Monthly Archives: October 2013

Huh? No internet? Whaaaat?

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Now, this is something I’m not at all accustomed to and I gotta tell ya, it’s kinda sucky. This whole week our internet has been down! Yep! Imagine, no internet! It’s just not something I have ever had to deal with and I’ve got a thin grasp on my ‘Tranquilo’ at the moment. I broke down and went to Cable & Wireless to sign up for a data plan for my iPad so It’s a little bit better but fairly slow. But at least I can send and receive email, check Facebook and publish my blog posts over 3G. We also depend on internet connectivity to provide us with our Magic Jack so we can call the U.S. when we need to. So now we can’t even call Scott’s brother to wish him a happy birthday, darn it. But again, thank goodness for 3G, we could send a text to his iPhone. I can’t think of any significant amount of time that I’ve ever been cut off from internet connectivity and nowadays I seem to be quite addicted to it.

I just thought that those of my friends and family that get sick of my gushing about all the things I just love about living here may like to hear about something that isn’t so wonderful. Although the infrastructure here is , for the most part, fairly stable, we do experience way more power outages and internet instability than we ever would in the Sates. We even , a couple of times had our water down for an evening , that’s one thing that I have never experienced. When we lose power for any significant amount of time we usually find out the next day that a tree fell and took out a power pole and they are working to repair the damage, although they are working on it in ‘Panamanian time”. When we do have internet it’s very slow. We pay $116.00 for internet and TV and our internet is 1/2 a meg. Now our neighbors have 5 meg but for some reason we get something totally different. Go figure?

Oh well, I’m just glad to have what we have, it’s better than no connectivity at all, right? Some may be saying, “noooo, living without perfectly stable infrastructure is not an option for me.” And that’s why you’r reading this from the States,(or Canada, or who knows where?) and I’m writing this from Panama and hoping to have enough 3G connectivity to publish it! Ha!. 🙂 Making the decision to live in a different country means giving up some things and being okay with things like wanky internet and occasional random power outages. On the other hand…..living here in Boquete means getting used to waking everyday to the sound of birds chirping (Ok, maybe a rooster or two as well), and the unending sight of lush green mountains, endless trees, flowers everywhere, rushing rivers and fresh clean air,(I have had some readers remind me about the bats, yucky critters, rain, thunder, lightening,and earthquakes, yep lucky me! ) . We all make choices to live our lives our way and wherever and however that is I’m certain you can look around you and list all the wonderfully glorious reasons you look out your window in the morning and say , Ahhhh, aren’t I lucky to be living here. Life is good, and each day is yet another beginning to your own Amazing Adventure (and you probably have really fast and reliable internet, right!)! Here’s to crossing my fingers and hoping to have internet today….Please!! I’m praying to the cyber-gods to bless us this day with that cute little fan that shows me how many bars of internet I have….

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Hummingbird Overload…

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My friend Andrea asked me the other day if I would be interested in visiting a women in Potrerillos who has a web sight called, myhummingbirds.me. Gail is her name, and she and her husband have lived in Panama for seven years. They live in a pretty remote area 7.3 kilometers on a rustic dirt road. She invites bird enthusiasts to visit her home because she has an amazing assortment of hummingbirds who she very lovingly nurtures and she loves to share them with anyone who wants to take advantage of her generosity. She has at least 10 or 12 feeders hanging from an upstairs balcony where she told us she and her husband enjoy their morning coffee everyday. She told me that the reason she has the hummingbird feeders upstairs is because she has cats and it was a much safer location for them, otherwise those hummingbird feeders would more accurately be called Cat Feeders!! Yikes We spent about an hour just mesmerized by, not only the huge quantity of hummers but by the incredible variety of different species of them in one place. And it was so nice that Gail is a wealth of knowledge about all the names of the hummers and would point out the different colors and show us in her book, which birds they were. If your a lover of birds and hummingbirds specifically, you want to visit her house, and bring your camera. Andrea took all these pictures with a simple point and shoot and they are just magnificent pictures. If you do decide to visit her make sure to email or phone(she isnt very good about checking her email) and let her know first, you wouldn’t want to make that drive without knowing she will be available. And she doesn’t ask for any kind of payment but it’s nice to bring a bag of sugar to pitch in on that 5 pound she goes through every day. Every day? Can you believe that? She has to fill the feeders twice a day, what a job.

As I’ve probably said many times before, there are so many things I love about living here in Boquete. But, I must admit, of all the things that make me smile the most, it’s all the natural wonders that surround me. The birds, the plants,the flowers,and the trees, the mountains and the rivers…I could go on and on and on! As my friend and I were driving today she asked me,”Do you still pinch yourself that you actually live here?” I said, “YES!, do you?” and I was pleased to hear her say that, “Yes, after two years of living here I still just marvel at how happy I am to be here!”. It may not be for everyone, but this place is just right for me and meeting a women like Gail today just gave me one more thing to love about being here.

It’s Nice…

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It’s nice when… Scott and I have something to do that we are both excited about and are rushing to get out of the house.
It’s nice when… the morning is beautifully sunny and warm and we have a fun day away from the house planned.
It’s nice when…we decide to take some snacks and our folding chairs because we know we will be someplace where we will want to linger and sit and enjoy the moment.
It’s nice when…we run back into the house a few times because we forgot important little things like sunscreen and bug spray.
SCREEEEEECH! Hold on….. It’s not nice when….We get back from our “nice” little excursion only to realize we don’t have the keys to the pad lock that locks up our house! Yes, that’s what happened yesterday. We got locked out of our house, Grrrrrrr! Don’t ya hate it when something like that happens? And Scott’s completely throwin’ me under the bus just cuz we were driving my car and I (for some dumb reason) didn’t have the key to the lock on my keychain. Why not? I don’t know, there were just too many keys on my keychain, I guess. Had we taken his truck on our little excursion all would have been well, but we took my car instead. So we walked around the house looking for a way to breach the security that keeps us feeling oh so safe when we’re locked “inside”. Here in Panama most houses have bars on the windows as a way to send a signal to anyone who might think your and easy target that nope, this house isn’t easy to get into so move onto the next one. Not like it’s especially ‘dangerous” here or anything like that, it’s just that here, crimes of “Opportunity” are pretty common. So if there’s an easy opportunity to get into a house where they can clearly see there’s a laptop sitting right there or a flat screen TV that they can just carry out, they will take advantage of the fact that you have left your belongings vulnerable and go on in and help themselves. I’m not saying violent crimes don’t occur because that type of thing happens everywhere, but in general, the petty non violent crime is much more common here. So at first, bars on the windows was something that seemed strange to me but now we don’t even notice the bars except when we suddenly find ourselves attempting to break into our house because “someone’ didn’t have the key!! Ugggg! You know what? Our house isnt easy to break into. Good to know.

