At least in the Alto Lino area, the wind has really begun to seem much stronger than normal. For those of you who don’t live here in Boquete, we have two seasons, rainy and dry. Remember, this is our first full year living here so it’s all new to us. But I think we may be through with most of the “rainy” season and soon it may officially be the ‘dry’ season. The professors at our Spanish school, who are all Native Panamanians, refer to Invierno & Verano…. ‘summer & winter”. But it’s all backwards, they call November or December through March or April Summer and May through October orNovember (invierno) Winter. So in their minds Christmas is in the (Verano) Summer! Welcome to the Tropics! It’s funny to see all the Christmas decorations going up when it’s sooo sunny and warm outside. Not that this “California girl” has ever really experienced a REAL winter, but this is even more sunny and pretty than Ca would be in December.
Although it's been two years since Mark and I moved to Central America, this Thanksgiving (also our 4th wedding anniversary!) was the first we've spent here. Friends hosted a traditional Thanksgiving spread at their house. We took a cab to their neighborhood, and could smell the food as we rounded the corner to their house. Yum! Our contribution was a key lime pie, not a typical Thanksgiving dessert, but the dessert that I felt most confident about making.
I think its safe to say that building a house is a pretty big project. We’ve done it before but not quite like this! Last time, although it was a very big project for us at the time, it doesn’t even begin to compare to what we are preparing to do here. Not that we’re planning to build a great big, fancy house , but here in Panama there’s just so many things to consider, from actual building materials to labor laws, the installation of actual infrastructure (water & electricity), dealing with a different language and even getting a bank account established, we have so much to investigate and research not to mention tons of questions to ask (often in Spanish!). Our house building project in the States was a totally different experience but it has prepared us for many of the aspects of building and designing a home. I suspect much of the process will be familiar to us but much is already proving to be very new and different.
My friends Holly and Scott have been looking at land, found a piece they liked, and have successfully become the owners of it. We just spend a couple wonderful days with them in Boquete, so of course we were curious to see the location of their new home to be. Naturally, I have photos.
The drive to the land was also gorgeous along winding mountain roads.
November 28 marked our sixth months living here in Boquete, Panama. I don’t know how six months flew by so quickly but I can only say, we were definitely having fun! Which would explain it! Now we’ve entered into our first holiday season living in another country. And I find myself thinking , “what were we doing this time last year?”. Well, this time last year we seemed to be experiencing an emotional whirlwind. We were in the midst of many “lasts”. And this year we’re in the midst of many “firsts”. I must admit, the “firsts” are way more fun.
One thing that Scott and I really have agreed upon since we’ve been here is to let go of big expectations about many things. And the holidays are one of those things we’ve really ‘let go’ of. This has been a period of time for us to reestablish ourselves in a completely new place. We’ve had much to adapt to and have done so with as much care and ease as we can muster. As far as Christmas goes, we don’t yet know what that will look like for us. We may or may not find a tree to decorate, that would mean buying some decorations, given the fact that we haven’t shipped our belongings out here quite yet. I’m not sure I’m up for buying more things that I already have, we’ll see about that. We’re in the very beginning of redefining this new life of ours and that means new traditions too.
There is a possibility that our trip to the states to facilitate the packing of our container may coincide with the Christmas holiday. We wont know for a week or so, but we’re very close to having all our necessary documentation ready to hand over to our attorney and begin the process of getting our permanent visa. Once that’s all in process and we get our mulit-entry visa, we will be able to head back for a week or so and oversee the packing of our container to be shipped out here. This pending trip also has us very limited as far as our plans for the holidays here. We should have a more clear handle on this soon, which will be nice to know. Good thing we don’t have any big expectations for our first Christmas in Panama.
I’ve seen a couple of cars with big Christmas trees tied on top and today I saw a photo of our friends in California cutting down their tree in the Santa Cruz Mountains. These familiar sightings give me small pangs of “ahhhh, that looks fun”, but then I remember that, this year, at least we just aren’t quite ready to go along as normal. I already have two invitations here to attend some holiday gatherings and I look forward to those events. This community here in Boquete is quite welcoming and we already feel so much a “part” of this new place we now call Home. And I’m also looking forward to visiting California and spending time with those that we love. In spite of not quite having our new holiday traditions ready to begin, I know each and every day we find so much to be grateful for . Even without a traditional Christmas tree in our house we can celebrate what the holidays are truly about, which I believe is looking around at the PEOPLE who are so very special and feeling gratitude for each person we love and are loved by.
Dia de Gracias! Many people from home have asked if we cooked a turkey for our first Panama Thanksgiving and the answer is, nope, but our friends did… and boy was it delicious! We had a great meal, great food, wonderful company and went home feeling quite full and satisfied. And the weekend has just been non stop fun because our friends Kris & Joel, who live in David (about 40 minutes away), are spending a couple nights with us so that they can also enjoy all the festivities that are going on in town. They were originally planning to take the bus up to Boquete for the day because the traffic getting up here for this Panamanian holiday is supposed to be just terrible. When Kris told me about their plans I suggested they just stay with us for a couple nights and join us for Thanksgiving , then on Saturday they’ll already be up here and wont have to deal with all the traffic. So it’s been lot’s of fun having company, especially given the fact that I’m not able to get out and about at the moment.
(a few hours later & a couple bottles of wine…) We had a spontaneous gathering with Valerie & Mark while Kris & Joel are here! Wow! We just had such a great evening , eating some amazing food and drinking some good wine, enjoying the warmth of the fire in the fireplace on the outside patio and getting lot’s of laughter in! I just can’t think of a better way to spend the day after Thanksgiving than to spend it with four great new friends! We had so much fun telling the stories of how each couple originally met and talking about so many different subjects that I can’t even begin to remember all that we talked about. This time last year I remember wondering if we would have anyone to spend Thanksgiving with…Hah! Well, not only did we have such a great gathering at Andrea & Don’s yesterday, but then this evening was just the cherry on top of an already amazing start to the holidays! To say that I’m feeling “Thankful” right now is an understatement. I love my life! And I’m giving Thanks for all that I have! Cheers!
This is our first big Holiday away from all our friends and family, and as I’m sitting here in my home in Panama looking out my window at the view of the mountains covered in coffee plants and the banana trees swaying in the breeze I find myself hoping everyone in California has a wonderful day planned, doing whatever makes you happy. Spending time with all the people you care about and who care about you. We’ve been invited to join our friends Don & Andrea for the Thanksgiving celebration today. Andrea’s parents also live here in Boquete and her father is in charge of the Turkey, I hear he’s quite the pro so we are in for a treat!. Scott’s contribution is homemade Parker house rolls, Mocha Pecan Pie and Smoked gouda and garlic mashed potatoes. We also have our good friends from David, Joel & Kris, coming up to join us , and they’re staying with us for the weekend. I’m sure it will be a feast and all will leave feeling happy and full! I know Andrea is especially ready to start the holidays , she’s already put up her Christmas tree! That girl is in the mood!
This weekend is also a big one for the Panamanians, they celebrate their second Independence Day this month! The first one earlier this month was their celebration of their independence from Columbia and this weekend they celebrate their independence from Spain. From what I hear this particular celebration is very big here in Boquete. Apparently schools from all over Panama converge on this little mountain town to participate in band competitions and a huge parade. Our friends Kris & Joel, who live in David, which is about 40-45 minutes away from here, were planning to take the bus up here to see all the festivities because we hear the traffic is just horrible. But I suggested they just spend the weekend with us and avoid all the hassles of getting here and then back home. They happily took me up on it and I’m soooo excited to spend time with them. I must admit, being immobile at the moment, I’m looking forward to having the company. Sadly, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get to the parade myself, but hey, there’s always next year.
This Thanksgiving is very very different for us, not to say it’s a bad thing, just sayin’. I can’t help but think back to our Thanksgivings of the past and reminisce about good memories. I also can’t help but dream about our Thanksgivings to come, in our new home that we’re having so much fun dreaming and planning. But mostly I’m just grateful for today! The Thanksgiving of here and now. Of knowing all my friends and family in California are thinking of us fondly, and sending us such kind and thoughtful wishes of happiness. And I’m so grateful to know firsthand, that no matter where in this great big world we live, there are great friendships to be made! We’ve been sooooo lucky and blessed to come into contact with so many incredible people who open their lives to us and welcome us! It warms my heart when we walk or drive through town and run into so many people who wave and smile and greet us wherever we may be. Yes, I’m Thankful for all the people I’ve met here that have become my friends and all the ones who have been my friends for many years, you are my family!
I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving. Sending lot’s of Hugs ! Cheers!
Can I be honest with you? I think you’d want me to be honest,right? Sooo, here goes….I know I always try to find the positive in almost everything , that’s just my way. But today I’m feeling a bit down. Humph. Prepare yourself for a bit of venting… Besides the constant pain from both the sprained ankle and the cuts and scrapes, I’m seriously bummed to be so immobile at the moment. Each day will get better but I have a feeling it will be awhile until I can do all the things I’m used to being able to do. It’s a very unfamiliar sensation to me, being unable to do what I want to do…Grrrrr. I was sooo looking forward to celebrating our newly official purchase of land here to build our home. We had planned to go up there with a special bottle of wine that we brought with us from California , and bringing our lawn chairs, a couple of glasses and celebrating the beauty of the spot we are about to call our “home”. That’s not happening for quite awhile, I would never be able to make it up there at the moment, it’s a bit of a hike. I promise, I wont keep moaning about this, I just had to get it out. I’m amongst friends so I figured You wouldn’t mind.
Another sucky thing that’s on my mind, while I’m talking about “sucky” things…some people really suck. The people I’m thinking about are the ones we ran into at the border on Sunday. When we got to the Panamanian side of the border crossing , after getting stamped out of Costa Rica, we were very disappointed to find that there was a long, long line of people waiting . So, of course, we just went to the end of the line and prepared for a long, long wait. All the people in front of us were indigenous Indians , and they all seemed to have papers in their hands and were dressed in their Sunday best. Nicely pressed pants, many with buttoned down shirts and nice black shoes. All looking very hot and not happy, but determined to do whatever it was that they were standing in that long long line to do. These determined, well dressed indigenous are not the ‘sucky’ people I speak of. The “sucky” people I speak of were , sadly, Gringos! Yes, I’m so sorry to say, and quite embarrassed by, the behavior of these people who walked up after we had been patiently waiting our turn in this line behind these determined indigenous people. Ugggg…As these Gringo’s walked up to the line we clearly heard the women say, (there were two men, a women and what we assume was a guide, possibly Costa Rican), “Oh thank God, White people!” (meaning us!) Then one of the men said, with a very unkind face “This line is this long because they don’t know how to write and the papers have to be completed for them!” With a scowl on his face, as though he hated each and every one of those people who were standing in the line……They proceeded to march up to the front of the line to inquire if they were required to wait with the riff-raff. (Big eye roll!) At this moment, I began to understand why many of these indigenous people harbor a dislike of my kind. Humph! I felt so embarrassed. In the end, we learned that all these locals were in line for some sort of work permits and there was indeed a second line for immigration. Well, given the fact that I was on crutches and not doing well, and that we were indeed meant to be in an altogether different line, we very apologetically and humbly made our way to the front of the long long line…I gotta tell you , all four of us felt so bad. Even though we didn’t have that same “better than thou” attitude as those “ugly Americans” who went before us, and we made our way to the place we needed to be with as much humility and kindness we could muster, all four of us felt pretty bad. In a perfect world ( I know Valerie agrees), we would love to have had not only the time, but the knowledge of their language, to stay there and help each and every one of those people fill out the necessary papers they held in their hands.
