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



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?



About hollycarter184

Life is Good! But it's time for a change, and more adventure! I'd like to share the whole experience of preparing then actually making a reality of expatriating, and moving to a new country. It's an exciting, and slightly scary move full of possibility . I'm looking forward to learning a new language and making new connections with the people who share our spirit of adventure. This blog is my way of continuing my connection with my friends and family in the States. Sooooo here it goes! :)

4 responses »

  1. That bridge is taking you somewhere, and it’s not just to the other side of the river.

    Thanks for the update. You’re making progress on your adventure. 🙂

  2. Holly, I just want to say that I enjoy reading your impressions of life in Panama from a fresh perspective. Always keep that positive attitude! Concerning high cholesterol, here are a few suggestions: Take fish oil pills, niacin (B3), and get plenty of exercise. At least it has worked for me. Enjoy your week. I know you will.

  3. Holly, about the drivers license, i always go to AAA in the states with 2 passport photos ( Walgreens, Wal-Mart-and other places, about $10.00– not the post office– too high) and with $15.00 I get an International Drivers license— good for 1 year 1
    I have use them all over Europe for ID and to keep from surrendering my Passport to the Police.
    According to AAA they are good in all countries— may be worth a try 1
    Will show you mine in Sept ! Robert

  4. About the border hop, I recommend trying to find someone who has done it before so you can go along. It’s quite an experience! http://blog.thepanamaadventure.com/2013/01/25/the-border-hop-or-the-passport-shuffle/ I wrote a blog post about ours. I have also heard that there is a border crossing more north that is quieter and easier than the one on the PanAmerican.

    I wonder if moving has also run your cholesterol up. Stress isn’t good for that, and the last months haven’t been exactly stress free. As you get settled here and life calms down, along with better food and exercise, I’ll bet it improves.

    Isn’t health care different here!

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