From Shoveling Snow in Canada to Owning a B&B in Panama

“I never dreamed I’d take up fruit farming, learn a new language or open a B&B in a foreign country,” says Phil Dankiw. “But after 28 years of owning my own businesses in Canada I needed a change.”

After years of visiting Latin America, Phil decided to sell his home and snow removal business in Burlington, Ontario.

It was time to make the big move.

As his snow removal business left Phil with summers off, he had been able to travel through many countries…but there was just something about Panama.

He found the Panamanian people to be particularly warm and welcoming to foreigners. It made him feel at home.

Since he was too young for retirement and had always been self-employed, his dream was to start a business in Panama.

He fell in love with the cool mountain air in a tiny Panamanian village called Chica, and soon, an idea began to form.

He spotted a seven-acre parcel of land nestled in the Campana Mountains on the market for $75,000. Part of the property was in use as a fruit farm. Surrounded by lush, tropical jungle with spectacular mountain views, this seemed like the perfect spot for a rustic, mountain lodge.

Knowing little to no Spanish, he managed to hire some locals and together they cut their way through the jungle with machetes. With the land cleared, construction of La Joya de Chica could begin.

Literally translated as “the jewel of Chica,” Phil’s small B&B has two guest rooms, an outdoor pool, whirlpool, a bar and hiking trails through the jungle. Inside, guests are treated to gourmet meals made with fresh fruit and vegetables grown right outside on the farm.

In the coming months, Phil plans to build a number of cabins, custom designed for nature lovers, right in the jungle. Hidden in the depths of the rainforest, guests will be able to soak up the aroma, sights and sounds of a real Panamanian jungle.

“Owning a B&B on a tropical fruit farm seems like the furthest thing from snow removal I could have ever imagined doing,” continues Phil. “I don’t know if this is my final destination in life or just a stepping stone to my next project, but for now I’ll take the palm trees and hot weather over the snow any day.”

Editor’s Note: We’re coming to Panama…and you’re invited. If you’re interested in relocating to this super-friendly, modern country then kick your plans up a gear with a visit. And there’s no better time to get your boots on the ground than when we’re in town to help show you the ropes. Learn more, here.

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