I’ll never understand why some individuals think they are better than other people, the way these people clearly felt they were better than those indigenous people who’s country we are visiting . It’s disturbing, to say the least, to witness such behavior and to feel so directly associated to it simply because of our appearance. Ugggg! I have no answer to this dilemma, but since I was in a venting mood, there it is. So, my ankle hurts and some people suck! Blah! I promise to resume my normal optimistic outlook tomorrow….:)
We just got back home from San Vito, Costa Rica and I have to say, all in all, it was a wonderful little mini vacation, in spite of a little unexpected glitch, (otherwise known as me falling down!). Our last border run we went through a different border, there are two borders to choose from, Paso Canoas and Rio Sereno. Last time we went through at the Paso Canoas border and it was a totally different experience (Yuck!). Paso Canoas is a bit closer and easier to get to, but it’s not a pleasant place, in my opinon. Rio Sereno, on the other hand is a fairly pleasant little crossing, much quieter and not crowded at all! The only sort of bad thing is , if you’re prone to motion sickness , the twisting, curving road through the mountains may not be your cup of tea. I don’t happen to suffer from motion sickness so I found the drive delightful. It’s quite lovely, meandering through a lush green, picturesque area.
When we arrived in the little town of Rio Serano we then had to figure out exactly where the border was. It wasn’t especially evident at first, so we just sort of drove around until we saw an official-ish looking building then Valerie hopped out to investigate. Sure enough, that was the spot. Our friends learned many things about us on this trip but I think the first thing they learned was that we don’t do a lot of planning before we go on a trip. We like to think we’re being spontaneous and adventurous but really , there are times when we’re not always especially smart! This was one such instance when we may have been wise to figure out one tiny detail…. We hadn’t looked into where we should leave our car for the weekend. Ooops! Well, Scott simply found a “good enough” looking spot on the side of the road and pulled over. We had no idea how safe or un-safe it was to just leave a nice car parked on the side of the road for the weekend, but (shrug) what else could we do? We walked away from the car just hoping it would still be there, in one piece, when we returned on Sunday. And given the fact that this post isn’t titled “Car-less in Rio Serano” or “Keith, what do we dooooo!”, you doubtless know the car survived the weekend. Whew!
This is my friend Valerie’s blog post about our Costa Rica trip. She really captures the beauty of this little mountain paradise.
We’re in Costa Rica at the moment visiting a small town in the mountains called San Vito. We found a great little B&B ,www.casabotania.com. They arranged for a taxi to collect us after we crossed the border Rio Sareno. The taxi cost $25.00 and took about thirty minutes to get here . It was a beautiful drive through the mountains , the landscape is just spectacular … Green as far as the eye can see. Unfortunately I had a bit of an accident at the border, I was wearing flip flops (not smart!) and I slipped and took a pretty bad fall. My ankle is injured and now I can’t walk well at all. Such a disappointment ! But the good news is , our good friends Mark & Valerie are traveling with us and being the consummate athletes that they are , they’ve got lots of past experience with injuries of this sort ( not that they fall down a lot or anything !). All three of my traveling companions helped me make it through the border as best as they could . And we borrowed a wheel chair from the Costa Rica border office, they just happened to have one sitting there and given how pathetic I was, the guy offered to let us use it. It turns out, Considering this Is my first big injury of this sort, I learned that It’s really, not easy for me to lean on people . Valerie had to keep telling me to put all my weight on her and Scott… It’s not easy to do! The ankle is really very bad, I may go see a doctor tomorrow just to make sure it’s not broken…Ugggg!! This is gonna be a reading and relaxing trip for this gal ! Oh well. We had a wonderful dinner and plenty of wine so now I’m ready to sleep! Cross your fingers that my ankle is better tomorrow .
It’s time to start planning, strategizing ,designing,shopping,researching,brainstorming, dreaming, and planning some more. Wait a minute….I’ve been here before!! Remember? We did this in our past life in Los Altos! Yes, I remember this stage of the game. We were so excited (just like now!) about all the possibilities and we had such a great time dreaming together about all the things we could do. The only catch was, the only way we could possibly afford to attempt such an endeavor as designing and building our own house was to do it all ourselves. We just didn’t have the budget to hire professionals to design and build a custom home. We could do the building and heck, we ended up really enjoying the designing part of the project as well. We hired an architect to draw all the details and submit it to the city for all the permits but in the end, we both agreed that if we ever did it again we would feel comfortable not spending the money for the architect. “Screeeeech!” That was before we realized that our next house project would be in a different country! Yea, we’re gonna need to utilize an architect. We already hired one and we’re looking forward to working with him.
Tell us about a time when you felt out of place….
Okay.. I got this one! It seems many of the daily prompts just don’t resonate with me, but obviously this one does! Although I’ve mostly recovered from my earlier bouts of feeling serious culture shock (Serious? well, maybe not too Serious!), that doesn’t mean that I feel ‘at home’ all the time. I’m gradually adapting to my new life in Panama but there are countless situations when I feel terribly out of place. Situations, that mostly come about as a result of not having a firm grasp on the language yet. “YET!” But mark my words….” There will be a day when I’ll speak like an adult and not like a pre schooler!” And I’m certain this alone will provide a sense of belonging that is, at the moment often alluding me. Read the rest of this entry
It’s a happy day! I took my precious iPad to the computer fix-it guy here and….You probably guessed it, he can fix it!! Whoot! Whoot! I’m doing a “happy dance” And “jumping for joy!” They said we would first have to pay before they begin any work, no problem. Then he said they charge $110.00 for the replacement screen that they will have to order, (about a week) and then the guy who actually does the replacement work charges $25.00 per hour , and it would take about 3 hours. Hmmmmm? Sooo that didn’t sound too bad! We didn’t have any cash on us and therefore told him we would return tomorrow.
After we got home Scott got online to check about what it costs to buy the replacement screen. Hmmmm… From Amazon.com it’s $ 33.00, including all the necessary tools. Wow! That’s a pretty big price difference. Now we’re considering plan B. You know Scott! He wants to go ahead and order two replacement screens and then give it a try. I agree we should go ahead and order the screen but I think we ought to take it to the guy with the experience and see if he would be willing to install it. There are videos on youtube that demonstrate how to replace a broken iPad screen and it doesn’t look too bad. I’m just thrilled beyond belief to know that it’s repairable. Jumping for joy!!
Okay.. so we knew that one thing we would really miss about living in the Silicon Valley was gonna be the variety of food. There are many good restaurants here in Boquete. We love George’s Grill, Big Daddy’s, Sugar & spice and Baru’s just to name a few. But we have yet to have found any Chinese food…not to mention Thai food or caribbean food or Greek food , but I digress. We’ve been craving Chinese food lately. We know of only one Chinese restaurant and tonight we had the opportunity to give it a try. Well, it wasn’t Chef Chu’s, But it wasn’t bad. Even though we were the only people in the restaurant we didn’t let that stop us from having a good dinner. We mostly cook at home but when we feel like going out to eat we really love that here in Boquete there’s many good restaurants to choose from. Read the rest of this entry
Today was “mostly” a really great day! It was a great day of connecting with good girlfriends, which is ALWAYS my favorite kind of day. I would have had such great things to say about this day had I not had a tragedy with my iPad… Sad Face! I dropped it!! Whaaaaaaaa!! It is still working but the screen cracked!!! I am devastated! If I haven’t mentioned it before…I am very in love with my iPad. I don’t use a computer so I am very dependent on the iPad . It’s really my most treasured possession. I use it for everything, I Facetime my friends and family, I write and publish my blog, I read magazines, I read the news, I Facebook, I take photos, I search the web, I practice my Spanish, I use the translator and let’s not forget Words With Friends!……nuf said! I just love this silly thing, it’s like an appendage to me! So I’ve put out feelers to see if I may be able to find someone who can repair it, but I don’t know….. Grrrrr! It was my darn cat’s fault….He was sitting on my lap and suddenly jumped and my iPad just went flying onto the hard tile floor. I hate to admit it but I did shed a few tears and Scott was very sweet, he told me not to worry. I just hate to sound so materialistic! But that’s just the way it is. I don’t need a lot of “things” but I really love my iPad. So this is a post filled with not so happy feelings , I’ll be better tomorrow, and I’m very glad that it’s still working. I do feel a bit at a loss without a convenient Apple store to run to. If I were in California I’d already have it on the way to whoever fixes this kind of thing! But I bet there has to be someone here who can help and Damsel in Distress! This makes my silly worries about going to an unknown hairdresser seem like nothing!! The universe always has a way to give me perspective!
What’s the Freakin’ problem!!! Well, ya see, I’ve been living here in Panama for nearly six months now and about two weeks before I got on that airplane with my kitties and my two suitcases, my dear friend Natalie gave me a haircut. Sooooo it’s been nearly six months since I’ve had my haircut! I know, I can get away with going a pretty long time in between haircuts with this wild, curly hair, but this is getting a bit ridiculous, even for me. Why? you say,is this such a big deal? Well….”Big deal?” Shrug…I don’t know that I’d call it a “Big deal”, per say. It’s just that ,well, I’ve never in my life walked into a hair salon , where I didnt know anyone, and sat down in a styling chair in front of a complete stranger, to have my hair cut ! I know, all my clients who are reading this right now are probably laughing! “Now she knows how we feel!”. And I will say, “yes, and it’s not fun!”
Even before my thirty years as a stylist I grew up in a household with two hairdressers so I’ve ‘never ‘had a haircut by someone I didn’t know. Both my parents were licensed stylists, as a matter of fact they met while they were in cosmetology school! I know, that’s a whole other story! But My Father was the one who ended up pursuing it as his career and he, like me,( or should I say , Me , like him) was a salon owner. As a matter of fact, his salon, where I grew up spending a lot of time, was located in the same small town where I also owned my salon. His salon was very large with about fifteen stylists who worked for him. But I never worked in my Dad’s salon. No, I liked him too much and besides that, I never wanted to be “the owners daughter”. Read the rest of this entry
I’ve challenged myself to write a post a day this entire month and this day flew by so fast I almost didn’t make it!
But I’m home now , trying to dodge the cat on my lap that is doing his best to get my iPad off my lap so he can have an uninterrupted cuddle!! Grrrrrr! I spent the morning doing my Spanish Tarea (homework) then got a bit of limpiar mi casa done before picking up Scott from Escuela so we could conducir to David. We had a few errands to do today,Price Mart, Do It Center, Rey. One funny thing that we saw today while driving around David …. we were sitting at a stop light and these big pink cages attached to trucks went by us. One had about four big Tigers in it, and one had an Elephant, then another had a camel and a zebra and a couple of cows. I hear the circus is in town, but why they are driving them around town I have no idea. Shrug…Oh well, sometimes you just have to chuckle and move on! After getting back to Boquete from our David excursion I had a great couple of hours on FaceTime with my dear friend in Los Altos, Elisabeth. I love FaceTime! She got me all caught up on what’s going on at the salon and I got to hear all about all my clients who I miss so much. It sounds like she’s very busy and really enjoying life. Then before I knew it, it was time to go to my friend Robyn’s art reception. She had a great opening, it was very well attended and she looked like she was having a great time. Scott and I had dinner at Mango’s and had a great time getting to know our neighbors John and Margot. All in all, a very productive day. I know this wasn’t the most exciting post, but I just wanted to make sure to post something today! Cheers!!!
Share a story about the furthest you’ve ever traveled from home….
