I haven’t had a second since Thursday to sit down and write . All the fun began on Friday at Spanish school. As usual, the first half of the day consisted of me struggling through class and trying my best to make my head comprehend something. We always have about a twenty minute break at about 2:45ish then we resume our lessons until 5:00. Here is where you begin to get more of an understanding of just why I have fallen in love with my teacher…Yubal, he had the brilliant idea to commence our studies at the bar down the street! He arranged for another class to join us so we could practice our Spanish. And practice we did, with the aide of Margarita’s suddenly Spanish lessons were beginning to become a bit more fun. We sat together and began to converse in español. Mi nombre es, Holly, yo de los estados unidos. Vivo en Boquete. Estoy jubilado. Yo vivido en Boquete por un mes. Blah! Blah! Blah! The last two hours of school flew by incredibly fast and when Scott found me at the bar having a margarita aided lesson, boy was he envious! (Big smile here!) But far be it for my man Scott to hold a grudge, especially when cerveza is close at hand! LOL!! He quickly joined in on the fun and began to take advantage of the opportunity to chat as much as possible with his burned out brain ! We ended up staying at the bar until about 8:00 then everyone decided it was time to go Dancing!!
The Bloggers Meet.A good day was had by all!
We had our maiden trip to Price-mart today. I know, exciting huh? Well it was just as everyone had said, exactly like Costco. Maybe a bit smaller but it’s really no different. They may not have all the same things and maybe not as much of a selection but the selection was adequate for our needs. Surprisingly, the membership process went incredibly smoothly considering we are in Panama. We expected inefficiency but we got unexpected but very appreciated efficiency. We strolled up and down all the isles and picked up the things we needed and as everyone does in those places, a few things we didn’t really ‘need’. We intended to begin cooking tonight , got nearly all the fixins’ for chicken fajita’s . But, that darn Big Daddy’s called to us again after school. Two Margarita’s later and Fish Tacos replaced the home cookin’. We’ll try tomorrow.
While Spanish school is going ok, it’s really, really hard for me. No, I don’t mean , just “hard” I mean HARD! I’m not feeling completely defeated , don’t worry. I’m just in the process of trying to figure out the best way for me to approach this language learning thing. I realize I need to be patient and just keep trying and not be too negative. It has , after all, only been ten days,(after tomorrow). I went to discuss this with the administration at Habla Ya and they were very understanding, of course. Everyone learns at very different rates and they must see this kind of issue all the time. I am thinking about trying a private class that is maybe fewer hours. The added pressure of trying to catch on to the lessons in a group is just too much. The whole group has to wait. while I try soooo hard to ‘get’ it, Geesh! I’m certain I will find just the right way for me to learn spanish. I’m not looking for an easier way, nooo I dont think that is even a possibility, this is going to take a lot of work and determination. But If I can somehow eliminate as much of the added pressure as I possibly can, then I can allow myself to concentrate on “learning” more and less on how my slow process is effecting people around me. Shrug! This is my theory. I’ll just have to give it a try and see what happens.
Scott, on the other hand is enjoying his higher level class that he moved into. It is level 2 and it’s much more of a challenge for him, which he likes. He is also working really hard to get it. The thing about Scott is, he has really good recall. His ability to comprehend is amazing. I think he already has a pretty good amount of vocabulary memorized which is helping him a lot. Now he is focused on learning the more complex things like stringing those vocabulary words together to make a proper sentence. He’s focused and determined and just as brain dead as I am at the end of each day. I seriously wonder if we are ever going to actually have the energy to begin to cook at home in the evenings after school. Especially with those Margarita’s calling our names everyday at the end of class…..”Scooootttt, Hooolllllyyy…..YoooooHooooo!”. You know how convincing a good margarita can be, right??
So far, this adventure we have undertaken has proven to be everything we could have hoped it would be. Each new day brings us more and more new experiences and we come into contact with so many new , interesting people and all of this adds up to lot’s of smiles and happiness. Today, my teacher Yubal, and I had a laughing fit that we just could not stop! I’m not even exactly sure we both completely know why the other was laughing so hard but it was soooo fun! He’s too funny! I wish I could bring him to life with my words but I just couldn’t begin to do him justice in the written word. Suffice it to say, He’s the kind of ‘guy friend’ every girl loves to have! From his distaste of anything buggy, dirty, or unfashionable to his exclamations of “Perrrrrfecto HOLLY!” And of course his love of Taylor Swift and of Shopping malls, I at times feel as though my Dad is teaching this class! And his sense of humor , even though we barely understand each other just tops it all off! Yes, Yubal is yet another part of my Adventure that makes me smile! I may be having a hard time learning and attempting to comprehend is painful but as long as I can laugh and have fun all is well! And I must say…..All Is Well!! Cheers!
I just wanted clarify, The last post that I published had a title that I’m sure attracted a lot of attention. I wanted to clarify, I did not write that post. I “re-blogged” that post from another blogger who has been living in Panama City with their two young children for about a year now. They have really enjoyed their time here and have had the best experience ever! But I just thought it was really good to share what they thought were some of the not so great things about living in the city. I’ve been following their blog for a long time and enjoyed witnessing a family with small children having such an amazing adventure together. They have made it very clear during the course of their year here that they have really LOVED their experience. After I posted it, I began to worry that some may be confused and think that I Hate living here. I think the author of that post wrote it with kindness and it didn’t seem like they were being really negative, just honest about some of the things that bug them. No place in the world is perfect, this is true. I’m also sure that as time goes by there will be certain things about living here that will drive me crazy. But I must say, I didn’t move from the states to “run away” from anything particular, although there’s plenty to hate about living there and plenty I could complain about. There are plenty of expats who move to Panama and end up becoming negative and complain about how different it is is from the states. To me, the differences (for the most part) are a breath of fresh air. This being said, I’m certain that after living here for awhile some aspects of living here will begin to wear on me. My point is, yes I have a point, I don’t hate living in Panama. It really bugs me when some people bitch and moan about some of the differences here and I often find myself saying,”why are they here?” . The way that Panamablu wrote that post was honest without sounding like they “really” hated it here. Of course I have the advantage of having followed their blog and I know how much they really have “loved” being here.
I occasionally “re-blog” posts written from other bloggers because I like to offer my followers other perspectives. I follow quite a few bloggers who, like me, are pursuing a very different lifestyle in other countries. Everyone has their different reasons for doing it as well as different perspectives on their new life in a different country. I think it’s a lot of fun and very interesting to hear their stories so from time to time I will share them with you. This last ‘re-blog’ seemed to get a lot of attention and I think the title was pretty bold. If I enjoy hearing from various bloggers who are kind enough to share their life with us, I hope those of you who follow my story also enjoy a bit of variety. I happened to be a big fan of hearing peoples stories. After all, we all have one and our ‘stories’ are what make us all uniquely who we are. Every time I read a post published by a fellow blogger I find myself feeling grateful to them for their willingness to share their life and I also enjoy the talent they have of writing such vivid descriptions of their life. As a fan of all things ‘literature’, I’ve found great pleasure in reading the blogs of so many different amazing people. Cheers!
I like the way this blogger shares the truth about the not so good things that they discovered about living here in Panama, but particularly Panama City . Although there is so much good and beautiful to share its not so bad to be honest, in a kind way, about some of the negatives. No place is perfect, that’s for sure.
Readers of this blog know the Blumel family has been charmed by Panama and our six months here will certainly rank among our lives’ great adventures. We have recounted in our posts many of our favorite people, places and things. But recall we were not on vacation, we lived here. And there were a few standout day-to-day frustrations worth bitching about. So, to add some balance to our blog — or perhaps as some form of therapy — we offer our top three kvetches (in reverse order).
#3 PAYING BILLS AT THE BANK – This was Phil’s big one. Presumably because a physical mail system doesn’t really exist, bills are often paid at the bank. You bring a stack of cash and the account numbers of the vendors (which in our case included school, utilities, school bus and a few deposits for our weekend adventures) and – after waiting in line – the…
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Today after school we went to the produce market to pick up a few things. Boy did we score some delicious fresh produce. Here is a picture of all the yummy things we bought. We got a pinapple, 3 mangos, 2 avocados, a carrot, a head of lettuce, green onion, a bag of 5 heads of garlic , 2 onions, 2 potatos, a big tomato, cilantro, 12 bananas,2 limes, zuccinni, 2 yellow onions, whew, I think that’s it! And the grand total was…..$8.65 !! It’s all just so fresh and so tasty. Tomorrow we plan to go check out Price Mart for the first time. So tonight we will get our homework done , which translates to….No Tinto Vino tonight!! Darn!! Up till now we havent really done our normal cooking so its about time to try to make some of our staples. We have determined that the cooking tools which have been provided here in our “furnished” rental just won’t do. We need a few little things like a good saute pan, a caserol dish , a cookie sheet , a cheese grater and a whisk, that should just about do it. First up on our menu this week,(Thursday) will be Chicken Fajita’s! But tonight its macaroni and cheese and sausage. We should be able to make it down to David early and get our Price Mart membership established, spend some time shopping and then get back to Boquete with plenty of time to be to school on time. As soon as we ship our container that has all our belongings from California Scott will be well prepared for his regular cooking. We aren’t buying all the things we already have in our container, just a few essentials that we’re finding it difficult to carry on without. As you can see by these photos we will most certainly not be doing ‘without’ fresh produce. Lucky us! Cheers!
This is Yubal, our very patient teacher at Habla Ya!!
It’s 10:15 at night and Scott is fast asleep. Our week days are flying by so fast! Spanish class is really quite all-consuming. We usually get up by 6:30 or 7:00 then we have our coffee while we slowly wake up. Crack open the Spanish workbooks and casually begin to do a bit of studying. Then we have our breakfast and continue studying until its time to get showered and dressed for the day. We leave the house by 12:15-12:30. Class begins at 1:00 and before I know it , it;s 5:00 and we are like two Zombies as we walk out of our classes! I’m amazed how tired one can get from attempting to make an old, lazy brain do things it’s not accustomed to doing.(like memorizing verbs and conjugating?)
I’m very impressed with the Restauranteur who very wisely and strategically opened “Big Daddy’s” right next door to Habla Ya,(the spanish school). Not only are they right next door to the school but they serve the absolute best Margarita’s in town!! And May I add, at precisely 5:00pm every day, that comes in very handy!! Mind you. the proprietor of said,”Big Daddy’s” , has suggested to us, after hearing our moaning and groaning about the difficulty of learning Spanish, that we may want to try having one or two of his famous Margarita’s “Before” class!! HMMMMM! I’m not sure this is prudent advise! But, who knows, I will ponder it. I’m pretty sure the Post-school Margarita is about all I can take and Yubal, my teacher would surly frown on this student snoozing in his classroom. No, I’m afraid Big Daddy’s will continue to be our “after school hang out”.
Today after class we invited Jordan, Molly and Angelica to join us at Big Daddy’s. It was nice to hang out with our fellow spanish students and to get to know them a little better. Molly is a very sweet 29 year old collage student who works as a server at a restaurant in California and is here studying Spanish for her degree. She is staying in a youth Hostel down the street from the school and plans to study here in Boquete for two weeks then move to the Bocas del torro campus for one additional week. She would humbly disagree but I think she is the most advanced student in our class. Today when we were quizzed on numbers she got almost all of them right after only studying them while walking around this morning. She told us today that she is very excited because her sister is coming here to visit with her. She is learning about all the fun outdoorsy activities there are to do here so she will be able to show her big sis around and enjoy some adventures together.
