View across Panama Bay, in Panama City

After Four Great Years I’m Saying Au Revoir To Panama

Gone Surfin’ 

It started last Monday when I began emptying out my apartment here in Panama City.

I looked at the bed where, four years ago—new to town—I had thrown myself down in tears… wondering what I had done… how I could have left my country, my friends, and my family behind…

Now the tears were back again. And they’ve been coming every day since, as I prepare to leave behind the many friends Arnaud and I have made here… and the city and country that has gradually become our home…

It’s like the worst breakup ever.

Sometimes it’s just les petits riens (the little nothings) that set me off. Like the breeze that rustles through the trees every morning as I drink my coffee on our terrace. Or that perfect light at 6 p.m. as I’m taking my Uber ride home from work. Or the glimpse of a street with homes painted blue, yellow, orange, and pink… a neon green vegetation backdrop…

Hard to believe that, just four years ago, we knew nothing about this place and spoke barely a word of Spanish. But somehow we figured things out… we made friends… we got to grips with Spanish… spent many weekends at the beach, surfing till we could surf no more… and, little by little, Panama stole a piece of our hearts.

Maybe, in some way, this is you, too. Maybe you’re preparing for your first move overseas—leaving behind the home you’ve lived in for decades. Or perhaps you’re already overseas, but you find that a new destination is calling. Maybe you’ve spent years overseas and are planning to move back home…

Whatever your situation, breaking up with a place where you’ve lived for any length… where you’ve seen good times, bad times, and utterly crazy times… where you’ve always had a community to turn to… often turns out tougher than you ever imagined… even when it’s your own personal choice to up and leave.

So, how do you get past all these emotions?

First, ignore those negative voices in your head.

That’s what I’m doing today. (In any case, I’ve already handed in my notice at work, given up my apartment, and booked a flight to Paris—there’s no going back.)

Second, remind yourself why you’re doing this.

Before Arnaud and I moved to Panama, we talked about taking a year or two out to travel. Our move to Panama turned out to be an adventure… but, with our work commitments, we never got to check out half the places we’d hoped to explore in this part of the world.

So, after I leave the office tomorrow, we’re free to start our grand adventureSort of…

First, we go home to spend time with friends and family in France. Then it’s off to Mexico for two months. I’ve been researching the best surf spots—so a couple of weeks, at least, will be spent on our boards. This Mexico stay is really a pre-trip vacation. It’s going to get busy from there as we travel to Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Iran… down to the southern countries of Africa… into Asia… through China, Russia, and Eastern Europe… before making our way back to France.

Now, while I have one foot out the door of the office, let me assure you that all our day-to-day support here in the Events Department continues. As always, the team is standing by to help with your queries and bookings.

And, over the coming weeks, as our new Conference Director gets up to speed, our Editor-in-Chief Kat Kalashian is going to (wo)man the desk here at Live and Invest Overseas Confidential.

You may have met Kat at one of our past events—she’s a regular speaker and panelist and has also acted as MC on a few occasions. An expat since the age of eight, she has a lot of insights to share with you, too. You’ll hear from Kat next week…

Finally, it’s been my pleasure to meet many of you out in the field over the past four years. I hope that, just as I’m moving on, your dream continues to move forward, too.

Here’s to the next chapter!

Valentine Fouché

Posted in Live And Invest Overseas Confidential.