Report from Bob Adams

Bob Adams has lived in Panama City for quite a few years. He has also lived all over the world and has been involved in global affairs of many countries. I think he is credible, knowledgeable, and trustworthy and I value his opinion.

He has a website,  Retirement Wave.   Check it out for interesting articles and information.

Bob also has a YouTube channel with dozens and dozens of informative videos on a variety of Panama related topics. If you search for “Bob Adams” on YouTube you’ll have no trouble finding him.

Now and then, Bob sends out a newsletter to his subscribers. I can’t find the latest one on the website or figure out another way to share it, so I’ll copy/paste it here for you all.

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Friends,

Since I sent the last newsletter announcing the Report on Panama in June (if you did not get a copy, a link will be provided at the end of this letter), the elections are over, the new administration is in office, and  we now prepare for November’s “patriotic days” which celebrate independence from Spain in 1821 and from Colombia in 1903.

As I explained in the June report, Panama is passing through a “growth recession” where the national “macro” economy continues to grow, although at a slower level than in past years, while the “micro” economy at street level is stagnant or sliding.

This results from a variety of factors that are not long-term and will reverse, but together have caused us some pain, as well as the traditional Panamanian tendency to reduce spending when the economy is slow which creates a negative feedback loop that just makes it all more difficult – income and jobs go down, sales go down, more jobs are lost, incomes fall a little more, sales go down, and so on.

This happens in other societies and, while annoying, is normal behavior that will reverse as major projects like the convention center, second airport terminal, the cruise port, and other projects are operating and business begins to grow again.  I think this administration is really going to push hard on this and it will be a relief to everyone.

In this regard, I want to share two thoughts.  First, the new administration’s first task was to do a complete audit of the government’s financial situation.  Finding things that clearly needed to change, they sat down and took care of it.  There will be time for finger-pointing and angry comments over who was responsible for letting the situation get to this point and the results could have been weeks of anger and shouting.

Instead, the new administration put together an emergency plan to get past this and other parties and institutions joined together to do what had to be done to straighten things out.  It was quick, thorough, impressive, and something I have not seen happen in one of the “advanced” societies in many years.  Panama had a problem.  Panama took care of it.  Well done. It is one of the reasons why Panama is among the very few Latin American nations to be considered “investment grade” internationally.

So we now have an “austerity budget” and everyone is busy explaining why their agency or project needs more funding.  In other words, it is a democracy.

Meanwhile, hold onto your hats, we have Nicaragua continuing to be in a social, political, and financial mess but is too small for most other nations to care, our Central American neighbors have plenty of serious problems and some have a desperate migration situation, Venezuela continues to amaze everyone by getting worse, and then worse, and then worse, Colombia has to deal with a return of cartel activity and must care for what is now probably closer to two million Venezuelan refugees, especially since Ecuador almost fell apart and is not welcoming them, while Bolivia is in the middle of a dangerous controversy over the honesty of its recent election, Brazil is dealing with multiple political problems and continued tension over the state of the Amazon basin, Argentina continues to be sharply divided socially and on the verge of another destabilizing shift politically, and if all that was not enough, poor Chile explodes into violence that I last heard has reached at least 19 dead and hundreds of millions of dollars of damage to public and private institutions.

Trust me on this.  Panamanians are very much aware of all this.  I think it is fair to say they will settle for a “growth recession”1

‘This is not first time Panama has been an island of relative peace and security in a sea of troubled nations, but the “sea” may be the worst it has been in decades.  Panama had its difficult times in the 20th century, but in the 21st century, they are focused on a brighter future, not the illusion of a brighter past.  I have often said after 50+ years working all over the world in development, nations that focus on the future, have one.  Those who do not…well, I’m happy I live in Panama.

Here at Retirement Wave, some of you have reached out in recent weeks under our Metro Match program for help in finding properties either for sale or for rent.  Again, this is discussed in more detail in the June Report from Panama, all 22 pages of it, and reflects the severely depressed real estate market currently in Panama.

Metro Match is a very simple and free program to help those who are looking for a purchase or a rental and want to benefit from this buyer’s market in the Panama City metropolitan area.  I have never seen anything this good for buyers in more than a decade.

