This is a guest article by my friend Jacqi Stockton who lives in Las Tablas Panama. When the tour group visits Las Tablas we often meet with Jacqi. You can read about her life in Las Tablas Panama on her blog at Panama Daze
How Do I Love Thee, Panama?
I sometimes speak to groups about living in Panama. The most frequent question from them is “Why did you move here?” To me, the more important question is “Why do I stay here?”
Lots of my expat friends and acquaintances have come and gone. They have issues “at home” that need to be resolved; they have medical situations that need specialized attention; or they simply don’t like it here.
So they leave. But I stay. I love it here. I can’t say that I completely adore wearing clothing soaked with sweat all the time, but I do prefer it to freezing. I can’t say that I don’t miss the variety found in the groceries back home, or the plethora of good to excellent restaurants, or being able to explain some complicated issue to a person capable of fixing it because we both speak English. I do miss those things.
But if I left, I would miss the hilarity of watching an occasional chicken attempt to nest in the mango outside the window where I’m typing this. I would miss these giant mango trees themselves. I would miss having Mama Chicken and Her Pollitos scratching around in the yard, singing their awkward antiphonic ancient/modern song. I would miss hearing the cracked bell in the local church gather the faithful, and then I would miss their solemn hymns and the broadcast sermon (in Spanish I still don’t quite follow).
I would miss the seasonal smell of burning leaves and the equally seasonal sound of rain pounding so hard on the roof that its thunder drowns all else. I would miss little Diego’s four-year-old self charging across the yard to say hello and explain something to me in excited, sputtering Spanish. I would miss the way my neighbors actually care for me, and fuss a bit when I don’t visit because I’m drowning in the computadora either writing posts for my blog( http://PanamaDaze.com), code for my “new”website design business (Stock-in Fast Websites – would you believe I haven’t made one for myself yet? But you can always contact me on PanamaDaze), or sending helpful information to the local expats as part of my responsibilities as the US Embassy Warden for the Southern Azuero.
I would miss riding my scooter to town or the beach on a winding, wooded road, feeling the hot breeze cool me, and the salutes and hola’s from other drivers and friends along the road.
I would miss going to my bank here in Las Tablas, where they know me and give me candy along with my cash, where even the guard at the door knows me and always has a smile for me.
I would even miss the weekend “serenades” from the cantina up the street. On the nights I don’t care to listen, I just put on my headphones and play NetFlix. Lots of expats complain about the local music, but mostly I like it because it reminds me I am in Panama.
What I would miss most, though, are the people. My landlady, Dorita, who has been so generous and kind. My nearby neighbors, who are of all ages and all related to her in some way. My dear friend Soraya who has been so very helpful and kind to me. Francisco, the handsome master mason who is building the addition onto the casita I rent from Dorita, and who has the sweetest smile and a generous heart to go with it. The unexpected kindness of people so willing to help a stranger any way they can.
I live in the interior of Panama. It’s quite different here from the larger cities. This is a small town and has all the charms and drawbacks of small town life. Everyone knows my business – and has an opinion about it. But frankly, I like that. Not everyone would like it, but I do, because it speaks of caring about others.
I’ll tell you what else I like – the successful expat women here are a special breed. They are can-do, friendly, helpful, generous and, mostly positive and cheerful. An example is one you might meet – my friend Jackie Lange of Panama Relocation Tours.
So that’s what I love most about Panama, and that’s why I have no desire to be anywhere else.