Monthly Archives: July 2013

What magical Sunset!! I just had to share…

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A Coffee Tour…A waterfall…and New Friends…Oh my!

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Once again my blog has enabled us to become acquainted with more great people. Dan and Janet arrived in Boquete a couple days ago. They had somehow found my blog while researching Panama as a destination for their retirement. They live in Canada and are planning to relocate in the Spring, likely to Panama. They are fed up with the cold in Alberta and ready to find a place where they can enjoy the outdoors year around. When Janet called me to let me know they were in town, I suggested we meet them at Big Daddy’s for dinner. When Scott and I were waiting for them I had no idea who we were waiting for because I neglected to ask them what they looked like. But I noticed a couple walking to the back patio and the husband was looking at his watch as though he were checking to see if they were on time, I knew this must be who we were meeting because ,who looks at their watch here in Boquete?LOL! We ended up really hitting it off with these two. We have much in common with them including the all important similarity, Dan is the guy in charge of cooking in their family! Scott and Dan both bemoaned the fact that leaving the kitchens that they love hurts their hearts just a little. ( ok, that’s my take on the conversation..Ja!Ja!Ja!) They both agreed that the ovens they are accustomed to cooking on are far superior to what they have so far experienced here. Yep, Stove-snob kindred spirits, for sure! (Jim Varsamis, are you feeling their pain?) Read the rest of this entry

A Do Nothing, Kind of Day…Well, maybe not “Nothing” …

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We are having a much needed do-nothing weekend. It seems as though our days come and go so fast and we often get that oh so familiar feeling of being on a “treadmill”. The
difference between our Panama treadmill and our California treadmill is that in California our treadmill was leading us nowhere but in circles, make more money pay taxes, pay bills, work more to buy more then pay more and on and on and on with no end in sight not really going anywhere. Here, although our days seem to often fly by we are actually doing things that are giving us so much more pleasure and benefiting our future in a profound way. We are investing our time into learning the local language as a way to open our lives up to the ability to develop relationships, and to really experience a new culture.

We’ve spent much time also establishing ourselves here with the basic necessities like purchasing vehicles, establishing car insurance and health insurance, finding a place to live and adapting to the available foods here in the markets. It’s taking time to adapt our lives to the very different ways that things are done here. This often requires very different expectations or oftentimes doing away with expectations altogether. Last week we jumped through the final hoop that was required in order for us to buy health insurance at the Hospital Chiriqui in David. We had already had our chest ex-ray, our EKG’s, and our blood tests done , all that was left was to have our interview with the doctor . This went fairly well, he simply went through a bunch of questions regarding our health history then he looked at our blood tests and we were shocked to hear that we both had very high Cholesterol. It was interesting to see how personally the doctor is involved in the care of his patients. In his office he actually had an examination table . So he sorts through all the paperwork “and” does the physical examinations in the same room. He has not got an army of nurses or administrators dealing with tons of paperwork. We never talked to a nurse, he actually took our blood pressure and took his time getting to know our histories. It was refreshing. It was very nice that he spoke English too.

Back to the Cholesterol issue that we discovered we currently have. After leaving our doctors appointment we began to take a look at our new lifestyle and trying to come up with a game plan to get ourselves on a more healthy routine. We realized that our issue likely began “before” we moved here. For many months, while we were preparing to sell the house, we began eating out at restaurants every single night! This has been going on for like six months! Prior to that we had a pretty good diet, we tried to eat at home more than eating out and Scott was doing a good job cooking healthy meals and we were very diligent about portion sizes and about trying to stay physically active. We figure our diet has changed drastically since January of this year. Even since arriving here in Boquete we have been just kickin’ up our heels and enjoying exploring all the local cuisine . We are also not nearly as physically active as we were before we moved. I was not only walking to work every day but I was on my feet all day at work. And Scott’s work was extremely physical, working on finishing all the construction on the house. Being in School and then spending so much time studying is making us very sedentary! We are gonna need to make some serious changes if we plan to have a long and happy Adventure!

The apartment we have been renting since arriving in Boquete has a kitchen that is just not really conducive to cooking . The stove is crappy, the pots and pans are….how do I put this nicely? Worse than “Crappy”! We will be moving into our furnished rental house September 1and it has a much better set up for enabling us to cook the way we are accustomed to cooking. One really important, basic thing that we need is a BBQ and an outdoor space for grilling. The new house has that, a lovely covered area and a BBQ for grilling like we are much more accustomed to doing for most of our meals. In our house in CA we actually had and indoor grill built into our stove so Scott grilled almost everything year around. Veggies, Chicken, fish, It was great for the ol’ diet. This apartment does not even have a patio at all, making it impossible to grill. Also, we started to join Jere in her hiking group on Saturdays. We will also get back to walking down to town at least on the mornings when it’s not raining ,which is about a 45 minute walk. If we begin feeling really energetic we may even attempt walking back “up” to our home! And it’s very “UP”! We got this!! We will be nipping that darn high cholesterol in the but asap! This life was supposed to be healthier!! But it still takes a bit of planning and Strategizing and then determination to stick to it.

In other news, we managed to arrange for our attorney in Panama City to retrieve our fingerprints from the Department of Justice and then to have them Apostiled before mailing them to us . We need to go to her bank tomorrow and deposit $500.00 into her account. She emailed us her account number so we will get that done right away. Then we need to send our precious fingerprints off to the FBI and cross our fingers that they are accepted. We actually had them do two sets of prints for each of us, just in case one set is not good, maybe the other set will be acceptable. (eye roll here) What a relief that we didn’t have to go back to PC to pick them up and then have them Apostiled ourselves. Whew! But if the FBI tells us that they don’t like our prints…. off we will go back to try it again! GRRRR! This is all so that we can satisfy the requirement of a background check for Panama so they will give us the permanent Jubliado (Pensionado) visa.

Another interesting adventure we are looking forward to having (well maybe not looking forward to?) is our upcoming “Border Run” into Costa Rica. This is necessary for those of us who are here in Panama under a “Tourist” visa. Everyone who arrives in Panama gets a “tourist” visa which allows you to be here for six months. The problem is that our drivers license from the U.S. is only valid here for ninety days!! Yikes! I know, it doesn’t make sense! And remember those silly random road blocks the polica like to do? Well, that’s when they like to earn a bit of extra cash from us Gringos! Or who knows what other issue we may have to deal with if we were to be found with an expired drivers license. Sooooooo for us, the end of August will be our “border run”. We have been asking other expats about their experience and getting many stories of it being no problem or sometimes little issues crop up issues like sometimes they want you to show them that you have at least $500.00 cash on your person, or proof of how you will be leaving the country,(a flight confirmation or bus ticket). It would be great if there were another experienced expat who needed to do this at the same time as us, then we would feel much more prepared. But I’m sure we will figure it all out and you will have something interesting to read. Stay tuned!

