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Columnists > Susanna Perkins

Susanna Perkins
Susanna always wanted to experience life in another culture – she just never imagined it would become the “sensible” option. Believing that when life hands you lemons you learn to juggle, she found herself with an entire crate full of citrus following the financial meltdown in the US. She started tossing fruit around and ended up, with her husband and three small dogs, in Las Tablas, Panama. With a more-or-less reliable internet connection she works as a freelance writer and shares her expat insights and experiences on her website Future Expats Forum and teaches non-technical people about WordPress at WordPress Building Blocks.

Susanna Perkins

Dancing In A Pollera In Panama

Posted by: Carole on Monday January 19, 2015 (03:59:43)   (3100 Reads)
Susanna Perkins
When we were deciding to move overseas, and then choosing the place to move to, my husband and I were intrigued by Las Tablas’ reputation as the folkloric center of Panama. Of course, it’s well known that Las Tablas is the place to attend Carnaval, with the town’s population swelling from 10,000 to over 100,000 during the festivities.

In the neighboring town of Guarare, there’s an annual music festival featuring the mejorana, a Panamanian five-string guitar. Las Tablas also hosts two separate events each year honoring the pollera, the lovely national dress.    more ...

Susanna Perkins

Panama, Where Friendship Is Easy

Posted by: Carole on Saturday December 20, 2014 (03:06:44)   (3372 Reads)
Susanna Perkins
Since moving back to the US, I’ve become painfully aware of one huge difference between living here and living there.

Meeting people and making friends in Panama was easy. Doing it here is hard.

A vibrant social life was one of our pleasures in Las Tablas. We had plenty of friends, and getting together was easy.

It started within a few days of my arrival in Las Tablas.

Because Panama doesn't really have pet-friendly hotels, I flew down to find us a place to live while my husband and the dogs stayed in Florida to wrap up a few things. Less than 24 hours after I arrived in Las Tablas, I met my first friend.    more ...

Susanna Perkins

My First Thanksgiving In Las Tablas, Panama, Snuck Up On Me

Posted by: Carole on Sunday November 16, 2014 (23:49:02)   (1843 Reads)
Susanna Perkins
There were no weather-related clues that meant anything to me. It didn’t get colder, leaves didn’t turn color or fall off trees any more than they normally did, days didn’t get appreciably shorter. . . .

Not until after my son’s November 5 birthday did I even give Thanksgiving a thought.

We had moved to Panama the previous spring, so at this point we’d been in the country about seven months. I had missed Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, and felt cheated. I decided I was not going to miss Thanksgiving, but I didn’t really know what to do about it.    more ...

Susanna Perkins

Settling In At "Home"

Posted by: Carole on Friday October 17, 2014 (16:42:53)   (3566 Reads)
Susanna Perkins
Those of you who’ve been following my column for a while know that, after 2-½ years in Panama, my husband and I have returned to the US.

It was a combination of family concerns and a job opportunity that brought us back.

Settling in, though, has been much harder than we expected. Harder even than getting established in Panama when we first moved there.

You see, we’re not back in our old stomping grounds in Orlando, where we lived for 25 years. Instead, we’re in South Carolina.    more ...

Susanna Perkins

The Culture Shock Of Repatriation To The USA

Posted by: Carole on Saturday September 20, 2014 (12:52:26)   (3412 Reads)
Susanna Perkins
“Repatriation is a bitch,” I’d been warned. Somehow I suspected it might be.

After two and a half years in Las Tablas, Panama, my husband and I and our two dogs arrived back in the US. It wasn’t something we really planned on doing, but some opportunities opened up, the stars aligned, and here we are.

We’re in South Carolina. It’s our first experience living in the “real” South. (Florida isn’t the “South” in any meaningful way, it’s only “south” because of an accident of geography.)

In some odd ways, our time in Panama was good preparation for what we’re finding here.    more ...

Susanna Perkins

Does This mean I Can’t Call Myself An Expat Any More?

Posted by: Carole on Thursday August 14, 2014 (15:48:16)   (4664 Reads)
Susanna Perkins
One month ago, my husband and I were dealing with a drinking water crisis in Las Tablas, Panama.

We had chosen to move to Panama in part because we’d have access to potable water. So when we learned the drinking water supply for most of the Azuero Peninsula was contaminated with Atrazine, we were pretty upset.

At the same time, we’d recently returned from a five-week visit to the US where we got to see lots of friends and family and attend the graduations of two of our kids from college. My husband’s family has been exerting steady pressure for a while, wanting us to return to the US.    more ...

Susanna Perkins

Clean Water Is Important

Posted by: Carole on Tuesday July 08, 2014 (04:18:57)   (3211 Reads)
Susanna Perkins
As a US citizen and resident for nearly six decades, access to potable, safe water is something I've always taken for granted. Of course I know that’s not true everywhere. I've seen the heartwrenching statistics, and the pleas from charities that bring clean water to far-flung peoples who need it.

I just never thought I'd be one of them.

A few days ago my husband noticed that the local grocery store had been completely cleaned out of bottled water. After 25 years in Florida where such things generally signal an impending hurricane, he was curious. So he stopped to ask a local friend what was going on.    more ...

Susanna Perkins

Internet Adventures In The First World

Posted by: Carole on Thursday June 12, 2014 (02:48:26)   (43439 Reads)
Susanna Perkins
As an American who's living and working in Panama, I rely heavily on internet connectivity. I'm a freelance writer and WordPress website builder, so I need the internet to work quickly and all the time.

Now I've spent the past month back in the US, and I have to say, I'm not impressed with my internet connectivity here!

The first couple of weeks were a vacation. We attended two college graduations, one near Boston and the other in Rochester, NY. We visited with our kids in both those areas, and in Vermont. We even got to see our LA-based son, who flew East as a surprise.    more ...

Susanna Perkins

The Language of Expats

Posted by: Carole on Saturday April 19, 2014 (01:41:48)   (3855 Reads)
Susanna Perkins
“What’s your name?” she asked.


“Where do you live?” I told her, and mentioned we’d been there for two years.

“Oh,” she replied, “my mother lives in that neighborhood.”
Realization dawned. “Yes, she’s my next-door neighbor,” I responded, beaming.

We talked about her family, and her nephew, Cyril, who runs a hostel in Panama City.    more ...

Susanna Perkins

Contrary To What Some People Think, Our Life In Panama Doesn’t Suck. . .

Posted by: Carole on Sunday March 16, 2014 (18:33:07)   (5546 Reads)
Susanna Perkins
“You’re unpatriotic!”

Two years ago, I arrived in Las Tablas, Panama, with statements like that ringing in my ears.

Moving abroad was a rocky road, for us. Something I’d always wanted to do – live overseas – became an urgent necessity after the US financial meltdown in 2009. While we were planning our move, family members and friends reacted in wildly different ways. On one extreme was my mother, who told us that she was proud of us for finding an interesting and creative solution to a very difficult problem. She admired our bravery. Most people fell in the middle, not really understanding but trying to express support.    more ...

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