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WhyPanama
Costa del Este
Panama City, Panama 







Donna


Tom


Tom



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October 1, 2015

It has been almost 2 months since I've written. So many things have been happening there never seems to be time to write. Poor excuse I know. Donna finally arrived home from all her tours this year. Her last tour was Italy - I have to join her one day on that tour. Food, wine, scenery. She brought back a really interesting idea - to spend a month in Tuscany and learn to back Italian bread. Wow. I really need to do that.

First, I want to take a small group to Greece to rent a sail boat and tour the islands for at least 2 weeks. The last time we did that was one week back in 2004. It was amazing. This time a larger boat, less people.

Now - to around Panama.  Donna gave me a card with lots of pictures to share. One group is from a restaurant I already shared with you Thai2112. The reason for visiting was two of our friends decided to move to the Caymans - we'll miss them - we only knew them for just over a year but they are nice people. One way to look at it is it will give us a reason to visit and dive the Caymans.

More pictures are of Donde Jose, Golden Unicorn, Cinta Costera, new Soho mall, Playa Blanca, JW Marriott - check out the pictures page and the food page for all the pictures

Here is just a taste.

   

I finally took some time and updated some of the pages on www.whypanama.net - pages that were updated and additions made are - othersites, touristsites, services, and articles.

A few weeks ago Donna and I we spent time in a condo at Playa Blanca. For almost 9 years we've limited our beach time to the Caribbean as we never found a place we enjoyed. Well that changed at Playa Blanca. We had a great time. We walked on the beach for hours, we enjoyed the area and the condo. Friends of ours Jessie and Faudia always raved about the JW Marriott at Buenaventura and we decided to visit to see what it was all about. What a class act place. The entrance says it all and when we walked to the beach you could see why they really enjoy the time they spend at the resort. Surrounding the resort is a huge golf course, massive homes and condos - one can only imagine the cost - I saw advertised - 229m2 for almost $900k. Check out all the pictures of these on the picture page

Over the past 9 years we've watched Panama City grow and become more like any upscale city. The latest addition is a mall on calle 50 called Soho - the stores read like a who's who - Jimmy Choo shoes, to Cartier to name just a couple. Donna spotted one store/restaurant called Ladurée - a French store that sells real Parisian macarons - flown in from Paris - they are amazing but pricey.

The other thing we had fun doing was the Beer Week offering at the Hilton Hotel. The ticket price included all the food and beer you wanted. I was skeptical but after almost 2 hours there was no let up in the food service or the beer merchants willingness to pour another beer. Unlike wine tasting where lots sip and spit, this is a disaster waiting to happen - way too much beer - but fun.

We're gearing up to do the Gastronomic next month at the Atlapa Convention Center. We always used to go with Alan & Geri but they are in Boquete. This year we will be going with Rita & Jordan. 

Speaking of Boquete, Geri sent me the link to the local Boquete online news feed as she was mentioning the number and ferocity of crimes. Home invasions, robberies - pretty scary stuff. All of this seems to be targeted at expats. Something like this was going around on the Pacific Coast near Coronado a few years ago. Thieves were barging into restaurants and robbing patrons at gun point. No where near the violence you hear about in some US cities with mass shootings but scary none the less for what should be a very quiet, peaceful country. We even had a lady stabbed at a bus stop in CdeE a few weeks ago.

Are you a pet person? If so, consider helping some of the really worthy groups trying to make a difference to thousands of homeless cats and dogs in Panama. I've mentioned them before but it is worth repeating - Hogar San Roque, the shelter Mari Pily runs with the help of volunteers, see them on Facebook as https://www.facebook.com/hogaralbergue.sanroque?fref=ts&ref=br_tf, or https://www.facebook.com/hogar.roque?fref=ts and then there is Spay Panama at http://pchan5.wix.com/spaypanama - there are many more but these two we have supported and know how dedicated they are to helping make the lives of abandoned dogs and cats more liveable.

