November in Panama

November in Panama-Let the Holidays Begin!!

Parade Independence from Spain in David Panama 2015

Here we are once again. November in Panama is around the corner. How can I tell?

Well by the sounds of course. That’s crazy, you say!

But it is true. Starting in early October every school band starts practicing everyday for all the parades and festivities in November each year. As October winds down, I can hear drums beating well into the night as the school kids work to perfect their skills.

A week ago just driving to a friends, I encountered one of the main streets shut down for a practice parade. It lasted about 15 minutes as the kids dressed in regular school clothes with instruments were trying to walk in unison down the street, practicing.

November is important in many ways.

First is is a sign that school is ending soon and kids will have their summer break.

Second it is the start of the Christmas season.

Third and most important, it is the month celebrating national holidays important in the history of Panama.

With these three things converging, no one expects to do any business with the government, banks or other agencies that will close down for all the holidays ahead.

Panama Holidays 2016 beginning in November:

Republic of Panama Flag

1. Day of the Dead – November 2, 2016  (Wednesday)
2. Separation from Colombia November 3, 2016 (Thursday) This holiday celebrates the independence of Panama from Colombia in 1903
3. Flag Day November 4, 2016 (Friday) The Panamanian flag was made by María de la Ossa de Amador on 1 November 1903.
4. Day of Proclamation of Independence November 10, 2016 (Thursday) Los Santos Uprising day.
5.. Independence from Spain November 28, 2016 (Monday) This is the biggest holiday of the ones in November
Mother’s Day December 8, 2016 (Thursday) Celebrated on Immaculate Conception Day

All of these holidays will be celebrated with parades, fireworks, fiestas and fun!

What a great way to introduce summer in Panama!!

La Barqueta David Panama



Adjusting to Single Life in Panama

Flickr Photo by torbakhopper

Adjusting to Single Life in Panama

Some background information about me. For over 15 years I have wanted to move abroad. Since most of my visits outside the United States were to Latin American, it became the place my heart wanted to move to. With lots of research and a new partner, we made it happen in 2012.

We moved to Panama. Specifically Boquete. For the first three months we rented and found that the climate was not to our liking. Too wet, cold and windy. So we looked at David and moved there.

A combination of things made me stay and my husband leave. It was a mix of getting used to a new country, new culture, language barrier, etc. I chose to stay. I told myself I would give it 6 months to see if I wanted to still live here alone. Here I am two years later still here and loving it.

Becoming an expat is so much more than the physical logistics of it all. In fact I think that, takes a back seat to finding out about how much you can adapt.

In two short years, (which sometimes feels like a century) I have learned more about myself, my strengths, weaknesses and resolve than I have done in my entire adult life. It has been a golden opportunity for growth and self awareness of who I have become and what I want to do.

I have made this journey with the support of good friends here. Friends and support I could not have had access to in the United States. Yes, I have many friends still back home, but those of us who have chosen the life of an expat, are experiencing a different way of life, creating a new different future. People who have not done that can’t support something they do not experience or know about. That is why those of us who have chosen to do this ban together.

I Love Each New Day

I love each new day and am so grateful for the chance to spend time on me and grateful for those who are there to support me. I love living here. I can say I finally feel like I am in the groove with Panama. I have come to know there will always be challenges here, but I am much more ready to deal with them. Although I don’t know Spanish well, I am comfortable most of the time interacting with the locals.

If I can do it, any one can. And the rewards of finding out what you are capable of is something you should always do, for you. Although you don’t have to travel outside your home country to do it, the sunshine, warm climate, beauty and wonderful Panamanians make that easier to do for me.

I have learned so much. Thank you Panama for 4 years today!!

Flickr Photo By Lenore Edman



Lets Talk About Panama Healthcare Costs


Often expats find that healthcare coverage is their biggest expense living abroad. It can cost twice or three times what their rental housing costs.

