Just returned from our first 8 day fact finding exploration of Panama City for possible relocation from USA. I would like to take a moment and give a special thanks to Nora's Service's. Wife of Henry and he is a frequent contributor to many of the Yahoo groups pertaining to Panama. I had found Nora through Henry's postings @ panamaretire.net. Nora and I corresponded via email before we arrived in Panama City. She started by confirming our hotel reservation that I had trouble getting. Nora met my wife and I at the airport. Took us to our hotel. Plaza Patillia Inn, in the center of Patillia. A very high end neighbor hood. The hotel was a real find at $49.95 a night, one of the few water front hotels with a breath taking view of Panama City and the bay. Next day Nora toured us through the city. At the end of our stay picked us up at the hotel and delivered us to the airport check-in for our return to USA. Nora is a wealth of local information. She is all Panamanian, born and raised there. Proud, bright, educated, very professional, kind and fun to be with. Her English is perfect. In just a few hours my wife and I saw the sights, understood the historical facts and got a grand first view of a most amazing city. Without her we would have come home far less informed. For anyone who will explore Panama City, you will need a guide. One who speaks good English and knows the city and country. Despite the rumors floating around, we did not find that MOST Panamanian speak English. Some locals were very proficient in English. Those that know some English only use just a few words. Gleaming information from locals was sometimes very difficult. However getting around with limited Spanish was not difficult.
My wife and I spent our waking time walking the streets, riding the cabs, touring the shopping malls and grocery stores. We ate at varied restaurants to get a taste and feel of Panama, sometimes even ate when we were not hungry. We went to Tobago Island and up the coast to Coronado. We experienced the end of the rainy season with several brief unbelievable cloud burst storms that washed the city clean in minutes. We ate the food, consumed lots of good local beer, drank the tap water, smelled the air and even swam in the ocean.
Except for my wife getting sick eating some tainted grocery store yogurt, we came out just fine. We used common sense where went at night and during the day. We were always aware of our surroundings. Never were we afraid for our safety. The heat and humidity impacted is and was the greatest negative.
As I compile my notes and thoughts, I will add more postings. There is a lot to say about Panama City. There is a lot of misinformation floating around about living the grand life in Panama City on a shoe string.