If you want, write us if you have questions - we love to help.

we've included in People, Services, Tourist Site and others in the links on the left side of the page.

We add to these areas as our experience with each of them change .

 

July 2015

Last Sunday I had the privilege of visiting the new Panama Canal expansion before it is flooded. There were thousands of others who braved the lines and by mid day the rains to have the ability to wander through the dry canal and to see first hand, up-close the monstrous size of each of the locks. Some months back we saw the Atlantic side expansion from the new observation area and from there they looked huge but to wander through them was a once in a lifetime event. I am just sorry Donna was not here. I spoke with someone this week who felt it was likely that the Canal Authority might do it again before they flood the locks next year.

When I decided to go I had my doubts on how the day would go but I have to say it was very well organized from the parking to the staging area, to the buses, the guides, and the lock area itself.

From the time I left our condo in Costa del Este to actually wandering in the canal was almost 3 hours. The traffic was horrible, the buses busy and the lines very long. The amazing part was people were civil and kept to the lines and did not try and butt in or cut in line. The same with the buses, they were organized and the guides were enthusiastic about their descriptions of the canal.

In 2016 Panama will open both ends of the new expansion and a new era will begin in Panama. Over 100 years ago the first two lanes were finished and the world had a new method of moving goods - in another year the new expansion will double that capacity. Check out these pictures.

These two pictures are not mine - they were posted on Tom Brymers newsletter. My pictures are located on my pictures page.

 

I find it fun when I talk with friends in Canada about our move to Panama to hear their lack of knowledge about Panama. Like Donna and me before we visited we had never given any thought to what Panama was really like. When we flew in the first view was totally unexpected. Here is a picture Tom Brymer shared on Panama City.

As Panama does not have an army I don't know how to describe the group Senafront - they are charged with the border patrol and enforcement but they seem to be very involved in community service. They were here in Costa del Este today to clean up the ocean front. By the time I biked by at 2 pm they had gathered over 4 blocks of garbage bags - 4 blocks - incredible. The sad part was today it rained around 2:30 and the river ran white with plastic. What a shame - until the litter problem gets solved, no amount of clean up will make any difference.

Are you a pet person? If so, consider helping some of the really worthy groups trying to make a difference to thousands of homeless cats and dogs in Panama. I've mentioned them before but it is worth repeating - Hogar San Roque, the shelter Mari Pily runs with the help of volunteers, see them on Facebook as https://www.facebook.com/hogaralbergue.sanroque?fref=ts&ref=br_tf, or https://www.facebook.com/hogar.roque?fref=ts and then there is Spay Panama at http://pchan5.wix.com/spaypanama - there are many more but these two we have supported and know how dedicated they are to helping make the lives of abandoned dogs and cats more liveable.

If you want, write us if you have questions - we love to help.

we've included in People, Services, Tourist Site and others in the links on the left side of the page.

We add to these areas as our experience with each of them change .

 

May 2015

It's Mothers Day in North America - Happy Birthday Mom - and Happy Birthday to Donna's Mom - both of our mom's passed away years ago but everytime I bake I am reminded of my mom and everytime I go to say I am having a senior moment I think of Donna's mom. Like all mom's both of ours had a profound impact on our lives. Donna learned her love of gardening and all things plants - whereas I learned the love of baking. Imagine Donna without a passion for gardening! What is fun is since moving to Panama we get to remember our moms twice a year - May 10th and December 8th here in Panama. If your mom is still alive don't miss the opportunity to spend time with her - tell her how much you love her and how much she influenced your life.

Donna arrived home from China and then Mexico - she is off to England and then Italy. I will see her in June when her tours are finished for 2015. I am hoping when she gets back we can get back to going to the Caribbean and the Pacific every couple of weeks so I can get back to diving. Seems like forever since I finished my last exam with Rey and the hardest part is Rey keeps posting pictures how clear the Caribbean has been these last few weeks - sign :}

A lot has happened since I posted last. The Summit of the Americas finished uneventfully. The city got back to a bit of normality in time for May day holiday. It never ceases to amaze me how many holidays this country celebrates and how it impacts businesses. It seems every time I contact a business if it is anywhere near a holiday the response is "after" the holiday or "we need to get to it now that we are back from the holiday".