Flickr Photo by frankieleon

Expats who move to another country who are intending to get healthcare coverage would be wise to look into the costs before they move. Otherwise they might be shocked and find out their small budget does not have room for a health insurance policy.

In general I am finding expats have a misconception about healthcare costs. A direct result is finding many people moving back to North America because of the rising costs in insurance they can no longer pay for here. Or that they had no idea in the first place what health care coverage looks like here.

After four years here, I have heard stories about care here from people who had no insurance to those that had full coverage. Again planning based on the money you have is extremely important when considering moving abroad.

Many expats come with no money and live month to month on a retirement benefit. They can’t afford any insurance or coverage and simply say that if something happens they will just get on a plane and go back to have Medicare cover them in the States. Let me point out that if you have a heart attack, stroke or any life threatening emergency, you will not have time to get on a plane.

So What’s Out There for Health Insurance in Panama??

As I want this article to remain evergreen, I will only give the basics.

First, many local hospitals have their own private insurance or discount plans. In David, Hospital Chriqui has just that. A discount plan that pays up to 70% of healthcare costs depending on what that is. There is also a cap on the amount they will pay yearly. They have family plans designed to save you even more money. Bottom line is that you pay a very small fee monthly for coverage. The downside I have seen is that people I know who have had to have major operations, even with coverage have to pay out of pocket and that can be huge amount. By huge I mean upwards of $10,000 or more. And you better have a credit card or cash to pay it. So while these people brag to me about their small monthly premium they are paying, they are playing Russian roulette with their bank accounts. I guess it’s great if you have millions, but most expats do not.

Hospital Chiriqui-David

Next are the private health insurance companies of which Panama has a good selection. This is where you must know what you want coverage for and how much you are willing to spend to get it.

More importantly these policies are not like North American policies and this is where many expats fail to do their due diligence also. No new private insurance policy will be issued to anyone over 65, period. Almost no one knows this. I know people who are young using the discount plan at Hospital Chiriqui who think when they get to be “older” they will switch to a better plan and then oops, over 65 and stuck. Also if you want to get a new policy and you have any preexisting health issues or have had previous diseases, three things may happen:

  1. You may get a policy but it won’t ever cover you for those health issues, ever!
  2. You may get a policy with a waiting period for coverage and periodic testing of those issues and pay a hefty increase in premium.
  3. You may be rejected altogether.

The other issue that is currently happening for many Americans is that as a person ages of course,, their premium goes up. Even if they don’t have preexisting conditions, if they have a $5000 deductible plan with 100% coverage for any in hospital visit by the time they reach 65 a single persons monthly cost may be $583 a month. That’s $7000 a year per person. For a couple that can be $14,000 or more. And lets face it, the older we get the better chance we will get sick and we will need that insurance coverage.

This is when Americans decide whether staying or going back makes more sense for their budgets. They must decide between staying here and paying that fee per person a year or going back to the US to have Medicare coverage with substantially lower out of pocket secondary insurance. Many people I know who have lived here a long time have elected to return to the US, thus saving themselves a good $800 or more a month for a couple.

So many couples who do not want to move back to the US are forced to by the increase premiums with private insurance policies here.

So although none of us can predict our future health issues, it is a major cost factor to consider when moving abroad.

I am 59 years old. I got my plan when I was 55. I had and still have no health conditions. I elected to get Worldwide Medicals Plan with a $5000 deductible for out of hospital services. This means things like doctor visits, prescriptions and things like that I pay out of pocket for ( using my senior discount).My plan pays 100% for any treatment I need done in a hospital without a copay. I don’t have the best plan they offer but I do have a good plan. They also cover me if I visit the US. I pay at the age of 59, $190 a month. At this point in my life, this amount fits into my budget.

Flickr Photo by Sharon Sinclair

I personally see too many people who have sold everything, moved shipping containers of belongings here with a tight monthly budget to live on. Six months after being moved in they look into health insurance as an after thought, when in reality it should have been factored into their budgets before they decided on living here. Then they are forced to either elect no insurance coverage or move back because they had no idea about how insurance works here or the costs.

