Monthly Archives: March 2014

Feeling just a little homeless…

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When we signed the lease for the house that we’ve been renting we agreed to this one week away at a hotel payed for by the home owners. That was back in June when we did that . So We gladly agreed to this and knew is was coming. You know how it is though….it felt at the time, like March was so far away. And here we are, all packed up, living out of our suitcases again. Hmmmmm….how time does fly by! It sort of feels like a subtle reminder of our semi-homeless state in the beginning of this adventure. That nomad, gypsyish state of living that we so gleefully set off for nearly a year ago. I can’t believe it will be one whole year in May since we arrived in our new home and started an entirely new life. This new home in Boquete, Panama, that we’d dreamed about and planned for for such a long time. It had been seven long years of research and travel and preparing not only us but also preparing all the people around us as well for what would be a major shift in our lifestyle. When we first arrived we spent the first two months living in a temporary apartment, not unpacking all our belongings because it was just a short stay until we secured more permanent lodging, no need to get too comfortable. It was so wonderful to make ourselves comfortable and unpack everything once we moved into the house. Even though it isn’t our house, it was ours for at least 10 months. And ten months back then felt like a long time. We’re nearing the end of our lease on the house, the owners are relocating from the states to begin their retirement in July. So, now what? Well, we don’t know exactly quite yet. Here in Boquete there’s a fairly large amount of people who rent out furnished casitas to snowbirds who love to escape the harsh winters in Canada and other similarly snowed in spots in the States. By July many of those snowbirds have flown back to where they live and there’s a good selection of places available. We shouldn’t have too much of a difficult time finding our next spot to live. Except that we’re a bit limited due to the fact that we have a cat. There’s a lot of landlords who, understandably, prefer not to rent to us poor suckers with pets so it can be a bit tricky. Read the rest of this entry

A Difficult Cultural Difference In Our Feelings For Pets…

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Dogs…

I was just chatting with my mother in law the other day about the different cultural treatment and feelings of domesticated animals here in Panama. I felt the need to tread gently when talking with her about this subject because she has the biggest heart when it comes to all animals but especially dogs. The last thing I want her to think is that all the Panamanian people are cruel or mean, because they aren’t. There’s just certain ways of life that are unlike our ways such as their perspective on dogs and cats, this happens to differ greatly from what we are accustomed to. This in no way makes them bad or mean or even necessarily wrong, It’s sad to those of us who don’t understand, but just because it’s different doesn’t make it ‘wrong’. I have a strong belief, that something can be ‘wrong’ to me but that doesn’t mean others need agree with what I think is ‘right’. I’m not unlike my mother in law, in my adoration of dogs. They almost all melt my heart no matter what breed, I just love them so much.

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She’s Cleaning My House…

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Okay…I’m sitting outside on the terrace with a cup of coffee and my iPad while a cleaning lady cleans the house before we leave tomorrow to stay at Isla Verde. Dani, the property management lady arranged for the cleaning lady to come so that the house will be perfect for the home owners when they arrive tomorrow. Of course, I will be paying her, but I don’t mind because I’m certain she will do a much more thorough job than I would ever be able to do. And she’ll probably be here all day long for $20.00! As I’ve established in past posts I’m not the most talented of cleaners. But I must tell you how silly I feel just sitting here while she cleans! I’ve had cleaning ladies in the past, but I never stayed home while they cleaned, I was always at work and just gave them a key to my house and let them do their thing. Even the cleaning people who cleaned my salon had a key and when I returned to work each week I was always pleased to open the door to a sparkly place. I felt justified to have someone else cleaning for me because I was so busy working. But this is just killing me! Sitting out here like I’m some kind of entitled princess! But I’ve read and been told and somehow my gut just tells me that here, I need to be home. Ugg! I just hate being here while someone else is cleaning, I just want to go help her! Isn’t that soooo silly! Ha! And, I’ve already spent the last two days getting the house ready for her to clean! Yes! I moved all the cat stuff out of the way, made sure there were no shoes on the floor, removed everything from the counters in the Bathrooms, made the bed, cleaned the kitchen…and I’m embarrassed to admit that yesterday I even dusted a little! Just a little! Sheesh!! Isn’t that so stupid! I just didn’t want the cleaning lady to see what a messy housekeeper I am! Hah! I don’t know about you, but if and when I do housework I like to have music playing so, I tried to get her to choose what channel she liked on Spotify. She seemed a bit unsure about my question as I held my iPhone up for her to look at the Latin stations I gave her to choose from. Hah! I’m such a dork! I think she may have said “lo que quiere”, what you want. Okay….so I chose a latin love song station and marched outside to let her work in peace, but with some soothing latin tunes. Hah! What must she be thinking of me? Well, at least I didn’t pour her a glass wine or ask her if she wanted a snack! My question is …what the heck am I supposed to do all day? If I end up posting about 10 blog posts today, you’ll know why! I think this is how Scott would feel if he just hired someone to do all that work up at our property! Oh! Laundry ! that’s what I can do! The dryer just buzzed! Whew! Okay, good, now I have something to do! Cheers! Buen Fin De Semana!

