Monthly Archives: August 2013

Let’s Talk Shampoo….I know, exciting !

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This is a trivial post about a seemingly trivial subject but a subject that is near and dear to my heart, my hair. I found humor in this new experience and just thought to share it with you. Sometimes, it’s the trivial things that make me laugh the most…

First let me warn all my hairdresser friends who might be reading this…..you may want to stop reading right about…NOW! What I’m about to divulge will shock and appall you and if you do decide to continue reading,well… you may want to sit down first….

All my life I’ve only ever used professional products on my hair. Growing up in a household of two hairdressers , (my parents actually met in Cosmetology school!), nothing but the Best was ever allowed in our showers! If you called us “product snobs” I would have to concede to the title. Deciding on what shampoo and conditioner to use on my hair has never been a subject of great worry to me. My parents would keep us stocked up on whatever they were selling in their salon (they were also salon owners, but you probably already knew that). And being a salon owner myself for the past twenty years, I never had to worry myself with such mundane issues as what Shampoo and Conditioner to buy! I just grabbed whatever I was selling to my clients in my salon and that was that, no thinking, no deciding. While we were packing for our move we were only allowed to bring four bags and we had to keep the weight to 50 pounds each. I really had to prioritize the contents of those bags. It turned out, shampoo and conditioner didn’t make the cut. (Now, my “very special” styling gel on the other hand, was something I brought a good supply of! I’ll have to address that in a few more months , for now, my issue has been shampoo & conditioner.) So I arrived here in Panama needing quickly, to find something to wash my hair with, no problem, right?

I’ve written posts in the past about several different “firsts”. Well, this was the “first” time I can ever remember going into a grocery store and looking at the haircare shelf! And what a strange feeling it was to not recognize anything on that shelf. What? No Paul Mitchell Or Alterna, Aveda, Biolage, or Logics? HuH? Well, to be honest I wasn’t really expecting to find any familiar professional products but I thought maybe I would find at least Prell, Pert or Herbal Essence, or some other such product that I had seen advertised in magazines or on tv (products that I had always thought of as sub-par, crap, not to be used on “MY” hair! NOOOOO!) Ha! . I will admit to suddenly wishing I had brought my own familiar shampoo, but hey I signed up for a “change” of lifestyle, right? Well Holly, Just pick one and go with it! “How bad can it be? right?” Soooooo I continued to stare at the shelf of foreign shampoos and conditioners with an unfamiliar feeling of bewilderment. Who knew this much thought would go into choosing something so simple as a bottle of soap to wash my hair, Geesh! I did finally spy a bottle with a semi-familiar brand name, Schwarzkoph. I had never actually used the products myself but they make a professional hair color,and I know many stylist who use it . So that is what I bought.

For the past thirty years I’ve been hawking professional shampoos and conditioners and looking down on those “poor souls” who used “grocery store” crap on their hair( I know….Not nice, sorry!) . And I’m sure that all those expensive professional haircare products are indeed very high quality and very good for your hair. But , and here’s where my former colleagues will cringe, my hair feel great! No difference really. And I’m humbled as I recall my snobby,brainwashed attitude of my former life. Granted, it’s only been about three months worth of using my new “grocery store” shampoo (cue the snobby- nose in- the- air!) and any day now my hair may begin to show signs of abuse and neglect. It may start to break and become brittle and listless or Gasp! Dull and flat! FLAT? my hair? Not likely! As a matter of fact, I did finally find a familiar brand of product at Price Mart (similar to Costco) , Herbal Essentials, which , now that I’m typing I’m realizing that I had originally thought it said , Herbal Essence, oops! Ha!Ha! Ok, well, it’s not bad and it’s English on the packaging so it says it’s made from “essential herbs and flowers from the earth”! So that must be good, right? HUMPH!

I’m no scientist and I don’t really have any legitimate scientific proof about the superiority of professional hair care products over grocery store products. I cant quote research or studies done to prove that expensive professional products sold only in salons are exclusively the absolute best , healthiest way to wash you hair. All I can say without a doubt is, my hair feels just fine after subjecting it to inexpensive shampoo and conditioner. Could it be the crisp clean air here in Boquete? Or the healthy lifestyle I’m living as a retired gal? Possibly less stress,lot’s more fun? Or is shampoo just shampoo after all? I don’t know, but my hair is happy and that;s all that matters. I’m learning many things not only about hair care products but about myself. Learning to think differently about many things and to be open to trying to do things a little differently at times. One things for sure, there’s not just “one” way to do things in life and there’s definitely not just “one” good shampoo to buy!!

Rockin’ & Rollin’

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Well I’ll be darned! It feels like we’re back in good ol’ California again! We just had a pretty good earthquake here in Boquete. It’s been awhile since you guys have had one there, in California as a matter of fact the last real big one was way back in like what….1989? Was that the last big one, when the bridge collapsed? Well, this was nothing so dramatic but they do have them here occasionally and this was our first significant one since we’ve been living here. We’ve felt a few little tremors but this was a good roller! Whew! Glad it wasn’t anything serious.

Today is kind of a dreary, rainy day with some good lightening and a few massive thunders! That part of living here is very different for us and I really love it. I can’t say the same for the cat’s ! They are currently hiding , Midnight under the bed and Copper under the sheets on the bed, poor guys. Scott’s coming down with what looks like it’s going to be a nasty cold! So today is a stay at home and relax kinda day. We are bummed that he’s getting sick because we’ve been really looking forward to a gathering we were invited to on Thursday at some friends house. Scott was going to make Chili and I was looking forward to socializing and meeting new people. I still have my fingers crossed that he suddenly and miraculously gets well, like tomorrow.

We also have a fun outing for Saturday. Jere,( the hiking lady) has organized a trip to Nancito which is about two hours outside of Boquete. Nancito is an archaeological park area located in the district of Remedios and is the home of a series of petroglyphs. Jere has a friend named Dr. Luz Joly, who is a professor at UNACHI in David and she will accompany us on this trip. Dr Joly is an Anthropologist and has done much research in the study of Panama’s petroglyphs, she has written books on the topic and has traveled around the world giving lectures on the subject. We are so lucky to have such a guide to provide us with a presentation about the history of these ancient rock engravings. I’m really looking forward to learning about this area.

Yesterday, My new friend Aris and I met at her house to practice our language learning. It’s so fun to get to know her and her husband, they’re such nice people. Her husband made us some delicious snacks to munch on while we were chatting, (another man who likes to cook!! Yippee!) I’m obviously not a teacher and I know Aris is interested in trying to learn English just exactly like me , trying to learn Spanish , but I’m good at talking and that is exactly what we both want to do! It’s helping me so much to have a native speaker to practice with and I really hope she feels the same. I decided to see if she would be interested in looking through my People magazine together and I thought it was pretty fun to try to talk about fashion and makeup and read recipes together, me attempting Spanish and her using English as best as we could. We spent two hours chatting and giggling at ourselves and the two hours flies by soooo fast! All of a sudden it’s 5:00 and time for me to leave. So, we must be enjoying ourselves if it’s flying by so fast, right? Next week she said her 26 year old daughter might join us, I am looking forward to meeting her too, the more the merrier!! I’m so grateful to my Friend Valerie for introducing me to Aris and for inviting me to their Monday afternoon practice sessions. Valerie has gone on a vacation to the States so I’ve been going on my own and even though I was nervous at first, now I’m just looking forward to my Monday afternoons.

