Yea, It kinda is Your Fault

panama2For the last several months, we have had an influx of new residents in our little pueblo.  We’ve heard that as many as 200 families may be moving here because …..  Well, that’s a good question.  Why are they coming?  Few are of retirement age so do not qualify for a pensionado visa.  They brought their young children.  I’ve heard of several that brought their 45 foot containers with them on their move without visiting first.  Most, it appears, have had some religious intervention and been sold a bill of goods to flee the US quickly.  Some left family members behind without a word that they even arrived safely in Panama.  The whole thing has many of us apprehensive about their future.

Because they arrived so quickly, the housing market is stretched to its limits.  This is driving rent up and up, which will make it even more difficult as they continue to live here.  They apparently were not told by their gurus that they cannot work in Panama without a work permit, which takes time and more than a little money.  The point of this is, we have lots of new people who have no idea what they are doing but thought moving to a foreign country was a good idea.  Actually, it was mortal men who told them and those men had only been in Boquete about five minutes before encouraging these people (for profit) to drop everything and come to Panama.

Now many are here, so what’s new?  First, they can’t make a living here.  It is illegal to work without a permit, which takes a few months and several thousand dollars to complete.  Next, no one can work in professions that compete with Panamanians.  You can open a new business and employ Panamanians, but not other expats.  Several have started to advertise their skills but will be turned in quickly to the mitradel for prosecution.  Now they are offering services for “free”.

Second, they don’t know how things work.  I don’t mean things like the pump on your tanks of water.  I mean like “Don’t drink from the tap”.  So they and their children are getting intestinal parasites which causes vomiting and severe diarrhea.  It’s bad enough being gullible enough to fall for this scam yourself but when it harms your kids, you’ve gone too far.  But they only listened to their gurus instead of talking to locals, reading blogs or just asking a few questions on some of the expat sites. I say to their leaders:  When you market yourself on the internet as a ‘We Can Help Gringos – for Money’ service, telling your naive flock about the water should be a top priority.

As much as they complain about the impure water now, wait until they have none during the dry season.  Many areas do not get much public water from January until rainy season begins in May/June.  People who know better have tanks.

Because they do not have a verifiable, monthly income, they do not qualify for a permanent visa.  They must do border runs every six months.  This means going to Costa Rica, spend the night or two and then return with a new passport stamp.  People who want to drive with their US license must do this every 90 days or get a temporary Panamanian license.  Thankfully, we only had to do this once and that was way more than enough.

The reason for this rant is that the complaining about Panama has begun and they want to blame Boquete and Panama rather than themselves and lack of preparation.  They made a hasty decision.  They didn’t do research on their own or ask people who live here how things work.  This is not the fault of Boquete or Panama.  It is their fault but they are blaming Panama. This is a developing country – it is not Chicago, or Memphis or St. Louis.   We don’t have a modern infrastructure.  The difference is that most people know that before they move here.

What happens when one of them gets sick enough to be hospitalized?   What happens when they run out of money?   Or their children do not learn any marketable job skills?  They can try a GoFundMe site (like some of their leaders did) but they shouldn’t be surprised if it’s not successful.

What should people do before uprooting themselves and their families to another country?  First, visit and spend some time here.  Take a tour or two, buy some literature written by people who live here, talk to locals (not people who just want your money).  Come back and rent for a while.  Learn the area.  Some areas will meet your needs better than others.  Learn about the availability and costs of water, electricity, television, internet, roads, proximity to transportation and town, medical costs and other things that are important to be known before moving.  Because moving back will be a lot more expensive.

Rant over.

42 thoughts on “Yea, It kinda is Your Fault

  1. Unfortunately common sense isn’t as common as we wish it was. I heard somewhere that they are waiting for the end of the world, so maybe preparing for the long haul isn’t relevant? It’s going to be an interesting tourist season in Boquete with no housing available.

  2. Wow. Please don’t send them here. Our rents are just beginning to normalize again so the locals can afford to live in their own town. And you just can’t fix stupid or gullible for that matter. Can I say Wow again?

  3. Best post you have ever written. One really has to feel sorry for the innocent kids who get caught up in their parents impulsive and often not thought through problems. Hope more locals will help to sound the alarm to these naïve Gringos before they “pull the trigger”. Having said that we are retired and knew what to expect before we came, and we couldn’t be happier..

  4. I’m just trying to figure out the motives of the “leaders”. If it is another case of follow the money then I suspect they will be there to pick up goods at fire sale prices when the disappointed move away. Very costly lesson, but gullible folks are, well, just gullible. Can’t fix stupid.

