Select Page

Last night begat a restless sleep for Kristian and I. It stormed all night, complete with booming thunder. And it rained. We woke up to no rain, but by the time I had almost finished drying my hair, the power went out, the sky opened up and let loose! Devin said that this is not by any means a normal amount of rain for the area and suspects it’s the leftovers of a tropical storm, possibly.



Fun little breakfast for us, by Neymi!

The rain is still on a roll and the electricity is spotty, so we’re packing it up and heading to Playa Venao to visit Allison’s family, and Saen and Monica’s family (the family we met at Pedasito last night.)

To Playa Venao!

The ride to Playa Venao reminded me so much of a typical Seattle day and I was savoring it.


Playa Venao!

When we arrived at Allison’s house, they warmly welcomed us to their home full of guests! We were immediately introduced to several other Americans who we connected with right away. One family that was there, was visiting Allison’s family from Washington D.C., and then there was a guy named Curt who is a family friend.

Their house is absolutely beautiful! It’s reminiscent of a contemporary American home. Clean lines, modern appliances, West Elm type furniture. Any American would feel right at home here. Not to mention the view! You walk out the French doors to the “back yard” and you’re standing in the sand, just steps from the ocean. The house is full of windows, so every part is light and bright, even on this cloudy, rainy day.

In talking to them, we found out some interesting things about their experience moving here and also just some practical things to know about living here full-time. Allison shared that they shipped a lot of fixtures for their house from the U.S., including most of their appliances and windows. She admitted that they could have bought them here, but that she was already shipping a crate full of things and decided just to do it all while she was at it.

Grocery shopping, from her perspective, just isn’t the same. She said that here, you can’t worry about whether meat is pasture-raised or that vegetables are organic. You take what you can get because food, such as vegetables, are harder to come by in the first place! Many things are less expensive here. For example, things that grow natively, like pineapple – $.50 – $1.00. If you want mangoes, you just pick them up wherever you find them – they are everywhere and free. You will sometimes buy bad meat, milk or eggs and the smell will reek up your home immediately – that’s how bad it is. There’s no questioning it’s quality.

Colie, Allison’s husband, commented that Panamanians are great at construction, but burn out at the end of a project, so the finishes are always shoddy. Allison confirmed that Panamanians are the most laid-back people she’s ever met, but that they work very inexpensively. She keeps a housekeeper, who also helps with the baby, and pays her $10 a day ($300/mo.) My dream would be to have someone cook healthful meals for my family so that I would have more time to play with my boys, but Allison said that I would be pulling my hair out trying to teach a Panamanian how to cook. Generally speaking, they can only cook chicken, beans and rice. She said just to have them do the cleaning and even then, you have to train them to do a good job.

Colie and Curt were very inquisitive about what Kristian and I do with Empower Network and had a multitude of great questions. They’ve been trying to do something similar and haven’t been successful, so Kristian may have exactly what they’re looking for with Empower Network. I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of them.

It’s 2 p.m. now and we’re starving! Colie and Allison suggest that we eat at El Sitio, just 2 doors down and is an open-air restaurant with just a grass-woven roof. It’s blowing rain, but it’s not too cold. The boys don’t agree. They’re freezing. So first off, we order hot chocolate! Never thought we’d be ordering any kind of hot drink while we were here! The hot chocolate came unsweetened, so there were sugar packets alongside it. I loved that because then we weren’t loading up on too much sugar. Just a dab will do ‘ya!

The burger that we ordered for the boys was awful! I’m not sure if it was the local Brahman beef (maybe it tastes different than the Angus beef we’re used to?) or if they were actually eating dog! We sent it back and got them a chicken burger instead. Much better.

Remembering the key lime pie we ate a couple of days previously at the restaurant next door, we decided to walk over there, hoping for a repeat experience. We’re in luck! We order our pie and while we waited, a couple from British Columbia ask us to take their picture. Or course we oblige and they took ours as well. Turns out, they are living here for 4 years while the husband has work near Panama City. They’re just down at Playa Venao to celebrate their anniversary.


Now that we’re full and tired, we head next door to wear Saen and Monica are renting a vacation home and have invited us over for drinks and discussion. They welcomed us and we sat out on the back porch overlooking the beach for a couple of hours discussing Panama, their lives, our lives and the rest of our Panama stay. Saen gave us some insight into his perspective on Panama. It’s so great to hear things from several perspectives. It definitely has our minds turning in many different directions. We’re really not sure what to think about staying in Panama long-term. We know for sure that we’re not making any decisions right now and not even when we get home to Texas. We both think more than ever, that it’s a huge decision to move to a place like this and we really have to consider EVERYTHING.


Us with Saen and Monica

The house that Saen and Monica are staying in is A-MAZING. I had to take pictures in case I ever want to build a beach house. Or any house. It’s that cool.


Casa Aqua – Saen & Monica’s vacation rental on Playa Venao

Thankfully, we weren’t dodging crabs on our way home tonight. At least not more than a handful. 🙂