that there were crimes and more police visible than we were used so maybe that blunted our concerns when we moved to Panama. Yes there is crime in Panama - yes the government appears to be more corrupt than we were used to in Canada and yes there are lots of drugs going through Panama to North America. I think everyone has a built in anxiety meter and if they visit and spend time in Panama they will be able to judge their own meters level. Our lifestyle is such that we are not out in the wee hours of the morning or in areas where the crime rate is too high. This is why we always tell people considering Panama - come, visit, check it out and decide for yourself - don't be swayed by sales promotions.

I don't subscribe to many but I do read a few newsletters that you might find interesting - real estate in the city  - I enjoy Kent Davis from Panama Equity - Tom Brymer  always offers some interesting insights in his The Panama Perspective - Bob Adams from Retirement Wave offers a very in-depth series of reports on Panama in his Retirement Wave site. Each of these offer different perspectives. Don't forget to check out the various Panama groups on Yahoo, and the individuals and groups on Facebook

If you are planning on moving to Panama some decisions are critical, some important and others are just nuisances if you get them wrong. We were fortunate when we moved to be introduced to a few people before we arrived and they helped us navigate some of the waters. You will need a lawyer you can trust, a bank that you are comfortable with, a real estate agent who knows their stuff and help finding "things" when you start to renovate or fill your home. We don't profess to know them all but we have created a list of people, services and stores that we know will make your life so much easier than just going it alone. We try and keep this list up to date as we make changes. If you see something let us know and we will try and help.

We also enjoy eating out periodically and during this time we try and discover new places to dine in addition to frequenting our perennial favorites. You can see some of our reviews in the food section.

We've also been fortunate to travel around Panama in our 6 years and Donna has taken some great pictures to give you an idea of the diversity of Panama. From our home in Costa del Este to the islands of Bocas and San Blas to the hills of Boquete, Vocan, El Valle and Altos de Maria. We've also visited so many beaches up and down the Caribbean and Pacific coasts. Enjoy browsing the pics.

If you've Canadian, and you've moved here recently let us know - we'd love to know some other Canadians in Panama.  

If you have any questions about Panama - feel free to email us. We're happy to answer what we can.

 

January 2013

Donna is home today from Ecuador - and she is now home all the way through to our cruise - how cool. We have  a number of friends coming down in the next few months so it will be nice to have her around.

I went over to our friends place the other night for some really great paella - I could have eaten the whole pan :} there is something so good about dishes like this that in the old days they were the "left over" type dinner - throw everything into some great yellow rice and it will be good. Just like stews, pot pies and bouillabaisse.

Our condo is going through the process of reevaluating the regulations, the administration, security and the maintenance. A bit frustrating as this is where the differences in cultures really show up. Where the priorities lay and where the "this is how we used to do it" comes out in discussions. I hope in the end we come up with something other than just the same old same old as it has not worked.

I think one of the things I never counted on was the lack of ability to just go to a store and buy something like household items, office items or car parts. They are either so outrageously expensive or not available at all. And to bring them in the freight can be horrific. It's one of the times I wish I was still travelling a lot as I could order anything on line - have it shipped to a hotel and then bring it home without paying freight.

Have you been to Bon Vivant yet in San Francisco - what a great place to just meet someone for coffee or buy excellent wines or really unusual food items. They've been open a month and it is proving to be a wild success - congratulations Oriol and Julie.

When is a credit report not a credit report - only in Panama. If you've been reading the posts over the past few months you know I've been trying to find us a new office.

What a challenge. I know I am picky - I would prefer an office in Costa del Este, in a specific size range for an amount that is not outrageous. We finally found one that in North America would be class d or e :} that hasn't been rented or used for at least 3 years. We inquired and were told we had to fill in their paperwork first outlining all of our details including bank account numbers. They also insisted we obtain a credit bureau report. No problem off we went to Albrook to get it done. After waiting 45 minutes the girl looked up our account and could not find any record. In my ignorance I thought was not a bad thing - no "bad" credit for sure. Well no, unless we had forced our suppliers to register us with the credit bureau over the past 6 years we would have no history and in the prospective landlords mind that was a bad thing. I offered to get our old landlord of 4+ years to write a letter - not good enough - no credit history - therefore we need to get a guarantor - a Panamanian guarantor. All this for a class D unrented not very attractive office space. Only in Panama.

