The other day we walked down to the little seasonal stream that flows through our property and remembered the times when we lived in the States when to momentarily escape winter, we’d visit one of the glass-covered tropical gardens at zoos or botanical gardens … and that’s what we have in our backyard year round!
The few oranges and bananas, which by the way we grow, we put out on the bird feeder attract a whole range of colorful birds, red, red & black, blue, yellow, brown, yellow & black, cream and black. A gringo neighbor who has lived in Boquete longer than almost any other expat, was sitting on our porch the other day and remarked, “Wow, you have an amazing variety of birds!” And we do. Not to mention the 49 … that’s right 49 … palm trees we have, or the scores of butterflies in the garden every day. Not a week goes by that we don’t discover a fantastic-colored new insect, beetle, moth or butterfly that we hadn’t seen before.
Unfortunately for us, but fortunately for someone who buys our little tropical paradise, it is time for us to move on to our next adventure. Meantime … our property is for sale. And yes, we have all the joys of tropical living, yet in a year-round Spring-like climate, and we are far outside the hurricane belt!
Touted a “The Nature Island,” Dominica was a joy to visit, pretty much “unspoiled” old Caribbean, almost like St Thomas was before it was overrun by cruise ships and tourists. With 365 rivers, the island had beautiful waterfalls, great whale watching off -shore, and was a delightful change from the typical duty-free-shopping-mall Caribbean island most ships go to. The little capital town of Rosseau was basic, Caribbean-island quaint, typical of what things were like before the invasion of gigantic cruise ships.
Year after year you’d watch the slow progress of restoring the old cathedral on the hill that had been heavily damaged by the last hurricane.
Well, it is no more. There is no communication and no way for planes to land as of this morning. But it appears that the island is devastated and everything is pretty much … gone. All gone.
Hopefully, soon, planes will be able to get in, and, give them credit, the cruise lines have been shuttling survivors off many of the hardest hit islands, but what kind of future is there for an independent island nation, as if one can build an independent island nation based on a population of only 72,000, and an economy of bananas ((now all gone) and tourism (ditto),
Our thoughts and prayers and hopes go out for all those devastated by earthquakes, hurricanes and tropical storms over the past month, but especially to the poor people of Dominica. It is estimated now that the damages are in the billions of dollars, not that anyone would assume that much damage was possible in little Dominica, and that every person living on the island has been affected.
Yesterday we greeted visitors to this blog from the United States, Canada, Thailand, Mexico, Panama, United Kingdom, Japan, Greece, Costa Rica, Japan and Australia, and that’s a pretty typical mix of where visitors come from on a typical day.
Why this great interest in Panama?
Well Panama has always been at the crossroads of the world. Geographically, but also in terms of its strategic and political importance. Yes, today it is largely because of the Canal and one of the largest international hub airports in the Americas. But even before the Canal … during the Spanish conquest, as Spain started sending back the treasures of the New World, most of that went through Panama City, then “the richest city in the world.”
The great liberator of Latin America, Simon Bolivar, once said, “If the world had a capital it would be Panama.”
Today the attraction of Panama is …
- It is at the “crossroads of the world,” “the hub of the Americas.”
- It is a neutral country, a peacemaker on the world scene not given to stirring up conflict and anxiety.
- It has one of the most, if not the most, robust economies in the region.
- It uses the US dollar, calls it the “Balboa” but it is in fact the US dollar, still considered by most to be one of the most secure currencies in the world.
- It is outside the hurricane zone.
- It is safe and peaceful.
- It is still in many ways relatively affordable.
- Although officially a Christian, Roman Catholic country, it has total religious freedom with large groups of Jews, Muslims, Evangelicals and many smaller faiths. It is home to a Mormon Temple and a Bahai Temple.
- Because it has been at the crossroads of the world, Panama is composed of a rainbow of people from different cultures and backgrounds. Panamanians come in all shapes and colors and live and work happily together, and in fact Panama has scored as one of the “happiest” countries in the world.
- Anyone can own property in Panama.
- For most people, assuming you have no criminal record and you come from one of the many of Panama’s “friendly nations,” it is easy to get permanent residency and after five years you can get a Panamanian passport.
- It is tropical, with lush foliage, no snow, no big time changes, and tropical climates ranging from hot & humid to the cool, year-round Spring-like climate of Boquete and Volcan.
- Panama has beautiful beaches, snorkeling and diving, and some of the most fantastic fishing in the world.
- For 27 years Panama has been a thriving democracy. [Presidents are limited to one 5-year term, then must sit out 10 years before being able to be re-elected. Politics are grass-roots. People are elected based on party and program and not TV ads and robocalls. There are three parties with passionate followers but no great political divide, since everyone pretty much wants the same things and it’s just a question of which group is going to pocket the money for the next five years. Candidates are typically all slightly right-of-center business people. When elections are over everyone just works together to move the country forward. Once in a while there is a fist fight on the floor of the Assembly, which may actually be a better way of resolving differences than perpetually blocking all progress.]
- Panama is not a one-pony economy but has strong international banking, is home to many of the world’s largest corporations, has registry of about 25% of the world’s ships, has the world’s second largest free trade zone, is a rapidly expanding airport hub of the Americas, and has a booming tourist industry.
- And, oh yes, did I mention … The Panama Canal.
Thinking about Panama?
- Get my book THE NEW ESCAPE TO PARADISE all about our experience moving and retiring in Panama. As my expat neighbors say, “Richard tells it like it is!”
- Check out the Welcome To Panama List of Friendly Nations
- Come on down and check it out for yourself! Panama is not for everyone, but it just may be the Paradise you are looking for!