Sunday, June 21, 2009


Friends –

Les and Cindy put all their eggs in one basket by both working for the same employer, and the bottom has fallen out. The company that has employed us for a combined half-century, is closing its doors, effective June 30, 2009.

Let’s cut to the chase: We will soon join the ranks of the unemployed, so we have decided to retire and move to Panama. Is it loco, drastic, wild, extreme, psycho? Perhaps it is. Exciting, invigorating, awesome, rad, crazy and challenging is how we see it. It sounds fantastic to us, except for the part about leaving our friends - that’s the biggest downside to all this.

We were of course shocked and nearly speechless when the bomb was dropped, and it took us a day or two to remember how to breathe normally again. But we were not surprised to learn that we would soon be jobless; the world economy is on the skids and business at our employer's company was right in step. It was announced to the clients that the company would be "going virtual.” Translation - jettison the overhead: rent, equipment leases and maintenance, employee salaries & benefits, insurance, etc. We have no hard feelings – our boss works very hard and deserves to make a profit.

As our reeling minds got back on track and returned to normal speed, the shock morphed into relief. We are weary of the working life, and the prospect of being done with it soon makes us happy and giddy.

Like everyone else, we have been watching our retirement investments lose much of their value over the past several months, and the impending loss of both our incomes complicates our future even more. This part of the story did not make us happy. So we had to figure out what to do with the rest of our lives, as much as that is possible for anyone.

Instead of searching and scrabbling for jobs we don’t even want, we hatched the Panama plan. We are not kidding when we say we love it there. We are especially attracted by the warmth and the birds, along with the cost of living, the sheer abundance of the flora and fauna, and the Panamanian people. We think living there will be much more interesting than working for another 10 years to accumulate enough money to be able to retire comfortably in California. This summer, we are going back for 6 weeks to confirm our feelings about the country, experience the “green” season, consult with an attorney, look at houses, explore the feasibility of this scheme, and of course, go birding a bunch.

We are not fooling ourselves – this will be a long and complicated process, full of logistical challenges and frustrations. Fer de Lances, Bullet Ants and chiggers will be awaiting us, but so will antbirds, antvireos. antshrikes, antthrushes, antwrens, antpittas, ant-tanagers, ant swarms, anteaters y mucho mas. If we can make it work, we feel it will be exciting and invigorating, taking us outside our “comfort zone” into a fascinating new world.

In any case, we will not be abandoning ship immediately. Early 2010 would probably be the soonest we could work everything out, and it could easily take longer than that.

Through this blog we hope to keep our family and friends updated on the ongoing saga. Your comments are welcome.

Cindy Lieurance

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