I’v written about making new friends and connections here in our new home. Before we moved I thought a lot about how nice it was to live in a place where we had such a good community of friends and family who we knew we could always count on if we had any kind of emergency or needed help. I had thought about how alone it was going to feel at first when we got here and didn’t know many people. Ya, that “sooo alone” feeling I thought we would feel here? Not having anyone we could call in an emergency? Well….we’ve only been living here in Boquete for five months and when my mind started thinking about calling for help I had a pretty good list of people I knew we could call. Sooooo, It’s nice when…you are locked out of your house and your house is so burglar-proof that you can’t break in!
It’s nice when…you can think of a long list of friends who would gladly give you a hand,(after laughing their heads off at your stupidity of course!)
It’s nice when…your friends have great big bolt cutters and your man knows how to use em’.
It’s nice when…you realize that you were wrong in thinking you would feel like you were all alone in a new country! Cuz, yesterday, I had a lightbulb moment as I was walking around our house with Scott desperately looking for a way to get into our house , I realized, we already have such a great community of people around us. I’m glad I didn’t have my key to the lock on my keychain, because when I called my friend to ask if her husband might have a bolt cutter, ( after I had to hold the phone away from my ear while she had a good long laugh, at my expense! Hah! Eye roll! ) and she told us to come on over, I couldn’t help but think…How Nice! Life is good and our Adventure is an adventure everyday!

And one more thing..no, not all the houses here have a pad lock on the front door! When we first went to look at this house to rent it, I just loved the house so much and only really focused on the high ceilings and the big windows, the great kitchen and of course the outside living space. When we showed up with all our belongings and cats in tow and the property manager handed us the key to the pad lock I was at first a bit confused, “that’s the lock?” But by then, what was I gonna do, ask her to change the front door? Ha!Ha! The front door is some kind of antique thing that although its really pretty, its just not a normal front door so it has to be locked with a pad lock, oh well. Sometimes on this adventure you just gotta shake your head and adapt to what’s in front of you, it may sometimes be different than what your used to but with a bit of ‘Tranquillo” life goes on!

Bloggers Evening in Boquete

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We had such a great time sharing our home with a bunch of great people!

The Panama Adventure

We had a great evening of bloggers and readers in Boquete last night! Our friend Holly invited us to her house, and her husband Scott prepared a fabulous meal. Cindy and her husband came, and so did Jerry and his wife who are visiting from the US. Of course there are pictures!

Our friends Jerry and Jennifer rode up to Boquete with us from David. Since we drove right by the waterfall on the way up, we had to stop for a moment.

Then, it was onward to Boquete. Our friends had reservations at the Boquete Garden Inn, so we went there first to drop off luggage and get them checked in. This place is a few minutes out of town, but it’s really beautiful. There are flowers everywhere and the rooms are just lovely. I was very impressed.

The hotel is also fairly close to Holly and Scott’s…

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Zapateria….

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What’s a girl to do when her only cute pair of sandals suddenly break and there’s not a Nordstrom’s to run to??? Well, she can go visit the guy at the Zapateria and , Voila! Her shoes are magically as good as new! You may be wondering what girl I’m talking about? Well, it’s me! You see, on Sunday I got dressed up in my best outfit, and I’ll tell you, I don’t have a Lot of “Outfits” these days (Our container that has yet to be shipped out here contains most of my clothes, I arrived in Panama with two suitcases!) . So my nicest pair of shoes, aside from my Crocs, are my cute little sandals. I really don’t wear them often and , as a matter of fact I don’t think I’ve worn them more than a couple of times since I bought them. And don’t ya know, they broke when I was at a lovely baby shower at my new friends house on Sunday. My knee-jerk reaction was to just throw them away, but then I remembered, hey, when will I find another pair of ‘cute’ sandals? And my friend said, “why don’t you take them to be fixed at the Zapateria?” Huh! What a great Idea! So today Scott and I had some errands to run and I asked my friend, Sarah, who owns one of the produce markets in town if she could tell me where I could get my shoes repaired. She and her husband told me exactly where to go, (in Spanish, and I actually understood, how cool is that !) , after purchasing our produce from her I made my way across town to the Zapateria while Scott went to pick up our mail at the Mailboxes Etc. I must admit that I’m often making a concerted effort to make my way around town alone so I don’t depend on Scott to do everything..It’s really helping me to adapt and providing me with great opportunities to practice my Spanish. When Scott and I are together, I have a tendency to let him do all the talking, I know…whimpy!

The Zapeteria is located on the same block as the Milo, which is kinda like a teeny-tiny Home Depot,(kinda). It’s right next to a Barber shop and across the street from Milly’s, a hair salon. I expected to just drop off my shoes and then pick them up in a week or so, like I would have done in the states,(silly me…I’m not in Los Altos anymore!). The place is pretty small and covered in shoes and purses and broken down small appliances, it’s a total disaster! I walked in and saw this guy with a baseball cap on sitting against the wall with his head down, concentrating on a shoe (shocking, I know) . I asked, in my newly learned Spanish , (which I was practicing in my head the whole time I was walking there) “Puedes reparar mis zapatos?” (with a big smile as I held up my “cute” broken sandal). He never got up, or looked at me, just gestured to me to come in and give him the shoe. I did as I was ‘assuming’ he was telling me, and entered the dark, messy, shop. He took my broken sandal that I hesitantly held out to him and looked at the damage, not another word was spoken as he began to immediately work on my shoe, nor did he ever move from his spot or look up at me as I stood there holding the other shoe that was not broken just in case he needed to see the original shoe.

