Monthly Archives: February 2014

Scott’s making some serious progress…

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I thought I’d post a few photo’s of Scott working right along side his workers. That guy just never ceases to amaze! He’s really in his element
giving everything he’s got to create something beautiful! And I think you’ll all agree, that foundation wall is mighty beautiful, indeed! I think the only thing I’ve heard him complain about so far has been the fact that he has to wear jeans to work instead of his customary shorts that he almost always wears! Oh, Poor guy! He really hates to wear ‘big boy pants!’ But honestly, he’s already seen several snakes and here, you really don’t want to risk having bare legs for poisonous snakes to have access to! So…..Jeans it is! And I gotta tell ya, one reason he’s movin’ along pretty productively with the foundation may just be so that he can get busy working on the interior of the project when he can go back to wearing shorts again! Ha!Ha! Just today he actually said just that…”I can’t wait to start working on tile and cabinetry and interior stuff so I can get rid of these Jeans!” As I lovingly roll my eyes! We had to buy him three pairs of jeans from Price Mart because he didn’t bring any. And I already need to take them into town and have them mended, ( NO I don’t sew!) One pair lost a belt loop and another pair managed to get a huge hole in the knee after getting snagged on a piece of rebar….so one more good reason to have been wearing jeans. That tear in his jeans could have been skin!! On this wardrobe note, I gotta just make mention, about the fastidiousness of the workers here in Panama! They are very talented in managing to work an 8 hour day without getting even remotely close to as filthy as my sweet hubby! I swear! Its funny, Scott says they bring an extra pair of jeans that they put on ‘over’ their good pants and then at the end of the day they take off the dirty ones and clean themselves up a bit before going home! They really are neat-nicks about their appearance! I cant imagine what they must think of this Jefe they are working for! Scott is “Pigpen” ! Ha!Ha! That guy comes home looking as though he had rolled around in dirt and cement! There have been a couple of occasions when I had to drive a worker home at the end of a day and I swear he had put on cologne! Well, tomorrow I get to get in on the action up there, kinda! Scott has been making trips back and forth from Ivan (the supply place, not quite Home Depot, but sorta kinda) to get truckloads of sand and rock and bags of cement. So tomorrow they need to start building the new form for the next side of the foundation which Scott needs to be there to help with. So I will be doing the driving back and forth. I’ll go with him in the morning for his first load so that I can meet everyone and they will know who I am. They will load all the materials into the truck and I’ll just deliver it up to the property and keep going back and forth. I’ve got a good audio book loaded onto my iphone and I’ll be happy to do a little something to help so that Scott can focus on what needs to be done to get rid of those damn Jeans….BUILD THE FOUNDATION!! LOL!! The Adventure Continues….

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Picking up some lettuce & Visiting with the pet Toucans….

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I’ve told you before about the Hydroponic lettuce place before. A lovely man named Rodrigo runs this place and I just love going there. Not only for the spectacular lettuce but also to visit his pet Toucans that live there. He has a passion for birds and especially Toucans. I counted eight but I’m not certain that’s correct. They are in a huge pen off to one side of the huge greenhouse and when I walk up to the pen they all fly up to say hello. Who knew Toucans were so friendly? Today Rodrigo was there and he chatted with me a bit and brought one of his oldest birds out to show me. The bird actually gave him a little kiss and you can see how bonded all the birds are to him. After returning the magnificent feathered friend to his home Rodrigo said (with childlike enthusiasm) “Look what I have” and walked me over to a large cardboard box that had a warm blanket draped over the top. Inside the box were four beautiful baby Parrots . He told be the name of them but I don’t remember. They were so pretty and he looked just so pleased! He is caring for them until they are a bit older and then plans to find homes for them. I am fascinated by birds but can’t imagine actually having one as a pet….animals in cages just hurt my heart a little and letting a bird fly around the house ….nope not my style! And my kitty’s would just be wayyyy tooo happy to have a nice bird dinner so I’m not a candidate for a pet bird. Rodrigo helped me with my lettuce, cutting them off for me and while he was doing that I had a question I have always wondered about. I wanted to know if it was necessary to wash his lettuce, I mean , it is grown in Water and indoors after all. I just wasn’t clear on weather or not he sprayed them with any type of chemical…I know, I’m pretty ignorant on this “hydroponic” thing. And I felt so lucky to be able to ask the guy in Charge…The answer was, ‘No, you don’t need to wash them but if you want to rinse them just to give them a little moisture that might be okay, but I don’t use any chemicals so there’s no need to wash”. Okay, I got my answer. They are just as clean as they look! I Love this place!

