Yes, I’m Still here…

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I realize I haven’t published a post in some time! Sheesh! My life is really beginning to feel as though it’s taking on a sort of Rhythm. And it’s hard for me to discern when I should share what’s going on. I don’t want to bore you to death with the same ol’ same ol’! To be honest, what started out as a big adventure has somehow begun to just feel like a normal, everyday life! Nothing so special so share. Shrug! But I know my friends and family get a kick out of knowing what’s going on , so….

Here’s what’s going on in our life, not especially exciting or even very interesting, but here goes…Let’s see, well, I’ll begin with our construction project, since that’s what seems to dominate our lives these days. Our workers have been making good progress on the roof of the workshop. They’ve got the majority of it nearly framed with the cariolas. Which means the walls are all done as well. So, In about a week or so they will begin to put up the zinc part, which is the big metal sheets that go on top of the metal beams, (for those of you not so familiar with this type of roofing procedure!). Earlier in the week we went down to David to a place our friend Keith told us about, a place called Kame. This is THE place to find the commercial-type, roll up garage doors that we wanted to install in the workshop. We need three of them. We got a quotation which seemed fair and so Scott drove back today (Saturday) to order them. Check that big thing off our list! Just when I begin to wonder,”How are we gonna find that?”, someone here who’s in the ‘know’ shows up and saves the day! Now, the next big thing we need to find is an electrician who will actually follow through and get our power run up to our property! Ugh! This is proving to be a hard one. Read the rest of this entry

Building a stronger immunity and ….Grandmother?…Gasp!

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I know I’ve mentioned the adorable indigenous children who live down the hill from our new casita. I met them after moving into Al & Kat’s place. They occasionally come up here to either play on the grass with their soccer ball or use the outside outlets to charge their cell phone. They do not have electricity at their home and Al & Kat told me they don’t mind giving them access to theirs for charging their cell phone. So, yesterday they came by and I was in the house, holed up as I was recovering from a terrible cold…on the subject of colds…Just a sec, I’ll get back to the girls in a minute. I always consider myself, heck,( I’ll admit), I kinda pride myself, on being pretty damn healthy. I very seldom got sick when I was working as a stylist in CA. If I ever had to cancel my day and stay home all my clients knew I must be really bad off, because calling in sick was not something I did often. I attributed my strong immunity to the simple fact that I was so highly exposed to so many germs, making that afore mentioned immunity mega strong! Seriously, I hardly ever got so much as a cold. And if I did get a cold, Pfffffft! No big deal! A silly little cold would never stop me from going to work or continuing to do whatever I needed to do. Not so with these Panamanian Monster Colds! Sheesh!! What the heck!! I’ve had more colds since living here, I swear! And guys…I’m not talkin’ just the sniffles and a little cough! These damn colds knock me out! And most often they seem to settle in my chest! I won’t even go into the Phlegm…no, really, you don’t wanna hear about that! (eye roll, here!) I’ve counted 5 boxes of tissue I’ve gone through since Monday! So, I’m obviously not a doctor nor do I consider myself remotely knowledgeable about immunity, but I’m guessing (only guessing, mind you), It’s gonna take my immunity a little time to catch up to how best to fight these Panamanian bugs. “hack, hack”….”sniff, sniff”! Happily, I’m over the worst of this one and admittedly, they seem to be lasting less time that the first couple I had. I swear , the first cold I got lasted like a month! It’s crazy how long it takes me to actually totally kick it! But, enough about that!

What was I about to say? Oh, yes….Well, the sweet little girls ( 12 and 14 years old) showed up to charge their cell phone yesterday. I just love to find any opportunity to chat with them so I went outside to do just that…chat. They’re always so happy to see me and they are so good at talking really really slowly so I can understand. They’re much easier to understand than any adult, that’s for sure! They told me all about their mother, who lives at the Comarca and has really long bonita cabello! I braided their hair and told them that me Trabajo en Estados Unidos was a stylista. (I have trouble with words like was ?) They thought that was so great! I also grabbed my computer and showed them this thing on my laptop called “Photo Booth” . It’s an application that distorts your face and its just tooooo funny! They got such a kick out of it and we had fun laughing and making pictures of them! So, the part about this interaction that I wanted to tell you about was the part where it was time for them to say goodbye. They both hugged me so tight and smiled up at me with those big brown eyes, and they say…”You are our Grandmother!”…….GASP!!! HUH??? GRANDMOTHER??? Oh my gosh! Don’t worry, I did not teach them any bad English Curse words! I did contain myself and graciously hugged them back, (tried not to strangle them! haha!) and said, “Ahhh, Gracias!, Buenos noches”.

After they left I began to think about their perception of me as a Friggin’ Grandmother! And….well….admittedly, I suppose that could be. I mean , the kids here do seem to have babies awfully young. So if their mother had them at say 14 or 15 ….well, then I could quite possibly, very realistically , be a Grandmother! UGH!! Well, I’ll get over it ,eventually. They meant it in the sweetest way. And, honestly, I don’t care what title they decide to grace me with, I’m so glad to be ‘anything’ to them. I’m grateful that I met them and who knows what the future holds. I hope I can somehow contribute to their lives in some healthy way that makes a difference. There is a very fine line here between contributing and being taken advantage of so I must tread carefully. For now, if they want to call me ‘Grandmother’ and hug me with abandon, well, I’m up for that! Poco a poco we will see where it goes…

Workshop/Man-cave progress…

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This is the computerized rendering of the workshop. We use a program called 'Punch" to do all our designs...

This is the computerized rendering of the workshop. We use a program called ‘Punch” to do all our designs…

The workshop/man-cave is really coming along. This week they’re starting work on the roof structure. We purchased and had delivered, all the cariolas and the metal zinc . It’s going to be a pretty big roof! So I think Scott’s expecting it to take around 3 weeks or so to complete it. As you look at the photos of the workshop you’ll notice as you face the front of the building there is a room with a black water tank in it. This will be the water storage room. We have enough room for four huge tanks. We plan to collect water from the aqueduct to filter and purify for drinking water and we’ll be collecting all the gray water from the bathrooms as well as rainwater from the gutters to use for agricultural water.

The water storage room. This is a small tank, we have not gotten the big ones yet...

The water storage room. This is a small tank, we have not gotten the big ones yet…

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Okay, let’s get real…

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Everyone knows I’m an optimist. Okay, some may say at times I’m a bit too optimistic. But, hey! I can’t help it if I choose to see the ‘bright’ side as often as I can. I mean, why focus on the negative? So often the negative is the easiest thing to see. But it just ruins my day to spend valuable energy looking at the negative when I’m so adept at finding something happy to focus on that will feed my soul and make me feel so warm & fuzzy. But…..I do have my moments…and I’m thinking maybe I’ll share a few of those. Cuz’ what the heck, it’s realistic and as much as I like to share all the wonderful things about my new adventure living as an expat in Panama, once in awhile I have a bad day! Yep, it’s true…its not always rainbows and flowers and birdsong while sipping margaritas! Read the rest of this entry

Just had to share….

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The Sounds Of A Sunday Evening…

Gasp!

Gasp!


