A Tale of Two Expats

posted in: Azuero Life, Learning | 0

Did you just move to Panama? Are you wondering if you need to learn Spanish here? Well here is a guest post from one of our former students with the answer (names have been changed to protect the innocent of course).

A Tale of Two Expats – by Red

There are two types of people that move to Panama; Those who learn Spanish, and those who don’t.

My name is Red, and I moved to Panama about five years ago. One of the first things I did when I got here was enroll in Spanish school at Buena Vida Language School in Pedasi. Shortly thereafter, I bought some land so I could build my dream home. Every day I was able to practice the Spanish that I learned in school with the local tradesmen. I would ask them about construction techniques and I would also putter around the hardware stores, asking about prices of materials and recommendations. At first I muddled my way through conversations, but the more I conversed, the easier it became.

A few months after making my permanent move, I was able to hire a team to help me build my dream home. I was able to communicate with them throughout the entire building process too.

Fast forward a year and my house was complete. I’m living, happily, in my new home that I designed and locals helped build. Every time I’m in town I stop and chat with the locals, and sometimes the guys from my former crew stop by to show others what we built, or just to have a couple of beers. It’s a pretty cool feeling.

But a few years ago, I met a guy named Blue. He moved here shortly after I did, and also bought a nice parcel of land to build his dream home on. I met Blue at one of the local Expat hangouts.  He was very excited to start building his new home. He asked me about my build, how it was going, who I used as a builder, etc. I asked if he speaks Spanish. His answer was no. From there I informed him how going to school at Buena Vida Langauge School was, hands down, the best thing I did that helped with my build. I told him all about the many options Buena Vida has for learning Spanish too.

Fast forward a year, and Blue’s crew was just breaking ground to start building his house. I met up with Blue at the same local expat hangout and asked how he was doing. His demeanour had changed quite a bit since his arrival to town the previous year.  Blue was becoming increasingly frustrated with the progress of his build…or lack thereof, as he put it.

It was then that I asked if he’d picked up any Spanish or if he was taking lessons of any kind. His answer was the same as a year ago, “No”. And my reply was the same as a year ago – that he should go to Buena Vida Language School and pick up some Spanish.

Fast forward to present day. Blue’s house still hasn’t been completed. In fact, it’s an empty shell of a home. Blue has listed his lot and moved back to his home country. He never did learn any Spanish. Nor did, he get to discover what amazing people the Azuero Panamanians can truly be!

So if you’re wondering if you need to learn Spanish, the question to you is; what kind of an experience do you want to have when you move here – a Red one or a Blue one?


Choose wisely!
Choose wisely!


Hasta Pronto Amigos!