As I stood there looking around, I was mesmerized by the disorganized mess in his tiny little shop. He quietly worked on fixing my broken shoe .and I was expecting him to tell me to return another time to pick it up, but it was becoming clear to me that he was indeed fixing it right then, while I stood there waiting. Okay….shrug. He was poking and sorta sewing and poking some more and I was slightly afraid to move, there was just so much junk all around, endless shoes,purses, broken tv’s, and stereos. As I looked closer I began to see so many different bits and pieces of broken things filling every inch of this little tiny place. I timidly asked in my Pre-school level spanish,” Tu Reperar otras cosas? no solo Zapatos?” His head nodded, and he answered in the affirmative, apparently he’s a ‘fix-it-guy’! Good to know!

In about 10 minutes he stopped working and handed me my shoe. Good as new! Wow!! “Tu trabajo rapido! I was so surprised at how fast he fixed my shoe! Okay….cuanto cuestan? “$1.50” he said, as he looked up for the first time, with very kind eyes and a smile. I very happily handed him the money, and gave him and extra quarter as I thanked him for fixing my shoe. “Tanga buen dia” I said as I left his tiny repair shop, noting to myself that I was so glad to now know where to go when my fancy Crocs break on me! And hey, when Scott can’t fix a small appliance that suddenly dies on us, I’ve got just the place to take it instead of throwing it in the trash. That was a small adventure and I’m so glad to know that the trash is not the place for broken Cosas! Now I know where to go and who to hand my broken things to, I don’t know his name, yet, but I will find out eventually and when I am able to speak better Spanish I will chat with that quiet ‘fix it’ guy ! Just one more motivation to keep working on Aprender mi espaniol! I know, that probably wasnt right, but, hey…Poco A Poco mi amigos! I’m workin’ on it! 🙂

Life Moves Along….

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Every morning when I get up, after I make my coffee, I go out onto the patio . I’ve told you before about how much I love to sit outside and soak up all this crazy beauty that I now call ‘HOME”(big smile here!) . Well, don’t worry, I wont get into that again, at least not right now. But , one thing that I always seem to do first thing in the morning, as soon as I sit down is turn on my iPad and look to see if anyone from my former life in California has made any type of connection with me. I first check my email, then my Facebook, then my blog comment section, then I go to my favorite game on my iPad,Words With Friends, where I always have at least ten or fifteen friends from California who consistently play a word in the night while I’ve slept. It’s a silly little thing, I know, but my non-stop Scrabble games make me feel as though at least a few people have me on their mind (at least they have kicking my butt at scrabble on their mind!).

When I decided to move away and pursue this adventure, to start over and begin a new life far away from all I knew and loved, I expected to miss all the people. Sigh. It’s been nearly five months and that , “missing everyone”, part of this adventure is sinking in more and more. Of course life goes on, after I’ve left. Obviously, but there are certain times when my heart aches to feel as though in time I will have drifted into such a different life that most of my friends back in California wont really be able to relate to it. I mean, I’ve already begun to sense that my life has changed and I’ve had instances when I’ve been gushing to someone about my happiness and about the changes my life has taken just from not having to work anymore, about how happy and peaceful my life is, carefree and exciting, and as I pause for their response what can they say but,”that’s nice Holly.” What do I expect? I have no idea. It’s such a new sensation to be (for lack of any other word), detached from all that used to connect me to those back home. Our lives are beginning to become so different in so many ways. Well, their lives haven’t changed much but mine is nothing it used to be. As I enthusiastically attempt to share all that I am experiencing, I pause to catch my breath and suddenly feel awkward and almost as though I’m bragging….I’m not, of course but my enthusiasm may come off that way.

While we used to be striving for such similar goals, and sharing in very similar lifestyles, we are now on very different paths. I suppose I’ll have to adapt to the reality that in the past my friendships and the connections we had with one another had in common the “present”, what we were doing “then” and “there”. And now, while we no longer share such a similar life in the ‘moment’ and similar desires for our lives in the ‘moment’, we have a shared history. This shared history will be what keeps us connected and interested in the present lives we are now living apart from one another. This is merely a shift in my connections that , as I’m writing this, is becoming more clear to me. A shift, requires a bit of an adjustment sometimes. An adjustment, for me, in how I think and feel about my connections with my friends and an acceptance of the natural shift that although it’s a change, it’s not an end. Well, when I say it’s not an “end” I should say, the dynamic of our friendships may have shifted and I’m trying to adapt and accept the feelings of a different type of connection with all my friends. So the way we connected ‘before’ I moved may be gone and I’m adjusting to a new dynamic that at times is hard for me, but in time will develop into a new kind of normal.

Whew! While there’s so many things to adapt to and get used to here in this new place I now call home, this is for me, one of the more challenging aspects. Although there are unending cultural things to adapt to, language, food, holidays,behaviors, (that list can go on an on), I must admit that navigating this different level of connectedness with those back in California and figuring out how to maintain my connections isn’t easy. Or I should say, adjusting to the way that those connections are just naturally morphing into less “close” connections, but connections that are no less “important” to me. Just another aspect of this lifestyle change that while at the moment is a bit of a heartache, I have faith will teach me something meaningful about friendships and distance that before this Adventure I never would have learned.

Of course I can’t help but think about Hollyween, it’s that time…..

