Great comments! Thank you!
Thanks to all of you who have taken the time to write reviews of my books on Amazon! Special thanks for these new reviews …
Panama Canal Day: An Illustrated Guide to Cruising The Panama Canal
Great book to read when you are preparing for a cruise through the Panama Canal. There are so many interesting facts in this book to help make your transit through the Canal an enjoyable event. Once I started reading the book, I looked forward to the next chapter. It is difficult to believe that this engineering feat was actually accomplished 100 years ago without the technology of today. A must book to have to prepare you for your cruise! Don Gordon
The New Escape to Paradise: Our Experience Living and Retiring In Panama
Having lived in Boquete, Panama for almost 6 years, traveled around the country and worked here, I have never seen such an honest, complete and straightforward representation of what it is like to live here. Richard writes the truth about subjects that many won’t, and shows very little bias throughout the book. In all of his chapters explaining life, real estate, services, construction and retirement in Panama, he hits the nail on the head and isn’t afraid to outline the fact that Panama may not be for everybody. Great Job Richard! Conner
What a fantastic resource from someone who has been living in Panama and knows the eccentricities and nuance of the culture. Whether considering Panama or anywhere else to retire abroad, Richard provides a lot of food for thought. Thanks for sharing your knowledge, Richard!! khfitz6311
Worth every penny. Well written and informative. Big Al
And now, on to the mail …
Steve writes about assisted living …
Richard, I am coming to Panama this November to begin my research into opening what would be called in the States an “Adult Foster/Family Home”, in Panama! I have long believed that there are ex-pats in Panama that have no desire to return to the States and would prefer to spend their final days in Panama. My hope is to offer “American care infrastructure” for ex-pats in Panama. My model is to purchase a home and have up to 6 residents that need 24 hour care, whether the care is limited to dementia or they are bed bound. I have the experience and ability to do this. Am I an idiot to think of this, or is there a real need? Do you have any insights or comments? Anxiously awaiting your reply, Steve Broom
Steve, there is a HUGE NEED for this type of assisted living in Panama! Many of us come down to Panama to enjoy retirement in paradise, but … things change. Life grows on, which means we are all getting older. Our bodies change and although we all see ourselves as “forty something” the fact is that bodies start to wear out. Growing older and needing assisted living is not something that we find appealing, especially for folks who are active and adventurous enough to move to Panama and experience a new and different culture. Family is ALL important in Panama. Multi-generations live in the same town, and often under the same roof. When you get older and need assistance your family takes care of you. Most North Americans and Europeans come from cultures where the family is strung out across states and countries, the so-called “nuclear” family. So, as we discovered with my younger brother whom we had to take back to the States for care, there is no North American style assisted living concept in Panama. And it is definitely one of those things that you need to keep in mind when you move to Panama. It’s the reason why I included a chapter in the NEW ESCAPE TO PARADISE entitled “Exit Strategy.” My wife, Nikki, is involved in the Hospice program in Boquete, created in part to assist folks who come to Panama and end up terminally ill, alone and without a support structure. Just this week she met with folks who are forming a support group for care givers … people struggling with incredible challenges of caring for infirm spouses, alone, in a foreign country without local family support. So, yes, there is a need.
Are you crazy? Well … We knew some folks who tried to do this. Mom had Alzheimer’s and needed round-the-clock care and so they bought a little house, hired a staff, and set up an “Adult Foster/Family Home” intended for Mom and four others. It was a great idea and these folks came with experience doing the same thing in the States. Then they ran into Panama and a different way of doing everything, a host of red tape and regulations … and gave up. This doesn’t mean it can’t be done, but you’ll need incredible patience and deep pockets. I’d suggest that you work with a local partner, maybe a Panamanian church or existing non-profit care group who understand the Panamanian way of doing things. I know from a distance it seems like you could easily hire care givers and hire them more cheaply than in the US. But wages, like everything else, have gone up in Panama, and finding people who are qualified and willing to work as care givers is a challenge and if you hire anyone in Panama you immediately have the Labor Board as a partner and tons of regulations and red tape, to say nothing of the regulations and red tape of the Health Department.
There is a crying need, but Panama doesn’t make it easy to meet the need.
Moving money …
I always look forward to reading your blog. I’ve been reading it for years. I meet you in April on Jackie’s tour You came along with us. Which made the trip so much more informative. My question a couple of months ago you named the bank that you deal with for getting money into the country Was it citi bank or another? Thanks in advance, Richard
PS I plan on coming back to Panama next May to scout out a place to settle down for a couple of weeks before I make the BIG move to live. I know for sure it will be in the Chiriquí area.
When we moved to Panama we knew there was an HSBC bank here, so we moved our US accounts to HSBC in Beverly Hills with the naive assumption that it would be easier to move money. We discovered that although they used the same branding, the banks were different with different rules and vastly different customer service. I hated HSBC in Panama and there was no advantage to using the same bank here as in the States since they were different banks. The one in Panama was actually a Mexican bank. So I moved our account to Banistmo [not the same Banistmo as we have now]. HSBC bought out Banistmo, so I moved to another Panamanian bank, which locals not-so-fondly call “the bank of just say no.” This is a truly Panamanian bank where every little item requires a lengthy process of getting approval from Panama City. [I’ve often wondered if the local bank manager needs to email Panama City for permission to go to the rest room.] Last month I was in Seattle and finally closed out our US accounts with HSBC. Nobody asked why I was closing my accounts at HSBC, or how my experience had been, or seemed to care. I took my money down the street to Bank of America where I and my money were warmly received.
