Moving To Panama Central America

My college years were spent dreading the day I would be released into the American workforce, an​ act in​ itself a​ forerunner to​ depression. Although my experience and​ GPA may have looked good on​ paper, I knew in​ my heart that my employer, the keen eye that he'd have, would invariably figure out that I had learned nothing over my four years and​ kick me to​ the curb, asking me politely—as if​ a​ restaurant—never to​ come back to​ blue-collar America again. My colleagues would stand​ there, in​ their pressed suits and​ shiny shoes, looking out over the walls of​ their cubicles and​ whisper amongst themselves. "He wasn't cut out for​ this," they'd say. "The guy never even wore a​ suit".

I'm 24 which, although it​ may seem young is​ over one hundred in​ dog years. I originally came to​ work in​ Panama after graduation​ because, as​ most innovative decisions are made, there was nothing better to​ do. I wouldn't have fit in​ working nine to​ five and​ I certainly could not tolerate another Jersey winter of​ frost on​ the windshield or​ ice on​ the driveway. Panama was just a​ country with a​ Canal to​ me back then—every one of​ its people, in​ my vision, showing the pock-marked face of​ Noriega and​ the bat-swinging prowess of​ Rod Carew. The moment I stepped off the airplane though, realizing that none of​ my preconceived notions were true, I knew this​ country was the place for​ me. I knew this​ because in​ the airport terminal I found a​ brand​ new twenty dollar bill which, on​ its most basic levels, assured me that I didn't need to​ find a​ job.

There's a​ very defined gap between knowing you​ don't want a​ traditional office job and​ actually knowing what kind of​ job you​ do want, and​ it​ appeared that my foot was stuck in​ it. When it​ came to​ figuring out what I was going to​ do, nothing was clear-cut. "Anything's possible" my parents used to​ tell me "if​ you​ put your​ mind to​ it". But after a​ number of​ broken limbs and​ about forty five cents in​ loose change wandering through the tubes of​ my digestive track, I realized this​ wasn't so true. The circumstances I found in​ Panama though, were to​ give credence to​ my parent's metaphorical advice.

The opportunities that I came across seemed to​ be abound. Because the country's tourism and​ real estate sectors were (and​ still are) so young, they seemed to​ be the perfect avenues to​ explore. With a​ background in​ internet marketing and​ long-fantasized career as​ a​ travel writer, my options in​ Panama became about as​ vast as​ the gulf that separated me from my home. Several other expat friends I know occupied various jobs, from the pool business, to​ real estate, to​ restaurants, to​ hotels.

Having noticed a​ lack of​ written information​ on​ the country, I set out to​ do something different. Over the exciting course of​ my first year, I spent every waking moment documenting the isthmus. I wrote about the people, the provinces. I wrote about the food, the flowers. I wrote about the good, the bad, and​ the ugly. Too often, I feel, travel information​ is​ not real enough, it's not entirely honest. Sure the guidebooks and​ the websites will tell you​ about the cupcakes and​ the birthday parties, but what about the kid who peed in​ the lemonade cooler or​ worse, the kid that drank it? They never tell you​ that stuff, being the bona fide things that you​ may encounter upon​ traveling to​ a​ new country. I set out to​ create a​ website to​ reveal all pieces of​ the puzzle. From hotels, to​ restaurants, to​ real estate, to​ tours, I set out to​ create a​ website to​ warn people about the proverbial lemonade.

My creation, The Panama Report was a​ modest hit right off the bat. People enjoyed the fact that the site was up-front, no strings attached, not overly salesy or​ negative as​ some other sites tend to​ be. Eventually over time it​ earned a​ reputation​ for​ being something unique and​ today, my consulting work for​ various tourism and​ real estate enterprises is​ a​ testament to​ its success. Could I every have made it​ this​ way at​ home? Maybe. But it​ would have definitely been a​ lot harder: more competition, more investment, more luck. But I prefer the way I live down here. Maybe my friends were right, that I wasn't cut out for​ the hustle and​ bustle of​ nine-to-five office life. Maybe I wasn't cut out for​ the cubicles or​ struggle or​ even life in​ the States at​ all.

I'm sure I'll make it​ home some day. But for​ now, traveling around this​ amazing country and​ sharing my travels with others is​ good enough for​ me. Because after all, isn't work for​ people who have nothing better to​ do?

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