Now , yesterday I told you a little about Angelica. She is the 17 year old who is here on her own for 5 weeks. Well, I gotta tell ya, after getting to know her a bit more today, she scares me!! She is rather…. clueless, (I say this in a loving way, not mean at all.) Learning spanish is coming easy for her because she has no inhibitions and is rather fearless. But we all know that in life having a bit of healthy fear can help us to stay safe? She is staying with a very nice Panamanian family way up in the mountains, not close to town. Today she had a bit of trouble getting to school because she got lost, caught a taxi,dropped her school books and the books got run over by a car then they were soaking wet so after getting in the taxi she sat the books next to a vent so they would dry and proceeded to leave them on the bus when she got off. And the hand drawn map with directions to her house where she is staying was with her school books!! Oh boy! That’s not all, her bank card isn’t working, she has no money and her cell phone died! So, she lost her school books, has no phone or money and doesn’t know how to get back to where she is staying, as if that weren’t scary enough, she was not one bit worried about any of this!!!! Nope! She was giggly and relaxed and as 6:00 was fast approaching (It gets dark here at that hour) this mom(me!) was trying so hard to just let it be. She seemed to think all was well and I could tell that she’s the kind of person who would have no problem asking for assistance if she felt she needed it so I kept my mouth shut. Oh boy!! Everyone has their own journey and she will be fine, I just have a tendency to worry about a young girl on her own in a strange country. I’m really hoping she got back to her host family and that she is ok. I’m sure she is.
Now, Jordan is a very fun, happy , adventurous, independent guy. He loves to laugh and is making the class so fun for me. Today we were paired up to create a conversation with all the phrases we learned for when your eating at a restaurant. So we had to write down what we would say , he was the server and I was the customer. We had a good time, at one point I ordered The special of the day( Cual es el especial del dia?) which he said was pollo y Papa’s Frita”s. then he brought be a salad and I told him that’s not what I ordered( Esto no es lo que pedi) and he proceeded to tell me that I had drank too much vino tinto!! How rude!! LOL! Yes, it’s good to have fun while attempting to learn! Jordan is in law enforcement and works with the state department on contract. He gets sent to different countries to train their law enforcement people there. He just finished 3 years in the Middle East and is taking a break right now before his next contract which is in Haiti. What an adventurous spirit. He too is doing a Home stay with a Panamanian family close to the school. When I asked him what language they speak in Haiti, he said,”French!, and I’m studying Spanish!, I may not have thought that one through!” Ha!Ha! Yes, I’m having a great time getting to know some very very amazing people. And I haven’t even begun to describe my teacher, Yubal! I’ll have to get to that in another post, it’s nearly 11:00 now!
I knew that for me, the most rewarding aspect of this new beginning would be getting to know so many new people. And here I am, enjoying getting to know such a variety of kind, open-minded, adventurous, friendly people!! Ahhhhh! Learning Spanish may be a huge challenge but making connections with new people is making it worth every minute. And in the end, after I get a grasp on the language I will be able to connect with more of the local panamanians I come into contact with in my day to day life. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…. The hardest , most challenging things I’ve done in my life have always, without exception, ended up being the most valuable!! Each day of this Adventure is beautiful in more ways than I could have imagined it to be.! Cheers!
I just got out of my Spanish class and I’m waiting for Scott to come from his class. It was our first day in separate classes so I’m interested to hear how it went for him. I’m doing a review of last week and I must say it’s muy bueno ! My decision to review last weeks lesson has been the right thing for me. The pace last week was just too fast for me. Not only have I never learned another language, I haven’t even been in a classroom in over thirty years! Soooooo here I go UNO MAS time!
I really felt good about my lesson today. Nooooo, I’m not quite fluent yet, but I’m having a good time learning a tiny bit each day. I’m also enjoying getting to know some interesting new people , which to me is a win win!! Last week our class included myself, Scott and one other student named Jordan . This week Jordan an me are joined by two new students . One young lady is studying Spanish here as a requirement for her degree, she’s staying in a hostel in town for two weeks. The other young lady is a 17 year old who is here doing a home-stay all by herself for five weeks. We’ll call her Angelica. I was very impressed by this 17 year old! She flew from Virginia to Miami then into Panama City and finally into David. After all these flights she caught a public bus up here to Boquete where she is now staying with a local family while she study’s spanish for the next five weeks. Pretty impressive for such a young girl!
Scott’s new class is much more of a challenge for him which I think he will like. Although I suspect there will be much more studying going on around here now. As long as we manage to balance studying with equal amounts of relaxing and having fun , all will be well for these two adventurers. Poco a poco and day by day we live we love and most importantly we laugh and enjoy each passing day… Cheers!
Yesterday (Saturday) while I spent the day at home with my sick husband, I got to spend time socializing with some of my family back in California. I just love modern technology! Natalie likes to use Skype and Mariah and Elisabeth use FaceTime on their iPhones. My daughter, Mariah and her roommates were having a housewarming party and I was invited to attend via FaceTime! She was so excited to show me how much work she and her roommates put into the preparations for their party. The decorations, the food, the SANGRIA, and the yard with all the tables and chairs . She was right, I was proud of her and her friends. It was so fun to feel like I was there. And to be introduced to so many of her friends, “This is my MOM, she lives in Panama!” Adorable! My daughter, that is. She sounded so proud of her old mom. Her friends thought it was pretty cool that I was there with them via FaceTime, from Panama . Now, had I ‘actually’ been there,( I mean, ‘Been There, Been There’), It would probably not have been quite so ‘cool’. LOL! Again, I just love modern Technology.
Mariah and Elisabeth are good friends and so Elisabeth went to the housewarming party. After being walked around the party with Mariah and getting introduced to lot’s of her friends, she and I got a chance to catch up a bit . I hadn’t talked with her for about a week or so and It was good to hear how things are going for her. I told her to go enjoy her party and I would talk with her later. When Elisabeth got to the party they called me again and I got a chance to catch up with her for a while. It’s the first time I’ve gotten to talk with Elisabeth since I left. I really miss her. For those of you who don’t know, Elisabeth is a very talented hairstylist who worked with me in my salon. I sent the majority of my clients to her after I retired and as I already knew, they are in good hands. It was great to spend a little time with her and to hear about how my clients are doing. She’s working really hard and feeling great about all the new people who she’s getting to know. It sounds like the transition is working out good for everyone and that makes me so happy.
After catching up with Mariah and Elisabeth I got to Skype with Natalie. She is in the process of remodeling her kitchen. It was fun to see all the work in progress and to hear how happy she is with all her new tile and appliances. She agonized over this remodel and how to do it, what she wanted it to look like , and all the things everyone agonizes over when demolishing a part of your home in the process of a remodel. I could hear the pleasure in her voice, she’s really pleased with her design choices and with the contractor who she hired to do the work. I’m so glad for her, it looks amazing! We also chatted a bit about the salon and she told me how different it is there now. The new owner, Stephanie is in the process of completely remodeling the place. It’s quite sad to think about how easily something you create and have felt proud of for so many years can just be gone forever . I know my decision to change my life has changed my co-workers lives as well as all the many clients and friends who have enjoyed visiting the salon all these years. Everyone seems to be adjusting to the change, some happily and others not so much. One nice thing is that Elisabeth and Natalie sound as if they have grown quite close and are enjoying working together and supporting each other through their mutual struggle to adapt to all the changes they are experiencing. When you have spent so much of your time , (every single day,for so many years) practically living in a space such as that little salon, it’s very much like your home. I know they were also very attached to it and are doing their best to remain optimistic with what is going on around them. So much change, especially change that you did not choose and have no control over, has got to be difficult , and those two are managing to embrace it all with such a positive outlook . Hopefully their work environment will be back in order soon and they can feel proud of where they work again and enjoy the new, updated aspects that Stephanie and her husband are working hard to install.
I’m really glad I have the ability to keep in touch with everyone back in California . FaceTime is just like being there! This weekend I got to spend time with not only Mariah , Elisabeth and Natalie, but my mother and Scotts mom as well. It’s been almost a month that we’ve been here and now that the hurry and scurry of making an international move is settling in, I am really beginning to feel the ‘pangs’ of missing those I love. I think this weekend , just relaxing and staying in is the first real ‘Down’ time I’ve had in a really long time. It’s a comfort to see everyone and to have the ability to stay connected. I’m happy to report that Scott is on the mend and cooking up our breakfast as I’m typing! Not only are our friends and family having a period of adjustment but apparently our internal organs have a bit of adjusting to deal with as well. I’ve learned from our good friends who have lived here for many years and are seasoned expats, that it’s not uncommon to have occasional tummy issues. The solution to this issue comes in the form of two little pills that we need to take every four months. I took a dash down to our local pharmacy and managed to acquire these magic, gringo tummy pills right away. Good to know!! Let’s hope we got a handle on this little issue!
As another week begins I’m feeling recharged from the restful weekend and ready to face the next week of Spanish lessons. I got so much encouragement from so many people! I’m not gonna be too hard on myself and I know Im not in any hurry! It takes a very long time to learn a new language and I am reminded that, ” Poco a Poco”, and I’ll get it! 😄 Cheers!
Everyone, and I do mean EVERYONE, has told us how delicious the fried chicken is here! Scott is sick today so I had to fend for myself, Yikes! The obvious solution was , yep, Milquiburger! It did not disappoint ! Poor Scott will have to try it another time. Which means I had my maiden voyage out all by myself. Until now we have been attached at the hip , so it was really good for me to go alone to the market to buy Scott some Chicken soup and some crackers for his sick tummy. Plus I got to drive the new truck for the first time. I only had one little snafooo when I tried to shift from 3rd to 4th, oops I got 2nd instead of 4th! Yikes! It’s been forever since I have driven a stick-shift. But I made it! Cheers!!
Our first week of Spanish school and I’m exhausted!! Holy Moly!! It’s gonna be a longggg ten weeks! I really like our teacher, Jubal, he’s extremely patient with this slowww gringo. The amount of repetition my old,slow brain requires is hard to believe. He must think I belong on the special bus. Heck, I am wondering myself why it takes me so long to learn, especially compared to my sweet (insert eye roll here) Scott! It seems as though he needs only to hear it one time and it’s forever embedded in his brain! Geesh! I’m just kidding,(mostly) but Scott really does learn relatively fast and seemingly effortlessly. Ok….I’m probably being a touch dramatic but that guy is some kind of genius! GEEEESH!
I’ve never been a good student, academia is not where I feel at home. I’ve got a feeling, I’m my own worst enemy . My self talk is debilitating and at times causes my brain to completely shut down. I went into this Spanish class fully aware of this self-sabotaging habit of mine, it’s nothing new. In spite of this life-long habit I’m determined not to let this weakness overcome my determination to learn Spanish. I had a similar experience when I went to my very first sculpture workshop. I stood there in front of my lump of clay and my mind went blank. I looked around at the other sculptures in the room and saw that they began to work in their clay without a bit of hesitation. I had to force myself not to compare myself to them. In order to allow myself to open my mind and attempt to do something I was not at first comfortable doing, I had to just let go of my inhibitions and dive in . I wasn’t an instant success at creating a beautiful likeness to the pose the model was holding. Heck, I may never have the natural talent that most of my sculpture friends have, but I did a pretty darn good job for a beginner. Although, mostly, I really enjoyed seeing my lump of clay miraculously turn into something kinda pretty! In that instance, I persevered and I triumphed over my negative self-talk that was saying,” I can’t do this!”