These are a few of the uneventful things we’ve been up to lately. I know, not too exciting but all a part of starting a new life in a new country. Today someone asked me if there have so far been any cultural things or problems that have really bothered me and I , so far, can´t think of anything that Ive faced that has been especially troubling to me. Maybe something will crop up that I will eventually feel bothered by, but honestly I never expected to move to a place that had no annoying differences . I can think of many things about living in the U.S. that were less than perfect so maybe the little annoyances that occasionally crop up are just too new to drive me too crazy yet. Plus Scott and I did such a good job thoroughly researching this move we feel pretty prepared to face this big transition to a very new and different way of living our life. If we had expected to move to Central America and have the same experience, how much of an Adventure would that have been?

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Hiking in Boquete…

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This morning , bright and early , we met Jere McCormick for our first hike with her group. She runs a local hiking group called Boquete Nature Hikes. I had found her web sight (http://www.boquetenaturehike.weebly.com/) before we even moved here . I remember sitting in the salon, dreaming of finally being in Boquete and coming upon her wonderful web sight. I immediately sent her an email introducing myself and telling her how I was looking forward to exploring the trails around Boquete with her and her group. I was thrilled when she got back to me and told me to contact her when I got moved. As soon as we were somewhat settled I looked in to contacting Jere but my timing was just a bit off, she was in the States on a vacation and would not be back for about a month. So we then dove headfirst into our Spanish school. When She finally returned from her journey we discovered that her hiking group does a Thursday morning hike and a Saturday morning hike. Given our school schedule, we couldn’t join her until this weekend. So like I said, we got ourselves to the meeting spot at 8:00 this morning and off we went. I was so happy to finally meet her.
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Our Spanish learning experience so far……

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Talk about “Immersion”….We decided to make our home in Boquete Panama

I wrote this post as a submission for a little contest at our school. They are giving away 30 free hours of Spanish lessons so I thought, what the heck! I love to write so I gave it a shot! Plus, I have been having such a great experience at the school so I was happy to have the opportunity to express that pleasure with other people who may be considering coming here to learn the language. Two of my blogging friends also submitted wonderful posts and It was fun to read them on the Habla ya blog. So I thought I would share my post with you…..
When my husband and I began our research on where we would expatriate ,( about 7 years ago), one of the many things we considered was language. We both agreed that wherever we decided to make our new home we would learn the native language. We feel very strongly about this for many reasons. One reason that learning the language in our new home is an absolute necessity, in our minds, is simply out of respect to the native people who we will be interacting with on a daily basis. The official language in Panama is Spanish, not English . So we see no reason why we would expect our new neighbors or all the other people we come into contact with on a daily basis to know how to speak English. Of course It’s a huge help at this stage of our very limited ability to communicate , when a taxi driver or cashier at the market just happens to possess a tiny bit more English knowledge than our pathetic Spanish. But We certainly never “expect” English to come out of their mouths. When we arrived here in Boquete eight weeks ago I had virtually no ability to communicate in Spanish and my husband arrived with a fair amount of “construction” spanish given his former vocation as a contractor. So if for any reason we needed a escalera (ladder) or a martillo(hammer), we were in good shape! Although, given the fact that we are both native Californians, and there is a large population of hispanic transplants there, our ears are fairly familiar with many basic words or common phrases. Of course my husband is fluent in most any sentence that has the word “Cerveza” in it. And I arrived ready to use the phrase, “Un coppa de Vino Tinto,Por Favor”. We felt pretty confident we would not suffer any withdrawals with our natural grasp on our “bar” vocabulary, Whew! Well that’s a relief! LOL!

In addition to learning Spanish in our chosen home here in Panama out of a general respect to our new country and it’s people, we believe having the ability to communicate will provide us with a much richer and deeply authentic experience. We hope to someday feel as though we have immersed ourself in this culture and in the community. Having the ability to express ourselves is essential in order to really connect with those around us. It is our desire to build relationships with not only other expats , but also with native Panamanians . As I said, we have only been living here in Boquete for eight weeks but in the eight weeks we have been here we have felt very welcomed by the locals. I am incredibly motivated to learn Spanish so that I can talk to these warm, kind people who I see everyday . I’m a “people” person and not being able to chat with people I come into contact with is a painful torture! I have so many things I want to say to people all the time, but I just don’t have the vocabulary quite yet! But don’t you worry, I’m working hard on learning and there’s no doubt in my mind that I will eventually be conversant!

Before our move we began researching Spanish schools on line and came across Habla Ya. We learned that they have two campuses, one in Boquete and another in Bocas del Toro. So we knew one of the first things we would do after arriving in our new home was to enroll in classes. ( I should tell you, as of this writing we are about six weeks into our lessons.) Even though I was determined and committed to learning Spanish, I was terribly nervous because I had never studied a language before. As a matter of fact, I had a feeling I would be “re-learning” much of my English grammar that had long ago escaped my old brain! Verbs? Conjugating Verbs? HuH??? Oh boy, I was not wrong! We signed up for ten weeks of lessons. Our first two weeks we did a group class together that was Four hours a day, five days a week! Oh, my goodness! Talk about “Diving in head first”! Our first instructor was a very fun young man named Yubal. I think he quickly realized that I would be a very “SLOW” learner! Even though I felt like I was in over my head, I soldiered on and Yubal never made me feel dumb and I never felt like he was impatient with my lack of comprehension. He was very kind and patient and told me that I was doing fine and gave me just the right kind of gentle encouragement that I needed. And I gotta tell ya, I REALLY needed encouragement! Geesh! Talk about a humbling experience. My husband , on the other hand, is a natural learner! His comprehension is, in my mind, incredible. We all learn differently and some have an easier ability with language than others. At least that’s what I keep hearing from many other very kind and encouraging people ,and I’m buying it!

After our first week in the group class it was glaringly obvious that I was not ready to move on. I really felt I needed to review the first week all over again. We went to talk to the administration about this and here is where I begin to really gush about my pleasure with this school and the people in charge. They were so accommodating, understanding and helpful. No problem! They obviously have a lot of experience dealing with many many different people from all walks of life and from many different places in the world. They didn’t bat an eye, just figured out a solution that would work for us . The next week Scott moved on to another group class and I remained with Yubal and one other classmate who also felt the need to review the prior weeks lessons. It was so good for me and I began to feel my brain comprehending at least some of the beginning concepts. My favorite phrase that I have learned and love to use is , ” Poco a Poco”! Little by little I am learning, not only am I learning Spanish but I’m also learning what I need in order to feel successful in my own personal learning style. After my second week in a group class I decided I would like to try a private, one on one , two hour daily class .

I was sad to leave Yubal because I felt like I had gotten to know him and had developed a fondness for his great , fun personality. This is another aspect of Habla ya that I must mention. The entire staff is very friendly and welcoming and we have thoroughly enjoyed every person we have met at the school. When I went to speak with the administration again about my desire to try a different situation they were again very happy to do whatever would work best for me. My new professora is Araliz and she is a beautiful, intelligent young lady who I have come to adore! I have been working with her for almost four weeks now. She is very intuitive about what I need and has shown unending capacity for patience. As she has gotten to know me she has customized my lessons to suit my particular learning style, which is “muy despacio” ! Everyday I feel better and better with my progress and at the end of each lesson I’m always shocked that it’s already over! Time flies so fast in Araliz’s classroom. I’m beginning to really enjoy our attempt at conversation. I can really feel my progress when I am able to have a conversation with her and walk away feeling as though she understood me and I her. What a great feeling to finally be able to chat and connect the way I love to do.

