Happy Birthday, Panama!

I arrived in Panama with a mind-numbing bang two years ago, just before the country celebrated its 100th birthday, a celebration of the bloodless parting of the ways from Colombia. (I blew two tires as, on a dark and wet night, dazzled by oncoming headlights, I jumped an unmarked kerb in the middle of the road.)

This year, David Dell has his first National Flag Day as a resident of Panama. He 'enjoyed' a few bangs, too, but his were from 100 enthusiastic drummers, not from blown tires.

Witnessing the parade in Volcan, now his hometown, made him think about the origins of the children who participated, and what they mean to the future of Panama.

His story, and more pictures are here

Summer's almost here...er...there

Panama is getting ready for summer when, for the most part, the usual hour or two of rain in the afternoon becomes no more than a memory. David tells me the rain is slackening there already…and then asks if I'm freezing in Canada. Nice guy! In fact, Halifax is supposed to have a balmy temperature of 15C today (Saturday). But…

Forecasters are predicting a milder winter that normal for the east coast. Milder? These things are relative! Winter was one of the reasons I moved south, and I imagine that puts me among the majority of ex-pats.

As I think wistfully of the June-like sunny weather about to shine on my adopted home, I recognize that I will have three back-to-back 'winters' and no summer. When I return to Panama in June next year, it will be 'winter' again there.

However, the warm rains will bring the flowers back to peak performance and the grounds around my home will be a riot of color (not that they ever lose it completely). I can't wait to get back.

New this month

There are fewer new stories for you this month than I like to have. There are just three, including the one I talked about above.

I did not choose the best time to be away. David is beating an old house into new shape, and there is lots of activity on the real estate front. He is also learning how to manage the real estate pages on the website, and that is no easy task for someone not used to the program we use to design and publish the website.

Next month, I hope, he will be spending some time in Panama City meeting with some of our contacts there and arranging to bring on a large selection of real estate.

Doing all of this alone, and with very little time to get fully up to speed, is not an easy task. (On top of that, poor David has me nagging him long distance all the time!) ;o)

David, like me, has traveled in many parts of the world and lived in several countries. Panama is becoming popular with Baby Boomers from various parts of the world, and he has a few tips from his own experience for potential ex-pats.

Panama, he says, is not totally immune from the troubles that affect the rest of the world, but it does better than most.

Come on down, he says, the water's warm. Or am I mixing metaphors?

David, who has spent a lot of time over the years in Panama, moved here less than six months ago. The only regret he and his wife have? That they didn't move years ago.

It's surprising who you might meet having breakfast al fresco in Volcan. David ran into a storm chased away by two hurricanes.

Forgive the humor. But one of Volcan's latest residents is Tom Storm. He used to live in Mississippi. Then came Katrina. Bad enough, but then Rita was on its heels. Sitting on his rooftop, he made a decision: "No more!"

The violent storms appear to be getting worse, and the people who study these things say there are several more bad years ahead. Panama is fortunate. It lies outside the hurricane belt. In fact, in recorded history, it has never had one.

Good publicity, hurricanes in the U.S., dissatisfaction at home, Panama's low cost of living, clean air, great climate, friendly people, stable government, exceptional retiree benefits, good health care at reasonable prices, amazing real estate opportunities…who knows the reason? But the fact is that increasing numbers of people are moving to Panama. And many more are slated to come.

Land and house prices in places favored by ex-pats are already on the rise, tenfold in the past five years in Boquete, for example. The Volcan area is still quite inexpensive, but it, too, has started to rise. A gorgeous three-hectare property with a dramatic waterfall did not sell at $30,000 in 2004. It sold this year for $80,000.

Time, in this affordable paradise, waits for no man.

Read the story of Tom Storm here

I hope you enjoyed this issue of Your Panama Nuggets. Watch for the next issue on Saturday, December 3, at 10 a.m. EST.