This is so sad and so avoidable with just doing some due diligence before coming here. So yes, Panama healthcare is less expensive than North America, but it is not free and in fact, prices are steadily rising for expats who come with many preexisting conditions and even for those who don’t.

Find an insurance broker in Panama to talk with about your insurance needs before you move.


Interview With

Interview With


Nanette Witmer

I have to say this was a nice interview I had with ExpatFinder. Although I did not move here alone as stated in the article. But as of 2014, I made the choice to stay after my divorce. So I have been on my own for 2 years.

This is a great site with lots of information about different countries, what it takes to move and resources.


Flora of Panama

Flora of Panama

It never ceases to amaze me the flora of Panama. Although you might think Latin America should have more fragrant flowering plants like Hawaii it does not. However the brilliant color of even the smallest flowers will take you by surprise.

Although plants grow all year long, they especially flourish with blooms in the rainy season ( or winter) which is almost over here now. Plants will bloom all year but not in such vibrant colors as they do with a little moisture.

Here are some beauties just within my complex. Everyday I get up to see the most brilliant flora flowers of Panama right outside my door. Awesome!!

Flowers of Panama Flowers of Panama Flowers of Panama Flowers of Panama Flowers of Panama Flowers of Panama Flowers of Panama


Chiriqui Flea Market

Chiriqui Flea Market

Chiriqui Flea Market

On the first Sunday of each month, the Chiriqui Storage business half way to Boquete from David, hosts a flea market.

Doors open at 10 am and everything ends at 1 pm.

First started in 2012, this flea market has grown to be one of the monthly events expats and Panamanians look forward to. The last flea market on October 2nd, 2016 had over 80 vendors.

You can find just about anything here from plants, clothing, housewares, local food, books and so much more.

Chiriqui Flea MarketChiriqui Flea Market

It is a great place to run into friends and make new ones.

For vendors it is a great place to sell your stuff.  Reserved tables start at $10 with options for larger space.

You can contact them by email at or call 6714-2487  to make a reservation for the next month. Vendor space fills up quickly.


A Video About Panama by Crosby, Stills and Nash

A Video About Panama by Crosby, Stills and Nash

Why? Well evidently Stephen Stills father was once part of the military assigned to the Panama Canal. Being raised in a military family, Stephen moved around as a child, and developed an interest in blues and folk music. He was also influenced by Latin music after spending his youth in Gainesville and Tampa, Florida, Covington, Louisiana, Costa Rica, Panama Canal Zone and El Salvador, where he graduated from high school.


Here are  the Lyrics

Have you seen Panama
Where I first fell in love
It will forever be

An emerald necklace
Set between the seas

Beside a crystal stream
In the mountains of Chiriqui
I saw a girl astride a horse
She waved at me
I was fifteen

I was not a child
I was not yet a man
I was trying very hard
To understand
Indifferent to the dangers of
Living in a foreign land
Was I falling in love or
Under the spell Of Panama?

Went riding off alone
Much further than I should have gone
I wandered deep into the dark
Now which way gets me home

Then suddenly there she was
All covered with leaves and dust
I couldn’t believe It but she followed me
Now both of us were lost


I was not a child
I was not yet a man
I was trying very hard
To understand
Indifferent to the dangers of
Living in a foreign land
Was I falling in love or
Under the spell Of Panama?

The clouds began to rumble
We found a dry piece of jungle
I don’t remember If It rained
But I remember making love

So clearly I recall
The magic of Panama
And surely never will it let me go
Yo Soy Panameno

I was not a child
I was not yet a man
I was trying very hard
To understand
Indifferent to the dangers of
Living in a foreign land
Was I falling in love or
Under the spell Of Panama?



