Getting Our Feet Wet in Panama

We’re so happy to be here!  It’s such an amazing feeling to be here and living here.  Obviously I haven’t been here too long (maybe 4 days…)  We’ve been planning for over a year but it feels like a dream of a lifetime.

We went out today to start looking around for a place to live.  We have done a ton of research and had a few ideas.  But as we were trying to decide where to start, we realized that we really didn’t have a clue where to go.  So we decided to just drive and see places with an eye to possibly move.

Our first inclination was to stay within a reasonable distance to Panama City, mostly for quicker access to Tocumen Airport so visitors wouldn’t have a long drive after a long flight.  So we decided on heading toward El Valle de Anton in the mountains and driving through Coronado, a beach area, on the way.

In Coronado we followed a few signs to check out some possibilities.  As we were going through a neighborhood slowly due to horrible roads, we stopped to talk to another party looking at a house for sale.  He was a German gentleman and as we chatted about what we were looking for, he gave us his real estate agent’s name.  Mike, the agent, is an American who has been in Panama for 7 years.  We called and were able to stop to talk to him for about 45 minutes.  He told us his story, listened to our need/want list and advised us to look in Boquete.  This is rather amazing as this is the first town we had looked at when we first began to find our way.

Mike felt that Boquete, though further out from Panama City, checked all of the boxes on our list:

  1. Reasonable prices for a safe and secure rental
  2. Close to diving areas
  3. Within walking distance of all our basic needs (we probably won’t have a car)
  4. Spanish school/lessons

Boquete, as it turns out, has excellent prices in a nice walking town, is close to great diving areas, has everything in town that we could want and has several options for Spanish learning.

Per Mike’s suggestion we decided to stay in Boquete for a few days before we made the decision to rent.  So he got us in contact with Carolina, a business associate, and got us a 2 bedroom place to stay on a cafè finca (coffee farm) about 10 minutes from town.  It will only be $80 per night.  We are planning on 4 nights initially but can add more time if needed.  Mike assured us that if we decide that we love it, we will be able to find a place with a rent to suit our purposes.

Our friends, Austin & Delmira, have been our hosts in their home in Panama City.  They have been our guides, taxi and translators for our initiation to Panama living.  They will be accompanying us to Boquete tomorrow and hanging with us while we look around.  Within the 4 days, we hope to be able find a place and settle in.  So exciting!!!!!

With our focus turned towards Boquete, we decided to finish our day playing tourist a bit in El Valle de Anton.  We continued another hour up the Pan American Highway (this is the main highway of Panama and runs the entire length of the country from Columbia to Costa Rica.)  El Valle was another town that we had considered once due to the rave reviews online.

The drive to El Valle was beautiful.  The town is in an extinct volcano that is gorgeously green and lush due to the volcanic soil.  El Valle is a small and quaint town, with an open air shopping area.  I got a beautiful purse, hand-stitched by Kuna Indians from the San Blas Islands.  The Kuna are an indigenous people to Panama and parts of Columbia.  Look closely at the purse…all the different colors are different fabrics, hand stitched together.  I love this kind of stuff!

Since we got to El Valle so late in the day, we definitely will be coming back.  There’s a lot more to see and experience here.

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