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It’s October and , of course, I always think about my favorite holiday when this month rolls around. Even though Scott and I haven’t hosted our Hollyween party in two years I always remember fondly, all those years of so much fun this time of year. Now that we live in Panama and Halloween isn’t really very popular, (as a matter of fact it’s hardy even celebrated here at all), I cant help but reminisce about all the good times that took place this time of year on Orange Avenue. For me, the best part was the decorating which began sometime in late August or the beginning of September. Only after every single decoratable(that may not be a word, but I’m goin’ with it!) inch of my home, inside and out was covered in creepy, crawly, spooky goodness, did I stop decorating. From the ceilings inside,(we actually covered the vaulted ceilings with orange ice-sickle lights that we suspended from the recessed cans), to every room of the house, including bathrooms and then every inch of the yard, Hollyween was alive and well at our home. I will admit and proudly embrace that I was that one crazy person in our neighborhood who took the Halloween decorating a bit too far, but, is there really a ‘too far’ when it comes to decorating for Hollyween??

I had a wild collection of Halloween decorations which seemed to somehow grow with each passing year. As preparation for this move to Panama I had yard sales and many of my friends who had enjoyed my parties through the years bought most of my collection and I’m sure those wonderful Hollyween decorations are being enjoyed this time of year. Knowing that my friends are still getting lots of smiles out of my collection is the only thing that eases the sadness of not having it anymore. Although I have no regrets about moving on and letting go of my tradition of being the Hollyween Queen, I can’t help but feel little pangs of missing the parties that were so much fun.

Scott got to cook like a mad man for those parties! I got to let loose with my often ‘sick’ sense of humor while I decorated to my hearts content . Of course We were a team when it came to our ideas to thrill the kids with creepy surprises in our yard. One of my favorite things we did was the leftover bathtub from one of Scotts remodel jobs, he came up with the brilliant idea of ‘repurposing’ that ugly old tub that had been just waiting to be taken to the dump. He rigged it up in the yard so that it had a shower head and we hung a scary skeleton which he had altered to make it look like it was all bloody and standing under the red water coming out of the shower head in the tub. Yikes!! I know…..Creepy! But it was a hit! And I don’t have to remind anyone about the scary clown on the front lawn that was inside the big crate and would suddenly pop out after jiggling the crate around and yelling at the kids to help him from inside the crate! All computerized and programed by Scott and a good friend. Oh…..Such great memories of our tradition of long ago. Our last party was the biggest, we had about 200 people and we were exhausted! But good exhausted, I think the karaoke put me over the top! I would never karaoke in public, but at my house, after just enough rum punch and dressed as a troll or Thing One or a Courtesan , Watch out!! Lot’s of good times at those parties.

Honestly, I”m so glad to have the memories but I’m kinda over the whole Halloween thing and ready to discover what my new traditions will be. The whole month of November is filled with many different holidays here in Panama and I’m thrilled to be able to experience it for the first time this year. I’m told there are endless parades and lots of drumming. Music and crowds and crazy traffic. Most who have lived here for a long time try to steer clear of the craziness but I suspect, this year at least, I’ll want to be out there watching the parades and cheering for the kids who I’ve been hearing practicing for months already. Every school has a drum corp and they seem incredibly passionate about their drumming.

Today,(Saturday) I got to help my new Panamanian friend , Aris, decorate for the baby shower she is hosting for her daughter tomorrow. As I was hanging pink balloons and pink and white crate paper I couldn’t help but think about how different these decorations are from the ones I would normally be decorating with this time of year. 🙂 And I felt so happy to be included in a wonderful celebration of a new life. Because that’s exactly what I’m celebrating each day right now, my new life. A new country, many new traditions and celebrations, a new language, many different people who are becoming my new community , just endless new and different experiences that continually make me smile. I don’t know if I’ll ever be as extravagant as I was for my Hollyween celebrations but I’m so grateful to have had those great experiences to look back on with pleasure. I don’t think I’ll ever go through the month of October without reminiscing fondly about all those Hollyweens of yore, and all the people who enjoyed it with us!

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Yesterday…(well, Monday)

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Yesterday (Monday), after Scott got done with school, we drove down to David to get the inspection done on my car. When we bought the FJ it still had a couple months left on the registration. So this is the month it will expire and it was time to take care of it. For those of you who don’t live here and don’t know, there’s no convenient notice that you receive in the mail reminding you that it’s time to register your vehicle. No, theres no DMV , you cant just get online and give them your credit card number and then wait a week to receive the new registration sticker in the mail. Here in Panama you must take your vehicle to a mechanic or some other place, like a tire store (where Keith recommended we go), and they check your car, I’m not clear on exactly ‘what’ they are ‘checking’ but they put my car up on the ‘lift thingy’ (as you can tell, I’m not exactly in the “know” in terms of car ‘stuff, but I’m doing my best to explain what goes on here so please forgive my girly explanation) and then they look real carefully at ,who knows what, and take a few photos. Then they gave us a paper that we will hand over to Keith, who will kindly be walking us through this next step in the procedure since it’s our first time. I’m sure there will be plenty of other times in the future and I may even figure out exactly what the heck is going on, but until then I’m just observing all the shenanigans and taking notes for when we’re on our own. Keith emailed us the long list of documents he would need for the next step,( 3 copies of passport 3 copies of insurance 3 copies of title
original Revisado plus 6 copies) When we met up with Keith he informed us that the next step of this registration process takes place in Panama City and that it will take about 3-4 weeks. He’s taking care of this part and then we’ll be receiving a shiny, (well probably not too shiny) new license plate. I’m not sure how often this procedure takes place, maybe every year, and next time we’ll be on our own, but I think this next time we will be getting the new registration done in Dolega which is nearby. Because we bought the car from someone who lived in PC the current registration was there, Keith is transferring it to Dolega and next time that’s where we’ll be going for another shiny new license plate. In the states you only get a new little sticker but here, I think they give you a new license plate each time you register your vehicle.

