First impressions after a couple of days in Panama…

– We are arriving during the worst part of the year: rainy season (they call it winter here but temperatures stick to the 23ºC-33ºC range). We were expecting a torrid and humid sauna. Actually it’s not that bad! And at night it is actually nice.
– When the sun comes out, you’d better have sunscreen…
– When it rains… it can turn into a real shower! Visibility goes to zero and it’s like the clouds fall at once. An umbrella is useless: just run for shelter!
– Mosquitoes: yes, they’re here too, but the mosquito bites I have are actually from Barcelona. We were warned that there’s been dengue problems around so tomorrow I’m going to buy some repellent.
– Most products on supermarket shelves come from the US, so you virtually feel like in the US. So far we only know Super99 and Riba Smith. Following Mrs. Lee’s (from Ohana Kids) recommendations I will get a membership for buying at PriceSmart. We need to see how El Rey is like too.
– Traffic jams here are the rule (even though the city is actually pretty small – it’s due to really bad urban planning: skyscrapers everywhere but not enough avenues and forget about being a pedestrian – the city has not been thought for them: no pedestrian crossings and sometimes no sidewalks). Going to Costa del Este was really the right decision. It’s like a ghetto but it’s a comfortable one.
– People here are very nice, although a litlle bit slooooow sometimes… take your time and take it easy is the philosophy…

We’re officially residents in Panama!

After almost 3 hours waiting for “the” stamp at the immigration office in Panama, Leia started losing her patience… After throwing her charm to the officer controlling the line with her “hola!” (it actually sounds more like a “ala!”) followed by a big smile, he actually made us go through even though it was not our turn 😀

Leia is going to nursery school

The decision is taken: tomorrow Leia will start nursery school. We visited a couple of nursery schools in “Costa del Este” neighbourhood (where we plan to live) this afternoon. We’ll try “Ohana Kids” after meeting with the nursery’s founder, Mrs Lee. Many many different fun things to do, clean and very multi-cultural! Although the primary teaching language is english, kids learn other languages too… such as singing “twinkle twinkle little star” in english, spanish, hebrew, mandarin and… sign language!
When we visited the premises, Leia was soooo happy she just ignored us during the whole visit and started playing with everything around, giggling and applauding. She has made her choice pretty clear!

Finally here!

After a busy 3 weeks sorting, selling or packing our stuff we finally arrived in Panama for a new chapter in our lives. The Air France flight went smoothly, thanks to 3 seats and our upgrade to Business Class after years collecting miles. It’s been a while I don’t fly Business with AF and… oh god, now I remember why I like Air France-KLM so much (and why I HATE Iberia so SO much – with whom I’ve flied business a couple of times to Mexico and Guatemala for business lately).
Priorities now are:
1. Getting all the paperwork done for our permanent Visa in Panama;
2. Finding a nursery school for Leia: at almost 13 months, she definitely needs a social life with other kids and we need freedom to search for an apartment and buy furniture;
3. Finding an apartment to rent;
4. Buying furniture (at least the essentials);
5. Analyze health insurance alternatives for our family over here. DKV, our health insurer in Spain is unable to upgrade us to expat coverage without resetting waiting periods (i.e. for maternity coverage) so I suggested them to search for high value clients down where one’s back changes its name. Such a missed opportunity DKV… you are so going to lose excellent clients with policies like those! I wish you the best (without me and whoever asks me to recommend an insurer…)