Dogs Barking in the distance . Birdsong filling the air. The wind gently moving the trees and the windchimes on the terrace. But mostly…Drums, Beating, Drums…in the distance yet sounding as though they were right next door. My how sound does travel! We are several miles up the hill, in Jaramillo. Above the town and boy are the drummers having quite a good time practicing their chops! Drumming is a very popular pastime here. I’m not even sure ‘pastime’ is correct. They take their drumming very seriously here in Panama. And this is the time of year that the real practice begins in earnest. Beginning right now but especially in November when the holidays begin, Boquete is filled with the sounds of these drums. I’m sure I’m just imagining it, but I could swear that the beat is exactly the same for hours on end. Hah! The beat will fade for a moment and then it begins again…boom de boom de boom de boom….boom de boom de boom de boom boom boom de boom …..Oh, and just now the church bells are chiming in! Well….aren’t Sundays peaceful…:) I’m not being sarcastic…I really mean it…Birds singing, wind chimes twinkling, wind rustling through the trees, dogs barking, and drums a drummin’….then, enter the church bells a chimin’! Ahhhhh…..How great is it that I have the time to sit on the terrace and take it all in… It’s coming up on 6:00 in the evening and the sun has been shining all day long. This day has been a gloriously relaxing , do nothing sort of day for us. We have so few of these days. It seems our days just fly by lately. So I find myself taking in each and every aspect of this beautiful mountain paradise. Oh…..my….I hear HORNS joining in with the drums!! HUH? Nice touch! …..what was I saying?….Oh, I love taking in all the lovely aspects of life in the highlands of Panama. This morning began with walking out of my bedroom and seeing the blue, cloudless sky with the majestic Volcan Baru looking down on me from the big picture window as I made a b-line for the coffee. Will that view ever become something I don’t gasp at when I see it? Oh…. well….I wonder if the church is competing with the drums and the horns right now! Hah! ” Ohhhh Panama! “….. As my friend Emma so lovingly says when she’s struck by something so uniquely and genuinely….Panama. I just can’t think of any place I’d rather be right this minute than sitting right here right now! Life is good…and a little drummers drumming makes it even better….mixed in with the occasional dog barking and the Birds chirping….Can you hear it?

I’m Stealing A Dog…Oh, don’t worry, the neighbors already asked me if I wanted to buy her from them…

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Bonze...Scotts art project from a welding class he took years ago...

Bonz…Scotts art project from a welding class he took years ago…

We have an indigenous Panamanian family who live just at the bottom of our drive. They have at least six small children and from what we can tell two dogs, a puppy and a small kitten. They are a very poor family so It’s not surprising to see that none of the animals look to be getting much food, if any. This is not an uncommon situation here, you often see dogs who are not being cared for and it’s heartbreaking. They have a hard enough time just feeding all the children. As I’ve written about before, the culture towards pets is not the same here as it is in the states. It’s not up to me to cast judgment on this fact, because that’s just what is it, a fact of life, sad, but true. Some ways of thinking are simply different. I’m pretty sure the they watch me with the animals and think I’ve completely lost my mind. (and they would NOT be totally wrong about that! Humph!)

But, as I was saying…this family, who, I may add , I’ve been slowly getting to know, are such nice people. The father used to be the gardener for our friends until he got a better job somewhere else and I gave him a ride the other day so I could introduce myself. He’s such a kind man, I was very glad to have a few minutes to chat (well, to attempt to chat) with him. Four of his children ranging from about 5 to about 12 or 13, have been over to visit me a couple of times and I just love to chat with them. They are so affectionate , they love to hug me and touch my hair and they have so much to talk about. I’ve explained to them that I’m learning to speak Spanish and that they were going to be my spanish teachers! This makes them laugh and they try really hard to help me as I attempt to talk with them.

The oldest girl told me that she is learning a little bit of English in school as well as learning about table manners. She very proudly told me that you are not supposed to eat with your elbows on the table and that you drink red wine with meat and white wine with fish…why this is being taught I will never understand, but …Okay. I complimented her on how smart she is and she beamed at my compliment. I find that these children are very easy to understand and I look forward to getting to know them in the future. Although I also understand that I need to be careful to set clear boundaries with them or I will find that I suddenly have four children living here!

So, I tell you all this because the dog I mention in the title of this post, you know, the one I’m in the process of ’stealing’? Ya, that one…well its one of the dogs from this family. The kids came over here the other day and knocked on the door. They wanted to know if I wanted to buy the dog. They told me that they have too many animals (glad to hear that they realize this fact!), and they have to get rid of her. Well, I had already started to occasionally feed both the dogs whenever they would wander up to our little casita. I figured that if I really wanted a dog, all I need to do is become the food source and they will always stick around. Of course, I don’t want to steal their main family dog, which is, of course , the mail dog, Chumbo is his name. You see, here in Panama a dog is an alarm system. Providing security is their main purpose. So Chumbo serves a purpose and is an important part of their life for that reason. They don’t seem to get especially emotionally attached to animals the way that we do. And I’m pretty sure that Mariposa, the female dog that they wanted to sell to me was only there to provide puppies for them to sell. She’s had a few litters already and they are done having her around. I didn’t want to buy the dog from them because I want to be very careful about giving money. It’s just not a good idea and I’d like to try to avoid them seeing me as a source for money. I hope that does not make me sound uncaring or greedy, I’m really glad to find other ways to help them, like taking a hungry dog off their hands.

Anyways…back to the dog! Her name is Mariposa, like I said. She is just adorable. Sadly, I saw Chumbo mounting her all day the other day and now I’m terrified that she may already be pregnant! Ugggg! So, I’m on a mission to figure out how to get her spayed. I sent an email to my friend who I know volunteers with the local organization that holds a monthly spay and neuter clinic for stray dogs here in Boquete. This a great organization and even though I know they do this as a way to get stray dogs off the streets and they do it for free for the local people who would not otherwise be able to pay for it, I will gladly pay for Mariposa. I learned that the next clinic is the end of this month so I need to find out how to proceed. Another friend of mine has a large dog crate that I can use to transport her and so now I just need to find out what I need to do to either make an appointment or arrange to bring her to the clinic to get her fixed.

This is Mariposa! How can you resist that face!!

This is Mariposa! How can you resist that face!!


I’ve been feeding her everyday and she’s starting to slowly hang around more and more. She’s very skittish and slowly beginning to let me scratch her tummy and although she still has a tendency to flinch a bit when I reach my hand out to touch her, she is beginning to do it less an less. So sad, you can tell she is completely unaccustomed to affection and slowly discovering that she kinda likes it. Every time I look out the front door and see her curled up in a little ball, asleep on the porch I smile. I just love animals and to see this sweet animal begin to wag her tail and have energy, I just can’t help but smile.
Chumbo is a cutie too!

Chumbo is a cutie too!


I remember the very first time I saw Mariposa, she looked so sad and desperate. With her little face looking as though she had never been happy and her tail tucked so tight between her back legs. I could see all her ribs sticking out and my heart very nearly broke. I’m determined to fatten her up and I just can’t wait to get her all taken care of with all her shots and get rid of the fleas that drive her crazy. The male dog, Chumbo, comes around as well, but it seems like he mostly stays around the children when they are home which is as it should be. So, I give him food when he’s around but I would not try to keep him because he’s important to the family. I am glad though to add a little weight to him as well. So, hopefully this sweet little dog, Mariposa, will want to let me keep her and that we become best of friends. I suppose it would not really be “stealing” if she decides she wants to be mine…right? I mean, I don’t think anyone will mind, she seems to have been tossed aside and left to fend for herself and has gotten me wrapped around her little paw. Not that it takes much at all for an animal to steal my heart…
My new Spanish teaching crew!

My new Spanish teaching crew!


