Category Archives: Panama Journal

Tom McCormack’s Container #17 – Arrives June 30

I just received the following message from Tom McCormack. His latest container should unload Thursday (June 30) around 8AM. Here is a link to a previous container unloading.

Hi Don,
Last news. The driver of the mula is in line waiting to be loaded first thing in the morning.

So you can announce that the loading will start 8AM at the bodaga beside IFARU on Thursday. Any changes will be announced.
Thanks Don Spent all day today with a film crew from TVN.They are waiting to film the unloading.


I hope all turned on the TV and watched the opening of the new canal inauguration. It was a site to see. The immense size of the new container ships is amazing.

Lilliam and I were invited to attend the Embassy’s Independence Day celebration on June 25. They had scheduled it the day prior to the opening of the canal celebration. While we would have liked to attend, we just couldn’t justify the $500+ we would have had to travel to Panama City and spend the night. Still, I appreciate being invited.Invitacion para el Senor Don Ray Wi lliams y Sra. para la celebración del día de Independencia de los Estados Unidos, 25 de junio de 2016After church yesterday, we ate with a good friend and spent about two hours talking. It was the first leisurely time the have had together since returning from the US.

Yesterday afternoon, we took supplies to Robert and, prior to going, we stopped at Gelarti’s Ice Cream shop to take him a scoop of ice cream. I chose Oreo and he loved it.

Having a smart phone with Internet connection combined with Magic Jack is almost a necessity if you want to communicate with people or companies or government agencies in the US or Canada. I couldn’t do without it.

I used Magic Jack on and we were able to call Robert’s sister in California and he was able to talk to her for about 20 minutes. Lilliam was certain he had tears in his eyes, so the chat must have been a good one.

I always enjoy watching Lilliam make her rounds talking to all of the residents in Hogar Santa Catalina. She stops and talked to almost every one of Robert’s neighbors. I am lucky to have such a giving person by my side. It wasn’t always that way and I appreciate it.

All in all it was a fantastic day. Watched the canal inauguration. Attended church. Dined and chatted with a great friend. And visited Robert and made his day with Oreo ice Cream.

It just doesn’t get better than this.

Morning Walk

I was reminded this morning that you have to walk with your eyes on the ground in front of you when you walk in Panama.

I can’t tell you how many times I have tripped walking in the downtown area because the walkways in front of the stores were not level.

On this morning’s walk we went a different way to use some sidewalks. I encountered this area with an old tree stump in the middle of the sidewalk. It was just enough above the sidewalk that if you weren’t paying attention, you would trip and fall.

On the positive side, I can walk 365 days a year. wearing shorts and a t-shirt. The weather makes up for many annoyances.


A Reader’s Cost Of Living Information Guest Post

My recent post, on observations from my Texas and Oklahoma trip, brought in several comments and motivated Jim in Fort Worth Texas to share his COL situation. Thanks go out to Jim and Nena for taking the time to do this.

Those living in Panama can see how they compare. Those considering Panama as a retirement location will have another set of data points to add to their investigation.

Since I always recommend 6-10 months living in Panama before really making a permanent move, you can use this as a means of comparison or gathering your own data.

Many that commented on the previous post, left comments which stated that their expenses were much higher than what I observed. Where ever you are, there will be differences. There are always plusses and minuses to living anywhere.

What Jim’s post doesn’t cover is the quality of life difference and that is in the eyes of each individual.

The only way you will know if Panama is right for you is to try it. You wont know by reading a blog. Many blogs are biased and are really there to sell tours or peddle real estate that the author has to sell. Trust yourself – no-one else.

Jim’s guest post follows:

I was motivated to do some research after Don’s post about prices in the US vs Panama.  Specifically, David, Panama vs Fort Worth, Tx where I have lived for 36 years.

Currently Nena and I are senior citizens, both retired, home is paid off, as are both our cars.  We both receive SS and have Medicare Part A&B, we are both in good health.