But it helps to have a professional to work with you and I use a very few licensed real estate agents known to me on the basis of direct experience to be good and honest at what they do.  They have already helped two RW members to purchase homes and are in mid-process with a third.  They have helped or are helping six of you find rentals.

I have allowed this to happen gradually and without any serious promotion.  If you have signed up with some of the “international” sites out there, you know how intense their promotion can be!  Well, I have no intention of pushing it like they do, I have nothing to sell you, but I have been watching it carefully in these early weeks as a test and it has been working very well, so I will mention it more often.

There is no charge to you.  The agent gets his or her commission from the owner as happens everywhere else.  My role is to help you connect with the right agent for your needs and be available if there are any problems.  Otherwise, you make the decisions.

And always remember, there are plenty of agents here in Panama City, so it does not matter to me whether you come to us or not.  I just want you to know that we are here to simplify your life and give you a running start when you arrive looking for a residence to buy or rent.

That’s enough for this letter.  New members and those who did not download a copy of the Report from Panama I sent out four months ago can easily download one byclicking here.  If you do have any problem, just write me and I can email you a copy.

Finally, I hope those of you most interested in Panama as a potential home will take a moment to subscribe to my YouTube channel.  I post my very informal videos there far more often than I write, I answer a lot of questions that come up, and I try to provide useful information.  There is no obligation if you do subscribe and “unsubscribing” is very simple.

If you do hit the Subscribe button, take a moment to “ring” the little bell beside it.  Doing that means that you will be notified of any new video and not miss any.  These notifications are super-simple and can be turned off at any time too, but most of my YouTube subscribers prefer them.

Thank you so much for your friendship and your interest in Panama!  I hope you have the chance to visit us soon!

Bob

Posted in Panama | 4 Comments

Car Trouble

”Luck ain’t even lucky, gotta make your own breaks” (Bon Jovi, It’s My Life). Well sometimes you do have good luck. We were headed to Boquete for a gig, driving our big Montero beast loaded with our equipment. There was squeaky noise, belt problem kind of noise, then a burning rubber smell, then everything on the dash lit up.

This happened as we were approaching the new gas station half way up Via Boquete, so we pulled over there. The main belt was gone so we weren’t going any farther under our own power, but we had a roof and protection from the light rain, lights, friendly people, and a location easy to describe. That’s definitely lucky, much better than the shoulder of the road in the dark!

Here, towing is included with your car insurance. Our agents answered their phone immediately (on a Friday night) and called the tow truck place. The tow truck manager called me to verify our location, and even spoke some English. He said the truck would arrive in about an hour.

So, we hung out and waited. The gas station employee put an orange cone behind us since we weren’t going to move, and offered to contact a tow truck driver nearby (which wouldn’t be covered by insurance but if we needed them, would be great). In just over an hour, the tow truck arrived, loaded us up and took us back home.

We found out later that it rained all evening in Boquete, hardly anyone was in town (still slowest season), and it would have been a very slow night so if we were going to miss a gig, it was the best possible time. We play this coming Friday and then Tuesday for Fiestas Patrias so we definitely need to show up for those!

(November is full of holidays and the joke is nothing gets done in November. Then, it’s December with Mother’s Day, super important in Panama, and Christmas, also a really big deal. But, would you rather get stuff done or have a lot of fun? Yeah… they work really hard for long hours most of the time, but they don’t feel guilty for having fun and enjoying parties, holidays,  family and friends. There’s a lot to be said for that)

Anyway, we got towed home, which woke up the neighborhood including our neighbor who can fix everything, including the number of Monteroes  in his own family.  He picked up new belts in his morning travels, and installed them last night just in time to make it to our Saturday evening gig. The car is now running perfectly and we had a great gig last night.

On a different subject – I am very concerned for my California daughter and the people in her Santa Rosa / Sonoma County area. There is a huge fire bearing down on them, very high winds and extremely dry conditions. Tens of thousands are under evacuation orders, shelters are full, and roads are clogged. Even some of the shelters and the area hospitals have been evacuated. My daughter is in one of the very few areas not evacuated but they can see the glow of the fire from their house, and they are ready to leave on a moments notice. Ugh. Thousands of people lost everything in Santa Rosa, IN the city,  and people died. This was just two years ago so one can only begin to imagine how stressful this is now for everybody.

