Month: October 2013

Life in Boquete, or that’s not my idea of Paradise

Everyone talks about Boquete, Panama as if it was paradise.  Funny, paradise to me isn’t filled with the problems that life in Panama represents.

Now to be fair we didn’t live high end.  I mean we didn’t live in a 5000 square foot home with all the expat comforts. You know what I mean, things like expensive granite countertops, fancy kitchen appliances, or even a car.  Most locals cannot afford any of those things in Panama and I wasn’t interested in living my life worried about ‘stuff”, I mean that’s why I sold it all in the US, so I didn’t have any ‘stuff’ to worry about.

We lived in a one bedroom cottage with hot water only in our shower and that is because most Panamanians do not have hot water in their homes, that is another N. American luxury.

We only had one incident with a scorpion and it was just a baby but other expats deal with scorpions on a more regular basis.  I think we would have moved sooner if that had been the case for me.

We had no clothes dryer because 95% of the country cannot afford a clothes dryer.  We are not the type of expats who go to a country and look to live the way we did in our own country.  What’s the point of that?  And the cost to do that is the same as staying in our own country.  Why would I spend the same amount to live in a third world country as I could in my own, I might as well have stayed in the US.

Kids can’t ride their bikes on the streets because most of the streets are not paved.  Try walking down a street that isn’t paved nor has any sidewalks.  And because of the bugs most kids cannot play on the grass or on their front lawns.  Some of my happiest memories as a child are from when we were able to play in the front yard; I cannot imagine not being able to do that.

We lived without water at times because in Panama water is rain water and when the water stops, or when the water flowing through the ditch stops, you have no water.  We had one situation where for a month we had water and then we didn’t, it would trickle in from time to time.  Seems that the pipe had gotten clogged with mud and it took them a month to figure out how to get the pipe unclogged. We left before it could happen again.

You cannot bring jewelry or anything of value with you to Panama.  The national income average is still less than $600 a month.  Think about that a second.  The average Panamanian family is trying to feed themselves, cloth themselves and take care of their bills on less than $600 a month.  Can you do that?  We tried.  Our rent was $300 a month and food was around $300 a month.  We never went out and we shopped like locals.  It’s not easy living like that.  We were able to save a lot of money but as a woman after a while it wears on you having to cook and clean and chase bugs all the time, and then there was not having any hot water.  Nothing bothered me more than not having an endless supply of hot water.  I wasn’t raised like this so I know there is a better way to live.  It’s called being in the US where we have screens on our windows not bars; were we have hot water tanks; were we have water that we can rely on; good roads that won’t gauge tires; yards where children can play, and more.

The scenery in Boquete is beautiful.  In fact Panama is a beautiful country and I think everyone should see it and explore what it has to offer.  But paradise, I don’t think so.  And like I have said countless times, if this was paradise, why are there always homes for sale?

                                                                                                            Florence Lince

Welcome Wagon

Everyone wants their first blog post to be epic and profound and newsworthy.  I’m not sure how many people actually succeed and I have no expectations of grandeur, because after all I’m just like the millions of other folks out there who are traveling and blogging about the stuff they think is worth writing about.

I’m going to write a blog to explain how I view life abroad, actually, life as a woman living abroad.  A woman who is a Baby Boomer and an expat all rolled into one.  Growing up in the US I am used to certain comforts that I mostly took for granted while I lived there; like hot water, a good drinking water supply, screens on windows, toilet paper and hand soap in all the public toilets, trash bins for those that want to use them, restaurants that ban cigarette smoking and so much more. However, if I write something that makes people smile, or makes them angry with rage, or makes them want to vent back and take the time to comment and interact with me, even better, because to me, a blog isn’t just me saying whatever I want to say, it’s about building a relationship with my readers and engaging them in lively conversation.  If I just wanted to write and be silent I would write in a diary that no one would see.

I will also impart information about the locals that I meet on my travels.  I have always found that spending time with the locals of any culture helps me to see the world differently.  We are not so different.  If the leaders of the world were forced to spend time in a kitchen, cooking together, they would soon learn how much we had in common across ethnic boundaries.  Maybe then they would think twice about wars and trying to do harm to others because deep down, where it really counts, we are more alike than they realize.

And still, with all the problems and challenges I have experienced while traveling, and the things I will impart in future posts, I wouldn’t stop traveling and seeing the world for anything.  Sitting and reading about all the beautiful places in the world that someone else has written about doesn’t even compare to actually seeing all of these places for myself.

If I am going to write about all the bad things that happen when one travels why do I keep traveling?  That’s easy, because over that rainbow, at the next bend in the road, past that next bridge or waterfall, lies the world, and everything it has to offer and I want to see it all.  I want to meet its people and share in its beauty.  I want to look back when I’m 100 and know I did my best to leave a mark on this humanity and I want to know that I lived up to my motto; “Don’t make an impact, make a difference.” 

                                                                                                                       Florence Lince