Saturday, February 17, 2018

Flip Flops, Sandy Beaches And Rum.....Back In Panama.....Before Our Next Adventure Begins.....

As our heads hit the pillows at night we are lulled to sleep by the crashing sound of waves breaking against the Pacific Coast shoreline. In the morning we sip a cup of locally grown coffee on our balcony overlooking the black and white sandy beach below. Palm trees sway in the balmy breeze while sun drenched tourists lie in the lounge chairs poolside.

The Pacific Coast Beaches Of Coronado, Panama


We have taken a break from our house sitting around the world to revisit our old hangouts and friends here in Panama. Our trek to Panama was a long one since our last stop was Delhi, India where we toured the touristy Golden Triangle sites. (see previous blog for that story)

Views From Our Condo
Black and White Sand Beaches

Soon after landing we headed to one of the many great malls here in Panama to pick up some new flip flops for me, since I do love these things, and a few sundresses. Actually the reason for our shopping spree was to find some formal wear for the wedding we will be attending next month in Texas. Knowing all too well how cheap clothes are here, we knew we'd score some bargains.

Love The Shopping Here
This Is Westland Mall

While Clyde lounged on a sofa nearby I browsed through a large selection of posh gowns marked from $5.99 to $50. Most were one of a kind "closeouts" from big name stores in the US like Macy's. I decided on a purple, form fitting lacy gown for $29.99. The Macy's tag was still hanging off it with the original price tag of $99 crossed out.

Saks Sells Close Outs From The US For Much Less

Clyde needed to find a black suit and scored one for the amazingly low price of just $29.99 for both the jacket and pants! To that he added a white long sleeved shirt that came with the tie for just $7.99.
He also found a Versace, long sleeved shirt from Milan, Italy for just $9.99. After getting back to or condo I googled similar Versace shirts and found them to be selling for $200 or more.

During the five years that we lived here in Panama, we had a house in a Panamanian neighborhood far removed from the gringo, gated community of Coronado. But since we are just visiting we thought it would be nice to find a condo on the beach in Coronado and see how different life was inside the gates. Wow.....what a different world this is.

Coronado Bay And Solarium
This Is Where We Are Staying

The pool is loaded with visitors early in the morning who just plant themselves on a chair where they stay for most of the day. While we do understand that some people need that type of lazy, relaxing holiday in the sun, that has NEVER been us. Clyde and I are travelers who love to explore new places and rarely ever sit poolside or on the beach for an entire day. A few hours perhaps but after that we are both bored and ready to move on.

While Panama does feel familiar since we spent nearly five years of our life here and it has been nice to connect with old friends, we DO miss the sights of Europe. But after all we HAVE lived in Europe for the past two years while house sitting and visiting so it's NO wonder that it has come to feel like home. Three months in Italy, three months in Spain, one month in Portugal, six months in all of the United Kingdom along with a month in Ireland gave us quite a taste of life as Europeans.

Nancy and Terry

In fact our newest endeavor is applying for a residency visa that will enable us to LIVE in Portugal and Europe long term. You see right now, there are 26 countries in the Schengen area of Europe. Those 26 countries have NO border control which means when we drive or fly from Spain to Portugal, or France to Austria our passports NEVER get checked since the borders are OPEN. While that might sound good, we as Americans can ONLY stay in those 26 countries for 90 DAYS out of EVERY 180 DAYS. Basically what that means is we can stay in for 3 months then have to leave for a minimum of THREE months before reentering. Since Portugal IS one of the easiest European countries in which to obtain residency and it also will allow us to access their heath care system as residents this will open up new doors for us.

A Few Months Back In Portugal
This Is The Grotto Near Lagos (lag-osh)

Because we are RESIDENTS here in Panama (NOT Citizens....only residents) we were able to visit the Embassy of Portugal here in Panama City and start the process to apply for residency. Hopefully our visa will be complete before we leave here so when we reenter Portugal in August, we will enter as temporary residents. The next step to our visa process will happen once we are settled into Portugal, somewhere in the Algarve region where we plan to set up a home base and continue our travels from there around Europe.

Looking Forward To Heading Back To Our Adopted Home
In Europe......Missing It Already!

The Algarve region of Portugal has a large established expat community where English is commonly spoken, although we DO plan to learn Portuguese. The winters are mild due to the proximity of the Mediterranean Sea nearby and we will be able to drive into Spain in about an hour. From what we have seen we will be able to rent a one bedroom apartment for anywhere from $400 to $500 per month, depending on the town it's located in and how close it is to the sea.

The Algarve Is The Dark Green Area At The
 Bottom Of Portugal

After our six weeks is up in Panama we are off to El Paso, Texas to see Clyde's son marry the love of his life. We will have a chance to visit our other kids and grandson too while there. Then we are off to Belgium for out next house sit that will take us through the month of April and use up our remaining 90 days in the Schengen area.

Barbara & Cobey
The Happy Couple Soon To Be Married

Since we having nothing planned yet for May we are thinking of popping into Split, Croatia since it is NOT part of the Schengen states. Or possibly even a visit to Albania since we have not yet been there and it's quite affordable from what we have been told. Then in June we are off to exotic, Egypt again to repeat the same sit as last year in El Gouna, Hurghada on the Red Sea. There we will live in a lovely, large home with an infinity pool that leads out to the beach and lagoons along the sea. Our furry friends include two Egyptian desert dogs and one cat, along with some outside cats that only require feeding. After Egypt we will enter Portugal in August and probably stay there for a while to being learning Portuguese, establish our home base and start yet another new chapter of our lives......along the gringo trail.

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