Sunday, April 28, 2013

Trip to Panama (April 24-28)...

Revolution Tower
This trip to Panama is the second time for us. The first one was approximately 10 years ago.

Panama is known for its famous canal connecting the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. It is a small country but due to this strategic location for the world trade, Panama is well known. USA built this canal, using a lock system moving giant ships from the sea level to the lake level through multiple locks and bringing the ships down to the sea level again after crossing the inland lakes. USA stationed a military unit to protect the canal for 90 years and handed it over to the Panamanian government in 1999.

Hop-on Hop-off Bus
In addition, Panama is a hub for the financial sector and transportation sector. There are many offshore banks and attracts depositors from all over the Latin American countries. Panama has Copa Airlines that connect to almost all major cities in Latin America and to quite a few major cities in the world.

It also has beautiful beaches on both the Pacific shores and Caribbean shores. It has been rain forest and is outside the hurricane belt. Its shores have tripical weather but its highlands offer spring-like weather year round. For this reason, Panama is attracting retirees particularly from North America. Panama offers an excellent retirement program, called Pensionado. Under this program, retires may benefit from significant discounts on a lot of commercial and economic activities.
Panama Canal Lock System

Panama once was ruled by a dictator and drug smuggler, Noriega. USA had to take him down in the middle of 1980's to establish a democratic government and Panama has since been safe and stable. Its currency is US dollar and the cost of living remains fairly low although it has increased quite a bit over the past decade. It has several mega shopping malls that offer all merchandises from all over the world. Panama's tourism is still growing but is getting ready to attract more tourists.
Panama City Bus Diablos Rohos

Panama still has many challenges to overcome. Traffic jam is pretty bad. Services need to improve also. Despite the US influence, English-speaking population remains pretty low. Moreover, tropical weather is hot and humid, so everywhere you need to turn on the A/C.
Panama City View from Casco Viejo

Nonetheless, Panama remains attractive to many people for different reasons.

Our trip to Panama was short, but important. We celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. April 25 1983, Kristin and I got married in Seoul Korea. God has been at the center of our marriage and Jesus has been the third strand in our relationship, thus bonding it and holding it up through the high and low seasons. (Ecclesiastes 4:12) At a restaurant called La Mar (Mar means ocean in Spanish.) It was a quiet celebration but we expressed our appreciation for God's guidance and presence in our relationship.

Trump Tower Ocean Club
Panama City View
Three decades of marriage... would not have been made possible without God's guidance and protection. We were envisioning the next three decades of life and discussing about how to live out the remaining life on earth before we leave the planet earth. We may leave earlier to be with the Lord, but it is perfectly okay. May the good and faithful Lord continue to hold our hands in our next chapter of life! - Jeffrey

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