Well that’s an easy one, New Zealand! This was my “Maiden Voyage” all by myself. I was about 31 years old and had just experienced a bunch of crazy tragedies in my life. I was about two years in to being a single mother after having gone through a divorce. Two years prior to this was what I like to refer to as my “Oprah” year! Yes, in one year I went though losing my father( who I loved dearly), my husband decided to fall hopelessly in love with our nanny(insert big eye roll here!), I had just opened a business and purchased a home, whew!. My father had helped me buy the house before his death and my ex-husband had no claims to it so I unexpectedly found myself alone with a huge mortgage, not exactly what I had planned for. Whew! I was holding myself together by a thread. You may be wondering what all this personal drama has to do with traveling solo to New Zealand?
There was a day when getting up before the sun would be a dreaded thing. There was a day when I’d never even seen a machete much less kept one in my car. There was a day when I only bought my coffee from Costco and I didn’t have the coffee plantations to go to just down the street, and purchase directly from the people who grow it. There was a day when I didn’t have dozens of banana trees growing in my yard. There was a day when I never heard a rooster in the morning or drums in the distance. There was a day when I didn’t understand anything when a spanish speaking person tried to speak to me. There was a day when we drove 70 miles per hour on a crowded freeway rushing to wherever I was going. Rushing? I vaguely remember rushing all the time.
There is a day…today, when I got up before 6:00 and made a pot of coffee and went to sit outside to watch the sky begin to light up. It’s a different show every morning. Today it began with a small patch of light but most of the sky was black. Then I began to see small areas of pink with tiny patches of blue behind the clouds. Now the sun is shining behind the clouds and there are grey clouds mixed with pink ones and the blue patches in the foreground are slowly growing. I’m enjoying the sounds of the morning and wishing I could record it to share with you. There are so many different birdsongs and always the roosters in the distance, as well as crickets and dogs parking. Today there’s no wind rustling the banana leaves, it’s still and peaceful as I type this post. The sky is an ever-changing show of color and texture as it slowly lights up and the day officially begins. Who knew I would love the early morning so? There was a day when I wanted only to sleep until the morning was no more. Now I awake hoping I haven’t missed it……
Sometimes I just cant figure out how to use the daily prompt that word press supplies. This is one such day. So then I need to come up with my own subject and there are days when I just don’t know what to talk about…..Let’s see….. Last night we went to a fantastic gathering where we met a whole bunch of our neighbors who we had never had the pleasure of meeting before. Who knew we had so many nice people living practically right next door. One couple who were at the gathering I had met last week while I was waiting at the deli meat counter at Romero’s. They were a really friendly couple who told me they were visiting Boquete for the 5th or 6th time and trying to decide if they wanted to move here permenantly. They are from Northern California , like us, Berkley, I think. But they told me they lived in Alto Lino, which is where we live but I didn’t realize they live right next door! And we met several other couples who also live in Alto Lino, very nearby. Two of the ladies that I met like to go walking for exercise three days a week and I think after my school is over, in four more weeks, I may start to join them, that sounds fun to me. This gathering we went to was a potluck at our friends Manzar and Terry’s new house. Terry’s family was visiting and it was great to meet them. I can only imagine how Manzar and Terry must have enjoyed opening their home up to all their new friends and having a full house. I bet there were around twenty five or thirty people and the house accommodated all those people without even feeling crowded. And THE FOOD!! Holy cow…there was so much food! And GOOD food too! I don’t think I’ve ever attended a Potluck with so many really good dishes to choose from! No one left that party hungry, that’s for sure. Read the rest of this entry
Last Sunday, November 3rd was one of the many holidays at this time of year. This one celebrated Panama's separation from Columbia, and there was a big parade in town. I've been hearing all the drumming and practicing for weeks, so Sunday I was very interested to see the results. There were many many schools and bands participating, and the majority of the parade consisted of beautiful young women dressed in their finest and very enthusiastic young men with drums.
Write the” About ” page for your blog in 10 years.
Todays challenge is interesting….I had to go back and re-read my “About” page on my blog. I wrote that a little over a year ago and it’s fun to think back to where I was, not only physically but emotionally as well. Todays challenge asks me to imagine what that “About” page on my blog would say ten years from now. Hmmmmmm…. That’s an interesting thing to consider. Let’s see…Here is what I wrote on my “About” page a little over a year ago…
We were craving a good juicy steak for dinner tonight. Scott bought a beef tenderloin at Ray, the grocery store in David for $3.50lb. We baked a couple of potatoes, poured the wine and Scott seasoned the meat and threw it on the BBQ. MMMMMM. It looked pretty good and we were starving! Then before he even took them off of the grill he said, “I don’t know…they might be terrible” Huh? my response…”did you just say they might be terrible?” I thought he was joking, although that ‘s nothing to joke around about when the taters are bakin’ and the wine is poured! And truth be told, Scott doesn’t joke around when it comes to Steak! Well, you might have already figured out the sad, sad ending to this tale just based on the title…yep…It was terrible! RATS!!!! As Scott said, it was very flavorful (because he heavily seasoned it) shoe leather! As a matter of fact we’ve been debating weather or not it was actually STEAK??? Looked a bit like pork after it had been cooked but the pork here is actually pretty good and this was nothing remotely close to “Good”. Soooo as the title says….there are two very happy dogs at our house tonight! And we had delicious baked potatoes and wine!! What’s for desert????
Do you have a mentor? Tell us about him or her. Are you a mentor to someone else? Tell us what that relationship has added to your life.
Todays Prompt has got me thinking about all the people who I admire and who mentor me without even knowing they’re doing it.( side note…I know, I know, mentors are not usually mentoring without their knowledge, but I have a slightly different perspective which I happen to like ) I’m an observer of people. I really love to people-watch. And I learn so much from just observing others. Does that sound strange? Well, I suppose I may be a tiny bit strange so let’s just accept that and move on, shall we…. what was I saying? Oh, yes, Mentors…Hmmmmm. In my life I’ve quietly watched and learned many lessons from many people and many of them had no idea they were teaching me . From some of my mentors I’ve learned lessons of what I wanted to do in my life and from others I’ve learned important things about what I wanted to avoid doing in my life. I guess you could say that I’ve often learned from others mistakes ( not to say that I haven’t made tons of my own mistakes to learn from! Hmmm I wonder if anyone learned anything from watching my epic fails? That would have made them worth it! ) . At the same time I’ve often seen a path that I admired and tweaked that path a bit to suit me as I set a goal and went in that direction. Is it just me? Or is this what many people do? Maybe you don’t necessarily realize it, but have people in your life influenced a particular path you went down? I don’t know about you , but to me, people who’ve entered my life almost always seem to have been sent to me for a reason and when my eyes are wide open and I’m paying attention (which isn’t always!) there can often be invaluable gifts to receive. Read the rest of this entry
The daily prompt from WordPress is : what’s the last thing you googled and why?
Well, that’s an easy one, Hummingbirds was my last search. And I wanted to tell you about this anyways so hey, good timing. Yesterday, like many days, I was sitting on my porch enjoying an especially glorious bird show. There’s a great tree right in front of my porch, where I put ripe bananas in a little basket attached to a low limb, and the birds just show up from every direction to eat the bananas. Birds of every color! Lately we’ve noticed a new (to us) bird that’s a crazy bright Orange on his chest and black on his back. He’s not the same as the bright Orange one who has Orange on his back and black on his chest. And the Orange is much more of a true orange not as red as the other one who we’ve seen l lot. Anyways, as I was saying.. the little basket of bananas was being visited by such a beautiful array of colorful birds and I was enjoying the show immensely when I began to notice that my little troupe of hummers was also quite active. They always swoop around, seemingly fighting over the feeder and I just love to watch them. But yesterday they were especially vocal, one would sit on top of the feeder and just chirp, and chirp, and chirp , seriously, non-stop ( almost to an annoying degree)! And there just seemed to be a kind of frantic sort of feeling about them, I can’t really put into words what I mean but suffice it to say, something was definitely up with my little guys. Low and behold, something was up alright….There was a new hummer in the hood trying to hone in on their territory! A different variety of hummer that I’ve never seen around here. I wish I had my bird book, I tried to look him up on Google and didn’t see him. He was at least twice as big as my regular hummers and he looked mostly black but when the light hit him just right he had a bluish tinge to him and he has a very big fan-like tail with white along the bottom of the feathers. When this intruder would feed from the feeder he looked like he had on a big skirt, that fanned out. I think he may have been one of the varieties that we saw at that ladies house last week, but those seemed so much more purplish-blue, so I’m not sure. The only thing I was sure of was that my little regular hummers were not having any of this guys swooping in on their territory and they were putting up a major huff over the whole situation. They were very lucky that there was only one of these big hummers because he was massive compared to them. I know what your thinking…”Boy Holly, you are easily entertained!”. And you would indeed be correct about that! (Big smile here!). I have spent many a live long day , me and my iPad, just sitting out here listening to the birdsong and the wind rustling through the banana trees while I watch the ever changing clouds roll across the view of the mountains in the not so far distance. Some days as I look up from playing a word on WWF’s, it seems as though the evening is upon me and before I realize it, I am sitting in the dark. I write, I read, I play, I read some more, and I watch my birds, pet the dogs, give the dogs a little treat, read some more, and stop to Google an uncommon hummer that’s causing my familiar hummers to behave differently than normal, because yes, I know what “normal” is when it comes to how my little hummers behave….that’s just my life! And did I mention…..It’s Good
Describe the last time you were surprised by the intensity of a feeling you had about something, or were surprised at how strongly you reacted to something you thought wouldn’t be a big deal.
Intense…Hmmmm. what is something that made me feel an intense emotion? I’ve had a lot of those this last year. There were a lot of intense feelings about selling my house and about leaving my salon. Intense feelings were just rattling around at every corner. I was about to leave everything and everyone that had until then, made up what was my life as I knew it. I was preparing to make a move that we had been planning for and preparing for and dreaming about for seven years. Moving to Panama was something I wanted to do . I had hoped and dreamed and researched and planned to do it. I was filled with such a huge mix of emotions from excited,sad,scared,nervous,happy, to sad,anxious,frustrated,and more emotions than I can even describe . I had a good life. I wasn’t escaping some terrible life of turmoil or strife. I loved my neighborhood, my salon, my house, my colleagues at work, my neighbors, all the things that made life comfortable I was preparing to walk away from. Emotions were running high! Not just my own emotions but the emotions of everyone around me seemed to be at a boiling point. One small thing that I can remember being surprised by had to do with preparing my house to sell. We had hired professional stagers to stage our house and make it look perfect in order to list it for sale. On this particular day the painters were to begin painting the interior of the house. I should tell you, I love to decorate and to express myself in my living environment. One of my favorite ways to express myself in my home has always been to have a lot of colors on my walls. Colors always seems to add warmth to my life and I just always feel happy when I am surrounded by a lot of color. The thing about color is that we all have very different opinions about it. I’m certain that not everyone who visited my home would agree with my personal choices in terms of colors. With this in mind, I understood that the stagers felt it was necessary to tone down the colors in my house in an effort to make it more appealing to more people. This made perfect sense to me and then the day came for the painters to begin to paint….
I had been at work all day and when I walked into my house, my warm , inviting house that was a reflection of me, GASP! It was WHITE! Gasp again! Oh my! Not all white, they kept some of my colors on a few ‘accent’ walls but much of my color was now muted and toned down as I had agreed it needed to be. But even though my head had intellectually agreed with the designers, my heart sank when I saw it. I don’t know why , but tears began to well up in my eyes and I felt an instant knot in my stomach. Holy crap! Why was I feeling so gosh darn emotional over white paint? Looking back, it seems so silly to have had such an intense feeling about this. After all, I WANTED to sell my house, no one was twisting my arm and making me leave. It was my decision to change my life and move to Panama. But the fact remains, I was having a little meltdown because I was beginning to see the actual physical manifestations of my plan actually coming to life in the form of white paint on the walls of my house.