I only have two more days left in my Spanish classes and I’m kinda relieved to have a break and also kinda nervous about not having the daily dose of learning. The school has announced a special discount they will be offering for residents , 50% off of classes starting in September. Scott and I are planning to sign up. I will do the three days a week, two hours a day, private residence class. It’s my understanding that the residence class focuses more on just day to day phrases and things to get by as a new spanish speaker, which I will really benefit from. I think we will likely start those classes around mid september and go for about 6 weeks or so.. Scott and Valerie are about the same level so they are planning to be in a group class with just the two of them for ten weeks. We are really focused on learning and even though its time consuming and a bit frustrating at times, we have all the time in the world, and it’s so rewarding when I say something and am actually understood. This is sooooo worth every minute we have put into it. I just dream of the day when I can have a coherent conversation with Aris, although she’ll probably be speaking English by then!! Ha! Ha!

The other thing that is happening this week is that we are moving into our new furnished rental house. We’re soooo excited to get settled someplace for awhile. We were able to go over to the house last week to meet with the current tenants who have lived there for the last year. They are moving back to the states and selling off much of their things so we bought a few things from them and were able to find out some of the nitty gritty’s of the house. I was glad to hear that the landlord recently installed a new security system and we had only seen the house very briefly one time so I we couldn’t remember much about the yard and I didn’t know if there was a washer/dryer, (there is!!! Yea!) The property is beautiful, there are so many banana trees and coffee plants we will never have to buy Bananas while we’re living there. I’ll post pictures after we get all settled in. We did have to go buy a few things from the mall in David. The “furnished” house doesn’t include linens so we went and bought some queen size sheets and a bedspread. I bought a couple sets of towel from the former tenants, we have brand new ones in our container so I didn’t want to buy new ones. I think we are going to be really comfy there. That’s about it for this week.

Mr. Talkative, who is that man?

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20130825-130457.jpgThis is a post that only those who know Scott well, will find as much humor in as I do. All who know him are well aware that he is a man of few words. Scott has never been accused of being a “chatty” guy. Nooooo on the contrary, Scott is rather quiet. Am I right? I can hear all the collective nods of agreement. Yes, Scott is not shy or even especially reserved, no , he is simply just more of an observer and will easily contribute to a conversation but is not one to waste a lot of time chatting. It’s not his way…..Until now!

I don’t know this man who has begun to chat with anyone who will listen!! HUH? The other day after class as I was returning to the area where Scott and I usually meet up and as I was walking towards him I saw him just chatting away with a fellow student, deeply involved in a conversation , in spanish mind you! I had to smile. This is beginning to be a common occurrence, this new “chatty” behavior that my quiet husband has recently begun to engage in of late. I know, it’s hard to imagine, but I kid you not…..I’m finding more and more that I have been much more the one lately who is observing rather than participating in these “chat-sessions”. I can hardly get a word in edgewise! But not for want of something to say, noooo I always have something to say! But he is so intent to learn Spanish that he , probably for the first time in his life, has a really good reason to chat!! It’s so funny, and soooo great! He really tries hard to practice speaking every chance he gets. And He’s doing a great job. But I have to tease him because when he’s talking he’s concentrating so hard on recalling what he has so recently learned that he’s using his hands (as though he were an Italian) to describe much of what he’s saying. As he talks he is sort of looking off to the side and searching through his mind for the correct verb or conjugation or what have you, to express correctly , what he wants to say. The Animated conversations that I’m witnessing are inspiring! 🙂

For those of you who have ever learned a language , you know first-hand, the only way to actually learn it and retain what you learn is to use it. Scott is doing just that and he’s really determined. In classic Scott style, he will master Spanish in no time because when he’s determined to learn something it is a sure thing that he will learn it and learn it well. That’s just the way he rolls! This adventure is surely providing many new learning experiences for both of us. And I am also very determined to learn the language , but my process will be much slower and don’t’ you worry, I’m finding my own ways of practicing to speak. I’ve made some new Panamanian girlfriends who I’m getting together with every Monday for a few hours to chat with! They want to practice English and I get to Practice Spanish too, it’s just great! But I just thought you would all enjoy hearing about this new guy who I just can’t shut up!! 🙂 Who ever thought Scott would morph into Mr. Chatty??? Well, he has!! And I just love it!!

And here’s the story of our first border crossing….

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This is a story that, not unlike life itself, differs for each person . If you, like us, are living in Panama on a tourist visa, then this is an experience that is not new to you( and if you want to be legal to drive you must endure it every 90 days). Some , like us, are relatively new here and others are old hats at this border run routine. But, its seems, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been living here , you just can’t predict how it will go for you when it’s time to renew that precious little stamp in your passport. Sure, we can all read certain forums and blogs and hear first hand experiences from others who are telling us all what happened for them, but it just doesn’t seem to matter, the only thing that is certain is it won’t be the same for you. It’s the luck of the draw. One thing is certain, if you don’t embrace a “Tranquillo” state of mind, you will be grumpy and maybe angry and definitely frustrated beyond belief, I should know, I’m embarrassed to admit, I lost my grip on my Tranquillo state of mind for much of my time in the mystery land that is the “Frontera”! If not for the incredibly calm, relaxed countenance of my hubby, I would have had a crying, screaming meltdown on a couple of occasions during our border run experience. I actually did have my own silent meltdowns but worked hard to keep them to myself and maintain as calm of an exterior as I possibly could. Scott would probably report to you if he were writing (thank god he’s not!) that my face told it all!! Maybe it was the tears just begging to burst forth or the frequent scowl on my face, (maybe the steam coming out of my ears?) , he could see that a meltdown seemed inevitable. I tried so hard to remain calm, and for the most part I did an ok job faking it, but sadly I can’t claim to have maintained a constant stream of calm like my sidekick! So here’s what happened for us, but remember, it doesn’t really matter because it likely wont be the same for you….

Our plan and hope(dream, really) was to get to Paso Canoas at about 12:30-1:00, Park our car someplace safe, walk to the immigration window where you get your passport stamped “out” of Panama, walk to the Costa Rica side, stamp “in” to Costa Rica, wait a few minutes or go grab a bite to eat then stamp “out” of Costa Rica , walk back to the Panama side, and get stamped back “in” to Panama and then, la de dah, back we go to Boquete. Sound like a great plan right? ya, nope…. we didn’t actually expect this dream to be a reality, but it sounded good, huh! We actually had a bag packed just in case the we had to go find a beach in Costa Rica to hang out for two or three days. If we had been prepared to have a little mini vacation it would have been ideal, but we don’t have anyone who can cat sit for us yet and we have made a commitment at our school and just didn’t feel good about bailing on them. The timing just wasn’t right for us to be gone .We’ve all been reading many conflicting accounts of people being told the requirement was two or three days spent out of Panama before being stamped back “in”. There’ve also been accounts of some people seemingly doing exactly what we had dreamed we would do, even today, the same day we were there!! But , it would not be so for this brave, although not so “tranquillo”(one of us) Duo !

