My loose plan, before I arrived in Panama, was to spend a few days exploring Penonome to see if it might be a place we’d like to live.
I flew into the country on Tuesday evening and on Wednesday I hopped a bus for Las Tablas.
Why Las Tablas? Because I discovered there wasn’t a hotel room to be had in Penonome. The moment I arrived in Panama I started receiving lessons in flexibility.
I got myself and my remaining three bags (remember, I stashed one with the hotel in Panama City) into a cab, out to the Albrook Bus Terminal, and onto a Las Tablas bus.
When I arrived, I took the path of least resistance by checking into the hotel we’d stayed in last year.
Next morning, disaster struck.
I awoke at 6 AM feeling extremely sick. Somewhere between Panama City and Las Tablas I had picked up a good case of traveler’s tummy. And here I was, alone, in a place where I didn’t speak the language and with no way to communicate with the outside world unless I left the hotel room.
I won’t bore you with the play-by-play, but it was not one of my better days! (“OMG, I can’t do this!” was a recurring theme.)
Fortunately by Friday morning I was feeling better.
I got myself out to the Movistar cell phone shop and set up local service on my unlocked smart phone.
I called a couple I’d met last year to tell them I’d arrived. I contacted someone who had a couple of houses to show me. I was in business!
Since then I’ve viewed several possible rentals, spent a lovely afternoon and evening visiting with the above-mentioned couple at their home on the beach, and moved from one hotel to another.
I’ve met half a dozen expats and as many local people. Wherever I hear English spoken, I speak up. That’s led me to a local acquaintance I met in the grocery store as well as another American woman traveling alone.
I celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, not with green beer but with plenty of good food and drink at Uverito Beach, near Las Tablas. We were a motley crew including a couple from England, an Irishman with his Panamanian wife and daughter, and a couple of Canadian snowbirds.
On Sunday I changed hotels, but I’m still in Las Tablas.
I had planned to spend most of today on the computer, catching up on email, writing, cranking out work, but the universe had other plans for me.
First was the hour I had to spend resolving an unexpected problem with access to one of my financial accounts. Then the city-wide power outage.
Yes, it’s frustrating, but the first needed to be dealt with right away and there wasn’t a thing I could do about the second.
So when the power went down I decided it was time for lunch. I strolled around the corner and ordered a salad and a bottle of water, made a few phone calls, and when the power came back I returned to the hotel and sat down at the keyboard again.
Traveling alone is hard, especially when you’re used to doing it with a partner. It’s a lot harder if you try to stick to a rigid, predefined plan.
I’m trying to relax and go with the flow — something that doesn’t come naturally to me — and so far it seems to be working. I’m finding lots to enjoy here.
The weather’s been great. Yes, it’s hot in the afternoons, but here in Las Tablas there’s always a breeze and mornings and evenings have been very pleasant.
Getting back into the flow now. . .
Hi Susanna! Glad you’re feeling better already. Had the same issues with stomach troubles when I came over, but it took almost a week and a visit to a Doctor to recover.
Have been finally catching up on web stuff and have been settled temporarily (at least for this year) in Antigua Guatemala, which I’ll be writing about soon. Looking to be here at least this year. Like you said, it’s been an adaptation process, but it’s been easier than I thought in most respects.
I was talking about my significant other about aiming to live in a beach town the next move and Las Tablas had been on my radar for a bit. Look forward to reading more about your reports!
Looking forward to reading what you have to say about Antigua and Guatemala. And if you do decide to explore Las Tablas, let me know! By that time I ought to know my way around a bit 🙂
Tay (in Texas)
Thanks for the detailed updates. Sounds like you’ve had a lot to deal with in a relatively short time. You deserve a tip of the hat–several, in fact–for being creative and, as you put it, being flexible.
Glad to hear you’re meeting people–speaking up when you hear people speak English sounds like a good idea–and that you’re enjoying what Panama has to offer you right now, in spite of the hurdles you’ve had to clear.
Tay (in Texas)
One of the nicest things my mother ever said to me was in a conversation shortly before she became ill and passed away. It was just after I had returned from our exploratory foray to Panama last year, and she told me she thought we had found a creative way to handle a difficult situation and was very proud of us. Coming from a woman who never gave praise lightly, that meant a lot to me.
I think of that when I start feeling stressed or overwhelmed and it helps. 🙂
Thanks for providing such a great, personalized resource for those of us considering retirement abroad and also for some of us who have already taken the plunge. Your site provides a wealth of information and there is no such thing as too much information for anyone considering this option. I recently wrote a short piece that provides a couple of other great resources for those contemplating Panama as their expat destination. Feel free to take a look!
Moving to Panama? Learn the REALITY of Living Overseas!
Thanks for the link. These are both excellent resources for plan-to-be Panama residents. There are also several Yahoo Groups devoted to Panama and specific areas within the country.
I would just add one cautionary note — some of the folks who spend a lot of time on these forums seem to prefer bitching about everything and anything rather than getting out and having a life. Just sayin’. 🙂