We knew before going to the tire shop that the FJ was in need of new tires,(we bought it used , it’s a 2010 and we had planned on replacing the tires). So we decided to get a quote on the price of replacing all four tires since we were at a tire store, what the heck, right? Well, we were in luck, they were able to replace the tires at the same time as the registration inspection and it turned out that we also needed new front end break pads. So we arrived at the tire store at about 11:00 and finished at about 3:30. While they were working on the car we took a walk to the Hospital where Scott had his surgery because he was suppose to make an appointment for his final check up on his progress after his hernia surgery. Since we hadn’t been able to get through by phone we figured, what the heck, we have time, we’ll just take a walk and make an appointment. Scott was thrilled to feel well enough to take a walk, but I gotta admit, I was farrrr from being ‘thrilled’ to take a walk given the fact that I hadn’t anticipated walking and had on “pretty” shoes, not ‘walking’ shoes (eye roll here!). Here’s where I will commence with the whining and complaining,(ooops, sorry, I had a temporary lapse of “Tranquilo”) It was HOT, and if you haven’t noticed, I have a lot of hair, and I hadn’t put it up, like I do when I’m expecting to go on a long hot walk. And Those darn “pretty” shoes I mentioned……Ouch! They hurt my feet! Grrrrrrrr! And we really should have brought water! Anyways, the only reason I quietly put up with this walk(yes, I kept all that bitching and moaning mostly to myself) is because I knew how happy Scott was to be out walking around instead of sitting on his butt like he’s had to do for the last month. After successfully setting up an appointment for the next day,(Tuesday), we then proceeded to walk to a BBQ restaurant we had walked past on our way to the hospital, we were ready to enjoy a relaxing lunch… ‘someone’, really needed a glass of wine! But of course, the restaurant was not opened(do I get an eye roll here?) . So we saw in the distance, a restaurant that said, Pizzeria. After entering this restaurant we were told that they only serve Pizza after 3:00, it was only 12:00. We were hot and tired and thirsty so we settled for the tipico lunch and nope they had no wine or beer,Grrrrrr. We had ice tea (no ice!). Let me mention here that I noticed the two very pretty Panamanian women who came in after us (the only other customers in the restaurant) got copious amounts of ice in their ice tea! Grrrrr! But, I was begining to reestablish my “Tranquillo” so I just took a deep breath and drank my not so iced, iced tea. 🙂

Following our Almuerzo we hoofed it back to the tire shop and waited about 45 minutes more. All in all, I felt like we had a really productive afternoon, in spite of my sore feet and warm iced tea. Ha!Ha! Now that the car is taken care of the next big thing on our list of important documents to acquire is our residency Visa. We already got our fingerprints back from the FBI background check, and it turns out , we’re both on the up and up. So the next step is to get the State Department in DC to authenticate it and then send it back to us. Of course, the U.S. government is not exactly working at the moment so who knows how long they will be sitting there? And we thought that the Panamanian bureaucracy was bad (eye roll here!). Given the fact that our residency will most likely not be a done deal before this next month, our next three months is coming up and you know what that means…..another border run!! Nooooo! Maybe we should just plan a little vacation? We’ll see. With our School commitment it’s not too easy for us to get away. I think we’ll just keep our fingers crosses that maybe, just maybe a miracle will happen and our visa will suddenly be ready….Insert Crazy Laugh here! Nope, sigh, not gonna happen. Oh well, I think I’ll get back to watching all my hummers fight over the feeder as the rain falls and the mists roll in. The adventure just continues. (P.S. for those of you who are curious, we got Firestone tires for the FJ Cruiser and they cost $160.00 each)

Early Morning…

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We woke up really early this morning for some reason. Could have something to do with having too much fun at our friends Birthday party yesterday and going to bed too early. But it’s just about 5;30a.m. and I am sitting outside. It’s not quite daylight and it’s incredible how peaceful it is. The sounds of the morning are much different than the sounds of daytime . I can actually hear the river. The many roosters crowing, both near and far and the never ending sounds lots of crickets. An occasional dog barking and the early sounds of birds starting their day. I hear strange squeaks and screeches that I don’t remember hearing in the daytime. It almost sounds like someones playing with a squeaky toy. The lights across the valley look as though they are twinkling as the sky begins to lighten up more and more. Did I mention how peaceful it is? A hummingbird has just arrived for his early morning snack and I can hear something scurry around in the bushes below, perhaps a neighbor cat(I’m gonna call it a cat! not some strange , scary critter ready to pounce!)? When I first sat down all but the sky was black and now I can clearly see all the palm trees and banana trees. More and more of the hummers are arriving for their breakfast and a neighbor dog too has just walked onto my patio, ready for me to give him a treat and surprised to find me outside already(yes, he told me he was surprised!) . The sound of birds is becoming more and more like a cacophony of birdsong instead of a single bird here and there. They have officially begun their day. And I suppose , so must I. Have I ever told you how much I love the mornings?

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Panama Newspaper Provides the Year’s Best, Most Honest Headline Following Loss to Mexico

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I just had to share this…It made me laugh!

The Big Lead

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Panama lost in epic fashion, 2-1, to Mexico Friday night in a crucial World Cup qualifier. Raul Jiminez’s late bicycle kick, or Chilena in Spanish, essentially kept Mexico’s hopes alive while ending Panama’s in the process.

It’s hard to think of a better headline than the one Panama’s Critica newspaper came up with for its Saturday edition.

It simply read: “F—ing Chilena.”  No Google translation necessary. Hey, that’s what everyone in Panama was thinking when the ball somehow found its way into the back of the net at the Azteca Stadium.

If you’re thinking its a photoshop, here’s a link to the PDF file from the paper’s website.

Yes, swearing in 72-point type is wholly appropriate after a goal like this essentially knocks you out of qualifying for your first World Cup.

Raul Jimenez bicycle kick-a

Related: Brian McBride Talks U.S. National Team, Playing for David Moyes and That Goal Against Portugal

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Finding my purpose…

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One of the things I love about writing this blog is that it often serves as a very helpful way for me to process this profound life-change I’ve chosen to pursue. Most of the posts I publish tend to be expressions of happiness, peacefulness and some may think too often I’m expressing pure bliss as I soak up these new surroundings. I enjoy sharing my experiences for a couple reasons, as a way to pass on information to those of you who enjoy reading my blog as research for your possible future adventure living as an expat. I get comments and questions from so many great people who are in that early stage of researching . I get great pleasure in passing on any info I can share, and hopefully contributing to other peoples research. I know when we were just starting to look into moving to another country other bloggers where so incredibly generous and it feels great to pay it forward. Mostly though, I write this blog as a way for me to maintain my connections with all of my friends and family in California. Our decision to move to Panama has opened up amazing amounts of opportunities for me to grow and change and for me, sharing my journey with all of you makes me feel like you’re all with me in some small way. Does that make sense?