Here’s what happened for us. After finding a place we felt was reasonably “safe-ish” to park our car and possibly leave it unattended for a few days, we made our way to where we thought we needed to go. As we walked up to the immigration area and were looking for the right place to go, a very helpful( for a price :)) Panamanian guy pointed us in the right direction. This “Panamanian guy’s” name was Hamilton (as he said, like the guy on the ten dollar bill) and he guided us through the day, this private guide was well worth the $20. We stood in line, got up to the window and got the “exit” stamp on our passports, then Hamilton very kindly directed us to the other side of the Frontera where we needed to go stamp “in” to Costa Rica. Done, we were half way there, then we took our time , went to get a drink and sit down for a bit before going back to get stamped “out” of Costa Rica, then wait a bit more to go to Panama immigration to get stamped back in . This was our first rejection, nope you must be out of Panama for 24 hours. Ok….We decided to wait for a shift change and give it one more try….No go! Again, you must be out of Panama for 24 hours! GRRRRRR! They were consistent on the 24 hour rule! By this time(it was about 3:30) I was tired, frustrated and sweating like crazy, I needed to be done for the day with this particular adventure. Ok so we noticed there was a tourism office there and we went to see if they could direct us to a hotel nearby where we could stay for the night. There was a place not far, we could easily walk to and it was clean and cost $50.00 for one night and they had a secure place to park our car for the night.

After a good nights sleep we got up this morning (Saturday) and were the first in line at the Panama immigration window when they opened at 7:00a.m. Sadly, we were again rejected (here is where my ‘tranquillo” began to crumble this was rejection #3). The problem was that we had checked out of Costa Rica the day before and we needed to go back to the CR immigration and get a new date on our passports…..UGGGGG! Back at the CR Window there was much discussion behind the glass and I think I heard the word Malo( BAD),( here is when the tears began to form), “we need a copy of these passports” huh? Ok, deep breath, walk across the street to the little place that does copies, no problema! Back again, then they canceled the exit stamp from the day before and re-stamped an exit stamp with todays date! Whew, not so bad! We then walked back to Panama and now there was a looooong line of people from a tour bus! Ok, we waited and then BOOM!! Stamped back IN TO PANAMA! YES! We were on the road headed back to Boquete at 8:30am!!! Whew!!!

Three rejections and a long, hot, frustrating day but Scott still managed to say,”that wasn’t so bad!” Well, Ok…. I just love his positive outlook on our experience . But He’s not wrong, it really was only frustrating because we were so inexperienced with the procedure and with the area. All the immigration agents were actually quite friendly and almost seemed sorry to send us away . They were consistent as well, which is surprising given all the conflicting stories we see on the forums. But the story remained the same with each agent all four times we marched up to the window,”you must stay out of Panama for 24 hours”. They did want to see some form of proof that we had money, we had the $500 each on us just in case, but we also brought the receipt from the withdrawal that had the balance of our account on it. Whipping out a thousand dollars there with all those people around us just didn’t seem like a good plan, so we were glad the bank receipt was adequate. They also wanted to see our airline tickets showing how we would be going back to our country of origin, which we had as well. So, now we’re hoping our residency visa get done before the next 90 days so that we don’t have to do that again. But if we do have to go through it again, I’m sure my “Tranquillo” will be ready to stay in place and my scowl will stay at home. Next time we’ll at least be familiar with what to do, I’m sure it will be totally different next time but not so unfamiliar. And hey, now we have a “buddy”, Hamilton there at the Frontera, I’m sure he’ll be glad to see us next time! 🙂

So Many Different Stories…What will our story be?

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Boy oh Boy! Tomorrow we’ve been planning to do our Costa Rica border run to renew our tourist visa, and I gotta tell ya there are so many different stories going around about many different experiences! These are first hand stories from people who have just today and yesterday, gone through the border to renew their tourist visa. On friend kept us posted via FaceBook today and I was so sad to hear that it didn’t go smoothly for her. There are two different borders to choose from . One is called Paso Canoas and it is the bigger of the two, located just about 1 1/2 hours from us on the main road that goes through David. Paso Canoas has multiple gates to choose from and is a much busier place, so Ive heard, I have obviously never been there so I’m just repeating what I’ve heard. The other border is about 2 hours from here in Vocan and it’s called Rio Sereno. This crossing is a much smaller, quieter area. Not as many big tourist busses go this way and there is only one gate ( I think). We had planned to go to the quieter one but are now reconsidering. Like I said , our friend went there today and turned around to come back home because they were enforcing the 48 hour out of Panama thing and they weren’t prepared to be gone for the whole weekend (I wont say “Law” because it is unclear if this is just a recent whimsy of the officers or an actual law) . Yet another person says that he went through Paso Canoas yesterday and it only took him one hour! Sheesh! Our biggest concern isn’t the possibility of a weekend in Costa Rica, it’s what do we do about our car? Shoot, a weekend adventure is right up our alley, that’s no problem at all, pack a backpack with our swimsuits and our toothbrushes and we’re good to go! But our car sitting for two or three days is a bit disconcerting to us. We’ve decided to go ahead and go to the busier crossing because we think that if we stamp out of Panama and then into Costa Rica and just go have lunch somewhere and then attempt to stamp back in at a different gate with hordes of other tourists, they may not remember us and it could possibly be smooth sailing. So the latest decision , after a bit of wine….screw it…let’s just drive, park the car in as good a place as we can and walk on through. We know we could take the bus early from Boquete, but we are just not willing to miss school. I know, crazy, but if we were going to miss class we would have needed to notify them today and we didn’t. We’re probably a little crazy to leave the car but , what the hell! There is a slim possibility that this could be no big deal. Stay tuned!!

Our first border run is this weekend…

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It’s about time for us to do our first border run. We arrived here on May 28 and as I’ve written before, everyone who arrives in Panama automatically gets a 180 days tourist visa stamped on their passport. This would normally be more than enough time for most actual “tourists” to be in Panama. But if you decide to stay and make this place your home then there’s a bit of a complication If you decide not only to stay, but to buy a car and enjoy the privilege of driving that car. You see, the brilliant folks who make the rules here decided to allow a foreign drivers license to be legal for only 90 days of those 180 days. So, even though our actual “tourist” visa is still valid, our drivers licenses are about to expire. As soon as our paperwork is in process for our permanent residency visa we will no longer have this issue. But for now, we are off to the border of Costa Rica to stamp out of Panama and hopefully, turn around and stamp right back in. It should be that easy but…

Unfortunately, there is a very recent rumor going around the local forums about a change, not in the law exactly, but in the immigration officers and what they are lately requiring for foreigners to re-enter Panama. We’ve taken notes from many different people who live here and have had lots of first hand experience. It seems that the same thread that we hear is that the requirements all depend upon how the particular guy at the particular gate at that particular moment feels and what he/she decides to require on the day you are passing through. The requirements seem to vary. But basically we should need a valid Passport with at least six months remaining on it, all the proper documents filled out (the ones we get there) they want to see either a bank statement showing you have at least $500.00 (or cash of that amount on your person, we aren’t clear if we each need to have this amount or only one of us?), some sort of proof of how we will be returning to our country of origin, since we are supposed to be on a “tourist” visa. (a bus ticket or proof of an airline ticket out of the country) . The latest rumor we are hearing about is that they are requiring that when you leave Panama you must stay two or three nights in Costa Rica before being allowed back into Panama! HUH? This is a very new rumor, this week and we are watching the comments on the forums closely, no one has actually “confirmed” this to be true. As a matter of fact there is a U.S. attorney who lives in Bocas and hosts her own forum dedicated to laws for expats in Panama, she just posted a comment today about this and says she has not found any such new laws requiring tourists to stay out of the country for a period before being let back in.