    • A Mr. P.T. Barnum wrote about this well over 100 years ago. And he was more brief in his rant. Six or seven words, I believe, depending on how you count contractions.
      Summed it up pretty nicely, I think.

      And another one, origin unknown: YOU JUST CAN’T FIX STUPID!

  5. I wonder if any of these new folks are reading here?
    Hey when Bill and I were young hippies we did what they did. We were in our 20’s. Bill went from 155lb to 130 lb with the worst case of Giardia and E Histolitica on the planet. I was searched naked by local police and our dishes were stolen from our outside sink. We learned about life outside the USA..and we learned how to live it. Now we are longer naive. We are as happy as we have ever been in our lives…now I’m in my 70’s ! So why in the world did we retire here? Because we fell in love with the Latin culture and Latinos back when we were in our 20’s. We learned our lessons…and we learned how to live and adapt. We are no longer naive.

    We are interested to see how these young families will adapt here. Some will, and some will not. One thing is certain…It is NOT the fault of the country nor Boquete if they do not. My hunch is some will leave…as did retires who could not adapt. The hoax ( our sense of it) was swallowing the hype that it is easy to earn a living here, live out your life as a non-resident and educate your children. Three HUGE mistakes…big ones ! ( add to that…you can drink the clear mountain water)

    • Well, I did find a place in Darien where you actually CAN drink the clear mountain water without problems. But it is not a place where gringo’s would survive for long.

  6. Good article, in all the research no one mentions the water, upon arriving you ask everyone and get the “its fine”, The laws we are now finding about with probate taking 25% and 4-8 years, not recognizing any foreign marriages as valid (plan on getting married here for your rights of survivorship or hospital decisions.) and its true this place is tapped on the rental market. It has become the diamond on the hill for potential looters, and well, if the called don’t understand community building and farming to become independent from the system, as is needed in the US as well, like the Amish, then they will “wander for 40 years.” The fears in the States for a crashing economy, and terrorist attacks, make way for real fears here: Armed robbery, vehicle accident, and parasitic diseases, inability to work or use your profession, just to name a few that are very real and present, not just foreseen. Im thankful for your article to counteract the picture that realtors etc are pitching. feet on the ground, better reporting needs to be done. Here is an example from one of the larger and more prominent neighborhoods just up the hill from Boquete proper in Volcancito (this is one of many stories I have heard int he last week): There is a movement of neighbors in Volcancito to address the serious problems that have plagued this community for the five years we have lived here. SINCE LAST THURSDAY EVENING the water situation HAS BEENn dangerous for the elementary school in Volcansito, not to mention the other users of the system. For example, Last Thursday evening our spigots began spewing out BLACK water. The next morning (Friday) the water had cleared to GREY, but with dirt particles. In the middle if this day it again turned to a BLACK color and then the system was shut down. To the time of this writing we have been without potable water since Thursday night. The health ministry sent inspectors to the local elementary school where they found and sampled the black colored water and sent the students home.
    It appears due to many past and present problems that The Volcansito Water Association is without knowledge or qualifications to manage a water system.
    We have suggested that Panamanian and ex-pat volunteers be brought in to survey the system and assist the association in upgrading the system design, obtaining funds, etc. The Panamanian association has refused to accept any help from anyone or even allow anyone access to the system site. In the past year we have experienced water outages approximately 10 times. The shortest outage being for one full day and part of the evening. One month ago we were without water for four days. This time, so far, we are without water for three days and counting.

    We have no idea how our Panamanian neighbors are coping with these situations. except we are now hearing many complaints and a community meeting is being planned for next week.

