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Your Escape Blueprint

What does Panama and Arizona Have in Common?


If you have ever dreamed of escaping the cold winters of North America and live the lifestyle of your dreams, even for only a few months, remember others have already! Allow us to introduce you to more of our fellow “Escapee’s”.

Their answers may inspire you too to follow your dream.

Why move overseas?

Elaine (53) and Daniel (57) Desalliers are one of the growing numbers of Snowbirds who escape the winter chill of North America. The winters in their hometown of Pembroke Ontario, are long and cold which is why they head off to warmer climes for six months of the year.

What were they looking for?

They were looking for not only a warmer climate but also a community that they could be part off and not just transient visitors. In their small village, tucked away on a narrow dirt road, only a few minutes from Rio Hato and Penonome in Panama’s Cocle district, they have found just that.

When and how did they move?

Elaine and Daniel had visited several different countries for various vacations. Their first visit was in 2005 and they have been coming back ever since. “In Panama they found the people to be extremely friendly and helpful. Unlike most other countries, they did not seem to only be after your money”. They met many wonderful people and remain friends with them to this day. Friendships so strong that they got up at 5am one morning to watch one of their lifeguard friends compete in a 6am beachside contest.

In 2010, they bought property and built their “dream home” complete with a pool, fruit trees and a vegetable plot, where with the helpful advice of neighbors and friends they grow tomatoes, chilies and watermelon.

Small Town Panama

The biggest challenges for them?

“The fear of wondering if we were making the right decision” was their biggest challenge. They invested a good chunk of their life savings to buy and build and not everything went smoothly during the construction phase of the house.

Many overseas homeowners have similar stories to tell—construction not completed on time, poor workmanship and cost overruns—are all typical tales. However, the work was completed to lock up stage in time and they were able to head home knowing that the house was secure and they had great neighbors keeping an eye out for them. As they still do!

How does their new life compare with what they left behind?

Elaine & Daniel still return to Canada for six months of every year, they find they are much more relaxed, and have less stress.  Maybe because of their lifestyle in Panama? Elaine explains that  “The people in Panama never seem to be in a hurry, they take one day at a time. They never complain and are much happier with their lives”.

We had the honor of enjoying their hospitality and meeting many of their wonderful friends and neighbors. Victor is the master chef when it comes to cooking over an open fire; patacones, fish fry and sancocho are just some of his specialties and they are all wonderfully tasty. No wonder Elaine and Daniels friends never refuse one of Victors fish fry’s.

See Victor in action below:

Elaine & Daniel’s advice to others is simple.

“Be cautious, try to learn the language, I feel it means a lot to them if you try. Be part of the community, accept their ways and try to learn their customs. Do not have the attitude that you are better than they are; treat them as equals because they are. You also must be patient as they do not hurry, always manana, always tomorrow”. Elaine and Daniel have built a second life here in Panama. Despite only speaking basic Spanish, they attend community meetings,d host neighborhood parties, cookouts and often have a gaggle of beaming kids cavorting in their pool.

A far cry from the Snowbirds enjoying Arizona’s winters and perhaps a more fulfilling one?

There are more Escapee profiles to come. We look forward to hearing your feedback, comments or ideas for further profiles.

Hasta leugo.

About the author: Born in the UK, with what must be more than a dash of Romany blood in her veins, Yvonne loved to travel even before she met Michael. Yvonne has a varied career history, which includes several laborious years as a laboratory manager, followed by a fun few years as a scuba instructor and crew in the British Virgin Islands, and then many boring years in financial services. Her discontent along with the passing of a dear friend was the prod that led to the realisation that there was a lot more do in life. It has taken almost 40 years to come full circle to realize what Yvonne’s English teacher saw all those years ago……… Yvonne’s true passion (apart from travel) is writing and now finds herself fortunate to have the time to follow her bliss and combine the two as a blogger and travel writer. Yvonne loves to tell stories and talk to lots of strangers (the best way to get the real scoop on the place). Yvonne is a “rainmaker” and makes things happen!

1 comment… add one
  • Lorie

    I agree, we had the pleasure of staying with Daniel and Elaine for 2 weeks. We had a wonderful time. We were warmly welcomed in the local community and spent many hours with Victor and his family. Their generosity and sincerity was overwhelming and we plan to go back. Daniel and Elaine, this is your warning.

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