A country with surprisingly varied landscapes, Panama is so much more than its modern, cosmopolitan capital city. There are mountain towns boasting cool climates, pine-covered hills, and sweet, Swiss-style cottages framed with bright bursts of bougainvillea.
White sand beaches with bright green palms, ringed by turquoise waters… Glittering swirls of volcanic sand, slender white sea birds soaring above, and dramatic coastlines… Tiny islands that look like little pearls against a backdrop of deepest sapphire blue…
My first year in Panama City—known to locals by its airport call letters, PTY—I started my mornings with a 15 cents cup of strong, dark coffee. For breakfast I would buy a little bag of fried plantains or corn fritters (torrejas de maiz) for 25 cents.
When Toni Munoz, 53, visited Panama in 2014, she did what no one should. "I came just to look around, but I ended up buying a house!" she says. Conventional wisdom says it's best to visit a couple times and maybe even rent for a while before buying but Toni's spur-of-the-moment decision to buy in the beach resort of Coronado turned out to be a good thing. "I just fell in love with the community," she says.
It's easy to see why, in Panama, the Pacific coast is generally more desirable. The region is accessible and it gets half the rainfall of the Caribbean coast. That's why the Pan-American Highway is where it is.
To sit on a porch in the tiny mountain town of Cerro Azul is to experience true serenity. That's how I feel as I relax in an old Adirondack-style chair, gazing at hillsides carpeted in green. A single pick-up truck is the only vehicle that trundles past. Though I don't know him, the driver gives me a friendly wave. Earlier in the day I took a mini-hike to a hilltop mirador (lookout point) and caught far-off glimpses of both the Pacific and the Caribbean. Now I sit sipping my coffee and watching a pretty blue tanager swoop around the garden.
With shimmering lights and gleaming towers overlooking a deep blue bay, Panama City is a cosmopolitan capital often compared to Miami. Sure, there are parallels. Both cities boast beautiful skylines and exciting nightlife. But these days it can cost a mint to live in world class cities like Miami, New York, or London. In comparison, Panama City offers high value, low cost lifestyles…and a little more luxury at every turn.
I’ve been living in Panama full-time since 2005, and one of the best things about life here is the medical care. I’m not the only one who thinks so, either. Over the years I’ve met dozens upon dozens of...
I’m sitting on a bench, looking out at the deep blue waters of the Panama Bay. A row of tall palm trees lines the walkway in front of me. To my left is a small marina, and further off, the twinkling lights of the city’s impressive skyline. To my right, I can see the stately colonial facades of the historic district known as Casco Viejo.
The sun is setting, giving the beach a golden glow. Moments ago the water was a cobalt blue, and I could see the tail feathers of the seabirds gliding above. Now a single cormorant bobs close to shore. I kick off my sandals and walk along the surf, letting it roll over my feet. The water is the perfect temperature. A bit cooler than the air around me, it feels refreshing…inviting.