I should update you on the dog that I had befriended at our former house in Alto Lino. Do remember ‘Girl dog”? She would lay on the porch all the time and I began feeding her. She would bring Avocados and eat them all the time and even though I knew I could not keep her I enjoyed her company and loved feeding her. Well, I was sad to leave her and really didn’t know what would become of her after I moved. I assumed she must belong to someone in the neighborhood because everyone seemed to know her as well as know her actual name, no, it isn’t ‘girl dog’, it’s Leah. Well…to update you on her life..The couple who own the house have moved here permanently and they have taken over feeding Leah and caring for her even more than I was! Yes! Such great news! They really like her and have begun to get her very healthy! They bought flea medicine and got her de-worm pills and are putting medicine on a terrible wound on her ear that she somehow got recently. And to top it off, they put some nice rattan furniture on the porch and Leah thinks the couch is hers! She’s soooo happy and I’m just thrilled to see her getting so spoiled! Life is good! Especially if your Leah!

Practicing My Spanish…

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Practicing my Spanish….

I’ve been finding all sorts of new opportunities to practice speaking spanish. Unfortunately I haven’t had any time to get together with my two Panamanian girlfriends to practice since moving to Jaramillo Centro. Living right next to our casita project makes it much easier for me to help Scott in many different ways so I’ve been busier than ever now. No longer do I only make lunch and take care of banking and bookkeeping. Nope..now many mornings I drive into town to pick up our workers and I also started to help transport materials up to our work site. So, what does this have to do with my Spanish practice? Well, you see….this means I’m in a car with spanish speakers! And they’re trapped with me! Whahahahah! Soooooo I muddle through trying to chit chat in spanish with them. Hah! When I’m driving the truck up and down our hill Edgar rides with me and we talk about his family in Bocas del Toro, or about his hobbies or my hobbies, about California, about music and all sorts of different things. I know my grammar is hideous and I sound like a two year old, but I really love to keep practicing. Then in the mornings and the evenings our other two workers are trapped in the car with me, so I try my best to chat with them, now, they are much more like my husband….not big chatters!! Pffffffft! I don’t let that stop me…noooo! I ask them millions of questions and I try hard to think up something…anything to talk about on our ride down the hill, boy do they jump out of my car quickly when I get to town! Now that Kat & Al have left us in charge of their house I’m managing her two gardeners and her cleaning lady…all of whom I am torturing with my bad Spanish! I love it! Read the rest of this entry

Let’s Talk About Shoes…

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Yes, that’s right, I said, “Shoes”. I know, you thought you were reading a blog about expatriating to Panama…but I happen to think my adaptation to very different shoes is relevant to my subject matter…really! So, this morning I was walking up to our little casita, prepared to do some work with Scott. As I was walking up the hill… and, when I say,”up the hill”, I mean up, up, up the hill… we are in the mountains, remember? Ahem… Like I was saying…As I was walking up the hill I looked down at my hiking boots and I thought to myself ,”my how my wardrobe has changed”. My hiking boots used to be something I would put on my feet only once in a great while. Back when we were living in the Silicon Valley, working our butts off to afford to live there, we had very little time for a hiking. Once in awhile we’d carve out a Sunday afternoon hike at Castle Rock State park or we might take a long weekend and go to Yosemite and do a little hiking. But those boots, which I’ve had for several years, are finally beginning to look well worn, and let me tell you, before we moved, those poor hiking boots hadn’t really gotten much use at all. I can remember wiping the accumulated dust from them a few times when I dug them out for a hike. And they never really felt especially comfy, but, nowadays, my hiking boots are a daily wardrobe choice for me . Just this morning I was marveling to myself, (cuz’ I do a lot of “marveling” these days!)… I was marveling to myself, about just how comfy my boots are now that they are an everyday footwear choice for me. Very different style choice from what I used to wear to the salon everyday for nearly 30 years. Read the rest of this entry

Summary (I’ll try to summarize!), of our experience getting our residency visa…

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Summary (I’ll try to summarize!) of our experience getting our residency visa….

I received a request from one of my readers to post a summary of our experience getting our Pensionado Visa. Obviously this process varies “a lot” for every person. There are, of course, endless different accounts of how this process goes, some good and some not so good, some easy and smooth (although not many!) and some complicated and frustrating as hell (Some serious Tranquilo killers!) . In the end, so much seems to depend upon the attorney you use because they set the pace, and will guide you, or let you flounder, during the entire process. I’ve heard nightmare stories of attorneys giving bad advice or just not doing their jobs. Some who have been through the process read my account and wonder why it was a bit more complicated than it was for them. One things for sure, anything I tell you about my experience will not be the same for you. It’s important to keep in mind that you can’t count on any other persons tale to be what you will experience. Unlike some places in the world where there are clear and concise processes in place and you have access to all the answers to all your questions, here, one seems to just muddle through as best you can and just try to hold onto some semblance of ’Tranquilo’…Good luck with that! Hah! Read the rest of this entry

A Quick Trip To The City…

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A couple of days ago we heard from our attorney that our Permanent Pensionado Visa was ready! I was really surprised it was ready so fast. I fully expected it to take several months, we just submitted our application in early July. So, a trip to Panama City to pick up our visa was in order. Given what happened last time we left our employees alone, we really wanted to get this trip done with as few days away from the job site as possible. So we decided to leave early on Sunday morning and return as soon as we got done at immigration on Monday. We got up early on Sunday and drove down to town, parked my car near the central park area and got on the 6:30a.m. bus to David, this takes about an hour. Then we bought our tickets and were on the 8:30 bus to Panama City. Our bus ride into the city went really smoothly, the bus was very comfortable and it only took 7 hours instead of the 8 hours it has taken with all the construction on the PanAmerican highway. Read the rest of this entry

An Eye Opening Day With Aquiles…

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An Interesting Experience…

Yesterday (Thursday) we were heading down to David to pick up some items from Elmec that we had ordered for the workshop studio. One of our workers, Aquiles, asked if he could come along because he needed to buy something. We of course agreed to take him with us. Let me tell you a little bit about Aquiles. He’s one of our Indigenous workers. We have two Panamanians and three Indigenous who work for us. For those of you who don’t know, Panama has several different tribes of Indigenous Indians native to the country. There are several different and distinct tribes many of whom live on lands set aside for them by the government called , Comarca’s. These lands are very similar to the reservations in the U.S. set aside for Native American Indians, although I assume these are much more remote and undeveloped, many have no electricity or running water. A large majority of the indigenous here in Boquete work as farm hands for the many coffee plantations , often seasonal workers traveling back and forth to their comarcas. The Finca owners usually provide very modest housing, or dormitories for these workers. They are almost always very poor and uneducated, and I think I can say correctly that none of them have cars or drive. I don’t consider myself an especially knowledgable person on this subject so I’m only telling you what I’ve learned and observed since living here. Read the rest of this entry

How to get eight, 40 foot steel ibeams up to your work site…

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As you know, Scott is in the process of building his 2,000sq.ft. workshop…a serious ‘man-cave’ if I’ve ever heard of one! Sheesh! At the moment they are building the walls and the next step will be to install the supports for the mezzanine section of his workshop. This will be an upper area of the main workshop that will be for wood storage. He wanted to make it strong enough to hold a substantial amount of wood given the fact that he’ll likely be leaving the wood up there to dry out. Living in the tropics the wood is pretty wet and requires some time to dry before he can build things. The strength of this particular area of the workshop is going to come from eight forty foot steel ibeams installed up under the roof, on the top of the walls. So, he’s been shopping around, asking a lot of questions and doing a ton of mathematical equations on his computer to come up with the right dimensions to get the support he needs. After figuring out what he needed and then finding a source to buy it he then had to figure out how to get those puppies up our hill! Sheeesh! We just an’t do anything the ‘easy’ way! Nope! As usual, the delivery truck would never be able to make it up to our property so Scott had to come up with a way to get that steel up there….. Read the rest of this entry

Our Container Arrived!