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Me? A Teacher? Huh? How did this happen….

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I’m not a teacher!! But somehow I find myself teaching English to three Panamanian women….sometimes you just gotta go with the flow. And right now, in my life, the flow seems to be… me teaching English, who’d a thunk?. I never looked for opportunities to teach English, but in my mind when something just drops in your lap, why not give it a shot? Here’s how this came about…. I’ve talked about my good friend Valerie, she and I have really developed a great friendship and we just enjoy each other’s company tremendously. I’m very sad to say that she and her husband are moving back to the states to care for her aging mother who has Alzheimer’s. My heart aches at the thought of her not being here anymore but more than anything I’m really glad she’s following her heart and doing what she feels she needs to do. So, her departure is what has opened up the opportunity for me to teach English classes. You see, Valerie has been teaching English because she inherited the opportunity from a good friend of hers who also moved back to the states. As a matter of fact my friend Aris who I meet with once a week to practice my Spanish with is another of Valerie’s former students. Aris is learning English and I’m getting a bit of Spanish practice in at the same time. Now Valerie has introduced me to Rosemary and Elisabeth, sisters, who both are very serious about learning English. I will be meeting with them two times a week at Rosemary’s home. And there’s another possible student, a trainer at the gym that I just started going to. Apparently this young man is interviewing with Copa Airlines and needs to improve his English. So I may meet him this week and hopefully start getting together with him to practice one time a week. I’m nervous about this new development, me teaching, but mostly thrilled to dive into the challenge of a new experience. It’s also a great opportunity for me to develop relationships with more Panamanians . Read the rest of this entry

Zumba Anyone?

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My friend Valerie has told me so many times how much I would like her gym which is a much more ‘Panamanian” style setting, not that she thinks there’s anything at all wrong about mine, she just thinks I would enjoy the more social aspects of the smaller little neighborhood gym .(I don’t remember the name of the gym, but I’ll check and edit this post later.) I must admit, I’ve really enjoyed going the The Haven to rehab my ankle with the gentle swimming. The setting at the Haven is just beautiful, peaceful , relaxing and serene. It’s really luxurious and I’ve enjoyed my time there. All the staff are very friendly and the gym is sparkly clean. I had planned to check out the gym that Valerie goes to but in the back of my mind I didn’t really expect to like it as much. It’s a much smaller, casual gym with no pool and just mainly machines and a small weight room where a lot of young muscly Panamanian men work out (not a bad thing, nice scenery!) . Although I had read that they offered a nice selection of classes including Zumba. I had tried Zumba in California and whew! It was brutal! But I do really enjoy the music and the latin dance flavor of the Zumba classes, it’s really a fun way to get some exercise. So, last week when Valerie invited me to join her for a class I agreed to go and see what I thought.