I've talked about our new office renovations - we started back in September - 8 months ago. We still don't have the final approval from the Municipality on our drawings - every week we here - "it's done, we just need one more signature" or "can you make one small change and then we can get the one last signature". It is the single biggest test of patience I've ever encountered. We will move in some day. We're just not sure when.

For a tropical rain forest country we've had almost no rain yet in the "rainy" season. We have had some very unusual tides on the Pacific side as a result of some storm in the South Pacific.

We've visited a few new restaurants since I reported last. The latest was Thai 2112 downtown on calle 48 between Frederico Boyd and calle Uruguay. Excellent food, great ambiance and exceptional service at reasonable prices - hard to beat. Check out our notes on the food and restaurant pages.  

When my friend John was visiting from Canada we decided to do a pub crawl night but with a twist. We decided to focus on "roof top bars". We started on calle Uruguay with the Manrey Hotel, moved to the Hard Rock, then to Casco Viejo with Tantalo and Barlovento. From my original list of places to visit we did pretty good but we left a few for next time. If you want a fun night try this as there are some great bars to visit and some spectacular views of Panama City.

I've posted the 3 pictures we take every month from our balcony to show you how many changes we've seen in our little area of Costa del Este alone. Check them out here. Off in the distance on the first picture is the new mall rising out of the ground. Bern expects to have it finished in 2 years and at the pace they are going I believe them. Across the street from our condo they've started on a new building and two lots over they've begun digging the new Hyatt Hotel. So much for quiet for 2-3 more years.

Turns out after 40 years of being married that here in Panama we really aren't married in the eyes of the laws of Panama so that is something we hope to fix this coming week before Donna heads out again. Who knew :} - just one of those "quirks" of Panama.

Next weekend - May 17th I am going to visit the new lane of the canal - up close - the Canal Authority is offering a one time, one day opportunity to walk in the new 3rd lane on the Pacific side before they flood them. I could not miss this. The size is impressive from a distance. I can only imagine up close what it is going to feel like. I will post pictures and comments later.

Are you a pet person? If so, consider helping some of the really worthy groups trying to make a difference to thousands of homeless cats and dogs in Panama. I've mentioned them before but it is worth repeating - Hogar San Roque, the shelter Mari Pily runs with the help of volunteers, see them on Facebook as https://www.facebook.com/hogaralbergue.sanroque?fref=ts&ref=br_tf, or https://www.facebook.com/hogar.roque?fref=ts and then there is Spay Panama at http://pchan5.wix.com/spaypanama - there are many more but these two we have supported and know how dedicated they are to helping make the lives of abandoned dogs and cats more liveable.

If you want, write us if you have questions - we love to help.

we've included in People, Services, Tourist Site and others in the links on the left side of the page.

We add to these areas as our experience with each of them change .

 

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

Donna is off to China next week and my friend from Canada is arriving but that is not why Panama is about to go crazy - the Summit of the Americas is the reason. If holy week last week wasn't bad enough when basically the country shuts down mentally on Wednesday in anticipation of really closing at noon on Thursday to celebrate Good Friday.

The Summit will bring the heads of 35 countries to Panama for 4 days including Pres Obama and ex-President Clinton. Imagine the chaos in a country of only 3 million. It is already nuts but it is about to get nuttier. I am glad I can walk to work as so many people will be inconvenienced big time by road closures and traffic snarls worse than normal. If something concrete was likely to come out of the Summit I'd be right in there supporting it but the doubting Thomas side of me says - "same old - same old".

On much brighter notes we had a great day today wandering around Casco Viejo with our friends Rita, Jordan, Todd and Josselyn. What a great place especially when it was so quiet compared to normal. On a typical Sunday it would be crazy but because most of the city folk are just now struggling to return via the Interamerican highway there were hardly any people. We loved it.

