Phones, Internet, and Communication from Panama

One of our requirements is internet. This is how we keep in touch with everybody. Communication was never as important as yesterday when my grandson was born!

This makes me think about people in the past who set out for unknown new worlds, leaving behind people they would probably never see again. I don’t know if I could have done that. How would it feel to watch your children leave, and not know if they even survived?

But now, things are different. Panama has internet. It even has free internet in many public places. It isn’t always reliable or fast, but if you have to get in touch with the world you can go to the city park, the airport, or the hospital parking lot,  hookup to http://internetparatodos.gob.pa/ and get connected.

We have internet at the house through Cable Onda. In the seven months I have been here it has not gone down once. We have a mid range plan (Internet and TV) for about $52/month.

I have a cheap Panamanian cell phone for calls in Panama. For the US I have a Skype plan for about $6/month. I have unlimited calls to anyone in the US, and I have a US phone number so I can also receive calls. If I’m not at my desk it will let you leave a voice message, and an email will alert me to go pick it up. I can also video chat with other Skype users which is wonderful. It’s about as close as you can get to being there.

There are other options like Magic Jack that people have used successfully, and I’ve also used Google chat with video which works fine. Many many people here also have smart phones so you can have all this in your pocket.

For me though, this works. It has been an adjustment to not have a smart phone with me at all times. When I was working I needed it and used it constantly. Now it’s different, and giving up my smart phone was almost symbolic of my changed life. I’m not attached 24/7 to my phone, or my work, or my old life anymore.

I will not give up communication though! Yesterday I was able to talk and text message with my daughter throughout the day, talk with my other daughter when there was news, talk with the other grandmother when we needed to support and congratulate each other, and hear the most wonderful news from my son in law when he told me that the baby was here and all was well with both him and my daughter. Today I was able to video chat with my daughter and see both her and the baby (they both look wonderful!)  To me, this is more important than anything, to be able to keep in touch with my family. We are so lucky to be living in this age where this is possible, and I’m glad to be in Panama where the technology is available.

Another thing we can do is share pictures, so I had to share just one more. Thank you all for the congratulations, good wishes, and happy messages. The arrival of this new little person in our family is a wonderful event indeed!

baby2a

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About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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25 Responses to Phones, Internet, and Communication from Panama

  1. Gene Bramblett says:

    Congrats, Grandma!!

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  2. That picture of the baby is adorable, he’s sooo tiny! I’ts amazing to think ours were once that small, huh? I hope you’ll keep sharing as he grows. Great post on communication, it’s something that is really on my mind a lot. I’m prepared to use Facetime with my ipad and we bought our Magic Jack but I have not really even thought much about my iphone! I dont expect to have a data plan like I do now, but I’m not sure if I will just somehow get it unlocked so that I can just load minutes onto it with a new SIM card . I’m glad to hear that your wifi is reliable, that’s important. I like what you said about giving up your smart phone being symbolic to letting go of your old life, I’m hoping to embrace that kind of thinking myself. For now, i’m just concentrating on getting outta here soon! 🙂 Cheers!

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    • Kris says:

      You are on your way soon! My kids use Facetime a lot, and have even mentioned maybe getting me an iPad but for now, the Skype works very well. I actually see more on my kids now with video chat than I did in Florida when we mostly just talked on the phone. I’ve heard that you can just put in a new SIM card in a phone here but I haven’t done it do I don’t know much about it. The baby is 6 lb, 7 oz which is decent size (very large according to my Panamanian friends) but if you aren’t used to newborns he does look so tiny!

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  3. karen says:

    Congratulations! Thank you for sharing your good news and your travel experiences. I hope to be as diligent when I am in a similar situation.

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  4. aztours says:

    Congratulations! And thank you so much for sharing your great news and your travel experiences. I hope to be as diligent when I am in a similar situation.

