*It’s a great place to visit, but I wouldn’t………

Okay, then where would you want to live????

Live?? You wouldn’t want to even VISIT David, Panama, if you go by the tourist books…. M2510009

Above- Yeah, there are some less than beautiful sights to see….

Fodors: “David…. has almost nothing to offer to travelers.” “…avoid David.”

Frommers: “...surprisingly few attractions to keep a tourist occupied for more than an afternoon.” “…hot and humid.”

Bradt: “…David is hot, humid and sultry year around, with little respite.”

“...shoppers simply get on with their business, too caught up in the melee to notice if there’s a gringo in town”.

Okay, we’ve all ruled out David…..as a tourist destination. That’s alright by me, I’ve lived in Sarasota, Florida and Honolulu, Hawaii- both great tourist destinations with millions of people dreaming of visiting each year. “Been there, done that.” Gimme a place where I can live like a local without all the increased prices on everything from bubble gum to homes and land.

So, why in the world, out of all the places in Panama to live, would you want to live in David???

I like Boquete and La Barqueta and living in David lets me get to either one in less than an hour. David won me over with it’s quick access to the things I need to have close by, hospitals, malls, music stores, etc. I don’t live IN David, I live on the outskirts in the north about 5 minutes from El Rey. We are basically in the country with cows with calves, chickens, roosters and dogs running free. M2610010

We live in a modest house in a middle class neighborhood where a couple of other Gringos are supposed to live, haven’t seen or talked to them yet. We have two cars so some of the neighbors must think we’re rich (a ’97 Mazda POS and a 2007 Hyundai Atos baby car) since many here ride the bus. We are FAR from rich by US standards but by world standards even the Panamanians are rich. Just depends on your point of view.M2680075Above- A very nice home about a mile from my house

I ALWAYS  have been asked if I live in Boquete, ALWAYS. Never has any Panamanian assumed that I would live ANYWHERE but Boquete! I asked a Panamanian friend why, he said ‘Your skin is a nice color” (I’m Welsh, greying dark hair/fair complexioned). I didn’t quite understand what he meant but I got the drift.

Once we tell  the Panamanian that we live in David, choosing NOT to live in a gringo barrio, the whole tone of the conversation changes.
You can tell that the Panamanians appreciate that you want to live WITH them, not separated by language, fences or attitudes. The vast majority of Panamanians I’ve met are friendly, curious and kind.

I feel accepted, and it’s a good feeling. robertoOur neighbor, Roberto from Kris’s blog

I can only imagine how I would feel if people came down from the hills or from the beach areas to my town ONLY to get supplies, then run away from me back to their homes. I would probably get an attitude if I sensed that folks were looking down on me and my city. We all have feelings and sometimes they get hurt.  Hopefully things will all work out for the better as we get more of this out in the light.

Coronado, Panama City, Boquete, El Valle and many other places are high on the list of places to live, perhaps David will be on your list if anything I write here resonates with you:)



11 thoughts on “*It’s a great place to visit, but I wouldn’t………

  1. I guess I’m a natural born contrarian which is one of the things that kept me from even considering settling in Boquete. I didn’t come to Panama to spend my time hanging around with other gringo expats. It’s not that I don’t talk to, or interact with them, it’s simply something I don’t do very often. You came and visited me out here in Boqueron and know that I live like, and with, the natives as you do. To me that’s what makes living here such a wonderful adventure. And yes, I DO SEE a perceptible change in Panamanian’s attitudes towards me when I 1) immediately start talking to them in Spanish and 2) when they discover that I live in Boqueron and not up on the lofty heights of Gringolandia.

  2. Yes, we live a bit differently than many gringos here for sure. And we both have seen how people view us differently when they learn we live among them and speak some Spanish.

    I posted on another blog and another poster basically said that all was well and there was more animosity on the blog than here in David. Sorry to burst your bubble but there IS trouble in paradise whether they want to acknowledge it or not. We are not viewed kindly when lumped in with the “bad apples”. That is one of the main reasons I started this blog, to try to arm folks with practical information and honest evaluations of the area.

