“No-one in Panama understands why I would want to live in Amsterdam. Panama is a wealthy country, unemployment is very low, and Panamanians are known as one of the most contented populations of the world. I miss Panama and my family, but I have my wife and child here, my art workshop, a large group of friends, and I love this city.
My life in Amsterdam has up till now consisted of three different phases. The first phase took place in the nineties; electronic music, a spiritual lifestyle, and squats. My first address was a squat which I had been given via the squatter organisation. Every Thursday evening there was a squatter’s meeting in the Vrankrijk in the Spuistraat. They would hang up a list of all the available squats and you would move in.
At the end of the nineties electronic music became commercial. The Roxy closed and everything got more expensive thanks to the introduction of the Euro. I started at the Academy of Art in 2003. I had registered before, in 1997, but it had been too expensive as I didn’t have a Dutch passport and couldn’t take advantage of the available student financing options. By 2003 this situation had changed and I was able to start studying at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy. That was phase two.
I’m now in the third phase of my time in Amsterdam. My wife and I have a son who is nearly two called Loek Camilo. Through him, my relationship with the city has been completely reborn, as I now see it through Loek’s eyes. On the outskirts of the city in places such as IJburg, West or Noord there are many child-friendly places. During the week they are fairly empty.
The centre of the city is more fun, but then I ask myself, “Is it safe for Loek?” Because of him we’re always looking out for a larger house, but we can’t find anything under 200.000 in the centre. I’ve become a real Amsterdammer, but we are being forced to look at other towns for a larger house with a garden for our son Loek. Amsterdam’s city council should be aware of the fact that people are leaving the city because it’s becoming too expensive to live in.”
12 people in Amsterdam have the Panamanian nationality