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Well, that was fast! I must admit, I didn’t expect this container shipment to go so smoothly. I was stunned when today we got a phone call from Brent, the Liaison with Ranier Shipping, who called and said,” are you on your way to the storage?” I said, Ummmm, I can be!” He said,”We’re here,at Chiriqui Storage”…You can imagine my shock! It’s true, our container actually arrived and has now been emptied into our storage here in Panama. I don’t know why I was so hesitant to have high expectations with this shipping experience, it’s all done and all went very smoothly. Read the rest of this entry

Here’s What’s Going On Now…

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IMG_7986 Well, Lot’s of stuff has been going on lately. I’ll try to catch you up on some of our latest news and happenings. I was just mentioning to Kat that my brain feels as if it’s on overload this week because there’s just so much rumbling through my head. besides settling into living in a different house and figuring out where to put all our stuff, we’ve still been trying to figure out all the repercussions of our truck accident. Trying to take care of all the legal issues with discontinuing employment with the young man who was involved. And learning all the ins and outs of how car insurance works here in Panama. Read the rest of this entry

I think Im in yet another ‘transition’!

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I haven’t had much time or energy lately to write many posts. I’ve written quite a bit when I’m sitting in the truck waiting for the next load of sand or rock or bricks to be loaded or unloaded in between driving Edgar up and down our road, but for some strange reason I haven’t posted them????? I don’t really know why, but today I was thinking and I realized…”Hey!I think I’m having a bit of a transition!” Read the rest of this entry

Moving Again…

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Did I mention we’re moving again? Yes, I think I did. Well, I just can’t believe we’ve already been in this wonderful house for ten months. Time has flown by so fast and tonight is our last night here. We started moving our belongings out yesterday. We have two storage units reserved at Chiriqui Storage in Dolega, in preparation for the arrival of our container. So we decided that our storage units would be the best place to put all the things we have purchased for the casita but aren’t quite ready to use yet. Things like the kitchen sink, bathroom fixtures, toilet, garbage disposal, and of course all those great light fixtures I bought on my visit to Panama City, just to list a few things. So we loaded up our two cars and made a very early visit to storage. We knew we needed to get there early because it was the first Sunday of the month and they host a big flea market there. We got to Chiriqui Storage at 7:00a.m. and managed to unload all that stuff and haul ass outta there before the crowds began to form for the flea market.

Did I tell you yet where we will be living? Well, as you may know our little casita should be ready for us to move into it by January-ish. I’ve probably mentioned our new neighbors Allen & Kathy. They own the property just below ours and we’ve all become fast friends. They’ve had us over to their place several times for Happy Hour and they’ve joined us at our place for the few gatherings we’ve had in our nearly done casita. A few months back while enjoying one of those ‘Happy Hours’ at their house they totally surprised us by inviting us to move into their house! Yep! You see, they haven’t quite made living here permanent , yet. They still have a home in Virginia and only spend a few months out of the year living here in Boquete. Although they plan to eventually make Boquete a permanent home, for now they enjoy spending extended vacations here. We were so pleasantly surprised by such a generous offer. Living in their house will be so nice for us. We’ll be right next door to our project, making it much easier to keep an eye on things and making Scott’s commute to the job much much shorter.

Kathy & Allen leave to go back to the States in September. So we will all four + Copper, be roommates for the next three weeks. I sure hope we don’t drive them crazy. I’m pretty sure Copper will be hiding under the covers on the bed for at least the first week or so, he really really hates change. Poor kitty. Luckily Kathy is a cat lover, well, actually, she’s an animal lover, and so our little kitty will be very welcome in their home. And then they will be returning to Boquete right about the same time that we’re hoping to be able to move into our little casita. It’s truly amazing sometimes how things work out so well. To tell you the truth, although we had this move sort of looming in the back of our minds, we never really worried about where we would go. And out of the blue this wonderful arrangement just fell in our laps. I’m smiling as I write this because It makes me feel so happy to have such great new friends in our lives already. And the fact that we will be neighbors is a bonus!

So, today we took most of our clothes over there as well as some boxes of our bookkeeping things for our employees. We will put most of our nonperishable kitchen stuff n our storage and bring fridge stuff and things that Scott uses to cook with, spices and things. It’s pretty amazing how much we have accumulated in the year we’ve been here. We really don’t want to clutter up Kathy & Allen’s place so we’re trying to just brings the bare necessities . But, the ‘bare necessities’ look to be like kind of a lot of crap! Sheesh!! I’m sure once I get organized all will be well, but at the moment I feel a bit discombobulated. I really have to say, I hate moving. And we aren’t even done yet! We still have to move into the casita in January and then it may be a year or so before we are ready to move into our main house. Then that should be it! No more moving for us!
Well, this is what I’m up to these days. I’ve been so busy and I have so many other things to share but have not had the time or the energy to write about it all. We’ve gotten our Panamanian Driver’s licenses and I must tell you all about that. As soon as we’re all settled into our new living arrangement I’ll be writing more. I didn’t even tell you much about our trip back to the states.. sheesh. We got back to Boquete and just seemed to have tumbled right into so many different things. I gotta tell ya, this so called ‘retired’ life….it’s exhausting ! Hah!

Working With The Guys…

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Yesterday (Wed) was my first full day helping out at our project. Since we’ve lost our only other driver Scott was trying to figure out how he was going to get his projects done that he’s working on in the casita when he needs to keep the supply of sand, gravel and cement up at the top of the property and still get his own projects done. So, I said, “I can help!” I can drive the truck up and down all day while the guys load and unload. I’ve actually been hoping we’d reach a point in the project when I could actually start helping and here’s my opportunity.

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Construction Progress….

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I can’t just say ,”Casita” progress, because work is progressing to encompass the workshop as well. Things are moving along pretty well. We’ve started work on Scott’s workshop. We had hoped to get the roof on the workshop as fast as possible. So far, rainy season hasn’t been especially rainy. Which is good for us, but not so good for the water supply. So, the foundation is done and half of the floor has been poured. They are ready to start pouring the second half of the floor. All the plumbing has already been installed under the slab and the hole for the septic is dug, the leach field still needs to be done. Scott thinks the floor should be done this week. I think next week they will be starting on the walls, which will go up fast.
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Our latest Adventure….

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Our latest adventure isn’t a fun one or an especially happy one. I thought about calling this post “Live & Learn” or “Lesson’s on Trust”, or possibly “How we Learned our lesson”…Pfffffft! But, although we trusted someone and that trust was betrayed, it wont stop us from continuing to be trusting people. This experience may just serve as a reminder of the necessity to be more discerning as to who we give that gift of trust to, but we wont stop trusting people. It’s just not the kind of people we are. Both Scott & I have a natural tendency to trust people until they prove they don’t deserve it. This mindset could be called a gamble or it could be called foolish by some. But I’ve found that most of the time its proven to be more of a benefit than not. Although there are times when we get let down and face disappointments, even feel rocked by how wrong we were in our assessment of someones character, I’d rather put out positive, generous energy than walk around feeling suspicious of everyone I come into contact with. Read the rest of this entry

Back in Boquete, It’s Good To Be Home….