Sometimes, even when we take a step towards something good , and new, and exciting, we must also face some things that challenge our resolve. In my experience there’s always a balance and it’s true that we must take the good with the bad, or if not ‘bad’ per-say, then, not so ‘good’. They say, “Good things come to those who wait”, but I think’ “Good things also come to those who accept that with difficulty comes great reward!” Preparing to make this move to another country and begin again was one of the most difficult things I’ve done in my life. Leaving so many people and so many things that I love and was proud of, forced me to have a tremendous amount of Intense emotions. I must say though, that as I was going through those intense moments of occasional ‘Gasps’ and ‘knots’ in my stomach, tears welling up and falling down my cheeks, and watching tears fall down the cheeks of so many people who were sad to see me go, I never once doubted that those intense emotions were going to be worth it. I had already enjoyed the colors on those walls and there will be other walls and bright, warm colors to express myself with. It’s not the end but a new beginning. And who knows, maybe I’ll have a new appreciation for white….Naaaaay..I’ll always be a color girl, no matter where my home is.
After publishing this post my friend emailed me with the answer to what this hummer is…Its got a great name..A Violet Sabrewing
I didn’t need to depend on WordPress for inspiration on a subject to write about today because in the dark of the night it came to me. We were invited to meet a group of friends for dinner last night at a great little Italian restaurant nearby called, Pianista. We got in the car and proceeded to drive down our driveway and at the bottom of the drive it becomes a communal driveway that is kinda narrow, not really meant for two cars. So one must pull over and let the other car pass. We politely moved to the side as an oncoming car went on past us, as we have done numerous times in the past, but this time as we pulled over and began to go again we heard an awful noise coming from under our car. Yikes! We looked at each other quizzically, shook our heads and continued on down the drive onto the main road. We were on a mission to get to that Italian restaurant so we shrugged our shoulders and hoped for the best. But the “Best” was not to be. About a mile or so down the road it quickly became apparent that there was a problem in the form of a flat tire! HUMPH! No, amount of shoulder shrugging was gonna let us continue on down the road to our destination. RATS!
Those who know my husband will know that he is ‘Mr. Calm, Cool, and Collected”. And yes, in situations such as flat tires, on the side of Dark, narrow, windy roads , at night, he remains just as calm as usual. This is something that I am very grateful for given the fact that I am not so calm. I try to keep my head and just silently panic without causing too much commotion but being inside my head is not a picnic. I’m instantly terrified about the someone coming along around the corner (did I mention it’s DARK!) and not seeing us, which is absurd, because it’s pitch black, and practically deserted, hardly any cars on the road, so how could anyone miss the only brightly flashing hazard lights in sight? Scott immediately assess the situation, goes to the back of the car and begins to find the little tire changing kit that comes with the car, removes the spare tire from the back of the car and proceeds to begin quietly and calming changing the tire. And of course it begins to become apparent that the jack isn’t going to work. This doesn’t stop him from attempting to use it . This is when I begin to point out that we do have roadside assistance included in our car insurance and we can just call for help. Hah! Call for help? My husband? Not gonna happen. Ugga!Ugga! He will fix this himself, no matter how much time it takes. Besides, he points out that it is a Sunday Night of a Holiday weekend, and I agree, it could quite possibly take just as long to wait for help.
After attempting to make the jack work it became apparent that it was a great big FAIL. So on to plan B! I would stay with the car while he walked back the mile or so to get his truck which would hopefully have a functioning jack. I could not sit inside the car on the side of the dark road because he already had it partially jacked up and it was unstable. So I had to stand by the car, alone, on the dark quiet road! Gulp! I should tell you that the area where we were pulled over was very near the housing for some indigenous Indian laborers. For those of you who don’t live here I should explain that here in Boquete there’s a large community of indigenous Indians who make up a large part of the workforce for the Coffee plantations here. The owners of the plantations usually provide housing for these laborers and they tend to be pretty rustic dorm-like buildings that you see all over the place. Outside many of these dwellings you will see women washing clothes or bathing their babies. Many times driving by we see the kids playing soccer or baseball in the street. These people seem very humble and quiet, private and reserved. Last night I was standing outside one of these places and I must say, I felt pretty safe. they seemed curious about what we were doing but I never felt afraid. I was very touched by the kindness of passing vehicles who stopped to ask us if we were okay and needed help. We also knew we needed only ask and our friends who we were meant to be sharing dinner with would have been there in a minute. But we were fine, only a bit frustrated , luckily it wasn’t raining. I had my iPhone and began texting my mom in Texas in an effort to feel less alone. She , of course was up to the task of keeping me company during my moment of solitude.
It didn’t seem to take Scott long to return with a working jack. We were soon able to jack the car up enough and replace that poor sad flat tire. Our flat tire adventure had a happy ending and even though we missed an Italian dinner with our friends we triumphed over a nasty piece of rebar. I’m so grateful for such a calm husband who responds calmly during times of stress. We’ve many more adventures that await us, of this I’m certain. And Pianista will still be there next time we decide to go grab some good Italian food. Let’s just hope that nasty piece of rebar stays far away from my sparkly new tires next time! And we’ll be going down to David to shop for a good car tool kit with a functioning jack.
Today (yesterday) was so much fun, I just have to write about it. One of my new friends came over and we had a “Hair Day”! What fun! She brought her box of color and I mixed up my color stash that I brought from home. We sat outside on my porch and just chatted away as we applied color to each other’s hair. To be honest, the hair part of the day was secondary to the “girl” part of the day. We talked and laughed and shared stories of our lives as our color was processing. It’s times liked these that make be reminisce about how much my life has changed. I used to do hair in exchange for money and these days the currency is a simple exchange of services along with a great afternoon of conversation. I’ve always enjoyed doing hair, my creative side gets much satisfaction from the pleasure of creating shape, color and design. In the past I also felt financial reward from doing hair. I paid my bills and afforded a certain lifestyle as a result of the money people were willing to pay me to do their hair, that was also satisfying. But far and away the most satisfaction at the end of each day was the conversations I had had with each person, the connections and the building of relationships that gave me the most profound and valuable reward. Yesterday reminded me of that feeling. To get together with someone you enjoy spending time with and exchanging a very personal service with one another is a great way to build a friendship. How many opportunities do we normally get to do something for a friend? And that Mutual exchange of ridding one another of gray hair, to me , feels very satisfying (of course I’m the one with they gray hair, she just colors her hair for fun! Humph!). I must add that the setting up here on my porch with the view of the mountains, the cool breeze rustling through the banana trees, and the birds chirping away seriously beats doing hair in any salon I’ve ever worked in! It’s worth the inconvenience of having to rinse our hair in the kitchen sink! I can’t help but think to myself, so often, “My how my life has changed!” As I Smile!!
Again: I’m challenging myself to write a blog post every day this month based on the prompt from WordPress. So I may be veering a bit from my usual subject matter, which is my new life in Panama. I think, my new love of writing is something that I’m embracing now that my life has changed and I get to redefine who I am and what I do with my time . Who knows what I’ll decide to do when i grow up, but right now I will write…
You’re in the middle of a terrible argument, and everyone turns to you to help resolve it. How do you respond? How do you react to conflict?
Wow! This is a hard one for me. In my life I have strived to be a great avoider of conflict! Conflict and me are newly acquainted, we haven’t known one another for long. For most of my life I’ve tried my best to avoid conflict. Have you ever heard of a personality study called, The Enneagram? The Enneagram (pronounced ANY-a-gram) system is represented by a circle containing a nine-pointed starlike shape. Ennea is Greek for the number nine, and gram means “a drawing.” Enneagram means “a drawing with nine points.”
The Enneagram teaches that early in life we learned to feel safe and to cope with our family situations and personal circumstances by developing a strategy based on our natural talents and abilities.( The Nine personalities are
1. the perfectionist 2. the Helper 3. the Achiever 4. the Romantic 5. the Observer 6. the Worrier 7. the Adventurer 8. the Asserter 9. the Peacemaker.)
Well, I am The Peacemaker. Yes, I like nothing more than keeping the Peace! In spite of this fact the universe has been known to send conflict my way and I’ve come to learn that If I face conflict with authenticity and integrity It doesn’t feel so scary. As a matter of fact, I’ve slowly begun to see my relationship with “conflict” at times, as an opportunity to grow and become a better person. But when conflict arrises, my knee-jerk response is just to make peace, at any cost, I’m not proud to admit that I’ve been known to lose myself and simply please the person, or people, who are manifesting the conflict. This ‘knee-jerk’ response is one I somehow naturally learned as a child and although it was a behavior that may have served me well as a child, as an adult I’ve slowly come to learn that being an “Un evolved Peacemaker” has a tendency to create a very “unauthentic” person.
Being a Peacemaker at the cost of my authenticity was a price I began to realize I just wasn’t willing to pay. I needed to learn to be in the same room with “Conflict” and face it with courage and integrity. Thus began my relationship with “conflict”. I’ve come to accept that when I’m In the middle of a conflict and it’s up to me to resolve it, I try hard to practice being okay with the possibility that it may get ugly. I may end up not necessarily being “liked”…..Yikes! Someone may even be mad at me….Gasp! But in the end, I have to live with “me”, with who I am,( As soon as I figured out just “who” I was) . I began to realize that Conflict had been a huge distraction for me. Conflict caused me to avoid facing my authenticity. All to keep the PEACE! Well, I still like to keep the peace, but I now have the presence of mind to realize that it’s not always my job and when I am involved in a conflict, I need not sacrifice my own needs in order to make everything okay . There are times when I disagree or when I’m angry, or when I have to give my title of “Peacemaker” to someone else. While I’ll always feel most comfortable with conflict far away from me, I’ve learned and am ever learning that conflict isn’t necessarily my enemy. Nowadays I’m usually pretty good at finding a peaceful way to deal with conflict and when me or someone in my life has a conflict I’m up to the challenge of facing it, instead of my past reaction of exiting stage right. Mind you, I’m still learning and growing and those tendencies to avoid conflict will likely always be a part of who I am. The Peacemaker in me , although, hopefully becoming more evolved as I grow older, will always be a big part of what makes me who I am. Where would the world be without us Peacemakers after all? The important thing , to me, is to identify and understand, those personality traits that hinder my ability to live my life authentically.
( WordPress, the blog hosting sight that I use to publish my blog, is hosting a “Daily blogging” challenge and I’m thinking I just may give this a try. I’m challenging myself to write a post a day. Not necessarily a long post, just ‘something’ every day this month, starting today. They offer a prompt and on days when I just don’t know what to write about I may take advantage of the ideas, like today….)
Boy do we love to host dinners! A big part of what we, as a couple enjoy about hosting dinners is, believe it or not, all the planning and Strategizing about what to serve, we enjoy the debate about what entree to prepare with what side dishes, and what appetizer to serve and then what to prepare for desert. Then Scott starts to research online for new and interesting recipes (not that he’s ever followed a recipe!, they serve as inspiration for him) One of our favorite ways to share a meal is to enjoy an array of Tapa’s, a variety of small dishes. We think It’s just good fun to experience several different small dishes instead of the traditional plate full of food. A Protein, a starch a vegetable, blah, blah, blah, how boring. Not boring to eat mind you because I’m most certainly a fan of all those ingredients that define a traditional dinner. But it’s not always, in our opinion, so fun to prepare the same thing, meal after meal. When we prepare a meal for our friends, it’s a gift really, and we like it to be special. In addition to finding and trying to prepare new and different foods.