We started the morning the group for breakfast at the Roadsters - a diner styled restaurant in San Francisco across from the Atlapa. Check out the comments in our food section.

Here are just a few pictures from today - check out the rest in our Pictures area.

One of the more interesting sites in Panama is the new Museum of Biodiversity by Frank Gehry - he also has page for his art - Artsy's Frank Gehry

There are so many things to do in Panama it is always difficult to answer people when they ask what should we do when we visit for a week or 2 or a month or two.

With two oceans - the Pacific and the Caribbean there are no shortages of beaches - albeit sometimes the access to the beach can be tricky to find.

If you are into birding - welcome to one of the best places to see over 900 species of birds.

Do you like hiking in volcanic (extinct) jungle - or diving in pristine areas like Coiba or warm water Caribbean sites, then you found  your place.

Are you looking to explore indigenous people or pristine jungles  - you found it ...

Surfing, orchids, virtually untouched islands, and great small towns with really quaint traditions.

For such a tiny country it has so many different areas, climates and things to do and see. Panama is not something you can do in 1 week or 2 weeks - we've been here almost 9 years and there are still so many things to see.

It's been over 6 months since our little Cricket passed away. It's taken me that long to say how impressed we were with the professionalism of the funeral service. Prior to "the" day we had communicated often by email and was assured everything would go as we wanted - you have to know after being in Panama for over 8 years we took this assurance with a grain of sand. But when the day came, our vet from down the street arrived when he promised, he allowed all the time we needed to say goodbye and to make sure Cricket was calm and not stressed. When she took her final breath the funeral company let us hold her and say goodbye for as long as we wanted. He was very patient with us as we didn't want to let her go. Within a few days he delivered her ashes as we wanted with a small wooden container in the shape of a heart. Cricket has her own virtual plot on line at http://mascotas-panama.com/mascota-fallecida/obituario-cricket - I would never wish that anyone has to go through this with a lost friend but if you do and  you want a company that cares contact MascotasPanama.com - they do care.  I was sure I could make it through this part without choking as it has been 6 months but not so.

Last week there were two more people on Facebook asking about moving to Panama and the things they needed to consider. One was Canadian and I sent my note saying they needed to take their time, visit, check out the areas, decide what they want from their new country and make sure they seek advice in Canada from a good tax lawyer long before they make the final decision.

I've posted the 3 pictures we take every month from our balcony to show you how many changes we've seen in our little area of Costa del Este alone. Check them out here.

If you want, write us if you have questions - we love to help.

we've included in People, Services, Tourist Site and others in the links on the left side of the page.

We add to these areas as our experience with each of them change .

 

April 2015

Donna has started her tour year with a tour to Singapore and Bali. She will be home on and off now until June - sigh :}

It was great to have her home full time for several months - we enjoyed visiting our friends in Boquete and a number of restaurants around town - more of that later and our cruise out of Tampa.

Now its back to work for me too - our software business works with professional accountants so we take the time while they are busy to get lots of work done on our software and business we don't have time to do during the selling season of May to January.

We are also working on finishing the work on our new office in Santa Maria Business Park - we hope to be in by the end of April. Getting permits is another story that I don't have the room for on this forum.

It was 9 years ago April that Donna and I arrived in Panama to consider it as place we might choose for our new home. The whole reason for this site "why panama" was to answer everyone's question - "why did we choose Panama over other countries or places in the world?" After vacationing in Mexico for over 22 years our friends were convinced that would be where we would move to when we decided to get out of the cold of Alberta, Canada. My business partner, Ted had been to Panama with a friend and he knew we were serious about moving so he suggested we "check it out" before we decided on Mexico.