Our plan is to go this Friday, after school to the Rio Serrano boarder outside of Vocan, which is not the main border. The one that most people seem to go to is called Paso Canoas , just outside of David. The one we’re planning to try is about thirty minutes further than the one in David but we hear it is much less crowded with busses and much faster. We think It will be about a two hour drive. We figured we would go on Friday then if indeed we end up being forced to stay in Costa Rica for a couple of nights we wont miss any School on Monday. So we will pack a change of clothes and our swim suits and make the most of whatever happens! We will arm ourselves with all the possible requirements, copies of our passports (as well as our actual passports), our registration for our cars (another document we have been told they might accept instead of an airline ticket) We will take along $500.00 (taking $500.00 each just doesn’t feel too safe!) and we may just take the advice of a friend and just book a flight online and bring a copy of the itinerary and confirmation number and cancel the flight after we get back home. Many times you can just reserve a flight that you then never confirm and the airline will not hold it for you.

It should be an interesting experience and we cant say that we will know what to expect next time because you just never know what new requirements they made come up with! But if all goes well with our application for permanent residency, this should be our first and last time that we need to do this. Who knows, its an Adventure, that’s for sure!

A Saturday Hike…The Pipeline Trail

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This weekend we decided to take a hike on the Pipeline trail. Scott had gone on this hike with a group earlier in the week while I was in class. We just love being out in nature and this trail was so beautiful. We spent about three hours hiking and enjoyed every minute of it. After we got up to the waterfall we enjoyed a nice picnic but wondered why we didn’t bring a bottle of wine to enjoy!! What were we thinking? Oh well, it was such a nice spot to just sit and chill and we soaked up all the natural beauty around us. I took lots of photos of interesting leaves and a few wildflowers to share with you. Next time we will have to take the good camera and see if we can get some better pictures than I can get with my iPhone. We passed a couple who had hired a guide to take them on this hike and they said that they had spotted a sloth and a small viper but we didn’t see much more than lot’s of birds. Those guides probably know exactly where to look for all the critters but we were just too busy soaking up all the flora and Fauna to spot any wildlife, maybe next time. There are so many trails to explore and we are really looking forward to seeing many more magical places as time goes by. We are still pinching ourselves and saying, “we live here!” What a wonderful Adventure we are on….

The begining of a new tradition…Margarita-Mani/Pedi Day

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When I asked my friend, Andrea if she would be interested in joining me for a Pedicure I had no idea that it would be the beginning of a new tradition for us! Given the fact that we’re pretty new friends, I wasn’t sure if she was interested in getting her feet beautified, you know, some people just don’t enjoy having their feet touched so I was prepared to have my invitation rejected. I wanted to just throw it out there on the chance that she too saw the need for a bit of pampering. I’m happy to report that although pedicures have never been a regular occurrence for her, she was totally on board with me and ready to dive in to “pedicure heaven”! Gotta love a gal who’s ready to embrace all things new and fun!! I then began my little (pathetic) search for a place to have a good pedicure day. Not being in the “know” about any of the local beauty establishments I found myself first checking out the most touristy of places and learning that they were just a bit on the expensive side. After I told Andrea about my progress in searching out our pedicure, she then took the reigns and may I say, She is just the gal to be in charge of research! She actually found the BEST Manicurist! Her name is Rhea and she is not only very professional and creative , but she makes house calls!! OMG!! How perfect is that ? Well, I think pretty damn perfect! Andrea made spectacular Margarita’s and a black bean Hummus to die for, served with warm pita to boot! I don’t think Ive ever enjoyed a pedicure as much as my first pedicure here in Boquete with my new friend Andrea! We felt so pampered and our “crusty”(Andrea’s description, not mine) feet were transformed into things of divine beauty! She even had Rhea paint adorable little flowers on her nails , to her great delight! Andrea’s home was the perfect setting for our little spa day. She has this wonderful outdoor space where we were protected from the crazy storm that blew in during our pedicures. It was quite a downpour with some monstrous thunder and lightening! No storm can dampen our Margarita-Spa day! This will be a new tradition for us! We set up our next appointment for five weeks from now and we are officially hooked on Margarita-Spa day!!
My last pedicure in Los Altos I remember,I was sitting in the pedicure chair and Andrea and I were messaging back and forth on Facebook about the cocktail hour we would share when I finally got to Boquete! I remember being so excited to meet her and getting to know this women who I was hoping was a cool as she seemed. Well, as you can see, I found a kindred spirit who is indeed pretty damn cool and any girl who comes up with the idea to have pedicures with cocktail is my kind of girl!!

In case your wondering what the guys did during our luxurious afternoon….They exited stage left and luxuriated at the bar! We have two very wise men in our lives who know just what to do when two women are jonesing for a little girl-time! Yes, life is good and toes and fingernails are just beautiful. A new tradition has been born and “Crusty” feet are a thing of the past! Cheers! Here’s to falling in love with our feet and discovering the very best Manicurist in town! Oh, let’s not forget Margarita’s , life is better with purty toes…:)

Cooking, Panama Style…

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Okay, those who know us from California are well aware of Scott’s talent in the kitchen. Now that he’s officially retired and doesn’t have any houses to work on or woodworking to do (closets to build or cabinets to make!), he has much more time to experiment and learn to cook new things as well as how to cook some things a bit differently. Now, we may not have the big fancy kitchen anymore. No professional Viking stove or top quality cookware to make life easy for him. We have about two inches of counter space and an oven with no temperature settings, only 1,2 or3! Scary! Who knows what temperature it actually is,( we realize an oven thermometer would solve this mystery but we just haven’t gotten to that quite yet) . In our past life we had a few dishes that he would rotate through during our work-week ,which were easy to do and didn’t require a whole lot of work. Some of our standards were, Chicken or beef fajitas, lasagna, shrimp pasta, beef stroganoff, veggie pita pizzas, fish tacos, burgers with baked fries, and the occasional steak and baked potato (just to name a few). Most nights we tried to eat at home and Scott would occasionally branch out and experiment with something new but mostly we were just too brain dead and tired to spend a whole lot of time trying out new dishes . Read the rest of this entry

Dos experiencias más divertidas…

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It’s a possibility that not everyone has the same sense of humor as I do , so if stories about dead chickens and children urinating offends your sensibilities you may want to skip this post. Occasionally, when walking around town or strolling to work (HAH! did I just say WORK?, I meant SCHOOL!) in the morning, I witness little “everyday occurrences” that often strike me as funny. Nothing earth shattering, just funny (to me) little things that I think to myself,” now, that’s something I never saw while walking into town in Los Altos!” Then I chuckle to myself and must turn around and share these silly sightings with you. Because that’s just the kind of generous gal I am. Ja!Ja!Ja!

