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Here in Panama
where life is good

Some profiles of our new neighbors

Back to Articles! Related Links

Mitzi and Bill Martin
The tour guide making a stop at Quesos Chela on the Pan American Highway at Capira thought he was making a joke when he pointed to a mountaintop and said to his group “That land up there belonged to my late father-in-law. Anyone want to buy it?”

The leader of the group was Mitzi Martin a travel agent who replied: “Let’s go see it”. A twenty minute drive brought them to a farm with a stupendous view of Taboga Island and the Pacific coastline.

That is how Mitzi and her husband Bill came to be among Panama’s new immigrants. They forsook North Carolina and bought the farm early in 2005 “lock stock and barrel”.... 14 hectareas of pasture, two old houses, ten horses, two fighting cocks and a wild cat.

They have now added a coopful of quail, a herb garden and a few thousand teak trees and are planning an organic vegetable garden and a garden for holistic plants.

Mitzy and Bill Martin.

They don’t have electricity, but power their computer and cell phone with solar panels. They don’t need heating of course, and find oil lamps romantic and restful.

Disillusioned with U.S. foreign policy, Mitzi, who had been an anti-war protester, left the U.S. during Bush Senior’s Gulf War and spent four years in the Peace Corps in Ecuador. Bush Junior’s invasion of Iraq helped her decide once again to leave the U.S.

Mitzi won a prize trip to Panama some years ago and subsequently, as a travel agent specializing in diving trips, escorted several groups here.

Their decision for Panama was partly for the access to two oceans; Bill was a Navy diver and they are both water sports buffs, partly for stable government and the use of the dollar and partly on the recommendation of Modern Maturity Magazine, which in fact favoured Boquete, but they subsequently discounted Boquete as being “too Americanized”.

But the clincher was the Panamanian people, “the most friendly folk we have ever encountered.”

Paul & Linda Roberts
Paul and Linda Roberts are very experienced travellers who have lived in many places including Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. So their decision to stay in Panama was no mere whim.

Paul, ex US Navy pilot from St Louis who later flew for Northwest Airlines met Linda, who hails from Delaware, while cruising in the Caribbean. During many years, Paul did two week stints with Northwest interspersed will two weeks free time when he would fly to wherever his sailboat was at, to spend his time sailing.

He and Linda were living in Guatemala when they came to visit friends in Bocas del Toro. They sailed to Bocas, sold the boat and bought a waterfront house. After a while, however, they decided to move to Panama City.

Jokes Paul: “Bocas was getting too busy for us. Panama City is quieter”.

They have now purchased a house on the beach at Playa Corona but intend to maintain a residence in the city. “It’s a fun town” comments Linda “There’s lots to do and lots going on”.

The couple go back stateside three or four times a year. Paul makes it quite clear that they are not disillusioned with the U.S.

He says: “It’s my home and if it were in trouble, I’d go back. We chose Panama because we get more for our bucks in a place where, although it may be designated third world, it really isn’t. Things work and crime is negligible compared with most other countries”.

Larry Dodge and Honey Sue Lanham
A couple from Montana, Lawrence Burnham Dodge and Honey Sue Lanham, chose Panama as their retirement home because Panama offers them personal freedoms which they feel are being rapidly eroded in the U.S.A. They have bought several acres in Altos del Maria, the residential community at Sora in the mountains to the west of Panama City.

Larry and Honey are perhaps unusual because they have spent much of their life crusading against the government infringement of consitutionally guaranteed rights. Honey was national director of the Libertarian Party to which they both belong. They also share membership in the International Society for Individual Liberties. Some years ago Larry founded FIJA, (Fully Informed Jury Association) concerned with the rights of jurors.

Personal freedoms in the US have been eroded since 9-11 and the advent of the Patriot Act as a weapon in the so-called “War on Terrorism” which has negated much of the cherished Bill of Rights. But according to Larry, government interference in the lives of citizens began a great deal earlier and will increase its grip in the internet age.

Larry and Honey and their new home in Altos del María.

It was no accident that Larry and Honey found Panama. They could not afford to visit all the countries which might have suited them. So, being academics, he a sociologist, she a geneaologist, they began their search for a country by a process with the numbing title of “Multiple regression analysis using crucial independent variables”. This indicated the levels of economic, social and personal freedoms of each country. The data, which included everything from prison population ratio (the US leads the world in prison occupancy per capita) to racial tolerance was collected by Honey on the internet and when it was fed into the analysis equation, Panama came in the top five countries listed according to their “coefficient of freedom”.

They also discovered practical benefits, such as easy access to the U.S., use of the dollar, low cost of living and good communications. They were also happy to find three members of the International Society for Individual Liberties on the isthmus.

“We just feel good here” said Honey. “We don’t feel we stand out as we have in other countries. We’re just another couple of gringos. Panama-nians are used to that”.

Mary & Kim Crofts
My husband, Kim, and I had been planning our great getaway to Bocas for a couple of years. We laid out each step carefully.

We researched places to stay, the requirements for “Pensionado Visa”, began drawings for our house on Isla Solarte and, most importantly, how we would get our precious dogs (say children) to Bocas with us.

Without a doubt, the dog issue became the most difficult and stressful for us. We started with a “puppy travel agent” and found lots of great advice. Most airlines won’t fly pets in summer due to heat concerns and we needed to be here in August.

The proper kennels with the right labels, airflow, water and food containers are essential. Kennels need to be large enough for the dogs to stand up and turn around inside. If not, you’ll be turned away at the ticket counter.

Mary & Kim Crofts and family.

In order to get into Panama and to obtain a “home quarantine” as opposed to leaving our dogs in Pa-nama City quarantined for 40 days, fresh health documents were required. Rabies shot certificates must be valid within 10 days of travel. Parasite prevention and other shots must be current and a certified veterinarian must fill out an International Health Certificate verifying good health. These certificates need to be notarized locally and then sent to be authenticated by one of the Panamanian Consulates in the U.S. ($30.00 money order for each certificate), returned to us and still be fresh (within 10 days of travel).

After three months of cleaning out 18 years-worth of stuff, donating it, giving it to our children or packing it for storage and getting our home set up for a lease, we were off. We left Hailey, Idaho as planned, traveled to Boise where we rented a Dodge Grand Caravan from Alamo early Saturday morning and began the long trip to LA.

Because of our careful planning, expert advice and help, everything went very smoothly all the way to Panama City.

Jose Saenz drove us to Almirante where we took a boat to Bocas. It was a beautiful but long (10 hours) drive. On our fifth day of travel from Hailey to Bocas, we drove up to our new home on Bluff Beach. Finally, we had made it!

The article above is reproduced by permission of “Bocas Breeze”.

Related Links

Article - Making the Move to Panama
Article - Looking for a Home in Panama 2005
Article - Looking for a Home in Panama 2006
Article - Retirees are Moving to Panama
Real Estate in Panama


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