In terms of moving money, it really doesn’t make any difference in my opinion. One bank is as good, or bad, as the other. The US has put a ***tload of regulations about moving what you may have thought was your money around. This means more hassle for you and more money for the banks since they charge outrageous fees to wire money. Don’t even think of doing what a friend of ours did ten years ago … she just stuffed her money into her girdle. If TSA doesn’t nab you Panama will. When you enter Panama all your luggage goes through a scanner when you leave luggage claim. They are only looking for two things: drugs and cash. You’d be surprised the millions of dollars Panama customs seizes from folks who thought they could bring suitcases stuffed with cash into the country.
John enlightens me on flushing …
The reason given for not flushing Toilet Paper, that it increases pumping frequency, can have some truth…but there is more. Unvented drain lines, high waste strength due to diversion of gray water, improper material disposal, poor waste line design, double trapping, improper toilet paper, undersized septic tanks, short separation of tank inlet/outlet, undersized/unsuitable leach field selection, improper operation, e.i. excessive loading, such as multiple loads of laundry, can all be problems of individual systems.
Proper design, construction and operation will lead to a sanitary system that does not contribute to disease and is not a nuisance. It should have a useful life in excess of 50 years, more like the Panama canal than a Chinese motorbike, with tank pumping every 5 to 10 years.
The basic design, construction and operation principles are the same, whether in Panama or California.
It’s customary in Panama, as in most Latin American countries, not to put used toilet paper in the toilet but place it in a waste basket beside the toilet. If you can’t deal with it you might not be a good candidate to move to Panama. In your own home do what you want, but in the rest of the country, even in hospitals … Accept it! No matter how much you wish, Panama as every other country you may consider, is different from that to which you are accustomed.
I stand corrected … apologies to Sarah!
Al, was put off by my blog “Back Home: A Changing America.” Two things raised his ire, one was a response I made to a comment about the blog … which I’ll get to in a moment … and the other was my assertion that Sarah Palin said she could “see Russia.”
First, I quoted from a piece about the findings of Pew Research regarding the Millennials that included this statement, “In short, it is the Millennials who have helped consign the Republican politics of division – ‘Vote for us or your daughter will marry a black man!’ – to the dustbin of history.”
Until bleeding heart liberals choose to learn the truth of history, and not what politicians want them to know and believe, the name calling and mud-slinging will continue unabated. After all, if you can’t tell the truth, why say anything positive?
To which I commented …Interesting comment … might also apply to “right wingers” but I guess I’m not sure what it has to do with post about Millennials. I agree, I thought the “daughter marry a black man” was kind of irrelevant, since I don’t think anyone cares who marries whom, color, race, sexual orientation, etc. That’s not to say racism is still entrenched in many areas and ways, as we’ve discovered the past few days when a teenager is shot SIX TIMES … siX! … for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. But Pew Research finds what it finds: it is what it is. Regards, Richard
Now Al …
“That’s not to say racism is still entrenched in many areas and ways, as we’ve discovered the past few days when a teenager is shot SIX TIMES … siX! … for being at the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Maybe just maybe he was shot after smashing his fist into the cops face and then trying to take the cops gun and then trying to run away from the cop and then when that failed he bum rushed the cop. Just maybe.
There was the case of an unarmed white man shot by a black cop the same week. Do you know his name? Are white people rioting there? Is the White House sending any of their representatives to his funeral?
His name was James Whitehead. Look it up. If you do, you will find that the cop was fired. That’s all. Just fired. Even though his fellow officers said he should be on trial for murder. Double standards anybody?
Nothing is nearly as black and white as we would like things to be if we look at BOTH sides of an issue.
Oh yeah, by the way, Sara Palin NEVER said she could see Russia from her house – that was taken from a skit from Saturday Night Live. You are just repeating the same old tired lie from over 6 years ago. Don’t feel bad, a lot of “objective professional journalists” have repeated the same lie over and over for the last 6 years also.
just saying – Nothing is nearly as black and white as we would like things to be if we look at BOTH sides of an issue.
Al, thank you for the correction on Palin.You are right, she never said she could see Russia from her house.
The basis for the line was Governor Palin’s 11 September 2008 appearance on ABC News, her first major interview after being tapped as the vice-presidential nominee. During that appearance, interviewer Charles Gibson asked her what insight she had gained from living so close to Russia, and she responded: “They’re our next-door neighbors, and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska”
Two days later, on the 2008 season premiere of Saturday Night Live, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler appeared in a sketch portraying Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton, during which Fey spoofed Governor Palin’s remark of a few days earlier with the following exchange:
FEY AS PALIN: “You know, Hillary and I don’t agree on everything . . .”
POEHLER AS CLINTON: (OVERLAPPING) “Anything. I believe that diplomacy should be the cornerstone of any foreign policy.”
FEY AS PALIN: “And I can see Russia from my house.”
Henceforth, invocations of Sarah Palin frequently employed the line “I can see Russia from my house,” rather than the words she actually spoke, “You can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska.”
As to the question of whether one can actually see Russia from Alaska, Governor Palin was correct: such a view is possible from more than one site in that state. A Slate article on the topic noted that: “In the middle of the Bering Strait are two small, sparsely populated islands: Big Diomede, which sits in Russian territory, and Little Diomede, which is part of the United States. At their closest, these two islands are a little less than two and a half miles apart, which means that, on a clear day, you can definitely see one from the other.”
Also, a 1988 New York Times article reported that: “To the Russian mainland from St. Lawrence Island, a bleak ice-bound expanse the size of Long Island out in the middle of the Bering Sea, the distance is 37 miles. From high ground there or from the Air Force facility at Tin City atop Cape Prince of Wales, the westernmost edge of mainland North America, on a clear day you can see Siberia with the naked eye.”
Neither of these viewpoints offers the observer much more than a glimpse of a vast, desolate expanse, however. [SNOPES.COM]
Flack or flattery, I love getting your comments! Keep them coming!