Boquete, Panama Thoughts and Reflections

imagesAs we get ready to embark on the next adventure in our lives it is time to reflect on our year living in Boquete, Panama.  The journey began in 2005 when we first cruised through the Panama Canal. We spent our first day here touring the metropolis of Panama City.

From the minute we saw the lushness of the tropical rainforest that surrounds the city, we surrendered to the spell of the land with its array of high rise buildings and mysterious bird calls of colorful wild parrots playing hide and seek in the foliage.

That first cruise educated us on the marvels of the Panama Canal. You owe it to yourself to experience it in person and you will wonder at the technological miracle. The testimony to the lives of the people that constructed it will humble you.

We spent a day onshore on a whirlwind tour of the city with an up close and personal view of the various sky scrapers, malls, apartments and condominiums along the palm tree lined Amador Causeway. The view of the ocean in the background added to the overall allure of the area.

On our return to the States operation “Panama” went full steam ahead. We subscribed to issues of “International Living” magazine, watched every episode of “House Hunters” that featured living in Panama and each year we’d cruise again through the locks as my husband set his goal for retirement.

In 2011 we flew to Panama City to spend a week to immerse ourselves in the culture of the country renting an extremely lovely 1 bedroom condominium near the Amador causeway which put us within walking distance of local restaurants and a taxi ride away from grocery stores and malls.

The week quickly passed in a flurry of real estate tours, bike rides along the ocean, dining with the locals in both neighborhood establishments to fine dining five stars,  people watching well to do beautiful people living life to the fullest often at hours Americans would deem too late to eat.

Every night we relaxed on the bar stools in our rented condo reflecting on our day as we enjoyed the cool breeze of the air conditioner unit sipping a cold beer, the national tasty Balboa. At the end of the week we knew in our hearts that the city was not a good fit.

Reasons being like any large city we would have to deal with congestion, noise pollution, a more expensive life style then what we wanted to afford and knew that there was a danger of falling into the trap of keeping up with the Jones as urban life is apt to produce.

Once again back in the States we re-evaluated our original purpose of becoming expats.

“Yes Victoria the correct word is expatriate – a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country and culture other than that of the person’s upbringing or legal residence.”

Boquete originally had been our first choice with its descriptions of being extremely affordable, exceedingly beautiful and a year round climate of 78 degrees. We continued to read everything we could get our hands on both in the professional sector and blogs of other expats settled in the area.

At the end of March 2012 we moved into our lovely home overlooking the virgin forest of the Baru, the dormant volcano that is virtually our backyard. Our rental home has wall to wall windows with an attached atrium which has been our dining room and office. The spectacular view is hard to stay away from.

Boquete is a small agricultural town that is a seven hour scenic drive from Panama City. The city is extremely compact and within a month’s time we found ourselves completely at ease in getting around.

Both expats and natives are very friendly and quick to offer assistance with any questions. Everything we read was true.

The abundance of fresh produce that is extremely affordable is a revelation after higher priced and often tasteless foods found in the chain supermarkets in the States. The caveat is items are seasonal and when not in season get used to liking a different fruit or vegetable.

If you have certain brands you simply must have then you will find them at grocery stores styled after American supermarkets but again the caveat is that there are other expats that like them as much as you do, the rule of thumb we learned is when you see it buy at least a couple or you may not ever see it on the shelf again.

Six months into living this idyllic lifestyle our gypsy souls started longing for another adventure, hence our plan at the end of March to embark on our cruise adventure.

As we set sail on March 31 for…

  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • France
  • Italy
  • Greece
  • Turkey
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • Russia
  • Germany
  • Scotland
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • England
  • New Foundland
  • New York

…I am certain the nomad spirit will rise again. Who knows where it will lead this time.

We look back with fondness on Boquete. There were many people with great generosity of spirit that touched our lives. We will never look at another rainbow, hummingbird, or palm tree without being reminded of this enchanting country. If we ever experience rainstorms that rivals the rainy season here in the Chiriquí highlands it will be amazing.

David Lee Roth singing “Panama” will continue to blast from our CD player and in the future when asked where we are from, we will continue to say:

“Me? I’m just passing through.”


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5 Responses to Boquete, Panama Thoughts and Reflections

  1. Janice says:

    I am so excited for you guys!
    I love your spirit of adventure!!!!
    My only wish is one of your cruises would land you on my island;-)

  2. Joslyn says:

    I loved your honesty about your expectations and your reality of Panama. You gave me, whose never been to Panama, a birdseye view of a beautiful location in many ways. You immersed yourselves in the culture and embraced all that Panama had to offer. It was exciting to read, from your research, to finding a location in Panama that suited your lifestyle. What an awesome experience. I wish you well as you embark on your next adventure, and what an adventure it will be! I anxiously await your post! Happy and safe travel!

  3. Rita says:

    Whoohoo! Karenbella & Joel,

    Congratulations on your new normal…you are the Traveling/Adventure Guru’s. You both know I love your adventurous spirits. Keep it up…it’s inspiring! I will on my adventurous journey soon and I pray that I can meet up with you some where along the way!

    • Bella says:

      I love that “new normal” keep that title in mind when you don your producer hat. Penciling you in for a future face to face.

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