Last week I was in Panama once again, a place near and dear to my heart for many reasons.
My wife and I lived there happily back in the middle of the last decade, and we loved all the things about Panama that every other expat loves…the excellent services and infrastructure, the world-class healthcare, the charming and welcoming people, the beautiful beaches and mountains.
But the thing we love most about Panama is that it gave us one of our most treasured, long-lasting…and, come to think of it, the most unexpected benefit of our expat experience…our granddaughter.
We moved to Panama in part because our son was also living there. And during his stay there, he met and married his wife, who is Panamanian.
She and her family welcomed us into their fold, and even though we’ve moved several times since then, we’re still close. In the ensuing years, the kids moved back to the U.S., where their beautiful little girl, our granddaughter, was born.
Now three years old, she’s become a magnetic center of our universe. From her birth, it has been our guiding principle to work our way as close to her as possible. But we love our lives abroad and are not inclined to change that status…except to arrange things so that we can travel back to visit the kids in the States as quickly and easily as possible.
For us right now, that means Mexico…the travel logistics, the cost of living, the First World amenities, the perfect climate, the warm, friendly people, and the proximity to our granddaughter just make Mexico the right place for us to be right now.
But as we travel back to Panama this week, it rekindles all those memories from the time we called Panama home. Good times.
Could the kids someday resettle back in Panama to take advantage of all the opportunities that country offers and to be close to our daughter’s folks? Could we relocate back to Panama as well and be even closer to the kids?
Nobody is counting that out. But at this stage in our expat journey, we rarely count anything out any more. We’ve made so many plans in the past—and had them reshaped for us by time, circumstance, and coincidence—that we try to stay light on our feet.
Fortunately, there are so many places where the cost of living is low and the quality of life is high that the thought of another relocation doesn’t faze us much…as long as it’s easy to get to the grandbaby.
Some day, time, circumstance, and coincidence could make Panama just such a place for us…again.
And who knows what other wonderful, unexpected benefits may be in store for us…
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