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We had a great trip to California, but isn’t it always good to be home? The nicest thing about being back in California was seeing our friends and family, of course. And taking care of getting our container packed up was something we’ve been waiting to get done for a long time, so that was an accomplishment we were pleased to finally make. The logistics of seeing to the packing of the container was a bit of a challenge, and, I might even say, a pain in the you know what. !@# But in the end we were relieved to finally have it all done. Read the rest of this entry

On The Bus To Panama City….

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We’re 5 hours into a 7 hour bus ride to Panama City and the beginning of our journey to California. The busses here are not bad and the ride to the city, although looooooong, is comfortable, enough. We could opt to fly the short 45 minute flight from David to PC (which I would MUCH prefer ) but its hard to pass up the savings of a $15.00 bus ticket compared to a $250.00 plane ticket. The bus stops about halfway, in Santiago for a little lunch break. They stop at a cafeteria style place where we can stretch our legs and have a little lunch. It’s a really long day but we have our kindles charged and, as you can see, my iPad too.

Panama has been in the process of lots of construction this last few years. They have recently completed the construction of a brand new metro system in the city which is really quite impressive. When I was in the city with Emma she took me on a trial run ride so I could familiarize myself with it. So last time Scott and I were in town, just last week, we had our metro cards ready to go with money on them and knew how to easily go from the Albrook bus terminal to El Gongrejo neighborhood where The Hotel Milan is conveniently located. Its only about 4 stops from the bus terminal and is really fast and easy.

Another big project that’s currently underway is the expansion of the Interamerican highway. They are in the process of widening the highway and at the moment its quite a mess but this road is sorely in need of a makeover. This is the main road that goes all the way from Panama City to Costa Rica. For many years this road has been in pretty bad disrepair with big potholes that make it a very bad road to drive at night or during bad rain storms. Since we’ve been living here they completed the improvements and widening of the main road that goes from Boquete to David. This too has been a huge improvement when traveling down the hill from where we live.

While driving through Panama one can see many new housing developments and huge shopping malls and new hospitals and police stations under construction. There’s a lot happening here and it’s exciting to see. I can only imagine that there must be a lot of employment opportunity with all this work going on everywhere you look. Not to mention the huge expansion of the canal that’s been going on as well. What a lot of infrastructure improvements for Panama. Yea! Panama!! It’s great to see changes that are making life here even better for everyone.

We’re probably an hour or so outside the city now and I think I’ll do a bit of reading now. Cant wait to get on that plane in the morning and be back in Californina .

Going Back For A Visit For The First Time…

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Going back where? Going back to California. We’ve been gone for nearly 14 months. Sigh… Can I be honest? I’m feeling a bit torn between excited and a little nervous about this first trip back to our old stomping grounds. I don’t really know why…but maybe by the time I finish writing this post I’ll have figured it out.

We’ll be in California for 10 days. Our biggest mission is to meet with the shipping company at our storage unit in San Jose and oversee the packing of all our belongings that have been patiently awaiting this day. We’re hoping this will take up only three or four of our days . But we also have to deal with a bunch of paperwork and things that we need to take to the shredder and dispose of. Do I really need to hold onto 30 years of tax returns? I think not. And it might be okay to let go of all those carefully filed receipts for the remodel we did on the house in Los Altos. I may not need to ship old PG&E bills and Water and Garbage bills either. I think the coast is clear to dump all those papers in that big shredder and just walk away…or runnnnn! Hah! The other job we have amidst the packing is to hold back a few things that we’ve decided are not absolutely essential to bring, just in case all our goodies don’t quite fit in the shipping container. We have a list of items that we will then need to figure out what to do with. Anyone wanna have a garage sale? Read the rest of this entry

The Casita project update…

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All this traveling and leaving Boquete has created a bit of a difficult crimp in our project, but progress continues in spite of it all. Luckily for us, we have a very dependable crew of hard working guys who we can trust to continue doing what they are supposed to do even when Scott isn’t there to watch their every move. It’s not everyday that you end up with men like that. It means a lot to us that we can leave them unsupervised for short period of time and come back to see that they kept working hard and doing a good job. And our neighbors are also a huge help when we have to go out of town. Al has very kindly taken care of giving the guys their pay when we are gone for a payday. It is something that is more helpful than he even realizes. We are so blessed to have such amazing neighbors who I can tell will be like family to us when we live there. I often marvel at our good luck. :) Read the rest of this entry

One Big Step Closer To Being ‘Legit’ In Panama…

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Our trip to Panama City was a mix of good and not so good. The good is that we’re now ‘officially’ in the system and we have our temporary Panama ID’s in our hot little hands….Yes! Our permanent ID’s should be in our possession in a few months time. The bad part of our trip was the disappointing realization that our plans to fly to California had to be cancelled at least temporarily. This due to a tiny little detail our attorney neglected to make perfectly clear to us clueless Gringos…. When I asked our attorney if it would be okay for us to plan to return to the states as soon as our application was in process she said,”yes, as soon as your application is in process you can leave Panama”. Okay, that seemed clear to us so we booked the trip for the day after meeting with her. But when I mentioned we were leaving on Saturday, (the very next day) I got…”What?, you cant do that!” SCREEEEEECH! (this is the sound of our plans coming to a screeching halt!) Read the rest of this entry

Our Tranquilo Is Being Tested ….

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We’re in Panama City to officially begin the application process for our residency visa. Our attorney told us to bring copies of our passports, copies of the last entry stamp in our passports. Copies of a bill or contract that shows proof of our address in Boquete and five passport photos along with cash to pay for application. No problema….

She seems to have been very thorough except for one tiny little detail…. We must have a multi entry visa before leaving Panama when our visa application is in process! Which we knew , what we did not know is… This visa takes two business days to process..Gasp !! This little bit if information somehow didn’t get explained to us when I very clearly asked about leaving the country when the application is “in process”, which she very clearly answered, “YES you can leave as soon as it is “in Process”. If we had left panama we would have been fined $ 4,000.00! Deep breath…. Okay… So, my mistake was not asking extremely specific questions . When I asked if we could leave after our application was officially ‘in process’ I should have asked ‘WHEN” we could leave. Ugggggg! Oh Boy! Gotta chalk this one up to yet another lesson learned. Be more specific Holly.

We should have known better to plan things so tightly. This is Panama after all, right. Things just seem to get done much differently than one would expect. It would have been so nice to have had a list of important things and this whole entire process has been such a trial and error for us. You would think this was the first Residency Visa ever to be applied for. I mean come on! When someone asks about leaving during the application process why not include in your answer,”Be aware, you must not leave the country until the multi entry visa is processed which takes TWO days!” Uggggg! And our attorney specializes in immigration law. Well, I cant put the blame all on her, I am the one who didn’t ask the right questions. As a matter of fact, even besides our mistake of planning to leave the country, we couldn’t even return to Boquete if we wanted to until Tuesday because the immigration will have our passports. So no matter what, even besides the snafoo on the trip back to the states, had we planned only to be here in Panama City for Thursday & Friday, we would have been in for a big surprise because we wont have or passports back until Tuesday. So, We sit, time to start the fun of canceling all the hotels, the rental car, the airline itinerary, and oh yes…letting all our friends and family know the bad news.

