“Do you have AA meetings in Panama?” came the question from a 68-year-old man from Ohio. His eyes were a crystal blue and intense. “I’ve been sober for 37 years and there really isn’t anything more important to me than having the ability to attend regular meetings,” he continued.Just like not suffering from say, diabetes, I don’t carry the burden of being an alcoholic. That is not to say that alcohol abuse has not touched my life. I have watched friends struggle with the physical addition of drugs and alcohol, as well as members of my family. I’m just lucky to have dodged that particular bullet. Nonetheless, I was well aware of AA meetings in Panama because I get that question more times than you might imagine. The far-reaching help and hope provided by that organization has made an unbelievable impact world-wide and certainly in Panama.
Plenty Of Meetings
“There are plenty of meetings,” I said, “and all types of meetings. There is Al-Anon and Alateen meetings for those friends and family members, including teens, who are impacted by the alcoholic.” I was pretty sure I didn’t have to cite the fact that for each alcoholic there is, on average, four additional people affected.“Are all the meetings in Spanish,” he continued to press for information. “My Spanish spans about that of 150 words!” A little laugh punctuated the statement.“Lots of English only meetings,” I jumped in quickly. “I do know the Grateful Hearts meetings in the city, designed for LGBT meeting goers, is in both English and Spanish and most everyone who attends is bilingual, but I think that is the only meeting that isn’t conducted in only English or only Spanish.”We continued driving to the property he and his wife were most interested in seeing; Royal Palm, is a new beach-front property located in a community situated along the Pacific Ocean about an hour outside Panama City, in Nueva Gorgona. “Are all the meetings just in Panama City?” said his wife, Mary from the back seat. “I’m 18 years sober myself. I think it would be too difficult for us to make regular trips into the city for meetings. Maybe we should be looking there, but I really wanted the beach,” she mused.
Meetings At The Beach
“There are meetings right in Coronado” I explained. “That is about a ten minute drive up the PanAmerican Highway from Nueva Gorgona. That’s where you would most likely do the bulk of your shopping. Several of the grocery stores are there, the hardware stores, medical providers and restaurants.”As we clipped along the highway, I mentioned that I knew meetings were held both in the shopping center located right before turning into the gated community of Coronado and at the Coronado International School. “It’s not every day of the week in the beach communities,” I explained, “like it is in Panama City, but there are three or four meetings a week and I know the members of the group go out to dinner together fairly often.”The man seemed pleased with the information and he sat a little easier while looking at the mountains and blue skies as we continued down the coast. “One of the hardest things we have had to consider is leaving the people we sponsor,” he said. “They are family and a huge part of our life. We did a lot research on line about meetings, but often times that stuff is old and not relevant any longer. I just wanted to make sure,” he continued.
Relevant And Current
“I have heard those same comments from other people who have decided to retire in Panama. It’s relevant and it’s current,” I said. “Maybe there are other people waiting to become like family,” I said while smiling. I liked the honesty of this couple. “Think about other opportunities you could have if you lived here. New people to sponsor, using your 37 and 18 years of sobriety to lead and help a new group of people. I know the national convention of AA for Central America was held last year in Panama” I explained. “There are meetings in many places in Panama including El Valle, which is a community built in a volcano and just up the road a bit further than Coronado. You’ll want to buy your vegetables there at the farmer’s market,” I added. “More meetings are held in David which is much closer to Costa Rica. Panama is still developing, but we are far more advanced than many other hot international retirement destination,” I continued.“You will have opportunities to study the ‘Big Book’, attend closed meetings and sponsor individuals,” I said. “What a wonderful way to make new friends and develop a supportive social circle,” I said with a smile.
Two-Bedrooms Facing The Ocean
Did someone say ‘Spectacular Ocean Views’? The views from Royal Palm are unsurpassed!
“We need two bedrooms facing the ocean,” he began, changing the topic. I silently considered the beautiful two-bedroom units still open in Royal Palm, even though the development had been selling rapidly.“I have this one young woman who has been sober for seven years. She’s a critical care nurse at the Children’s Hospital in Columbus. Graduated with honors from Ohio State University,” said Mary from the back seat. “She’s like a daughter and she’ll be the first to visit, but there are more, so we’ll need a guest room. Maybe we’ll start a meeting in Nueva Gorgona and meet near the beach,” she said with a smile.“Sounds perfect,” I agreed. “Do you want a high floor looking out over the ocean,” I questioned. “Absolutely,” she said quickly. “I’m always aware of my struggles,” she said. “But, with AA I’ve been able to more fully enjoy things such as a great sunset over the ocean.”I couldn’t have agreed more.