    • I would like to add an addendum/clarification to this comment (I didn’t know how to erase this regretting it once sent). Especially as it was my family attacked by this article. I was in a heightened state of fear, culture shock, not from the kind Panamanians I meet, but more from the unknown, the fear of the unseen microbial world of the tropics. Of waking up without a purpose or direction in my day. That is why we offer survives for free, to meet people, to be useful, to make connections, to serve, and to help. I feared the unwelcoming nature of certain overly-critical gringos here, wondering each time if a gringo on the street was a nice one, or one of those who might not want me here, a newcomer. Fear of leaving my elder family members and older child without my care and help.
      We came here because of a series of lung illnesses for 18 months from my older son, who could only be fine in humid air, (Florida out of the question) this was our chance to help him. Since we arrived our other son was so fearfully ill. I was overcome with grief, and and concern. Even the humidity constantly reminded me I wasn’t home.
      However, I have met the most kind, caring, helpful and supportive community here. People, who too have left it all to come here and serve others, who would pray for my family and I without knowing us, Many helped with wisdom, great group leadership, like the women’s group, newcomers groups, and business group, classes, and spontaneous chats in town. I heard the Mayor’s speech on Radio Chiriqui, welcoming us newcomers, to call ourselves “Boqueteños” now. He talked of the plans for expansion of Boquete that make this wave of newcomers look like a drop in the bucket. Macroprojects with Chinese investments of a Tram up the volcano, conference center, parks walkways and green spaces, all being an example of ecological growth, of the 10 housing projects for 4000 new homes, and for 1500 new low income homes, and for the new water system that they have been working on since July- a two year project. I am really not the complaining type, and comments below of misrepresenting what I said of complaining to the Mayor is trolling. I was educated as a journalist and as stated, was to be an informing mediary between the two languages. I am feeling better and more hopeful, my son is eating and beginning to laugh again after 5 weeks. We haven’t even been able to explore this amazing place yet. I love this place more with each person I meet, each place I find availability to serve, each beautiful plant I see and bird I hear. I pray this community find similarities rather than division, work together in harmony with each other and the Latinos and Gnobi, and with the land. We have no real value in all this negativity, projections, generalizations, and slander (which I found out by Panamanian law is illegal). There is a lot to do to help the Mayor in his goal to have Boquete be an example in being “environmentally green and completely ecological” in the dawn of huge population gain. He has the go ahead to build a security at the entrance to Caldera/Boquete, and 90 new police have come to the area to ramp up security, Laws are being discussed to change policies that allow for juvenile crime. I have hope for a united and LOVING Boquete community. Tolerance and kindness is so needed here. Please do your part to be good examples of civility. We all have a lot of work to do to prepare for some real growing pains.

      • I think you are reading more into my blog than was meant. This wasn’t an attack on you or on anyone who moved here. It was an admonishment to the people who are encouraging a huge move of hundreds of men, women and children but offering few facts to assists new residents. Your group isn’t the only one who has been led without proper information. I do not believe anyone here is upset, even mildly, that a large group plans to make Boquete their home. People come and go all the time. The lack of good information though is very concerning. Housing is an immediate issue as there’s just not enough. Newcomers, your group, other groups and independent expats, need to know that they may be living in Dolega, David or one of the smaller towns in Chiriqui far from Boquete. Health issues is a subject not to be ignored for people and pets. We have different insects, reptiles, bacteria and fungus. Finding work (someone not nearly as polite as you pointed out that us “old farts” don’t know about internet businesses) is difficult/impossible for expats. Of course we know about internet businesses and many people already do that. It’s a viable option but that’s certainly not going to work for the 50-200 families that seem to be coming. Boquete News sends frequent emails from people trying to get work here – which is entirely illegal without a work permit.
        I hope members of your group attempt to help others who are in the process of coming to Panama. Of the people who come here, most move back. And like I said in my original post, I do not like it when people complain about a place many of us have chosen to make our home because of their own lack of knowledge about living in Latin America. There’s a lot of information out there from people who do not want a single dime from you. They are just offering their experiences – good and bad – so others can laugh and hopefully not make the same mistakes. International Living is the poster child for exaggerating the wonders of places to move around the world – places they just happen to have an economic reason for them to promote. Unfortunately, other groups are doing the same, though in smaller numbers. A common figure for people who do their due diligence and research before coming to Panama – at least 50% return. That’s a striking number.

        I understand that your Tuesday Talk was excellent! Now that you and your family are healthy, enjoy Panama.

  7. We are one of the families that recently moved to Panama. We didn’t come because anyone told or convinced us that we “needed” to move there. We are retired and raising grandkids, so we qualify for the pensionado visa, as my husband has a pension. We did our research over 10 months, reading, buying books, etc. We visited the town and got to know some people, asking lots of questions, looking at “what we could get for $XX” in a rental and took tours, etc. We have also lived in 3 other countries (for 14 years, one of which we didn’t speak the language and learned it) so we know that moving abroad has it’s challenges and rewards. You need to really be prepared for culture shock and NOT expecting another country to be “just like the USA”. That is one of the things we love about living abroad-new opportunities for travel, meeting new people and learning new language and culture.

  8. My sentiments exactly. I would love to link this post to my blog as well. When I read a recent News Boquete announcement about someone planning to invade the mayor’s office with her complaints, I just thought “Oh, no.” I sympathize with her situation, but creating all kinds of ill will with the mayor and other entities is not what’s needed now. Panama doesn’t have to keep accepting and tolerating us all.

  9. Why is any of this YOUR business?

    Why is that 30 – 40 of you old, hide behind the keyboard, Curmudgeons feel the need to stick your noses in other people’s business?

