We will be adding new info and stories as this adventure evolves.
Welcome to our Panamanian adventures!
“How the heck did you choose Panama?” This is THE question we’re asked every time. With a chuckle we tell the story.
In 2014 Gary and I were married but before that I had asked Gary if he would ever want to retire and live somewhere that didn’t have snow, that was like….warm all the time.
He grew up on a cattle ranch in North Idaho and was himself a rancher and business owner of some other enterprises. Gary just looked at me as if I had asked him if moving to the moon was ever a possibility. I knew then I was in trouble, I hated the winters and I didn’t at all care for the ranching life. I love cows, to eat. But calving in December-February in Idaho is ludicrous, calves in the tub in the downstairs bath, cows getting out, at night. Black cows at night are hard to see and Gary never gave into the idea of painting them with fluorescent orange paint.
I asked a few more times, giving hints like “We could be somewhere warm right now instead of here, warming up a newborn calf, praying it won’t die cause the mama cow is stupid and won’t claim her baby.” At 10 degrees outside and 2 feet of snow. Or “It’s snowing!!!!!” in April or May or the 1st of October. He wasn’t having it.
So I started to pray, I prayed that God needed to change my heart, to change his heart, to know that HE put me where HE wanted me to be, even though I loved my husband, my getting older daily body really, really wanted warm weather!
One day Gary says to me “What if we buy a little sail boat, maybe live on it in the summer over in the Sound in Washington?” Not exactly the direction I was thinking but it was a start. This seed bloomed into going all out, selling everything and living on the water on a boat in warm waters. That’s more like it! Gary really loves YouTube.
So we did. We bought a little sailboat to learn to sail on Lake Pend Oreille just south of us. That’s right neither of us had ever sailed or had even been on a sailboat before, hence Gary’s love affair with YouTube.
Our little boat was perfect; we named her XitPlan and put her in the water. But like so many things in life, our plans are not always His plan. As Proverbs 16:9 says, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” Gary had a hiccup with his heart, had a surgery to fix said hiccup and is all better now but it did give us pause that perhaps living on a boat so far from medical help may not be the best thing after all, to much relief of all our children.
BUT it didn’t change Gary’s resolve to chuck it all and move to “warmer waters”.
So we started looking at a more land based operation. I’m not sure how we decided that moving out and being expats was what we were going to do, I suppose it was that anywhere in the U.S. that has shoreline was just going to be too expensive to live.
Again, YouTube! Gary found Belize. We had been to Belize before, while on a cruise, it seemed to fit. Cost of living is low, the weather is good 90% of the time, it’s beautiful and they speak English. So we planned and went down to explore in October 2019 for 10 days, we knew pretty certain where we wanted to be but wanted to keep our options open.
Well that lasted about 30 minutes.
Don’t get me wrong; it is a beautiful country, the people are extremely nice but it just wasn’t for us, and the bugs. Gary still had bites well into December.
We came home not knowing what we were going to do, so we just let it sit there for a while. We knew God would direct us and it was all in His hands at that point. Gary has a friend, who had mentioned Panama and that he thought it was a beautiful place.
YouTube! Yes, it’s true. Gary started to research Panama, everything we were looking for seemed to be there. Weather, the cost of living,the U.S. dollar and many options as to what climate to live in. One problem, we speak no Spanish. Thanks to DuoLingo and googletranslate, we found that a little Spanish goes a long way if you put forth the effort and I can read better than I speak so we got by and Gary learned a new word, “pequeño”.
As Gary is researching, he thinks he wants to live up in the mountains where the weather is highs in the 70’s and lows in the 60’s. NO! I wanted the beach but it will be doable, we can always go to the beach its only about an hours drive. There will be no snow or black cows. WIN for me.
Being the wonderful husband he is, Gary did book our Airbnb on the beach for our 10-day stay. So we flew down in February 2020, we both fell in love within 10 minutes of leaving the airport. Can’t pinpoint the why but it just felt like home, where we were supposed to be. The best part? Gary fell in love with the beach within the first 24 hours. We are now looking at homes in the La Barqueta area, Las Olas in particular.
As soon as the country opens, hopefully in October we plan on going at the end on November to start to the ball rolling, meeting with an attorney to get all the necessary paperwork and our retirement visas with the hope of moving full time in January 2021 if not sooner.
We hope that our story will encourage others to take that leap of faith, to step out and begin your own journey and explore all the possibilities life has to offer.
Gary & Barbara