BY DAVID BAYLISS Follow us on Facebook!
In my research and experience being in Panama this past year, there have been several things that have surprised me about Panama.
No, I haven’t “fallen off the turnip truck.” I have met many other people who have been in Panama that have made these same discoveries.
Upon moving here, you will find out many of these things for yourself. I just want to give you a head start, and let you know the ten things that have surprised me most about Panama.
1) Panama City - To my surprise, most of the movies at the theatres are in English, and they are as nice as the ones in my former hometown of Dallas, Texas. The sidewalks are busy with people going places and doing things. It’s like a small version of New York. Casco Viejo is a thriving community now, but has architecture from several hundred years ago. The combination of old and new is very fascinating. It feels almost like any big city in the United States.
2) The Panamanians - They are not mad that we (North Americans) are here to live in or visit their country. The locals are nice, and they welcome us to spend our money to help their economy! Speaking Spanish isn’t required, although the locals appreciate our efforts of trying. Spanish is Panama’s language, but they understand how difficult a new language can be to learn. Just try!
3) Safety - Generally speaking it is very safe in Panama. Like anywhere, you have to lock your car doors and prevent easy temptations for thieves. My 15 year old son rides his bike to and from school every day, you can comfortably shop at a grocery store or mall and ride the bus or taxi anywhere you need to go and feel safe. It seems like Panamanians like the tourism and want to protect us from harm.
4) The Pacific Tide - When I read that the tide changes twice a day from 13 to 20 feet, I had no idea what that really meant. Beaches can be huge or small depending on the tide, with the ocean hitting up against a sea wall or lapping as gentle waves on the beach a hundred yards out. All within a few hours.
5) Drinking Water - The water is not only safe to drink, but it tastes good too! In other countries it is easy to get sick just because your vegetables were washed in the water. Safe water is easy to take for granted, but a huge factor in your daily life.
6) Healthy Living - Bottom line, being in Panama we “feel” great. Most people have lost weight and sleep better than they did from their “home” area. The good news is there are fewer preservatives in the meat and vegetables; however the bad news (if you call it that) is that the food spoils more quickly, so you have to eat it within a few days.
7) Nature - I have become a bird watcher, and I love to watch the sunrise over the Pacific Ocean … yes I said “sunrise”. Panama is the only area in the world where you can see the sunrise over the Pacific Ocean. Many of the beaches are salt and pepper with bright, black sand with the minerals coming from the sleeping volcano in El Valle. The black sand is magnetic, and is fun to play with!
8 ) Technology - Our cable Internet is fast and surprisingly reliable. Our mobile Internet is something that we purchase by the month (no long term contracts or ETF), and it allows us to be in business for a workday on the beach or at a Fonda (local lunch place). We have become truly mobile and functional, and did I mention that Skype is my best friend?
9) Social Community - Whether you live here or are just visiting, there are so many people that you will meet in different stages of their journey that are great people to know. We have made so many great friends from all over the world! The social life for expats of all ages is alive and well in Panama. Come by our happy hour every Wednesday to see what I mean!
10) Things to Do - In one day you can go white water rafting, zip line, hike in the mountains wearing a light weight jacket, surf in the ocean, suntan on the beach and meet up with great friends for dinner at a local restaurant to share the day’s adventures. This country is incredible.