For the record we don’t have mail delivery in Panama, nor do we have addresses. The closest thing I have to an address is, “the gringos with two Dalmatians on the road to the cemetery.” My electric bill comes monthly delivered by a guy on a motorcycle who sticks it somewhere near the front gate and if it doesn’t get blown away or washed away, we find it. Regular mail is picked up general delivery at the post office in town. If you are lucky you have a post office box. There are not nearly enough postal boxes. When we came to Boquete, every time Nikki would see a funeral procession she’d run to the post office to see if the box was available, which is how we got box #4.
But most our mail, of course, is electronic! So on with mail and comments …
People come and people go … and I’ve entitled one of the chapters in THE NEW ESCAPE TO PARADISE: OUR EXPERIENCE LIVING AND RETIRING IN PANAMA, “Leaving Paradise” since I’ve always been as interested in the reasons why people leave, as well as why they come to Panama. Jackie Lange, who leads Panama Relocation Tours, sent me a link to an interesting post by some folks in Costa Rica about the reasons why they decided to leave Costa Rica. If you are thinking of adopting an expat lifestyle in either Panama or Costa Rica you might find this interesting, as, of course, the chapter in my new book.
Richard, I love your blog and cannot wait to get your new book. I will traveling in Panama in 2014 and look forward to your helpful hints.
I received this interesting comment from bluzeguys . . .
Regarding the medical information, I have traveled extensively in Europe and the Americas and received both excellent and poor care experiences in the same countries. Poignant anecdotes can be provided to support any viewpoint, so, while they reflect sincere and meaningful personal experiences, they do not necessarily provide greater understanding.
My former physician is Canadian and has practiced in his home country, Panama and the U.S. (He is the one who suggested I would like Panama.) His comment was they all have good care, but, you simply cannot compete with the range and quality received in the U.S. His nation suffers a shortage of MRI centers. He has seen 50-year-old men die on the sidewalk from heart attacks because they could not get to a hospital quickly enough. These are sights, he says, you rarely see in the U.S. Trauma center training is existent, but minimal in most places.
That does not mean the U.S. system does not have its faults. It does. There are some greedy MD’s, overpriced insurers and now our new federally mandated exchanges follow the old HMO model that Congress outlawed in the 90′s because they provided such poor coverage.
Perhaps the message is you really have to wade carefully into the medical waters. Look for recommendations and, if you have a chronic condition, you might want to consider the facilities, costs and skills capabilities available in the area before moving.
One fallacy to clear up is the often mentioned assumption that since life expectancy is higher in some nations than in the U.S. that means they have better health care than the U.S. Unfortunately, the two do not equate. Overall life expectancy in any nation is based on many factors such as lifestyles, eating habits, work stress and even driving fatalities. Americans generally live much different lifestyles then our neighbors. The quality of healthcare does not become the major factor in life expectancy until the later years when medical attention is more in demand. In fact, at age 65 and beyond, where medical care really counts, the U.S. is number one in life expectancy by a wide margin.
And in answer . . .
I see you are selling your coffee plantation. Have you had enough and want to move on?
I’ve gotten a number of these questions since we are putting our coffee estate and house on the market. The answer is we’re not going anywhere. We love Panama and are happy here, but with my wife’s health and my plans to go back to working on ships, the farm and our dream house are just too much for us at this point in our lives. We’ve had a great seven years raising coffee. There is a lot of interest in the States and elsewhere in “single source” coffee, but I just don’t have the extra energy or interest to take our coffee business to the next level.
From James Davis . . .
Welcome back, Richard. Glad your brother is now in good hands. Now we’re all hanging on to the edges of our seats wondering WHICH COFFEE GRINDER you bought! The coffee grinder I have is the “Baratza Encore Conical Burr Coffee Grinder” which I’ve used here for over a year without trouble. Not the cheapest, but has been very reliable. Look for it on Amazon.
Also Bonnie Williams …
Yes, please, tell us which coffee grinder you settled on. I’m due for a new one, too, and am traveling to the States next month.
Drum roll . . . Baratza Virtuoso Burr Espresso Grinder. It seems to work well, so far, but don’t take this as any recommendation or endorsement. I’ve discovered with coffee stuff your initial impression isn’t worth much. Ask me after a year, and if it is still working, I might recommend it. Funny how most customer satisfaction ratings are based on customer evaluation right after purchasing, not twelve months later when whatever you purchased might be falling apart or stopped working. Some of the purchases which we’ve initially loved, turned out to be the most wasted purchases of our lives.
Amazon of course!