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  5. what a precious baby! yes, it’s great that we can stay in touch with our loved ones. i wrote a friend today and wondered how difficult it was for our ancestors to leave loved ones behind in europe and start a life in the new world. yes, we have a lot to be thankful for! z

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  6. Alastair says:

    Beautiful 🙂

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  7. Jim says:

    Congratulations Kris

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  8. tombseekers says:

    My mom thought we were moving to Jupiter so we got MagicJack too. I like Viber better on my Iphone but she is 83 and likes the real handheld phone. We found that our Iphones are great but must find a monthly plan because internet eats through minutes we buy like crazy.

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    • Kris says:

      Jupiter! LOL Yeah, we got a few similar reactions but with technology it doesn’t seem far at all. And, another reason we chose Panama is that it really isn’t that far from the US.

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  9. indacampo says:

    We use SKYPE even to talk and instant message our friends here. I have a plan that we can call anywhere in Canada through SKYPE that is really reasonable. I cal my mom on her phone because she isn’t set up on SKYPE. We’ve talked about getting call forwarding to our cell phones but so far haven’t really needed it.

    We have a router and Claro WiFi because Cable and Wireless won’t come down our calle. There’s not enough people on the street to use it. The router and 3G stick work just fine and we can use it anywhere in the house. We also haven’t had many issues with it although it is slower at peak times. We use pay as you go cell phones and that works quite well, no data but we can text if need be.

    Technology is indeed wonderful. And indeed that little button looks like he could fit in your pocket! 🙂

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  10. Kris, We use Skype too and have a US number. We forward our calls to our cell phone and it doesn’t cost anything more and we don’t miss a call because we are away from our computers. No extra charge for any incoming calls from the US.

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    • Kris says:

      I have thought about doing that but so far it hasn’t been necessary. But, maybe with these new circumstances I should consider it! My other daughter is in the process of graduating and moving for a new job so there is a lot going on in the family.

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  11. oldsalt1942 says:

    It’s absolutely amazing how “wired” Panama is. I’d be willing to bet that there are at least three active cell phones for every Panamanian. When getting on a bus (I ride them everywhere since I don’t have a car) it seems that everyone’s head is bowed in prayer. That’s not too big an assumption since quite a few of the drivers are reincarnated Kamikaze pilots, but looking closer you’ll see that those people are all texting away on their phones. And it’s not uncommon for many of the people to have TWO phones with them.

    Two years ago I’d take my notebook computer up to the nearby InfoPlaza. They are government-run centers with the motto: “Cerrando la brecha digital” (Closing the digital gap). These plazas are found in many towns here in Chiriqui. The one here in Boqueron has a dozen fairly new computers for people to use and they also had a wifi signal that I’d hop on. Back then it cost 35 cents/hour to use. How much I paid depended on who was on duty at the time. If it was Nancy she’d note when I signed on and when I’d sign off. Three hours online would cost me $1.05 which I thought was a real bargain since I didn’t have an internet connection at the house I’m renting. If Patricia was on duty she’d only charge me a flat 35 cents no matter how long I was online.

    In the last year, though, and thanks to President Martinelli, there are no longer any charges. Totally free,. And La Red Nacional (National Network) is available all over the place. I have a tablet and go to the bus terminal to download books from Amazon.com. And if you go down there you’ll see dozens of kids online with the small, free, wifi compatible notebook computers all students receive when they enter high school. Naturally they’re ALL on their Facebook pages rather than doing anything like research for some homework assignment.

    My house still isn’t connected to an internet service, but my Claro 3G USB modem works just fine. In fact, it’s faster than the MobileNet system I used at the place I was house sitting in Potrerillos Arriba when I first came down here. And the cost is the same $44.80/month, tax included, for unlimited use.

    I also have Skype for keeping in touch with people in the States…those I want to talk to, anyway, but it’s helped a few times when I had to reach a State-side customer service department (which often was talking to someone in India or the Phillipines).

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    • Kris says:

      I know. People think we are living in this backwards 3rd world country here. ha! I didn’t realize that all kids get notebook computers though. wow

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  12. Kongo says:

    Congratulations!

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