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Clueless Gringos in Panama

 Clueless Gringos in PanamaWhat happens when you move
—sight unseen, without any guidance—
to a foreign country?

One woman knows the answer . . .

Pamela Foster

Mel Brooks claims that “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.”

Mel Brooks would enjoy the heck out of Clueless Gringos in Panama. Author Pamela Foster and her Vietnam Veteran husband, Jack, sell everything they own, pick up the leashes of two 150-pound service dogs, and emigrate to the “tropical paradise” they expect to find in Panama. Jack is a former marine with raging PTSD, and the service dogs are mastiffs who are never further away than the end of a leash. The story takes readers through a hilarious and harrowing journey in airplanes, taxis, high-rise hotels, buses, boats, restaurants and cat-infested fish markets. Add a liberal dose of high anxiety – how could it not be hilarious?


I arranged for you to get the book at a super special price of only $13.97 for the paperback of $4.97 for Kindle.   This is one of the most entertaining books I have ever read about moving to Panama.   See more details below…


In October I will have Pamela in a conference call to talk about the book and their move to Panama. Be sure to opt in on the right side so you get notification when the call will be.


Pamela Foster Clueless Gringos in PanamaMy husband Jack and I are known for doing things the hard way.  Jack’s explanation for this tendency toward lunacy is that he’s a Marine.  I have no excuse.

He and I towed a 35 foot trailer the length of Mexico, alone, no caravan for us.  Learned nothing from being robbed at gunpoint by a man in a police uniform.

The two of us lived under a grass palapa on the Yucatan coast. Never thought of moving even after two hurricanes roared in like the big bad wolf looking for the little piggies who built with stick and straw.

We scuba dove and interacted with far too many dangerous underwater creatures. Petted the velvety green skin of six foot moray eels, stroked the rough gray sides of resting sharks, played with peculiar jello-like octopi. Didn’t occur to us to get out of the water even when I got stabbed by a sting ray and Jack met a bull shark up close and personal.

Jack and I put one change of clothes in a daypack and spent three months hiking and exploring Thailand, Vietnam, and Nepal, relying on nothing but optimism and a ratty copy of The Lonely Planet Guide to Asia. Never once questioned our decision even when we came face-to face with wily tuk-tuk drivers, sharp-fanged macaques, and kidnapping guides.

So, when we decided to relocate to the Republic of Panama and to do so with two 150 pound post-traumatic stress service dogs attached to our wrists at all times, it seemed a fine enough adventure.  What could go wrong? Well, you’ll want to read the book to discover the depth of the answer to that question.

Four years after surviving our ordeal and finding a beautiful home in San Carlos on Panama’s Pacific coast, I strolled from the Rey’s supermarket in Coronado. Stepping out into the soft warmth of another gorgeous tropical day, I looked up to see an air-conditioned bus with Panama Relocation Tours printed on its side.  The sight of that white bus stole my breath away. How much trouble and stress and shaking and twitching and marriage counseling we might have saved ourselves if we had only taken one of those tours BEFORE selling everything we owned, strapping two giant dogs to our wrists, and moving to Panama.

Truly, the sight of those folks stepping out into the shopping center, smiles on their faces, helpful guides close beside them, was like turning a corner and seeing a hidden path. An alternative road to our destination that wound gently through soft hills, instead of a trail infested with brambles that had to be hacked with mental machetes, dark forests filled with uncertainty, and strewn with money.  So much money. Money that might have stayed in our pockets if we’d invested in the knowledge that white bus represented.

The dogs safe at our home in San Carlos with the full-time gardener, Jack and I treated ourselves to an ice cream.  Two smiling couples from the bus wandered into the restaurant.  Jack and I introduced ourselves.  Jack’s never met a stranger.  I was curious about this other path to relocation. This road that didn’t involve a dozen costly and stressful wrong turns. The couples told us of seeing Casco Viejo and El Cangrejo in the city, the mountain paradise of El Valle, and, of course, beachfront Coronado.  Their experience of investigating the relocation to Panama was so different, so much easier and cost efficient than our own, that I couldn’t help but wish Jack and I could do it all again, and do it so much differently this time.

Is Panama a perfect place with no adjustment necessary when moving from the U.S. or Canada.  No.  It is not.  Again, if you read Clueless Gringos in Panama you will see that I had a difficult time with the move.  But if you can make the adjustment, see the beauty in the rich Panamanian culture and beautiful scenery, it’s a move I recommend highly.

Jack and I have made a fair amount of wrong turns in life. Our tendency to rush in half-cocked has gotten us robbed in Mexico; lied to, repeatedly, in Vietnam; and left alone in a Nepali jungle watching crocodiles while the sun sank into the mountains.  But always before, when the journey was over and we were safe, we’d look at each other and say, “Well, we made mistakes, but we wouldn’t have missed the adventure.”  But my honest opinion is that not taking that relocation tour BEFORE moving to Panama was the dumbest thing we’ve done in a life filled to bursting with interesting decisions.  I’m not kidding you, that psychological test that asks, if given a chance to do it over, what one thing in life would you do differently?

I don’t hesitate when I answer that question.  If I could do one thing and one thing only differently in my life, I’d take the Panama Relocation Tour BEFORE selling everything, strapping two humongous service dogs to my wrist and moving to the beautiful country of Panama.

Jackie Lange

Jackie Lange is the founder of Panama Relocation Tours and lives in the highlands of Boquete Panama. She has helped thousands of people relocate to Panama.

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