When I first discovered Sora, I had been looking for someplace quiet to spend a weekend away from Panama City. I wanted a place that was an easy drive from the capital. Somewhere with a cool climate and little noise or light pollution. I wanted to be able to look up and see the stars, maybe wear a light jacket, and have a relaxing weekend.
Toucans and macaws glide around the lush jungle canopy and scores of monkeys parade through the overhanging branches. Neon-green and electric-blue butterflies of preposterous sizes flit across gurgling streams, while waterfalls drop into deep pools. Welcome to one of my favorites among Ecuador’s secret spots…a place hidden in the east of the country, where indigenous shamans still perform timeless rituals and a small number of adventurous expats have found new lives surrounded by nature.
We started our cruising life in our early 40s. My husband, Jim, dreamed of sailing to exotic places in search of the perfect retirement spot. But we lived in Colorado, a tad landlocked for ocean adventures. So we learned to sail small boats on mountain lakes. When we grew tired of doing figure eights, we began researching online for blue-water cruising boats, and formulated a plan.
There are many low-cost places to retire to in Panama. For those who enjoy the slower pace of rural living, Chiriquí Province, where I live, offers a delightful climate, easy convenience, and a quality lifestyle in an affordable retirement destination. While the city of David offers all the amenities of a good-sized city and the town of Boquete is a favored expat haven, some of the smaller towns in the area combine access to these desirable features with a lower cost of living. Dolega is one such small town in Chiriquí Province in western Panama. The four-lane highway that runs north and south between David and Boquete runs right through Dolega, so it’s easy to find. A new pedestrian overpass marks the main turnoff into town, at the Municipal Palace, shaded by a gigantic mango tree. Dolega is the administrative seat of the district of the same name, which encompasses a total of nine towns such as Los Anastacios, Dos Rios, Los Algarrobos and Potrerillos.
Before settling in David in western Panama in 2009, I lived aboard my sailboat, Carina, for 16 years. My husband and I sailed the western Caribbean and we still have many friends among the cruising community. Although Panama has miles of coastline, it has few marine facilities for small boats. If you’re looking for a safe harbor to dock your boat in Panama, here are the stand-out marinas to visit.
Bathed by the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea, Belize is in Central America, south of Mexico, and east of Guatemala. Although it is a small country, about the size of New Jersey, there is a wealth of “must see” natural resources and wonders...
Peru has long been a popular tourist destination thanks to the popularity of the ancient mountaintop citadel of Machu Picchu, and its other fascinating archaeological sites. The growing reputation of its diverse cuisine is also attracting foodies from around the globe to sample a wide variety of ingredients from the sea, jungle, and mountains...
One of the things my wife, Suzan Haskins, and I have come to value over the years that we’ve lived abroad are well-organized expat communities. We do know some expats who were determined to be pioneers and boldly go where no North Americans had gone before. But for us…and most other expats we know…there are undeniable advantages to having people around you in your chosen expat destination who have already blazed a trail, made the most common mistakes, and learned the ropes.
“I came here on vacation and quickly realized this is where I needed to be,” says Kathy Pow. She lives in Cabarete, a small beach town on the Dominican Republic’s north coast. With two international airports nearby, in Puerto Plata and Santiago de los Caballeros, it’s fairly easy to get to and from North America, with many direct flights from the major cities there....
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.