To recap, I moved out of my apartment in Sebastopol, California at the end of January after selling many of my larger possessions (furniture and stationary woodshop tools) and moved in with friends for a few weeks. I traveled to Boquete for a four-month exploratory trip that spanned the end of the dry season and into the rainy season. On June 20, I returned to Sebastopol in Northern California for five weeks to prepare for a "permanent" move to Panama to live there as an expatriate.
The trip back to Panama was a bit different this time. I purchased a one-way ticket for a July 20 American Airlines red-eye flight to Miami, then a morning flight to Panama City where I arrived at noon on Saturday. After clearing immigration and customs, I used private transport company (Jose Saenz of www.goldenfrog.net) to take my big 50 and 70 pound suitcases to a courier company, who transported them both to Boquete for $12!! Jose then took me and my carry-on luggage to the huge Allbrook Bus Terminal, where I bought a $15 ticket for the big air-conditioned bus and the seven-hour ride to the bus terminal in David, the capital of Chiriqui Province and the second largest city in Panama. Boquete driver Daniel Higgins picked me up in David and drove me about 20 miles directly to my studio apartment in Alto Boquete where I arrived at 11pm Saturday evening. It was a long trip with only fitful sleep on the airplanes, in the Miami terminal and on the bus, but after a good night's sleep in a familiar bed, I felt great and fully charged to continue the transition on Sunday morning.
For those considering a similar move, or curious about how I ended a decades-old lifestyle in the U.S., here's what I accomplished during my month back in the states:
- Visited family/grand-kids & friends.
- Sold more "stuff" that I had stored with friends and family, including:
- Woodworking power tools
- Stereo gear
- LCD TV
- Dell laptop - an older, big, heavy laptop that I replaced with a newer Toshiba Satellite with a big 640Gb hard disk, BluRay video player, and HDMI video output for use with a flat-screen LCD TV that I plan to buy in Panama.
- 1987 Volvo wagon - went to the California clunker/polluter buyback program.
- Bought 8 classic Hawaiian shirts on eBay and a pair of off-white khakis for that tropical look!! (Plus new shoes and jeans)
- Moved my stash of tropical hardwoods from a friend's shop/studio (pic below - thank you, Michael Cullen!) to a 5" x 5" commercial storage locker. I will ship the wood and my remaining tools to Panama after I get my Pensionado permanent resident visa later this year.
- Assembled a really good stereo system that would take up less than half of the space in my big suitcase. It is truly an amazing system - low-energy consumption and far better sounding than I expected. (I have been into audio since high school.) For those who are interested, the components are:
- Synology 1-terabyte NAS (Network Attached Storage) and media server - essentially a hard drive in a "smart" box for storing music and videos with the media server software and internet download capabilities built in.)
- Logitech Squeezebox Touch (streaming digital audio media player and internet radio)
- Teac Reference Ice-Power digital amplifier plus DAC (Digital to Analog Converter)
- A pair of demo Paradigm "Atom" bookshelf size monitors, which are relatively inexpensive, and have been highly rated by the audiophile press for years.
- Sold some music CD's to get the number down to 360, then removed the remaining CD's and paper "covers" from their jewel cases and stored them in three "Slappa" brand hard-body CD cases. (I was able to recycle the jewel cases via a surplus electronics store.)
- Ripped the 360 CD's to MP3 format and stored them on the Synology NAS drive.