After my ten weeks at Habla Ya I know it will not be the end of my lessons. Given the wonderful fact that Boquete is now my home, I have plenty of time to “slowly” become proficient in learning this beautiful language. I’m hoping to begin to find opportunities where I can be surrounded by more native speakers so I can practice what I’m learning at school. On HablaYa’s web sight I see that they have many volunteer opportunities that they can help me get involved with, and that will be my next adventure. Not only have we made some really great connections with the teachers at the school but also with some of the other students as well. It’s so great to see and meet so many young people who are doing home-stays and who are immersing themselves in the culture while studying the language. I wish I had had such an opportunity when I was their age. I really admire their adventurous spirit at such a young age. We have made friends with many of these people and I know they will be back to visit us here in this beautiful place. The School has endless activities that they organize and although we haven’t had time to join them, we hear that there is tons of fun to be had! So far, this old brain has been too busy having tons of “fun” studying our Spanish! (insert eye roll here?) All this hard work will pay off in the end when I get to sit down with Araliz or Yubal and actually have a “fluent” conversation in their language!

Good people

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As soon as we got on our bus for our journey home from Panama City, I realized I had left Scott’s kindle cover and my money belt (empty , thank goodness) in the safe at the hotel! Darn it!! I had taken the cover off Scott’s Kindle because it was too heavy in my purse when we were exploring the city. We usually bring our Kindles because one never knows when a peaceful spot summons you to sit and read for a bit, right? When I went to give him his Kindle on the bus the light bulb went on! @#!#$ . I was sure we would never see the two forgotten items again. Not that they were expensive or irreplaceable but it’s just a bummer to lose something. We quickly looked up the phone number of the hotel and tried calling, hoping someone answered who Habla’s English! No luck on the Habla English but I was able to comprende that the manager, Ana, speaks English and would be there the next day. I called the next day only to be informed that she would return at 4:30. When finally I was able to talk with Ana, I was pleasantly surprised to talk with a very helpful and exceedingly friendly woman who assured me there was no problem, she would gladly mail the items to me . I offered to reimburse the hotel for any expense for the mailing but she refused to let me do that. She said she was happy to help and not to worry about anything but to please come visit again when we are in Panama City. That I will certainly do! The hotel was in a very nice area near many good restaurants and was clean and comfortable. We will be staying at the Hotel Milan again. It’s just so nice when people are nice and helpful and honest. I wanted to share, thought everyone might appreciate this sweet email I just received…

” Good evening Mr. and Mrs. Carter:

I took this afternoon your money belt and your kindle cover to the Mail Boxes Etc. that is closest to the hotel, that is, in Vía Argentina, El Cangrejo . Attached you will find the receipt for the delivery. It will be sent to your Mail Box in Boquete. If there is any trouble, please let me know, so I can contact the girl that receive the items (her name is on the receipt: “Chantal Avila”.)

Best regards,
HOTEL MILÁN”

Nice people rule!!!

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This one´s for Mariah & Elisabeth…(Yes, you too Jesse!)

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Ok guys! We finally did a little driving around this morning and look what I found!! Yep! It’s really close to my house! You can see some girls climbing and they were having a hard time. I didn’t get the feeling they really knew what they were doing like you guys do. It’s not a huge area but looks like plenty of climbing to do . Here’s a couple pictures that I took just for you…

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The Canal De Panama…(and our Fingerprint adventure!)

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As you know, we spent the weekend in Panama City attempting to get our fingerprints done in order to begin the process of applying for our Permeant residency visa. We have heard various stories, (most bad) of other expats attempting to do this very same thing to differing successes. Without exception each telling has required multiple attempts to attain fingerprints that the FBI will accept (apparently the panamanians don’t know how to do them the way our FBI likes !) . Many such stories tell of as many as 7 or 8 different tries! Yikes!! We had read on one of the expat forums here in Panama that it’s also a very good idea to go directly to the FBI web-site and actually print out the fingerprint form that they use because many people got to the DIJ (the official place for this process) only to find that they are all out of the form!! We printed out multiple copies of this form ,”just in Case”! Good thing we did that because the lovely young lady at this office asked if she could make copies herself because she indeed had none!! Ha! So armed with every single piece of paper and copies of everything we could think of , including copies of our passports, we felt prepared,(NOT!). Of course we requested that she do both our prints two times, “just in case”. It was a very time consuming ordeal but we remained “Tranquilo” throughout! I was sadly disappointed when she told us we would need to return the following week to pick them up!!!NOOOOO!! We really did not want to go back to Panama City AGAIN next week!! UGGG!! But we asked if our attorney could come get them and she said yes. Whew!! But she needed us to provide her with a passport picture when the prints were picked up. “Ok, we can figure out how to do that”. I’m thinking to myself,”@!#$! What!! Where are we suppose to get passport pictures?” We said our good-byes to the very helpful,(albeit, quite frustrated with my inexperience in the proper fingerprinting procedure?) and off we went to try to figure out if our attorney would be able to arrange to pick up the prints next week. Mind you, we have never actually met our attorney, we have only corresponded with her via email so far. We immediately sent her an email explaining what we needed and hoped to hear back from her asap. I did also try to phone her at both her office and her cell phone with no luck. We figured this was a good time to start DRINKING! We remembered seeing a Brew Pub just across from our hotel!! WHoot! WHoot!! We hailed a taxi and made a Beeline to said Brew Pub and wait to hear back from our attorney. Oh, I almost forgot to tell you about how we succeeded in acquiring the additional passport photos… after exiting the very crowded DIJ, there were the usual venders outside selling food and who knows what else and Scott saw one little kiosk that said “photos”!! Yep! Right there we stepped inside and the guy took our pictures with his little camera and Voila! We had our additional passport photos. It’s impossible to ever predict what will be difficult to do here and what will be strangely simple!

Of course Friday came to a close with no word from our attorney so we decided we would go ahead and make arrangements to go see the Canal the next morning (Saturday). We figured we would be able to contact the attorney after we got back home to Boquete. Worse case scenario we schlep back to the city again and just get done what we need to get done, (Big Eye Roll here!). We made a reservation and paid for tickets to go on a small boat tour through all the locks in the canal (an all day event). Then , Of course , who do we finally hear from? Yep, you guessed it, our attorney! Telling us to meet her at 10:00a.m. on Saturday! UGGG!! We told her that because we had not heard from her we made arrangements to go on a tour and we could not cancel it. She said she could indeed arrange to go pick up our prints and deliver the passport photos but we would need to provide her with a deposit to retain her services as well as a signed document to authorize her to pick it up for us. No problem. Whew, disaster diverted! Now it is monday and we are trying to get ahold of her to learn how we make arrangements to both send her the photos and our authorization and how we will get her the money for her retainer? All will work out, not without a bit of hair pulling and nail biting at times but as I am constantly reminding myself about many things, “Poco a Poco”. And Breeeeeathe! Ahhhh….There we go, Tranquilo!!

