So now I’ve applied for a Pensionado Visa which will allow me to be a permanent resident in Panama. I’ve completed all the paperwork a I’ve been told it’s been approved. Now I’m simply waiting for it to be signed and then I’ll be packing up my life in the U.S. and moving down here permanently.
One of the Merriam-Webster definitions is “an exciting or remarkable experience.
It doesn’t have to involve great peril. In fact, for an adventure to be successful according to the definition above, it should avoid peril as much as possible.
So, what do I mean my one MORE good adventure? Well, having recentlystarting to collect my Social Security benefits it means I’m free of having to worry about the weekly pay check and health care (Medicare, the first health care I’ve been able to afford in a dozen years). The SS income isn’t a whole lot. In fact, if I were to stay in the States I’d have to work until the day I die so I wouldn’t have to end up eating cat food and living under a bridge somewhere. I intend on moving out and moving on.
On my last good adventure I had bought a beautiful 26′ sailboat. A Kaiser of which only 26 were made and I had hull #24. I bought it for a song and took off from Fort Lauderdale for nine months and single-handed my way down to Mexico, Belize and Guatemala. Even though I had lived out of the country for several years prior to this cruise, it was always on somebody else’s boat somebody else’s schedule. The good part was it was also on somebody else’s dime and they paid me every inch of the way. I spent 2-1/2 years living and maintaining an 85′ sailboat on the French Riviera and the Costa del Sol and the owner was never once there and the only guests that were ever aboard were there at my invitation. Since nearly everything was provided for me, a rental car, food that I ate on board, etc. it really didn’t matter a whole lot when I’d drop in to Monaco to watch the power boat races that a can of Coke from a machine cost over $5.00. And that was back in ’89.
But the perspective changes when it’s now MY dime. I spent three months on the Rio Dulce in Guatemala and it was there, 16 years ago, that the germ of the idea of retiring south of the Rio Grande started to germinate. I “lived on the hook” (at anchor) except for one long weekend when I put the boat in Mario’s Marina for a trip up to Guatemala City to pick up a part for my outboard engine. Life was good there. Like the Mayan Indians do you get up with the sunrise and go to bed when it gets dark.
There were several marinas on the Rio and most had a restaurant with water you could depend on not to give you the “trots.” I’d eat my main meal of the day at whichever one advertised the most tasty dish of the day over the morning cruiser’s net. A specified time during which interested boats and shore stations would listen in on their VHF radios. You could generally get an excellent meal with perspiration dripping down the sides of your ice cold Gallo lager all for about $3.50 and tipping is pretty much unknown.
In town at one of the houses of ill repute, the beer bottles were dipped in water and then put in a freezer and when the temperature is around 95F with 90% that first near-slushy Gallo goes down easy. Beers there were 35 cents. Outside there was a little stand with the most outstanding tamales you’ll ever find anywhere. Wrapped in a banana leaf they were about the size of a paperback book and in the center there’d be a huge chunk of chickem (I’m assuming it was chicken) with maybe some kernels of corn or peas and a nice sauce that saturated the whole with flavor. One of those would fill you up and they only cost $1.00.
There was a good deal of free or low cost entertainment. Mario’s Marina had “movie’ night on Wednesdays. Pretty much a DVD run up on a big screen tv. It was set up under a large palm thatched hut and you could order food and drink from the bar and restaurant a few steps away. There was no charge for the movie, but they made up for it with their sales. Suzanna’s Laguna would bring in a live local band once a month and the Nirvana Express Bar sponsored cruising sailboat and cayuca (dugout canoe) races every other Sunday with a party afterwards.
And to highlight how inexpensive things were down there, a friend of mine who I had met in France, was the captain of a 65′ custom catamaran. They were at a dock at one of the best resorts on the Rio (coincidentally called the Catamaran Club). It is as nice a place as you would want to spend a vacation in the world. Bill was there at a dock with water and 220 volt electricity for the princely sum of $5.00 US a day. In contrast, when I spent a night at a marina in Key West on my way south it cost me $95.00.
I estimated that if I was able to have $5,000.00 a year I could have had a very nice life. But that wasn’t going to happen right then and I had to return to the States to build up a new cruising kitty. I never did rebuild the cruising kitty and the money that my father left me when he died pretty much disappeared in the Republican Depression,
I think that qualifies as an adventure.