“What am I going to do with myself?” This is generally not the first question asked by a new retiree in Panama. Transformed from a rigid working lizard to a wrinkled and lazy lizard, we, the newly emancipated, embark on the exploration of sensational places. Only after the first year do we begin to ponder intriguing ways to reinvent ourselves. We regain that energy in our stride and realize that 60-something is not too old to start over. We have had enough of spending every waking hour with our spouse, no matter how much we love them. our many visits to the mall and market and we recognize that there is nothing else we need to buy. We have visited the main attractions several times, so when we return it will be to accompany our visitors from out of town. Once I went through my list of career aspirations, eradicating mold and ants from my home was not a lifelong goal. No, it wasn’t a goal, but it has become a lifelong challenge, but that’s another blog. So besides killing mold and ants, what’s next?
I have good news for you. Panama is full of business, complementary and volunteer opportunities. Put aside the urge to sit and watch hummingbirds. (Bird watchers, don’t be mad; I love seeing hummingbirds) A successful retirement can turn into the time when you take up the career you’ve always wanted. If you loved what you were doing, you can extend it, choosing the hours and the way you want to work. I love my life as a writer because I can do it in my pajamas. In this article I’m going to expose just a few of the many ways that expats in Panama keep busy.
First of all, let’s take our dear friend Don. Everyone knows Don. He is the authority on all things Panama regarding expats. I call him the expat expert. I can’t wait to receive the next edition of the Panama Guide. Don really loves what he does because he puts everything on his side in his job. Sure, sometimes it raises a hair or two in someone’s panties, but it’s because he’s passionate about what he does. Coming from a career of more than 30 years in media, my philosophy on the business is that you are not doing your job if someone does not get mad at you. If it hadn’t been for Don, he wouldn’t have known that there was a serial killer on the run or that bus fares had skyrocketed from 25 to 30 cents.
My good friend Tim is living a good life. His philosophy is, “if you don’t come back sunburned, you haven’t been fishing.” I know some of his friends and they all seem to have the same philosophy. Nothing makes Tim happier than taking his friends on a fishing trip. And they catch some treats! Since Panama has a lot of water on both sides and even in the middle, there are every opportunity to vigorously pursue this form of recreation.
Then there’s Ty. He and his wife Michelle own a sports bar in one of the most idyllic towns in Panama. These Canadians pounced on the city and featured prominently on Trip Advisor. The best thing they do is invite all their friends to come to every major sporting event and get paid to clean up after them. They are in an excellent location, as you must pass through their place in and out of the city. Volunteering is a big part of her life too. In fact, I don’t know when they find time to sleep.
What about Mary? Like Don, everyone knows Mary. She is the expert in everything that tourism implies. Her exploratory gifts have helped her become the go-to person for real estate, tours, and activities that involve socializing and having a good time. I’ll warn you. When you see Mary speeding down the mountain road, you better move. She is heading towards business.
I love the work Anne is doing. Anne shows people two different sides of Panama: under the ocean and through the jungle. Anne’s love of marine life and indigenous peoples opened up fascinating new worlds for me. Anne, once a professional animal trainer, expressed her love for animals on a successful ocean adventure. As a result of his incredible personal life, he shares a beautiful native culture with tourists that amazes and inspires.
Next, I will point to Denise and Kirk. They are an enterprising couple that extended their careers here in Panama. Denise created an innovative reading app for kids. It is now available on iPad and iPhone and is taking the world by storm (I’m not exaggerating). Denise is in high demand. Kirk amazed me with his iridology practice. Iridology is an alternative medicine technique whose advocates believe that a patient’s systemic health can be determined by examining patterns, colors, and other characteristics of the iris. (ref. Wikipedia) He told me that I had a problem with my leg staring into my eyes. Being from Missouri, she still had to show me. So I challenged it. “What leg?” I asked, sure I had stumped him. It gave me the correct answer and the correct combination of herbal remedies, putting me on the road to recovery.
My husband and I are mesmerized by Silvard. This man is the Yanni of Panama, except he is blond. It was introduced to us by the good folks at Mail Boxes, Etc. in Coronado. Silvard’s musical talents are multifaceted. Pick a style that you like (except rap) and most of the time you will find a CD that you like.
I cannot leave out the “warm and welcoming Peace Corp volunteer” who opened a unique shelter in David. What makes it unique? It’s David’s first hostel and it’s purple. I found a review on Lonely Planet. “The owner proves to be an incredible resource and can direct guests to information folders or suggest inexpensive transportation to the coast or elsewhere. The house also recycles and has a community association that sells Ngobe Bugle handicrafts without commission.”
I could go on to tell you about Barbara, who makes stained glass ornaments; and Thomas, who runs an international marketing company; Hall nurtures a teak farm; and Mik and Keitha own rental properties. I know two young women who work on an organic vegetable farm. A good number of expats own restaurants, hotels, small inns, and bed and breakfast facilities. The more aquatic entrepreneurs offer boat trips to Cartagena, Colombia or run surf schools. Authors, photographers, bloggers, spay and neuter specialists, those who work in recycling, botanists, massage therapists, English teachers, artists, merchants, computer technicians, foster parents, and health retreat specialists round out the mix. And yes, some just like to sit and watch hummingbirds.