We should complain about being at a gas station on a warm evening with friendly people nearby, tow truck on the way, and a number of people we can call for repairs? I think not!

Send hope that people aren’t burned out, or killed, in California. Unfortunately that’s all we can do at this moment.

Posted in Panama | 5 Comments

Wildlife

I came out to eat breakfast and ewwww. What’s that smell? I have this plant that makes spectacular flowers but they smell like rotting meat. Thankfully the breeze doesn’t blow it this way very much. It’s a Stapelia or carrion flower https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stapelia  

A funny  – I gave a cutting to my neighbor. One day they smelled something bad and looked everywhere. Was it a dead mouse? They even looked in the ceiling before they realized their plant was blooming. Now she pulls off the flower buds before they open. This plant is an import, not a Panama native. I found it at the Féria that’s held every summer.

Blue morpho butterflies are native though, and they are spectacular! They like old fruit, and since we compost we see them here. They take a lot of patience to photograph though since they only pop open their wings for a split second. My pictures from the other day aren’t worth sharing but I have this much better video I took some time ago.

We also see a lot of owl butterflies which are equally large but not colorful. They fly through the yard like they are drunk,  but they seem to get where they want to go. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Owl_butterfly  They also like the fruit in the compost pile.

On another subject, they have been repaving the Panamerican Highway through town. Yesterday they were a bit west of Terronal and traffic was rerouted to one side of the road but it wasn’t too bad. They are doing a really nice job and the finished parts are great. I still say, however, that traffic lights are the first priority but the planners didn’t ask my opinion 😳

I have decided that October is my very favorite month. We live in (deathly hot, according to many) David but it’s been so beautiful. Some mornings are pleasantly  cloudy but even when it’s sunny, by the time it’s getting uncomfortably hot the clouds are moving in. We have some days with gentle afternoon rains and others with crazy downpours. Last Thursday we had one of the most intense storms I can remember. The thunder was right overhead and deafening, and the rain poured down in buckets! It even knocked out the power for a couple hours. That night though it was so cool that I had to have a blanket over my lap.  Many, if not most evenings are that cool now. Summer will be coming all too soon and I’ll miss this rainy season. But, we don’t have to work outside or even go anywhere most of the time so I have a different perspective than many.

Well that’s all I have on my mind at the moment. This morning is beautiful and sunny, and I’m enjoying listening to the activity in the neighborhood. La vida tranquila en Panama 🇵🇦

 

Posted in Panama | 2 Comments

Seven Years

Thursday, 7 years ago, I arrived in Panama with my suitcase and my laptop. Friday, I arrived in David to start my new life here. So, I thought I should at least write a few words.

By now, it’s normal daily life that is familiar and routine. But also, still,  there’s always something I don’t know how to do, something I don’t know where to find, and words I don’t know. Some days I wake up and wonder, what am I doing HERE?? This is a *gasp* foreign country with different people, climate, culture, language, wildlife, appearance, vegetation, many many different things. But, it’s also the same. People love their families, care for their kids, go to work, hang out with friends, and deal with the usual chores and hassles of living. They just want to be happy the same as everyone the world over. We all look at the same moon and stars.

There are chores and hassles of living here but there seems to be so much less. For example, our roof in Florida – wood (prone to rot) covered with tar paper and shingles (prone to wearing out in a couple decades, or flying off in a bad storm). Here we have a metal roof, won’t rot, good for many decades, and there aren’t storms that would tear it apart. That’s only one thing.  It never crosses our mind that we will get written up for a lawn not mowed, or we could get shot when we are out and about. I never feel alone either.  Anyone, any stranger on the street will smile, stop to chat, or help if they see a need. I feel good here, almost like the air we breathe has peace and happiness.

All the hassles of moving are pretty much a memory now. The worst was wrapping up the old life, the house, and all the stuff! We accumulated a lot in 17 years in the Florida house. I came here with next to nothing and against instructions, rented an unfurnished house. This means no stove, fridge, nothing. I am still friends with Myrla in the appliance department at the DoIt Center who helped me get everything from a washing machine to pots and pans, all in one evening.! What do you need? Everything! I was here alone (husband was still wrapping things up in the US) and my Spanish wasn’t great, but I kept putting one foot in front of the other. People were so kind and helpful at every step and I managed to put a home together.

