Colonial Christmas |
Dec. 24, 2008
Monte Carlo, Monaco
- Christmas Eve In Nicaragua...
- One Secret To Jet Lag-Free U.S.-To-Europe Travel...
101 Things You Should Know Before You Even Think About Living,
Retiring, Or Investing Overseas
Shipping your belongings across international borders...moving with
your children...or a pet...obtaining residency...getting a visa...opening
a bank account...getting the best international phone rates...learning a
new language...using VOIP...obtaining an international driver's
license...working with an overseas real estate agent...shopping for
international health insurance...
This is everything we wish someone had told us before we set off on our
own live and invest overseas adventures. And it's available to you right
Dear Overseas Opportunity Letter Reader,
A few nights before we departed Panama for France, we traveled to Casco
Viejo for Jackson's Christmas "spectacle."
Jack attends the French school in Panama City, and, to the French, "spectacle"
doesn't mean quite what it means in English. For the French, and for
Jackson's schoolmates, it was a show of celebration.
L'Ecole Paul Gauguin is a small school, with 100 students in total, many,
surprising to me at first, Panamanian. Why would a Panamanian family, living
in Panama City, choose to send their children to a French-language,
French-curriculum school? I still don't know the answer to that question,
but the result, for us, is charming.
On stage that evening in the 300-year-old Teatro Anita Villalaz in the
center of the Plaza de Francia was as eclectic a collection of small
children as you might ever find. They come from Panama, but also from
France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Britain, and Ireland...the United States,
China, and Japan...
Some have names I can't pronounce even after Jackson repeats them for me
three or four times. Finally, embarrassed for me, he gives up and suggests
that, if I have something to say to that particular child, he'd be happy to
relay the message for me.
Some have lived in three or four other countries already, though they've
only barely begun their little lives.
Some speak Spanish and French; others speak English, Italian, and, in one
case, Japanese. They manage to communicate among themselves cheerfully and
with much less misunderstanding than you might expect.
Over the hour-and-a-half of the evening's spectacle, they performed
Christmas songs in Spanish, French, and English, including some we
recognized and many we didn't.
"Children in Palestine and children in Israel...children from the Americas
and also from China, this day, let us think only of Christmas," began one
song in French.
At Jackson's birthday party last month, I had a chance to speak with some
of his classmates' moms. Some have husbands working with the UN and other
international organizations, posted here for a year or two. Others are here
for work related to various infrastructure projects, the Panama Canal
expansion, etc. They and their children have migrated to Panama from Mexico
City or Caracas, Buenos Aires or Santiago...
Lief and I worry sometimes about the life Jackson is living. Born in
Ireland, he's since lived in Paris...and now Panama City. He's an American
by birth, but Irish, too...and neither description really fits. He has
friends in a dozen cities around the world who he sees rarely and family
ties in Baltimore, Maryland, which he visits but once a year.
Jackson is a little guy without a country but embracing the world. And, at
the French school in Panama City, he's found 99 other little guys (and
girls) just like him who, one evening last week in an old French colonial
theater, filled the tropical night with song.
The bad news is: You aren't likely to find a job on your own
But here's the good news: That doesn't mean you can't create
the income you need to live where and how you want.
You could launch a new life in Paradise 90 days from today.
"Today, Christmas Eve (La Nochebuena),
starting about 7 p.m.," writes friend Tuey Murdock living in Managua, "there
is a Posada Mayor in every town throughout Nicaragua.
Children dress up as Mary and Joseph and recreate the nativity scene with
live animals. The pilgrimage ends in a church, where, at 10 p.m., Mass is
said, and the baby is placed in the crib. Then all go home for a midnight
feast of food and presents and visiting from house to house for many hours,
sometimes until dawn, all accompanied by fireworks, firecrackers, and noise
"Some years ago, I accidentally found a way to eliminate the jet-lag problem
flying from the U.S. to Europe.
"I took a morning flight from Newark airport to London on Continental
Airlines, arriving at about 9:30 p.m.
"By the time I cleared customs and arrived at a hotel near the airport, it
was close to 11 o'clock. I went to sleep, and the next morning, when I
awoke, I experienced no jet lag and was ready to begin my day filled with
"To this day, I try to schedule a daylight flight to London and begin the
rest of my European trip the next day."
-- Dan, United States
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