Ah! Glorious summer!

It's Friday, December 2, it's minus one degree Celsius (30F), and there are snow flurries.

Happy summer, Panama!

No, it's not freezing and snowing in Panama. As most readers know, I am in Canada for a few months. People here ask why I came back. I joke that I came back for the winter, of course. What else?

But on Thursday, I had an e-mail that said summer had begun in Panama. The sun was shining and there was a gentle breeze. The temperature where I normally live, in Volcan, would have been somewhere between 70-75F. No one ever mentions the temperature, because it is always like that, year round.

So why is the season between now and April referred to as summer? Because there is little or no rain, and the humidity in places that are near sea level drops appreciably.

To me, being reminded of the cold in Canada, and with an entire Canadian winter stretching out ahead, it is a wonder that Panama doesn't sink under the weight of ex-pats from less-predicable climes.

I am not a cold-weather person. I lived 43 years in Canada, a bunch of years in England, and some in Kenya. I left a piece of my heart in Kenya, but I would not go back there now on a bet. Too many troubles now.

Panama, however, has captivated me and I am impatient to get back there in June – when, of course, it will again be winter there (with temperatures of 70-75F where I live).

Here, too, I am reminded of the political stability of Panama. Canada's minority federal government just got tossed out on its ear in a non-confidence vote.

Mind you, unlike all the hoopla surrounding interminable elections in Panama, Canadian ones are mercifully short. There will be a new Canadian parliament elected on January 23.

I don't think most people I run into in the frozen north realize just how stable Panama is. I'm sure some people think Noriega is still running the place. A doctor commented this morning that he never heard of the Panama after Noriega was arrested.

Why would he? The place is peaceful, and that means there is virtually no news. The media, for which I once was a scribe, gets excited only about the bad stuff. You need only tune into the main stories on CNN to know that.

Drugs? Sure, there are drugs. We live next door to Columbia, directly on the land route to the U.S., the world's major consumer of narcotics. With aid from the U.S., Panamanian police are stopping tons of the stuff, but some always manages to slip by.

But, other than for those who are part of the drug industry, or by reading the newspaper stories of captures, you would never know there was a problem. Simply, there is not a problem for anyone but the drug runners.

I have never smelled marijuana smoke in Panama, or seen anyone high on drugs. That doesn't mean there is not a drug problem in some quarters; I just have not seen it, so for me it has not existed. I believe that is true for most ex-pats.

There is, I suppose, one significant problem. So many people are settling from the U.S., Canada, Europe and China that land prices in the most popular destinations in the mountains and along the coast are skyrocketing.

Memories of the political past have been slow to die, so land prices fell behind those in the Caribbean, for example. Now, and with the huge prices in parts of the U.S. and elsewhere, Panama is fast playing catch-up.

That's because lots of people like me are happy to think of Panama as home.


A big thank you to our readers

YourPanama.com has had back-to-back record numbers of visitors in the past two months, and subscribers to this newsletter continue to grow at a healthy rate. We now have readers in 39 countries, a number that grows each month.

We appreciate your support and the many heartwarming e-mails we receive each month.

The website and the newsletter have grown without any effort at advertising, and without a single penny being spent. Perhaps it's time to promote ourselves just a little bit, and I'm going to ask for your help.

If you like what you read on the website, and if you find it a useful introduction to Panama, would you please tell your friends about us? I think that could help us greatly. Word of mouth is by far the best advertising.


New this month

David Dell, my cohort in Panama, has been in the country for about six months. He has spent much of that time renovating (perhaps I should say rebuilding) an old house and doubling its size. That's kept him quite busy – a possible understatement – but he likes to explore when he can.

In the past month, he has been introduced to birding , much to his amazement, has helped baby turtles on their way to a 1,600-mile journey, and had some picture frames made by the woodworking maestro of Panama. Just click on the links to read these stories on the website.

David, for those who don't know, is a travel writer, videographer and world traveler. His construction activities have kept him pretty close to home in Volcan these past several months, but he told me the other day his house will soon be finished. Then he hopes to travel with his wife to see more of the country and to write more stories.

I look forward to reading about his next antics and the interesting people he meets.


Love and peace, our wish for you

January 7, my 92-year-old mother's birthday, is our next publication date. By then, the turkey, the ham, the Christmas cake and mince pies, not to mention chocolates and all those other goodies, may have added a few pounds to some of us.

Then, for those who do that sort of thing, we will resolve, somewhere around January 1, to lose weight.

Some of you, I know, plan to spend the holidays in Panama, looking for a place to nest. But wherever you are, I hope you are happy, have loving families with whom to share, and enjoy the very best of times.

Sydney


I hope you enjoyed this issue of Your Panama Nuggets. Watch for the next issue on Saturday, January 7, at 10 a.m. EST.