One Year in Panama!

It’s almost hard to believe, but it was exactly one year ago that I left Florida. I remember how I felt – excited, happy, ambivalent (I was leaving Joel behind, not knowing how long we would be apart), not quite believing I was actually doing it, not knowing exactly what was going to happen, not sure if I could manage in a new country with a foreign language – wow!

But, it worked out. It worked out better than I dared hope. Economics was a driving force in our move, the wish to retire earlier and have a better life on our limited resources. We are living on a lot less here, but even if money was not a factor I would live here. It’s a good and happy life.

Of course there have been challenges. For me, language and communication have been difficult but it’s gotten better. I can actually have a telephone conversation in Spanish now and understand most, if not all that is said (it’s difficult without body language and facial expressions). I can find my way around town in most areas (but I’m directionally challenged and take months to learn any new town). Otherwise though, the transition has been quite easy.

For me, the change in lifestyle has been the slowest adjustment. For the longest time it felt like I was on a break and any day I would be back at work, my phone attached to my ear and the papers piled on my desk. Even now, I frequently spend much of the night dreaming that I’m working.

I still can’t relax very well. I can only sit in the hammock and watch the birds fly by for a short while. I have to be studying something, or doing something that feels productive or I quickly get restless. The best I can manage is to work in the garden with a book in my headphones, and I do that a lot (this has always been my stress therapy).

Maybe this is just me though, and maybe that’s OK. Maybe I have been so busy all my life that I’ll always be like this. It is quite different to be busy doing things I choose to do though, rather than things I must do. And, I have such a big list of things I choose to do! I don’t want to waste any of this precious free time that I have been given. We all know that things can change in a flash and none of us get out of here alive.

When I look back on the last year, it’s been a wonderful year. I am so thankful to have this time, this opportunity, these experiences, this chance to see the world through another culture, through other eyes. I think it has changed me for the better and will continue to do so.

It will be interesting to see what the second year brings!

Advertisements

About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
This entry was posted in Panama and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

43 Responses to One Year in Panama!

  1. Allison says:

    I remember when you made it there! Your first posts. Congrats! What an accomplishment and many more ahead of you!

    Like

  2. Congratulations Kris! It’s been over 2 years for us and I still pinch myself.

    Like

  3. Roger says:

    Hi Kris.

    I think that you could do something to feel “productive” and could be a good experience to you. I guess that you have a panamanian friend that is a teacher. Why dont you offer english tutoring classes to boys and people who want to learn english with good pronunciation good oral skills from a person who english is his/her mother language. I think that it could give you a sense of acomplishment and be entertained by cooperating with the community and young people of Panama.

    Like

    • Thanks Roger 🙂 I have been thinking exactly the same thing. I have asked my teacher friend to have me back at her school, and I talk with some people around town who want to practice their English. I have been thinking though of something more structured and consistent. There is an English school that I pass on my way to town, and a friend who is putting together English classes. I can start with those…

      Like

  4. Congratulations! What a great first year it has been for you and for Joel! I’m so happy for you and i know you have so much more to look forward to! Life is good and you are truly embracing each moment and appreciating all the richness that each day brings you! I’m excited to see what this next year brings your way! Thanks for taking us along! Cheers Mi Amiga! Love ya!

    Like

  5. Michelle says:

    What a difference a year makes! I remember stumbling upon your blog and wondering how you would like Panama. I’m so happy you’ve taken us on your journey and send you best wishes for the next year!

    Like

  6. Angeline M says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I can only imagine what went through your mind one year ago. Interesting to hear how you have felt about having nothing but the freedom to do nothing or whatever you choose. I will be retiring in six weeks and get kind of nervous thinking about what i’ll do during my days. Just sitting around isn’t my style either. But to be free to do whatever I want is an intoxicating thought.

    Like

    • Intoxicating, yes, exactly! All those things you always wanted to do but didn’t have time for – now you will have the time. You may be surprised at how busy you will be. I don’t know how I had time to work LOL

      Like

  7. daniellajoe says:

    Panama siempre bella!!!! I love my country!!! 🙂

    Like

  8. Loca Gringa says:

    Happy Anniversary! I haven’t even hazarded a thought on reflections! Me 18 months …

    Like

  9. Capt Dan says:

    I admire you not only for your success in your new home and language, but also for your ability to express it so eloquently. What kind of retired musician is Joel. I would hazard a guess that he’s a tuba player. What’s the truth?

