Moving to Panama was like going off to college. Every year more and more people, a majority of them recent retirees, come to the small village of Boquete eager for a renewal of their lives. That first year one is exposed to many different classes and opportunities. You can start working on your major immediately or explore the various options.
I met people who were eager to learn about the area’s agriculture so they could become hobby farmers: producing coffee, vegetables or herbal medicines. Others came to learn the language or refine their art.
During my month visit while staying in a hotel suite I decided to sign up for a bread-making class. Mind you, I’ve never been much of a baker and didn’t really plan on starting now, but I did like good food and figured bakers of designer bread would be good people to know. The syllabus said we’d be eating the results along with a delicious lunch with wine. It was a good start for me, meeting delightful friends with the most interesting backgrounds. The “Rye Guy” practiced law in his earlier life and now is proud owner of Morton’s Bakehouse and professor extraordinaire. His wife is an incredible artist, painting and teaching silk painting (both wearable and fine art) in her studio in Bajo Boquete.
With a plethora of upper classmen and teachers this community, both locals and ex-pats, is filled with talent and star power. The Tuesday morning market is similar to the Commons Area of any school. Everyone mills around buying or selling various products, gossiping and catching up on the latest news often times with a symposium discussing a current issue of significance for residents.
When I finally rented a casita I was asked to join a special “sorority” called, in jest, the chicas. It is composed of single women who meet once a month to celebrate birthdays and other holidays. Not only are they a great support group for one another, they also sustain a charity committed to local girls getting advanced education. I thought I was so brave moving to Panama alone, only to discover that there were over 50 women before me who had done so with the greatest aplomb.