When I began to write this post I was intending to tell about the canal tour. Needless to say, it was spectacular! It wasn’t the most “Exciting” thing we have ever done but we really enjoyed it. We were especially glad we chose to do the whole canal. They had an option to do a partial crossing and I’m sure that would have been fine as well but we really wanted to experience the entire crossing at least once and we figured, what the heck! Most people I know who have been through the Panama Canal have been on huge cruise ships. Being in a (relatively) tiny little vessel going through the canal really made us feel as though we were actually “in” the action! We could see every aspect of the process and the narrated tour really added a lot of information that made it even more enjoyable. I am dumbfounded by all the work and engineering that went into the building and designing of the Canal! Especially given the period that it was done! Wow! What a marvel of human endurance and ingenuity! I just cant say enough about how impressed I was to see such a magnificent thing up close and personal. I will include some of my pictures to share with those who have not had the pleasure of seeing it in real life yet. One other thing that was pretty cool , they have a live web-cam and so I quickly texted my mom and Scotts mom so they could go on line and actually see us going through the canal! I don’t think either one was able to figure it out but had I known beforehand It would have been fun for them to be able to see it.

All in all, our impromptu weekend away was pretty successful. We feel good about accomplishing our first attempt at acquiring our fingerprints , I will keep my fingers crossed that I will be able to tell people, someday , that it wasn’t that bad . (I know, I know, wishful thinking! ) . And seeing the canal is one more thing I can cross of my list of things I wanted to see in the world. We also had never really had the time to do a little exploring of Panama City so we are glad to have that done as well. The Journey on the bus from the city was a bit harrowing because there was quite a good size storm the entire drive. On the Pan American Highway there were many fallen trees partially blocking the road which added about an hour to our already 7 hour ride! I was glad to have my trusty kindle so I could lose myself in a good story during the whole bus ride! (By The Way, for those of you who miss my book recommendations, I was reading The Physician by Noah Gordon, I really enjoyed it) We both agreed that we were overjoyed to return to our new home here in the highlands of Boquete!! It’s much more our style, not so hot, crowded and busy. This morning it was good to be awakened once again by the sound of the roosters crowing in the distance and the birdsong outside my window. Ahhhh, good to be “HOME”!

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Getting a few Big errands checked off our list…

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Well, we went into town after my español class to get the final part of our health insurance application requirements completed. They want a blood test which meant fasting prior to going to the Imunotech (I’m sure I slaughtered the spelling, oh well). So I nearly slept through my español without having my morning coffee! The little lab work office was very professional and of course clean. We gave them all the bodily fluids they required and were on our way (running to the coffee shop!) to get some much needed breakfast. We will pick up the results on Monday and take them to back to Hospital Chiriqui . Irma, the lady at the hospital already has our results from the two tests we had yesterday, the chest ex-ray and the EKG’s. So we are almost done with the application process for the health insurance. Check one thing off our list, almost.

Next up….Beginning the process of collecting all the required documents for our Pensionado Residency Visa. Our proof of income should be complete in the next 6 weeks so we now need to provide fingerprints to the FBI for the required background check. So we have consulted an attorney in Panama City who has told us that we need to go there to have that done. It’s important to be sure to get them done well otherwise we have heard that it could take up to 6 weeks for the FBI to notify us that the prints were unacceptable. Our friend Jordan recently had his fingerprints done in David and they were not good so he has to get them done again which is a headache considering he is currently enjoying fun in the sun in Bocas del toro. Based on his professional experience, we decided a trip to Panama City would be our best option. Sooooo we decided to skip out on my class for tomorrow and friday and catch the bus to PC in the morning.

We made a reservation at a hotel and hopefully finding the right place to get the prints done wont be too much of an Adventure!!! I have a feeling our newly developed “Tranquilo” mindset will come in handy on this mission! Ja!Ja!Ja!

Health Insurance Day…

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We decided that it was time to start thinking about getting some sort of health insurance. Everyone who arrives in Panama automatically has 30 days of free health insurance so we have exceeded that time limit and felt it would be a good idea to do something about getting our own healthcare. We have read a lot online about all the different choices and from what we have read it sounds like Hospital Chiriqui is our best option. So off to David we went today after my class. We had seen the hospital the other day when we were cruising around with Joel and Kris and they made sure we knew exactly where it was. We had a bit of a problem trying to figure out exactly where we were supposed to go after entering the main area of the hospital. They have a little sign that has all the room numbers and floor numbers and with our limited spanish it was not an easy task to try to figure out where to go to talk with someone about signing up for a health insurance plan. We could see that something that looked like administration was on Piso 1(floor 1) room 114? Hmmmmm… We assumed that we were already on the first floor of the building so we wandered around attempting to find room 114 but it was nowhere to be found…. so we went and stared at the sign in the entrance some more until Scott had a lightbulb moment and he realized we needed to go upstairs to the first floor!!! Duh!! Yes! Room 114 was upstairs and we were soon sitting behind the desk of a really helpful woman named Irma Castillo. She gave us a brochure to read that had all the rates on it and we gave her our passports to make copies of and all our contact info. The health insurance is very affordable and totally straightforward. The cost for us will be $75.00 a month, that’s $45.00 for me and $30.00 for Scott, because I’m six months older I am the primary on the policy. When I turn 50 it will go up to $60.00 a month and Scott will go up to $50.00 a month. By the time we turn 80 years old it will cost $260.00 a month for us both. After what we were paying in the states these rates are incredibly affordable.

In order to complete the application for insurance we had to go downstairs , Irma walked us down there , and have a chest ex ray and an EKG. These tests cost $72.00 for us both. Yep, that’s right “FOUR” procedures…$36.00 each!! Then we need to fast for 8 hours before we have a blood test done to complete the requirements for the application. Luckily Irma gave us a form to take to the local Boquete clinic for the blood test , which we will do tomorrow. All in all we felt pretty good about how this first experience went, even though it was a bit of a wait for the two procedures we had done this afternoon . We just tried to remain “Tranquillo” as we stood in the hall and waited for our names to be called. We have experienced many longer waiting times in hospitals in the U.S. only difference is that those waits cleaned out our pocketbooks!! After we complete the blood test and they receive all the results of our tests we will return to Irma’s office , sometime next week and complete the application process. I really like the fact that we wont be getting a bill in the mail, they simply automatically charge our credit card each month. So far this healthcare part of our Adventure is pretty simple.