We have already arranged the shipping company to meet us at our storage in San Jose, to pack our container. Right this minute we are thinking about sticking with that part of our plan. We might just have to get to Ca on Wed, meet with the shippers on Thursday and fly home on Friday. But, nothing is set in stone at the moment. We are relaxing and recovering from our crazy morning, I’m pretty sure Scott is fast asleep, a nap will cure everything. In a little bit we will regroup and strategize about what to do. There must be an upside to this dilemma, I just haven’t seen it quite yet. But, don’t you worry, I’ll figure out why its a good thing and get right back to ya….For now my mantra is ….Breath…Tranquilo….Breathe….Tranquilo…..Ahhhh feeling better already! Whew…what an Adventure! PFFFFFFT…

A Whirlwind Day…

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Yesterday, (Monday) was a crazy day. We had made plans to go to Panama City on Wednesday so that we would be there in the morning on Thursday to meet with Mayra, our Attorney. She had emailed us to let us know we need to be there to sign paperwork to start the application process of our residency visa. At long last all the documents we’ve been working on gathering are all acceptable. They’ve been processed and now we can go To Panama City to meet with the Attorney and begin the official application process for our visa and then to California to prepare our container to be shipped to Panama. In the morning Scott said,”Why don’t we go ahead and try to get our trip to the States in while we’re at it.” Oh Boy, that’s gonna take some organizing…. Read the rest of this entry

That illusive residency visa may be in our hot little hands soon!

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Our attorney in the city has received all our documents for our application for the Pensionado visa. She says they have processed them and that we need to come to the city this Thursday & Friday to sign all the paperwork and get the application process going. Wow! I cant believe it’s finally almost there. This news has started a whirlwind of activity for us because we’ve been patiently waiting to begin the process of shipping our belongings from California to Panama. Read the rest of this entry

I notice myself adapting more and more, and it just makes me smile…

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As I sit at the dining room table and gaze outside at the gray, breezy morning. I’m trying to decide what to write about today. So many different things come to mind. I just returned from running a few errands and can’t help but think about how much easier it’s become to get things done. Not that anything in Boquete has changed, but I can feel myself changing. My perspective is changing and I notice some things that, in the early days of living here, seemed a little complicated or frustrating, are just my new ‘normal’. Does that make sense?

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Did someone say, “Pie”?

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I’ve done something extraordinary! Extraordinarily uncharacteristic for Holly, that is. Not Actually, something that anyone but me will think is so special or strange or amazing or stunning or CRAZY FANTASTIC… okay but, maybe those who know me well will understand! Are you dying of curiosity? Well….I made a PIE! Yep, you read that right…I actually baked a homemade pie…from Scratch! Crust and all! Yes!! I really did! Who knew I had it in me? Well, certainly not me, I’ve never even wanted to bake a pie…it’s just not something that ever even occurred to me to even attempt. I mean, other people like to bake and to make pies and treats but not me. I’m the one who keeps all those Frozen food companies in business! I used to frequent that area of the grocery store, in the day’s before Scott. And now, what’s happening to me? I mean, sheeesh! I’m baking now? HUMPH!

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Learning the In’s & Out’s of renewing our car registration….

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Getting Scott’s truck registered…

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Well, its already been a year ago that we bought that shiny new truck for Scott . (That truck is no longer even remotely close to “Shiny” anymore! LOL! ) Which means it’s time to renew the registration and the insurance. No, you don’t get to just do it online. Things get done altogether differently here in Panama. And renewing a registration is not at all the same as what we’re used to. We’ve…Okay… I should say ‘I’ve’ been expecting the whole process to be somewhat stressful and possibly even a giant pain in the @#$. But, here’s the big surprise…it was so darn easy! I think a year ago when we got our cars and we were told that next time we renew the registration we would need to go to Dolega to do it, it sounded a little daunting to me because it was an unknown. At that time we had never really been to Dolega aside from driving through when there was a detour during road construction. And we have had some limited experience dealing with government offices and all the frustrating bureaucracy that one must endure most of the time. So I’ll speak for myself when I say, I wasn’t looking forward to dealing with getting the registration renewed. Read the rest of this entry

We love a party…I may have mentioned this before…

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Scott and I really do love hosting casual gatherings and last night (Well, Sunday night) was the second gathering in our ‘partly’ built casita. We wanted to have a small “Happy Hour” and just have a couple friends who wanted to see the progress and celebrate our new home with us. When we hatched this plan we had two couples in mind but somehow before we knew it, more and more couples came to mind. Suddenly that ‘small Happy Hour” became a party of 15… “Whowsa!” She say’s with a huge smile on her happy face!

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Poco a Poco, Still….

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I haven’t written about my spanish progress for awhile. There’s a good reason for that…It’s slooooow going! I’m trying, EVERYDAY, I’m trying! And I gotta tell ya…its a bit discouraging at times, not devastatingly discouraging, just a bit frustrating . Don’t worry too much, that sounded rather discouraged, not to worry, I promise, I’m farrrr from beating myself up too much. I have moments of wonderment when I actually get something out that is understood and I realize I have actually communicated to someone in SPANISH! Whoohoo! My heart soars when that happens, and I think its beginning to happen more and more, it’s true! Read the rest of this entry

Here’s a lesson I’m Learning…

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As I’ve probably mentioned from time to time, this whole “domesticity” thing is new for me. So I’ve never been the “Laundress from Heaven”, far from it. I’ve ruined my fair share of clothes and Yes, Scott has occasionally had to live with pink underwear that some how ended up in the wrong load of colors. I personally think he looks very manly in Pink, but he’s not so sure! Pffffft! And shrinking things….can you see my eyes rolling now? Yes, I have a habit hence a dread now, of shrinking my clothes! Consequently I hate using the dryer and I almost always use cold water, except for Scott’s filthy work clothes…those need to be BOILED or maybe even tossed each night into the trash!! Hah! For all my clothes I mostly like to air dry them. So I hang my clothes wherever I can find a place to hang them. Here’s where my norma M.O. has run into a snag….it’s a bit more humid here than I’m used to. Gulp! Have you ever smelled mildewed clothes? Well, Um…I’ve got a little problem…My clothes all smell kinda…..Oh hell…. terrible! They just don’t dry nearly as fast as they did hanging in my bathroom in California. And apparently when you let wet clothes hang to dry for three or four days, well, lets just say, yuck! There’s no fresh clean smell commin’ from my freshly washed clothes, that’s for sure. I do believe I have a mildew problem. Sooooo back into the washer goes my laundry and a new plan has been put into action. I noticed a little rope hanging outside with some clothespins on it…Hmmmmm…could that be a better place to let my clean laundry hang to dry? Of course, its the rainy season up here in Boquete. And that means that everyday, usually anywhere between 2 to about 3ish, it rains like crazy! But the early part of the day is just as sunny and warm as can be. And theres always a nice breeze. Which means I’ve gotta keep a close eye on the weather outside. So today I’ve got my clothes drying outside but this means I need to be on top of it and make sure I grab them and bring them all inside soon, right now its 2:45 and I can see the sky beginning to get a little grey. Probably a good idea to go out there and see if my formerly smelly, mildewy clothes are dry. This has been my newest, and rather critical new housekeeping lesson…how to clean my clothes and not let them get mildewy. I got this! Humph! Learning something new everyday!

That Scott…He’s Quite The Mulit tasker!

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I’m up at the job site everyday at lunchtime. I love to walk a round and see what’s new from the day before and what they are working on that day. It’s usually a flurry of action. Guys working on so many different things, my head sometimes spins wondering how Scott keeps a handle on all the projects that are going on all at the same time. Richie and Ricardo have been installng the gutters and Javier and Federico have been working on the repello inside, while Arquiles and Leo were working on the septic system down the hill from the casita and edgar was assisting them.

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Stopping to hear, to listen and to appreciate so many things…

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Sounds…
(I know,..,.Two post in one day!! Ayyyy! What can I say, I was feeling inspired today! Hah!)