So, the most recent sight happened this morning on my stroll into town. As I was just peacefully strolling along, listening to my podcast on my iPhone I was , as usual, soaking up all the many beautiful sights that continue to delight my eyes. When I suddenly noticed that a pack of dogs ( actually 3 dogs, but that constitutes a pack, right?) in the distance running towards me at full speed. They were really in a hurry which is different because most of the dogs around here just very peacefully wonder around not really looking as though they have a care in the world. But these three, they were bookin’ right towards me! As they got closer to me I began to notice that the big dog who was seemingly being chased by the others had something really big in his mouth. It quickly became apparent to me that that “really big thing” in his mouth was, yes you guessed it, A CHICKEN! A whole, I think dead, chicken!! Feathers flying as he ran like the wind to enjoy his morning treat. I couldn’t help but smile at the sight because It just isn’t especially common for this Gringa to see a dog gleefully racing down the street, with feathers flying and little chicken legs hanging out either side of his happy little doggy face. Maybe I have a warped sense of humor, but you had to see it, seriously, it was kinda funny. But the next part that was also humorous was when I was attempting to describe this sight to my Spanish teacher. She was laughing hysterically ,not because “she” thought it was funny but because “I” thought it was funny! She said, “This is not common for you to see such a thing in Estados Unidos?” “Noooooo!” I said. My telling of this story to Araliz started a long discussion between the two of us,(In Spanish, of course, and I’m pleased to tell you that I’m beginning to understand about 75% of what she says, she speaks no English!) about the cultural differences between here and the U.S. It was very fun to laugh with her, She must think I’m crazy! Oh well, it wouldn’t be a first for me.

The second story is not mine but Scott’s , he just told me this today . One day when He was walking to work( did I say WORK again!!!! you know what I mean, School!, man, I gotta stop that!) he noticed a man outside his house washing his taxi. The man was inside the car cleaning the dash and listening to music while he was intently cleaning away. The car was immaculately cared for and Scott said he could tell the man took great pride in his taxi. Here’s the funny part…. As Scott was walking by he noticed a young kid, maybe four or five years old , (he assumed it must be the taxi owners son) Peeing on the tire!! OMG!! Too funny, right? I suspect he learned that either from his dad or the family dog! At any rate, just another funny little sight that, in our past life, was not a common thing to see while walking down Orange Ave.

Ahhhh, the joys of living as a fresh new expat in a country that is not your own. Experiencing sights and sounds that are unfamiliar, sometimes strange, but never boring. This first year for us is surly going to be full of many such stories and in time these things that seem so foreign to me will begin to be just ordinary everyday occurrences . But I assure you I’ll never stop appreciating the humor in all the differences and being grateful for having the opportunity to learn about a different way of life. Who say’s there’s only one “right” way to live life? Sometimes a kids just gotta pee and the tire just happens to be conveniently located and If Colonel Sanders isn’t around to serve up a little chicken to a hungry pooch then A dog’s gotta do what a dog’s gotta do…. right? Ja!Ja!Ja! Everyday’s and Adventure!

Smiling…

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20130814-115837.jpgToday as I walked out of my Spanish lesson I was smiling. I had a great lesson with Araliz. Some day’s I walk out not smiling but instead looking rather stoic. Not sad, not mad, but feeling kinda dumb. And on those not so good days, when I just don’t have a smile after my lesson I remember that tomorrow may be better. The thing I thought about today, as I walked to my car, was that I felt grateful for those un-smiling-feeling-kinda-dumb days. I wont call them “bad” because without them I would not have the very clear perspective when I have a smiling-feeling-kinda-smart day! On those days when I walk away feeling dumb and a little defeated I try to remember that tomorrow I just might be smart again!!! (laughing!) Ahhh, it’s a challenging process and aren’t I the lucky one to have chosen to embrace the opportunity to very consciously and deliberately dive in “head-first” into all these new experiences. I know from lot’s of past experiences that the most difficult and challenging life experience have always been the best opportunities for growth, spiritually,mentally,intellectually,as well as physically . I’ve read a quote that I just love..

“Our biggest regrets are not for the things we have done but for the things we haven’t done”
― Chad Michael Murray

Yes, I see the wisdom in that quote and I feel that way myself. Just because an experience is a challenge, I don’t think to myself that I should not have done something but that I’m doing something which , although difficult, is worthy of the hard work it takes to persevere and learn and grow from the hard work. I am where I should be in my life and even with all the difficulties and challenges I face in my new and often disorienting new life I have no regrets only joy in being in this very spot at this very moment….

Is it just me?

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I’m going to try my best to articulate an experience I’ve been having since I’ve been living here in Panama. I am going to assume that this is all a part of adjusting and I wonder if this feeling is one that other expats have also experienced , or am I the only nutty one,(which I’m happy to embrace, I got no problem with being “NUTTY”) I’m not one to complain and I hope this post doesn’t come across as whining, but… Since I arrived in my new home just about three months ago, I’ve been experiencing, at times, a rather odd sense of total disorientation. I hope I can accurately describe what I mean by that. I seem to have lost any and all sense of direction when I’m in a store or just generally walking around town . It’s not just that I don’t know where I am, that’s nothing strange , I just moved to a new town in an entirely new country , I expect to feel this type of “lost”. But what I’m talking about is hard for me to put into words, possibly , “spacial awareness”? Is that what it is? I don’t know. All I know is for example, when we are in Romero’s shopping for groceries I am constantly in peoples way, I never seem to realize when someone is trying to get past me or which way I should push my cart to avoid an oncoming shopper. I feel such a strange , unfamiliar sense of confusion when I’m out in public, which for me is just crazy. I’ve never felt such a sense of feeling as though I need to be very careful with each and every step I make as I am walking around. Maybe it has to do with my inability to culturally pick up on social cues? I usually think of myself as a very intuitive person, I like to be courteous and thoughtful and I admit to almost feeling a sense of pride in myself for being able to intuitively pick up on the needs of those around me. I seem to have lost that ability and this, in part makes me feel rather lost in public. In addition to feeling so inept and a bit confused, I cant’ even express to the people around me how sorry I am. “No, really, this isn’t how I am!,” “I’m not usually so stupid!” “I didn’t mean to roll my cart over your foot! I’m soooo sorry!” GEESH! And they all seem so kind and mostly patient with this strange gringo who can hardly push a shopping cart through the store. I wonder what I must look like to them?

Scott thinks I’m just overwhelmed. There’s just too much to process so I’m just a little bit out of it. Every single thing about this new place has me feeling as though I’m upside down most of the time when I’m in town. The sights, the sounds, the smells, the people, how they behave, How I’m supposed to behave to be polite, Just about every aspect of life for me is entirely unknown and new. I was surprised today , when Scott and I were in Romero’s and unbeknownst to me, a man was coming up behind me, Scott said, very calmly,”look out!”, I just kinda froze, with a terrified look on my face, I didn’t know which way to move and felt so nervous. My response was inappropriate, He didn’t say it in an urgent manner or in a mean way at all, my reaction was just kinda strange. I’m so unaccustomed to this feeling of constant and long-term disorientation everywhere I go. Today was the first time I actually talked about it with Scott and I felt somewhat relieved to hear him say that he has noticed my apparent disorientation. I’ve been thinking it for some time but have been thinking that it would soon pass, as I’m sure it will.