In the course of this journey when I choose to share the challenges that are a natural part of my adjustment, I hope you can appreciate these times as just that, a necessary period of ‘adjustment’. I celebrate these periods of challenge or difficulty because I know that when I travel through a hard situation with my mind focused on growth and transformation I’ll always move forward having gained something of value from the challenge. All this to say, try not to worry about me too much because in my mind, a little stretching isn’t a crisis. I see these times as fine tuning and as I write about it and share my perspective, it’s all part of my process of standing back and taking another look at it from yet another perspective. I get valuable input from so many others who’ve traveled a similar path and many generous people who offer gifts of encouragement which I hold dear to my heart and read and re-read over and over again, smiling each time I read.

I preface this entry with these words because I’m entering into a particularly personal and I suspect , for me, a difficult phase of my Adventure here in Panama. Finding my purpose. I really want to feel safe sharing the hard things about my adventure without feeling like my friends and family fear that I may have made a mistake or that I may regret my move. No, on the contrary, I’m not complaining or whining , or in any way wishing I were anywhere other than where I am right this moment. When I started publishing this blog I did so with the promise to myself and to you, that I would share the good the bad and well…maybe a bit of ugly, but I soooo dislike the ‘ugly’ so I’ll admit to often placing my ‘rose colored’ glasses onto your eyes as well as my own. 🙂 There’ve been a couple of difficult transitional experiences that I’ve shared, like when, early on, I was feeling so “out of my body”, and very uncharacteristically nervous while out in public. And also my tendency to feel great success when accomplishing relatively mundane everyday tasks. These are only two very small examples of instances when I’ve felt myself struggling to adapt to so many different experiences here in Boquete. I don’t even know if the word,”struggle” is even correct in describing my experiences. But If your wondering, I no longer feel that strange sensation that I described when I’m out and about in town, running errands and such has become much more familiar. I very confidently say ‘Lo Siento’ when I bump into someone or do something dumb :). People are always so kind and patient, giving me a smile or a knowing nod that says, in any language, “don’t worry, I understand”.

I’ve been officially ‘retired’ ,(Yikes! I still can’t really believe I’m actually RETIRED!) for nearly 5 months now. So far I’ve taken the time to just take a lot of deep breaths and say to myself…”Ahhhhh”. I’ve been reading a lot, which everyone who knows me, knows how much I enjoy reading. I’ve also taken the time to write a lot as well, which has become a very new passion for me. Another thing I’ve spent a ton of time doing is relaxing, (of course) and enjoying the freedom of ‘owning’ every hour of my day. Sitting outside and playing games on my iPad, just looking out at the view and soaking up the vast, incredible beauty of nature that surrounds me . Words just cant even express my great love of nature and how much I appreciate every moment I have to be so close to it here in this place of unending beauty. I love walking and I’ve had the time to take hikes with Scott and to simply walk into town. Yesterday,(I gotta tell you about this experience cuz it made me so happy) I walked into town for the first time since we’ve lived in this house. It was a little under two hours of walking and It was just great! (Scott had spanish class and I decided to walk to the school and meet him when he was done) I had an audio book which I love to lose myself in as I walk, but about half way through my walk I met a young Indigenous kid who was also walking into town, he was 20 years old and very friendly. We started to walk together and I , of course began to attempt to talk with him. I wish I could remember his name but darn it! It started with an A but after that, I lost it. Well, as you know, the indians here are very poor and he of course asked for money, (very politely and humbly, I wasn’t surprised.) so I gave him two dollars and told him that he would be working for his money by practicing Espaniol con Mi. Nosotros hablamos mucho caminábamos. We talked about food and about where he lives, (in Bocas Chica) and about Estados Unidos , about mi Hija and el harmonos y el padres y harmonas. I had such a great time on that last half of my walk with this adorable kid. That was the best $2.00 Ive spent in a long time.

So, as you can see, I’ve been enjoying this period of early retirement. Soaking up my newfound freedom. And here’s where my newest challenge comes in. I’ve had five months of relaxing and doing not much of anything especially productive. Well, okay, I suppose starting to learn Spanish is productive and getting settled in a new country, buying cars renting a home, getting car insurance and health insurance, making new friends and accompanying Scott for his hernia surgery……ya, ya, I have been productive, I take it back. But….I have recently begun to feel as though it may be time for me to explore… what will be my purpose in this new life? I loved my career as a stylist, it was most certainly a “Passion” for me. I found great reward in many aspects of my life as a result of my career. Unending amounts of personal satisfaction including socially, artistically, professionally and monetarily. I loved making people happy and helping them to walk out of my salon feeling good about themselves. If someone sat down in my chair and I sensed that they had something bad or unhappy hovering in their lives, I took it upon myself to make them smile or give them a bit of peace if only for that brief time they were with me. I also benefitted greatly from every single person I came into contact with throughout my thirty years behind the chair. During times of personal tragedy, as well as great happiness my clients (who became my community) gifted me with never ending support. I am very artistic and creating beauty for others was something that kept me feeling successful and energized. I feel as though I achieved a level of success in my career that I can be proud of and look back on and know that I worked hard and deserve to feel pride in myself. Sooooo now what? That’s where I’m at now. I’ve begun a new life and I’m at the beginning of something so exciting and at the same time kinda scary. I get to re-define myself and start anew. And for me, I need to determine how I’ll find my new “Purpose”. I mean, one can only relax and do nothing for only so long! Before I made this move, many people asked me, “what will you do with your time?” I didn’t have an answer then and the answer to that question still hasn’t revealed itself to me quite yet. I have no idea what my next ‘passion’ will be in this new chapter of my life , but I do know that it’s a mystery I will solve in time. I may fret about it at times but, luckily I’ve found other kindred spirits here who’ve been through this transition themselves and they assure me that my feelings are normal. My new friends here have gone through this period of renewed self- reflection and in time have come to find a path and a purpose that gives them the sense of belonging that I know I’ll eventually find for myself. In the meantime, I’ll write!!! Ha!Ha! Well, I suppose I’ll also continue to relax and soak up all this beauty around me which I’ll never tire of doing. When the timing is right I’m certain the right thing will come to me and before I know it I’ll be busy again with something I find great reward in and a new ‘passion’ will have begun! Isn’t it often hard to remember to just be in the moment! So often, I am so busy trying to see where I’ll be in the future that the moment I’m in doesn’t get the appreciation it deserves! I’m glad I’ve reminded myself, (the sound of screeetching breaks!)….Oh, look at that hummingbird! And those clouds seems to be moving so fast over those mountains…..Ahhhh, the breeze feels so fresh and cool….hmmmm I do believe it’s happy hour…