It’s only the first week but I can see that I have indeed committed myself to a challenge, that damn negative self-talk is at it again. Yesterday, at the end of the day Scott and I discussed how we felt the first week went for us. For me the class is moving much too fast. For him, the pace was not a problem. (No surprise) So something needs to change for me. We have one other student in our class with us , Jordan, who agreed with me about the pace being too fast. So after discussing this with our teacher and going to the office to discuss it we decided that Scott will do next week in a private ,one on one class while me and Jordan spend next week reviewing everything we went through this week. This idea seems to be agreeable to everyone. We will see where it goes from there. It just may be that Scott and I will not be in the same class, which is what I always expected.
I must say that, as usual, learning with Scott is an absolute pleasure. I like to joke around about how weirdly smart the guy is but to be quite honest he selflessly helps me study and patiently explains things to me over and over and over again until it “mostly’ sinks into my stubborn head. He never, ever, not even once, makes me feel stupid or gets even the least bit frustrated with me. As we walk into town he will quiz me on numbers and each day it’s like I’m learning it all over again for the first time. He encourages me and tells me I’m improving, but I’m not so sure. See, there I go again! Seriously though, I’m committed to learning Spanish in spite of my history with my self-sabotaging ways!! Ya, it’s hard and I might find myself crying in frustration, but I’m deeply determined to continue on and to working hard . I may take two or three times as long to get it but Im confident that if I just keep moving forward and stop thinking negative thoughts, eventually I’ll get it. Whew!
Banking in Boquete. Our new friends have accomplished a milestone that we have not even begun to consider yet, but eventually we too will go through this process and may call upon them for advise !! Yikes!
We got up early today(yesterday) , 5:45! Yuck! We needed to walk into town early in order to catch the early bus into David to pick up our new truck . This may seem kinda crazy but we needed to get back here to Boquete so we would get to our Spanish class which starts at 1:00. It really hasn’t been too bad not having a car so far but, I gotta say, it’s nice to have the freedom to go wherever we like, whenever we like. Taxi’s are abundant and very inexpensive here but there’s just nothing like having your own transportation. After spending about an hour and a half sorting through all the final paperwork at the dealership with Oscar and his assistant Cinthia, we gleefully drove off the lot in our new truck (well,I may have been the gleeful party!) Next stop. The Do It Center!
We’ve been here for 22 days, (but who’s counting) and are slowly discovering a few little things we need. This apartment is furnished but there are just a few little household items we have discovered that have not been provided by the inn. Of course when we first got here we discovered there was no coffee pot in our room so we thought a french press would suffice and a blender was also something we really “wanted” in order to enjoy making smoothies with all these fresh fruits we were seeing in the market. A couple of days ago a glass jar of salsa fell out of our refrigerator and crashed onto the tile floor, breaking into a million little pieces, YIKES! After quickly getting Scott some shoes and picking up the cats and putting them in the bedroom I had to run downstairs and try to locate a broom to sweep up all the glass. AHA! I need a broom and a dustpan! Then , later as Scott was trying to whip up some breakfast we discovered that this new apartment has no mixing bowl, this will not do, how will he make pancakes? Another thing this apartment doesn’t have is a kitchen towel, may seem unimportant but remember there’s no dishwasher so yours truly needs something to dry dishes with .
Starting anew is a big adventure. When our container arrives we will then have all our creature comforts but in the meantime, we are making do with the bare minimum which for the most part is actually still more than some people have. Part of this lifestyle change for me has been to minimize my material possessions and to “want” less. As we packed up our possessions to be shipped here to our new home we sifted and sorted and got rid of a vast majority of “stuff” in order to minimize our possessions. It was a very liberating experience and I haven’t felt one ounce of regret for having chosen to clear out all the excess. As I write this post about a few little necessities, a way to make coffee, a blender for smoothies, a broom and dustpan to keep our living area clean, mixing bowls so Scott can cook, and dishtowels, I feel so pleased to be here. I still have sooooo much and my heart feels full of happiness ! The word that comes to my mind this morning as I write about the silly little things is Abundance. I feel as though I have an Abundance of happiness and joy each day I wake up and begin a new day here in my new home. Any and all material possessions are simply icing on the cake and I’m grateful for my new broom and my blender but what I feel the most grateful for is what I see when I look out these beautiful windows!
This place we have chosen to live is providing us with so much! Aside from the obvious, fresh mountain air, birdsong to wake up to each new day, flowers and trees in abundance , I could go on and on about the natural beauty all around us, the people we are meeting and getting to know, from the waitress at Pianista who was so pleased to see us last night for the second time and greeted us as though we were old friends, to the Spanish teacher who is making my class fun by laughing a lot! And the car salesman who reiterated that we must know that he is our friend and we should be sure to call him with “ANYTHING my Friend”, Doctor, lawyer, dentist, or if you are not sure about a person, we should call him because he knows everyone and he will tell us if they are good people or not! The Taxi driver who made us feel as though we were getting a ride from a friend. And the gardener who speaks no English but gives us a smile and a wave every time we walk past him. Oh and there is the friendliest construction crew who we walk past everyday , they wave and say “Bueno!” to us with big smiles ! Did I mention the school children? Yesterday, walking to town a little girl walking with her little brother very shyly, urged him over to us with big smiles on their faces and the little boy said to us, “Gooood Morning!” Ohhhh! They were so adorable, I just wanted to squeeze them! ( dont worry, I didnt !)
I guess all this to say, I feel as though my life is filled to the rim with abundance. An abundance of new friends and time to enjoy all that this amazing new place has to offer. As I said in the title of this post “We Got This!” I am putting the finishing touches on this post on the following morning . We just finished with breakfast and have spent all morning studying Spanish and doing our homework. Scott’s new hard drive for his poor lap top arrived yesterday but sadly , it doesn’t seem to be working, darn! So it’s possible a new lap top may be in order but not to worry, we have my trusty iPad!! Ahhhh the material possessions again, Oh well! Life is good and our Adventure continues! Off To school now! Ciao!
Amigos and Vecinos and our busy weekend.I just had to share one more post published by a local blogging friend here in Boquete! Such a great couple. Enjoy…
More Bloggers Unite at the Boquete Tuesday Market. This is a post published by my new blogging friend , Kris. We ran into her and Joel, her husband at our Spanish school today. I was so inspired by watching her have a full blown conversation with her teacher!! Her Spanish sounded sooooo great and I am so excited to be able to speak like her! I’m determined and motivated and now I know who I can practice with!!!
Our first day in Spanish class!! Drum role please……I survived! Not only did I survive my first day in Spanish class, I actually enjoyed it! And I must have been having fun cuz’ time flew by pretty fast! Even though Scott learns annoyingly fast, I tried not to compare myself to his freaky, crazy smartness! Smartness? (is that even a word?) Well, in spite of our vastly different speed, learning new things with Scott is something I never tire of. He is incredibly encouraging, patient,helpful and supportive beyond belief! There’s truly no one I would rather be diving into this adventure with but him.
We were in a class with only one other person, a 37 year old guy who is here in Boquete for two weeks studying spanish and then going to Bocas Del Toro for two more weeks to study spanish there. Luckily, he was pretty similar to me in his experience of the Spanish language so that made me feel good. Our teachers name is Yubal. He is a good teacher, I really like him a lot. It’s really good that Yubal doesn’t speak much English. It makes it hard to get him to make it easy for me. It felt so good to occasionally understand what he was attempting to say. Four hours of lessons is rather taxing on the old noggin’ but I may actually comprehend at least some of what we learned today. We have a book to study and we did just that as we ate dinner tonight. Scott helped me study some of the numbers. We will be quizzed tomorrow on two pages of phrases. It’s 8:30Pm and we just finally decided it was time to rest our brains.
Today we got a call from Oscar telling us that our new truck is ready to be picked up. We will catch the first bus, which we’re told is 7:00am. The Toyota dealership opens at 8:30 so we should be there ready to become proud owners of our very own truck, yippee! After driving off with our new truck we plan to take a quick trip to find a broom and dustpan, and a mixing bowl. Three things we discovered we need here in our new apartment. Poco a Poco we are settling in here! And Poco a Poco we are becoming bi-lingual ! One of these days I’ll be writing a post in Spanish and you’ll have to use Google Translate to read it! But for now I will enjoy my classes and learning something new together, which is always and Adventure! Ciao for now!
Well, a successful move across the hall has been accomplished. To the horror of the cat’s , who were getting pretty comfy in the studio apartment, we now have an actual bedroom and , yes folks, a full fledged DRESSER! AHHH! We are officially unpacked and sittin’ pretty here in our nice little one bedroom apartment. The thing I just love about this apartment is the windows. There’s a whole wall of windows in the living room and two big ones in the bedroom. The view is so beautiful, I just cant wait till there’s a nice thunder and lightening storm. I can sit on the sofa and just gaze at the sky and enjoy the view . We even have a much bigger refrigerator , not an actual full sized refrigerator, but not a counter height one which is much better.
Today is a very relaxing day, aside from moving, we aren’t getting much else accomplished. Although, I happened to think that relaxing is very important. Tomorrow is the first day of our Spanish school so It’s good to take advantage of a bit of down time.
About an hour or so later…
I just had a little FaceTime with my friend Cindy and Skype with Natalie. I am a big fan of keeping in touch with my friends this way. It’s so nice to be able to catch up and chat with people back home. I’ve also discovered the chat feature on Facebook, and it’s a good thing as well. I got to have some great chat time with a couple of really good friends who I miss terribly, Rhonda and Sandy! There are so many different ways to correspond with everyone back home. Natalie was sitting on the beach in Carmel …. It was a beautiful sunny, blue sky day. Cindy took me for a walk around her beautiful backyard and showed me her huge hydrangea. Yes, technology makes it easy to stay connected from here.
The next morning…
Ahhhh. It’s a beautiful morning, again, here in the highlands of Boquete! Can you see the smile on my face as I’m writing this? We had a good nights sleep in our new apartment, in spite of the “king” sized bed that is actually two twin beds pushed together! UGG! The proprietors here at the inn keep pigeons and they are kept in these big cages outside our bedroom window. The cat’s are mesmerized by this set-up. They also have a pet parrot who apparently hates the rain! He screamed during the entire time that it rained yesterday, not a happy parrot. The funny thing is , he has a covered section in his little caged in home but was choosing to stand in the pouring rain, yelling his little head off! Could he be singing in the rain and it just sounds like screaming? It’s possible. Anyways , the cat’s are quite entertained by the pigeons and I think it will be prudent to close the windows when we leave the apartment or we may come home to two “cat shaped” holes in the screens.
As I wrote up above, yesterday, Today is our first day of Spanish class! Oh Boy! I’m both scared and excited. I’m scared because It’ss been a really long time since I’ve been in a classroom setting and I’m hoping this brain of mine is still capable of learning!! And I’m super excited because I love to talk to people and get to know them and this language barrier is really cramping my style!! I just can’t wait to have the ability to talk with whom ever I like! So I think the excitement and anticipation of being able to speak another language is the overriding emotion so I’m ready to tackle this! Like most of the new things I’ve found myself diving into, I’ll just dive on in with a positive attitude and enjoy the process of learning something new. It’s all part of the Adventure, right? Yep! I’ll keep you posted on our progress, one thing I’m certain about…Me and Scott won’t be in the same class, at the same level for long! That darn guy learns sooooo fast, I’m sure he’ll be in the next level before I know it! That’s ok though, we all just learn at a different pace and my pace just happens to need to be repeated , and repeated and repeated! I’m prepared to be in the moment and continue to remember to embrace that “Tranquillo” mindset in this situation and to “Breathe”. Oh and most importantly, I’m planning to enjoy the process! I’ll be meeting many new people and making new friends along the way, this is something to really look forward to. Sooooo Let’s get this part of the Adventure started!!