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Scott’s day of Golf….My day of riding around in the cart…

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Scott has missed his regular golf games since our move to Boquete. Actually, he mostly stopped playing in his golf league when we were getting the house ready to sell , way before our move so It’s been quite a long time for him. I think he was able to fit in a few last games after the house sold but the day’s of golfing at least once a week and spending time at the range are long gone. Scott was very happy to meet a young woman in his spanish class who is a golfer and he invited she and her sister to join him for a round on Sunday morning. Laura and her sister Anne( I’m guessing they are in their mid 20’s) are here in Boquete studying spanish at Habla Ya. They are both doing “home-stays” at two different local Panamanian homes. I must say I was very impressed by these two young women and their commitment to learning the language. I was curious why they chose to stay at different homes and not together and they said that they knew if they were together they would be speaking English which was not what they wanted. They really wanted make an effort to surround themselves with as many native speakers as possible in order to become more proficient speakers themselves. Bravo to them! They are enjoying the host families they have been placed with and seem to be really connecting with them. And did I mention that they are here for eight weeks? After the eight weeks here in Boquete they plan to travel to Bocas Del Toro for another eight weeks. Habla Ya has a school there as well. Didn’t’ I tell you, they are two very impressive young women and crazy adventurous as well! My kind of gals!! So back to the golf part of this post… Laura and Anne are really good (they will likely humbly deny this, as they claim to be rusty, but I beg to differ!) golfers. I asked them how long they have been golfing and Laura said she learned when she was 11 an Anne at 8 years old! I believe they both played college golf and for being a little rusty they didn’t do half bad! Scott enjoyed playing with them and had a great day of golf, his first since moving here.

The golf coarse, Lucero, is a fairly nice 18 hole course here in Boquete. Two years ago when we were here on our exploratory trip we went to check it out and they had just opened the back nine . It was very new and quite pretty. It’s still a nice course although not nearly as sparkly new and pristine as it was two years ago. The views are spectacular and I had a great time riding around with them. Those girls could really hit that little ball far!! Not being an athletic gal myself, I really admire women who have any athletic ability! And these two definitely have it! They were able to hit that ball every bit as far , sometimes even farther than Scott. So watching them all play, in between reading a good book while I cruised around with them was a great way to spend a beautiful Sunday morning.

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Good food, good wine, good people and Mexican Train….Life doesn’t get better than this!

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Boy, we really had a great fun filled evening with some great people last night. It was a Birthday potluck and the emphasis is on the “Luck” cuz’ we all really “lucked” out with such amazing food prepared by everyone! Al has really got the BBQ ribs and chicken down to a science. Scott’s the Jambalaya master, Eric is king of the guacamole, and Lyns Guanabana desert really topped off our culinary experience for the evening. You may be wondering what contribution to the Potluck Sela and I made and our’s is the ever so essential job of “consuming the food”! Ha!Ha! Of course it’s a tough job, but you know, someone has to do it and we are just the gals for such a painful and difficult task! MMMMM! I think Sela would agree that we’ve got a good thing goin’!

As if the consumption of a gourmet meal weren’t enough, we had the additional pleasure of learning a really fun new (to us) game called “Mexican Train”. I had heard of this game and have always wanted to learn it so when Al and Sela invited us to join in I was really excited. Al had organized the evening around playing the game before dinner whilst enjoying some tasty appetizers and sipping on cocktails . (I wish you could all see the spectacular setting in their outdoor living space. The Views of the mountains and the city lights below never cease to draw my attention, and nearly bring tears to my eyes as I say to myself, “I actually Live Here!”.) Al and Sela told us it was a really long game so we would start playing and then take a break mid-way through and dive into the meal portion of the evening, this was a superb idea! Eric and Lyn and Scott and I caught onto the game pretty easily and it didn’t take long for us to start strategizing our evil moves to undermine our opponents in order to stomp on them , royally ! Wahahaha! It turns out, this is a group of “cut-throat” Mexican Train players! LOL! Watch out!! There’s almost nothing I enjoy more than a fun game night with people like this who I can laugh with even though I’m getting my but kicked! And A very thorough but kicking it was! I was the Queen Loser! All good fun, for sure!! I’ll have to see if they’re interested in learning one of my favorite games , Apples to Apples! Maybe I could actually win a game!!
But I will need to continue playing this new game so I can try to get better at all that Strategizing that they all are so obviously “naturals” at. Good fun was had by all! And I’m sure the fun has only just begun because hey, we live in Panama! And let’s remember the quote (that I believe was coined by Keith), “We’re all HERE because we’re not all THERE!” That just cracks me up!!!!

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Figuring out we are missing a few neccesities, like measuring spoons & Cups..

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It’s Alive! My iPhone, that is!

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. This is Giovanni, busy activating my new data plan!!

I finally got a data plan for my iPhone. Yippee! I had to wait until At&t received my early termination payment in order to request the unlock of the phone. That just finally happened this week so , now that the phone is unlocked I was able to go down to the “Cable & Wireless” place and initiate my cell phone and data plan and get a Panama phone number! It’s great to finally have my own phone number and not just Scott’s . He didn’t have any of that early termination junk to deal with and since we really needed to have at least one cell phone functional we just paid someone here to unlock his phone the week we arrived.
But when we are both out and about and not together it has been a bit of a pain not having the ability to reach each other. So at the Movil office there is a lovely woman who speaks perfect English who is extremely helpful and she got me all set up. For a one year contract (which I can terminate anytime I like, no pesky early termination fee!), it costs $9.99 per month just for the data then I bought $ 40.00 of minutes which I suspect will last more than a month. They will send me a text message when I need to go into the office to pay my bill, very handy and easy breezy!

I did have a tiny brain-fart at the cable and wireless office that I must share so we can all laugh at my over taxed brain!! The process at the office is that you sit at the dest and sign all the paperwork and she installs the new SIM card and all that good stuff, then you walk over to the other side of the room to a little window where there is a lady sitting behind a glass window where you do all the paying of minutes and data plans . Well I stood up from the dest and very happily walked over to the pay-window across the room and with a big smile on my face my brain said,”Hola!” except that my mouth said,”Adios!” Ja!Ja!Ja! Somehow there was a disconnect between what I thought and what I said!!! Scott and Giovana (the lovely employee who helps us ) and the lady behind the class got a good chuckle out of that one!! Oh boy! I also had to laugh! Try to imagine someone walking up to you and saying, with a big grin,”Good-bye!” . Too funny. Yep, my poor brain has much too much new information! And I’ve only just begun, there’s a lot more to take in!

Well,I need to send some emails to my new friends and let them know that they can call me now. Now when Scott’s phone rings he can stop saying.”it’s for you” before he even looks at it . All I have to say is , ” Gracias a Dios es Viernes!” Cheers!

Too Many Verbs!!

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Today is gonna be one of those days when I feel like “one step forward, and one step backwards!” These “regular and Irregular” verbs are gonna KILL ME!! UGGGG! I think I can , I think I can, I think I can!!!! Trying to think positive ! Tomorrow will be better! “POCO A POCO”!

Hair Time In Panama!

