We landed in Panama one year ago, August 1st and have no regrets. Looking back through this past year, there have been many adventures and many challenges. In fact, I am writing this post on my iPad’s battery power right now because the electricity went out in the middle of the night during a thunderstorm and hasn’t return yet this morning and it is still raining off and on. Hopefully it will be back on soon, but we do alright without it. But this is a normal part of our life now. Pedasí is our home and we thank God for blessing us with great friends, beautiful surroundings, and the experience of “tranquilo” in our retirement.
We didn’t do much to celebrate our first year, although we did renew our Panamanian driver’s license. The first time we applied for it last August, it involved several steps: authentication of our California driver’s license by the US Embassy; authorization by Panama of that authentication, blood tests, medical and mental clearance by an internist for Mikkel who is over 70 years old, and waiting in line at the Seratracen (Driver’s License Bureau) in Panama City to apply for our licenses which included eye and hearing tests. This time it was very easy at the small Seratracen in Las Tablas with only 2 people waiting before us. Mikkel had his recent doctor certificate ready to submit and after a few questions to answer, the eye and hearing test, and paying the fees ($40 for a 4-year license for me and $20 for a 2-year license for the “old guy”-lol), we were out the door with new license in hand. Some might say it is easier if they would just offer it online like in California. But it is what it is; a different country and different ways of doing things.
As we drove home on this day, I did a lot of reminiscing over this past year. At first I felt a nervous, anxious excitement as we ventured through the Panamanian systems. So many things we accomplished in those first few months – applying and receiving our Pensionado visas and driver’s licenses, buying a vehicle, driving to Pedasí, living temporarily in a very small 2-room apartment for 7 weeks, transporting and delivering our shipping crate, moving twice into 2 different homes, acquiring cell phones and internet, learning how and where to pay bills, setting up mail service, and basically learning where to go to buy things we needed or wanted – all in a country that speaks a different language with different laws and traditions. It was all new, and yet we navigated our way through every challenge and enjoyed each adventure. Today I feel much more comfortable with these things that are now familiar With God’s help and the many kind people we have met along the way, both Panamanian and Expats, I can say without a doubt that Panama is definitely our home now and so glad we made this choice to move here. We plan to remain unless God has other future plans.
As I have written before, we do miss our family and friends back in the states, and do plan to go back and visit this November/December for the first time since we moved here. Some people still ask why Panama or when do we plan to move back. Mikkel and I were just talking this morning and came to the conclusion that we really can’t truly explain our reasons for making Panama our home unless they come to visit and see first-hand. There have been some adjustments to how things are done, changes in our lifestyle and eating habits, and challenges in availability of products, who and where to go for help, etc. You have to be willing to accept those differences for one thing. We know there will be more, but we look forward with excited anticipation to new experiences. It makes life very interesting. We had to be willing to make these changes, which we were. But it is hard to describe why we chose Panama to others. I have tried to share some of those things in this blog, but the only true way to understand is to come here and experience for yourself. You don’t have to move here; we know Panama is not for everyone. So I challenge anyone who reads this blog, if you are able, make the trip; come see for yourself. You are welcomed to come stay with us if you like or explore all of Panama on your own. This way you may get a little more understanding of why Panama. In a nutshell though, we fell in love with the friendly people, and we love the ocean and can afford living near the beach here with our fixed retirement incomes.
So this next year, I will continue to share our new experiences, write about some new things, and maybe make some improvements with the blog. Writing this has been very rewarding for me and I hope my readers and/or followers will continue to enjoy each blog posting as well.
Hear are some highlights over the past year: