Panama? Why Panama?
by Iris M. Todd-Lewis
Trafford Publishing

"I guess it's my Parisian French spoken with an English accent that confuses them? If one more set of eyes roll into someone's forehead I'll smack him or her!"

Life in exotic destinations intrigues us, and due to this an entire subgenre of true adventure books revolving around the building projects of individuals determined to carve out a new life for themselves in a foreign locale have emerged. Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence along with Frances Mayes' Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy may be the premier examples of writing in this field, but newcomer Todd-Lewis' book seeks to do them one better by recounting her and her husband's experiences a full two and a half years before they ever emigrate!

Based on her ongoing blog but expanded for this format, the author's book starts out with the couple's decision to move somewhere close enough to Canada for family visits yet far enough south to be better for Iris' arthritis. After some careful research Panama is selected, and thus begins the long and frequently frustrating odyssey of trying to build a house in another country while closing down life in your own. In a weekly series of posts Todd-Lewis takes her readers on a lively and often humorous trek through foreign red tape, banking delays, building issues, house renting (and selling) hurdles, and the ever-looming anxiety of trying to unload a business that no one either wants or seems able to buy.

Written with transparency and a personable manner, Todd-Lewis' narrative retains the newsy appeal of a blog but with the clear beginning, middle, and end that a book requires. As a postscript she even includes a critical analysis of some of the decisions she and her husband made along the way to help guide future emigrants in their own moves. Overall, the author has constructed an enjoyable and well written memoir that practically begs for a sequel.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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