In a much earlier post, before we moved, I promised to write about not only the good things about becoming an Expat, but to also share the challenges. Well, I seem to have come up with one (although this one may be just “me”) . I’m sooooo damn confused and disoriented by everything around me. Given the fact that I’ve never, in my 47 years, moved out of California I’m out of my element in more ways than one. Yes, I moved from Morgan Hill to Mountain View, Los Altos area in my twenties, but now, having moved to an entirely different country it’s proving to be an overwhelming experience for me. Almost nothing is recognizable. Even the simple fact that I’m not a familiar person here, no one knows anything about who I am. So that sense of knowing that comes from seeing familiar faces and familiar places and knowing that people around me know the type of person I am is not a “given” here. Lucky for me, Scott seems unaffected by this dilemma. As usual , the guy just glides through such an enormous life transition without seeming to be one bit disoriented. He constantly amazes me with his ability to overcome new experiences and to adapt so , seemingly easily, to all this newness that surrounds us. I honestly think he is in his element.

I’m really learning a lot about myself and about my perception of myself. I like to think of myself as a pretty easy going, relaxed kinda gal, going through life with my rose colored glasses at times, to make everything just a little prettier, a natural optimist, is how I like to see myself. But my “rose colored” glasses are only confusing me at the moment, nothing looks familiar even with the “rose color”! So the realist in me is poking it’s head out, (not a common occurrence for me). I realize I will adapt and this life will become more familiar and I will eventually learn how things work here. Surly I’ll soon find myself feeling as though this is where I belong. Soon? I look forward to coming to the realization , one day, that I no longer feel so disoriented. Because I know this must be , for me, just part of my adjusting period. I’m certain each person, no matter where they move, has a period of time when they must familiarize themselves to the new world around them. It’s exciting and I am not fretting too much. I love so many things about this choice to move and to embrace a new life which will naturally include many new and different experiences . I knew that there would be challenges and maybe I would face certain aspects of this new beginning that would be hard, but this isn’t too bad. I’m not one to wallow in negativity or let a difficulty cause me to feel defeated, noooo, not this girl! I plan to adapt and to grow and to change because anything less is just not acceptable,not to mention no fun at all! I may be a tiny bit disoriented and at times kinda confused and always a tad nutty, but I’m soooo happy to be living my adventure my way I’m fine with my temporary confusion, it’ll pass. Everyday is an Adventure and with each new day it begins again…

Plan B for the day…Las Lajas (Beach)

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As I mentioned earlier today, we decided to take a drive to the beach , not the same one we checked out in David a week or so ago. This beach is about 1 1/2-2 hours away , East of David. We first stopped in at the Do it store ( Like Home Depot) and picked up a couple of beach towels . Then we headed on down the road for a little Sunday drive. We’ve been doing this type of thing on the weekends. It’s fun to get the lay of the land , so to speak. And since we have been told by many that Las Lajas is the nicest beach around here we wanted to check it out for ourselves. We were not disappointed, it was a very pretty beach. We were a little surprised at how far out the tide was it was a pretty good walk to actually get to the water. Then Wow! the water is soooo warm, it’s like bath water! I didn’t remember it being quite so warm but boy, it’s so warm that it doesn’t even feel especially refreshing. And the waves were small , even though we didn’t actually swim, it didn’t look like there was much undertow at all. It looked like a great beach for swimming and that’s just what many people ware doing. There were many families all gathered together enjoying the beach and swimming with their little ones. We walked down towards the little resort we had seen before parking out car. Las Lajas beach resort. They had exactly what we were looking for, a place to enjoy lunch and a drink (or two) while enjoying the view of the palm trees and the sound of the ocean. It was such a beautiful day, not too hot, a nice little breeze, ahhh “This is the life!”. After a nice relaxing meal and some good Pina colada’s we were ready to stroll on the sand some more and leisurely make our way back to the truck to get back home. As we began to walk down the beach guess what happened? It started to sprinkle!! What timing! Just light sprinkles, nothing to rush us or anything so we managed to enjoy our stroll and reached the truck just as a real downpour began in earnest. Here in Panama you just never really know when a huge storm may blow in and suddenly it seems like a hurricane, I find it quite exciting but not when we have a two hour drive.

Our drive home felt pretty treacherous to me but of course when I look over at Scott he’s just as happy as can be. Yes, there are BIG puddles for him to drive through and he’s just pleased as punch to hit every single puddle he can hit. Of course he was very careful driving down the Pan American Highway in that rain (don’t worry Pat ) but I was a bit of a nervous nelly and he finds humor in this. HUMPH! Seriously, you can hardly see out the windshield in front of you!! It’s really dangerous. But of course as you can see, we made it back to Boquete without any problems whatsoever. Whew! And as we drove up the hill and got into Boquete it didn’t even look as if they got any of the storm up here. David, was practically flooded and then up here it’s a bit foggy but not rainy at all. I’m constantly amazed at all the little Micro-climates we see up and around all these places. Even up here , I love it. That was our Sunday, not too exciting but now we know how to get to the beach if we suddenly get the urge to swim in the ocean and drink a Pina Colada, this is important stuff you guys!! A girls gotta know where she can get her Pina Colada on, I got the Margarita spot narrowed down, Big Daddy’s is a no brainer, and now my Pina Colada spot is locked in! The important things are certainly beginning to get established for us, I’m sure your all glad to know this. Next up….. Finding a decent pedicure! I may have this one figured out as well, with the help of mi Amiga, Andrea. But this is a whole subject for later! Cheers! Stay tuned…

This is kinda funny…

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We were thinking about catching a movie today down in David. Given the fact that we had a couple of things we wanted to go shopping for we figured, what the heck, we haven’t seen a movie in a long time. So we got online to check out what movies the Chiriqui Mall offers today. They have six movies playing , we picked one, “Now you see me” and then looked at the times. Here’s the funny thing…they show all six movies all starting at the same time! Can you imagine how crowded it will be with people standing in line to buy tickets for six movies all at the same time!! And then, being a fan of movie theatre popcorn, the lines for goodies would be out of control!! You would think they could stagger the movie times just a bit to avoid such a cluster !@#$ Well folks , welcome to Panama, the land of the “just not quite right”. LOL! We gotta chuckle as we work on plan B for our Sunday. We’re thinkin’ maybe Los Lajas? Yep, a little drive and maybe a little beach time doesn’t sound half bad, standing in a crowded line to sit in a crowded theatre, no, not today. Maybe we will wait for that movie to hit Netflix. Just thought I’d share, a little something we found humor in.