    Don’t get me wrong, I have friends in Boquete and La Barqueta, enjoy visiting, just prefer living here. True, I’m hotter here but as we both know, it’s more affordable and closer necessities living close to David. My mother has had numerous medical appointments and I’m thankful that we live close to the hospitals and offices.

    You know the wait time here-add that to the drive time from other cities and you will appreciate being close to where you need to be. I’m not telling you anything you don’t know, but others read these words and our conversations and comments help them in their decision making.

    The other blogs really helped me_Ning, Chiriqui Chatter and Gringos in David were my bibles for two years. I have much to thank them for and hope I can give others a “wee bit of hope” 😉

  3. I had to smile when you said people always assume you live in Boquete. After 10 years in Dolega, we still get asked. Guess Panamanians can’t imagine gringos in Dolega either. I do notice a change when we say we live in Dolega. My husband always tells people “Rico gringos in Boquete, Pobre gringos in Dolega”. That always elicits a chuckle from people.I do understand what you are saying. We too have friends in Boquete. We just made a choice a long time ago to embrace the Panamanian culture. We have never regretted that decision.

    • Good to hear from an “old timer”, someone who has been here a lot Ionger than we have and is still having the same question asked;). I also find that the cultural difference of saying Buena to everyone you meet is a nice change from the way we gringos tend to ignore each other. I feel the love in the Panamanian’s eyes when I go out with my 93 year old mother and I find them looking at us, it’s a very nice feeling, one I NEVER felt in Florida. “Family” is looked at in a different way, I guess. Maybe more compassion, respect, empathy – whatever it is I appreciate it. Old women have reached out and touched my mother in the doctor’s waiting rooms, that didn’t happen before either. Warm fuzzies!!!! Gotta love Panama!

      • We were adopted by our landlady and her family when we first moved to Dolega. It has been wonderful to have a family here. And believe me they are our family in good times and in bad..

  4. I’m with you. You know how happy I am in David, with our Panamanian friends and neighbors. We definitely have made the right decision for us. When you embrace the language and culture of your new country, your own life is enriched more than you could imagine!

  5. Is it true that the gringos in Bouquete asked for a gringos only shopping day in David? Any of your or Kris’s reader can answer if you don’t know. When someone told me that my mouth dropped open.

    I also find that most of the locals expect us be from la playa. That is where most of the development is happening around here. When you tell them you live in the pueblo and “la playa:” cost mucho dineros they are pleasantly surprised and you go up a notch or two in their eyes. And yes, like you if I wanted to live among people just like me I would have stayed in Canada.

    Love the pictures, even the not so pretty one. This is what living in Panama is all about.

  6. A “Gringos only shopping day”? Haven’t heard that one, doesn’t sound like a good idea to me but what do I know. I don’t think the town would make that much if they didn’t let their regular customers buy stuff, not THAT many gringos in Boquete and David combined.

    Is it legal?

    Hmmm. Maybe someone from Boquete will chime in if they care to. Sounds like it was made up, who knows….

  7. We started out with David but could not find suitable housing in a safe neighborhood with the internet service we needed to continue to run our online businesses. However, we live in Alto Boquete in a Panamanian neighborhood. Our wonderful neighbors are taxi drivers, bus owners , elderly Panamanian women, gardners and a couple of ex-pats as well. We rent from a lovely Panamanian couple who live in David. They are far superior to the Canadian landlord we had for the 51 days we lived in a most unsafe neighborhood in David. (we lived in the red zone but this wonderful Canadian (Bob Reichart) failed to tell us that little tidbit when we inquired about his rental. However, the neighbors across the street even in the red zone were wonderful and became friends. A panamanian Realtor brought us to Boquete – a place we had never considered until he suggested it. We wanted the Panamanian cultural experience and have been extremely happy with our choice. We hope to have all our possessions liquidated in the next couple of weeks and will begin a new adventure in Roatan Honduras but our panamanian experience in the El Cipre neighborhood of Alto Boquete has been awesome!

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