I posted this on my Facebook account, but since there are a lot of folks who read my blog from countries around the world, many of whom are at least thinking of moving/retiring in Panama, I though it might be a good idea to post it here.

I’m back home  in Panama after over a month away in Seattle getting a total knee replacement, and visiting with my grandsons. The surgery went well. I spent a month recovering in Seattle, and now am settling in for 2 months in Bqouete exercising, trying to gain full ffexibility, and in general resting, relaxing and recovering from the surgery. Frankly, the jury is still out on whether I would do it again, but they tell me eventually … Along the way I lost 25 pounds, so I’ve got a lot of muscle mass to rebuild. Gradually I’m getting back an appetite. Come the end of October I’m hoping to go back on a ship, but in the meantime it’s wonderful to be home!

We were flirting with the idea of maybe moving back to the states, but wonderful as many things are, I didn’t enjoy the constant political harang, the great red/blue divide, overwhelming consumer mentality of buy! buy! buy!, the need to think twice about being anywhere where there is a crowd of people. It kind of came to a head when we were crammed into Copa’s “waiting room” for the Panama City to David flight home. First flight, so it’s 6:30 AM. In front of us was a wonderful, young Jewish family with three boys, dad and kids all with their yamakas. Mom is standing reading her Hebrew prayer book. The young, cool-looking dad is opening his prayer shawl, going through the ritual of putting it on, and then strapping on his phylacteries, going over to the corner and begining his prayer ritual. And it was all normal. Nobody cared. Nobody got upset that the pilot of our plane had his idea lanyard reading “I love Jesus!” Or cared about the muslim woman with her head overed, or the gal reading her big Bible having her devotions.

Partly because of its geographical position at the center of the world and center of commerce, Panama has always been accepting of diversity. Last week Panama City celebrated its 500th anniversary!! You can be any religion you want … and believe me, we have them all … or no religion. Panamanians are warm, wonderful accepting, even gracious [EXCEPT when they get behind the wheel of a car!!]. Respect. Guns are highly controlled and regulated. Yes, because we are on the direct route for drugs to meet the USA demand, it’s a battle. Gangs from some of our neighbors would love to get power in Panama. But, you can go to the store, to a club or restaurant, to school, or house of prayer, and do so in peace. Panama doesn’t have a mass-shooting every week.

We don’t antagonize our neighbors. Panama has a robust, even booming economy, although due to Trumps meddling with the world economy here has been a slight downturn of Chinese ships, the big ones that pay 3/4 of a million US to use the new lock chambers. Panama is a neutral country. The former President, criticized by the US for recognizing the People’s Republic of China, said, “I will always do what is in the best interests of Panama.” So we are developing lots of joint ventures. The Bank of China now has a major presence in Panama City. China is developing a high speed rail system between David, near where I live, and Panama City which will take only 2 hours. Of course the People’s Republic has always been the #2 customer of the Panama Canal.

Take Cuba. When the Summit of the Americas was being held in Panama, and Panama as the host country invited Cuba for the first time, the US quickly challenged “If Cuba comes, we won’t come.” So little Panama said, “Then don’t come.” Well the US did come and Obama was able to meet Raul Castro and that really opened the door for the Obama policies on the US attemping to get along with our Cuban neighbors. Of course, now Trump has trashed all that.

So, in a sense it was good to escape the madness in the US, and come back to birds, rainbows, tropical rain, beauty and peacefulness in Panama. Sorry, this got more longwinded than i intended!

One of the special things about being in Seattle was to spend some time, albeit as an invalid, with my daughter and her family.  This little tyke in the picture, is my grandson Rian.  He is now an 11-year old young man who has never found a sport he doesn’t excel in.  BTW, he’s now as tall as I am, his hands are as big as mine, and he wears the same size shoes as I do … size 12.  And he’s a fantastic kid, make that, guy.  His younger brother, Caiden, is headed into first grade, determined to equal his brother in everything.  He’s already reading at the end of first grade level.  Picks up all kinds of vocabulary words, and then o drops a word into conversation, and you scratch you head and say, “But he’s only six!”