I have a confession to make…

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Ok, I hope your sitting down ,because what I’m about to divulge about myself may shock and appall those sensitive souls who thought they knew me…..Ok, here it goes….I Hate to clean the kitchen immediately after eating dinner!! There! I’ve said it, now you know my dirty little secret!! Aside from the glorious year that my mother in Law lived with us,( a year of immediate post dinner kitchen cleanliness), I am naturally inclined to enjoy my dinner,( lovingly prepared for me by by adoring hubby), and then just toss all the dishes into the sink to sit until a much later time( I will admit…sometimes when I was working ten or twelve hour days, most of the week they waited, yikes!) . Yes, I have been known (only to myself, of course) to occasionally (Only occasionally mind you!) find mysterious things growing in the patiently waiting tableware sitting in the sink when I eventually get around to cleaning it. But come on, Really? Who enjoys getting up from a scrumptious meal ( son several glasses of red wine) and clean??? Not me! NOOOOOO I much prefer to procrastinate as long as possible, like until someone may come over and discover that I am a total slob! Or until we have run out of clean silverware or glasses. Then and only then would I clean it up. I know, shocking, huh?

You may be wondering why I’ve made this dirty little secret public? Well, because all that is behind me now. Yes, I do mourn those days of lounging about after dinner and putting off what I could do much much later. Why? you may ask, have I morphed into an “immediately cleaning the kitchen after dinner” gal? Well, it’s simple really….ANTS!!! Not your ordinary “city ants”, no! These ants come in HORDES!! And they somehow mysteriously know to come IMMEDIATELY!!!! Geesh!! And my hatred of all things “BUGS” overrides my love of lazing about right after dinner. I swear!!@#$? Those damn ants don’t even give me time to sit and finish my wine!!!( How RUDE!) And the worst thing is …..I have no dishwasher here!! man Oh man, am I screwed! And not even a garbage disposal either…..HUMPH! And Scott and I have an agreement that Is to me very fair, he cooks and I clean (this works for me). But when we lived in Los Altos and had a regular pest control company who faithfully kept our house bug free, I could just be as sloppy as I liked without being attacked by ten Bazillion little ants! Where do they come from??? I just don’t’ get it. One second they are not there and ( I do not exaggerate) the next second any teeny tiny morsel of any kind of food is totally COVERED in a multitude of ants!!! I’ve just never seen anything like it!!

Well, I felt as though I could share this little tid-bit with you because I am a transformed women. No longer am I guilty of being such a sloppy gal after dinner. I have those pesky ants to thank for providing me a reason for transforming into a grown up. Not only that, but did I mention I’m retired now?? yep…No more ten or twelve hour workdays, no more getting home totally drained and barely able to move. Nooooo I don’t suddenly love cleaning my kitchen…but I don’t mind nearly as much as before. Yes, I bet if it weren’t for those damn ants I would very likely still enjoy kicking back after dinner and ignoring all those dirty dishes in the sink for a few days or even all week, that’s honestly just me. I have never been , nor will I ever be much of a neat-freak. I love things to be clean but man, I just don’t’ love being the one to make it that way consistently. I used to be one to let it all pile up and then get to it later. Not now, no, now my tiny little kitchen sparkles immediately after dinner every single night. I know, you are just relieved beyond belief to know this… and your glad I told you to sit down before I broke the news to you, right? Shocking, I know. Mostly, I’m happy to report that our kitchen is ANT FREE!! THere will be no attacking my kitchen!!

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A good day of espaniol practicar…

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Some day´s I feel like crap about my progress in spanish aprendar, and then suddently I have a bueno dia and I feel mucho mejor. Hoy is a bueno mejor dia! If there’s one thing I’m learning, it is, that learning a new language is a process. A process that is vastly different for each and every person. It just so happens I’m one of those especially slow learners but most of my friends here tell me that they struggle just the same, that , of course, is a comforting bit of information for me. Because misery loves company, right? Well, okay, they would not all call it misery exactly but to me it is , many days, a misery indeed. I often wonder how my teacher can continue to show me such unending patience, but she never wavers as I repeatedly ask the same preguntas over and over and over again.

Today mi tarea was to walk around to many of the tiendas in town and ask them the same questions, “A que hora abren?” y “A que hora cierran?” y “Cierran al mediodia?” What time do you open , what time to you close, and do you close for lunch? Sounds easy , right? Yep! And I usually , in normal circumstances love talking to people more than almost anything! But , for some crazy, reason the first store I wandered in to by myself, (because I was alone, Scott was in his classes so it was solo yo) as I began to ask my questions I could feel myself fighting hard to hold back the tears from welling up in my eyes!! Geesh!! What has happened to me!! She who loves to meet new people and chat with anyone who will listen! It’s so amazing to me how such a seemingly simple question can cause me so much distress. But, the truth is, it did today. After my third attempt, and Almacen La Reina (the local clothing store on the Main Street) I began to feel less weepy and a bit more calm. The lady who I spoke with was soooooo kind and patient and soooo very happy to help me. I even managed to explain,” Yo necesito practicar hablo espaniol”!!! yep! Not perfect but she got the idea and I slowly began to feel a bit mejor!

After my tienda wandering episode I decided I would take a stroll down to the biblioteca. I had not visited the library and today was a great day to do it. It’s such a pretty place , quiet and organized and not crowded, although this is a place I would not mind seeing crowded . I just love to read and it’s great to have a nice quiet place to relax with a book. I quickly located the children’s section and located Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs. It was both Spanish & English and I found a comfy chair and settled in with my book. After successfully making it through the book in spanish I walked over to the little refreshment area and managed to ask, in espaniol if ,”Puedo comprar Agua por favor?” She, of course understood me and I bought a bottle of water. Ahhh, sweet success!! And no tears! Progress people!!

After spending a couple of hours studying at the library It was time to take a nice walk ,( a little over a mile!) to my friend Valarie’s house. We had gotten together on Sunday for lunch and I mentioned that I really needed to get more practice speaking spanish!! It turns out that she’s been tutoring her Panamanian neighbors in English and she invited me over because it’s a very informal gathering and I would get to also speak and hear spanish. What a great time I had with she and her neighbor! And , I made a new friend too! I’m just thrilled to have been included in this gathering , and hope to continue spending time with these charming and friendly women. And ,in case you were wandering, no tears!! As my day progressed I really began to feel much better about mi practicar en espaniol!! I have a long way to go, and I’m pathetically slow, but I’m learning and making progress everyday! And what’s even better, I’m making new friends while I learn, my favorita cosa!! Yo estoy muy Feliz!!!! Hoy es a bueno dia!!

