Wordpress for the iPad leaves a lot to be desired, especially when working with photos. I finally gave up with yesterday’s post, but today’s a new day. Here are a few more pics from the past four days. The last photo is the interior of the Teatro Solis, since Wordpress refuses to publish my caption (grrr).

IMG_5564John and I love public transportation and always make a point to use it, wherever our travels take us. One of the things that blew us away about Medellín, Colombia is its dazzling transit system. But there’s a lot more going on here than just a clean and efficient metro rail, a network of cable cars, and escalators snaking up the hillsides.

During our recent visit we were able to spend a morning in one of Medellín’s most interesting and visually striking neighborhoods, Comuna 13. This area was once extremely dangerous and violent, especially when Medellín was in the grip of the drug cartels and paramilitary warfare. Residents living in this hillside neighborhood were forced to climb thousands of steps to reach their homes after a long day’s work, and most vehicles weren’t able to manage the steep roads. The result was gang warfare, isolation, poverty, and hopelessness, especially for young people and the elderly and infirm.

On our first full day in Medellin, our tour guide, Mauricio, had bad news and good news. “The bad news is that the schedule got a little messed up and we won’t be going for that hot air balloon ride. The good news is that I’m taking you paragliding!” Before we had time to really think about it, much less chicken out, we were airborne. And what a spectacular ride it was! After it was over, Mauricio asked, “Now, would you rather have done that, or gone up and down in some boring hot air balloon?” No-brainer. I can honestly say that it’s the best thing we’ve ever done at 9,000 feet that didn’t involve an airplane! And best of all, at least as far as this blog is concerned, is that the outfitter gave us each a GoPro mounted on a selfie stick. Not only did we each record videos of…

Medellín, Colombia’s second-largest city, has been on our South American bucket list for a while. We finally made a whirlwind trip there last week, and my goodness, what a fabulous place. We crammed as much as we possibly could into four days, so much that I couldn’t possibly cover it all in one blog post. Here’s the first of a few installments about our visit. To many people, the name “Medellín” conjures plenty of negative and downright scary associations: the Pablo Escobar drug cartel . . .the FARC guerilla war . . . the hopelessness and violence that come with poverty and isolation. Not so long ago all of those things applied; in fact, at one point Medellín had a reputation as the most violent city in the world. What a difference a couple of decades can make. The Medellín Cartel is gone, and since the late 1990s the city’s homicide rate has decreased…

There are places I remember All my life, though some have changed Some forever, not for better Some have gone and some remain All these places have their moments With lovers and friends I still can recall Some are dead and some are living In my life, I’ve loved them all – From “In My Life” by Lennon and McCartney Today, May 1, is the one-year anniversary of our arrival in Boquete, Panama. A few weeks ago we wrote this about the things we’ve learned after a year of expat life.  I can’t think of much to add — except to say that moving to Panama is the best thing we’ve done since September 26, 2001, the day we sailed out the Golden Gate Bridge on our sailboat, Compañía. Then, as now, we knew we were leaving behind our comfortable, predictable world and entering a zone of discovery with no small amount of risk.…

The inspiration for today’s entry comes from one of our favorite Panama blogs, In Da Campo, which a few days ago posted some musings about the Jimmy Buffet song Changes in Latitudes.  If there’s one thing many of us expats have in common, it’s a love of travel and new experiences – and I think that’s why Jimmy Buffet’s music resonates with a lot of us.

So now it’s our turn!   During our cruising days aboard our 42-foot sailboat Compania, Susan and I had a ritual. Every time we dropped the anchor in a new anchorage or tied up in a new harbor we’d break out the cocktails and blast Jimmy Buffett’s song One Particular Harbor. And now, every time we hear it we harken back to those carefree days when the rum was rich, the salt air was bracing, and every new port brought the promise of adventures to come.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. When we brought both of our girls with us to Panama, it was with high hopes that we would all grow old together, and that Maggie and Rosie would live to a healthy, happy old age. Last night, we lost Maggie. It pains me even to type those words. Apparently she got a lethal does of toxin from a cane toad. She died in my arms, in our car as we were frantically driving around trying to find an open vet office. This morning, we buried her in the back yard of our new home outside Boquete. She was only eight. There are so many things I need to say about this experience. About how unprepared we were for a medical emergency with our dogs, and about the paralyzing guilt that’s fueling our grief. But for now, I just want to reflect on the…

Ah, health insurance – such a necessary evil (or evil necessity). At this writing, the U.S. Supreme Court has just announced that it is upholding a key provision of the Affordable Healthcare Act, also known as the ACA or Obamacare. We believe the ACA is a step in the right direction for U.S. citizens but still has a long way to go towards ensuring universal, affordable healthcare for all. Hopefully, with this ruling, the politicians will stop wasting time and resources trying to defeat the act and start working on how to make it better (and on that day the air will fill with porcine aviators!).

Lucky for you, I’ll get off that soapbox and explain how John and I are approaching the health insurance dilemma as Panama expats. It’s a complicated topic, so hang on!

When we moved to Panama, we went through a lot of soul-searching to figure out what to take with us. Of course our two kids (dogs), Maggie and Rosie, were never part of that discussion. Ensuring their safe travel and legal entry into Panama was one of the most important (and most nerve-wracking) aspects of the move.

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This post is for the benefit of our pet-owning readers who are contemplating a move to Panama. Of course, it’s our own experience and your mileage may vary, but hopefully this will give you some idea of the process.The trickiest part was the timing, especially for planning nuts like us who prefer to do as much, as far in advance, as possible.

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