After 17 adventurous years in paradise it is time for us to downsize, move on, and look for new adventures. It has been a great and mostly fun adventure living in beautiful Boquete surrounded by palm trees, coffee plants, warm breezes, flowers, more bananas than we could possibly eat, mostly warm and wonderful people and near-perfect weather. Yes, there have been some frustrations, but this side of heaven nothing is perfect. It has been an amazing adventure. Our family has grown by three dogs (Stanley, Mollie & Tupper) who replaced the previous trinity (Spot, Monkey & Baru) when they moved on to where ever dogs go. And I have been fortunate enough to enjoy a retirement “career” lecturing on cruise ships travelling the world and actually made two complete world cruises.
I will certainly miss much of Panama! I’ll miss the wonderful house we designed and built. When we moved to Palmira there were no palm trees on our property: now their are 59, all of which I planted and some of which are 40 feet tall! I’ll miss the sun setting over Volcan Baru, winding down the hill to town, and the mostly perfect weather. But it is time to move on, to down-size, and to move close to my kids and grandkids.
Now that our daughter Rebecca has moved to Washington and is the new Executive Director of North Cascades Institute, and my daughter Noelle and her family are by now long-term Washingtonians (Noelle left California for school at the University of Puget Sound, worked for Princess a summer in Fairbanks, met her husband whose family has been in Washington for generations) and they are never leaving Washington.
And if I needed anything more to convince me, spending part of this past summer cruising Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands working on American Cruise Lines, I’m hooked on the Sound.
So what will I do? Probably much of the same, but in a sweater and maybe even long underwear, at least until I adjust. I’ll write another Panama book (ESCAPE FROM PARADISE ??), and maybe a theological book (GOD DOESN’T LIVE IN A BOX complete with a cover of an old Jack-in-The-Box from my childhood!). And I’ll keep working on ships and exploring as much of the world as I can. Since I’ve done about 100 trips through the Panama Canal and love it, I’ll probably be back in Panama from time to time. (And maybe another book on the real story of life down below decks!)
And in addition to two great daughters, who we’d love to be friends with even if they weren’t our daughters, I have two fantastic grandkids. Caiden, who will be … can it be? …. nine years old, loves school, is a math whiz, captain and goalie for his soccer team and like the rest of his family deeply involved in baseball.
Then there is Rian. Going on 14 … both his age and shoe size! … taller than me, 185 pounds, a kid who never saw a sport he didn’t like and excel at, although baseball is his passion. He’s goalie and captain of his soccer team, on the school leadership team, an A student, and on top of all that a really, really nice guy.
We have so much to be thankful for!!! And I don’t want to miss out on any more of this!
Will I survive the change of seasons and cold weather? Well, I don’t mind the change of seasons, but the cold weather …?? Between Panama and Southern California, we’ve lived in warmer climates now for 35 years! But I do love tulips, and the area we are focusing on in Washington is around the Skagit Valley home to fields of tulips and a huge annual tulip festival. So we are going from one incredibly beautiful rain forest area to another, just cooler
We will miss some of the amazing people we’ve met during our time in Panama, other expats, Panamanian both Latinos and Indigenous. Yes, there have been a few crooks and a dishonest lawyer who tried to steal everything while praising Jesus (and that’s a story you’ll eventually read about in a book), and some folks who took advantage of us playing “Gringo Bingo,” but the real salt-pf-the earth people have been amazing friends (and those stories will definitely be in the book!).
I’ve always been in positions where I “know” a lot of people but am close to only a few. Maybe it was being pastor of churches where I was careful to be friends with everyone and not just a select few, or my basic disease of LST (Limited Social Tolerance). It’s because I’ve been off at sea working, but in Boquete if anyone knows me it’s as “Nikki’s husband.” Nikki has been very involved, being in the startup of BCP (Boquete Community Players), and Animales Spay ‘n Neuter Clinics, and the Tuesday Morning Markets were her creation. She has a tight circle of close friends who get together weekly for coffee and when she goes to the store to “pick up a few things” she’ll spend 45 minutes ending up meeting and talking with a dozen folks she knows. So, to build a new circle of friends in a new community at our age will be a challenge.
Now back to packing!