My husband is the cook in our house and I’m the lowly sous chef. Well, not “lowly” just not at all interested in the actual ‘preparation’ of the food. We make a great team because my forte is in the table-scape! I love to set the table. Picking out the dishes, doing a centerpiece and creating a beautiful place to gather with people we like to spend time with. I get great pleasure in setting the stage, candles, flowers, you get the idea. Given the fact that my table is always ready for the meal way before the meal is ready to consume, I naturally make myself useful by doing any prep work the cook assigns to me while simultaneously cleaning up after him, of course. (eye roll here!) And may I add here….my man, while he CAN COOK, he’s exceedingly messy while he’s doing it! He leaves no pot or pan unused! As I roll my eyes during this part of my narrative I should add that, I jest, the entire process from menu planning to shopping, prepping, cooking and yes, even cleaning, when we’re working along side one another we’re enjoying our time together. Some couples enjoy jogging together or hiking or reading the paper in the morning over their coffee, but we cherish, cherish? Well, that sounds slightly dorky, okay, how bout, “thoroughly enjoy” preparing special meals for friends and creating a gathering and sharing our home. To us, this is good fun.
When a gathering at our dinner table is in the making we begin with the guest list. How many should we invite? We’ve found that, in our opinion, 6 to 8, people is a perfect sized gathering. Of course, if you are a reader who has known us from our Los Altos days then you may be familiar with our gigantic, blow out! Hollyween parties! Yea, that may have been a few more than 6 to 8 people. Believe it or not, they started out smaller and then through the years grew until the last one was close to 200 people! Whew!! While we enjoyed throwing those parties, I never really got to socialize with anyone as I would have liked to. That’s just wayyyyy too many people to actually sit down and enjoy entertaining, a different form of entertaining for certain. The more intimate gatherings are my cup of tea these days.
Given the fact that we’ve just made a major move to Panama and are just now, five months into it, getting settled, we’re only just getting back into the swing of entertaining. It’s a little different for us, given the fact that all the people we know so far are very new friends. And this house we’re renting isn’t exactly stocked with all the kitchen equipment we’re used to cooking with, so it’s an adventure preparing meals like we enjoy preparing. We’re slowly beginning to host small gatherings and have done it about three times so far. In order to continue hosting these small gatherings that we so enjoy, we’ve had to search out certain ingredients and even had to purchase a couple basic things like a cheesecake pan, measuring cups,mixing bowls, a hand mixer (Scott is jonesing for his Viking Mix-master!!) . It’s funny, you don’t realize how much you depend on certain little conveniences until you don’t have it. I don’t think I ever remember cutting up a boiled egg with a knife instead of using that handy little egg chopper! Ha! Most of the silly little gadgets and kitchen conveniences are easily found here in Panama, but we have a 40 foot container that we plan to ship out here and we already own all that good stuff and are trying to live without it now. It seems frivolous, and unnecessary to buy things that we know we already have.
I see, as I’m winding up my little essay, that I’ve veered terribly from the prompt! Oh well! That’s just too bad…hah! I just started writing and here’s what I ended up with. Writing about dinner and hosting a dinner , naturally lead me to talk about how and why we, as a couple , enjoy entertaining. I’m going with it! I soooo enjoy writing, it’s fun, therapeutic and just a new way for me to express myself. Please forgive any grammatical errors and limited vocabulary, I’m not a “writer”, I just enjoy writing.
Now, this is something I’m not at all accustomed to and I gotta tell ya, it’s kinda sucky. This whole week our internet has been down! Yep! Imagine, no internet! It’s just not something I have ever had to deal with and I’ve got a thin grasp on my ‘Tranquilo’ at the moment. I broke down and went to Cable & Wireless to sign up for a data plan for my iPad so It’s a little bit better but fairly slow. But at least I can send and receive email, check Facebook and publish my blog posts over 3G. We also depend on internet connectivity to provide us with our Magic Jack so we can call the U.S. when we need to. So now we can’t even call Scott’s brother to wish him a happy birthday, darn it. But again, thank goodness for 3G, we could send a text to his iPhone. I can’t think of any significant amount of time that I’ve ever been cut off from internet connectivity and nowadays I seem to be quite addicted to it.
I just thought that those of my friends and family that get sick of my gushing about all the things I just love about living here may like to hear about something that isn’t so wonderful. Although the infrastructure here is , for the most part, fairly stable, we do experience way more power outages and internet instability than we ever would in the Sates. We even , a couple of times had our water down for an evening , that’s one thing that I have never experienced. When we lose power for any significant amount of time we usually find out the next day that a tree fell and took out a power pole and they are working to repair the damage, although they are working on it in ‘Panamanian time”. When we do have internet it’s very slow. We pay $116.00 for internet and TV and our internet is 1/2 a meg. Now our neighbors have 5 meg but for some reason we get something totally different. Go figure?
Oh well, I’m just glad to have what we have, it’s better than no connectivity at all, right? Some may be saying, “noooo, living without perfectly stable infrastructure is not an option for me.” And that’s why you’r reading this from the States,(or Canada, or who knows where?) and I’m writing this from Panama and hoping to have enough 3G connectivity to publish it! Ha!. Making the decision to live in a different country means giving up some things and being okay with things like wanky internet and occasional random power outages. On the other hand…..living here in Boquete means getting used to waking everyday to the sound of birds chirping (Ok, maybe a rooster or two as well), and the unending sight of lush green mountains, endless trees, flowers everywhere, rushing rivers and fresh clean air,(I have had some readers remind me about the bats, yucky critters, rain, thunder, lightening,and earthquakes, yep lucky me! ) . We all make choices to live our lives our way and wherever and however that is I’m certain you can look around you and list all the wonderfully glorious reasons you look out your window in the morning and say , Ahhhh, aren’t I lucky to be living here. Life is good, and each day is yet another beginning to your own Amazing Adventure (and you probably have really fast and reliable internet, right!)! Here’s to crossing my fingers and hoping to have internet today….Please!! I’m praying to the cyber-gods to bless us this day with that cute little fan that shows me how many bars of internet I have….
As I’ve probably said many times before, there are so many things I love about living here in Boquete. But, I must admit, of all the things that make me smile the most, it’s all the natural wonders that surround me. The birds, the plants,the flowers,and the trees, the mountains and the rivers…I could go on and on and on! As my friend and I were driving today she asked me,”Do you still pinch yourself that you actually live here?” I said, “YES!, do you?” and I was pleased to hear her say that, “Yes, after two years of living here I still just marvel at how happy I am to be here!”. It may not be for everyone, but this place is just right for me and meeting a women like Gail today just gave me one more thing to love about being here.
It’s nice when… the morning is beautifully sunny and warm and we have a fun day away from the house planned.
It’s nice when…we decide to take some snacks and our folding chairs because we know we will be someplace where we will want to linger and sit and enjoy the moment.
It’s nice when…we run back into the house a few times because we forgot important little things like sunscreen and bug spray.
SCREEEEEECH! Hold on….. It’s not nice when….We get back from our “nice” little excursion only to realize we don’t have the keys to the pad lock that locks up our house! Yes, that’s what happened yesterday. We got locked out of our house, Grrrrrrr! Don’t ya hate it when something like that happens? And Scott’s completely throwin’ me under the bus just cuz we were driving my car and I (for some dumb reason) didn’t have the key to the lock on my keychain. Why not? I don’t know, there were just too many keys on my keychain, I guess. Had we taken his truck on our little excursion all would have been well, but we took my car instead. So we walked around the house looking for a way to breach the security that keeps us feeling oh so safe when we’re locked “inside”. Here in Panama most houses have bars on the windows as a way to send a signal to anyone who might think your and easy target that nope, this house isn’t easy to get into so move onto the next one. Not like it’s especially ‘dangerous” here or anything like that, it’s just that here, crimes of “Opportunity” are pretty common. So if there’s an easy opportunity to get into a house where they can clearly see there’s a laptop sitting right there or a flat screen TV that they can just carry out, they will take advantage of the fact that you have left your belongings vulnerable and go on in and help themselves. I’m not saying violent crimes don’t occur because that type of thing happens everywhere, but in general, the petty non violent crime is much more common here. So at first, bars on the windows was something that seemed strange to me but now we don’t even notice the bars except when we suddenly find ourselves attempting to break into our house because “someone’ didn’t have the key!! Ugggg! You know what? Our house isnt easy to break into. Good to know.
I’v written about making new friends and connections here in our new home. Before we moved I thought a lot about how nice it was to live in a place where we had such a good community of friends and family who we knew we could always count on if we had any kind of emergency or needed help. I had thought about how alone it was going to feel at first when we got here and didn’t know many people. Ya, that “sooo alone” feeling I thought we would feel here? Not having anyone we could call in an emergency? Well….we’ve only been living here in Boquete for five months and when my mind started thinking about calling for help I had a pretty good list of people I knew we could call. Sooooo, It’s nice when…you are locked out of your house and your house is so burglar-proof that you can’t break in!
It’s nice when…you can think of a long list of friends who would gladly give you a hand,(after laughing their heads off at your stupidity of course!)
It’s nice when…your friends have great big bolt cutters and your man knows how to use em’.
It’s nice when…you realize that you were wrong in thinking you would feel like you were all alone in a new country! Cuz, yesterday, I had a lightbulb moment as I was walking around our house with Scott desperately looking for a way to get into our house , I realized, we already have such a great community of people around us. I’m glad I didn’t have my key to the lock on my keychain, because when I called my friend to ask if her husband might have a bolt cutter, ( after I had to hold the phone away from my ear while she had a good long laugh, at my expense! Hah! Eye roll! ) and she told us to come on over, I couldn’t help but think…How Nice! Life is good and our Adventure is an adventure everyday!
And one more thing..no, not all the houses here have a pad lock on the front door! When we first went to look at this house to rent it, I just loved the house so much and only really focused on the high ceilings and the big windows, the great kitchen and of course the outside living space. When we showed up with all our belongings and cats in tow and the property manager handed us the key to the pad lock I was at first a bit confused, “that’s the lock?” But by then, what was I gonna do, ask her to change the front door? Ha!Ha! The front door is some kind of antique thing that although its really pretty, its just not a normal front door so it has to be locked with a pad lock, oh well. Sometimes on this adventure you just gotta shake your head and adapt to what’s in front of you, it may sometimes be different than what your used to but with a bit of ‘Tranquillo” life goes on!
We had a great evening of bloggers and readers in Boquete last night! Our friend Holly invited us to her house, and her husband Scott prepared a fabulous meal. Cindy and her husband came, and so did Jerry and his wife who are visiting from the US. Of course there are pictures!
Our friends Jerry and Jennifer rode up to Boquete with us from David.
The Zapeteria is located on the same block as the Milo, which is kinda like a teeny-tiny Home Depot,(kinda). It’s right next to a Barber shop and across the street from Milly’s, a hair salon. I expected to just drop off my shoes and then pick them up in a week or so, like I would have done in the states,(silly me…I’m not in Los Altos anymore!). The place is pretty small and covered in shoes and purses and broken down small appliances, it’s a total disaster! I walked in and saw this guy with a baseball cap on sitting against the wall with his head down, concentrating on a shoe (shocking, I know) . I asked, in my newly learned Spanish , (which I was practicing in my head the whole time I was walking there) “Puedes reparar mis zapatos?” (with a big smile as I held up my “cute” broken sandal). He never got up, or looked at me, just gestured to me to come in and give him the shoe. I did as I was ‘assuming’ he was telling me, and entered the dark, messy, shop. He took my broken sandal that I hesitantly held out to him and looked at the damage, not another word was spoken as he began to immediately work on my shoe, nor did he ever move from his spot or look up at me as I stood there holding the other shoe that was not broken just in case he needed to see the original shoe.