He hates it when I tell people that its his birthday. So my gift to him this year was that I would not tell anyone!! (except for the little announcement I made on my Facebook page!) Hmmmmm? Well … I tried really hard ! And for most of the day I did pretty darn good ! We walked into town to check with the guys at MBE about the hard drive we are expecting from Dell. They told us that , yes they got an email notification that the package has arrived in Miami and should show up here in Boquete by next week, wed or thurs…Did I announce to them that is was Scott’s birthday? NO! Then We went to our Spanish school to pay for our ten weeks of classes which start on Monday, did I announce his BD there ? NO! Next we went to Baru restaurant in town for a beer and decided to have lunch, we chatted with the local, regular crazy gringo who keeps telling Scott about all the gringo’s who move here and end up leaving their wives for cute little Panamanian women Ugggg! I swear, we run into this guy every time we are there and he talks about this every single time! Of course today he added to his story the fact that you gotta be careful with these “cute” Panamanian women cuz’ they’ll fill a bag up with ice and bang themselves in the face and go tell the police that you beat her and tried to rape her! LOL! Hmmmmm.. Did I mention, Crazy gringo? Anyways as I was saying, did I announce Scott’s birthday at Baru? NO! Then we were invited to a lovely gathering by Valerie and Mark. They live in a complex in the Palo Alto area , kinda like several duplexes, and they organized a block party type of thing. There were about 15 people , everyone brought something to share, chips, mango salsa, bean dip, guacamole, wine, beer, and piña coladas . We all gathered under this great covered patio area up behind where they live. Such a great group of interesting, nice people all with very interesting stories of how they came to be here and what they do while living here. It was quite rainy and stormy, some thunder and lightening, the works, but not one bit cold, again I love this weather! Anyways, I of course, had a couple glasses of wine then suddenly I was drinking a very delicious Pina colada! Yummm! Then before I knew it I was announcing that we would have to be leaving because it is Scott’s Birthday!!!! OOOPS!!! Suddenly I had told 15 people ! Good Grief! Well, I had already told Valerie and Mark but that was before I promised not to tell people. Oh, I had also already told Al and Sela and Lyn and Eric and probably Andrea and Don! Hmmmm! I’m just soooo happy that he was born, I want everyone to know what a special day it is!! So after a delightful gathering with Valarie an Mark’s wonderful group of Amigo’s , off we went to IL PIANISTA for a special Birthday dinner. This was our first time eating a this restaurant and we were not disappointed. When we first walked in we were pleasantly surprised by the view of the river and a spectacular little waterfall surrounded by beautiful plants and flowers, it looked like something made in Disneyland! It was unreal looking but it was very real! What a great setting for a special Birthday dinner. We ordered a bottle of wine and suddenly, you’ll never guess what happened ! Somehow, I was telling our server that it is Scott’s Birthday!!!!! Yikes! As Scott glared at me with a grin hidden behind his beard, I said “OH NOOOO! OOOPS!” I told the server, “He hates when I tell people!” She laughed with me and thought it was so funny! Poor Scott! To top it all off, as we sipped on our wine, his cell phone rang and it was Lynn who proceeded to sing happy birthday to him! Ha!Ha!Ha! Thank goodness Someone sang to him today! No birthday is complete without at least one Happy Birthday To You Song!! He loved it! but I think I loved it most!! This is a repeated theme each year! Last year we were in Ecuador, in Cuenca , and I told the Chef! Well, I just cant help myself! I happened to consider June 14th a very special day, especially given the fact that it’s the end of the six months out of the year when he is younger than me!! I do believe Scott had a good day. We found out that our new car will be ready to pick up on Monday. It arrived at the dealership from Panama City today but Oscar says it will take all day tomorrow for them to deal with all the paperwork so we should wait till monday to pick it up( Oscar also wished Mr. Scott a happy Birthday when he called!) . All in all, not a bad birthday for Scott even though he’s stuck with such a big mouth wife, 🙂 He survives every year! His Adventure started when he met me and each day it continues and he’s just never sure what I’ll do next. He would hate it if I was predictable, although come to think about it, he probably could have predicted that by the end of the day most of Boquete would know it was his Birthday! LOL!! Cheers!!
We had a great dinner with our new friends, Andrea and Don last night. Scott and I cooked dinner and Andrea made a Chocolate Cocoanut cheesecake. We went to the market yesterday and got everything we needed to make lot’s of yummy food. We decided we would do a lomo de cerdo (Pork tenderloin) with Papas asadas ( roasted potatoes) and sandia gezpatcho ( watermelon gezpatcho) but first we thought we’d make Scott’s yummy Bruchetta. We had such a good time cooking again , it’s been such a long time. Plus it’s a great adventure to find all the things we needed . Learning how to use my translator app on my phone! I know, you thought I was doing so good! Not so much…but I’m doing good at using my app, for sure! Next week we start our intensive spanish school. I’ll keep you posted on my “actual’ spanish skills, when I finally start being able to actually speak and understand a bit of what’s going on around me. (insert eye-roll here!) .
Andrea and Don have a beautiful home , as I’ve written about already. They run a B & B Called “Boquete Guesthouse”. They have a web sight ( http://www.boqueteguesthouse.com) and you can also find them on Air B&B. They’re place is very popular and they seem to be getting very booked up. Andrea really enjoys meeting new people and she and Don are very friendly hosts. She makes a mean Espresso Martini, my kind O’ girl, for sure! They have a really amazing view of the canyon and of the mountains surrounding them, and when the weather is clear you can see all the way to the Pacific Ocean, it’s truly a spectacular setting. Last night we sat outside on their covered patio to enjoy our delicious dinner. They had candles and the climate here in Boquete allows year-round outdoor dining! Gotta love that! This California girl just loves the Thunder and lightening that adds to the ambiance of the al fresco dinning. You just don’t get that kind of weather in California. Good food, good drinks amazing desert and new friends…Fun was had by all! This Adventure is goin’ just fine! Life is GOOD, in Boquete! Cheers! 🙂
For our friends back home who may be wondering, how we get mail? Well, when we first got here we went down to the friendly Mail Boxes Etc office. They offer a few different packages for mail forwarding , prices are based on various amounts of mail in weight. There are 5 different choices ranging from $28.00-for 2 kilos (4.4lbs.) per month,to $131.00-for 16 kilos (35ish lbs.) per month. Here is the list of what the monthly fee includes…
1.P.O. box and physical address in Miami
2. Monthly weight for incoming and out coming mail
3. No minimum weight applicable for documents and packages
4. Monthly weight applicable for documents and packages
5. Process of the items in Miami (sorting and bar-code tracking sysstem).
6. Mail and packages available in approximately 3-4 working days.
7. E-mail notification
8. Mail check by phone
9. Shipping and handling from Miami to Boquete
10. Customs procedures (CIF value up to $2,000.00)
11. No volume weight charges
12. Insurance up to US $ 1,500.00
So we now have an address in Miami and it’s actually a Mailboxes Etc office, where they then forward our mail ,( which shouldn’t be much given the fact that we’ve changed most everything important to paperless statements and bills) to the MBE office here in Boquete and we go pick it up. Easy Breezy. I was naturally prompted to write about this because we are about to make good use of this service given the sad fact that Scott’s brand new Dell laptop just died!! Yep the hard drive crashed yesterday, GRRRRR! He spent a bunch of time on the phone with the IT people and they are mailing him a new hard drive. Our fingers are crossed that this mail forwarding service works well and that we receive our new hard drive without any issues. It has already arrived in Miami and should be here sometime next week. Meanwhile, I am having to share my precious iPad with Scott who is very grudgingly using it . He just doesn’t have to same admiration as I do for my trusty Apple products. Although you can be sure I have pointed out the fact that none of my trusty Apple products have crashed! Ha! Big smile right here! 🙂
This is a link to my friend Kris’s blog. She wrote a post about the big “Home Depot” like store here in Panama. Many people back home may wonder just how easy it is to get things that we are accustomed to having in the states. I think you’ll see we are not suffering.
Just when we thought we had settled our living situation we were invited to see a house for rent not far from where we are now. Oh my goodness, the house is perfect for us. We rented it and will change our arrangements here. I’m sure it will not be a problem, they’re pretty flexible here. The current tenants will be moving out the end of August so we will move in on Sept 1, we arranged a one year commitment . I took a couple pictures of the outside of the place. It’s on a coffee Finca (farm) set back a bit from the road, very pretty and private. The landlord is an American who lives in the U.S. and apparently comes to visit for about a week each year and puts the tenants up in a hotel while they are here, which works for us. The house is a two bedroom and two bathrooms and it has a kitchen that works for Scott(very important!) . I was pleased to see screens on all the windows but my favorite thing is the covered patio that has an outdoor fireplace. I just love sitting outside here in Boquete, especially when it’s rainy. So that’s settled.
Today , as we were doing our daily walk into town I was pondering my walk to work in Los Altos and how sad I was to leave it. I’m happy to report that my new walk is a superb replacement. I gaze at the lush, green mountains and the unbelievable variety of flowers and trees as we walk our 2-3 miles each day. And a bonus is , I’m walking with Scott! We chat and point out beautiful flowers and birds and different sights as we stroll along. I don’t think I’ve mentioned the birds. I am going to need a book (according to Eric & Lyn, two or three books) to help me identify what I’m seeing. I predict a future bird-watcher! There are just sooo many birds. Today we saw one with a bright red chest , it looked like a flying flower. I’ve never seen so many varieties of Hibiscus and Angels Trumpets as well as bougainvillea! And when we walk past a field of banana trees I just wish I could grab one but they are up way too high for me to get, darn! I never once walked by a banana tree on my way to work in Los Altos.
It seems like everyday we notice something new that we didn’t notice the day before. One thing that we notice is workers with machete’s trimming plants and weeds and then we notice that those same plants and weeds that were just chopped back a couple days ago. seem to grow back really fast . This is an extremely lush and hardy land everything grows so fast. Yesterday morning we were walking at about 7:00 in the morning and there were a bunch of school children walking to school together. Brother and sister holding hands so adorable in their crisp, clean uniforms an their hair all brushed and combed into place. It’s very refreshing to see young children able to safely walk to school without parents hovering to make sure they’re safe. Seldom did I see young children, (especially as young as these kids), walking to school on their own on my walk in Los Altos. The children here are very polite and their smiles just melt my heart. But, who doesn’t appreciate a friendly, confident “Buenos!” delivered with eye contact and a big smile?
We had a great lunch in town today at a place I’ve heard many good things about. Big Daddy’s. I, of course, had to try the Margarita’s (yes, that’s plural!) and I was not steered wrongly by my new friends, they are great! We had amazing fish Taco’s and a fish sandwich, they were out of this world. We didn’t realize that there was a back patio and we sat on the tiny front patio. When we walked into the restaurant we were surprised it was so small, it’s so popular I was expecting something bigger. But then we noticed people walking out from the side of the building , I realized there was a back area that these ‘Newbies” were not aware of. Live and Learn! To our surprise, our Amigo’s came walking out from the back, on their way to their car… “Hey!” It’s fun to see familiar faces, this happens quite a lot in this small town. It seems almost every day when we are out running errands (yes, we have errands) we see someone familiar. It was great to have a quick chat with our friends and exchange pleasantries before they were off to continue their busy day.