People move with nothing, with entire containers of everything they own, and everything in between. I’m glad we came with minimal stuff. It’s hard to know what you will need and what you will use since life here can be quite a bit different. The shoes I brought in my suitcase are molding in the closet because other shoes are much more appropriate (love my Keens sandals that don’t mind getting wet). The humidity is bad for a lot of furniture, and the climate calls for different clothes. It’s just hard to know until you’ve lived here for a bit. And, if it turns out life here isn’t working out, if you have minimal stuff it’s easy to just go somewhere else. I’ve heard a recommendation that you put your stuff in storage for a year if you are having a hard time deciding what to do. This seems sensible to me.

Anyway, I could go on about my life here, thoughts about the moving process, and many other things, but I think this is plenty for the moment. Pretty good huh, when I started out with nothing to say. ha!

Posted in Panama | 8 Comments

October, Rain, and Downtime

October is said to be the rainiest month, and this October is not disappointing us. It has rained almost every afternoon, sometimes a little, and sometimes a lot! Everything is green and evenings have been cool and gorgeous. Some complain about the humidity but I like it. No skin lotion or chapstick needed here.

It’s really slow season now and we have been enjoying some downtime. The band had a weekend off, and then we played last Friday. It wasn’t a huge crowd but plenty enough people to have a great time. We have just been cancelled for this weekend while the Brewery closes for repairs and remodeling, and then we play every weekend until our late November USA visit. Word is that things are expected to pick up again in November as we go into tourist season. (This is Boquete. David doesn’t change much throughout the year since it isn’t a tourist destination).

Last Friday was great until part way through the first hour when I smelled hot plastic, and then my amplifier quit. It’s quit before, briefly, like it needs cool down time. It doesn’t happen often, maybe every few months,  but enough that we always have a backup standing by, thank goodness! It’s never had the melting plastic smell though and this time it’s very dead, no signs of life. I don’t understand it. I’m never doing anything unusual and warning lights never come on. It just goes dark and silent. I just bought a Peavey bass amp and it’s waiting in the USA, and now I’m especially glad! Reliability is very very important! Meanwhile I’ll be ok with an old but very reliable all purpose generic power amp. That’s probably more than you ever wanted to know about band equipment 😁

So that’s what is inside an amp. The smell is coming from the transformer in the middle with the yellow tape. No, I’m not touching it.

What else? We went out to dinner, very unusual for us since we like our own cooking but sometimes it’s just nice to go out. We went to the new Nationsushi down the street and it was wonderful! They have an extensive menu, the food is excellent, portions are generous, and the prices are reasonable. Google them for locations and a menu.

I should have taken a pic before we dove in, but you get the idea. Pad tai for him, sushi for me.

We apparently have new neighbors 😉  As I left on my bike yesterday I passed these guys a block from our house, in the middle of the neighborhood in a vacant lot. There is no fence and they aren’t tied up so I don’t know what is keeping them from visiting the other yards and nibbling on the flowers, but they were just laying around. They got up to look at me when I stopped but didn’t make a move towards me, and when I returned they were still standing just where they were.

So, that’ pretty much it for the week. Oh, one more thing. I found this YouTube channel where you can watch this adorable Mexican grandma cook food. Here’s one of the videos.

I need to pay attention. Maybe I’ll find some things we can make.

It’s 1PM and I hear the thunder approaching in the distance. Feliz lunes! Hasta pronto.

Posted in Panama | 5 Comments

Books and Music

When you are retired, what will you DO all day?? This has not been a problem for me. Since the routine things have become so routine, maybe I’ll start talking more about what keeps my interest during my days.

I could start with a trip to Pricesmart. They are repaving the Panamerican, the main and the only road through town in some areas, so it was slow going for a while. But the road looks great where it is finished. Now if only they would please put in some traffic lights, that would be very helpful. Pricesmart is useful for stocking the freezer and other things we like to keep on hand, so we go there maybe once a month.

