Mi Vida Loca (My Crazy Life) is clever, entertaining, instructive and fun, even if you are not one of the “absolute beginner” Spanish students the course targets.  This wonderfully inventive set of lessons developed by the BBC lets you drag money from your wallet to pay a vendor, talk to waiters and helpful folks in the metro, and follow your […]

More Painless Spanish

If you have any money overseas either invested, or in an account, you had best be aware of two IRS reporting programs. FOOBAR – excuse me, FBAR, and FATCA. Both were developed by Those Who Must Be Obeyed, and both are quite confusing. Additionally, do not confuse either of them with filing your taxes, because they are separate issues. However, […]


Moving in Panama, while a slightly scary proposition (this is NOT Kansas, honey), shares the same basic logistics you have anywhere.  You have to find boxes, you have to find helpers, and you have to find a guy with a truck. You also have to cancel or change your services and notify “everyone” of your new address. Find Boxes For […]

Moving Day in Panama

The US Embassies have a nifty program for expats that most of them don’t seem to know about. I, for instance, didn’t learn about it until I had been in Panama for nearly two full years. It’s called the Warden Program. When I first heard about it, the word “Warden” immediately conjured a vision of nightsticks and Paperwork Police, but […]

Guardian Angels for Expats

Queen on Display for Carnival 2014
Because the tendency to assume everyone shares our core values is universal, the opportunity to be blindsided by a cultural difference in a foreign country lurks right below the surface, like a grinning crocodile. Recently a friend of mine stepped right into the jaws of one of these cultural differences. She gave me permission to tell her story for the […]

Temporary Cultural Differences