It has now been three years since my first exploratory trips to Central America and ultimate move to Boquete Panama. I have been a bit constrained in my posts recently, my visiting daughter and our hectic schedule but the time has given me an opportunity to reflect.
One of the many reasons I sought to leave the US was financial. Even before the current economic crisis I discovered myself on an endless treadmill to just pay for living. I was trapped in the uniquely North American psychosis of living so I could work. I supported myself, a wife and four children. When I left all of my children were still in the throws of education; Law School and Undergraduate. Now three of four are fighting to survive in a very difficult economy.
I find myself wishing they could all be in Panama. Panama is a land of opportunity. It is small, underpopulated and relative to it’s neighbors, prosperous. Panama is a young country, still being born. With the election of an independent, intelligent President who wants to stamp out corruption Panama has an opportunity. In a country of under four million people changes can happen quickly and benefit many people.
This might not be James Hilton’s Shangri La but for my life it has been just that. I have not returned to the US since arriving in Panama, the important part of the US, my children visit, so I have no need. I do not miss the lifestyle at all.
There is little doubt the current US economy will at some point hit bottom and if the world is lucky refocus into a new vision of the future less tied to consumption and more toward harmony with the planet. I, we can only hope.
Reading the news I have seen articles about the Tea Party Protest demonstrations in the US; demonstrations criticizing the expanding role of government. In Panama I find myself in a country that has less governmental influence on daily life. Perhaps because my life is less tied to work and more toward community. Perhaps because the government does not try to micro-manage the lives of it’s citizens. The nature of government is to grow and assume more not less power so it is possible those benefits will erode with time here also.
At this time I look at Panama and wish I had arrived earlier or perhaps better said, younger. The opportunities abound for the educated and ambitious. The retirement community of Boquete has more and more businesses being started by retirees who cannot stop working. They are contributing to the accelerating terraforming of Panama. I suspect I am through my published ramblings doing the same.
My crystal ball is not clear and I cannot predict the future. I can say that the quality of life I am experiencing in Boquete is far healthier, happier and more fulfilling than the rat race lifestyle I lived in the US. Here I can live on less than I paid for Water, Gas and Electricity in Tucson. Here I breath clean air, drink clean water and eat local foods grow mostly in this Provence or fished form the seas.
I do not recommend Boquete to most people from the US. If you expect to find all the pleasures of home, they are not here. This is a small rural community in the mountains, my Shangri La but maybe not yours.