We also stopped by Alex’s, the produce market down the street because he has very good tomatoes, green peppers, and we usually find other things we like. I also scored some mamonchinos (rambutans) from guys selling them from their truck. They have been especially sweet and yummy this year. Oh also, we took the dog to the vet to get her nails clipped ($3.07). She has dark nails where I can’t see the quick, so I’m afraid to do it myself.

But those are just routine errands. There are many other days when we don’t leave the house. Those are days of mostly music and books. I love audio books because I can listen while I work in the yard or do chores. Music takes tons of time since I’m still new enough on bass that it takes me time to learn new material, and I’m also working very hard on learning to sing. I’ve found tons a resources on YouTube which I think are helping me.

What are my most recent books?

Good book, gave me hope that people can learn and change when given new experiences and opportunities, but it’s also discouraging. Many do not want to get out of their “bubble” of people who think like they do, so their beliefs and “it’s us against them” mentality only gets more and more firmly entrenched. I’m from New York, a multi cultural city of every color, language, and lifestyle so I was pretty shocked when I moved to Arkansas where everyone was so much the same, and there was so much prejudice. I purposely steer clear of politics and religion but in talking about the books I enjoy, you’ll see where I stand. You all are welcome to respectfully disagree but I’m pretty entrenched in my opinions too.

This is a story about a couple people who went to the Museum of Modern art in NY, and their backstories. I was interested because it revolves around Marina Abramovic’s “The Artist is Present” and I find her really fascinating. If they had been visiting for other work that didn’t interest me as much, I probably wouldn’t have been as interested in this book.

The USA has been very successful, but sometimes because of aggressive tendencies that I don’t always admire. Ethics and morality are fluid concepts depending on our interests and goals. I know we often treat people badly, but you’ll hear a lot about that in this book.

Very interesting book. You don’t really understand where it’s going and what points it is trying to make until far into the book, but it’s well written and enjoyable throughout.

It’s interesting how the amazon links display the cover photos on the books and links directly to the site.

And then, What music are we working on now?

This is a nice blues song, not difficult but fun. It’s Stevie Ray Vaughn and Albert King (I love them both) and the music starts about 1 minute in. Depending on this week’s rehearsal, it will either come out this weekend or the next.

In a couple weeks, with any luck, if I get busy, we’ll start puting this one together. There is an announcer who goes on and on but the music starts about 55 seconds in

Chris, our drummer, proposed a Depeche Mode song, so we explored more work of this band and fell in love with them! A couple weeks ago we brought out this one. They have performed it many times, but I think this one is their best and I love the intro

And, this is the most recent one we have brought out.

We have our eyes on more music from this band too. There is just so much good music out there! It’s fun to be in our group where we can go in whatever direction we all decide. We play mostly to Panamanian audiences who enjoy so much of the same music we like, so it’s very fun.

OK, enough for one day! The rain came earlier today so I’ll spend the rest of the afternoon practiving. Hasta pronto (until soon)  Chao

Posted in Panama | 17 Comments

Rainy Season

Luck is when you go shopping, return home, and unload the car just before the tropical rainstorm hits. We saw it had rained some in spots and we could see the rain in the distance so we figured it was coming, but wow.

Pictures can’t convey the energy of a Panamanian rainstorm. Lightning flashes, thunder booms, and it feels like the heavens are pouring  buckets and buckets of water. It never lasts long though, so if you are out you may as well take shelter for a little while but if you are home, it’s a pleasure to sit on the terrace and enjoy the rain. But, even if you get wet, the rain here is pleasantly warm.

I see these questions on line a lot…

When is rainy season? (April-December with the most rain in October and November)

Does it rain continuously? (No. Usually is starts later in the afternoon and is finished in the early evening, usually, but not always)

We went through a drier spell where there were many days with no rain at all. I heard rumors about an El Niño weather system. We seem to be making up for it now though with more rain, and even one night where it rained through the night and into the morning which is unusual.

Usually though, mornings are sunny and beautiful, or if we are lucky, a bit overcast and cooler, and then the rains come later in the day. Evenings are humid from the rain but pleasantly cool (in my opinion, cool is relative 😁).

Dry season is December – April. The rains stop, trade winds blow, and everything gets brown and crispy. The weather gets hotter and hotter until by March we are begging for rainy season. I prefer the rainy season when everything is lush and green, but I don’t have to work outside in the wet and mud like many people.