As I stood there looking around, I was mesmerized by the disorganized mess in his tiny little shop. He quietly worked on fixing my broken shoe .and I was expecting him to tell me to return another time to pick it up, but it was becoming clear to me that he was indeed fixing it right then, while I stood there waiting. Okay….shrug. He was poking and sorta sewing and poking some more and I was slightly afraid to move, there was just so much junk all around, endless shoes,purses, broken tv’s, and stereos. As I looked closer I began to see so many different bits and pieces of broken things filling every inch of this little tiny place. I timidly asked in my Pre-school level spanish,” Tu Reperar otras cosas? no solo Zapatos?” His head nodded, and he answered in the affirmative, apparently he’s a ‘fix-it-guy’! Good to know!
In about 10 minutes he stopped working and handed me my shoe. Good as new! Wow!! “Tu trabajo rapido! I was so surprised at how fast he fixed my shoe! Okay….cuanto cuestan? “$1.50″ he said, as he looked up for the first time, with very kind eyes and a smile. I very happily handed him the money, and gave him and extra quarter as I thanked him for fixing my shoe. “Tanga buen dia” I said as I left his tiny repair shop, noting to myself that I was so glad to now know where to go when my fancy Crocs break on me! And hey, when Scott can’t fix a small appliance that suddenly dies on us, I’ve got just the place to take it instead of throwing it in the trash. That was a small adventure and I’m so glad to know that the trash is not the place for broken Cosas! Now I know where to go and who to hand my broken things to, I don’t know his name, yet, but I will find out eventually and when I am able to speak better Spanish I will chat with that quiet ‘fix it’ guy ! Just one more motivation to keep working on Aprender mi espaniol! I know, that probably wasnt right, but, hey…Poco A Poco mi amigos! I’m workin’ on it!
Every morning when I get up, after I make my coffee, I go out onto the patio . I’ve told you before about how much I love to sit outside and soak up all this crazy beauty that I now call ‘HOME”(big smile here!) . Well, don’t worry, I wont get into that again, at least not right now. But , one thing that I always seem to do first thing in the morning, as soon as I sit down is turn on my iPad and look to see if anyone from my former life in California has made any type of connection with me. I first check my email, then my Facebook, then my blog comment section, then I go to my favorite game on my iPad,Words With Friends, where I always have at least ten or fifteen friends from California who consistently play a word in the night while I’ve slept. It’s a silly little thing, I know, but my non-stop Scrabble games make me feel as though at least a few people have me on their mind (at least they have kicking my butt at scrabble on their mind!).
When I decided to move away and pursue this adventure, to start over and begin a new life far away from all I knew and loved, I expected to miss all the people. Sigh. It’s been nearly five months and that , “missing everyone”, part of this adventure is sinking in more and more. Of course life goes on, after I’ve left. Obviously, but there are certain times when my heart aches to feel as though in time I will have drifted into such a different life that most of my friends back in California wont really be able to relate to it. I mean, I’ve already begun to sense that my life has changed and I’ve had instances when I’ve been gushing to someone about my happiness and about the changes my life has taken just from not having to work anymore, about how happy and peaceful my life is, carefree and exciting, and as I pause for their response what can they say but,”that’s nice Holly.” What do I expect? I have no idea. It’s such a new sensation to be (for lack of any other word), detached from all that used to connect me to those back home. Our lives are beginning to become so different in so many ways. Well, their lives haven’t changed much but mine is nothing it used to be. As I enthusiastically attempt to share all that I am experiencing, I pause to catch my breath and suddenly feel awkward and almost as though I’m bragging….I’m not, of course but my enthusiasm may come off that way.
While we used to be striving for such similar goals, and sharing in very similar lifestyles, we are now on very different paths. I suppose I’ll have to adapt to the reality that in the past my friendships and the connections we had with one another had in common the “present”, what we were doing “then” and “there”. And now, while we no longer share such a similar life in the ‘moment’ and similar desires for our lives in the ‘moment’, we have a shared history. This shared history will be what keeps us connected and interested in the present lives we are now living apart from one another. This is merely a shift in my connections that , as I’m writing this, is becoming more clear to me. A shift, requires a bit of an adjustment sometimes. An adjustment, for me, in how I think and feel about my connections with my friends and an acceptance of the natural shift that although it’s a change, it’s not an end. Well, when I say it’s not an “end” I should say, the dynamic of our friendships may have shifted and I’m trying to adapt and accept the feelings of a different type of connection with all my friends. So the way we connected ‘before’ I moved may be gone and I’m adjusting to a new dynamic that at times is hard for me, but in time will develop into a new kind of normal.
Whew! While there’s so many things to adapt to and get used to here in this new place I now call home, this is for me, one of the more challenging aspects. Although there are unending cultural things to adapt to, language, food, holidays,behaviors, (that list can go on an on), I must admit that navigating this different level of connectedness with those back in California and figuring out how to maintain my connections isn’t easy. Or I should say, adjusting to the way that those connections are just naturally morphing into less “close” connections, but connections that are no less “important” to me. Just another aspect of this lifestyle change that while at the moment is a bit of a heartache, I have faith will teach me something meaningful about friendships and distance that before this Adventure I never would have learned.
It’s October and , of course, I always think about my favorite holiday when this month rolls around. Even though Scott and I haven’t hosted our Hollyween party in two years I always remember fondly, all those years of so much fun this time of year. Now that we live in Panama and Halloween isn’t really very popular, (as a matter of fact it’s hardy even celebrated here at all), I cant help but reminisce about all the good times that took place this time of year on Orange Avenue. For me, the best part was the decorating which began sometime in late August or the beginning of September. Only after every single decoratable(that may not be a word, but I’m goin’ with it!) inch of my home, inside and out was covered in creepy, crawly, spooky goodness, did I stop decorating. From the ceilings inside,(we actually covered the vaulted ceilings with orange ice-sickle lights that we suspended from the recessed cans), to every room of the house, including bathrooms and then every inch of the yard, Hollyween was alive and well at our home. I will admit and proudly embrace that I was that one crazy person in our neighborhood who took the Halloween decorating a bit too far, but, is there really a ‘too far’ when it comes to decorating for Hollyween??
I had a wild collection of Halloween decorations which seemed to somehow grow with each passing year. As preparation for this move to Panama I had yard sales and many of my friends who had enjoyed my parties through the years bought most of my collection and I’m sure those wonderful Hollyween decorations are being enjoyed this time of year. Knowing that my friends are still getting lots of smiles out of my collection is the only thing that eases the sadness of not having it anymore. Although I have no regrets about moving on and letting go of my tradition of being the Hollyween Queen, I can’t help but feel little pangs of missing the parties that were so much fun.
Scott got to cook like a mad man for those parties! I got to let loose with my often ‘sick’ sense of humor while I decorated to my hearts content . Of course We were a team when it came to our ideas to thrill the kids with creepy surprises in our yard. One of my favorite things we did was the leftover bathtub from one of Scotts remodel jobs, he came up with the brilliant idea of ‘repurposing’ that ugly old tub that had been just waiting to be taken to the dump. He rigged it up in the yard so that it had a shower head and we hung a scary skeleton which he had altered to make it look like it was all bloody and standing under the red water coming out of the shower head in the tub. Yikes!! I know…..Creepy! But it was a hit! And I don’t have to remind anyone about the scary clown on the front lawn that was inside the big crate and would suddenly pop out after jiggling the crate around and yelling at the kids to help him from inside the crate! All computerized and programed by Scott and a good friend. Oh…..Such great memories of our tradition of long ago. Our last party was the biggest, we had about 200 people and we were exhausted! But good exhausted, I think the karaoke put me over the top! I would never karaoke in public, but at my house, after just enough rum punch and dressed as a troll or Thing One or a Courtesan , Watch out!! Lot’s of good times at those parties.
Honestly, I”m so glad to have the memories but I’m kinda over the whole Halloween thing and ready to discover what my new traditions will be. The whole month of November is filled with many different holidays here in Panama and I’m thrilled to be able to experience it for the first time this year. I’m told there are endless parades and lots of drumming. Music and crowds and crazy traffic. Most who have lived here for a long time try to steer clear of the craziness but I suspect, this year at least, I’ll want to be out there watching the parades and cheering for the kids who I’ve been hearing practicing for months already. Every school has a drum corp and they seem incredibly passionate about their drumming.
Today,(Saturday) I got to help my new Panamanian friend , Aris, decorate for the baby shower she is hosting for her daughter tomorrow. As I was hanging pink balloons and pink and white crate paper I couldn’t help but think about how different these decorations are from the ones I would normally be decorating with this time of year. And I felt so happy to be included in a wonderful celebration of a new life. Because that’s exactly what I’m celebrating each day right now, my new life. A new country, many new traditions and celebrations, a new language, many different people who are becoming my new community , just endless new and different experiences that continually make me smile. I don’t know if I’ll ever be as extravagant as I was for my Hollyween celebrations but I’m so grateful to have had those great experiences to look back on with pleasure. I don’t think I’ll ever go through the month of October without reminiscing fondly about all those Hollyweens of yore, and all the people who enjoyed it with us!
Yesterday (Monday), after Scott got done with school, we drove down to David to get the inspection done on my car. When we bought the FJ it still had a couple months left on the registration. So this is the month it will expire and it was time to take care of it. For those of you who don’t live here and don’t know, there’s no convenient notice that you receive in the mail reminding you that it’s time to register your vehicle. No, theres no DMV , you cant just get online and give them your credit card number and then wait a week to receive the new registration sticker in the mail. Here in Panama you must take your vehicle to a mechanic or some other place, like a tire store (where Keith recommended we go), and they check your car, I’m not clear on exactly ‘what’ they are ‘checking’ but they put my car up on the ‘lift thingy’ (as you can tell, I’m not exactly in the “know” in terms of car ‘stuff, but I’m doing my best to explain what goes on here so please forgive my girly explanation) and then they look real carefully at ,who knows what, and take a few photos. Then they gave us a paper that we will hand over to Keith, who will kindly be walking us through this next step in the procedure since it’s our first time. I’m sure there will be plenty of other times in the future and I may even figure out exactly what the heck is going on, but until then I’m just observing all the shenanigans and taking notes for when we’re on our own. Keith emailed us the long list of documents he would need for the next step,( 3 copies of passport 3 copies of insurance 3 copies of title
original Revisado plus 6 copies) When we met up with Keith he informed us that the next step of this registration process takes place in Panama City and that it will take about 3-4 weeks. He’s taking care of this part and then we’ll be receiving a shiny, (well probably not too shiny) new license plate. I’m not sure how often this procedure takes place, maybe every year, and next time we’ll be on our own, but I think this next time we will be getting the new registration done in Dolega which is nearby. Because we bought the car from someone who lived in PC the current registration was there, Keith is transferring it to Dolega and next time that’s where we’ll be going for another shiny new license plate. In the states you only get a new little sticker but here, I think they give you a new license plate each time you register your vehicle.