    Like

    • Thank you 🙂 Tuba? LOL if only! Nah, he’s an old rock and roll singer and guitar player, and a heck of a party when you get him going!

      Like

      • Capt Dan says:

        I’m an old folkie. My only claim to fame is I was occasionally the warm up act for Peter Paul & Mary in the early 60’s, as were dozens of others. It was the worst gig because everyone knew as soon as you shut up they would get to hear who they paid for. And it certainly wasn’t you! However, It got me through college and I’m grateful. Music is a wonderful life skill that will sustain you forever. Next time you get him going, why not record him and post it to increase the scope of your blog? I’d love to hear an ex-pat rock on!

        Like

  10. indacampo says:

    Congratulations and Happy Anniversary! I just left a note for Connie about how cultivating gratitude and finding joy in the small things helps when one is living in Panama. I think that is the secret to successful living. 🙂 Like me you continue to be enthralled by the country and its people, let’s never forget what brought us here and how to find the gratitude for what we have found. 🙂

    Like

    • Gratitude? Yes, I absolutely agree! It is the base of a happy mind. It’s hard not to be grateful for the opportunity to live in this beautiful place with these good people.
      I thought of you last night. We watched a movie – Samsara. http://barakasamsara.com/ It’s so beautiful, but there are some scenes that show how some of the world’s people live, and you realize that you are extremely fortunate and wealthy compared to many.

      Like

      • indacampo says:

        It looks fantastic! We really have to get on to getting the proper cords to get things from the computer to the television. 🙂

        Like

  11. I love your personal story and hope to have the same story someday soon. I hope to visit in the early part of 2014.

    Like

  12. oldsalt1942 says:

    Felicitaciones! This is the last month of my two-year lease in Boqueron. The house goes up for sale in November, but the owners want me to stay on until it’s sold and I think I will. The house I sat for in Potrerillos went up for sale two years ago and still is, so who knows how long I’ll be in residence beside the little river. Altogether I’m closing in on four years in Panama. I couldn’t be happier. I know you know the feeling.

    Like

    • Gracias amigo 🙂 If I remember, your neighbors were going to be sure you had a place to live in the neighborhood if anything happens to your house. If not, I’m sure you will have friends and be a part of whatever neighborhood you land in, if that happens at some point.

      Like

  13. Anthony Rubio says:

    Congratulations on your one year in Panama post. I enjoy your writing style and your information about the country as I am considering retiring there.  Do you have any information on the cost of prescriptions in Panama?  Thank you, Anthony Rubio

    ________________________________

    Like

    • Thank you 🙂 I’m afraid I can’t comment on prescription drugs though since neither of us take any. You could post your question to one of the discussion forums, or when you visit check with a pharmacy here for the prices on the things you need.

      Like

  14. Kris,

    My wife (Valerie) and I visited Panama briefly this past February (2013) on a cruise for our honeymoon. Unfortunately the stay was a mere 5 hours spent on an excursion to the canal and Portabelo on the Caribbean side. While the port of Colon is in the north end we want to see more of Panama. We have tentative plans this February 2014 to return, this time starting in Panama City.

    Our future plans are to retire somewhere on the Pacific side in a few years. Hoping to meet you and others on this blog. Take care.

    Rocco

    Like

  15. Hi ! I have been contacted by a family in Chiriqui to come and work. What could you tell me about the area? Cost of living, safety? The more I read about the Panama area the more it sounds amazing. The family said it wont compare to where I have traveled through Australia in the past year, but I am in need of a job and up for a new adventure. Thank you!

    Like

    • We love it here in Chiriqui. I don’t know anything about Australia though so I can’t compare the two. We feel safe here. I have posted a number of cost of living reports and there is a link to a page on the blog so you can find them easily. If you have any specific questions let me know. Otherwise poke around in my blog and hopefully that will give you a feel for the area.

      Like

      • By chance do you know the average rate for an English tutor, teacher, baby-sitter, and or nanny? I am trying to do a search, but am not having much luck. Thank you!

        Like

        • I know salaries are not at all what we are used to in the US. A teacher makes maybe $600/month. An English teacher friend in high school and university with 30 years experience makes about $1000/mo. I don’t know about child care, or if there is even much need since most kids are taken care of by family members. Unskilled labor, like the guy who cuts grass with a machete makes $10/day. But, the cost of living is also a lot less than in the US, and I imagine in Australia too though I don’t know what anything costs there.

          Like

Comments are closed.