Will Franco's Journal


The Two and a Half Year Mark

• on: Panama

Two and half years ago, I moved to Panama from the United States. In search of a change of scenery and a new adventure. I barely knew any Spanish then, and embarrassingly I still know very little.

If you remember from my last post, "Three Biggest Challenges in Panama." I hired a bi-lingual local as my assistant. This is working out well for me.

Plus, plenty of people speak English. And while I’ll eventually make learning Spanish a priority, for now my assistant serves as a handy patch.

Making the Transition

When I arrived in Panama, I rented a condo in the expat beach hub area. Coronado is retirement community, providing a laid-back beach lifestyle, with lots of events and activities.

After a few months, the novelty wore off and I started to visit Panama City. Especially, on weekends. Specifically, an area called Casco Viejo (the Old City). Casco Viejo is a progressive thinking neighborhood with many layers. A special place, that has many shades. During the day, the place has a tourist vibe. On a night, the place springs to life. You can go from a high society event to nickel beers in a dive bar, all within a few blocks. The socio-economic diversity of the neighborhood combined with safe streets is something I’ve never experienced anywhere.

The progressive thinking is fueled by developers implementing projects that provide opportunities to the locals being displaced by the growth. It’s remarkable! The cause has been taken up by the expat residents and Panamanians alike.

Above Savannah Jane Buffett visits Panama City to meet KC Hardin, a 39-year-old American who went from being a corporate lawyer to a youth hostel owner to restoring historic buildings in Panama City. Take a journey into the heart of what makes this country special.

The development model is proof advancement can be made with a social conscience, and that people who are worlds apart in terms of financial standing can coexist in the same neighborhood. Plus, it draws attention to the troubling trend of gated communities, where no effort is made to bridge the gap, which gives rise to escalating security measures.

Rhythm and Flow

Peeling back another layer, observing the wealthy Panamanians, a weekly migration happens from the city to the beaches on the weekend. As long-time resident of Casco Viejo, Clara Hardin (KC’s mother) so wisely says “City for life. Beaches for weekends.” The beach is about an hour from the city, making for an easy excursion.

Map of Panama

Panama’s an excellent launch pad. City, Beach, and Mountains all within an hour of each other. The Pacific and Caribbean coast can be enjoyed in one day – a sunrise and sunset that’s on my bucket list.


Until now, I focused my energy on choosing a place to live. Taking what I’ve learned from moving from England to the United States, and now to Panama…I’m of the mindset that moving between different locations works best for me.

The awareness and on-occasion participating in this weekly migration has made me pay more attention to my daily routine as well. How movement through different levels of intensity and decompression opens the door to new levels of creativity and perspective.

Some call this work / life balance, but it’s more than that for me. It’s the physical act of changing locations and associating different activities with them.

And it traces back to the four foundation principles of the self-defense work I study with Master Alexandr Popeskou. Where breathing, relaxing and maintaining optimal posture are the first three principles. The fourth being constant motion, completing the four foundation principles of Systema and your personal self-defense system.


  • Gated communities don’t solve problems they mute them
  • Surroundings impact my energy levels
  • Movement paves the way to higher levels of creativity

Note to self: When in doubt or times of intense reflection, don’t get bogged down. Don’t insulate yourself from your surroundings, instead, immerse yourself in them. Put your body into motion. Go for a walk. Take a drive. A holiday. Get out there and do something new.

Will Franco


Will's an instant catalyst for positive change. Once you get to know him, you’ll completely understand why.

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