We knew before going to the tire shop that the FJ was in need of new tires,(we bought it used , it’s a 2010 and we had planned on replacing the tires). So we decided to get a quote on the price of replacing all four tires since we were at a tire store, what the heck, right? Well, we were in luck, they were able to replace the tires at the same time as the registration inspection and it turned out that we also needed new front end break pads. So we arrived at the tire store at about 11:00 and finished at about 3:30. While they were working on the car we took a walk to the Hospital where Scott had his surgery because he was suppose to make an appointment for his final check up on his progress after his hernia surgery. Since we hadn’t been able to get through by phone we figured, what the heck, we have time, we’ll just take a walk and make an appointment. Scott was thrilled to feel well enough to take a walk, but I gotta admit, I was farrrr from being ‘thrilled’ to take a walk given the fact that I hadn’t anticipated walking and had on “pretty” shoes, not ‘walking’ shoes (eye roll here!). Here’s where I will commence with the whining and complaining,(ooops, sorry, I had a temporary lapse of “Tranquilo”) It was HOT, and if you haven’t noticed, I have a lot of hair, and I hadn’t put it up, like I do when I’m expecting to go on a long hot walk. And Those darn “pretty” shoes I mentioned……Ouch! They hurt my feet! Grrrrrrrr! And we really should have brought water! Anyways, the only reason I quietly put up with this walk(yes, I kept all that bitching and moaning mostly to myself) is because I knew how happy Scott was to be out walking around instead of sitting on his butt like he’s had to do for the last month. After successfully setting up an appointment for the next day,(Tuesday), we then proceeded to walk to a BBQ restaurant we had walked past on our way to the hospital, we were ready to enjoy a relaxing lunch… ‘someone’, really needed a glass of wine! But of course, the restaurant was not opened(do I get an eye roll here?) . So we saw in the distance, a restaurant that said, Pizzeria. After entering this restaurant we were told that they only serve Pizza after 3:00, it was only 12:00. We were hot and tired and thirsty so we settled for the tipico lunch and nope they had no wine or beer,Grrrrrr. We had ice tea (no ice!). Let me mention here that I noticed the two very pretty Panamanian women who came in after us (the only other customers in the restaurant) got copious amounts of ice in their ice tea! Grrrrr! But, I was begining to reestablish my “Tranquillo” so I just took a deep breath and drank my not so iced, iced tea.
Following our Almuerzo we hoofed it back to the tire shop and waited about 45 minutes more. All in all, I felt like we had a really productive afternoon, in spite of my sore feet and warm iced tea. Ha!Ha! Now that the car is taken care of the next big thing on our list of important documents to acquire is our residency Visa. We already got our fingerprints back from the FBI background check, and it turns out , we’re both on the up and up. So the next step is to get the State Department in DC to authenticate it and then send it back to us. Of course, the U.S. government is not exactly working at the moment so who knows how long they will be sitting there? And we thought that the Panamanian bureaucracy was bad (eye roll here!). Given the fact that our residency will most likely not be a done deal before this next month, our next three months is coming up and you know what that means…..another border run!! Nooooo! Maybe we should just plan a little vacation? We’ll see. With our School commitment it’s not too easy for us to get away. I think we’ll just keep our fingers crosses that maybe, just maybe a miracle will happen and our visa will suddenly be ready….Insert Crazy Laugh here! Nope, sigh, not gonna happen. Oh well, I think I’ll get back to watching all my hummers fight over the feeder as the rain falls and the mists roll in. The adventure just continues. (P.S. for those of you who are curious, we got Firestone tires for the FJ Cruiser and they cost $160.00 each)
We woke up really early this morning for some reason. Could have something to do with having too much fun at our friends Birthday party yesterday and going to bed too early. But it’s just about 5;30a.m. and I am sitting outside. It’s not quite daylight and it’s incredible how peaceful it is. The sounds of the morning are much different than the sounds of daytime . I can actually hear the river. The many roosters crowing, both near and far and the never ending sounds lots of crickets. An occasional dog barking and the early sounds of birds starting their day. I hear strange squeaks and screeches that I don’t remember hearing in the daytime. It almost sounds like someones playing with a squeaky toy. The lights across the valley look as though they are twinkling as the sky begins to lighten up more and more. Did I mention how peaceful it is? A hummingbird has just arrived for his early morning snack and I can hear something scurry around in the bushes below, perhaps a neighbor cat(I’m gonna call it a cat! not some strange , scary critter ready to pounce!)? When I first sat down all but the sky was black and now I can clearly see all the palm trees and banana trees. More and more of the hummers are arriving for their breakfast and a neighbor dog too has just walked onto my patio, ready for me to give him a treat and surprised to find me outside already(yes, he told me he was surprised!) . The sound of birds is becoming more and more like a cacophony of birdsong instead of a single bird here and there. They have officially begun their day. And I suppose , so must I. Have I ever told you how much I love the mornings?
Panama lost in epic fashion, 2-1, to Mexico Friday night in a crucial World Cup qualifier. Raul Jiminez's late bicycle kick, or Chilena in Spanish, essentially kept Mexico's hopes alive while ending Panama's in the process.
It's hard to think of a better headline than the one Panama's Critica newspaper came up with for its Saturday edition.
It simply read: "F---ing Chilena." No Google translation necessary.
One of the things I love about writing this blog is that it often serves as a very helpful way for me to process this profound life-change I’ve chosen to pursue. Most of the posts I publish tend to be expressions of happiness, peacefulness and some may think too often I’m expressing pure bliss as I soak up these new surroundings. I enjoy sharing my experiences for a couple reasons, as a way to pass on information to those of you who enjoy reading my blog as research for your possible future adventure living as an expat. I get comments and questions from so many great people who are in that early stage of researching . I get great pleasure in passing on any info I can share, and hopefully contributing to other peoples research. I know when we were just starting to look into moving to another country other bloggers where so incredibly generous and it feels great to pay it forward. Mostly though, I write this blog as a way for me to maintain my connections with all of my friends and family in California. Our decision to move to Panama has opened up amazing amounts of opportunities for me to grow and change and for me, sharing my journey with all of you makes me feel like you’re all with me in some small way. Does that make sense?
In the course of this journey when I choose to share the challenges that are a natural part of my adjustment, I hope you can appreciate these times as just that, a necessary period of ‘adjustment’. I celebrate these periods of challenge or difficulty because I know that when I travel through a hard situation with my mind focused on growth and transformation I’ll always move forward having gained something of value from the challenge. All this to say, try not to worry about me too much because in my mind, a little stretching isn’t a crisis. I see these times as fine tuning and as I write about it and share my perspective, it’s all part of my process of standing back and taking another look at it from yet another perspective. I get valuable input from so many others who’ve traveled a similar path and many generous people who offer gifts of encouragement which I hold dear to my heart and read and re-read over and over again, smiling each time I read.
I preface this entry with these words because I’m entering into a particularly personal and I suspect , for me, a difficult phase of my Adventure here in Panama. Finding my purpose. I really want to feel safe sharing the hard things about my adventure without feeling like my friends and family fear that I may have made a mistake or that I may regret my move. No, on the contrary, I’m not complaining or whining , or in any way wishing I were anywhere other than where I am right this moment. When I started publishing this blog I did so with the promise to myself and to you, that I would share the good the bad and well…maybe a bit of ugly, but I soooo dislike the ‘ugly’ so I’ll admit to often placing my ‘rose colored’ glasses onto your eyes as well as my own. There’ve been a couple of difficult transitional experiences that I’ve shared, like when, early on, I was feeling so “out of my body”, and very uncharacteristically nervous while out in public. And also my tendency to feel great success when accomplishing relatively mundane everyday tasks. These are only two very small examples of instances when I’ve felt myself struggling to adapt to so many different experiences here in Boquete. I don’t even know if the word,”struggle” is even correct in describing my experiences. But If your wondering, I no longer feel that strange sensation that I described when I’m out and about in town, running errands and such has become much more familiar. I very confidently say ‘Lo Siento’ when I bump into someone or do something dumb :). People are always so kind and patient, giving me a smile or a knowing nod that says, in any language, “don’t worry, I understand”.
I’ve been officially ‘retired’ ,(Yikes! I still can’t really believe I’m actually RETIRED!) for nearly 5 months now. So far I’ve taken the time to just take a lot of deep breaths and say to myself…”Ahhhhh”. I’ve been reading a lot, which everyone who knows me, knows how much I enjoy reading. I’ve also taken the time to write a lot as well, which has become a very new passion for me. Another thing I’ve spent a ton of time doing is relaxing, (of course) and enjoying the freedom of ‘owning’ every hour of my day. Sitting outside and playing games on my iPad, just looking out at the view and soaking up the vast, incredible beauty of nature that surrounds me . Words just cant even express my great love of nature and how much I appreciate every moment I have to be so close to it here in this place of unending beauty. I love walking and I’ve had the time to take hikes with Scott and to simply walk into town. Yesterday,(I gotta tell you about this experience cuz it made me so happy) I walked into town for the first time since we’ve lived in this house. It was a little under two hours of walking and It was just great! (Scott had spanish class and I decided to walk to the school and meet him when he was done) I had an audio book which I love to lose myself in as I walk, but about half way through my walk I met a young Indigenous kid who was also walking into town, he was 20 years old and very friendly. We started to walk together and I , of course began to attempt to talk with him. I wish I could remember his name but darn it! It started with an A but after that, I lost it. Well, as you know, the indians here are very poor and he of course asked for money, (very politely and humbly, I wasn’t surprised.) so I gave him two dollars and told him that he would be working for his money by practicing Espaniol con Mi. Nosotros hablamos mucho caminábamos. We talked about food and about where he lives, (in Bocas Chica) and about Estados Unidos , about mi Hija and el harmonos y el padres y harmonas. I had such a great time on that last half of my walk with this adorable kid. That was the best $2.00 Ive spent in a long time.
