Stress-Free Living in Beach Town Panama

I rise at 6 a.m. just as morning light breaks. I don’t need an alarm clock as the singing of birds in the trees outside have replaced that annoying sound. My first task is to make a full pot of freshly ground coffee and then open the curtains, sliding doors, and front door to let in the fresh air.

It’s fall and the sky can be either light gray with clouds or a beautiful blue with few clouds. Within a few weeks, the rain will give way to blue skies and about six months of dry conditions. This season has had more rain than recent years and the rolling green countryside is full of cows, horses, and tall corn. It reminds me of southern Ireland or several places I have been to back home. It rarely rains all day and I like that the clouds keep the temperatures down several degrees and filter the bright sun.

My wife, Abbe, and I moved to Pedasí full time in late August. When we decided to move to Panama, our family and friends thought we were crazy. Before moving, we tried different areas during the eight months we explored, but we realized that we were becoming drawn to the country lifestyle and empty beaches of Pedasí.

The first two months in our home were a constant buzz of activity, learning new things, meeting new friends, and making shopping trips to the hardware store. The same as when you move to any new place.

Our home is much smaller than any of our previous homes but just the right size for us at this phase in our lives. And we love it. It was built by Americans to meet American expectations. There are plenty of electrical outlets, and ceiling fans in every room. The compact kitchen has a large, beautiful wooden-top island and both base and overhead cabinets—rare in a Pedasí kitchen. The bathrooms were completed with upscale vanities, and there is plenty of glass and light. Our home, which overlooks a small cattle ranch, is within easy walking distance of the center of town for food shopping and restaurants. Beautiful empty beaches are only a five-minute car ride away.

You can find just the right home for you, too. Taking the leap and purchasing a home in a new country requires work, but the rewards are definitely worth it. Our family and friends are still caught in their daily grind. These days, they don’t think we were so crazy after all. For the past four decades, the alarm would go off, I’d push the snooze button a few times, before finally getting up, and maybe eating breakfast before starting my stressful commute to my job.

Now, my mornings are different. In Pedasí, we enjoy waking up in the morning and having little stress. While drinking coffee, my wife and I usually review and answer some emails to family and friends back home and here in the area. We are happy and grateful to be here. We may work on our hobbies, plan a lunch or dinner with a group at a nice restaurant, stop over at a new friend’s home to chat, or decide to take a drive in the country or go to a nearby deserted beach for a nice walk. There are several beaches in, or close to, Pedasí and we are often the only people on them. The exception is Sunday when a few families arrive, but I have never seen more than 20 people and a dog or two on the beach.

Things have slowed as we settle into our new home and community and are relaxing and spending more time in our colorful, new hammock. Stress is slipping away and I have even lost a few pounds. We are eating good local food and cooking healthy meals. And we are planning activities such as horseback riding, day trips to local areas, riding our bikes, and continuing to volunteer in the local community. The journey has taken three years from those first dreams of a better life, and we want to enjoy every day and opportunity.

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