I am a man of action, with a banging good job at my side, a rewarding hobby I share with my loving wife, and 30 days a year of active travel thrown in. When the going gets tough, I ride for my wallet. When the going gets tough, I ride for my soul.
Over the past year and a half, I have taught a lesson to everyone worth being my friend: No matter how good your business is, there are always people better suited to do it than you.
Over the past year and a half, and more since August of this year, I have traveled constantly–8,000 miles by road and by air between my home in Missouri and my place of employment on the other side of the globe. The number of flights I have booked during that time period was less than 300, easily beating the 300 I took with my old Full Throttle pilot days. With the money I save and the excitement generated by being on the road so often, I have booked (or rented, depending on your budget) accommodations in Panama City, Panama.
Panama City is a good deal, at least on the surface. The official National Register of TourismWhereas in Fort Lauderdale you flaunt a $1,500 photographers license, in Panama City you put your real money and your soul into your profile by paying a fee. This allows you to take photos in a good mood and enjoy yourself (and your camera, naturally) at the same time.
At the far edge of the city, where it all seems a bit lost, tucked away in an Internet café overlooking the Alcazar can lay my new, very expensive home. My photos of the outside of it are rather garish, but those of the house and grounds are spectacular. This place will not be for everyone, but it is absolutely luxurious, and–as I am told by several people close to me–in a small way, helps cleanse my soul.
Close to the Casco Viejo, a lifestyle choice I made that has paid off splendidly is the condo I rent. For around $500 dollars per month, I am provided by Yazzi Sosa, a successful businessman and owner of a successful chain of restaurants, a sailboat establishment and winery, an excellent car rental chain, and a nightclub. Together with my wife, Carol, we have built a warm and cozy home from home that includes a large vegetable garden,inski – an Italian restaurant, bar, library, and several yoga studios. Whenever I have a moment of relaxation, I step into one of several highly rated private Jacuzzis, where my Emergen Las Palmas meets my Zihuatanejo.
I walk down the aisle of the two-story home, families of friends gathered around me, asking for my signature. The large kitchen area and the brightly colored rooms look just as I remembered them. The large bathroom is just what I needed it too–outfitted with marble, bowl-washer, and microwave–all at a cost of $150. Still, the house does have a few less-than-lavish luxuries I understand: owner Carol had to cook cassava and peanut butter every morning, and we washed our rice and beans in the same enormous pot. And while I washed my own dishes for lunch, I did my laundry and bought my daughter an extra bag of strawberry ice cream sandwiches, some of them good enough to eat.
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Yes, there are still some cottages with corrugated steel roofs, and the scrubby look in the gutters of some of the older buildings. But in my opinion, there is no way to get a bad view of downtown. Downtown is the real gem of Panama City, with a great mix of historical and modern developments. Several large corporations have bases in the city, including the deservedly famous Chambers Brothers. Just a few miles down the road are the Santo Domingo and Coca Cola plants, again worth a visit on a clear day. We took a sunset tour as part of our Florida vacation, hoping to capture the elusive green flashes at dusk. We got some great photos, but couldn’t help but be impressed by the beauty of this tropical side of the Florida Panhandle.
The Florida Keys as a body of water add a certain drama to the drama of the Florida sunshine. The Florida Keys are the world’s fifth largest Keys, and have the ear of the world’s most famous Keys. For diving lovers, the Florida Keys have long been a popular destination. The reef system provides the diving enthusiast with years of diving experience, and many coral viewing hot spots are only a quick boat ride away. We saw many pelagic dolphins, and the beautiful manatees. One could easily spend a day diving the reefs of the Florida Keys.