By Linda Card, International Living,
“I wasn’t really looking to make a move at all,” says Deborah Gershon. “I came to visit Boquete in Panama’s Chiriqui Highlands a few times in order to decide whether it might be my ultimate retirement spot.”
“Somewhere along the way on my last visit, it occurred to me that there really wasn’t any reason to wait, since I could telecommute nearly as well from Panama as I was doing from California.”
Born and raised in Los Angeles, 59-year-old Deborah is an attorney. She took a position with a Chicago firm that was happy for her to work part-time from home. Now home is in Boquete…where she has also turned her passion for chocolate into a new business.
“I initially became interested in making chocolate in 2009 when I was looking for something to keep me busy later on in my retirement. I discovered chocolate making on the internet and learned by research and trial and error,” she says.
Step-by-step Deborah has built a small artisan chocolate business and has found steady demand for her delicious products.
“I started off doing all of the work in the kitchen of my house and selling truffles and bars at the Tuesday Morning Market. I did that for about a year until I could get all the paperwork done to open a shop.”
Now she has her own chocolate shop in Boquete. Her best-selling products are her toasted coconut bar dipped in dark chocolate, and an assortment box of her 12 varieties of hand-made truffles. She has plans to add tables and chairs and sell some of the fantastic locally grown coffee to create a cafe atmosphere.
“My fixed expenses with a single employee run around $1,000 a month right now,” she says.
“I am having the time of my life. I certainly plan to stay here in Boquete, but I have no plans to change what I do. I just want to continue to enjoy this adventure.
“By contrast to Los Angeles, life here is much simpler. And people in general seem to be so much happier. The air is clear and breathable. I don’t take the battery of blood pressure medications I had to take before,” she says.
“I love that the nearest traffic signal is over 25 miles away. I can often drive faster on the streets here than traffic permitted me to do to on the freeways in Los Angeles.
“Nearly everyone here greets you as they pass you on the street; absolute strangers smiling and saying “buenos días” to you on a daily basis is a wonderful thing.”

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