Super Baru Supermarcados

Super Baru at Chiriqui Mall, David Panama

Monthly Discount Days at Super Baru

Almost 4 years here and still learning new things. Yesterday I found out that there are monthly discount days at Super Baru.

Yes. Panamanians are paid twice a month. So the following Tuesday after a payday, all Super Baru’s offer a Jubilado discount (Old peoples discount) for customers.

I admit I don’t shop there often as I have supermarcados closer to me. However I have come to know that the Super Baru across from Plaza El Terronal has lots of great imported items you can’t find at other stores in the city.

There are several stores in the city but the largest one with the most inventory is the El Terronal store.

So next time a Tuesday rolls around after a payday, I am going shopping at Super Baru and see what is going on.



Yes, My Electric Bill for This Month Was Only $14.54

Since nay sayers think I make up this amount, here is proof that indeed my electric bill was indeed $14.54 for the month of Aug-Sept for a 30 day period living in David Panama. This is of course with my Jubilado (old age discount) of 25 % as noted on the bill below. So I got a reduction of $8.19. Not bad, eh!!

I use electricity for lights of course, fans, internet, charging phones and tablets, television and washer/dryer.

My propane runs the stove and instant hot water. The last time I changed my small tank was in March. So I pay about $12 a year for propane.

Here is a copy of my Electric Bill.

electric bill for Panama


Healthier Living Abroad

Healthier Living Abroad?

Fruit and Vegetable Market David Panama

Okay this is my personal observation. I have been in Panama now 4 years. What I have personally witnessed is many people who came here with lists of prescriptions they were taking are not taking them anymore.

With huge lifestyle changes, their dis-eases have gone away or regressed to the point they no longer need the long list of medications.

While we have added new stresses about getting used to new protocols of our country, we have lessened the pressures from our home country.

We have also changed our eating habits, not by choice necessarily but because we had to. Imported items like potato chips, brats, Ben and Jerry ice cream are excessively high priced. What is plentiful, delicious and very cheap are local fruits and vegetables. Swapping new recipes for local in season produce is what we do.

And then there is TV

Maybe some don’t realize the stress watching TV puts you under. But I do. Those of us permanently living here have a different focus on the world. I don’t know anyone here who watches TV during the day, and most don’t at night. Furthermore, most of us don’t have a subscription for TV at all.

Flickr Photo by victorio marasigan

First it is expensive. Second you may get, say 100 channels but only 5 or 6 will be in English and they are usually not the channels you have watched in the past. Second of those 5 or 6, 2 will be CNN and FOX news.

Our days here are not focused on world events, local problems or politics. Yes we pay attention to what is going on here in Panama, but we choose not to have our daily lives bombarded by the news and therefore we are not stressed. We do not have anxiety and we do not talk about the news when we are gathered together. We are all pretty easy going.

I never thought much about this until recently. It just sort of naturally evolved for all of us living here permanently. We live in the moment and put out and want positive energy. We have given up the stress and negativity that TV feeds us.

I live in a gated community of 21 condos. During the high season when we are full of renters who are snowbirding from North America, I have made a keen observation. The majority of all the renters watch TV and some incessantly. No one opts to not have TV here when renting. There seems to be a need for a lifeline for an intravenous feeding of news. Also the louder the better. For some, the TV is on from waking up to going to bed. How sad! They have become news junkies and can’t let go.These people never experience Panama or realize what their habit is doing to them.

When we all gather for fun, the topics are about politics or local happenings back home. Their stress levels remain high as they get excited to share their take on the latest reporting of a news item. I witness their anxiety and negative energy. You can almost see their blood pressure rising.

Were we who are here now full time, once like that?  I would guess most of us were.

But now most of us are healthier physically and mentally. We put out positive energy and receive it back. We are at ease not dis-ease.

It has been an unexpected present to find our lives made better for making the decision to move abroad. By choice or chance we have let go of anxiety and stress. We eat better and feel better and enjoy each day to the fullest.

Flickr Photo by Adrian Scottow