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Another great Adventure hiking in Boquete…

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This morning I joined the local hiking group for a beautiful hike up in the hills surrounding Boquete. We met in front of Amigos restaurant at 8:00am. Last weekend it was just Scott and I and the two leaders of the group Jere and Remi. This week there were about nine of us so I got to meet some new people, which I love. There was a couple from Arizona who are staying in Boquete for a month and a nice women from Australia who is just having a lovely adventure , a lady from New Mexico who just moved here a few months ago, a young man and his eight year old son from England who are living here with the rest of the family, and a really nice young women with her fourteen year old son who live here with the rest of their family which includes the husband and five other children,they are originally from Southern California and have lived in Boquete for about a year after having lived in Costa Rica for a couple of years before. What a diverse and extremely adventurous group of people! I just love it!! It’s hard to decide what I enjoy most, getting acquainted with a group of great people or exploring the majestic trails that wander up and around this truly spectacular area. Here are a few pictures of our hike…

Yes, I miss you all terribly,

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I recently had a good friend in California tell me ,( tongue in cheek ) ” I’m tired of hearing about how much fun your having, and all the new friends your making, I want to hear about how lonely you are, and how much you miss US!” Awww….sigh.. Well, I have been very outspoken about all my new and exciting experiences and about all the new friends I’m making and interesting people I meet all the time here. I’m experiencing so many new sights, sounds and flavors with each new day. Although I’m very excited to share all that with all of you back home, I never really thought about the fact that some may like to know that I’m missing them. And that I think about them and sometimes I wish I were there with you, like you wish I were there with you. Soooo without getting too mushy and sounding like a total sap, here is where I tell everyone back in California who I left …. I miss you. I do, really miss everyone, terribly.

I know all the people who care about me most only wish me happiness in whatever form and whatever location calls to me. I have had nothing but well wishes from near and far and I’m well aware of how much all my peeps support me as I follow my path. So , here’s an interesting observation I have just kind of silently been thinking about and now I’m just putting it out there for all to see. If I had to pinpoint one aspect of this path that I have chosen that is the hardest for me, I think it would be the rebuilding of familiarity. I really thrive on familiarity and feeling as though I “belong”. Even though I’m meeting lot’s of really great people who I look forward to building friendships with, It will be a really long time before I have “old friends” here. I have no history with all these new people. Nobody knows me like you all do and sometimes thats kinda hard.

I spent some time this week catching up with a few friends in California and it was great to be able to use FaceTime to feel as though I were there with them. But It’s also a bit of a pull at my heart-strings when the call is over and the screen goes black. It’s been 68 days since I left California to make a new home in Panama. I’m still in the “Honeymoon” stage of this new and wondrous adventure. When I chat with Elisabeth we talk about each an every one of my friends who she now see’s as her clients. I ask her what she thinks of you (yes, I go through my list and ask her about every single person) and she is of course just head over heals overjoyed to be your new stylist and she feels so blessed to have inherited such an incredibly kind, genuine, friendly, and pleasant clientele.( I have pointed out the fact that we attract “like” people to our lives, so I must be pretty Damn awesome!) LOL! I know she’s looking forward to building the types of close relationships with all of you that I had the pleasure to have had and still hold onto from afar. I miss our regular interactions every 3 weeks or 4 weeks or 6 weeks and some every 8 weeks. Many for nearly 30 years!!!

I have to admit that after all those years of styling hair, I was beginning to feel pretty burnt out. (I know, it’s not something you want to know about the person cutting your hair!) I felt as though I had somehow “peaked” in my profession and had lost the passion I once had as a young stylist , just starting out. I was feeling as though I had lost my creative edge and had pretty much done all I could do . Don’t get me wrong, I loved my career until the very end but It was time for me to move on to my next chapter. The aspect of my career as a stylist that I never tired of and that I miss terribly( It was a huge part of “who” I am) was connecting with all the people every day. Talking and sharing and catching up on what went on in one another’s lives since the last time you sat in my chair. This part of what I did for 30 years was the part that was rewarding beyond words and the part I never got tired of. And that is the part of my life in Los ALtos that I miss terribly. Some days my heart aches when I think of all the people that I miss. So, yes, I am making lot’s of new friends and meeting so many interesting and wonderful new people here in Boquete, but alas, it doesn’t stop the ache of missing all those who know me so well.

It’s hard to stay in touch and the sad reality is that although many will make the effort , there will be some who will , naturally , just kind of fade away. Sad, but true. I hope my blog helps to keep me, at least somehow, connected to all my friends. And FaceTime and Skype are a magnificent means of communicating from afar(Hint Hint, to those of you who have neglected to venture into Skyping or Facetiming!) . So, for those of you who are wondering if I’m missing all my friends there in California, YES, I miss you terribly. Sigh! But, you all know that I’ve never been one to focus on the negative, I much prefer to continue telling you all about all the great, wonderful, new people and experiences I’m having here in my new home. Besides, It’s way more fun to read about and this is , after all, a blog about an Adventure, right?! So, now that we have established that we all miss each other, let’s get this Adventure goin’ again shall we?!!

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A little of this and that…

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Today(Thursday) we had a couple of noteworthy “firsts” that I found amusing. Early this morning on our drive to school we saw a sight that gave us a little chuckle…A man walking down the sidewalk with his big cow on a leash. Now, this cow on a leash had a pretty good sized pair of horns and even though we are in a small town this is not a sight that has so far been especially common here on our short drive to School. Not to say that there are not farmers and cows here and there, yes, we are sort of in the country but to our knowledge there is no “leash law” for cows. Now, had we been in Los Altos and we had spotted a man walking his cow on a leash down the sidewalk, we would have also assumed that he had also brought his poop-bag along like all responsible pet owners aught to do. Yes, this sight was indeed a first for us here in Panama. A normal sighting of a cow just doesn’t typically occur in combination with a sidewalk and a leash. It was just so ‘civilized’ in a rather ‘uncivilized’ kind of way. I’m certain the cow would agree. If his cow buddies had witnessed his morning stroll he would surly have been mortified. We had to laugh!

The second first today was one that made my heart nearly jump out of my throat…We took a drive down to David to run a few errands and decided to see if we could find the beach given the fact that we had not done that since living here. I’m pretty sure this particular first is one that we never experienced while driving around Los ALtos…Scott suddenly slammed on his breaks to avoid running over a GIGANTIC IGUANA that was running across the street! It was practically a small dinosaur! (Ok, a bit of a fabrication!) But I immediately started to laugh because , come on! When is the last time you almost ran over an huge iguana while driving?? I found humor in that first! And our first little visit to the beach in David was rather uneventful. It was a very pretty beach although totally deserted! The sand was black, which i didn’t expect. I talked to my spanish teacher this morning about it and she told me that the undertow is really dangerous at that beach. So there is another beach much further away that is suppose to be very nice, maybe one day we will have to check it out, but hopefully we wont have to dodge the dinosaurs on our way! LOL!

The last first of our day was the play we attended here in Boquete. I may or may not have told you about the BCP, (Boquete Community Players) . The local community theatre is so great. It’s a very nice little theatre and the play was well performed. It was a production of “Proof”. The cast was tiny, only four people. The story was very touching and the entire production was a pleasant surprise. We didn’t really know what to expect and ended up really enjoying the play. Scott and I aren’t usually big fans of Drama’s, usually much preferring a good comedy, but found ourselves drawn into the story and walked away feeling as though we had been thoroughly entertained. Yep, these folks up here in these mountains, they got culture!! We look forward to many more thoroughly entertaining evenings at the local community theatre.

There often seem to be firsts living here in Panama, some make me laugh and others make me smile in wonder but all of the firsts that I am experiencing here make me so grateful . I’m exceedingly grateful to be living my life my way and to know that each day I may experience something new . I’m learning and growing and having a great time and loving every minute of this Adventure!

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