Putting Down Roots in Panama

Silvia and I have finally taken the plunge and emigrated to Panama. We arrived on the 8th January and since then we’ve learned a lot about our new home and ourselves.

Putting down roots here in Boquete is pretty easy if you really want to. We have found the people in Greater Boquete to be very open and friendly, with everyone offering to help us with everything. Our learning experience was that one needs to have a network of contacts to get things done here – we’ve really been enormously lucky to have met the correct people who could point us is the right direction to get the basics sorted efficiently.

The finca we purchased is finally registered in our name at the deeds office, and our residence visa application is due to commence imminently once a single outstanding requirement is fulfilled. The process is no longer in our hands.

The process itself has not been easy, as, understandably, both Switzerland and Panama have internal procedures that must be complied with – we found it best to jump through all the hoops as they were placed before us and to take things easy. Its all just a matter of going through all the necessary administrative processes one step at a time.

Although Panama is situated generally between 8° and 9° North of the Equator, we have experienced Volcancito Arriba (Boquete) to be a little cooler than we expected, with maximum daytime temperatures of between 20°C to 23°C and night time temperatures of around 15°C to 17°C. When the sun goes down behind Volcan Baru in the latter part of afternoon, temperatures drop pretty fast. Considering we are living at 1’600m (5’250 ft) above sea level, this is not totally unexpected. We are currently in the dry season (the locals call it «summer»), marked by constantly strong northerly winds coming down from the Caribbean Sea over the Continental Divide. The cooler temperatures are however much more pleasant than the very hot (+35°C) and humid weather in David some half an hour’s drive down towards the Pacific.  Up to now we’ve experienced the «dry» season – we’ll see what the wet season is all about once it starts towards the end of April.

On the photography front we have not managed to do all that much over the past 2 and a half months – we were far too busy getting the residence visa process sorted as well as supervising a number of building projects at the finca. We have however seen and photographed huge «squadrons» of pelicans at close range during our occasional visits to the beaches at Las Olas and Las Lahas.  We’ve also had great sightings of American Oystercatchers, which means that we have great images to complement the beautiful images we already have of African as well as European Oystercatchers, which probably will result in a posting soon showcasing all three species.

Our large garden shows a lot of potential for future bird photography – a number of hummingbird species frequent the various flowering bushes and tanagers visit the trees that are currently fruiting. We’ve decided to remove the majority of the coffee trees to create a more traditional tropical garden with flowering indigenous trees and shrubs to attract even more species birds. The many fruit trees will also be doing their part.

There is a lot of work ahead for us, but also many opportunities for learning about what Central America has to offer in the way of wildlife and nature in general. Hopefully we will be able to take advantage of this great location to complement our already wonderful wildlife image collection and to share these with you all in the future.