Missing my girl…

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Staying connected is so important…

I just got off the phone with my Hija, (daughter). Sigh…I miss her 😦 The other day, when I was walking out of my spanish class I received a text message from her , it said, “I really, really miss you!” Again…Sigh. Many people have asked me how my daughter feels about my moving to Panama and I always tell them ,the truth is that she’s fiercely independent and very supportive of my relocation to Panama. It’s very true that my daughter has never been especially clingy or needy. Since she was very very young she’s wanted nothing more than to live her life her way and on her terms. This made her adolescent years extremely painful for us both. Now that she’s been on her own and has tasted the reality of the independent life that she always fought so hard to embrace , she has begun to appreciate her old mom. It’s a new sensation, to have my sweet daughter miss me so. While part of me feels happy to hear that she thinks about me and wishes I were nearby, there is another part of me, that realizes that if I were nearby we would likely spend very little time together. This is not an uncommon reality in the normal mother-daughter relationship. The natural progression with parents and children is for the child to move on and live their life. In our case , instead of the child moving on to start her life, the parents left the kid to start their new life. I know for a fact that Mariah is a very busy young lady, working two jobs and trying to balance that with having a social life at the same time. Really, she has very little time on her plate to spend time with her mom. While we both realize the reality of that fact, there’s just something different about being so far away. We don’t have the convenience of just hoping in the car and driving to see each other. Yes, we can FaceTime, Skype and talk on the phone, but it never replaces a hug or doing a little retail therapy together. This is one of the hard things about this big Adventure I’m having. Missing Mariah often hurts my heart. When those times sneak up on me I have to remind myself that she’s on her path and I’m on mine. Although we are far away from each other, modern technology can really help us to stay connected. Last time we spoke we promised each other that we would talk once a week. I think just connecting like that on a regular basis may help us to feel better about the physical distance. Many of my new expat friends here in Boquete have grown children back in the States as well, and I always ask them how that is for them. Without exception they all say they talk to them often on Magic Jack or on Skype or FaceTime. Some have said that they connect to their kids more this way then they ever did when they lived nearby. It just doesn’t seem to matter where we choose to make our home, life gets busy and everyone has to make an effort to stay connected. So when those moments of heartache sneak up on me I just try to remember that missing my daughter is not necessarily a bad thing. Even when I lived close to her I had the same moments of missing her except it was a tiny bit more of a bummer because she was so close and yet we still couldn’t manage to make time for each other. Again, I remind myself over and over again…..this is the natural progression of the child/parent relationship. And we know we did a good job raising our children when they are independent, self sufficient, and living their life their way. We all have a path and aren’t we all fortunate to have the ability to follow our path and live our lives our way. I know my mom is reading this and saying to herself,”HUH! Now you know how I feel!” LOL!

Planning our first Boquete dinner party…

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We love to entertain and prepare nice meals for friends. It’s something we’ve always enjoyed and it feels like it’s been a really long time since we’ve had the opportunity to do it. Between preparing our home in Los Altos for selling and preparing our lives for relocating to an entirely new country, we had not had the opportunity to entertain for awhile before we moved. We’ve been living here in Boquete for about four months and although we’ve been invited to other peoples houses for great get togethers we have yet to have had a place and an opportunity to have people over to our home. Until last night…

Last week, Scott, after sitting on his butt for weeks in order to allow himself to heal from hernia surgery, was going stir-crazy. He said,”we should invite some people over for dinner.” I gotta admit, I was feeling a little apprehensive because it’s been such a long time since we’ve hosted a dinner party and I felt a little nervous about who we should invite, will anyone ‘want’ to come over for dinner? What will we make? Do we even have serving dishes in this ‘furnished’ rental house? Oh, so many silly , insecure thoughts crept into my head, I don’t know why! In our former life in California, entertaining was kind of a hobby for us as a couple. We’ve always found great pleasure in sharing our home with friends and preparing special meals that we hoped made our friends feel special. Scott would spend lot’s of time coming up with just the right menu and then the hunt for the recipes and ingredients would begin. As Scott was searching for the perfect menu I always found great pleasure in getting our house ready for guests. I just love to set the table and make it look festive, many times ordering a beautiful arrangement from my good friend Brian Davino who’s an amazing floral designer in town. As the evening of our dinner party would arrive Scott and I would go through the menu together and we would determine what serving dishes we would need to use and get them all out. On the day of the dinner we often spent the better part of the day in preparation for our evening. Scott would be cooking away, music blasting, while I cleaned the house and set the table and continually stopped off in the kitchen to clean up after him as he cooked. I gotta say, my man can cook, but boy oh boy does he make a mess!!! :0 To some, this may sound like work, but to us, it’s fun and rewarding.