A Week At Isla Verde…

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This is Isla Verde, It looks pretty nice, Huh?

When we rented this house there was one small thing that the landlords required. They live in the states and return to Boquete once a year for one week to visit. They pay for a hotel for their tenants so that they can enjoy their house for a week. We moved in here on September 1st. and we knew that we would have to vacate the house in March for the owners. Well, boy did March come fast! This weekend, sunday to be exact, is when we will be moving out for the week. We had to find a place to stay that would accept cats . There’s a lovely hotel in town called Isla Verde, where we will reside for our one week of exile from our home. So I’ve spent the better part of this week moving all our belongings out of the master bedroom and bathroom and storing much of it in the spare bedroom. I really want to make sure all of our belongings are out of their way. Of course we don’t have a lot of things but it is pretty amazing how we’ve spread out as we’ve lived here and we’ve accumulated stuff as well. So I’m organizing it in the spare bedroom along with the other things we have bought for our construction project. You know, the toilet and the sinks and the faucets, yep, all those things and extra clothes , our printer, blah, blah, blah. It’s actually been more work than I expected it to be but at least I don’t’ have to do the deep cleaning because Dani, the gal who is the property manager is sending a cleaning lady over on Saturday morning. Yippee! So all our clothes are back in our suitcases and ready to go. Our cat isn’t going to be happy about this, but he’s just gonna have to deal with a little family vacation. I did see on Boquete News that the place we’re staying has a Spa!! Yep! And they’re having a special on massages and facials….well…I just may have to check that out while I’m staying there! It should also be nice to be in town, we can walk to dinner like we used to when we lived in Los Altos, that’ll be nice. And my new friend Rosemary lives nearby and It will be fun to walk over and say Hola ! to her as well! It’ll feel like a little vacation at home! I must say, I’m a little worried about the two dogs who have adopted me. The homeowners may be a little surprised to see two hungry dogs waiting to be fed on their porch! Ooops! I hope they like dogs. Poor guys, the dogs I mean, not the homeowners. I must say, I’m trying not to get too attached to these dogs but geesh! They’re so darn cute! And they live here so it wouldn’t be right to take them with me when I move, I’d never do that to them, and ahem…they do have homes here after all! I’m just hijacking someone else’s dogs! I’m bad, I know! Well I’ll let you know how our little “forced vacation” goes.

Progress Report On Our Construction Project….

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Scott and I are both in agreement that we don’t want to cut down any trees on our property if we can help it. The spot where we chose to build the casita on the property is perfectly situated between a bunch of trees and it fits just right without any need to disrupt the trees, who were there way before we showed up. The area up above where we plan to build our house and Scotts workshop was previously cleared and leveled by the person we bought the lot from. There are a few smallish trees up on the flat spot but no large trees, thankfully, that would be in the way of building. The pre-excavated area is surrounded by a horse shoe shaped grove of trees that act as nice protection from the winds that come from the North. It’s a lovely spot, surrounded by endless shades of green, which we just love! And the view of Boquete is just spectacular. This already excavated spot where we plan to build the main house for us is almost the exact same size as our lot in Los Altos. About Ten Thousand square feet. But it’s more roundish and our lot in Los Altos was long and narrow.

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What Do I Miss?