As you can see, we’re beginning to get into a rhythm here. We are considering trying a yoga class which is every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 9:00 . When our spanish classes start we’ll be pretty busy everyday , they are 1-5. We are excited to get on a bit of a routine , at least for awhile. Even after we get our car I hope we continue to do our walk into town , it’s feeling so good to get the exercise and I just love the walk. I have a feeling I’ll never tire of the beauty around me and of feeling so blessed to be here. Just like my walk to work in Los Altos, I never tired of the beauty of that walk either and even though my new walk is glorious, I still miss my morning walks to work. Sigh. Everyday is an Adventure and everyday I’m glad to wake up to the sound of birdsong. Someday maybe I’ll know the names of some of those birds who sing to me in my mornings.
Just when we made the decision to stay put, here at Villa Marita, BAM! People start to contact us with possible houses for rent. Of course, isn’t that just the way it happens? A friend of our friend who had contacted us when we first got here has finally gotten back to us about seeing the house she has available nearby. This was something we were very interested in because we really like this area and were hoping to stay somewhere around here. When we had spoken with her last week,she was very vague about when it would be available, telling us that the current tenant is still living there so we couldn’t go see it. She emailed some pictures but they were so small we couldn’t make out anything. We expressed our interest but she seemed to be unsure if we would be able to see it and when it would be available. So we kinda gave up on that and then of course, she contacted us and now we can see it tomorrow at 9:00am. okayyyy? So we are going to take a look, what the heck. We are pretty sure they are very flexible here at Villa Marita so let’s just check it out. Then this afternoon we got a call from the lady who showed us the Casa Bavaria, she has two houses available for rent and wants to email us pictures, okayyyy? Did somebody say…”Tranquillo”?? BREATH…
Where to begin? Lets see, yesterday , Monday , went by so fast. We finally got a phone call from good ol’ Oscar at the Toyota dealership , apparently he never received the email we had sent him on Friday letting him know we would like to purchase a truck. He called to let us know that there was an additional “special” on the truck so he suggested we might want to come see him, finally , he begins to act like a proper “salesmen” ! Ha! We informed him that we had already planned to set out for David and he said he was looking forward to seeing us at about 11:00. We decided to skip our walk into town and called Carlos, our friendly taxi driver, for a ride. After a satisfying breakfast and a good cup of Boquete coffee, at Central Park Cafe we got on the bus to David.
The car buying process, although I may say it was quite a smooth process, it was a very LONG one. Now I need to preface this description of our experience by telling you that from all the well received advice we have previously gotten from many very experienced and helpful expats living here in Panama, we had already adopted the “Tranquillo” mindset! And in addition to the mindset, we have taken advice from many who remind us to….”BREATHE’. Things here are done ‘very’ differently and if you go into a transaction with a Panamanian with a relaxed attitude and don’t expect it to be anything even remotely like an experience you are accustomed to in North America, you will fit right in here and you will find happiness ( well at least much less frustration) . So , our mantra as we entered the Toyota Dealership in David yesterday was…”Tranquillo, Tranquillo, Tranquillo, and BRRRRREATHE” AHHHHHH! We entered the dealership at 11:00 and left at 4:00 with a brand new car to be delivered from PC on Saturday….we will not count on Saturday, we will continue to breathe and feel lucky to get it in the next couple of weeks, we shall see. Although, to give Oscar credit, he was very kind and has obviously worked with many expats so he said , with much honesty, “I will call you when I know for SURE when the car will arrive, I know how you North Americans are about that kind of thing!” LOL! He is such a great guy and many people we have talked to had recommended we work with him, like I said before, he was a wealth of information. The first time we met with him he told us as we were leaving his office to please call him if we needed any advice or help with anything at all, Doctor,Dentist, Lawyer, anything at all. I swear, people have been so nice to us, it’s very heartwarming.
This whole, Tranquillo experience took about 5 hours but not all that time was spent in the dealership. There was a 1 1/2 hour lunch break which we made very good use of. We called our knew friends Kris and Joel who live in David. This is another set of Virtual friends who are Actual friends now! Again, I gotta say, it’s been such a pleasure to finally meet all these wonderful bloggers/expats who I have been joyously corresponding with for this past year during our preparations for this move. When I called Kris and told her we were in town she and Joel said “We live really close to where you are, we’ll be right there!” We arranged to meet them at this restaurant right next door to the dealership and we had a delightful lunch with them. Such a great couple! Of course, I already knew that from following both of their blogs. But you never “really” know until you meet someone in person and as I suspected, they were the “real deal”! I’m certain we have some more get togethers in our future. Kris and Joel moved here from Florida a little less than a year ago and are absolutely loving their new home. They recently took a trip to visit their two daughters ,one in Santa Rosa, CA, and they told us about the culture shock of being back in the States. One of the things that really stood out for them was the prices of groceries in the markets. They couldn’t believe how expensive it was for food for a week. Yes, they know they have made the right choice moving to Panama, to say they are in love with their new home would be an understatement! They are beyond happy to be living in such a welcoming, affordable , beautiful place such a Panama.
So we have our first car purchase here in Panama done . Da! Da! Da! (that was suspenseful music!) We have been watching the real estate market here in Boquete for sometime now online. As usual, we have already done a lot of research and we think we understand how the whole real estate thing works here. Of course, it’s nothing like we are accustomed to in the States and our new Tranquillo mindset will again come in very handy during this process. We are in no hurry but have already gone out with Lynn (the eco/jungle lodge owner/handmade soap maker/hairdresser/amazing realtor) to see some lots. She seems to have many good contacts and is in the “know” about what’s what here in the real estate scene. We are in good hands and have very high hopes about finding something just right for our next big Adventure, building a house in Panama! Stay tuned , this next part should get pretty exciting! Cheers! (QUE the suspenseful music agin) DA!DA!DA!
We have been searching for a place to call home. A house or nice sized apartment where we can have the cats and where we can unpack for awhile. There have been a few houses and a couple condos that we have looked at but nothing really jumped out at us or really fit the bill. There was Casa Bavaria, a house owned by a German man,( Yes Chris, there are Germans Here! ) he built this German style house for his mother(you would love it!) twenty years ago and she recently passed away so now he is renting it out. It was a lovely house, great layout, plenty of space with lovely bavarian style antiques and a lovely covered veranda (perfect spot for reading or blogging). There were a couple of problems, first , no screens on any of the windows, Yikes! We would have two escaped cats with no screens or we would be cooped up with no fresh air, no thank you. If that wasn’t enough of a deal breaker, It was right behind a popular Gringo bar/restaurant called Amigo’s, they often have live music and I’m told it can get pretty loud, nope not gonna work for us. Plus it was a bit out of our budget by the time you get nickeled and dimed with maid, gardener and utilities. Then we saw two condos right in town, just on the side street from the Mandarin Market. Now this is not gonna be a very quiet place to live, right off the main drag. Nice to be able to walk to everything but those peaceful birds and the beautiful views we have here would be a thing of the past. And the worst thing about the condo was kinda funny, (if you know Scott) It only had a hot-plate to cook on in the kitchen. Phffff! I hate to be snooty, and we aren’t planning on throwing any big dinner parties or anything but , come on…. I know, we aren’t in Kansas anymore! LOL! There have been a couple of other leads that we were planning to check out but then today we had a bright idea. We decided to go downstairs to the office here at Villa Marita and just see about the “Family Unit” they have for rent here. It is a two bedroom place that is a great size and the price is not bad but sadly, again no screens and it wasn’t available for long term. But WAit! there is a one bedroom unit right next to the studio one we are currently staying in! And guess what! It’s really nice and it’s available most of the next year, starting next Sunday, with the acceptation of three nights in August. It has a much larger kitchen with a microwave and a regular sized refrigerator. Also SCREENS! Whoot! Whoot! Lot’s of big windows to gaze out onto all those lovely trees! Yes, we think it’ll do just fine, it’s also within our budget and we already love this area. So we arranged to rent it until December. They have laundry facilities that we can use, it’s ever so peaceful here and we love the walk into town, although we will very likely be buying a car in the next week or so, If the Car salesmen will ever answer our email! We were looking to rent something with two bedrooms so that when people come visit we will have a place for them to stay but Villa Marita has lovely little cottages and rooms where we can easily house our guests. We have already arranged to possibly rent a room with our friends at their B & B in Volcancito for the three nights in August when our little apartment was already booked. By George, I think we’ve got it! (at least for the time being)
Finding a place where we could feel somewhat settled was something that has been on the very top of our list of priorities so it feels good to have at least a temporary solution. I’m sure if something even better comes up we can change our arrangement here, they are very accommodating. Now, if we can just get Oscar, the car salesman to sell us a car, we’ll be set. It really cracks me up how completely different they do things here. But as I’ve said before, we are in no particular hurry. As a matter of fact, today is day two of luxuriating in our free time. Scott has been soaking up his “nap-time”, that guy does love his naps! 🙂 I think tomorrow, we will get going early and do our walk into town, have breakfast and take a bus into David again to see if we can Beg the Toyota dealership to take our money! Ha!Ha! Well, no pressure, that’s for sure!
Friday is Scott’s birthday so I’m trying to encourage him to set up a T-time at the golf course so he can have some fun. I don’t get the feeling he’s too worried about arranging something “fun” cuz’ he’s just so happy to just be here. Maybe we will find a nice place to enjoy a dinner out? Who Knows. I gotta tell you, right now, our tranquil spot is being enhanced ( I wont say ruined, don’t wanna be negative) by, of all things, drumming! Yep, it’s a curious thing, the kids here love , love, love drumming! It’s funny because it seems to be the exact same beat over and over and over and over and over. And it might be my imagination but it seems as though all the dogs and birds are singing along so that it is a crazy mix of boom boom boom, ruff, ruff, ruff, tweet, tweet, tweet, boom, boom ,boom! You get the idea. I’m sure I’ll learn about what the drumming is about, today is Sunday so could it have something to do with church? I dunno. But I may have to get myself some drumsticks and join in soon!! Ya Never know, I just might be a natural! Never say Never right !!!! Cheers!
Today is our very first day of total and complete down time! I woke up late and proceeded to just just laze around all day long. The weather today was pretty dreary looking outside so it was conducive to a “do nothing” kind of mindset. And I do believe we have both been luxuriating in the ability to do nothing and feel no guilt for it. Holy crap! It’s a strange feeling to not get anything done and not feel like I’m putting something off. No house to clean, no yard work to get to, no mail to check, not even any bills to pay, no salon banking to do, no retail to price and shelves to stock, no salon supplies to buy at Costco, no oil to change in the car, no messages to return, whew! It’s not easy to adapt to such a low maintenance lifestyle ,but I’m working on it.
As I am sitting in our little studio rental looking out the window at the beautiful view of the trees and the mountains all around me ,I just have to smile. The cacophony of birdsong is amazing and the roosters in the distance (the distance being the key word! ) is blissful to my ears. I hear no sirens no traffic, no loud jets flying above. All the sounds that I hear are sounds that I love. Hey!! Wait a minute! ( tires screeching to a halt!) Am I a poet?? I am feeling rather inspired at the moment but Geesh, Ive never been a poet before! Look what’s happening to me! Soaking up this clean mountain air and taking in the sights of all that nature has to offer is really giving me a calm , grateful perspective . Sorry if I’m sounding sappy but, ya know, I gotta be me.
I know as we get more settled we will, naturally, begin to accumulate more ‘real life’ responsibilities , but right now is a brief gap before all that sets in. We will eventually have a home to maintain and a car and a bank account and bills to pay. So today, as we soak up the much deserved and much needed down time I feel grateful for this moment. Each moment has it’s bliss. Even being blessed enough to have a home to care for and all the other responsibilities are things I will be grateful for when they are again a part of my life. I’m just enjoying the moment, right now. It’s a beautiful thing to embrace each moment when we are in it and not just when we look back at it. Instead of wishing I were in a different time and place, as I was guilty of doing for what felt like an eternity , while preparing for this move, I actually feel great peace in this moment and in this place. When I know I am where I should be I can feel peace in my heart. And right now, in this moment I am where I belong. This Adventurer is enjoying a bit of Smoooooth sailin’ , can you see my big smile? Cheers!