I hear roosters, various birdsong, more roosters, dogs barking, drums in the distance, a mariachi band at my neighbors house (which has taken a break so I can hear all the lovely sounds of nature all around me). The occasional sound of a car driving by on the road below. Lot’s of different birds, there are so many different and unique sounds all over. And the nearby buzz of the Hummers as they take turns chasing each other from the feeder, all demanding it belongs to them! They sound so fierce as they chase each other, darting so fast and often buzzing right near where I sit. Then the peaceful sound of many hummers flittering around the feeder as they gobble up as much of the sugary nectar as they can before the day is over. Read the rest of this entry

Father’s Day….Sigh…

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It’s been some time since I’ve celebrated Father’s Day. My Dad’s been gone for twenty years. He left us way too soon, he was only 47 years old. My age, give or take, sigh. I was 28 when you left Dad. You meant the world to me. Because you came into my life when I was about 4 or five years old some would label you as my “step-Dad”, but I beg to differ. You were my Dad. The only Dad I ever wanted or needed. I can remember when my mom brought you to meet me and Rora. I remember sitting on your lap and I remember you doing a trick where you took off your thumb. You adored me from the very start, and the feeling was mutual. You loved being a father. I always felt loved, adored, cared about and safe with you around. You gave me advice, you were very protective of me, you punished me when I needed to be punished and you rewarded me when I made you proud. And you were always so proud of us. You deserved that pride. You taught me so much. You taught me manners, how to behave in a fancy restaurant, honesty, integrity, you taught me how to embrace my creativity. I watched you express your creativity all the time. You loved to decorated the house, you were always redecorating something. Making valances for the windows or wallpapering or rearranging furniture. I remember you surprising me with a newly decorated bedroom when I was about 10 or 12, new furniture and drapes with a matching comforter on the bed. I remember when Rora wanted a canopy bed and you surprised her with that. You loved surprising us. You loved seeing us happy and you especially loved spoiling us (me, Rora and Mom) rotten. You taught me to be generous and kind and to express my love and to always always laugh. I think the single most “stand out” thing that everyone who knew you will never forget is your sense of humor! No one, and I mean No one ever got more satisfaction from embarrassing people and making people laugh! You never ever tired of finding the humor in life. I can hear that loud all encompassing chuckle! Hah! Makes me smile just to think of it! What a joker you were. I have endless memories of being embarrassed as an adolescent! And underneath all the eye rolling and yelling I did while being embarrassed….I would be smiling inside, trying like hell not to let you know that I loved it! I was so proud of you. You were so handsome and so cool and so talented and successful and you were so fun to have around. All my friends thought you were so great! Even when your antics affected them, they just couldn’t believe how funny you were. None of their dads behaved like you! You were crazy! And I was proud of you. All my girlfriends liked being at our house because you were always so fun. I miss you so much. I often think about how badly I wish you and Scott could have met. My sweet quiet man would not have known what to think of you Dad! Hah! And I don’t think Mariah would ever want you out of her sight! She loves to hear stories of how you would totally embarrass me in public. And she wishes you could have embarrassed her. Oh Dad, how I miss you and wish everyday that you were here. I would trade anything just to have you back. But life doesn’t work like that. And so, I am just grateful to have had you as my Dad! You came into my life when I needed you most and embraced me with love and adoration and cherished me and made me feel loved. And I hope you felt my love right back. One thing that I know to be true, even now in my life, Family is not defined by blood but simply by love and love was the most precious gift you ever gave to me. You stood by my side during some of the most crucial times and guided and directed me while offering support and unending devotion. I may not be able to spend the day with you Dad, but just writing these words makes me feel as though I’ve celebrated Father’s Day and given you a gift. I miss you everyday but I know you’ll always be with me. And, I’m certain your wishing you could do something from up there to embarrass me! Hah! Happy Father’s Day Dad……..

Happy Birthday To Scott!

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Today is Scott’s Birthday!

Happy Birthday to my best friend! He’s finally the same age as me and cant call me the ‘old’ lady anymore! For six whole months he loves to point out that I’m older than him and today is the day that nonsense comes to a halt! HUMPH! We’re spending two nights at Boca Chica. We were here in April for Easter but we stayed at a different hotel last time. I tried to get reservations at the same place, Seagull Cove Lodge, but they were booked. So I found this one , it’s called Bocas Del Mar. And what a nice place it is. It’s actually very near the other place and we both agree we like them both. It’s really nice to have a place like this to visit, it’s only about an hour and forty five minutes from Boquete which makes it a very easy place to get to for a weekend away. For my friends who don’t know, this wonderful spot is on the Pacific side of Panama. The Gulf Of Chiriqui is a beautiful area to visit, although , for us, it’s a bit hot! Today we plan to have them prepare a picnic lunch for us and we’ll take out one of their kayaks and paddle over to one of the nearby islands to relax and read for the day. Last time we were here we paddled over there and discovered a lovely little beach with lots of shade trees and not a soul around. We’ll bring out kindles and just have a lazy afternoon, we might even bring a bottle of wine along….who am I kidding “Might?” Hah! We’ll definitely bring a bottle of wine along! :) Yesterday when we arrived and were having lunch in the restaurant here at the hotel, I told the proprietor who we were chatting with, that today was going to be Scotts birthday. This is something I do every year, which My Sweet, quiet guy just hates with a passion and which I could care less how much he hates it! (said with an evil smile!) Because I made that announcement (lovingly, I may add!) to the management, she said she would instruct the kitchen to prepare him a cake tonight! Hah! So, to his horror, and my delight, I’m certain he’ll get sung to this evening and all will get to celebrate his special day. It really is a special day to me, because it marks the day that my most favorite person came into this world! That, and the fact that he can finally put a lid on that ,”your older than me crap!” hah!!! :) Happy Birthday My Love!!

Mariah Went Back Home…Sigh…

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Sigh! I just realized, because many have been asking me, that I’ve neglected to write about Mariah’s departure. She went back to California on June 3rd. Sad Face….I think she would say that her visit was a really good time. This was her first vacation as a grown up, and her first journey outside of the U.S. Well, to be honest, her father has taken her to Mexico, but in my mind, it really doesn’t count because it was a resort, she never really ‘saw’ Mexico. When you spend time in a plush resort, surrounded by swimming pools and fancy restaurants, can you really feel as though you’ve experienced a different culture and seen a new place? I don’t really think so. But on this vacation to Panama Mariah really and truly saw Panama and experienced a different culture. Read the rest of this entry

Mornings…. this is what mine look like, not that it’s especially noteworthy, just started typing and here’s what came out…

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Hmmmmm….at night, when we go to bed, we set the alarm for 6:15 A.M. My mornings go like this…I get up and Copper is usually meowing and meowing at me to give him some food. This is a new behavior from my 14 year old cat who used to be very independent and aloof. He’s somehow decided to be very talkative, especially in the morning. As soon as I open the bathroom door, there he is, sitting right by the door, looking up at me expectantly and meowing. Okay….So I give him a little bit of food and start to make breakfast for Scott. I may have mentioned in past posts, and those who read this who know me well may be aware, I’m not normally the one who uses the kitchen much. That area of our house has traditionally been Scotts area. But, things have begun to shift a bit in our lives…I now make breakfast…every morning. I know, I also had to read that sentence twice. It’s true. I wouldn’t lie to ya. My repertoire is not extensive, but Scott never ever complains, this could be due to the shock of seeing me preparing food, or maybe its fear? Who knows, possibly fear of what he’s going to have to eat! Hah! Naaaa, I’m choosing to believe that he’s just grateful and hungry! His favorite breakfast food is pancakes. I’ve actually mastered making pancakes… from scratch no less! Yep! Milk, egg, butter , sugar,salt,baking powder, vanilla and cinnamon! I hope your sitting down as you read this…cuz’ it’s fairly unbelievable, but true. One batch makes enough for two days for him, I’m not a big fan of Pancakes so I zip lock the remainder and voila! I have two meals! Hah! Read the rest of this entry

