I started writing this blog of my life experience in Boquete Panama about six years ago. Not long after that I started a series called Panamania, a theme I revisit regularly as I have have time to assess my life in Boquete. Today as the sun is shining, the temperature like spring in New York and the winds gone it seems like another day perfect for reflection.
Sitting with my view of Volcan Baru and listening to Mozart with a cup of coffee makes a perfect theme to stimulate thoughts of life gone by, and life in the future. I have spent about ten percent of my life living on this mountain top and have no regrets.
As I watch the clouds rest on the volcano, I realize I am perched in a perfect place in a perfect time. After returning from my recent trip to Chile and Argentina several people have asked if I am considering a move south. Boquete is a transient community for expats, many come, many go and then more come to fill the vacancies. I have not seen any reason to leave for more than a vacation.
In my time here I have made two trips to the US, one to Canada, one to Ecuador, one to Guatemala, two to Argentina and two to Chile. I have cruised the Caribbean twice, the south Atlantic once and always return to Boquete, happy to be home. The question others may ask is, why. In the great debate on retirement overseas why do I choose to remain in Boquete?
The reasons are many, some of what attracted me keeps me here. I came because of the low cost of living, the large English speaking community, the tranquility, the weather and the desire for a change of pace. I wanted off the treadmill of work and even though I owned my own business, it was still a wage slave treadmill. Work to pay the bills, I had little time for more than work.
After traveling to many places I have seen lower costs of living, I can just drive to David and pay less to live, but there are other costs like enduring the heat. There are more English speakers, I think, in Mississippi and it probably would be easier to live there, but I don’t want too. I also came to learn, learn a new language and immerse into a new culture. In my time here I have almost mastered preschool Spanish and now spend much of my time immersed in the local culture.
People are the same everyplace, people want a better life for themselves and their children. Here in Panama the government gives little except jobs and they are usually political payoffs. People still need to survive on their own sweat and most do. People rely on family and friends more than government, I like that.
One commentator I enjoy reading is Fred Reed, he has a refreshing and often caustic view of the world from his perch in Mexico. I think this column of his reflects my view of the United States, one I do not wish to live in any more.
Perhaps it is the fact that I live in the wild west of Panama, not the urban center which is hours away by car, bus and culture. Cities are cities, many have flavor like San Francisco, Montreal or Buenos Aires some are just urban jungles like Panama City, but I did cities for ninety percent of my life. I relish the change of living in a small town in the boondocks.
Boquete is a point of transition for people who want to learn a language and a culture. Some of those who leave achieved that and move on to other parts of Latin America, others never can make the mental changes necessary and return to their point of origin. Each to their own, I like living here.
There is a lot of discussion in various online communities about retirement, there are companies like International Living and Live and Invest Overseas that earn their revenue convincing people to expatriate. I actually think they sell the wrong thing, they try to sell a lower cost of living as a primary justification. The real reason to move to a new country is different. The best reason to retire overseas is to take the opportunity to grow, to grow mentally, grow emotionally and grow culturally. If you just want to kick back and watch television and be a couch potato, Mississippi is a better and probably cheaper option. If you stretch your mind and your body to make real change in your life you might just find a happier person living in your body.
Carpe Diem, Seize the moment and use your third life as a chance to enhance your total life.