So, as you can see, I’ve been enjoying this period of early retirement. Soaking up my newfound freedom. And here’s where my newest challenge comes in. I’ve had five months of relaxing and doing not much of anything especially productive. Well, okay, I suppose starting to learn Spanish is productive and getting settled in a new country, buying cars renting a home, getting car insurance and health insurance, making new friends and accompanying Scott for his hernia surgery……ya, ya, I have been productive, I take it back. But….I have recently begun to feel as though it may be time for me to explore… what will be my purpose in this new life? I loved my career as a stylist, it was most certainly a “Passion” for me. I found great reward in many aspects of my life as a result of my career. Unending amounts of personal satisfaction including socially, artistically, professionally and monetarily. I loved making people happy and helping them to walk out of my salon feeling good about themselves. If someone sat down in my chair and I sensed that they had something bad or unhappy hovering in their lives, I took it upon myself to make them smile or give them a bit of peace if only for that brief time they were with me. I also benefitted greatly from every single person I came into contact with throughout my thirty years behind the chair. During times of personal tragedy, as well as great happiness my clients (who became my community) gifted me with never ending support. I am very artistic and creating beauty for others was something that kept me feeling successful and energized. I feel as though I achieved a level of success in my career that I can be proud of and look back on and know that I worked hard and deserve to feel pride in myself. Sooooo now what? That’s where I’m at now. I’ve begun a new life and I’m at the beginning of something so exciting and at the same time kinda scary. I get to re-define myself and start anew. And for me, I need to determine how I’ll find my new “Purpose”. I mean, one can only relax and do nothing for only so long! Before I made this move, many people asked me, “what will you do with your time?” I didn’t have an answer then and the answer to that question still hasn’t revealed itself to me quite yet. I have no idea what my next ‘passion’ will be in this new chapter of my life , but I do know that it’s a mystery I will solve in time. I may fret about it at times but, luckily I’ve found other kindred spirits here who’ve been through this transition themselves and they assure me that my feelings are normal. My new friends here have gone through this period of renewed self- reflection and in time have come to find a path and a purpose that gives them the sense of belonging that I know I’ll eventually find for myself. In the meantime, I’ll write!!! Ha!Ha! Well, I suppose I’ll also continue to relax and soak up all this beauty around me which I’ll never tire of doing. When the timing is right I’m certain the right thing will come to me and before I know it I’ll be busy again with something I find great reward in and a new ‘passion’ will have begun! Isn’t it often hard to remember to just be in the moment! So often, I am so busy trying to see where I’ll be in the future that the moment I’m in doesn’t get the appreciation it deserves! I’m glad I’ve reminded myself, (the sound of screeetching breaks!)….Oh, look at that hummingbird! And those clouds seems to be moving so fast over those mountains…..Ahhhh, the breeze feels so fresh and cool….hmmmm I do believe it’s happy hour…
Staying connected is so important…
I just got off the phone with my Hija, (daughter). Sigh…I miss her The other day, when I was walking out of my spanish class I received a text message from her , it said, “I really, really miss you!” Again…Sigh. Many people have asked me how my daughter feels about my moving to Panama and I always tell them ,the truth is that she’s fiercely independent and very supportive of my relocation to Panama. It’s very true that my daughter has never been especially clingy or needy. Since she was very very young she’s wanted nothing more than to live her life her way and on her terms. This made her adolescent years extremely painful for us both. Now that she’s been on her own and has tasted the reality of the independent life that she always fought so hard to embrace , she has begun to appreciate her old mom. It’s a new sensation, to have my sweet daughter miss me so. While part of me feels happy to hear that she thinks about me and wishes I were nearby, there is another part of me, that realizes that if I were nearby we would likely spend very little time together. This is not an uncommon reality in the normal mother-daughter relationship. The natural progression with parents and children is for the child to move on and live their life. In our case , instead of the child moving on to start her life, the parents left the kid to start their new life. I know for a fact that Mariah is a very busy young lady, working two jobs and trying to balance that with having a social life at the same time. Really, she has very little time on her plate to spend time with her mom. While we both realize the reality of that fact, there’s just something different about being so far away. We don’t have the convenience of just hoping in the car and driving to see each other. Yes, we can FaceTime, Skype and talk on the phone, but it never replaces a hug or doing a little retail therapy together. This is one of the hard things about this big Adventure I’m having. Missing Mariah often hurts my heart. When those times sneak up on me I have to remind myself that she’s on her path and I’m on mine. Although we are far away from each other, modern technology can really help us to stay connected. Last time we spoke we promised each other that we would talk once a week. I think just connecting like that on a regular basis may help us to feel better about the physical distance. Many of my new expat friends here in Boquete have grown children back in the States as well, and I always ask them how that is for them. Without exception they all say they talk to them often on Magic Jack or on Skype or FaceTime. Some have said that they connect to their kids more this way then they ever did when they lived nearby. It just doesn’t seem to matter where we choose to make our home, life gets busy and everyone has to make an effort to stay connected. So when those moments of heartache sneak up on me I just try to remember that missing my daughter is not necessarily a bad thing. Even when I lived close to her I had the same moments of missing her except it was a tiny bit more of a bummer because she was so close and yet we still couldn’t manage to make time for each other. Again, I remind myself over and over again…..this is the natural progression of the child/parent relationship. And we know we did a good job raising our children when they are independent, self sufficient, and living their life their way. We all have a path and aren’t we all fortunate to have the ability to follow our path and live our lives our way. I know my mom is reading this and saying to herself,”HUH! Now you know how I feel!” LOL!
We love to entertain and prepare nice meals for friends. It’s something we’ve always enjoyed and it feels like it’s been a really long time since we’ve had the opportunity to do it. Between preparing our home in Los Altos for selling and preparing our lives for relocating to an entirely new country, we had not had the opportunity to entertain for awhile before we moved. We’ve been living here in Boquete for about four months and although we’ve been invited to other peoples houses for great get togethers we have yet to have had a place and an opportunity to have people over to our home. Until last night…
Last week, Scott, after sitting on his butt for weeks in order to allow himself to heal from hernia surgery, was going stir-crazy. He said,”we should invite some people over for dinner.” I gotta admit, I was feeling a little apprehensive because it’s been such a long time since we’ve hosted a dinner party and I felt a little nervous about who we should invite, will anyone ‘want’ to come over for dinner? What will we make? Do we even have serving dishes in this ‘furnished’ rental house? Oh, so many silly , insecure thoughts crept into my head, I don’t know why! In our former life in California, entertaining was kind of a hobby for us as a couple. We’ve always found great pleasure in sharing our home with friends and preparing special meals that we hoped made our friends feel special. Scott would spend lot’s of time coming up with just the right menu and then the hunt for the recipes and ingredients would begin. As Scott was searching for the perfect menu I always found great pleasure in getting our house ready for guests. I just love to set the table and make it look festive, many times ordering a beautiful arrangement from my good friend Brian Davino who’s an amazing floral designer in town. As the evening of our dinner party would arrive Scott and I would go through the menu together and we would determine what serving dishes we would need to use and get them all out. On the day of the dinner we often spent the better part of the day in preparation for our evening. Scott would be cooking away, music blasting, while I cleaned the house and set the table and continually stopped off in the kitchen to clean up after him as he cooked. I gotta say, my man can cook, but boy oh boy does he make a mess!!! :0 To some, this may sound like work, but to us, it’s fun and rewarding.
In our 13 years together we’ve hosted many such fun, dinner parties and I’m so pleased that our first one here in Boquete went off without a hitch. I’m not sure what kind of ‘hitch’ I was expecting , I think I just felt a little out of practice and our new friends here are so ‘new’ I was just hoping they would enjoy spending time with us. I know, that sounds kinda dorky, huh? It’s also a little strange entertaining in a house that isn’t ours, and with ‘things’ that aren’t ours. But in the end, we managed to pull it off and enjoy the evening. Although, Scott may have gone a little overboard with his menu! Not that this is anything new…. he really likes to feed people and I think our friends left feeling as though they had been thoroughly fed! He prepared Tapas for our friends here’s the menu : Mexican Layered dip as an appetizer, Chicken Empanadas , (filled with roasted chicken, Chili verde sauce and cheese), Crab cakes, roasted potatoes, braised pork in a sauce made with five different peppers served with a local cheese filled tortilla thingy, Mango chicken Sopa’s (Scott’s version of Sopa, not a soup, closer to a taco), Yucatan fish wrapped in Banana leaves,(he just wanted to go chop down banana leaves from our yard!) Also several sauces to be used in whatever combo you choose: Chipotle aioli , Tzatziki sauce, Al’s mango salsa, and guacamole. We also prepared a black bean concoction which We discovered in the morning, we forgot to serve!! LOL! For desert, we had an apple berry crumble with vanilla ice cream. Ahhhh, I feel full again just reading this menu!
As you can tell, we had a fun-filled day cooking together just like always. My apprehension began to dissipate as the day wore on and as I walked around the yard cutting flowers to make arrangements (missing Brian Davino, and Merlyn but attempting to channel their flower arranging talent! ), I found myself feeling more and more like my normal self again, looking forward to spending the evening with nice people and sharing our new home. There’s been so many unfamiliar and different things about this new life we’ve begun here in Panama, it felt so good to do something familiar with new friends. It didn’t matter at all that we didn’t have our fancy kitchen and all the high end pots and pans and gadgets like before (eye roll here), and even though we had to hunt for some ingredients and settle for a few substitutes everything ended up working out just fine. We so enjoyed the adventure together, doing something that , to us, brings us great satisfaction. The part I especially enjoyed about our Boquete dinner party was eating outside with the thunder and lightening lighting up the sky! I have a suspicion this wont be our last Boquete dinner party! We’ll be doing this again, I’m sure.
Last week my friend Andrea asked me if I would be interested in going horseback riding with her. Of Course! Who could say no to an invitation to see more of this beautiful area and on horseback to boot! She found a guy in Caldera named Franklin who runs a small horseback riding business on his families property (100 hectares) . Andrea has a fantastic web sight called Boquete Travel Guide http://www.boquetetravelguide.com She wanted to add his business to her web sight so this was an exploratory trip for us to check it out. And I gotta tell you , we both totally fell for Franklin! He is a very sweet man who is passionate about Panama, nature and his horses. He has about 25 horses and treats them with such love and respect. Andrea and I were both very touched by how much he cares for the animals and his passion for nature is contagious. The property where we rode is owned by his cousin and has been in his family for many many years. When we got to the plateau we all got off our horses and let them have a break while we enjoyed the spectacular view all around us. It really is a beautiful area. Chatting with Franklin we learned that he has a vast knowledge of philosophy and enjoys conversing about any number of topics. If he were a bit younger I was ready to introduce him to my daughter, Darn! Andrea and I both agreed that he must be one of the most sought after bachelors in Boquete, the Panamanian women must be banging down his door! As you can see by the pictures, it was a gorgeous day, but I’m beginning to think that “everyday” is a beautiful day here! After our horseback riding adventure we were ready for an ice cold beer and lunch. Andrea had recommended a ‘typico’ restaurant called Melissa’s in Caldera so off we went in search of food! She was right, it was a great lunch. We had Pollo con arroz y sopa, and a beer all for $6.00. This was a great day and I can’t wait to take friends there to see that beautiful view.
I know…..I said I would never like the critters here but you gotta admit, they are often just sooooo pretty! I am very frequently stunned and amazed that some of these little creatures are “real”! They are such amazing colors and I just have to stop to look and admire the beauty that they are… but only when they are “OUTSIDE”! I feel quite different about them when I find them crawling around in the house. But I must admit that I try to catch them under a glass and take them outside instead of smooshing them under my shoe. You may be wondering about our progress with the bats in our house….well…..we are still dealing with that one. Just two nights ago we were awoken to the “whoosh-whoosh-whoosh” sound of wings flapping above our heads in our bedroom! Ugggg! Not a sound one wishes to hear while in bed! We both jumped up and began the hunt for the location of the intruder. I was quick to shut the bedroom door as soon as I realized it had flown out of the room! The ceilings in this house are vaulted and they are made of a dark brown wood which makes it very difficult to see a black bat. Given the fact that it was just past midnight, I suggested we just grab the cats and shut ourselves in to our room and finish sleeping and then deal with Mr. Bat in the morning. Scott was happy with that plan so back to bed we went. In the morning we hunted high and low and there was no bat to be found. But this was the third one who had mysteriously found passage into our living quarters and we were determined to figure out how the heck they were getting in! We had already looked around and could not see any source of entry but they were getting in ‘somehow’ so we searched some more, low and behold, we found an opening in the kitchen above in an area we could only see by standing on a step stool. It is a very small opening but those pesky critters can get in through the tiniest places so we know how to stop the midnight visits! My new best friend Rudolfo, the exterminator, has been spraying some sort of chemical that is meant to repel them from the area under the roof where we can hear them crawling during the dusk hours when they are preparing to exit for the night. We don’t want to kill them, just make them go away long enough to close up the entrance to the comfy spot they have claimed as their home. It does seem to be working because we are hearing much less scurrying and we went out the other evening just around the time they usually come out to hunt and didn’t see any exiting. This is very good news. So the saga of the bats will hopefully come to an end soon. Today I am going horseback riding with my friend Andrea . She has arranged the day and I’m really exited. She tells me we will be riding up to a place where you can view both the Caribbean and Pacific oceans ! I will be sure to get lots of pictures, don’t you worry! So Cheers for now!