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Yesterday, (Tuesday) was Hair day ! Lyn , like myself, was a stylist in another lifetime. My grey roots were yelling to be covered up! I kid you not! I could hear them “screaming”! So She very kindly agreed to apply my color for me and stop those pesky grey hairs from all that screaming. I, in return offered to give her a little trim while my color was processing. This was a brilliant idea all around. She is a very busy realtor so I was grateful that she was willing to do this although I would never assume that this will be a forever solution to my annoying grey hair. No, I’ll keep my ears open and who knows , I just may have to branch out sometime and give a local Panamanian stylist a shot. I’m pretty sure I’ll still be able to bring my own color with me, they’re pretty relaxed here. Lyn had another Amiga who stopped by for a little color application while we were at it. It was good fun to sit around and chat and get to know another local expat who has made a great life here in Boquete.

What an enormous change for me from the life I was living in Los Altos. A change that I am soaking up with a grateful heart. (a little side-note to my Los Altos peeps, please don’t be offended, I had many many very happy years and not one regret, I’m just so glad for a change 🙂 ) This life and the people I’m surrounded by are a breath of fresh air. It’s all so very “relaxed” and casual and mostly I think ,so far , it’s just ‘easy’. I’m certain I still have much to learn about this new town but so far I’m pleased with the people I’m connecting with and getting to know. One of my biggest concerns about moving away from everything and everyone I know was making new friends and I’m pleased to report that I had no need to worry. There are a ton of terrific people to spend time with and I’m already wishing I had more free time to hang out with them. Our spanish classes are pretty all consuming at the moment. But that’s just temporary ,I’m sure when we finish with our classes more free time will allow for some other activities where we can meet even more people.

Scott and I were just commenting this morning about how many great people we’ve met through our classes at Habla Ya. Even though most of them are here in Boquete for a short time I have a feeling some will come back to visit us and even have a place to stay (WITH US!) . It’s great to see how many people come here and do “Home stays” through Habla Ya. Most of the people in Scotts class are staying with local Panamanian families and having such a great, authentic experience. Our friend Jordan who we met a couple weeks ago really developed a great relationship with his house mom, I think he was a bit sad to leave and I’m certain he has a new lifelong friend. I thought he was such a thoughtful young man because as a thank you gift he gave her a gift certificate to have a massage at a local spa! Awww! What a sweetie! We have met people from the states as well as Canada, Holland,Germany,The Bahama’s, and most of these people are traveling around for at least a month most of which they are staying here in Boquete. I just love talking to these young backpackers who are having such amazing adventures !

Our Spanish classes are coming along pretty good, although dont expect me to be able to actually speak quite yet! The Private, One on One lessons are exactly what I needed and I’m so glad that they were so accommodating and worked around me and what I needed. My teacher, Araliz is just so intuitive about how to work with me and I am very impressed with her ability to sense how to best teach a student who learns as slowly as I do. I have not really felt frustrated or defeated at all! Each day I walk away feeling like I made a tiny bit more progress and I think I can even say that I am enjoying the process now!! Can you sense the smile on my face? One little thing Scott and I have both been discussing is that we need some actual ‘real life’ practice. He is much more assertive with his practice when we are out shopping and running errands . I usually rarely even try to chime in much . So I am brainstorming different ways for me to give myself opportunity to practice speaking with locals. I am considering some sort of volunteer work with children. I know there are orphanages where I can volunteer and work with the children or maybe at one of the local schools. I need to start asking around and trying to get myself connected with people in the know. I just hope my lack of anything even close to fluent spanish wont be too hard to get me out there, helping somehow.

Scott is talking with the School today about trying to switch his lessons over to private as well. He feels like he needs a bit more personal tutoring now instead of the group lessons he’s so far been doing. The groups move forward pretty rapidly and so a bit of private time will be a good balance for him. Plus this schedule we have is a real bummer for us. I go to class from 8-10 and he goes from 1-5 , which totally ruins our days if we need to get anything else done. Like I said before, the people at Habla ya are very flexible and accommodating so I’m sure they will figure out something that will work for him. And I’m not sure how he plans to get some practice in but I’m sure he’ll manage somehow. He really enjoys shopping in the fruit and Vegetable market and has already settled on his favorite venders in there. There is a little old lady who runs the booth in the very front and one day he told me he asked her if a particular pepper she had was spicy and she took his hand and led him to a different booth and showed him exactly what to buy! He will shop from her from now on. And then another guy who we buy avocados from always asks when we are going to eat it and finds the best one, not too ripe or ripe enough for Hoy! He has earned Scotts loyalty as well. One lady just sold him a couple of very unripe avocados even though he explained that he would eat them hoy, she is on the banned list. So he gets his practice in talking with the venders at the market and I think if they would hire him he would get a huge kick out of working there with them, that’s not gonna happen!

I’ll keep you posted on our continuing quest to learn spanish and hopefully our opportunities to connect with more locals. I continue to awaken each new day with a smile on my face and I am constantly looking around this beautiful mountain village and basking in the fact that with many years of research and lot’s of hard work, we made this happen, this is our home!! I have to pinch myself right now , I’m really not dreaming, am I? OUCH! Nope!! Life is good! Cheers!

Move to Paradise

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I’m re-re-blogging this post written by two of my favorite bloggers here in Panama. I love how they think and they make some really valid points about moving to another country. Thanks to both these lovely women for sharing thier insight with such honesty .

A Weekend in The Jungle…

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Since moving here to Boquete I’ve told you about all the really great people we have met and are becoming friends with. I know I’ve mentioned our realtor, Lyn. She is the one who , in my mind , is a renaissance woman! I’m certain she will humbly deny this description of herself but too bad ,That’s my story and I’m sticking to it! Lyn and her Husband Eric started a Jungle lodge in Bocas Mainland, (the Caribbean side of Panama). They bought the land about six years ago and have been slowly working on developing it into a self-sustaining eco tourism destination for about the last three years. We were invited to be their guests this past weekend and I want to tell you about out experience there. Read the rest of this entry

Ok , Here’s the answer to yesterdays post…

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Lisa, Of Zeebra Designs , commented on my post about the Latin Machismo here in Central America. She told me to watch this video and I just took her advise . I was blown away by this woman’s talk. The woman, Amy Cuddy, in the Ted Talks video is a research scientist who has studied the effects of our non-verbal body language on not only other people who observe us but on how our body language effects our own personal perceptions and feelings of ourselves. Wow! I promise you, if you take a few minutes and watch this whole video, it’s not too long don’t worry, you will be profoundly touched by what she has to share! I think you may have the same reaction I had,” I gotta tell EVERYONE about this! And after I have told everyone, I need to really put this into action and see what happens! It’s really easy and I can totally see how it would make such a huge difference in our lives and the lives of people we come into contact with and how they perceive us, and consequently, how we perceive ourselves. In the video she shows some pictures of some of the people who participated in her study . She had asked them to hold various power poses and submissive poses for two minutes and one example she showed was a young lady sitting in a chair holding what she described as the most permissive pose there is , she was kinda hunched sitting in a chair, but also one arm wrapped around her stomach and the other holding her neck. I could not believe what I saw! Holy Crap!! That is exactly how I was sitting in the office at that Toyota dealership when I was disregarded by the salesman! I am left wondering…what might have happened if I had only changed my posture a bit to appear more powerful? Hmmmm? Well, this girl is planning to try this out and see what happens. Who knows , Scott just may have to ask “permission” to drive MY car soon!! LOL!!! I’m joking, but seriously, check this out! It’s powerful…http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=Ks-_Mh1QhMc&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DKs-_Mh1QhMc