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I was thinking about this the other day. Do I really miss anything from the States? I’m trying to be honest with myself about what, if anything I miss about my old life.. I have so many wonderful things to say about how much I love living here, and indeed I’m delighted each and every day when I think about all the things I love about this new life in Panama. But I’ve been trying to think about what I miss about living in the States? Well…..I really have to think hard to come up with an answer to that question. I thought I’d really miss my house. My neighborhood. Of course I miss the people that I left, more than anything, but that goes without saying, right? I do miss all my own belongings in my house. It’s strange to live in a furnished rental house where nothing belongs to me. Dishes, furniture, towels, appliances, everything belongs to someone else. At first the novelty of not having so many material possessions was quite liberating. And I do still very much enjoy not having so much clutter. But…It just doesn’t feel as homey as I’d like, living amongst someone else’s things. I’ve always found great joy in expressing myself in my living space. And creating a space that’s a reflection of me is something that makes me very happy. I look forward to opening all our boxes someday and having a space of my own to decorate and to just live again in a space that’s my own. Read the rest of this entry

Living The Casual Life..

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I do love my new casual lifestyle, this is a wonderful thing about Panama, or is it just me? It could be Me… I’ve spent most of my adult life as well as my childhood, around hairdressers and in Salons. The constant and never ending expectation from those who look to us (stylists) to always be on the cutting edge of fashion can be exhausting. I know the majority of my former colleagues in the beauty business thrive on and love this part of what it means to be a stylist, and I applaud you because that’s as it should be. But the novelty of this aspect of being a hairdresser wore off for me about…oh, I dont’ know…maybe 15 or so years ago? Maybe longer. The expectation to look a certain way and to care so much about that external persona lost it’s appeal for me as I matured and began to find meaning in things that just seemed more important to me. I spent many, many years caring incessantly about how I looked and what clothes I wore. What people thought of me and feeling as though in some important way that my external appearance defined me. I spent hours getting fills on my acrylic nails, panicking when I broke one and rushing into the manicurist to get it repaired, and I never left the house without my make up just right. I lived to shop and never had enough clothes in my closet. I just ‘had’ to have all the latest and most current clothes that were in style. I always had coordinated jewelry and just the right shoes to pull together my look and my hair was of the utmost concern to me each and every moment of every day. Oh man! I remember those days, and the time I spent looking in the mirror! Constantly aware of what others looked like and comparing myself, and putting a ton of energy into caring about what those around me thought of how I looked. It was exhausting when I think back on that period of my life. Of course, I was raised by a hairdresser so this was just the way of the world to me. Read the rest of this entry

Little Things We’ve Learned To Adapt To…

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There are a few little everyday things that we’ve had to figure out how to make ourselves or do without or find a substitute for. And other things we’ve just had to learn, silly little things ,like metric measurements and temps on the stove. For the most part we are able to find just about everything we need here. But every once in awhile we find it difficult to find little things like for instance buttermilk, we have yet to have found it here, at least in our Romero’s which is Panama’s equivalent to Safeway. So we just learned how to make buttermilk, which is surprisingly simple and fast. You only need two Ingredients…
1 scant cup milk (whole, 2%, or heavy cream)
1 tablespoon lemon juice or white vinegar

Equipment
Measuring cup
Measuring spoon
Stirring spoon

Instructions
Combine the milk and lemon juice. Measure 1 scant cup of milk. Stir in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar.
Let stand 5-10 minutes. Let the mixture stand at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. When it is ready, the milk will be slightly thickened and you will see small curdled bits. (This substitute will not become as thick as regular buttermilk.)……It’s that simple! Read the rest of this entry

Here’s the cure for House Spiders….

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Boy does it pay to write a post about spiders in my house…
My friend John sent me this link to remedy my spider problem!! I love it!! I’m gonna try the peppermint one first!! And we shall see if these things work well with these Panamanian spiders!
http://www.naturallivingideas.com/9-natural-ways-to-keep-spiders-out-of-your-home/

I’m learning to be a ‘Bug Killing’ kinda gal… BUT…(Caroline…don’t Read this!)

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(A side note)
My friend Caroline Chavez has told me that if I keep posting blogs about bugs and critters here, she will never come visit me….So…Caroline, sweetie, this particular post is not one for you, it’s not interesting at all, as a matter of fact , its quite boring…move along my dear… go on…don’t’ you need to make dinner now, or at least have a glass of wine?

