Patty Blue Hayes, Nueva Gorgona

Who are you?

I’m a writer who’s been on a grand life adventure since the end of a marriage that, at the time, I barely survived, but now am grateful for the opportunity to become myself again.

Where, when and why did you move abroad?

I’m in the process of moving to Nueva Gorgona, a little beach town just an hour from Panama City.I knew I needed to search out lower cost of living countries when my spousal support was ending and my self-employment income didn’t meet my needs.

In 2017, I wrote about three volunteer trips I did in different countries: Thailand, Dominican Republic and Romania. I enjoy volunteering and thought it was a good way to get a feel for life in other countries.

I even journeyed across the United States in an RV, visiting family, childhood friends and searching out the possibility of a lower cost of living area.

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That all changed when I made a trip to Panama to see a house I’d fallen in love with online. Though, when I got to the mountains in Altos Del Maria, the owner of the home decided he didn’t want to sell his house that had been on the market for four years!

I had to laugh, but it was the house that got me to come to Panama. I decided the mountains would be a bit too remote for now and decided on the Chame District where there is an abundant expat community.

What challenges did you face during the move?

I’m in the process of the move and one of the biggest challenges I’m facing is the downsizing and purging of belongings. My parents died years ago and I have many of their sentimental belongings like photo albums, professional portfolios, artwork, etc., that I’m not sure what to do with.

I am facing a bit of difficulty in figuring out how to ship a pallet from California to my new home, but I’ve got a few leads on companies to call.

How did you find somewhere to live?

I met a man from Keller Williams Pacifica who not only showed me multiple properties but also suggested I might want to consider working in real estate once I got a work permit under the friendly nations visa. I didn’t think I was going to be able to work in Panama and this new information will be giving me a brand new career.

On my second trip, I decided to buy a condo in the area where I’ll be working.

Are there many other expats in your area?

I’m just outside of Coronado where there is a large expat community. I believe there are many expats in Nueva Gorgona as well.

What is your relationship like with the locals?

I haven’t made my move here yet, but I don’t want to isolate myself to only the expat community. I know I’ll find my way to meeting local friends and colleagues.

What do you like about life where you are?

I love the beach. Particularly the stretch of sand toward Malibu beach. It’s soothing to listen to the waves and the beach walks are delightful. I’m fascinated by the black volcanic sand that sparkles like gem stones.

I love hearing the roosters, gazing at the mountains that remind me of California, and eventually I’ll get to try the ceviche from the tiny food shacks where the fishing boats come ashore.

I also enjoy being just a few minutes away from supermarkets and other shops and services I may need.

What do you dislike about your expat life?

The adjustment to the standards of a developing country will be challenging for me. Seeing the trash, smelling the smoke from the burning of dried brush and garbage and knowing how that affects people and the environment will be a difficult adjustment.

But if I change my mindset toward solution-oriented rather than just complaining, there might be a positive result.

What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?

I haven’t been here long enough to really answer that question as I’m in the process of moving. But one thing I love about being here in Panama is the absence of blaring televisions airing political talk, sports and commercials that is so prevalent in the US.

What do you think of the food and drink in your new country? What are your particular likes or dislikes?

I love the fresh fish, fruits and vegetables. I absolutely love plantains and yucca, too. It seems easy to get any kind of food here in the Chame District and of course with Panama City being so close, any kind of food craving will be easily satisfied.

What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?

Don’t let fear stop you. Fear is what prevents us from pursuing so many things in life that could enrich our experience during the brief amount of time we have on this earth.

Pay attention to your internal guidance system. Follow the leads that bring you excitement, curiosity, contentment, ease and peace. You don’t have to make all decisions at once, just take small steps forward, see what happens and determine if you want to continue.

As a life coach, of course I recommend working with someone who can help you figure out your own answers to those deeper introspective questions your soul presents indicating change is necessary.

What are your plans for the future?

I have so many books in the works, I need to dedicate time to rewriting and editing so I can publish them.

While I know I’ll need the discipline for my writing, I also want to explore the country of Panama and countries to the south.

I’m excited about my idea to create retreats for women like me, who found themselves starting over in mid-life.

You can buy a copy of Patty Blue Hayes' book, Wine, Sex and Suicide – My Near Death Divorce, on Amazon, and keep up with her adventures on her website.

Would you like to share your experience of life abroad with other readers? Answer the questions here to be featured in an interview!

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