I know this post may sound a bit vain but I have a feeling all my natural curly Amiga’s will understand! Holy crap, I’m experiencing some serious fuzzy issues here in my new home. I did realize I was moving to the tropics, so it’s not unexpected, but what the heck’s a girl to do? Seriously folks, I used to have good hair. I used to get compliments about my hair and thats just not gonna happen here. I don’t even care about the compliments, I’d just like to look in the mirror and not be horrified by what I see on my head! I am in the process of experimenting with different solutions to this horror. It’s very interesting to have to re-learn how to deal with my hair. My entire adolescence was spent standing in front of the mirror, often in tears, trying to manage my curly hair. Of course in those days I just wanted to look like Farah Faucet, (that was too much to ask for!) All the other girls had that beautiful “feathered” hair but If I managed to even remotely duplicate that look it only lasted until I stepped outside in the fog or had to participate in PE! Don’t even get me started about going to the beach with my friends! All my friends could swim and then just towel dry their hair and not have a care in the world. Not me, there was just no “wash-n-wear” for me! I spent unimaginable hours straightening my hair, it was truly a living nightmare. I had the worst hair in my school because it was so fried from all the heat from the blow drying and curling iron. Too bad I didn’t have a flat iron back then , my hair would have been even more fried then it was.
So here’s the funny thing, I spent the first 18 years of my life struggling and hating my hair. Then the next 30ish years enjoying a pretty good relationship with my hair. I stopped straightening it and learned how to use the right products and how to enhance the natural curls . These were good years , my awful hair had morphed into my best feature! Now at 47 years old I’m wondering if I’m back to that oh so familiar hair-hating phase. I haven’t begun crying in the bathroom yet but if I don’t figure it out, ya never know. And once again, all the other girls have such nice soft curls! Waaaaa!
I have thought of several different options off the top of my head, to calm this wild mane. The time for experimenting is upon me. My first thought was, I need to grow out the layers so the weight of the hair will pull the fuzz out. This option would create a much different shape to my overall hair, flat on the top and a flatter look overall, I think. Hmmmmm? Then I thought, maybe I will attempt letting it dry naturally, no blow drying. I am still trying to see if I can get my tried and true Alterna Curl products to work it’s magic. Yesterday was my first attempt at going Ah-natural. Well, not completely A-Natural… I did use my usual cocktail of hair products that I’m normally accustomed to taming my hair with. I actually left the house with a wet head! Not my normal M.O. . I had to rely on Scotts “Un-professional” and rather biased opinion as it dried,(not the most reliable opinion as he claims I look pretty “all” the time! I know very sweet). By the time I actually took a peek at my reflection the day was nearly over so the jury is still out on that first attempt. But my fuzz monitor, AKA Scott, claimed it was much less fuzzy,although much flatter than normal. Soooo now I wonder if “shorter Layers” may aide in the Natural , air dried look? Hmmmm. When I look around at my new friends who have natural curly hair here, they all seem to have much shorter layers. I have to say, if I can figure out how to have such nice soft curls like them, I will be a happy girl. I’m workin’ on it. At least I’m not aiming for Farah Faucet!
Now in case your thinking that I’m sounding awfully vain about my appearance, I will inform you that I have not even unpacked my make up! Nope, not even one piece of make up have I even laid my eyes on since getting here. And I haven’t even thought twice about it. I’m happily adapting to this much more casual, maybe a bit less fashion conscience culture. Nobody here judges each other about what they are wearing or how current their shoes are. I seriously love this about my new life. I’m not knocking fashion or being conscience of your appearance in any way, (heck I just spent 30 years of my life helping people stay up with fashion) I’m just really enjoying a different focus, that’s all. A focus on the people, not on their outward appearance. It’s refreshing as are many of the new aspects of this life in the highlands of Boquete Panama. As soon as I get a grip on this Fuzzy issue I’ll be a much happier girl! It may quite possibly be that I need to 1. stay away from mirrors and 2. Invest in some Hats!! Two very viable solutions to my issue with my crazy hair. Humph!
We’ve been keepin’ busy, as you know. We had such a great time at our friends house on Tuesday night. We were invited up to their lovely home for a fish dinner with another couple Eric and Lyn. It was arranged that we would take a taxi to a place called San Francisco Plaza and this other couple would pick us up there and take us with them to our friends house. Our friends live up in the hills so it’s not easy to get a taxi up there, so it was really nice that Eric and Lyn didn’t mind taking us along with them . Scott and I were waiting at the designated spot and wondering how we would know who these people were when they drove up. Not to worry, a couple drove up, parked and got out and we immediately knew this was them! They had big smiles on their faces and introduced themselves and I could tell right away that they were kindred spirits. They were so full of energy and warmth, not unlike our other friends who had organized this whole gathering. Needless to say, the evening was full of lot’s of delicious food, good wine, great conversation, and plenty of laughter to go around. At one point during our evening Eric said something that made me laugh so hard, I don’t know if he actually originally coined this phrase but as far as I’m concerned he coined it , he said, ” We are all HERE because we aren’t all THERE! HA! HA! HA! Spoken like a man who knows a thing or two about the type of folks who choose to live this life here in Boquete. And I gotta say, I’m honored to be here joining this quirky group of “Not All THERE” people! LOL!
This week has been filled with so many exciting and new experiences but for me the people here in this little mountain town are what I think stand out most. I cant even begin to express adequately, how welcoming and generous , genuine and kind, each person I have met here in Boquete has been. Not only all these people I have written about but also taxi drivers, gardeners who we walk past on our walk into town, the guys at the Mail Boxes Etc store, people on the bus, the car salesman at the Toyota dealership,Oscar, who made sure to tell us to let him know if he could help us with anything else here in Panama, like a doctor, a dentist, a lawyer, anything at all!(and we didn’t even buy a car from him, just spent time asking lots of questions) We heard about a guy named Keith who helps people locate and buys nice used cars, he helps with all the documentation, licenses etc etc. What a great guy he seems to be as well. I think I could go on and on about the good experiences we have had with people but I think you get the idea. Now, I do realize that we have only been here a little over a week, and I’m sure we will have our fare share of run ins with Yucky people, they are everywhere! But in this first week I’ve felt very fortunate to have come into contact with good people .
I believe that more often than not we tend to attract the type of energy we put out in the world and If that’s true, I’m dishin’ out some great energy cuz’ good people are coming my way. We are working on getting ourselves settled here and there is still a lot to do until we truly feel like we are home. We aren’t in any hurry but the one thing that would be nice to find is a more permanent rental where we can actually settle in. We would love to have a kitchen where Scott can cook the way he enjoys and I would just love to have an outdoor area where I can sit and enjoy watching the rain and the lightening and listening to the thunder in the distance. Tomorrow we are meeting with Eduardo who has a couple of condos in town available to rent and we are still waiting to get pictures of another place we heard about that will be available in September. There is quite a bit out there, its just a matter of getting the word out and being patient. The right thing will come along and for the time being we are pretty comfy just where we are.
Today we filled our day with a little car shopping in David. We took the public bus into town for the first time. It cost us $3.50 for the two of us but it was pretty slow . When we have driven into David in Past visits here, it takes about 35-40 minutes but it took nearly an hour on the bus. The busses are perfectly fine, they are actually old school busses from the states. They’ve been fixed up and some are painted funny colors and they all seem to have nice big stereo systems with big speakers installed in the front of the bus for the booming latin music that pound pound pounds the whole ride. The people are polite and even though it was crowded it didn’t bother me at all, I just love to people watch so I was happy. Now car shopping here was hugely different from any experience I have ever had in the States! First of all I’m sure there are other dealerships but the ones near where the Bus lets us off were the only ones we hit today, Honda, Toyota, and Hyundai. We were looking at the mid-sized SUV’s. One thing all the dealerships in David seemed to have in common today was inventory, there was none! they had like one of each make. And the biggest difference between car shopping in the States and car shopping here in Panama was the salesmen…they ignore you! Yep! They did not swoop! No body asked us if we needed any help, or followed us around, nada, nothing! And the cars, many of them, had no stickers on them so we had to wait forever just to find out prices. The best place was, as I’ve said already, Toyota. The reason they were the best is because of Oscar! He’s the man! He was efficient, honest, open, told us what he suggested for the best way to get the best price, and wrote it all down for us telling us to let him know what we decide. Definitely not the same sales and marketing education as they get in the states.
Oh, we also went to the electronics store to look for a blender. There’s so much delicious fresh fruit here, we thought it would be good to start making fruit smoothies for breakfast to go along with our two mile hike into town that we are doing everyday! The electronics store reminded me of those stores they had a long time ago, Remember BEST? They only have samples to look at and then you have to get an employee to order it for you then you go to a window to pay then you stand in line at a counter where they bring your items from the back and here they actually did something that totally surprised me but in the end I thought it was such a great thing…. They actually open up your purchase and take it completely out and even plug it in to make sure all the parts are in working order and it works right, then they very carefully re-pack it and put it all back in the packaging for you. There was a lady next to us who was buying a microwave and the guy took it out put it on the counter and proceeded to plug it in and turn it on! I was a little worried cuz there was nothing in the microwave and I was hoping it wouldn’t explode or something. It’s fun to see all the different ways they do things here, many things seem crazy and inefficient to us but then there are many things that seem to be great ideas!
Tomorrow we are meeting our new friend Lyn ,who happens to be a realtor, and is taking us around to look at some properties that are for sale. I am also hoping to be able to meet one of my virtual blogging friends who lives in David, she is going to be up here in Boquete and has emailed us to see if we can connect while she’s here in my neck of the woods. Hopefully that will work out but if not, we have allllll the time in the world, we got nothin’ but time, right? Hee!Hee! One of these days It would be nice to find some free time to just chill and read a book , I haven’t had time to do that yet! It seems every time I try to read I just fall asleep! Adventures are hectic ! Never a dull moment in this Adventure!!
I don’t think we have this “retired” thing down quite yet! It seems as though each day we are running around getting so much done that before we know it the day is over! Geez! I’m beginning to wonder when we will figure out how to just chill? There just seems to be so many little bits and parts to setting up a life in a new location. Today we had arranged to meet with Lyn, (remember, we met her through our other friends at dinner on Tuesday night?) not only does she make handmade organic soaps and lotions and skincare, and run and operate an eco lodge, but she is also a realtor! Lucky us to have met such a multi-talented lady! So we asked her if she could take us out to see a few pieces of property in the area we think we’d like to buy. We met her in town at 11:00 and she had arranged to connect us with another realtor from a different office who she likes to work with. Here in Panama real estate is done very differently, they don’t have an MLS so when two realtors from different offices agree to work together you get to see many different pieces of property instead of just the listings from your particular realtors office. So her colleague, Ulysses drove us around with Lyn and we were able so check out four different listings in the area we like. We saw two lots that we really thought were workable but one that stood out most for us in many ways. The view was spectacular, you could see the Pacific Ocean ! Sadly, after the owner of that particular lot heard that he had someone interested he decided to raise the price $25K! !*?#% Good way to make someone UNINTERESTED!! Oh well, so much for that one! We will move on, besides, there’s no hurry whatsoever. We have all the time in the world to just shop around until we find a piece of land that is just what we are looking for.
