Welcome to Panama

So Why Panama?
Panama is such an amazing country and surprises everyone who visits. I joke with our friends that if they are planning on coming to Panama be prepared to be overwhelmed.

So Why Panama? Is there a reason - No, There are several reasons -- the opportunities are plentiful, albeit the prices are going up.

We have really taken to the Caribbean coast as it offers so much nicer water and beaches.

Costa del Este
Panama City, Panama
The 2012 Spay Panama calendar is now available and it's their best ever! Both Panamanian AND U.S. holidays are labeled. The pictures featured are all of formerly homeless dogs and cats that were neutered and lucky enough to have been adopted. All proceeds go to support the wonderful efforts of Spay Panama to control the overpopulation of unwanted pets. Since its inception in 2002, Spay Panama has sterilized over 24,000 animals! The yearly calendar is their main fundraising tool and they really need your support. Like most other non-profit organizations, Spay Panama has seen a severe drop in donations due to the economy.

Pat Chan


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Since we moved to Panama in 2006 every time we tell one of our friends that we moved to the Republic of Panama, the first question is always "Why Panama". So we decided to build a web site to help them understand how simple the decision to choose Panama really was to us. We have included some links to other sites and to articles we think might help understand Panama. This  is  by no means exhaustive, so be sure to move through the suggested sites and explore the links and resources they suggest to ensure  you get as much information as possible.

News and events


Here it is April already. It seems like it was December just yesterday.

Before I start talking about food and restaurants I thought I would remind you (and me) why we chose Panama over anywhere else to make our new home almost 10 years ago. In 2006 Donna & I went to Akumal in Mexico for one of the shortest visits we'd ever had in Mexico. Because it was only a week we decided for the first time in over 20 years visiting Mexico to rent a jeep and see some of the Yucatan Peninsula. We drove from Akumal to the tip that faces the Caribbean on one side and Belize on the other. What was so interesting is we started talking about "could we live here full time instead of just visiting every year?" That led us to consider some properties and think about what it would be like to move out of Canada full time. By the time the week was up and we were heading home we stopped in Vancouver, talked to our business partners and told them we were going to be moving to Mexico as soon as we could either buy or build. Their response was mixed, but mostly supportive - I am not sure they'd ever thought about moving out of Canada.

One of my partners said he agreed Akumal was a great place to visit but before we decided or purchased something we really should go home, unpack, rest a day or two and then get on a plane and fly to Panama City, Panama.

I am pretty sure that given a minute or two I could have found Panama on the map but other than the canal and Noriega, I would have known nothing and I think we just thought it would be like any other latin american city, touristy and very 3rd world.

Were we surprised when we flew in to Tocumen and saw all the towers on the waterfront of the city. We stayed downtown at the Decapolis and our room had an amazing view of Ave Balboa and the waterfront. We spent 4 days being driven around the city, meeting people and doing some touristy things like Miraflores. Unlike this April we got soaked. It rained so hard it was like someone standing over us and throwing buckets of water over our head. What an experience.

But - having said that, we spent the last night having dinner and we both looked at each other and said "I could live here - could you?"

That was April. By August I had moved to Panama, hired two employees and found a temporary office. By October we had purchased a condo in Costa del Este, Donna had sold everything we couldn't fit in suitcases and brought our little pup Cricket to Panama to live. It was 3 years before we went back to Canada to visit.

I am pretty sure all of our friends and family thought we were absolutely out of our minds - Panama for goodness sake - why Panama???  hence the name of this site :}

We still agree it was the best decision we've made and we should have done it sooner. Will Panama be our home in 10 years - who's to say - but for now, after 10 years, it is still a great place to live.


more news >>


In the past couple of weeks I've finally got back out to Portobelo to dive with Rey Sanchez at GoldenFrogScuba - the visibility was great (with one short exception where we were too close to shore). I am looking forward to getting back out again. In fact we've talked about getting a group together to dive at Boca Chica near David as they have great sea life to see. The Caribbean is gorgeous and warm but the sea life is small and colourful - we all want to see some bigger fish and maybe even a whale shark.

I've updated the food page to include Solomons Deli and Caliope in Casco Viejo. Check out the notes. There is no question we will be returning to both. Solomons has great sandwiches and poutine whereas Caliope was so nice and quiet, great service and food - tucked away in the far reaches of Casco Viejo.

When we first arrived in Panama in 2006 and were driven through Casco Viejo for the first time we both agreed it was an amazing place but at the time we couldn't see ourselves living there full time if we had a business somewhere else in the city. At the time the only area in Casco that you would feel comfortable wandering around was a few blocks near the Presidential Palace and the Bolivar square. The further you wandered from those areas the more uncomfortable you felt. For instance if you came out of the French square by the French embassy and turned left on Ave A toward Santa Anna you would not venture more than a couple of blocks before you headed back to the Plaza Bolivar.

Now, the area past the American Trade hotel is really starting to open up with restaurants and bars like Caliope. We wandered past the Teatro Amador and Caliopoe to the next plaza only to find someone is starting to develop apartments and shops. Ten years ago you would not have dreamt of heading that far into Santa Anna.

Donna and I had the pleasure of being asked to talk to a couple of very enthusiastic and forward thinking businessmen that see a huge potential in the area of Santa Anna and Chorrio. They wanted to pick Donna's brain on developing one of their empty parcels of land into a garden that could be enjoyed by the whole community. Amazing. But not so amazing when you think that only a couple of years ago guys that were hard core gang members are today doing walking tours and preparing food for tourists. Go figure - you have to love Panama.

Are you a pet person? If so, consider helping some of the really worthy groups trying to make a difference to thousands of homeless cats and dogs in Panama. I've mentioned them before but it is worth repeating - Hogar San Roque, the shelter Mari Pily runs with the help of volunteers, see them on Facebook as https://www.facebook.com/hogaralbergue.sanroque?fref=ts&ref=br_tf, or https://www.facebook.com/hogar.roque?fref=ts and then there is Spay Panama at http://pchan5.wix.com/spaypanama - there are many more but these two we have supported and know how dedicated they are to helping make the lives of abandoned dogs and cats more livable.

If you want, write us if you have questions - we love to help.

We add to the areas of the site like people, sites, and services as our experience with each of them change so you should feel comfortable dealing with any of them.

more news >>


Donna started iCanGarden.com and now almost 20 years later it has become Canada's largest Internet gardening resource site. Several thousand people visit her site every day. Spend some time looking over the thousands of pictures of gardens from all over the world.

We are so proud of the TV special just aired by Recreating Eden - entitled "the Gardening Tourist".

Donna recently changed the look of the site - - if you enjoy it - let her know - I am really proud of her.


In 2006 Donna started a site dedicated exclusively to her garden tours.

For more than 18 years she has been hosting groups of gardeners to gardens all over the world.

Donna has some incredible garden tours lined up for 2016 and 2017 - her 2015 tours were all either fully booked or over booked. 


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