We arrived at Tocumen airport like so many other expats - starry eyed and a little apprehensive. We took a cab to our hotel the Decapolis in the center of the city. Over the next 4 days we saw some local real estate, visited Mira Flores and walked around downtown. It rained and rained but it was so warm. It was so cheap. It was a city and had all the amenities. It had beaches within an hour and so many things to do. We were hooked. That was April - by August I had moved to Panama. By September we owned a condo, had business and two employees. By October Donna would be here with Cricket and we began our new life.

Panama is not perfect. But after 9 years we still don't regret our decision. Donna says she still loves coming home to the warmth. I still pinch myself periodically to make sure it is real.

The other reason for us creating this site was to let others know if they were thinking about Panama we would be happy to answer any questions we could to help. Feel free to email us and ask anything.

If you are considering Panama - do your homework - I've mentioned it before but it is worth repeating - there is a lot of information available from a number of sites - check them out - ask questions - we love Panama but I understand it is not for everyone and it is a very diverse country. I want them to have seen the beaches, the two oceans, mountains and the city.

Before you chose any new home make sure you've visited, spent time and tried to get a feel for what the area is really like. To often people visit on a vacation, fall in love with an area and then decide to move.

 Visiting and living are two very different things in any country. We vacationed in Mexico for over 20 years and we loved it. We enjoyed the food, the people, the weather but when it came time to make a final decision on a move we did not choose Mexico we chose Panama. Why - well it turned out several things. First at our core we are city people and Mexico has few real cities. Second, we wanted some place where the weather was predictable and Mexico has too many hurricanes and bad weather - Panama might be hot and humid but very predictable. Third, it turns out for Canadians, the tax laws are so much better. Finally when we looked closely at the retirement visa options we found that Panama had the best options available and they have even improved with the friendly nation visa.

Still the advice is the same - do your homework or ask more questions. There are sites dedicated to helping you look at lots of other places around the world like BestPlacesInTheWorldToRetire - don't forget to look for other sites using Yahoo Groups, or Facebook for Expat focused pages.

If you want, write us if you have questions - we love to help.

I talked about the restaurants and some of our weekends around Panama while Donna was home. We had a great time going back to Donde Jose with our friends Jordan, Rita, Bob and Reuben.

We also went to Tsugoi, an asian restaurant in El Cangrejo as well as the Fish Market (not the fish market but the mobile fish market truck near Donde Jose) and Milano. We also went to the Golden Unicorn for Chinese New Year with our friends.

You can read about these restaurants and more in both our Restaurant and Food section.

Don't miss all the other comments and resources we've included in People, Services, Tourist Site and others in the links on the left side of the page.

We add to these areas as our experience with each of them change .

 

March2015

It's summer, Carnival, the dry season, school holidays, and Valentines Day all rolled into one.

Everywhere in the world where they celebrate Carnival the city is transformed and the people go crazy. Think of Rio, Venice and New Orleans. Here in Panama City it is almost a ghost town - everyone seems to take off Friday at noon and head to the interior of Panama - Las Tables, Las Santos, Penonomé, and even Pedasi, The restaurants in our area, Costa del Este are all closed. Lots of shops closed until Wednesday. Government and the banks closed until Wednesday. Last year the government tried to make the city a "happening place". They spent a reported 3 million to throw Carnival in the city on the Cinta Costera. We went to see the action and there were lots of people but it was not packed. This year I understand they've scaled the budget back to under 500k.

The dry season always meant lots of fires. People wanting to burn the dry weeds instead of chopping them down. The worst part was it was always very windy in the dry season which meant the fire department was constantly running to put out fires before they caused serious damage. We have pictures of one of those fires just across the freeway from us burning a freeway advertising sign 30 feet in the air. This year it seems a lot more civilized. Still lots of wind and still very dry, but no fires so far.

Donna & I just returned from a short cruise out of Tampa and while in Tampa we did some shopping at the outlet malls. We rented a car to get around for the 2 days. Unbeknownst to me, my Panama drivers license expired January 31st, 2015. Donna caught it not the rental car company. I was worried but there was nothing we could do as she doesn't have a license in Panama.

