Before moving to South America in 2008, I worked independently and couldn’t afford health insurance. Here in Colombia, where health care costs are low, I used to pay out of pocket for medications and basic services, such as a dental checkup, which costs around $25. Even so, I often went without the care I needed to avoid extra expenses.
Southern Colombia is like a rainbow of landscapes and subcultures. Cali, the area’s largest city, is a melting pot of ethnicities and the birthplace of Colombian salsa. South of Cali, Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities dot the landscape. And one hour north you’ll find one of Colombia’s true undiscovered jewels. With high temperatures reaching 80 F during the day, Buga offers its 100,000 or so residents an airy lifestyle, with doors and windows open wide throughout the day. In the city center, students from the University of Cauca’s Buga extension mingle in cafés, and in the main plaza children frolic in the shade while old men shoot the breeze.
As the bus rounds the bend, a town appears in the distance—perched majestically atop a mountain, surrounded by deep green forests, cattle ranches, and coffee farms. White-washed walls reflect the golden afternoon sun and a church bell tower rises into the heavens. This is where expats go to live a stylish country life.
After landing in Panama City, Mike traveled to Shelter Bay Marina—situated at the Caribbean entrance of the Panama Canal—to meet up with the owner and check out Escapade. Mike was thrilled with the vessel, so, after getting the green light from Ann, he bought it. The boat-buying process works about the same way as purchasing a house.
A tamales vendor rides through town blasting his sales pitch over a bullhorn, zipping past rings of children playing marbles on the sidewalk. An old woman sits in a doorway enjoying the cool breeze, as smitten teenagers walk hand in hand to an ice-cream parlor.