Celebrating the 4th in Panama, and other random news…

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Most of our days are filled with Spanish studying so we didnt really think about the fact that it was an American holiday until later in the day. Then we thought we should try to get out and do “something”. In Scott’s class he has two young classmates, brothers, Tristan 14 and Liam 16. Who, I may add are rather good at Spanish. Tristan is also a very accomplished musician. He was invited to play music a local restaurant/bar called Amigo’s. We decided it would be fun to go hear him play and enjoy some dinner while celebrating the 4th of July. We were not disappointed! It was open mic night at Amigo’s so there were several different musician/singers who joined in on the fun!! Amigo’s is owned by some Expats so they had a special Gringo menu in honor of the 4th of July. Of course that ‘special menu’ was a good ol’ fashioned BBQ! Hamburgesa’s, con queso, chili cheese-dogs and all the other goodies one expects to find at a 4th of July BBQ.. What more could you ask for? Good food, good people to chat with and good music to enjoy! Oh, and lets not forget un vaso tinto vino para me! All was well for us on our first 4th of July celebration in Panama.

There is one tiny (well, not so tiny!) story to tell… while enjoying listening to a group of young local Panamanian musicians play some great music, I happened to notice a rather large…Who am I kidding!!! A MONSTROUS SPIDER!!! Walking across the floor , and yes, it was coming toward yours truly! YIKES!! When I first noticed the big guy strolling around I tried not to panic and cause a “Gringo-Hissie-Fit-Scene!”. So I ,very calmly, sat still and watched to see what direction Senior spider would go…Well, as luck would have it, he decided to visit me! So I was forced to throw my calm exterior to the wind! We were at a table with a gentleman we met at school, let’s call him Peter, I tapped him on the shoulder and pointed and in , what felt like an instant me and Peter and Liam (Tristan’s 16 year old brother) and the table of gringos next to us were all standing up and giving Senior spider plenty of room to roam! YIKES! Here’s where the funny part comes…You know my husband? Ya, the one with the beard? Well, of course in typical Scott fashion, he was peacefully and blissfully enjoying his cerveza, happily listening to the music when he noticed all this commotion commencing around him. From the other side of the room I couldn’t help but smile , there’s my guy, not budging ,only calmly lifting his feet to allow Senior spider to go where he wished to go. With a cold beer in hand there was no reason for him to move, nope! HA!HA!HA! Ohhhhh, that guy is so funny!! Nothing, not even a MONSTROUS spider, could get him to abandon his cerveza or to panic. I love that about him!! But I was fine loving that about him from across the room as Senior spider trotted off, on his way to who knows where.

I’m writing this post in the study room of our Spanish school, Habla Ya. Scott had to take a drive into David this morning to have the first maintenance service done on the new truck. His appointment was at 8:30 and it is now 12:00. His class starts at 1:00, so I hope he gets back soon. I don’t have a working cell phone yet because I need to have my iphone unlocked which I could not do until my early cancelation fee was paid to AT&T. So Scott has no way to contact me. Our plan was that he would send me an email message to let me know what time he would be here, but there seems to be no wifi here today. So my trusty iPad is no help, hence the writing of this post. Today, Friday, is the end of my first week of private lessons and I feel so good about it! Not that I can speak a cohesive sentence yet, but I can feel myself getting into a better space with my lessons. Eliminating the added pressure of being part of a group has made all the difference for me and my ability to learn much better without feeling so stressed. I can even say that I’m beginning to actually “enjoy” my class!

This weekend we are getting a second opportunity to join our friends Eric & Lyn at their Jungle Lodge, Rambala Jungle Lodge (www.Rambalajunglelodge.com) . I’m so excited to go and to see this beautiful place. I’ll write a post about it soon. I’m sure it’s going to be a great weekend. I just wish we could have more time. Eric & Lyn are leaving early today ,Friday, but because of our Spanish School we have to go tomorrow, Saturday and then we will have to return as late as possible on Sunday. My class is bright and early on Monday,(8:00am) hence the unfortunate necessity to depart on Sunday. 😦 Hopefully, we will be able to go another time and have a bit more time to soak up the beauty that I’m certain Rambala Jungle Lodge has to offer.

Well, I’m still waiting for Scott, it’s 12:30 now and I know he will be very unhappy if he is late for his class. He will likely be walking up any moment so I will publish this post now. Here is my new phrase for the day…”Buen Fin De Semana!” Cheers!

Welcome to a Latin country…

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I don’t know how to express what a strange feeling it is to me to have professionals just ignore me. Ok, please don’t get me wrong, not always , but very frequently so far I have had the experience of being in an office and having the person direct all their conversation towards Scott while I am sitting right next to him and not even make eye contact with me. Now, I have never thought of myself as a hardcore feminist kinda gal, but come on! I think I’m a pretty independent woman . I have been a successful entrepreneur and business person for twenty years, Ive been a single mother I’ve purchased property and vehicles all by myself and supported myself without a man by my side and feel that I am a very competent human being, I have never had the experience of feeling like I don’t matter. I realize that this is simply a cultural thing and that they do not intend to offend. I’m certain it’s just the way things are done here and will likely always be done here and have always been done here. I am merely saying, that I have never had this experience and it bugs me . It gives me such a vivid perspective on what women in the states fought for in the past in order to be treated as equals in our lives. I’m too young to have felt the inequality that existed in the States and even though I have visited places where the culture treats women differently , being there for a short visit never gave me the opportunity to notice it first hand.

I will, of course adapt to this cultural difference in time, of this I am certain. When one chooses to adopt a new country as their home it means you enter into it knowing that much will be different. Some things will feel so much better and other things take some time to get used to. I am merely taking a moment to express my initial discomfort with this particular Latin way of doing things. It’s actually quite funny to try to think differently. What brought this all up for me was our visit to the Car insurance lady today. We are in the process of purchasing a car for me. Sitting at this very nice women’s desk she directs her conversation directly to Scott and fills out all the paperwork in Scotts name. When we inquire as to putting the insurance in my name she says its not necessary! The exact same thing happened at the Toyota dealership! We wanted to have the title in both our names, “No, it’s not necessary”. HUH? So I understand the laws here are very different. The insurance lady (who spoke perfect english) explained to us that in Panama if anything happens to one of the spouses the property automatically goes to the other spouse, “no problema”. Also the insurance will cover anyone who you give permission to drive your car. Sooooooo does that mean Scott is giving me “permission” to drive my car? Hmmm! The title to the Truck is in Scott’s name and when we met with Keith and filled out the title transfer documents for the used car he is picking up for us we told him we wanted that one in my name. I’m sure this is all just pretty trivial stuff and believe me, it’s not a huge deal, but it’s just something I have noticed and maybe it’s just me , but I’ll get over it. It just seems so strange to be in a position where all our big financial investments would be solely in Scotts name. I know, I am such a Gringo! Uggg! Sooooo Does my discomfort on this different , very traditionally LATIN way of doing things , make me a hard-core Feminist? I don’t know, all I know is , I’m just very accustomed to being treated equal to those around me and to having my own gosh darn car insurance! Is that too much to ask? Well, apparently here in Panama I will have to get used to having ‘permission’ to drive my car. (insert eye roll here!)

