The top 10 things I love about Panama

Looking down the valley at Boquete from the highlands.

1. Waking up to new bird songs I’ve never heard before coming from our verdant arboreal surroundings
2. Facing the daily decision upon getting up in the morning – do I log on or pick up my latest book? (That’s kind of a retirement thing, but we’re in Panama, so it counts.)
3. The fruit vendor in his compact pickup truck, la camioneta, comes by every Tuesday and Thursday. I always buy something, so now he drives by my place slowly to give me a chance to get my shoes on and grab my wallet. He used to say, “Que quieres?” Now he says, “Hola, amigo! Como estás?” Then he holds up samples of what he remembers I have purchased in the past to encourage me to buy. He appreciates that we do the whole thing en español, and I appreciate that he doesn’t laugh at my gringo Spanish… and that his prices are really good!
4. The weather – mornings are clear and clouds move in around noon. We get rain at least every other day, and sometimes we get a lot! (see previous post – So you think you know rain) But it’s still warm enough to wear short sleeves.
5. Old reruns of House, Law and Order, and CSI – I enjoy the English language shows with the Spanish subtitles. Sometimes the interpretations are funny. Example – the actor said, “Liar, liar, pants on fire,” and the Spanish subtitle said, “Just like Pinocchio.” It’s just a reminder that you can’t translate everything literally, or if you did, it wouldn’t make sense. (Note – NFL Football is televised in English. You don’t get that in South America without satellite TV.)
6. The fish and seafood truck – just like the fruit vendor, only once per week. (see #3)
7. Going in to town – We live four miles from town. We don’t own a car because we don’t need one. The bus or taxi costs 75 cents each way, a little more if they pull right up in front of our gate, which is about 100 yards from the highway. Going to town usually means a shopping trip, and that typically includes fresh baked goods. (Note to self – Don’t let the boxboy pack the baked goods bag with the donuts hidden among the empanadas under the fruit.) There are still a bunch of restaurants we have yet to try, too.
8. Sightseeing – so far we have visited Finca Lérida – a coffee plantation, the Caldera hot springs, Los Cangilones de Gualaca (a beautiful swimming hole on the Rio Estí), Playa Las Obas – a local beach, a rustic sugar cane processing operation near Dolega, and Davíd, the second largest city in Panama, with more restaurants than we’ll ever get a chance to try. (Note – My wife is of Sicilian ancestry, and we just learned a Sicilian gentleman operates a Sicilian style restaurant, La Pianista, just outside of Boquete. We are both eager to try it.)
9. The food – we were shown by our landlord’s lovely wife the proper method for preparing platanos (plantains) and yucca. We are always on the lookout for the perfect empañadas. Lots of people make them. Not many make them well. You need a local connection. We’re working on it.
10. Affordable living – rent, health care, public transportation and dining out are all relatively inexpensive. I save about one-third of my SS check every month.

There are more things to like about Panama, most notably the people. Anywhere you travel, if you treat people with kindness and grace, they reciprocate in kind.
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10 comments on “The top 10 things I love about Panama

  1. Que vida! Such an incredible life you are living there… I would enjoy each of those things, but the birdsong for sure! Nice posts. 🙂

  2. Thank you for reading and sharing your comments. Perhaps you will make a visit to Panama sometime. If so, you will have to let me know. Or perhaps we will meet on my next visit to Bellingham.
    I am likewise following and enjoying your blog.

  3. Sounds like my kind of Paradise! Nice list!

  4. oldsalt1942 says:

    Found you through Don Ray’s Chiriqui Chatter. It’s almost like you’ve been peeking over my shoulder at the top ten list I would write if I’d gotten around to it. You made one common error, though. One that’s often repeated in tour books, news articles and blog posts. David is the THIRD largest city in Panama. Colon is the second largest. But when I hit David in my initial visits looking for a place to settle down in my dotage, as it were, I saw that everything I could want, including beauty, was right here in an affordable, easy to negotiate package..

    • Honest, I wasn’t peeking over your shoulder. :^) I don’t know where I read or heard that David was the second largest city in Panama, so I appreciate you setting me straight. Thank you for your comments. I am grateful for Don Ray’s referral.

  5. Roger says:

    I have found in several blogs that some expat will not share your thoughts about Panama. Their personal bad experiences in the country by any reason has made them full of anger, frustration, bitterness and they can’t accept that other people, just like you, have had a very nice and good experience and enjoy living in a-not-so-perfect-country but still a young and interesting country.

    • Yes, Roger, I have read and heard numerous stories of unhappy expats. Some are here for jobs and have to suffer their frustration for a livelihood. Many others came to Panama for the wrong reasons, perhaps expecting to find a Little U. S. A. for less money. My experience tells me that there are more people here who are quietly happy than those here who are noisily unhappy, but bad news travels faster and carries greater impact when people find an outlet for their bitterness online. Thank you for sharing your comments.

  6. George says:

    Mike, you are 100% correct when you say that some expats come for the wrong reasons. Our mission is to help people abroad land on their feet on their arrival and we do it well. that being said we hear many many stories…

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