Every time I drive somewhere and see a kitten or puppy that has been run over I get really upset as so often I hear from Panamanians that spaying or neutering is so cruel. They need to see these kittens or puppies on the road - No one cared enough to think about what happens when the female breeds - who is going to look after the kitten - most of the time the mother can barely feed herself.

Support - I mean financially - SpayPanama to help eliminate the unwanted births from occuring - and support Hogar San Roque - Maris shelter - she takes in hundreds of strays and feeds and cares for them. They have a home that is safe and where they can hopefully find a new caring home in someones house.

If you've Canadian, and you've moved here recently let us know - we'd love to know some other Canadians in Panama.  

If you have any questions about Panama - feel free to email us. We're happy to answer what we can.

 

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Donna is off to Ecuador this week - the first of her tour series for 2013 - and this  year sees an exciting new event - I get to go on one of her tours - Argentina in October - Spring in Argentina - Buenos Aires and Mendoza - I am really pumped about going and I promised Donna to let her run her own tour without interference - and the only way I know I can keep that promise is our friends Elaine & Wayne are going to join us. Imagine me sitting around a dozen world class wineries in Mendoza with our good friends and old neighbours Sandra & Jose Luis as they just moved to Mendoza - his home town. I've been learning more about Argentinean wines since our move to Panama and have a list of some great wines to enjoy while there and I am sure there will be many, many more to discover - only 9 1/2 months to go.

I just finished my written portion of the Advanced Scuba course - all I have is one more dive and then complete my underwater navigation portion. I want to get several more dives in before our cruise in March so I can comfortably go to Bonaire, Curacao and Aruba. I understand from reading that Bonaire is a world class location. I know the snorkeling is amazing so I have to believe the diving will even be better.

Speaking of 2013 it looks like we will have a number of our friends visiting - some returning to Panama for a second or third time and a few who are going to visiting Panama for the first time. One is my sister Mardi and her husband Tom - they are going to come and enjoy Panama and babysit our little Cricky while we go on the cruise.  Other than the temperature I know they are going to love Panama.

Mari posted some really moving notes this week on her Hogar San Roque shelter site on facebook. Some of the dogs they've cared for for some time that passed away but in spite of how hard it was to see them go how she felt so good that their last few years were enjoyed among friends being cared for and fed without fear of disease or harm. I really appreciate all our friends who have donated to the shelter - it is a huge job for Mari to find the food and medication every week for the hundreds of dogs and cats. If you can, please donate - http://www.TheyNeedYourLove.org - you can donate a one time gift or choose a monthly donation of 10.00 and you can choose either Cdn or US dollars.

Our friends Geri & Alan bought me a set of iHome tiny rechargeable speakers for my birthday - they are so small but they put out great sound - I used them for all my Padi lessons this week - thanks. When I was a kid I loved birthdays - even though the presents were a little skimpy being right after Christmas, then in my 30's and 40's I found they reminded me of my getting older and we didn't celebrate them a lot - now I love celebrating them - knowing I have another year :} - So many of our friends have had such tough years when it comes to their health or finances I am just thankful we are both healthy and we have enough financially to be comfortable. Our move to Panama has had a lot to do with both. We walk more, I run, I dive - we eat better and we enjoy the sun shine. I probably drink a bit more red wine than I ever used to :} but some doctors say that is a good thing.

If you've Canadian, and you've moved here recently let us know - we'd love to know some other Canadians in Panama.  

If you have any questions about Panama - feel free to email us. We're happy to answer what we can.

 

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Welcome 2013 - Good bye 2012.

Last year was a mixing pot of excellent and some sadness. It has been 6 1/2 years in Panama and we've seen so many changes and we've watched so many other countries including Canada go through many changes too.

When we moved into our condo in Costa del Este the first people we met were our neighbours Sandra & Jose Luis. They took us in and helped us through lots of things including helping us learn spanish and the culture of Panama. Unfortunately they decided last week to move to Argentina to the home of Jose Luis and his family. We will really miss them and the times over a glass of wine and gin & tonic. But we are looking forward to visiting them in the fall to see their new home.

Over the years we've been fortunate to meet other great people including Alan & Geri who moved here from Canada 2 years ago. Though they've had some trials in their move we're pleased we've met them and we enjoy their company too.