My First Police Checkpoint…

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I know, all you seasoned expats will roll your eyes at this post but I know my friends will think its funny. Today , I experienced my very first police road block. I know it’s shocking to think that I never experienced one in Los Altos, but it’s true! And to top it off, I was all alone! I was on my way to pick up Scott from School and down at the bottom of the hill, there they were, in all their glory causing a huge cluster !#?*! They were pulling over both sides of the intersections so what a mess and my little heart began to beat so fast! Yikes!! You see, here in Panama the police find it necessary to occasionally and seemingly randomly, set up these temporary road blocks and pull everyone over to check their documents. I’m not sure why this requires about eight officers all decked out with big scary looking guns! I’m also not exactly sure (Im certain someone will set me straight on this) of exactly what they are looking for and what would happen if you failed to provide all the required documents. I assume this is their way of making sure all the drivers on the road have a drivers license and insurance and that registration is current. And us gringos who don’t yet have a Cedula or a residency visa or a Panamanian drivers license , must be sure to have a copy of our passports, and I think a color copy is the requirement . It’s unclear to me if they would ever want to see my drivers license from CA but I have it on me just in case. I’m pretty sure its necessary to also have a copy of your car insurance policy on hand . This Newbie Gringo was prepared for this unavoidable experience, I was just not quite prepared to be alone for my first time. Of course I was prepared with a sparkly new, “color” copy, of my passport (laminated and everything!) conveniently stashed in my glove box ready to present to Senior Policia!! You’ll be relieved, I’m sure, to know that it went very smoothly! As a matter of fact, I think I have a new policia friend! HA!HA! The officer only wanted to see my passport and when he saw that I was from The U.S. he said,”Ahhh America? New York! Yankee Stadium??” I of course said, ” NOOOO, San Francisco!! GIANTS!” LOL! He thought that was funny, and off I went , right on down the road! So, No problema! Who knows if it will go so smoothly next time but, hey , I’m a pro now! The Adventure continues!

I just love making new friends!

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I just had a wonderful lunch with two really sweet young women, Molly and Allison. They both come from California and I just wanna keep them both!! I met Molly last week , she was in my Spanish class. More than once, Yubal, our teacher asked Molly,”Molly, please can you explain to Holly in English?” . She is so smart and really has a pretty good grasp of the language. Although she will humbly deny it, she is very smart! I’m pretty sure she has already had some experience learning Spanish so she is way ahead of me. I knew right away that Molly and I would strike up a friendship, she is so sweet,(kinda like me! hee!hee!) and I really admire a young women traveling on her own. She is planning to volunteer with the Peace Corp and is waiting to hear where she will be going. Molly’s sister Allison just arrived in Boquete last night to join her little sis on a Panamanian adventure! I have no doubt they are on the cusp of creating memories they will cherish for their whole life. It makes me wish that my little sister and I had had the opportunity to share such an experience together. These two have a very special bond, this is very evident in the way they behave with each other. There is a mutual admiration that just shows. We had a great lunch at Big Daddys, Margarita’s , of course and some yummy shrimp tacos, I think Molly had the Veggie taco and a cerveza . We talked about what they have planned for the time they are in Boquete and they really have a lot of fun things on their agenda. Today they are planning to visit a coffee finca and the rest of the week is filled with a massage for Allison (Thanks to Jordan she knows just the place for that!),thermal pools,water falls possibly rock climbing,a stroll through the fruit market and a hunt for some local authentic tamales . I´m sure they will find plenty of adventure to get into together. They dont seem like the type of girls to sit around and miss out on any fun. There’s plenty of fun to be found in this mountain top haven and they will not be disappointed. I only wish Mariah and Elisabeth were here to hang out with them because they would totally hit it off!! I’ll miss Molly , she and her sis are taking off on saturday to Bocas De Toro for some island adventure, How fun!! I’m sure there will be lots of beach time , snorkeling, zip lining, and maybe they’ll find Jordan somewhere and share a Margarita! I have a feeling wherever Molly and Allison end up , fun will follow, and I’m certain no shortage of happiness created by just being together. Cheers!!

Another First Day Of School…

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Today was my first day in my private class with a new teacher. Her name is Araliz and she is very nice, it’s great to get to know another native Panamanian. I really enjoy the very beginning part of the class where we ask each other questions in spanish and get to know about each others lives. She grew up here in Boquete but lives in David. She has a really big family most of which still live here in Boquete. Her grandparents live in Jamarillo, which is the area we are very interested in finding property to buy. I think this one on one class will work much better for me. And the two hours is far better for me than the four hours I was struggling through before. I was really hoping to have Yubal as my instructor but It didnt work out. I will really miss being in his class, he was so much fun to laugh with and he was very patient with me. Who knows, I still have eight more weeks that I’m signed up for so maybe he will be able to take some of my classes down the road.

Although his brain is thoroughly fried by the end of the school day, Scott seems to really enjoy his class. He has six students in his class with him and even though he says he often feels behind, he enjoys the challenge and is learning really well. (of course!) Each night we spend a good amount of time studying and doing homework . Now that our schedules are so different I may be able to spend more time writing and reading. I go to class from 8:00am to 10:00, Scott is still going 1:00 to 5:00. So we shall see how our new routine rolls out. Today Scott got up and drove me into town and stayed in the study room at the school to work on some studying. After I got out of my class we went home and made breakfast then I worked on my homework . When Scott left for school I decided it was time to tackle some housework, this place was becoming a disaster area!! So I stripped the bed and took all the linens down to the laundry room, picked up some clean ones and voila! laundry done! Well, at least the linens! I still have a full basket of our laundry to tackle tomorrow. I used my sparkly new broom to sweep up all the cat hair, and there is a ton of cat hair! Our little kitchen table was drowning in paper and all sorts of junk so I unburied it and spent some time organizing our life. Ahhh, that felt so good!!

Constantly evolving and adapting is the name of the game! And we are most definitely open to all of the above. Which is a good thing given the fact that we haven’t much of a choice! LOL! Who knows what tomorrow will bring? All I know for certain is I’m looking forward to facing each new day with my mind wide open and a smile on my face. Well, mostly, a smile on my face, once in awhile I might have a bit of a grimace, I’ll admit it. All those verbs and all that conjugating admittedly get’s to me at times!! But, Hey, I take a deep breath and keep on goin’! Shrug! What the heck! It’s called and Adventure, right? Whoot! Whoot! Cheers!