    You make a LOT of ignorant assumptions, and it really is getting tiring.

    ASSUMPTION – First, they can’t make a living here. It is illegal to work without a permit, which takes a few months and several thousand dollars to complete.

    HEY OLD FART – pull your head out of your backside, this is a global economy with global clients. MANY of these people who are moving down here DO have jobs. It is called working on the internet. You know what I do? I am a medical assistant and I help clients over the phone. I get paid pretty good. But because I now live here, I can be paid US dollars from a US company and make that money go a lot further than if I was still in the US.

    AND NO… I don’t need no stinking Panamanian work permit to do what I am doing. NONE of us who work on the internet need that.

    You know how many more of us are doing that? NO because you are a bunch of miserable old farts who don’t have anything better to do than complain about all us who are moving in and trying to have a better life than we did in the US.

    Take the time to get to really know us and you might learn something and find that we are actually nice people who are a pleasure to be around.

    ASSUMPTION – Second, they don’t know how things work. I don’t mean things like the pump on your tanks of water. I mean like “Don’t drink from the tap”. So they and their children are getting intestinal parasites which causes vomiting and severe diarrhea. It’s bad enough being gullible enough to fall for this scam yourself but when it harms your kids, you’ve gone too far.

    HEY OLD FART – When you moved here back in the stone age, were you gifted with the world of knowledge or did you have to go through the school of hard knocks and learn everything your self?

    Stop being “helicopter grandparent curmudgeons” No one is asking for your help, nor does anyone what it from you bunch of tired old hacks who have nothing to do than complain. We are figuring it out ourselves just like you did when you first moved here.

    ASSUMPTION – Most, it appears, have had some religious intervention and been sold a bill of goods to flee the US quickly.

    HEY OLD FART – This is the crux of the situation. See a lot of you are old has been pagan hippies who HATE … VIRULENTLY HATE Christians. This is a fact. Just look at the hate-fest on Boquete Ning. HEY… news flash… atheists – 2 in the grave (Lee-Irene) .. Christians – 0. None of you bigots have taken the time to get to know any of us. Instead you bitch, moan, complain, spread hate, be TOTALLY INTOLERANT, and yeah… you are total bigots.

    For a bunch of people who keep preaching tolerance, you are the most intolerant group of old farts I have ever known.

    SO… why don’t the lot of you just piss off and go crawl back in your rocking chairs and enjoy the last days of your life here in paradise, and just leave us younger folks who have moved here for what ever reason we want.

    Oh newsflash, because we are younger, we will out live you too, so this idea that “Boquete is yours” ain’t gonna fly much longer, you are dying off and we will still be here.

    We came here to escape the crap, and the garbage that is going on in the US, probably for the same reasons you did.

    Why can’t you just let us live in peace, we are not in your face with all the hate like you are giving us.

    Why do you feel it is your right to get in our face?

    It isn’t.

    So just stop.

    We are here, we are not going anywhere and just live with that fact and get over it.

    Peace out!


    • I’m happy to finally read a rebuttal to this blog but disappointed with your mean-spirited counter-attack Bob. Two wrongs don’t make one right.

      To the rest of you who think the comments made in this blog are true, I ask you not to be naive. I’m not even there yet but I’ve been planning my move for over a year now. I am a Christian and I’m not coming because a guru told me to or because I think it’s the end of the world. I’m sure I will be friends with the other Christians when I get there because the rest of you aren’t doing much to make newcomers feel very welcome.

      Why can’t we all just be nice to each other?

      • There are many churches in the area and you will find one that meets your needs. Planning in advance is the smart way to move any place, let along a foreign country. Happy packing and see you soon

    • HI Bob, While I’m not a young hipster nor do I consider myself an old fart. I’m in my 50’s, planning to retire with my husband in Boquete or near that area in 3 more years. This isn’t the first time I’ve read about, a lot of Christian’s moving to Boquete. I’m just wondering if that’s true or did someone just decide to label all of the new comers? I’m a Christine and am just wondering if there is really any truth to that bit of news I keep reading about. I think that’s great if it’s true and if not that’s okay. I was just curious. Thanks, Melissa

      • People come and go all the time but this is a group of many families coming in the last few months under the guidance of just a few men. One of the ‘founding fathers’ of Boquete (who recently died) wrote about their leadership about 2 years ago with much suspicion. No one labels newcomers. Most come for a trip to try it out and realize it’s not for them. Others return and leave within a year or so because they miss their family or need expensive medical care. We are really used to newcomers and they are not labeled at all.