Upon our return to Panama my first trip (by cab) was to the place that renews licenses. Very simple I was told. I get to the building to find what seems like all of Panama waiting outside in a line. I went up to teh security guard to make sure this was the correct line. He confirmed it was and asked me if I was "jubilado"  (old person) - I said yes, and he promptly opened the door and told me to go in and go to the jubilado line. No waiting. That part was nice. But the simple .. well not quite so simple. You see we have two vehicles. The first one we purchased in 2007. When you register a vehicle in Panama they link your cedula or passport to the vehicle. As the numbers on a normal cedula do not change there is no problem. But passport numbers do change when they are renewed. When we purchased the second vehicle it was in 2013. My passport number in 2007 was not the same as in 2013 nor today - 3 different numbers. Turns out when I went to renew my license they check on vehicles and sure enough it showed two with different passport numbers and I now have a cedula. So they could not renew my license until I went to the municipal office to "fix" the vehicles registrations first.

The next day by cab again, I headed downtown, this time with a lawyer to help navigate what I was sure was going to be tricky waters. Turns out I was right. As soon as we got to the counter to make the simple change they discover another problem. There are two Thomas Dawson's in the system with two different numbers.

This apparently is a huge "no no". The reason was the two vehicle registrations with the two different passports  - they never asked or linked the first one when the second was registered. It took almost everyone in the office and almost 3 hours to get the change done. The other hilarious item was my name - they kept wanting to call me Mr Sterling - you see everything shows up as Thomas Sterling Dawson and it is almost the norm here in Panama to list your name, your family name and your mothers (or fathers name) so they assumed Sterling was the family name. It took my lawyer almost 10 minutes to convince the girl it should be Dawson.

The next day by cab again, back to the first office to get my licensed renewed. After waiting to get to the first counter, it turned out I had four more counters to go through. Details and picture. Visual test. Audio test and finally cashier to pay before I finally got my new license.

Check out the monthly photos of the changes around our area Costa del Este. For almost 9 years, Donna has been taking the same 3 pictures from our balcony. It will give you some sense of how much has changed. The same crazy growth can be seen all over Panama City. We had a new valuation done on our condo and it confirmed the prices continue to rise which is both a good and bad thing. I went to the super market today and was reminded that this same "rise" includes things like food. I have no real comparison to our old home in Canada to know if they are feeling the same thing, I suspect they are but to use Panama is not the cheap little country it was 9 years ago.

If you are considering Panama - do your homework - I've mentioned it before but it is worth repeating - there is a lot of information available from a number of sites - check them out - ask questions - we love Panama but I understand it is not for everyone and it is a very diverse country. I want them to have seen the beaches, the two oceans, mountains and the city.

Before you chose any new home make sure you've visited, spent time and tried to get a feel for what the area is really like. To often people visit on a vacation, fall in love with an area and then decide to move. Visiting and living are two very different things in any country. We vacationed in Mexico for over 20 years and we loved it. We enjoyed the food, the people, the weather but when it came time to make a final decision on a move we did not choose Mexico we chose Panama. Why - well it turned out several things. First at our core we are city people and Mexico has few real cities. Second, we wanted some place where the weather was predictable and Mexico has too many hurricanes and bad weather - Panama might be hot and humid but very predictable. Third, it turns out for Canadians, the tax laws are so much better. Finally when we looked closely at the retirement visa options we found that Panama had the best options available and they have even improved with the friendly nation visa.

Still the advice is the same - do your homework or ask more questions.

If you want, write us if you have questions - we love to help.

Check out our site - we listed People and Services we have found we trust - we also have contacts for even a great handyman - Juan

 

February 2015

 

We hope you had a great Christmas and New Years Eve and we wish a 2015 for you that fills all your hopes and aspirations.

We had a quiet Christmas home - it was our first Christmas without Cricket - it was a bit odd. New Years was fun. We drove to Boquete to visit friends who moved there a year ago. We wanted to see their place and revisit Boquete. It is easy to see why so many expats decided to move there versus other locations in Panama as it offers many attractive things. It is so much cooler than anywhere else. You can feel the change in temperature driving up the hill from David. The number of expats make it attractive too as there is very little need to assimilate into the culture or language. If you are a gardener like Donna you have to fall in love with the area. To me the downside is the climate. It is so cool and so much moisture. I am a warm climate person - I just found it difficult. My early morning runs were almost cold.

We did enjoy the market and all of its crafts and foods as well as a really nice meal out at the Panamonte Hotel. I think I would find the numerous power outages, the lack of diversity offered by the city and the inconvenience of the airport to be a challenge over the long haul. Much like living in Bocas. I know I would enjoy it for some time but it too would be a challenge over time. This is why I always tell people looking to move to Panama to really consider what kind of person they are - do they crave entertainment or seclusion, do they love heat or cool - do they want beaches or mountains, do they want to assimilate into the culture or spend time with other expats with similar beliefs.

The trip to Boquete was also a bit of a challenge. From Panama City to Santiago was without incident. From Santiago to David was painful. There was so much construction. They are twining the road and when it is done I am sure it will be a real boon but now, it is horrible. When we drove back in January 1st it was not quite so bad as there was no traffic. I am sure we will return to visit Boquete but I am amazed how many people we know that drive this route often.

It is nice to be finally into the dry season - I know Donna prefers the moisture as it keeps everything so green but I prefer the dry and the breezes. The mornings and the nights are so nice - it reminds me why we moved here in the first place.

I am not positive 2015 will bring many more changes in Panama and in our area Costa del Este. We walked by  the construction site of the new mall and within a couple of years it will be finished. Around the country there are many new things that will be brought to fruition in 2015 and 2016. The new airport at Tocumen, the new 2nd stage of the metro line, the new 4th bridge over the canal, the new 3rd lane of the canal, as well as numerous new projects like the wind farm near Penome. All of these changes will change the complexion of Panama. I hope some of these help change the attitude of Panama toward tourism. On the flip side all of these changes mean Panama will also be more costly.

Panama keeps cropping up on lists of the best places to retire around the world. The latest list showed Panama as #2 behind Ecuador. The worrisome part for me is that there are so many factors that need to be considered when choosing a new place to live and retire. These articles tend to focus on only a few of such items like cost of living or ease of residency papers.   

If you are considering Panama - do your homework - I've mentioned it before but it is worth repeating - there is a lot of information available from a number of sites - check them out - ask questions - we love Panama but I understand it is not for everyone and it is a very diverse country. I want them to have seen the beaches, the two oceans, mountains and the city.

Before you chose any new home make sure you've visited, spent time and tried to get a feel for what the area is really like. To often people visit on a vacation, fall in love with an area and then decide to move. Visiting and living are two very different things in any country. We vacationed in Mexico for over 20 years and we loved it. We enjoyed the food, the people, the weather but when it came time to make a final decision on a move we did not choose Mexico we chose Panama. Why - well it turned out several things. First at our core we are city people and Mexico has few real cities. Second, we wanted some place where the weather was predictable and Mexico has too many hurricanes and bad weather - Panama might be hot and humid but very predictable. Third, it turns out for Canadians, the tax laws are so much better. Finally when we looked closely at the retirement visa options we found that Panama had the best options available and they have even improved with the friendly nation visa.

Still the advice is the same - do your homework or ask more questions.

If you want, write us if you have questions - we love to help.

Check out our site - we listed People and Services we have found we trust - we also have contacts for even a great handyman - Juan

 

December 2014

Here it is almost 3 months since Cricket passed away and yet it is just like yesterday.

When we walk in the afternoon or I run in the morning we get to "visit" our little bear as we sprinkled some of her ashes on her favorite part of the walk. It is so hard to imagine how huge she was in our lives as I still get choked thinking of her. To non dog people this must seem really weird getting this choked over the loss of a pup but it is real to us.  

