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In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age of 38. Now, into their 3rd decade of this financially independent lifestyle, they invite you to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.

Panama City


Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

Recently, while living in Guatemala, Billy decided he wanted to go to the country of Panama. We have always heard good things about Panama, with its notable friendliness to Expats.

So, off we go to explore for ourselves.

Gratefully, after an uneventful flight, we arrive in Panama City's Tocumen airport. Then we go outside to find the promised free shuttle to our hotel.

Not surprisingly, there is no shuttle.

But there is a man in a lime green tee shirt with a TAXI sign and he flags us down. He offers to take us to our hotel for $30USD (we heard $35 elsewhere) and we almost took his offer, but instead we restate that we are to have a free shuttle to Hotel Bella Vista as we have reservations.

He takes a look at us, and wonderfully, he walks us down the airline terminal about 100 feet and introduces us to an other shuttle driver who will take us for free. The driver grabs our luggage, puts it in his vehicle and we are off.  

The view out the windshield after the downpour lightens up

We look out the window of the van and we can barely see across the street. A tropical storm has greeted us, and all we can see are white opaque sheets of rain. Windshield washers are ineffective, because as soon as they clear the water, the windshield fills up again. We wonder how the driver can see at all and we notice that other cars are pulling off to the side of the road.


Lightning flashes, thunder cracks and the streets are getting flooded. The driver seems completely undisturbed.

Our first glimpse of the Panama City skyline

As we ride into town, the view is reminiscent of coming into Bangkok, with the towering skyscrapers in the city and tropical plants alongside the road.

We drive on a bridge that crosses over swampland. We figure it's low tide and the water is out, leaving the land totally bare and mud filled. (You can see the shallow mud area in the upper right of the photo.)

The city looks spectacular, and even though it's only 3:30 p.m., one can imagine what it looks like at night.

Our hotel

As we near the city the weather clears up, and the streets are dry as we enter.

Panama City is a place with hundreds of hotels to choose from. There are several districts and hotel prices can run all over the map. There are hostels and hotel rooms in the $25-a-night price range all the way up to $200 and $300 a night.

We chose a simple hotel that had air conditioning, WiFi, a restaurant attached and (ahem) a free shuttle from the airport all for $35 a night. An ATM was about 500 feet to the left, and a mini super was about 500 feet to the right. For our several night's stay, it suited us just fine.

Our neighborhood - notice the hand painted mural

We heard the financial district was where some very swanky hotels were located, and maybe it was the place to be, but our neighborhood wasn't bad at all. Clean, well kept, and plenty of stores for supplies were close by. We like to have options for affordable restaurants, and with this being the capitol city, we thought the prices would be higher than those in the interior of the country.

The Panama City skyline from Casco Viejo

The next morning we were planning to go to Casco Viejo, the old Colonial section of Panama City. Casco Viejo, or Old Town, was built in 1672 and is the second Panama City. The first city was built in 1519 and was purposefully burned to the ground in 1671 to prevent the pirate Henry Morgan from attacking and looting it.

This view of the skyline is while we were standing in Casco Viejo.

A simple local restaurant near our hotel

About half a block from our hotel was this restaurant, a local hangout. They served pizzas and typical Panamanian cuisine for very good prices. Fans kept the air moving and it was very pleasant, in a tropical way, to be sitting there having a meal.

Inside for a better look

The restaurant had one waitress and three cooks. When it got busy, it was hoppin'.

Here we are just hanging out in the restaurant

Needless to say, with the daily tropical storms and the humidity being between 90% and 100% all the time, it was hard to look fresh and keep the hair behaving.  Billy had no problem with his hair though... !

A "nameless" local dish

Since this restaurant was so close by, had great prices and served delicious food, we ate dinner there the 3 nights we stayed in Panama City. One night we saw several tables order plates of appealing looking food, but we had never seen anything like it before. We asked one of the cooks what it was and he began to explain.

Better yet... he simply made us one to try!


With a fried plantain on the bottom, cole slaw was piled on next, then shredded meat, crema and cheese. Yummy!

A pepperoni pizza at Restaurante Rico Sazon

Here's a photo of Rico Sazon's pepperoni pizza, enough to feed the both of us. With two drinks and a tip, our bill came to $7.50USD.


Hotel Bella Vista   Via Espana, Perejil  a un costado del Antiguo Colegio Javier

 Panama City, Panama

 Tele: 507. 264. 1193/4029    Fax: 507. 264. 3696

Air conditioning, hot water, security, Cable TV, WiFi, Parking $35 night for double

For more stories and photos of Panama, click here

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About the Authors

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance, medical tourism and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their award winning website, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible available on their website bookstore or on

Retire Early Lifestyle appeals to a different kind of person – the person who prizes their independence, values their time, and who doesn’t want to mindlessly follow the crowd.

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