A reader wrote last week to ask my thoughts on life in Ireland. It’s been nearly 11 years since we sold out, packed up, and moved from Waterford to Paris. At the time, we were eager to put Ireland in our rearview. Now I wish I’d been more aware of all that Irish country life had provided for us. Calling to mind our seven years in Ireland is bittersweet because I don’t remember them as clearly as I’d like.
Lief and I were living in fast forward, building a family and a business at the same time and traveling two weeks out of every four. Photos on my bedroom dresser remind me each morning of the best things about that stage of our lives—the old stone house we worked hard to return to its original Irish Georgian glory, the long, rolling views from its every window, and our kids on horseback in the emerald pastures all around…
As we prepare to shift our home base from Panama City to Paris this summer, I’m trying to remember this lesson and pay attention to the best things about life in Panama.
Hang around anywhere long enough, and you begin to take it for granted. You lose the positives in the downsides, which dominate day-to-day. That was the case for us in Waterford, and, if I’m honest, it is the case now in Panama City. The crazy rush-hour traffic, the challenges of navigating a city that is continually tearing itself up to rebuild newer and bigger, the heat, the humidity… day-to-day, this town is exhausting.
Years from now, though, I don’t think those will be the first things to come to mind when I think back on our Panama City experience.
Alongside those photos of the kids on horseback in the fields around our home in Waterford are shots of them playing on the beach and snorkeling in the ocean in various spots along Panama’s coast, hiking in the hills around El Valle, and zip-lining in the rain forest. Those are the images that, in Paris and beyond, I’ll recall when remembering our years here.
Few places in the world are as dramatically alive as Panama City has been these past seven years we’ve called it home. This city continues to reinvent itself in real time. Witnessing this transition from the inside, a historic time in Panama’s history, has been an opportunity to appreciate and savor.
The other thing we appreciate about being based in Panama City is that it means we’re able to run our business tax-free. That trumps a lot of the day-to-day downsides. We could not have built the business we’ve built in Paris, and I don’t know of anywhere else in the world where we could replicate the team we’ve assembled here in Panama City. We’re in Panama for the long haul… and happily so.
So, this summer, we’re not saying good-bye to Panama, only au revoir. Starting this summer, we won’t be in Paris full time but dividing our time between there and here. We’ll be back in Panama City every few weeks, meaning we’ll be able to enjoy both pretty, romantic, pleasant central Paris and unpredictable, hard-charging, grab-the-future-by-the-shirt-collar Panama City. We’ll have regular doses of charming and challenging and a life of constant contrast.
The best of the Old World and the New. We’re looking forward to it.