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March 2015

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The sorting/culling/packing has begun, and today I reached into a bag containing a big stack of my old (very old) school papers. This is what I pulled out! Since I was writing in cursive, I must have been in third or fourth grade. Therefore, carbon dating would indicate this is from around 1968 or 1969. No idea why I got a 90 instead of 100, but it probably has something to do with my math skills (which are sucky to this day) on the map scale. At least I spelled Colombia right! Signs, signs, everywhere a sign (sorry, Holly!) . . .

Here’s a great story from our friend Holly down in Boquete. You’ll be hearing more about her and her husband Scott, whom we met on our last trip down and who are building a house in Boquete. We love Holly’s blogs about her experiences with the indigenous Panamanians she’s encountered, including the workers that are helping build their house. She has such a kind heart!

IMG_3461This past week has been an emotional roller coaster. Within seven days we have: sold a car, sold a good percentage of our furniture, and (drum roll, please) accepted a CASH offer on our house above our asking price, even before it was officially listed! I am a strong believer in signs and portents. And all of the tea leaves here are reading “This move to Panama is the right decision. Full steam ahead!”

“So, Susan,” you ask. “Why the emotional coaster ride? Aren’t you beyond elated?” Of course we are. But for the first time, we’re actually confronting the reality of leaving our home here in Long Beach. And I gotta tell you, it’s breaking my heart a little. John and I have owned several homes, loving each one more than the last, and there’s something about this house that fits us like a glove. I know the minute we set foot on Panamanian soil and see those two pup faces looking out at us from their crates, all things Long Beach will be forgotten. But for now, I’m letting myself be a bit wistful . . .

That’s not an uncommon reaction when we tell folks about this crazy scheme of ours. So here’s a brief introduction to our future home, Chiriqui Province, República de Panamá.

First, many people don’t realize that Panama (aka as the Isthmus of Panama) is a narrow land mass bridging Costa Rica and Colombia and running west to east. When we entered Panamanian waters from Costa Rica on our boat, we had a tough time getting our brains around the idea of being eastbound since we’d been traveling south for three years. And the Panama Canal actually runs from the southeast (Panama City on the Pacific side) to the northwest (Colon on the northwest side). Bisected by the Chagres River, that section of the country is so narrow that France thought it was a perfect spot to dig a canal. France failed spectacularly and tragically, but that’s another long story and the topic of a future blog post. A map is worth a thousand words (click for a bigger version)!

We’ve told a lot of people about our upcoming move to Panama and invariably get the same or similar questions. So here, in no particular order, are the most Frequently Asked Questions and our answers. Most of these will get their own posts with more info later.

Why are you moving to Panama?

For John and me, travel is the salt of life. New experiences broaden our minds and help us appreciate all of people’s wonderful differences as well as the same-nesses we all share. And besides, travel’s fun! Panama will be the perfect base of operations for us to plan future adventures.

Mark Twain pretty much sums it up for us in Innocents Abroad:

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

There’s also a large financial motivator. If we stay in the U.S. (especially in SoCal), John will have to work several more years for us to afford the lifestyle. In Panama, where the cost of living is so much lower, he’s able to retire at 59. We have friends who are living comfortably there on Social Security alone.

When and how did you decide to do this?

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