      • Maybe I’m getting the wrong impression here but it really does seem like the old timers in Boquete are very critical and judgmental of Chiristian newcomers. I hope I’m wrong. I’m not sure what groups you’re referring to but I did find online seminars on moving to Panama done from a Christian perspective. They were just as thorough as all the other sources of information I’ve found. I’m don’t doubt there are many people who come unprepared but I’ll venture to guess this is nothing new and not exclusive to Christians. Please stop stereotyping people.

      • Not critical, just concerned for the kids. And perhaps a heads-up that trying out Panama,a third world/developing country, before moving family and all possessions is asking for problems. A 30 day visit before relocating may be a better way to go. Many people come here with a few suitcases and plan to stay forever. If they do, great. If they don’t, they just take their suitcases and move on. This was in no way a Christian bashing blog entry. I hope that people will just prepare more before they move so they won’t be caught off guard and then complain about a country that means a lot to me.

  10. I really worry for the kids also, especially if there is a “world is ending” mentality that’s stopping their parents from preparing for their future. The kids don’t get a say in this. But my feeling is that we just need to give it a year, and they’ll all be headed home after they come up against the realities of living here.

  11. so not to play the blame game, but rather perhaps encourage a stop to the trumpeters, whose handy work is that? 200 families is a lot. I mean it’s understandable, but this link ought to be sent to the primary mouth pieces.

  12. I have heard rumors of this but have not met or spoken to anyone who actually belongs to this new group of immigrants. How many of you have actually spoken to one of these individuals who packed up and moved to Panamá without first checking it out personally? What are the stories of these people as to why they came to Panamá?

  13. Well, that stinks! My husband and I are retiring in 3 years and visiting Boquete for the first time this January 2016. I guess I better see if I can even get a rental now. I’m so disappointed to hear this news. Out of all the countries, Panama has been the one we keep being drawn to and Boquete is our favorite of all the towns. Maybe by the time we retire all of the new expats will have moved back to the states. I really feel sorry for the predicament they are going to find themselves in, if they are really this ill prepared and uneducated about moving to a foreign country. I can’t imagine moving to another country without a huge savings and an income.

    • Okay, after reading more of the replies, I feel like I should say… I don’t know the new group of people moving to Panama and yes lots of people work from their computers in foreign countries. I think that’s amazing and I wish I too had an at home business I could bring along with me when we get to move to Boquete. 🙂 Best of luck to everyone who currently lives in Boquete and to all of the new members and to ME who plans to move there soon! Please save me some space. 😉

      • A lot of people here still work from their computers. I would have loved to have a job like that and could have moved here years earlier. Different world and very lucky for the few who have tat flexibility.

  14. I am disturbed by new immigrants coming here with an attitude that things “aren’t acceptable” and that the response is to meet with the mayor to complain about “what is happening with the foreigners”. See cut and paste from an email announcement on News Boquete.

    “Please let me know if you or a loved one or friend has suffered with a water born illness here. I am going to talk with the mayor, or the department of health next week and I let them know what is happening amongst the foreigners, and find out what plans and timelines for addressing the situation is. I will inform you of any updates to this information.”

    The problem isn’t unique to the foreigners, and we all live in Panamanian neighborhoods and need to understand we aren’t privileged personalities. If Giardia and intestinal parasites are going to unsettle you so much, then you are in for many rude awakenings. The mayor and the government are addressing matters according to their game plan and all your complaining won’t endear anyone to a community that is already growing weary of the heightening foreign invasion. You need to chill, understand that no one owes you anything here, you are guests, and have to adapt. You might be better received if you didn’t take such an angry, aggressive, confrontational approach with people who have been here awhile and might otherwise be able to lend a hand.

  15. I am disturbed by the “people moving here” that have had a “Go Fund Me Account” to move here when they are already here and there are several. And when they get here, they are the world’s foremost authority about everything after just having moved here. Although, many here claim to be authorities after being here for only a couple of months.

  16. Fascinating. I just stumbled upon this blog, so I didn’t know a thing about the situation or anyone involved before clicking. Really interesting. I’m north of you all, up in Costa Rica, and that would definitely be odd here for a very large group of foreigners to arrive in a small community around the same time, especially if a good number of the arrivals were paying a particular person/organization around something related to religion.

    The article didn’t come off as judgmental or mean to me, but that one comment from the Christian dude did come across that way. Pura vida, just my impression, again, without knowing anyone involved. In CR, more people end up going back than staying, even among those who’ve prepared and researched and visited.

    Anyway, just found this extremely interesting. Learn something new every day. I’m trying to imagine the impact here on a small community, and I can see why people on both sides would be concerned. Best of luck to everyone.

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