I just loved it!! I loved the feeling of the gym and the people, everyone was so welcoming and friendly and it just felt so energized. The Zumba class, while a great aerobic workout, wasn’t as killer as the one I went to in the states. Don’t get me wrong, I worked up a sweat, but for some reason this instructor is much easier to follow. Maybe because it’s a man and not a young, tiny, blonde whose body does unrealistically crazy moves that my body would never in a million years be able to copy. The instructor is a fabulous dancer, of course…He’s Latin! And he just smiles and is having a good time. Most of the class is women and while not all Panamanian, I would say a large majority are . And Man Oh Man, can those ladies shake their booties! I think maybe all the strobe-lights and clapping and whooping just make me feel like I am at a party and not exercising in a gym. I can’t stop smiling the whole time the class in in session. I’ve been three times now and I think I’m hooked. My membership at the Haven is up, I only joined for three months so I think I may go ahead and join this gym now. It costs $40.00 a month and that includes all the classes. This Zumba class is two days a week Tuesday and Thursday at 8:45. Valerie also tells me that the personal trainer there is also very good and It think I’ll talk to him about helping me to set up an exercise routine to go along with my new Zumba class.

I just love how friendly this gym is. I met so many people before and after the class. Last week I think I met more people at that place in just three visits than I ever met in the three months I was going to the other place. Not that this is a bad thing, The Haven is a wonderful gym, I’m not trying to say that I didn’t like it, just that this little gym might be a little bit better for my social spirit. I do so love to make new friends and meet new people. And I just may have a new hobby….Zumba!! Whoohooo!! I sense a shopping trip in my near future..gotta get some exercise clothes! I’m so glad my ankle injury is a thing of my past because this girls gotta do some Zumba! Then maybe a little birdwatching and hiking and I’ll have to get the banking done (now that I have a bank account!) and fill up my hummingbird feeder, feed the neighbor dog, bring Scott Lunch and Hmmmmm I havent even told you about the English classes I’m teaching…to be continued, I’ll tell you all about that next time! My days are filling up quickly and a wonderful routine is beginning to set in, a routine that leaves room for spontaneity just in case someone invites me to play Mahjongg or go for a hike or maybe have a pedicure…life is good!

Mariah Update…

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Mariah Update…

I´m sure many of my friends from Los Altos are wondering what Mariah’s been up to…most of my clients were used to getting an update on that little girl every six to eight weeks for most of her life, so it’s been a long time since I’ve gotten you caught up on her life. As you’re aware, I’m sure… I’m happy to report that those nightmare teen stories are a thing of the past….Sigh of relief! Not only did we all make it through those sad, dark times, but I believe I can say that the path she chose, although extremely painful and tremendously scary for all of us who witnessed it, was instrumental in making her the strong, independent, self assured young women that she is now. It would have been nice to have taken a little less rocky path, but “Oh Well!”.

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The Boquete Jazz & Blues Festival…

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We rolled back into Boquete yesterday morning (Sunday) by 9:45ish and were on a mission to find a good breakfast and some much needed caffeine(mostly Caffeine)! We had started our morning off first thing with a stroll to the border to finish our border run. Costa Rica side first, BAM! I love the Costa Rica side…they really have it down! No problems, no politics, just fill out the little piece of paper, stand in a short line that moves along quick and BOOM, stamp in our passports and we’re on our merry way. Off to the Panama side to stamp back in….SKREEEEETCH! Then the bureaucracy begins and slow motion sets in, oh, my goodness, how my Tranquilo wanes! Why oh why Panama? Why do you have to make it so unbelievably difficult and (seemingly difficult, Cuz’ what do I know, maybe there’s a perfectly good reason for all the BS ) unnecessarily complicated to get into the country? It seems to me that Panama should be trying to encourage tourism and they would want to encourage people to cross their border…well, in my mind, (which I’m certain is not as bright as the ‘rule-makers’ in Panama) . All I know is that the requirement that each person entering Panama have a minimum of $500.00 cash on them seems a crazy thing, if only for safety reasons. They were making people actually count out the cash at the window right in front of all to see! Really!! Now, the Frontera is a very busy place, crowded, confusing, and I’m sure there are ( not so honest) eyes watching that cash and waiting for an opportunity to relieve people of their hard earned money. I saw young and old, Costa Rican, Nicaraguan, Panamanian, Indigenous, American, European….all being asked to take out the money they have on them and count it, Sheesh!! To many of those people $500.00 is a life savings! . It just seems like there could be more important requirements for coming to Panama than showing all to see that you have $500.00 CASH on you when you walk across the border. But that’s just me….what do I know? After satisfying all the different questions from the man behind the plexiglass window who really didn’t seem as though he were in any hurry to stamp our Passports, he eventually ran out of things to ask for because we are pro’s after all. Yes, we were prepared with an airline ticket out of Panama, (refundable of course!), our bank balance on a withdrawal receipt , which has worked the last two times as proof of our financial solvency, but this particular guy wanted to see the actual $500.00 cash, which I had tucked away in a money belt, so I reluctantly and not happily, brought it out and counted it for him….Grrrrr! After satisfying the guy, he finally, and very slowly stamped our passports and off we went. Good to go for another 90 days…maybe our last one? It could happen. Read the rest of this entry