For now we are concentrating on finding a long term rental to move to. We arranged to meet with a guy who has a very good reputation for helping people find good rentals, Eduardo. He was a very nice man who showed us a couple of condos in town but they were just not quite what we are looking for. He told us he has another possibility and will send us some pictures of it. But the price is on the high end of what we are hoping to spend so we’ll see. Tomorrow we have set up a meeting with a woman who has a house for rent , the pictures look good and the price is right, it’s in a good location close to town and is pet friendly, has laundry facilities and a good kitchen, I’m hopeful about this one. We have a couple other leads on places that are coming available in September and if we don’t find anything sooner we will check those out. Lyn is also keeping her eyes out for us and we have done a good job spreading the word so pretty soon the right thing will surly come around.
I think we have decided on a truck to buy. A Toyota Hilux, 2013. We got a lead on a used ford but the price difference for the used truck just wasn’t enough to make us feel like it was worth buying something used . It seems used cars here are not always a good deal. Toyota is offering a special right now in order to get rid of the 2013 models and so it’s not a bad deal. Scott just sent Oscar, the sales guy, an email and we will see where that goes. The special price ends on Sunday so who knows. We are planing to eventually buy an SUV for me to drive and we like two cars, the FJ cruiser and the Fortuner, both Toyotas. This car makes sense to us to buy used because the price difference is much better for the used as opposed to new. We really want a 4 wheel drive that has plenty of clearance because the area up in Jaramillo has some pretty bad roads in some areas so it’s a must.
All this may sound like an overwhelming amount of work but to us it’s just the necessary bits of getting our new life started. I think we’ll be able to chill as soon as we have these little details all dialed in. You’ll be glad to know that Scott managed to find a deal on a discount for a couple of rounds of golf at Lucero , one of the local golf clubs. He found a similar thing to Groupons, it was $40.00 per round and $19.00 for rental clubs. its usually $80.00 per round and $40.00 for clubs. He can go play golf on his Birthday June 14! Maybe I’ll use the time to read!! Ahhh! That sounds like a good plan! We have also read about a yoga class we may try to check out. But as soon as our Spanish classes start we’ll be pretty busy five days a week from 1-5. Like I said, RETIRED?? I’m not sure why I thought I would have more down time?! Whew!
We did our 2 mile walk into town today. After a very satisfying breakfast at Central Perk, a little cafe in the town square, we made our way to the BCP (Boquete Community Players) where they hold the weekly farmers market. This market is every Tuesday from 9-12. They have everything from jewelry to organic produce, homemade baked goods, water purifiers, skin care products, hand made soaps, used books, vitamins, locally grown coffee and many other things. It seems to be a pretty popular gathering spot for many of the expats in the community to connect and I noticed a lot of socializing and catching up. We did run into a couple of our new friends and I must say it was a good feeling to see familiar faces and to be greeted by people we knew and introduced to new people as well. At one point , believe it or not, Scott was chatting to a couple of woodworking guys so I decided to go walk around and check things out while he visited, (I know, Scott “chatting”???) We were on a quest for a baguette for the bruschetta we plan to make to bring to our friends house for dinner tonight. There was a stall selling fresh baked breads but the baguette was $3.00 which seemed a bit steep to us so we decided to look around elsewhere in town. We did find some nice cherry tomatoes and a bug repellent called Gruber’s Jungle Oil , which boasts , ” Made from Panama’s finest medicinal plants and soybean oil”. It is said to not only repel mosquitoes , tics, wasps and bees and spiders and scorpions for up to four hours but also rapidly neutralizes bites. I have a couple good bites on my legs and it does seem to have stopped the itch! After the Tuesday Market we headed over to Romero’s to pick up some lunch food and see about the baguette. Nope strike two on the quest for the baguette , off to Sugar and Spice, a bakery in town, across from the place where we had lunch yesterday. Score, well kinda, they had a nice Ciabatta which we decided would work just fine. We caught a cab right outside the bakery and are now relaxing and catching up on some emails and a few online bill paying. Before we stopped at the bakery we stopped at Habla Ya to confirm our classes which begin on June 17.
We did have a funny misunderstanding with our new local cell phone number. Yesterday we got an email from one of our new friends who said they had gotten a phone call for us? HUH? We were confused at first, why would they get a call for us? Then after thinking about it we realized that while we were at the Cable and Wireless office arranging our new phone, they asked us who recommended them to us , they wanted the phone number of the people so they could send them a discount as a thank you. Well the only phone number we had was there’s so we gave it to Geovanna. They had, after all been one of the many people who had recommended Geovanna at Cable and Wireless. She handed us a receipt as we left the office and it had our new number printed on it(what we “thought” was our number) . What we did not know was that they had also printed our friends number on this receipt. So we began giving out what we thought was our new number to the spanish school as well as to Keith, the car guy. Unknowingly giving the WRONG number !! Oh my gosh!! We only just figured it out and sent our friends an email apologizing profusely about being such dummies! We, of course immediately contacted the other people who we had given the wrong number and corrected our mistake! Geeez! We may be loosing friends as fast as we are making them at this rate!! ha!ha!ha! Although I must say the price was right for their answering services!
As far as little Snafoos go , we think that one was pretty minor, and hope to be more careful in the future. Although, who knows what mischief we may find ourselves unintentionally getting into! These things make for a good adventure , never a dull moment! Onward and Upward!! Cheers!
Boquete is a small town but it’s divided into several different unique areas. I’m trying to get acclimated to where all these areas are located. Scott, of the amazing sense of direction, seems to already know where we are in relation to where everything else is. I, on the other hand am in a constant state of confusion and disorientation. I think I may have mentioned that I have only ever lived in California and in Northern California at that. So I have a bit of work to do to get myself familiar with all the different areas of my new home. We are currently staying in El Santuario which is between Alto Lino and Bajo Lino. The main area of town is called Bajo Boquete and there is Bajo Volcancito , where one of my new friends lives. There is also Volcancito Arriba, which is about 10 or 15 min out of town. Palmira centro is where we were today for The marvelous chicken shit bingo game, not to be confused by Palmira Arriba. Then there is Palmira Abajo which I don’t believe we have explored yet. Alto Boquete is the first area you pass through from David and them there is the Jaramillo areas , Jaramillo Abajo, which is where I think our other friends live, and Jaramillo Arriba, and Alto Jaramillo. Salto and Bajo Mono and Bajo Quiel and Alto Quiel , Palo Alto. I’m sure there may be more little areas but I’m looking at a map and That’s all I see at the moment. I have a lot to learn. No hurry, in time I’m sure I’ll get my bearings and I’ll let you know when that day comes, not soon!
Coffee Beans! Growing everywhere around here!
Today began with a leisurely breakfast followed by a bit of Facetime for Scott with his Mom in California. We are really enjoying the easy mornings. Not having to be on a schedule and get out of the house is a dream come true. The only thing we had planned for the day was lunch with another (Former) virtual friend I met through blogging. I mean Former because now we are officially real life acquaintances, no longer “Virtual”. After our leisurely morning we enjoyed our 2 mile walk into town (45 min). We arranged to meet at the Fish House but it was closed and so we walked next door to Mike’s Global Grill instead. I’m so thrilled to finally be meeting all these people who I have been corresponding with during this last year of preparation for this move. Anyone who decides to pursue this expat lifestyle is sure to be a kindred spirit and it was no exception with these two! It’s been really fun to exchange notes with these folks here and to learn how and why they made this lifestyle change.
The stories all vary but one common thread that runs through them all is just a desire to experience a new culture and to have a slower paced, less financially taxing lifestyle. All of these couples we have met have gone about the move in very different ways. Most of the people we have exchanged stories with have, like us, sold their homes and if not all then most of their possessions. We seem to be in the minority as far as shipping a container of our belongings here. One couple actually managed to buy a house that included every single bit of furniture, dishes, linens, lock stock and barrel ! They didn’t have to bring one darn thing, just opened the door and they were home, Nice!! And to top it off, everything is so beautiful! Another couple we chatted with sold their house and all their possessions and are traveling around and spending several months in different places not feeling any inclination to make a decision as to a permanent residence anytime soon, true adventurers! After chatting with this couple Scott and I were commenting to each other that they are doing the exact opposite of what we did in terms of researching different destinations. We spent lots of time before our move researching and traveling around to decide on a place, they on the other hand are happily cruising around with a huge backpack each and very little material possessions doing their research hands-on. I really admire this way of doing it! They are truly having an adventure together and seemingly enjoying the ride. Another couple we know visited here about 10 years ago and on the first visit fell in love, bought their property and went back home, prepared to leave , selling their home and most possessions , shipping the rest of their belongings over and after arriving they began to build their home. They have made themselves a very nice life here . As I said everyone chooses their own unique way to proceed with a lifestyle change such as this, and I would venture a guess , each person hears about the way others have done it and they say to each other, ” I could never have done it that way!” lol! Or perhaps I’m completely off base and some folks say, shoot, I wish we had thought of that!
After a great lunch getting to know a great couple we said our goodbyes and headed down the road to the Wireless and Cable office to get Scott’s cell phone a sim card and buy some minutes so we can have an actual local phone number to use here. We had been told by everyone that there is a very helpful woman named Geovanna who speaks perfect english and we should ask for her. The office was closed until 2:00 and we walked up at a few minutes before it opened back up and Whammo! The rain started falling! Not California rain, noooo, Panama rain! Luckily, there was a security guard who very kindly let us in so we could wait in a sheltered area. Geovanna kindly unlocked the office and walked us right to her desk, and within just about 15-20 minutes we were locked an loaded with a phone number and $40.00 worth of minutes that don’t expire for a year. Scott may not use up the minutes too quickly given how much he likes to talk on the phone! Now we have a phone to use, yippee! And to top it off, the rain had miraculously stopped by the time we were ready to leave.
After the successful visit to the Cable and Wireless office we walked through town and to Habla Ya, the Spanish school in town. We had a few questions and then we found ourselves being interviewed separately to assess our Spanish level, me, well,, my question was, is there a level that is BELOW beginning? No, they placed me in the beginning class , okayyyy.. we’ll see how that goes. We are signed up for 10 weeks of classes beginning June 17. The classes are 1:00-5:00 five days a week. Here we go! I am both excited and terrified! I look forward to the day when I can actually carry on a conversation with the local people, I think it will go a long way to help me feel more a part of my new home. This, like I said, has been a very productive day. Whew…Adventures seem to take a lot of work, but work we are choosing day by day, minute by minute , and most importantly, together! Cheers!
So far, 5 day’s into our expat adventure, I have to say I have not detected any mistakes yet. I’m sure something will crop up eventually but as of today, June 2,2013,we are feeling as though all our research and planning has really paid off. Also our mindset is a huge help in this regard because we are very relaxed and ready to just chill! To worry and fret about things and have very specific expectations would lead to extreme frustrations and unrealistic outcomes. Things are different here and we are prepared to face whatever comes our way. We expect to begin to experience some difficulty in some way but it’s too soon to know what they may end up being.
We are still debating on when we will buy a car, how we will do it, where we will do it and what car we will buy. We know already that we will eventually have two cars , one new or newer SUV for me to drive and a used pick up truck for Scott to use. We have been looking on line and talking to our friends to find out what dealerships are in David . There are Toyota, Hyundai, Mitsubitshi, Honda, Ford, Suzuki, Kia. There are also two men in town who come very highly recommended by every expat we speak to . Apparently they both help expats buy cars and get all the necessary license and registration and insurance and inspections done. One guy is known as Cowboy Dave and Keith is the other guy who we actually saw today at One Eyed Franks. Scott sent Keith an email today asking him a few questions. We are thinking it might be prudent of us to wait to buy the new car until we have our Pensionado visa because it’s our understanding that when we have that we can defer the import taxes on the new car,( it’s one of the perks of this particular visa) . This could amount to several thousand dollars so it’s probably a good idea to consider waiting for that benefit to click in for us. Scott is hoping to get some answers regarding what is available and what is the best way to proceed in regards to buying a vehicle here. We are in no hurry to buy a car because so far,(it’s only been 5 days) we find taking taxi’s and walking to be quite easy to get around.