It’s been about an hour now and the rain has almost stopped, and the thunder is only rumbles in the distance. La vida buena en Panama.

Posted in Panama | 4 Comments

Life is a Video Game

and here are the cheat codes….

https://getpocket.com/explore/item/life-is-a-video-game-here-are-the-cheat-codes

I’ve been saving this article to share because I thought it was cool and had some good ideas. It is written by Mark Manson, author of Everything is F*cked: A Book About Hope. Reviews of the book are mixed but maybe the article is the short version of the good stuff. I haven’t read the book but if you have, feel free to add your thoughts in the comments below.

I read quite a bit and have been thinking maybe I should comment on some of the books I read. What do you DO all day when you are retired??! I read, garden, play music, hang out, bug my friends…. blogging about daily life isn’t as interesting any more because not much is new and interesting to me, but I can write about what does occupy me.

Anyway, I am still alive and well, just busy with other things and not thinking about writing as much.

Posted in Panama | 2 Comments

Daily Life

What do you say when you aren’t doing anything interesting? It’s easy to forget that daily life is interesting to other people who wonder what it’s like to live here.

It’s rainy season but we had a dry spell for many days. More normal weather seems to have returned now with rain in the late afternoon and/or early evening most days. Everything still grows like crazy though so I took advantage of the dry time for my favorite pastime, yard work. I still have to explain occasionally that it’s my therapy and that’s why I don’t hire it out.

The water has been a problem for 2-3 weeks now and we have only had water for a few hours a day, at most (and which hours are anybody’s guess). As usual, nobody knows what is going on, but I have heard rumors about major work at the water plant that supplies us. I am very very thankful that we have a water tank so it doesn’t inconvenience us.

If the water is out for more than a day or so, a water truck comes around to fill any container you provide. Our neighbor, a smart and capable guy, built a pipe extending to the street so the water truck can use it to fill their tank. We were ok with half a tank left, but he has a busy house with adult kids and school age grandkids so he was happy to have a full tank.

The water came back later that night. It’s been on all last night and today, so maybe they are done working for a while?

They are building a huge new mall nearby, so the other day I biked over to see what was going on. Word is that most of the work is going on inside now, and finish date is still expected to be this December. Google “Federal Mall Chiriqui” if you want to know more and see projections for the finished mall. It’s HUGE!

The country has discontinued the use of plastic bags. The bags get everywhere, in the trash, beside the roads, and in the waterways so I think this is a great move. Canvas bags,  and more recently, biodegradable bags are available in the supermarkets. We were given a biodegradable bag at the hardware store yesterday for our purchases.

What else? A couple more pictures of things around town –

So, that’s kind of what goes on here, daily life, shopping , errands and household chores, working in the yard, seeing friends, riding my bike, some on line correspondence and activities, and practicing music.

Last, but definitely not least, I never get tired of seeing all the beauty around us and a view of Volcán Barú, our nearby volcano, is always exciting.

La vida difícil en Panama 😊

Posted in Panama | 5 Comments

Must See Webinars about Residency Visas in Panama

We love our attorney. He guided us expertly through the whole residency process, and has done the same for many other expats who also love him. All attorneys are not equal, and it’s critical that you have a good one to avoid the many possible hiccups and complications that could cause more time, expense, and frustration.

Photo blatantly lifted from his website 🤓

https://blog.thepanamaadventure.com/2017/06/05/good-people-to-know-in-panama/

His website https://kraemerlaw.com/en/home/

Marcos contacted me yesterday to tell me about some upcoming webinars, and I have to share them here because I’m sure those of you considering Panama as your future home will find them useful and informative.

Friendly Nations Visa August 22nd, 1PM Panama time

https://panamafriendlynationsvisa.com

Retiree/Pensionado Visa August 23rd, 1PM Panama Time.

https://panamaretireespensionersvisa.com

So, now you know, so you can get registered. If you can’t make it, check Marcos’s website above for a lot of good information and then get in touch with him to start moving forward.

As a tourist (from most countries) you can stay in Panama for 180 days, but it’s much more complicated to impossible to live here long term as a tourist. It’s better for many reasons, including your peace of mind, to get legal.  I really appreciate Marcos and his team.

Posted in Panama | 12 Comments