Here We Go Again…Border Crossing Time!

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Yet another border run for us…

Yes, it’s that time again! It’s amazing how fast 90 days flies by when your havin’ fun. Last time we did the border crossing at the Rio Sereno border which I really liked. Sadly, that border is not quite so easy to do a quick, one night run. It would require having a bit more time than we have at the moment. Given the fact that Scott is a full fledged ”
jefe” right now with four full time employees depending on him, we need to make this next border run a fast one. So It’s back to Paso Canoas, darn it! The good thing is that this time we know what we’re doing and already know where to stay,(Hotel Canarias), where to park our car and hopefully there wont be any new surprises. You just never really know what new and totally random requirement they may decide to throw in the mix. Our plan this time is to leave Boquete after Scott finishes working for the day on Saturday. He usually works until 4:00 but he’s planning to call it a day at around 1:00 so we can get outta town on the early side. Then, if all goes well, we will get up bright and early, and go back to the border to check back into Panama when the border opens up first thing. My fingers are crossed that it goes smoothly, let’s hope I don’t’ fall down again! (eye roll!) I’m just kidding!

(The next Day) Well, here I sit, comfortably ensconced in our hotel at the Frontera. We’ve checked out of Panama and stamped into Costa Rica and now we are happily chillin’ in the hotel for the night. Scott’s watching TV while I play on my ipad. We’re officially in no mans land here at the Frontera. The border area is a very popular place where the local Panamanians enjoy shopping. There are all sorts of stores and malls here. We haven’t done a lot of exploring because its just so darn hot! Whew! I know we’re total whimps! So after we got ourselves checked into our hotel and parked our car in their private lot we left our things in the room and set off on foot to get those stamps in our Passports. Easy breezy when you know what to do and where to go. Last time we were here it was a much different feeling, not knowing what to do or where to go was a little disorienting. This time, we’re ahem’ ‘seasoned’ border runners! 🙂 No need to be nervous, we just marched right up to the window got our stamp and went our merry way. I’m hoping the worst part of this particular border run will be stepping in a huge hunk of bubble gum which somehow jumped onto my ankle and unbelievably wrapped itself completely around my ankle!!! Geesh!! (Looking up to the sky and wondering…why meeee??LOL!)

Last time we did this we were hoping it would be out last time….well, here’s to hoping ‘this’ is the last time we have to do this. Maybe in the next 90 days we’ll have succeeded in the completion of the ‘never ending’ collecting of all the required documents for our permanent visa. For now, we’ll just enjoy our wine and our cheese and crackers that we brought for our ‘Hotel Picknic”! In the morning we’ll walk back to the Costa Rica border and check out then check back into Panama then we’re home sweet home!! Back to Boquete and the Boquete Jazz & Blues Festival!! Cant wait to sit it the fresh, cool Boquete air and listen to some good music, who knows maybe even get a little booty shakin’ in??? It could happen!! 🙂