I began thinking about mistakes about moving overseas because I was reading another blog written by someone who just recently moved to Boquete. One of his posts was listing some of the things he considered mistakes for him and none of them seemed to be things that have even remotely registered for us as mistakes. His was not buying a car before or just when they got here and not speaking the language and bringing too many belongings from his country of origin. Hmmmmm, I wonder how many pairs of shoes he brought? I’m sure we will eventually have a list of things we would do differently but as of right now we seem to be cruising along just fine and enjoying the fruits of many years of research and planning, a very open mind and a sense of humor along with an appreciation for a culture and community that we hope to integrate ourselves into with time. So far we are relaxing, exploring, recuperating from surviving our exit strategy from the States and finding our bearing with each passing day.
This indigenous couple were strolling into town ahead of us on Saturday night, Sooo adorable!!
I’ve been thinking about my blogging and about all my new friends that I love telling you about. If I were in their shoes I think I might be a little cautious about what I share with me for fear of the whole world hearing about all the gory details of my private life. I’m always trying to be a better blogger and I love to learn from others. I follow a local expat blogger here in Panama who I have noticed is very sensitive to the privacy of the people who she writes about. She seems to have quite a nice set of girlfriends in the town where she and her husband settled about a year ago. As I read her posts I notice she is very careful to maintain the anonymity of her friends when she writes about her get togethers with them from time to time. She is also very good about referring to her husband as SU (spousal unit) (Scott Loves This Idea) OOps did I just say “Scott”!? Well, it’s a bit too late for that change, don’t you think? Anyways, this town is very small and the expat community is relatively small as well. I am thinking it may be a good idea to consider changing the way I include others in my posts. When all my friends and family read this you don’t care about the actual names of the people here and I bet the new friends I make would appreciate my respectfully keeping them anonymous and the events of their personal lives as well. I wouldn’t want to become a pariah here in my new town , it would be awful to see people avoiding me for fear of becoming a character in my blog.
Yes, this may be something that is just common sense to most people and I must admit that I usually like to think of myself as a pretty intuitive person . But, I think given the fact that I am just not a hugely private individual myself, I don’t naturally restrain myself from sharing whatever is on my mind,( not much natural filter sometimes). I do , though, strive to respect other people and the boundaries they may have . So I am going to begin to practice restraint when sharing about other people in my life,(with the exception of Scott, LOL!) Ok…..I’ll try hard to give him that same regard as best I can! It’s not going to be easy though, I do so love to include any and all fun antidotes that I manage to involve him in. I can already tell you that my SU although a reluctant part of my blog, begrudgingly allows me to include him in my tales of Adventure as long as I don’t embellish too much.
I’m learning more and more about how important it is to be a responsible blogger and to honor an respect those in my life who I write about or include in my posts. This is a very public forum and I’m planning to keep that in mind as I share my life. After all, it’s “my” life I’m writing about, right. I just wanted to get this off my chest before I unintentionally offended someone, don’t worry, I haven’t committed any breaches of privacy yet, I’m just trying to preempt any disasters. Whew! I feel much better getting that off my chest! Now, back to the regularly scheduled program…. About that Adventure I was telling you about……
We were invited to an event to remember today, our 5Th day in Boquete! Our new friends who shall not be named, as I will protect the names of the innocent in this case. (Hey, it’s a small town and they have a reputation to maintain! ) Anyways, when they met us they new they had met just the right couple to include in this inaugural Boquete Panama event! What an honor and a privilege to have gotten front row seats to ….. drum roll please……. CHICKEN SHIT BINGO!!! Yes, you read correctly! These unsuspecting Gringos were not disappointed ! And I must admit, fun was had by all, but we all agreed, one round of Chicken Shit Bingo would last us a lifetime. This sport is not for the faint of heart, the suspense was nearly unbearable as the crowd around the giant bingo board cheered for “Big Boy” (The chicken) as he was very lovingly placed in the pen that was the Bingo board. The object of this game is to root for said, “Big Boy” to shit on the number that you paid $2.00 for and randomly drew from Nanette’s cowboy hat. I know, it’s a complicated game but nothing 2 or three Margarita’s can’t help turn into a night to remember. If nothing else, this particular Bingo game was good for a lot of laughter and a good lesson in how long it takes a Chicken to shit, take it from us, it’s not instant gratification! One must possess , aside from a strong drink in your hand, a sense of humor and a willingness to cheer for a nice big shit!
This event was held at a local hang out called One Eyed Franks. We sat outside and had a great dinner of ribs and cole slaw and chicken parmesan sliders . There was a band playing inside and they had a pretty good turn out. I would go back for the food but maybe one round of this Bingo game is all we can take. We did get to meet a lot of really friendly people and felt welcome. Scott of course was happy to have a beer in his hand and to watch the proceedings from afar, opting to let me root for his number down by the shitting chicken. That guy, he’s so generous, letting me have all the fun!
We had our friends drop us off at Romero’s (the grocery store) instead of taking us back to our Inn. We needed to get a few things for dinner and breakfast in the morning, I also needed to pick up some cat litter (since I had shit on my mind!) . After we got what we needed we went out and hailed a taxi to take us back up the hill to our Inn. On a side note, we have been walking into town just about every day to get some exercise and last night when our friends drove us home from dinner we clocked it to see how far it was and it’s just a little over two miles, not bad. We will know we are getting in shape when we can walk back up too.
Tomorrow we’re having lunch at the Fish House in town with another Virtual friend from the blogging world. It’s so nice to finally meet these people who I’ve been corresponding with for so long . We also plan to follow up on a lead we got on a possible long term rental . We first have to go load some minutes on Scott’s newly unlocked and fresh Panamanian sim card phone. Then on Tuesday evening we were invited to a friends house for a fish dinner, : ) This Adventure is going just fine so far! Lots of fun and relaxation mixed with good people! (we could probably do without the Chicken shit but whose complaining, not me!!!) Cheers!!
After those amazing Banana and walnut pancakes with crispy bacon we needed a walk! I took a few pictures of some of the beauty that surrounds us here. I’m bound to repeatedly exclaim my wholehearted bliss of my new surroundings! I just cant help myself! Everywhere I look I see beauty! From the trees to the sky and the abundance of flowers and greenery erupting from everywhere beauty abounds here in the highlands of Panama,” where I now live!” WHAT?? Did I just say “WHERE I NOW LIVE!” Holy cow! It’s so surreal to finally be here in Boquete. We look around and just know we are where we belong. Sigh! This is one Happy Girl! Check out these pictures and smile along with me, Just try not to smile…. I know its not possible !
This Is a picture of Me and Andrea! She’s sooo nice, we will get along just fine!
Don’t worry , I don’t plan to tell you about every single day of my life but this very new time , I’m excited to tell you about my experiences so bare with me ….
Today (Friday) we had a very relaxing, slow start to our day. We had a leisurely breakfast, our first time cooking in our little kitchen here at Villa Marita. Scott made scrambled eggs with bacon mixed in with cheese accompanied by yummy seasoned potatoes. I went down to the main area downstairs and got some coffee and Voila! Breakfast was served!! Yummy! Then we needed to give our sweet little cats a much needed bath. They were so stinky from being stuck in those cages for so long. Scott very kindly did the bathing in the shower ( Not the fun part but he managed to survive with no major injuries!) and I had the much easier job of towel drying them off after they were sparkly clean. Now they smell much better which is a good thing, given the fact that Copper has taken to burrowing down under the sheets in our bed to escape the very unfamiliar noises and smells of his new home.
About 12:30-1:00,we decided it was time to scoot out of here. We did our walk into town ( we plan to do this as often as possible for exercise, but only “into” town, back to the inn would be “up” hill so we cab it back!) We made our way back to Baru to have lunch, we heard that the chef from La Posada had moved to Baru and that the Pizza there was good, so we needed to try it. BY THE WAY, it was far superior to the Pizza we had at La Posada! But of course, not as good as Scott’s Pizza, Sigh! it’s gonna be awhile before he can do Pizza again!
After our lunch we made our way to the cell phone store. Yesterday we left Scott’s cell phone so that they could unlock it to enable them to install the SIM card that will make it usable here. Apparently, we are experiencing our first “Mañana” experience! We went back today and of course, the phone was not there. The employee who we dealt with yesterday ( the only guy there) had to call his english speaking boss( we’re assuming it was his boss, who knows, could be his mom?) to tell Scott over his phone that the phone is in David with his brother who is trying to get it Unlocked with At&T. OKay…… So he said,”Mañana!” LOL! We are onto him! We may be green gringos but we are aware that Mañana doesn’t necessarily mean tomorrow ! But we will return mañana with the hopes that the phone has miraculously returned from its journey to David! We have faith that it will all work out in the end!
We then made our way to visit with my “Virtual” friend , Andrea. We hailed a taxi and gave him directions to her house,( Volcancito rd, 3.6 KM , just before El Estancia , on the left). No problem! It was so great to finally meet her! We’ve been corresponding for quite awhile and were both happy to get together in person. Andrea and her husband Don, moved here to Boquete in 2011,( I think that’s right). After her parents retired here several years prior. She says that after her parents moved here she began visiting and then she and Don fell in love with the area, sold their home and all their possessions and brought the dog and two cats. Now they have a very peaceful , happy life together here. Their home is very inviting, the view is spectacular ! They have a lovely view of Volcano Baru, although the clouds were covering it today it was easy to see how amazing it usually is! They also run a small B & B which seems to work great for them. Andrea says she gets to meet many interesting people. As we enjoyed a couple bottles of wine and some munches we had great conversation and got a bit more acquainted . Coincidentally, Andrea and Don have taken the art classes that I have read about and am planning to take myself! It’s a concrete sculpture class and they also offer stained glass classes as well. They made these really cool sconces for their house, and she made a giant cement leaf for her yard, it’s like a little birdbath also two giant broken pots for her yard , Love It! I can tell that Andrea is a kindred spirit! She’s artistic, open to new experiences, has a great sense of humor ,enjoys nature, loves animals and is just plain fun to be around. We will get along just fine.
After calling our taxi from Andrea and Don’s house we asked the driver to make a quick pit-stop at Romero’s (the Grocery store) so Scott could run in real quick and pick up a bottle of wine and a little something to munch on for dinner. We spent the stormy, thundery evening with our terrified little cat’s. All the new sounds and smells are freaking them out, poor guys. It seems that Copper is the one who is the most freaked out. He has decided that under the covers of the bed is where he will live. Poor guy! They’ve never experienced the sounds of a good tropical thunder storm. They have a lot to get used to. Hopefully they will slowly adapt and begin to feel like they are home. I know we are looking forward to finding a more permanent place to call home. The other day Al sent us an email that he has a lead on a house for rent so we hope to check that out sometime. This place is quite nice but definitely not a long term place. Villa Marita isn’t set up for long term stays, for instance there is no place to unpack , no dresser to put clothes so we will be living out of suit cases while we stay here. We do love the location, it’s incredibly picturesque and the walk into town is great exercise for sure! We have no complaints, life is good and we are loving our Adventure! Andrea and Don have two adorable dogs Redford and Ada They also have two cats but I didnt get their picture.