The Poor in Chiriqui

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The Poor in Chiriqui

hollycarter184:

I’m reblogging a post written by my friend Cindy, who also lives here in Boquete. If any of my readers are interested in donating anything to this little organization please contact me personally and I will give you an address to send things to. I just love those sweet little faces and would like to help as well. Thanks…Holly

Originally posted on Chapter 3: Loving Retirement in Panama:

This morning I went to the Volcancito Mission with my friend and head knitter in Boquete.  She was delivering over 100 knitted articles, from blankets to booties.  She organized a group to do this, which originally was made up of expats.   Now it  includes Panamanian and indigenous women – learning a skill and building their self-esteem.

This group does not get a lot of attention in the community.  Their fundraising has been limited.  But the ‘jefa’ of the group, Brandy, is about to change that. Arecela 3 I went to the mission with her today to take pictures of the children who get the caps, sweaters and blankets her group knits.  The children (or their moms) were waiting to be seen by a doctor.  The kids were absolutely adorable.  When a sweater was brought to them to try on, their eyes just lit up.

Samuel and momTheir culture is much different than ours.  They rarely smile, even…

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A new road to our property! Yippee!

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When we first bought our property the brush and plants on the ‘road’ were taller than our car. There really was not much of a ‘road’ to speak of, just kind of a general ‘direction’ that we knew we were headed to get there. I remember feeling a bit nervous, (well a ‘bit’ is an understatement) about the lack of infrastructure for this lot we decided to buy. Our neighbors Alan and Kat, who had built their home a few years before, had installed a beautiful road that went as far as their house. You see, our property is accessed through a public easement and we are at the very end of that easement. So after A & K’s house we were in the wild as we made our way to our property, our future home. Along this way to our place we could see that there is a coffee finca on our left hand side ,where we would often see workers caring for the plants as we drove on up past them. We learned from Alan that the owner of that finca is a Panamanian man named Senior Aldo. I believe he lives in Panama City and works at the canal as a boat captain. He has been here to visit a couple of times and we have gotten to meet him , he’s a very nice man. Read the rest of this entry

A Party For The Roof!

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Today is a first for us… Celebrating the completion of a brand new roof! We had no such celebration when we built our house in Los Altos. These Panamanians just love to celebrate and they seem to find any excuse for a Fiesta! This is just one small thing that I love about living here in Central America. Scott & I fit in just fine here, we too love a party! Although, truth be told, I could do without the Cow stomach soup! This could have fit in nicely for our Halloween Parties thought! Hah! Actually, I jest, I also really love the fact that they not only have a traditional celebration for a new roof, but a traditional dish to serve for the celebration! We too have certain dishes that are often reserved for celebrations, Turkey for Thanksgiving, Ham for Easter, and Hamburgers and Hot dogs for the 4th of July. So who's to say a little cow stomach soup is so odd for celebrating a shiny new roof! I'm really excited to do something special for our 7 workers who show up 6 days a week and work side by side with Scott to build our new home.

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Time For Our First Mondongada! The Traditional Celebration Of A New Techo…

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Well, the Techo (Roof) is nearly complete and I’ve learned from my new Panamanian friends that it’s customary for us to throw a celebration for our workers. It’s called a Mondongada! I just love a good celebration so I’m READY! Apparently this is a tradition here in Panama. At a Mondogada one serves a traditional dish called Mondongo. It’s a soup that’s similar to the Mexican dish called Menudo, basically tripe or cow stomach soup. Gulp! Here’s a recipe I found… Read the rest of this entry

Our One Year Anniversary Of Living In Panama!

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Wow! A year has already gone by! How the heck did that happen? I have no idea, but it’s certainly been a wild ride!. It’s funny how the year ‘before’ our move seemed to drag on and on, but our first year living here in Boquete seems to have flown by like the blink of any eye. Anniversaries are usually a good time to reflect on many things about the previous year and the experiences that we had. I’ve tried to share the good, as well as the not so good or especially challenging parts of my first year of adjusting to living in another country and adapting to a totally different life. I’ve shared my story and my own personal perspective on my expat experience. We’ve accomplished a lot in the first year of our new adventure. We’ve managed to create a new life here that suits us and is making us very happy. Building a new life takes a lot of time and energy and the great news is, we have all the time in the world! We’re in no hurry and our adventure is moving along at a pace that suits us just fine.

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My Time So Far With Mariah…

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For months I’ve been counting the day’s until Mariah got to Panama! She arrived on May 11th and today she has 10 more days of her visit left, she goes home on June 3rd. We’ve had so much fun exploring together and reconnecting in a way that we never have before. I must say that I ‘m enjoying the company of my daughter as a mature, (mostly! :) Hah! ) young women, for the first time. It’s been so incredible to get to know this independent, young women and to discover and renew a relationship with her like I’ve never had before. We’ve been working on putting the past travails behind us and on establishing a relationship based on who we are now. The past is long gone and although we all three went through a lot of pain and sorrow together , it’s time that we all let go and forgive. We’ll just chalk it up to a nasty adolescence and move forward from here…

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Casita Progress…

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As I've been running around with Mariah enjoying every second with her, Scott continues to slave away up at the property. He's determined to get the roof on the casita before the rainy season begins in earnest. We've had a little rain, but not too much yet. He thinks by next week we should be pretty close to having the entire house covered with the first part of the roof. Yea! I was up there this week having lunch with him and was very impressed and not a little overwhelmed just watching all the different projects that he's overseeing all at the same time! While Two guys are up on the roof doing all the welding, another two are setting forms and pouring the concrete pillars on the terrace, and then two are working on making a retaining wall and one other guy was digging the long ditch for the septic system. Whew! And Scott must oversee all these different projects simultaneously while he's running back and forth with materials and planning what comes next. I tell ya, it's darn right exhausting just thinking about all the forethought it takes to make a project like this happen, and he's doing it all in a language that he has just learned! That guy! (big, proud smile!) Read the rest of this entry

My Best Ever Mother’s Day Present…

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Well, all the waiting and anticipation is over and my precious daughter is finally here with me in Panama. I had the best Mother’s Day ! It’s been almost a whole year since I’ve seen her and to have her right here next to me makes my heart so happy. Her journey went well and she arrived in Panama City without having any problems with her flights from California. I must admit, I had a bit of a panic attack when she told me that her friend was arriving at her house in San Jose at 6:30 to drive her to the San Francisco Airport for an 8:30 P.M. flight! “WHAT!” Oh my god, I was quickly texting her that she needed to get to the airport at least 2 hours early for an international flight. She had a layover in Vegas but her bags would have to be checked in for the international flight. The drive from San Jose to SF is at least 45 minutes, which means she would not get to the airport until after 7:00 for an 8:30 departure. This is her first time traveling internationally and I was very nervous, I know….”Where’s that ‘tranquilo’ Holly?” Humph! The possibility of her missing the flight had my stomach in knots! My daughter has a natural ability to have that affect on me…hah! Some things never change… Read the rest of this entry