The Fun Part Of Building A House…

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The fun part of building a house is when you get to go shopping!!! Yipee!! I’m right, right?? Faucets, sinks, floors, light fixtures, whoooohoooo! Here we go!! We’ve been slowly researching where to purchase all these wonderful materials locally for our casita. There are plenty of places to find nice fixtures and even many brands that we recognize. For our bathroom we got Hansgrohe fixtures and a Toto toilet. We were glad to see so many familiar brand names. All of the fixtures we found at a really nice store in David called Elmec. We had already been on the Hansgrohe web sight and written down the style numbers of the things we liked, which made our shopping much easier. Dina (our saleslady) just showed us what they had on the showroom floor and then looked up other things on the computer and if they didn’t have the exact model then she found one that was comparable. Right now we are just purchasing materials for the casita and down the road we’ll go back for all the things we want for our house.

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Apostilled, Authenticated & Notarized….OH MY!!!

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Scotiabank only needs one last thing from us in order to open our bank account and oh my goodness, I think I may have hit a little snag…They want a letter from our immigration attorney simply confirming that we have retained her services for the Pensionado application. (sounds simple..right? Well…..) I spoke with her assistant this morning, he told me that she will not do that until we have our actual Cedula (Panamanian ID) . I explained, we are not asking them to tell the bank that we have our Cedula, just that we have retained the services of an attorney to facilitate our application… He told me (sounding somewhat annoyed, I may add) that I could talk to Mayra and see what she says…Grrrrrr! It’s rather Frustrating that this one little thing could put the cabash on our ability to establish a bank account until our visa is in hand. Ug! We’ll see where this goes… Read the rest of this entry

And Here’s What We’ve Been Up To…

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I’ve been working on getting a bank account established here. This has been my next big project. As I’ve told you before, they make you jump through hoops to open an account. I wonder how hard they make it in the states to open an account if you aren’t a citizen? Hmmm? So I went into Scotiabank (on the advice of both our attorney and our realtor) to give Ana all the documents she requested, Two years tax returns, copies of passports and U.S. drivers license, copy of utility bill for the house we rent, copy of rental agreement, a letter of recommendation from my bank in the states just stated that we have been customers in good standing for at least two years, a letter from my attorney here in Boquete vouching for our intention to settle here in Panama, and a copy of the deed to the land we purchased…whew! I also had to fill out an application that included three panamanian references, which was pretty funny because the bank manager who I was dealing with, Ana, happened to know personally all the people who we know. Funny, it’s a small town. This was helpful because she knew how to spell their names and what their addresses were, ha! And she saw where we currently live and it turns out she’s my neighbor as well! The final thing the bank needed was to contact the bank manager in California to confirm her letter of recommendation. So I email Susan at my bank in Los Altos to give her a heads-up that she would be receiving a correspondence from Panama, hoping to make it go as smooth as possible. Good thing I did that because they contacted her via email immediately yesterday and she forwarded me her response. Looks like we should be good to go, I hope! I’ll go down to the bank on Monday and see if there’s any other information they need, but I feel pretty organized. Read the rest of this entry

Looking at all the Face book movies….

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I joined Facebook just before I moved to Panama. Before I moved I was never interested in becoming another obsessed person on Social media. But then I began to realize that Facebook was going to be just one more great way for me to keep my connections back in California. And I was right. It’s been so much fun to be able to see photos and read all the posts people share about their lives, as well as sharing my own special, and not so special moments with friends and family. Today I noticed something new on FB, Facebook Movies…I wasn’t sure what it was and then I started watching them and my morning has just flown by as I’ve been sitting here with tear-filled eyes watching all these little clips from peoples lives. Sigh…It’s just so sweet to see all the different moments people wanted to share with the world. Babies, flowers, cakes, soldiers, sunrises, hubbies, weddings, mountains, christmas trees, graduations, hockey games, Anniversaries, funny times, sad times, new cars, daughters, sons, Moms, Dads, Races, beaches, Births, deaths, sunsets and rainbows, just to name a few of the things that brought tears to my eyes. I have to say, I just find it so heart warming to be able to feel as though, in some small way we are all a part of one another’s lives. Between my blog, Instagram and Facebook, as well as email, Facetime , Skype, and Magic Jack, living in Panama doesn’t feel such a world away from all the people I love and care about.

