How Panama Changed Everything

Ingrid Senne spends a great deal of time at the beach, doing yoga, or exploring the villages near her new home in Pedasí, Panama.

Las Tablas, just 15 minutes away, is one of Panama’s best-known rural colonial towns…a place where local traditions thrive and where Carnival season engrosses the entire town. “I like exploring places where the locals are surprised to see a foreigner. We drive around or go in search of a waterfall or swimming hole we’ve heard about. It’s a fun way to spend the day.”

It’s not that Ingrid doesn’t work; she does. In fact she runs her own language school. It’s just that the lifestyle in Pedasí, on Panama’s Pacific coast, is so laid-back. “Every morning I wake up to coffee on my porch, a view of my garden, and the fields beyond.”

There are lots of dinners and get-togethers with friends who live here. For Thanksgiving a friend from Texas, Joe, had about 35 of us over for dinner. He has a jaw-dropping view of the water, but we had a great time watching American football on his 72-inch television instead.

“I’ve been coming and going from Panama since 2005. On my fifth trip, I met the man who would become my husband, and a year after meeting him, I moved permanently to the beach town of Pedasí.”

Just over two years since her move, Ingrid says life couldn’t be better.

Ingrid and her husband, 35-year-old Roy Caduri, wanted to live a life outside of the rat race…and though they’ve traveled to other places in Panama and Latin America, Pedasí was the town that appealed to them the most.

“First and foremost, the people are amazing,” says Ingrid. “They’re so genuinely kind all the time. Plus it’s a very clean, colonial-style town. We really liked the look and feel of the place.”

Once a sleepy fishing village, Pedasí and its pretty, pristine beach recently began to draw people from all over…from world-renowned architects to surfers on their way to nearby Venao, one of the best surfing locations in the region.

“At 27 years old I’m too young to be retired, obviously, and I knew I’d want to keep busy,” says Ingrid. “I fell into private tutoring, since I had a background in teaching and there were so many expats wanting language classes.”

The demand was great, thanks to an ever-increasing number of expats, and Ingrid saw a way to take better advantage of it. She decided to set up her own school. “I had my lawyer set up a sociedad anónima, or a Panamanian corporation. Then I experimented with creating my own free website. I made a lot of mistakes and am still learning, but it wasn’t too hard to do.”

Her Buena Vida Language School has been officially open since August of last year. Ingrid spends a lot of her time with clients who come to her school for Spanish classes. But she also gives back by teaching English to locals, and she is currently setting up a free after-school program for area kids.

Assisting the locals in this way has helped Ingrid feel like she is contributing to the community that has welcomed her with open arms.

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