Planning For Christmas In France

A French Christmas

Dec. 16, 2014 Pau, France: Christmas traditions in France include the Gallete des Rois and the Buche de Noël.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

For my family and me, one of the great things about living an expat life has been the combining of our own holiday traditions with those of our adopted country. Our first year in Pau in the Pyrenees-Atlantic department of Aquitaine, France, was spent with another expat family who, like us, had decided to stay in their new home country rather than race "back home" to meet up with family scattered all over the place. 

So we celebrated Noël and Christmas. Noël is the French word for Christmas and comes from "les bonnes nouvelles," or "the good news," as in the good news of the coming of Christ. My friend and I divided the mainly food-related work between us. She got to search for a turkey, and I assembled all the sides, including cranberry sauce, parsnips, and Brussels sprouts—a must-have for any British Christmas Day lunch. 

Raw cranberries and sprouts can be found in most French supermarkets these days, but parsnips? They're animal fodder, right? No, they are divine when roasted with a splash of orange juice and are almost, but not quite, impossible to find in France at Christmastime. I persuaded the owner of the local fresh produce store to snag me a kilo on a trip to Spain, where they are more common. While I struggled with the veg, my friend searched and searched for a decent turkey from a local farmer. At first, all she found were long-legged, athletic-looking numbers; not a succulent breast among them. Finally she got what she wanted, paid the farmer, and made a date for collection of the bird...plucked, merci beaucoup.

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Christmas Eve Pase del Niño In Cuenca, Ecuador

The Three Wise Men, Bart Simpson, And Richard Nixon—Christmas In Ecuador

Dec. 15, 2014, Cuenca, Ecuador: The Pase del Niño that takes place every Christmas Eve in Cuenca, Ecuador, is the biggest in Latin America.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

For tourists and foreign residents, Cuenca's Christmas Eve Paseo del Niño parade, or Passing of the Child, is a colorful, often bizarre, mixture of the sacred and the profane. To locals, it is a time-honored Christian festival of thanksgiving and homage that combines Catholic and indigenous traditions. Everyone agrees that it's a lot of fun.

The eight-hour-plus procession features floats and decorated cars, many festooned with flowers, fruits and vegetables, empty beer cans and liquor bottles, roasted pigs and chickens. There are also bands, dancers and street performers, stilt-walkers, and various Biblical characters. In recent years, the Three Wise Men have made an appearance on Harley Davidsons and Mary and Joseph have cart-wheeled the length of Calle Simon Bolivar. Everywhere there are children dressed in colorful homemade costumes.

Introduced to Latin America by the Spanish almost 500 years ago, the Paseo del Niño is a Christmas celebration in which likenesses of the infant Jesus are carried through towns and villages. In Ecuador, the tradition remains strongest in the Andean region. Organizers of the Cuenca parade claim that theirs is the largest Paseo del Niño in all of Latin America; as many as 50,000 will participate in the procession, with about 200,000 more watching from sidewalks, balconies, and rooftops.

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10 Lessons For Overseas Living

10 Things I've Learned Living Overseas


Dec. 14, 2014, Panama City, Panama: Kathleen discusses some of the insights into overseas living that she’s picked up on in the past 17 years.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

Seventeen years living overseas, first in Ireland, then France, now Panama, have taught me...


1. Patience...the kind of patience you learn doing time...

The other day I stood at the counter of a small grocery shop in Panama City watching as the young man on the other side of the counter tried to tally up my purchases. One item I'd presented was missing a price tag, so the young man walked from behind the counter to the back of the shop to find a matching item that did show a price. Several minutes later he returned.

When he looked down to enter the amount into his adding machine (the shop didn't have a cash register), he noticed that it was out of paper. He walked from behind the counter again, this time disappearing behind the door to the left. Several minutes later, he returned with a roll of adding machine paper.

As he began to replace the paper in his machine, his phone rang, so he laid the roll of paper on the counter to answer it. Several minutes later, he finished his conversation and picked up the roll of paper again. Several minutes after that, he'd succeeded in getting the paper installed in the machine.

After adding up my few purchases, he reached beneath the counter for a bag to put the groceries in but found he was out of bags, so he came out from behind the counter and disappeared again behind the door to the left. Several minutes later, he returned with a single plastic bag. Four other customers stood in line behind me. I guess he was counting on them not wanting bags.

My items placed in the plastic bag, the young man looked up at me. "That's US$12.65," he told me in Spanish.

I handed him a 10-dollar bill and a 5-dollar bill. The young man reached beneath the counter for the cigar box where he keeps his change. No singles. He called out to the young woman stocking shelves, who finished what she was doing then joined the young man behind the counter and counted out change for me from her apron pocket.

This is the kind of scene that plays out all day long every day all across the developing world. You muster the patience to take it in stride. Or you leave the developing world.

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Specific Countries Residency In Panama Investing In Teak

Panama's Top Residency Option Is Also One Of The World's Best

Dec. 12, 2014, Panama City, Panama: This US$15,200 teak investment qualifies you for Panama’s Specific Countries residency visa.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

The most cost-effective, hassle-free invest-for-residency program we know of available anywhere in the world today is in Panama and takes advantage of this country's "Specific Countries" residency visa program. 

The Specific Countries program was initiated under Ricardo Martinelli's presidential administration through an executive order that the new president of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela, has so far allowed to remain in place. It is available to citizens of 48 specifically named countries. If you hold a passport for one of the 48 countries on the list, this is the best Panamanian residency option after Panama's pensionado visa...and, again, in fact, one of the best residency options in the world.

Unlike other residency visa programs, Panama's Specific Countries program is a one-application process that results in immediate permanent residency. Other options require several applications over several years and grant at first temporary, not permanent residency. 

How do you qualify? First, you show that you have at least US$5,000 on deposit in a local bank account. Second, you do one of these three things:
  • You show an offer of employment...
  • You start a corporation (with the intent of running a business)...
  • Or you invest in a piece of real estate (in your own name).

As a foreigner, you may have trouble organizing a job offer (although a primary goal of the new residency option is to make it easier for foreigners to get work permits). Not everyone is interested in starting and operating a business.

Meaning that the most user-friendly way to qualify for this new program is by investing in a piece of Panamanian real estate. No minimum investment amount is formally stated in the decree, but immigration officials are generally said to be looking for a property purchase of at least US$10,000.

Read more...

Colon, Panama, May Be Poised For A Renaissance

A Case For Colon

Dec. 11, 2014, Colon, Panama: Colon, Panama, could be on the eve of a renaissance.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

Panama's Caribbean coast is far less developed than its Pacific one. The biggest reason for this is access. Much of this country's Caribbean is inaccessible except by plane or boat. Even the stretch of Caribbean Sea nearest to Panama City, that bit that sits directly north of the capital as the crow flies and that terminates in the city of Colon, has historically been considered distant and remote. This changed, though, with the opening of the new highway between these two points.

Improved access notwithstanding, Colon is generally still thought of as distant, remote, and also unsafe. The good folks of Panama City have traditionally avoided Colon, the country's biggest Caribbean coastal city, and the surrounding areas and, if you ask them, they will warn you away, as well.

We recommend you ignore the cautions and go see this part of Panama for yourself. It's easier to get there today than it's ever been (the new highway cuts the travel time between these two cities by more than half), and it's one of the most strategically and historically interesting and important spots, not only in Panama, but in all Latin America.

Read more...

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Kathleen Peddicord

Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 25 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter.

Her book, How To Retire Overseas—Everything You Need To Know To Live Well Abroad For Less, was recently released by Penguin Books.

Read more here.

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