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Puerto Armuelles, Panama

Puerto Armuelles, located in the province of Chiriquí and the capital of the district  of Barú, is a small town is on Panama’s Pacific coast—much closer to Costa Rica (bordering the country, in fact) than to Panama City at the other end of the country (about a seven-hour drive away).

The beach stretches for miles on end… Banana trees blow in the wind and people stroll down the street, stopping to chat with friends…

Many equate life in Puerto, as it’s informally called, as being lost in time.

Everything here is slower, everyone here is friendlier. There are no drive-by shootings, most people are riding bicycles. Some of them are carrying children on the handlebars, others towing a horse. Puerto is what life looks like when you mix a profitable past with an uncertain future. The town has a better infrastructure than many big cities, but its population is smaller and poorer than other places. This
unique mix of past, present, and future, makes Puerto what it is.

$ 14.95

Formerly a dot on the Panama map called Rabo de Puerco (Pig’s Tail), Puerto Armuelles was born when in 1927 the United Fruit Company (UFCO, today Chiquita Brands International) came to the village. UFCO built the town itself, but  it’s named after Coronel Tomás Armuelles, a member of the Panamanian Defense Forces and a hero of the Coto War between Panama and Costa Rica. The town itself was built by Chiquita Brands International.

The beauty of the beach and the shimmering turquoise waters of the Pacific Ocean are just part of what makes Puerto Armuelles such a beautiful place to live. The early morning sunrise starts each day with a magical display of nature’s beauty, while the perpetual warm weather means every day is summer.

The residents of Puerto are construction workers, fishermen, store clerks, and banana workers, and many are elderly. People here take life seriously, but they know how to have a good time. Whether hosting relatives, cooking family dinners, or celebrating a birthday, people seem to leave their worries at the door and enjoy what life has to offer.

As small as Puerto may be, it has an up-and-coming expat community. It almost seems like there’s a new foreigner moving to the area every month, many of whom are Americans and Canadians.

If you want to experience the social scene, you can partake of any number of parades and celebrations throughout the year, or head up to the newly renovated Chiquita baseball stadium and catch a free recreational softball game, or just take a leisurely walk down the quiet beach.

Trying to determine if you’d be a good fit for Puerto may take some time. If you can learn to slow down, love life for what it has to offer, and truly like Puerto for what it is—not what you hope it’ll be—then you might just be perfect for this small town.