Travel Professor
by on February 25, 2021  in Travel /
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By Larke Newell


I am a "snowbird", dividing my time between Panama and Canada, with the eventual goal of residing full-time in Panama. I flew back to Canada last March, intending to spend just a few months there before returning to Panama. Then Covid-19 reared its ugly head, flights came to a halt, and then came lockdown.
But now, finally, I have returned home to Panama, where my heart demands to be. Not usually one to wax sentimental, Panama never fails to bring that out in me. Descending the stairs from the plane, the warm, humid air wafted around me and my heart was glad. Home at last. It was as though my adopted country encircled me with loving arms.

Of course, things are not the same as before the pandemic. Limitations on everything from shopping, to visiting friends, to a social life, to sightseeing, and visiting my favorite beach resorts have been imposed, but only temporarily and I know this too shall pass. Meanwhile, I have much to keep me occupied.

My beautiful yard—three-quarters of an acre of land backing onto a creek and covered in flowers and fruit trees—needs a great deal of TLC. Always unfailingly lush and green with plants, shrubs, and trees exploding with multi-hued blossoms and fruit, it has now been somewhat reclaimed by the rainforest and sorely needs clipping, pruning, and trimming, but it will be a labor of love for me.
I'm working on restoring my garden to its former glory.

My huge terrace needs a vigorous cleaning, as does my beloved house, but I will scrub it with gusto. Only then will I once again be able to relax in my favorite chair with an ice-cold beverage, and survey my kingdom. I will get re-acquainted with the birds, iguanas, and other living creatures whom I have sorely missed.

Words cannot express how great it feels to be back here. My wonderful Panamanian neighbors smiled, waved, and welcomed me home with genuine affection—from a "social distance" of course. Since I arrived on a Saturday, during weekend lockdown, they had thoughtfully purchased the essentials that I would need until I could get to the grocery store. Never have milk, eggs, yogurt, coffee, and bananas been so welcome. Another Panamanian friend, my previous Spanish teacher, made sure my internet was connected when I arrived. My occasional maintenance man, who has also become a dear friend, picked me up from the airport after sweeping out my house, reconnecting the fridge, and replacing the dead battery in my car.

In spite of all the virus-caused hardships and restrictions they are dealing with at this time, everyone from airline employees to my neighbors continue to smile and show their habitual kindness and optimism.

Traveling from the airport to my home I had to smile with delight at the familiar sights and sounds of this place that has never failed to uplift my spirits. Not as bustling and boisterous as when I left, of course, but still vibrating and pulsating with verve and purpose. Life here in Panama is carrying on.

Prices still have the power to remind me why I made the decision to move here a decade ago. Gasoline is less than half of that in Canada. My grocery bills are considerably less, and my mouth waters at the thought of the fresh fruits and vegetables bursting with flavor and the scrumptious seafood I can savor.

I am in the process of the business items which are always necessary when I first arrive back here. I will renew my car insurance (less than half the Canadian price), pay my property taxes ($100.62 per year), get my teeth cleaned ($30 as opposed to $150 in Canada), and carry on from there.

Once more I will feel the warm sun on my back, hear the orchestra of birdsong, the joyous sound of a child's laughter down the street, and will be so very thankful that I am here at last. Panama truly holds the map to my soul.

Editor's note: Welcoming locals, a stable government, modern, well-maintained infrastructure, good-quality and affordable healthcare, low-cost living, thriving expat communities, and the choice of city, highland, beach, or island living… Panama's got the lot. Right now you can explore all it has to offer you from the comfort of your own home with Panama 101: Your Blueprint to a High-Quality, Low-Cost Lifestyle.

This in-depth video resource is a virtual tour of Panama in the company of IL Panama Editor Jessica Ramesch. She's the best Panama expert we know and in Panama 101, she takes you by the hand and not only introduces you to "her" Panama, but she gives you the tools to make it "your Panama" in hidden spots where opportunity is rich and costs are low. Find out more and access Panama 101, here.

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Travel Professor
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