As hard as losing Cricky has been I just can't imagine the loss of a child. I spoke with one of our oldest clients this week and they lost their son of 25 years.  There is nothing I could do to even begin to imagine her grief. My sister lost her daughter to leukemia and I know how it still causes her to get choked = and that's been almost 20 years. Grief is really ugly but it also demonstrates how deep our love was.

We visited our foster dogs today. It was a tough week for them. Pastor, the large white alsatian was attacked by one more of the dogs in the are next door. This is not the first time - a few years ago the same dogs killed pastorcita. We are worried enough we spoke with Chito and he is going to take them to his house in the interior where they can run free and be safe. It is going to be sad that we won't be able to visit them but we hope that this new home will give them an better life and a lot more exercise than they get currently as they are only out at night. I am really angry at the people who own those other dogs but Nino told me that going after them would only mean a tough time for Chito so I will bite my tongue. Thank goodness Pastor is looking so good after his surgery

We made reservations to go with Jordan, Rita, Bob and Reuben last week to Donde Jose - well we had a great pre-dinner drink and nibbles at the American Trade Hotel only to find out there was a major power outage in Casco Viejo - hence no dinner. So we just stayed and ate nibbles. Really good. And the service was excellent - attentive, helpful and very nice. We've made new reservations for January at Donde Jose as we know the others will really enjoy eating there. We also spotted another restaurant, Villa Palma, we want to try next to where S'cena used to be. More on that when we go. Over the coming months when Donna is in town we plan on arranging dinners our with some of our friends and we will be trying a whole new group of restaurants so stay tuned for more reviews. I can't believe how many great restaurants there are in Panama City.

We did go to a new restaurant for us as a result of OfertaSimple again. Mar de Grau is located just off Calle 50 near the St. Georges Bank. It is a Peruvian. Check out our food and restaurant to ready our review. "spoiler" - we will go back :}

It's Christmas party season and we had our annual BBQ and band - there were almost 130 people - what a great time. We also went to Todd's party last night and met a whole new group of people - we had to be the oldest there by decades :} but still met some nice people

I had to go to Vegas for a trade show and near froze to death - wow, I am really no good with the cold. It rained, was windy and cold. But, I still enjoyed visiting after almost 20 years - what a change. There are so many things to do and see. I got a chance to see the Belagio dancing waters and the new hotels that have sprung up in 20 years. Incredible. Donna and I are planning to go for 3-4 days just to see it again.

Speaking of freezing, :} during the holidays we are going to visit our friends Alan & Geri in Boquete - the last time we did that trip in 2007 we near froze trying to sit outside of a restaurant at night. Should be fun as we are prepared and we are going to have a fondue.

We're still struggling a bit with our new office. We have all the plans done, approved by the building architect and the engineers but we are told the municipal approval could take weeks to months and we can't really begin work without them. We've hear horror stories of years and never getting the occupancy permits. We found someone who assured us she could expedite this process and shepherd all the documents "for a fee". The building owner said she was way our of line so we took his advice and began looking for another shepherd. It will likely be 10 months from purchase to occupancy of a small office. Welcome to Panama :} 

If you are considering Panama - do your homework - I've mentioned it before but it is worth repeating - there is a lot of information available from a number of sites - check them out - ask questions - we love Panama but I understand it is not for everyone and it is a very diverse country. I want them to have seen the beaches, the two oceans, mountains and the city. All of this where muslims, jews, christians, hindus, and who knows how many other religions get alone with no wars, riots or killings. In fact during the Noriega days the owners banded together to forcibly protect the free zone - it was never looted. Check out the article at "The Arab Traders of Colon"

If you want, write us if you have questions - we love to help.

Check out our site - we listed People and Services we have found we trust - we also have contacts for even a great handyman - Juan

 

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Read the comments from the other years

More News  - 2014
More News  - 2013
More News  - 2012
More News  - 2011
More News  - 2010

More News  - 2009
More News  - 2008 & earlier

 




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