Where can I purchase your book on retiring to Panama? Jerry Reidelbach
You can buy the books either from CreateSpace directly, Kindle or the general Amazon site. If you buy a book on Kindle, and later decide you’d like a paperback copy you can get it for just $2.99.
Responding to the post Exploiting The Natives? Nelva writes . . .
Excellent conversation about the effects of tourism on Emberå culture.For greater understanding of that effect we need to hear the Emberå voices.
Allison adds . . .
This is a marvelous trip to take. The Embera people are beautiful. I resent the lack of money they receive from the ship tours, and I resent all the tourists taking candy. If you must, take books, pencils etc. Buy their handicrafts that are so beautiful and well made. I often wonder how these tours are effecting them and I do hope it is because they want to do them.
Then there was this from Margot . . .
Thought provoking piece. A variation and overview of this whole theme should be part of every port lecturer’s talk, especially when tours include indigenous people.
The financial equity of the tours IS troubling. One of the reasons I try to book tours through local tour companies rather than the ship’s whenever possible.
Having said that, what can we, as passengers do to urge ships to share more with the people who make this and other tours even possible?
And, on another topic? The photo of the author with HER top on amidst a group of bare-breasted women screams inequity and feels patronizing and condescending to me, especially when that photo is published for a western audience. Though I am convinced that wasn’t her intention. Margot
Margot, Anne is a gringa woman married to an Embera guy and the gals in the picture with her are her in-laws. I know Anne has on occasion tried the dress code of the older Embera women, but is happy with who she is. It seems to me that it would be “patronizing and condescending” if she went native! I know her Embera family and they love and accept Anne just as she is. Like everyone else in the village she bathes in the river when she is home in the village. And, no, I don’t know if they use an “approved” brand of bio-degradable soap!
The tours are the only source of income for the Embera in Chagres. Since the turnover of the Canal the area in which they live has been made into a national park. The Embera are allowed to live in the park, but they can no longer hunt in their traditional ways or practice agriculture within the park. So the need tourism, but they also really enjoy meeting and interacting with people from all over the world. Where in the past they may have been looked down on as “savages” or “ignorant Indians”, Panamanian Latinos now recognize the Embera as a national treasure and realize the importance of preserving the traditional Embera culture.
How big is too big?
Richard. You are completely right to simplify your living in Panama. We built a large home in Saint Lucoa and sold it fortunately in 2009. Then we built in 2010 a small one of 1550 s.ft. with everything on one level, plunge pool, small pool deck and a covered veranda.
It is made of tropical Greenheart wood like part of the old canal locks. Ideal insulation.
We just sold it finally to British people and will move in June or July to Panama. We will
rent a home between David and Boquete. El Frances maybe. We will see. For the two of us it is simple, but to fly with our 4 doggies with transit in Trinidad requires quite some paperwork. Looking forward to meet you in the near future. Greetings to Nikki. Helen just had for the second time Dengue fever. This time bad for 10 days and another 20 days feeling weak. Robert & Helen
Hola Richard. Are you still doing the relocation tours and if so, where can I get more info to give someone that needs to do your tour, not sit in a hotel ballroom for 4 days listen to others sell them something. Muchas Gracias! Sunny
The Panama Relocation Tours are actually the project of my friend Jackie Lange. Sometimes, when my schedule permits, I tag along on the tour. In fact I’m finishing up on the current tour right now, and will write a report when it is over. The tours are a great introduction to the country and will help you in your decision if Panama is right for you. The tours fill up quickly, so if you are interested, don’t delay. Everyone on the tour receives a copy of my book THE NEW ESCAPE TO PARADISE: OUR EXPERIENCE LIVING AND RETIRING IN PANAMA,,which is required reading before the tour. The Panama Relocation Tours, like my book, are not designed to “sell” Panama, but are intended to give you an honest look at what expat life is like in Panama. The real scoop on the real deal! Jackie and Doug, just like Nikki and I, LOVE living in Panama, but we also recognize that Panama is not for everyone. Both the book and the tour will help you decide if Panama is right for you.
There is a lot of interest in Ecuador as well. I think the stability, economic growth, infrastructure, etc., etc., etc., of Panama far outweigh Ecuador, certainly for me, and for many prospective expats. But, if you are interested in Ecuador, Nathan, a good friend of Jackie and part of her extended family, has started Ecuador Relocation Tours. My only experience in Ecuador has been mostly along the coast stopping on cruise ships. It’s not for me, but if you’d like to check it out, Nathan’s tour is a good place to start.
After seven years of blogging and over 1,400 posts things had gotten pretty disorganized on the site, so I’m in a continuing progress or reorganizing and making things easier to find. You note on the drop down menus above, that it is getting much easier to find information on my site.