I collected actual payments for utilities and monthly expenses for the past 16 months.  Those expenses are averaged by category in the table.  Additionally, I got 5 months of charges to our credit cards.  I averaged those by store and services.  Keep in mind, places like Walmart have grocery, car servicing, etc so some of our groceries are there as well as at the grocery stores which we shop.  We do all our own home maintenance, gardening, and remodeling so Lowes/HD are at least weekly visits for us.  We live in a 50 year old home which we bought 16 years ago. We have completely remodeled and updated it so mostly now it is just lawn/garden supplies, AC air filters, etc.

Another caveat is that we get a break on real estate tax with a senior’s exemption, about 1/3-1/2 reduction in assessment.

In summary, our credit card expenses are largely discretionary spending so we could “do without” much of that if we needed to.  I will try to get a more accurate accounting of the grocery expenses but those probably won’t be much help as we regularly feed our 2 sons’ families and their 4 kids, and the grandkids, all primary school age, eat like wolves.

Another consideration of the data:  all our utilities and services are truly 24/7 availability.  When we pay $114.76 for electric, it is never out.  Same with water, trash pick up, and sewer, it always works.  My internet service went out last month after record-breaking Spring storms, first time on years that has happened.  I put in a trouble ticket that evening and the next day TWO techs showed up and redid our entire block. Some main junction was out, affected me several neighbors so they what was wrong before showing up.  All fixed in a couple hours included updating my connection on a 50 year old house.  I was back streaming Netflix on two TVs and KODI on my tablet by supper time.

So there you have it, just Joe Bagofdonuts’s cost of living expenses.  I’ll be glad to provide answers if I can for any specifics that I missed.

jim and nena
fort worth, tx

Click to enlarge the spreadsheet.

Click to enlarge

Fun With Friends


Thursday night Lilliam and I got to enjoy a good time with old friends that were met through Chiriquí Chatter.

Jaime, who comments every now and then was visiting his family in David. He lives in California and was here with his 17 year old son. It seems like I have known Jaime forever. His mother, sister and nieces and nephew go to our church.

Rod, Jessie and their two boys are also old friends. Rod first wrote me when he was stationed in Iraq. We have stayed in contact as his military career has moved him around the world. We have dined together on multiple trips that he and his wife have made to Chiriqui. One trip we ate with Jessie and the two boys and talked to Rod via Skype.

Lilliam and I have made many friends through Chiriquí Chatter and all are special.

This time Rod and his family and Jaimie and his son happened to be in Chiriquí at the same time. Rather than scheduling two separate dinners, I thought it would be fun to let all meet each other and the evening couldn’t have gone better.

I called Franco at Verona’s Pizza restaurant to hold a couple tables for me. Rod and his family were there when Lilliam and I arrived, and Jaime came a couple minutes later. Jaime’s sister and niece also stopped by to say hello.

Rod and his wife have taken their time and after 7 years have purchased a farm in Chiriquí. Jessie is a beautiful Chiricana and has a large family here. Rod and Jessie are making their final plans to move to Panama and testing their skills at farming.

Jessie and Lilliam spent most of the evening talking and Rod, Jaime and I held down the other end of the table. Jaime’s son and Rod’s two sons struck up a friendship and spent their time discussing Star Wars and religion. Interesting combination of subjects.

Jaime confirmed that prices, for food products, are cheaper in Panama than in California. He also commented that those moving here strictly for cheap living, from wherever, would be in for a huge culture shock and that cost of living would be a minor influence. He still prefers living in California.

We arrived at Verona’s at 7:30 PM and closed the restaurant at 11:00 PM. II was fun for me to listen to the stories of Jaime growing up in Panama and thinking he would always live here, and how that changed and he had moved to California to advance his medical career and the struggles he went through in the US.

It was also fun listing to Rod’s experiences in Panama and how he met his wife and his tours around the world with the army.

It was a fantastic evening and a lot of fun. Friends are very important to me and the ones I have made living in Panama, and through Chiriquí Chatter, have been some of the best friends I have.