Our business has gone through 3 homes since we moved here and we've been without one for almost 4 months and the staff are getting antsy. It's so odd. Imagine wanting to rent an office and in a market full of open space (or so it seems from the vacant space) that it's impossible to find a landlord wanting to rent for a reasonable price. We even found one who wanted all the paperwork and background checks done before they would even outline the terms. Oh well, I am sure there is a office - I just haven't found it yet.

We had to replace the engine in our Mitsubishi and we had a few other "hiccups" during the year around the house but we both ended the year healthy so that is all we really could ask. We're thankful one of our partners came through his surgery. I know his wife and family had a much better Christmas because of it.  

We spent the weekend in Portobelo at the house we rent. Donna enjoyed her weekend around the pool and I spent my time trying to finish my diving necessary to get my Advanced Open Water certification. One of the lessons was 100 feet. Interesting how the depths can affect different people and it's necessary to find out how you react. 100 seemed ok to me - maybe 105 might have been my undoing but I won't know. I have a few more written exams and one more dive to finish. Rey Sanchez from Golden Frog Scuba in Portobelo has been so good teaching me I would sure recommend him to anyone in Panama thinking of learning to dive.

If you're read any of our previous weekly notes you will know that we've spent many hours in many meetings about the land titling issue in Panama. Almost 80% of the land is held in what's called Derecho Posesorio or Right of Possession - not officially titled in the land registry. One of our friends has tried for over 3 years to get their land fully titled. Through many meetings and frustrating times they finally prevailed and they now own their land as fully titled land. One of the really good things of 2012. It means if one can get their land titled so can others and that will be a good thing for both Panama and the people who want to live in Panama.

If you've Canadian, and you've moved here recently let us know - we'd love to know some other Canadians in Panama.

 

December 2012

While most people in Panama enjoyed Noche Buena - the Christmas eve traditions in Latin America Donna and I had a really nice quiet day at home together with Cricket. Cricket has been a lot better recently which has made Christmas so much nicer.

Christmas morning was us up getting ready for Christmas dinner with our friends. This was going to be our last Christmas in Panama with one of our friends as they are moving to Argentina this week. We will miss them a lot but it gives us a real excuse to have to visit Argentina - not just because of the wine :}

We had way too much food - it was all excellent - a mixture of Canadian, French, Argentinean and Panamanian :} crazy.

We talked with family and friends in Canada over Christmas. We miss seeing them but we sure don't miss the weather - 20+ below - yuck. And what's with the storms in the USA and England this week. We've had more rain recently but compared to everything else it is nothing.

Looking back over 2012 it was an interesting year in so many ways. Donna has her best year ever with her tours both in number of tours and number of guests. She also flew the most number of miles in a year - over 110.000 miles. We met some new people and visited with some friends who visited Panama, some for the first time others on their 3rd trip. We had to rebuild our cars engine after it died and continued to do more work on the condo. We're thankful that our family have all been healthy and happy through the year. One of my business partners came through some extremely tricky surgery and is recovering well. I started diving - what a great hobby. I look forward to passing my advanced diving certification.

Around Panama it didn't seem like the city got into the Christmas mood. When we moved here over 6 years ago Costa del Este and the city was alive with Christmas. There used to be so many lights and decorations everywhere. But this year Donna and drove around Costa del Este, the city along the Cinta Costera and into Casco Viejo. Very, very little sign of Christmas. The Cinta Costera used to be a major Christmas decoration from one end to the other. This year it is a tiny little space near the end. We still had a great time wandering around Casco Viejo in spite of it dumping on us part way into our walk. The first photo shows some of the decorations in Casco Viejo, the second image on the right shows off some of the other interesting buildings. This area continues to just get better and better. When Donna & I first visited Panama City in 2006 we both fell in love with Casco Viejo but in practical terms it would have been really tough to live there and have an office.

If you are an expat thinking of moving to Panama or new to Panama and if you have any questions please feel free to email us. We're happy to try and answer them. We don't have all the answers but we've been here 6 years and we've had the privilege to meet some great people and we've had some disappointments. If we can help, we'd be happy to reply. Over the years we've had the pleasure of meeting some really interesting people who have visited or moved to Panama from Canada or the USA.

If you've Canadian, and you've moved here recently let us know - we'd love to know some other Canadians in Panama.  

more news >>

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Read the comments from the other years

More News  - 2012
More News  - 2011
More News  - 2010

More News  - 2009
More News  - 2008 & earlier

 




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