In our 13 years together we’ve hosted many such fun, dinner parties and I’m so pleased that our first one here in Boquete went off without a hitch. I’m not sure what kind of ‘hitch’ I was expecting , I think I just felt a little out of practice and our new friends here are so ‘new’ I was just hoping they would enjoy spending time with us. I know, that sounds kinda dorky, huh? It’s also a little strange entertaining in a house that isn’t ours, and with ‘things’ that aren’t ours. But in the end, we managed to pull it off and enjoy the evening. Although, Scott may have gone a little overboard with his menu! Not that this is anything new…. he really likes to feed people and I think our friends left feeling as though they had been thoroughly fed! He prepared Tapas for our friends here’s the menu : Mexican Layered dip as an appetizer, Chicken Empanadas , (filled with roasted chicken, Chili verde sauce and cheese), Crab cakes, roasted potatoes, braised pork in a sauce made with five different peppers served with a local cheese filled tortilla thingy, Mango chicken Sopa’s (Scott’s version of Sopa, not a soup, closer to a taco), Yucatan fish wrapped in Banana leaves,(he just wanted to go chop down banana leaves from our yard!) Also several sauces to be used in whatever combo you choose: Chipotle aioli , Tzatziki sauce, Al’s mango salsa, and guacamole. We also prepared a black bean concoction which We discovered in the morning, we forgot to serve!! LOL! For desert, we had an apple berry crumble with vanilla ice cream. Ahhhh, I feel full again just reading this menu!

As you can tell, we had a fun-filled day cooking together just like always. My apprehension began to dissipate as the day wore on and as I walked around the yard cutting flowers to make arrangements (missing Brian Davino, and Merlyn but attempting to channel their flower arranging talent! ), I found myself feeling more and more like my normal self again, looking forward to spending the evening with nice people and sharing our new home. There’s been so many unfamiliar and different things about this new life we’ve begun here in Panama, it felt so good to do something familiar with new friends. It didn’t matter at all that we didn’t have our fancy kitchen and all the high end pots and pans and gadgets like before (eye roll here), and even though we had to hunt for some ingredients and settle for a few substitutes everything ended up working out just fine. We so enjoyed the adventure together, doing something that , to us, brings us great satisfaction. The part I especially enjoyed about our Boquete dinner party was eating outside with the thunder and lightening lighting up the sky! I have a suspicion this wont be our last Boquete dinner party! We’ll be doing this again, I’m sure.

Horseback Riding in Caldera…

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Last week my friend Andrea asked me if I would be interested in going horseback riding with her. Of Course! Who could say no to an invitation to see more of this beautiful area and on horseback to boot! She found a guy in Caldera named Franklin who runs a small horseback riding business on his families property (100 hectares) . Andrea has a fantastic web sight called Boquete Travel Guide http://www.boquetetravelguide.com She wanted to add his business to her web sight so this was an exploratory trip for us to check it out. And I gotta tell you , we both totally fell for Franklin! He is a very sweet man who is passionate about Panama, nature and his horses. He has about 25 horses and treats them with such love and respect. Andrea and I were both very touched by how much he cares for the animals and his passion for nature is contagious. The property where we rode is owned by his cousin and has been in his family for many many years. When we got to the plateau we all got off our horses and let them have a break while we enjoyed the spectacular view all around us. It really is a beautiful area. Chatting with Franklin we learned that he has a vast knowledge of philosophy and enjoys conversing about any number of topics. If he were a bit younger I was ready to introduce him to my daughter, Darn! Andrea and I both agreed that he must be one of the most sought after bachelors in Boquete, the Panamanian women must be banging down his door! 🙂 As you can see by the pictures, it was a gorgeous day, but I’m beginning to think that “everyday” is a beautiful day here! After our horseback riding adventure we were ready for an ice cold beer and lunch. Andrea had recommended a ‘typico’ restaurant called Melissa’s in Caldera so off we went in search of food! She was right, it was a great lunch. We had Pollo con arroz y sopa, and a beer all for $6.00. This was a great day and I can’t wait to take friends there to see that beautiful view.

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Amazing critters…

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I know…..I said I would never like the critters here but you gotta admit, they are often just sooooo pretty! I am very frequently stunned and amazed that some of these little creatures are “real”! They are such amazing colors and I just have to stop to look and admire the beauty that they are… but only when they are “OUTSIDE”! I feel quite different about them when I find them crawling around in the house. But I must admit that I try to catch them under a glass and take them outside instead of smooshing them under my shoe. You may be wondering about our progress with the bats in our house….well…..we are still dealing with that one. Just two nights ago we were awoken to the “whoosh-whoosh-whoosh” sound of wings flapping above our heads in our bedroom! Ugggg! Not a sound one wishes to hear while in bed! We both jumped up and began the hunt for the location of the intruder. I was quick to shut the bedroom door as soon as I realized it had flown out of the room! The ceilings in this house are vaulted and they are made of a dark brown wood which makes it very difficult to see a black bat. Given the fact that it was just past midnight, I suggested we just grab the cats and shut ourselves in to our room and finish sleeping and then deal with Mr. Bat in the morning. Scott was happy with that plan so back to bed we went. In the morning we hunted high and low and there was no bat to be found. But this was the third one who had mysteriously found passage into our living quarters and we were determined to figure out how the heck they were getting in! We had already looked around and could not see any source of entry but they were getting in ‘somehow’ so we searched some more, low and behold, we found an opening in the kitchen above in an area we could only see by standing on a step stool. It is a very small opening but those pesky critters can get in through the tiniest places so we know how to stop the midnight visits! My new best friend Rudolfo, the exterminator, has been spraying some sort of chemical that is meant to repel them from the area under the roof where we can hear them crawling during the dusk hours when they are preparing to exit for the night. We don’t want to kill them, just make them go away long enough to close up the entrance to the comfy spot they have claimed as their home. It does seem to be working because we are hearing much less scurrying and we went out the other evening just around the time they usually come out to hunt and didn’t see any exiting. This is very good news. So the saga of the bats will hopefully come to an end soon. Today I am going horseback riding with my friend Andrea . She has arranged the day and I’m really exited. She tells me we will be riding up to a place where you can view both the Caribbean and Pacific oceans ! I will be sure to get lots of pictures, don’t you worry! So Cheers for now!