“What are we doing?” Lief asked me the other morning as we were dressing for the day, rushed, hurried, confirming conference calls and video chat schedules, checking emails from overnight and WhatsApp messages from staff in Panama wondering when they could expect to receive the copy I owed them, feeling already that the day was getting away from us, as, frankly, we feel most mornings…
“What?” I asked, barely registering his question, trying to tidy up the bathroom before we headed downstairs to our in-home office set-ups.
“What are we doing, here in Panama?” he asked.
“Well, we’ve got to be somewhere,” I replied, finally looking at him.
It wasn’t the first time we’ve had this kind of conversation. In the nearly 25 years that Lief and I have been moving around the world together, we’ve had many of these taking-stock moments.
And, while Lief and I have been pursuing this live-overseas lifestyle together for two-and-a-half decades, I’ve been focused on it for more than 35 years!
How It All Started
I was introduced to these ideas, by chance, by my first employer, Bill, a man who became my mentor, my partner, and my friend. When I hitched my cart to his horse, at the tender age of 21, some three-and-a-half decades ago, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
Lucky for me, Bill recognized something in me worth cultivating, and, with his support, I set out, all those years ago, with an open mind, a spirit of adventure, and a naïve enthusiasm, to see what I might see.
From my original base in Baltimore, I traversed the globe until, finally, I had the chance to relocate my base.
I met Lief, he and I enjoyed a whirlwind courtship, and then we married and moved, together, to Waterford, Ireland, where we put down Euro-roots.
While living in Waterford, we established sub-bases in Granada, Nicaragua; Quito, Ecuador; San Miguel de Allende, Mexico; Roatán, Honduras; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Montevideo, Uruguay; and Panama City, Panama, traveling among these “local offices,” as we called them, regularly.
Just recalling those times today makes me tired.
After seven years in Ireland, we shifted base camps again, relocating the family to Paris. Over the four years we lived in the City of Light, we further expanded our Euro-presence to include operations in Italy and Croatia.
Then, in 2008, we shifted our geographic perspective again, moving from Paris to Panama City, where we’ve since hung our hats, raised our children, and run our businesses.
That’s what we’re doing in Panama, dear husband.
Shall we continue?
Through The Ups And Downs
We struggle day-to-day with the traffic, the humidity, the maddening mañana approach to everything in this part of the world.
Just as we struggled in ways in Ireland and in Paris, too… just as we’d struggle in ways we probably couldn’t predict living anywhere in the world.
We’re committed to Panama long haul and for good reason.
When Lief wondered aloud the other morning what we’re doing here, I don’t think he was questioning the sense of Panama. I think, perhaps, he was questioning the ride… the journey… our personal road to Ithaca… posing the philosophical version of a child’s, “Are we there yet, Dad?” from the back seat of the family station wagon at some point during the long drive to summer vacation.
The road to Ithaca isn’t smooth or well-paved, at least not in our experience. But, after more than three-and-a-half decades journeying along it, I find myself stopping more and more often to reflect on its twists and turns… which I increasingly see as blessings rather than bothers.
Memories from our life in Waterford, our time in Paris, and our early days here in Panama, when they come to mind, they distract me, in a good way, and make me smile.
How much longer will we make our base in Panama? Who could say. Where to from here? Who knows. Our ultimate destination? We couldn’t tell you with certainty.
Our Ithaca beckons still from the far horizon. We tire now and then, we question our situation, our options, our choices, but we continue on the journey, down our path, happy, in truth, that we don’t know where it leads.
And we’re delighted that you’ve chosen to come along with us for the ride.
Founding Publisher, Overseas Opportunity Letter