My San Blas Birthday Adventure…

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Where to begin…..I had a GREAT Birthday, thank you very much! 🙂 The man who prepared all the food at the resort where we stayed made me a special lobster dinner. Of course the lobster was fresh caught that day! And a delicious cake for desert and all the other guests sang to me!! In Spanish of course!! Wow! What a great Birthday! It really pays off to tell everyone you meet ..”Hoy es mi cumpleaños!¨:) Hee!Hee! I feel so fortunate to live so near to such natural beauty and to have the freedom to explore and learn first hand, about such a colorful culture. The Kuna are just a fascinating group of people. The first thing I saw through the little window of the small airplane as we landed was two Kuna women and I inwardly gasped at their exotic beauty. The traditional clothing that they wear immediately caught my eye and I was mesmerized by the bright colors and beautiful embroidered designs. But what really stood out to me was the amazing adornment on their legs and arms. They wear these beautiful beaded things (‘Things’? ‘Adornments’?for lack of a proper word) that at first looked like leg warmers , covering their legs from ankle to knee. And on their arms from wrist to elbow. When I saw them closer I realized they were actually beads of brightly colored oranges, yellows, reds, black and green. Hand beaded in beautiful geometric designs. We noticed that the young females didn’t wear the traditional garb and our guide told us that they begin to dress in the clothing when they turn 18. They also have their hair cut short at that age and never again wear their hair long. This makes perfect sense to me given the constant wind and lack of lot’s of fresh water and also, I’m sure there’s not a hair salon to keep all that long hair trimmed up! (although this may not be their motivation, shrug!) All these Kuna women are tiny, almost childlike in stature. The traditional costume that they wear is hard to describe and I’m certain to do a terrible job in my verbal description of the beauty and charm of these women, but I’ll do my best. On a side note, before I continue my attempt to describe the female members of the Kuna I must tell you that none of the men wear any such traditional garments. They dress just like any Panamanian you would see almost anywhere. I found that kinda funny. Anyway….The first adjective that comes to mind when describing the Kuna women’s attire is ‘colorful’! They love color and design and they display it well! They wear an amazing mixture of different fabrics, textures and colors as well as patterns. The tops seem to all be made from some type of lightweight, maybe Rayon or chiffon fabric, flowing and lightweight. In beautiful floral patterns and soft geometric designs that are both feminine and bold. They have puffy sleeves that go to just above the elbow and most had scoop necks that set off the brass colored necklaces they wear along with long brass colored earrings. At the bodice this first fabric is connected to a corset-type piece that is embroidered with the traditional Mola designs, each women wears different designs and I don’t know what the significance of these designs are to the individual women, if there is a significance at all. But they are very brightly colored, hand embroidered , and intricately decorated all the way down to where the next piece of fabric begins, this next layer of color and pattern is the Sarong type skirt they all wear. And on their heads they all have a red handkerchief type scarf to tie around their short hair. They all wear the brass jewelry and some of the older women had pierced noses. I did manage to very discreetly get a photo of a women who was standing in front of me at the airport on the morning we left. ( I know “bad girl!”) They don’t like to have their photos taken so I felt kinda bad, but she didn’t see me , I promise! I just had to show those of you who have not had the pleasure of seeing them before. In addition to all this color and amazing external adornment I must add that above all I found their easy smiles to be most endearing of all. Every women I saw gave me a great big smile and a wave, I just love that! I didn’t see one unfriendly face the whole time I was there!

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