Holy crap! The spiders here must be on steroids! Geesh! Why the heck are they so Ginormous??? And the strangest thing is, just lately they seem to be coming up the gosh darn drain in my shower! !@#$ I can’t figure out any other way that they end up crawling around in there. (I have to veer here to tell you about an odd thing that I found when we first moved into this rental house. There are two bathrooms and each of them has a shower. I noticed that inside each shower, placed over the drain in the shower, was a small piece of that green astro-turf type material. The material was cut to generously cover the drain and I wondered why it was there….now I know!) The first two that I spied scurrying around in the shower Scott very kindly and sweetly caught and took outside (anything to shut me up!) . Then another one appeared another day, just as he was leaving for work…. “Gotta Go! Ha!Ha! Have fun with that!” Says my “Sweet”? Husband as I screeeched from the bathroom! How was I going to take a shower? And….How the heck will I ever survive here… living in the tropics, where critters are abundant (and on steroids)? Read the rest of this entry

It’s just my life…

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I feel like I’m running out of things to write about. When I began writing this blog the subject of making a decision to expatriate and to start a whole new life in another country was a very exciting, new and interesting thing to write about. Now that the flurry that was deciding, preparing and then actually making this move to Panama is done, I’m just living my life. It’s nearly ten months that we’ve been settling into this new life here. We’ve accomplished a lot in those ten months, for sure. After landing in Panama, making our way with our two cats to Boquete and then finding a place to live we had a very specific plan and so far we’ve been pretty successful in making our plan a reality. We wanted to create a life here and to build a home. Not just a physical ‘house’ but a ‘Home’. There are certain components to making a place a ‘home’. There is , of course the physical house where you live your day to day life but there’s also all the people that you connect with, and of course finding some sort meaning to your day to day life. For me, I’m still in that process , of finding out what that means for me….”Meaning” Hmmmmm. I’ve shared our process, the ups and the downs. And as of today, we seem to be just sort of ‘living’ our life.

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Buen Fin De Semana…

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Hoy es muy buen día. Me levanté a la seis en la mañana entonces preparo desayuno para Scott. Después comemos desayuno, Scott fue al trabajo. Luego me llevó a la ciudad para ir a Romero’s y Mailboxes Etc. Regresar mi casa entonces me fui a mi escuela para la práctica de conversación.

Today is a good day. I got up at six in the morning then made breakfast for Scott. After we ate breakfast Scott went to work. Then I went into town to Romero’s and Mailboxes Etc. I went back to the house and then I went to my school for conversation practice. (just in case you didn’t ‘get’ what I said! Hah! (Now you kinda, know how I feel a lot of the time! 🙂 ) I’m really beginning to feel a little improvement in how much I actually understand. But my ability to respond is not very good yet. Poco a poco! I must say, today at conversation practice the instructor was my former professora, Widad, and I felt much better attempting to speak with her than I felt when we had class together. My vocabulary needs a lot of work and just speaking in general is not even what I would call proficient, not even close! But my ability to hear and understand at least most of the words being spoken is getting so much better. It feels incredibly good to be able to get most of what’s being said to me. Even when I’m in town , out and about, I’m really beginning to get most of what’s being said to me. I think one of the most important things I can do while I’m learning is just to expose myself to Spanish as much as possible. And I’m finding that I’m becoming less and less nervous or embarrassed by my inability to speak fluently yet. I notice a huge amount of pleasure from nearly every Panamanian I come into contact with when I attempt to communicate in their language and don’t expect them to speak English. Even when a person speaks English I almost always try to speak Spanish and they’re pleased to help me. Of course I apologize for my Malo Espaniol and explain that Yo aprendo español y ahora es malo pero en la futura me hablo español muco mejor! Es muy importante para me practico mucho! When I try my best I always , without fail, get a kind response and lots of gentle help from anyone I am speaking to. Ahora, es no importante hay perfecto solo para tratar. 🙂 I know…It’s not great! But I’m getting there, and I’m not gonna be fluent for a long long time , but for only having studied Spanish for about ten months, I’m feelin’ great! Muy Feliz!!

My regular meetings with the four Panamanians that I see each week is just great for me. I know I’m supposed to be helping them learn English but I must say, I feel like I’m the one getting the help! And my Zumba class is great too because most of the other people who go to that gym are Panamanians and even the instructor speaks only Spanish! So I mostly have no idea what the heck he’s saying, what with the booming music and the wild lights and my poor, slow brain trying to get my body to do something remotely close to what everyone else is doing (Rhonda, I think of you a lot when I’m trying to get my hips to do those Salsay moves! hah!) . But I know that one of these days I’ll begin to catch on and my ears will begin to hear familiar words. Geesh! Who knows, maybe my hips will loosen up one of these days too!! Hah! All in all, I’m feeling very successful and very pleased with my progress so far….my “Language” learning progress that is….the “Hips” moving like a latina woman…..hmmmmm, that’s gonna take a miracle! :0

Sometimes…

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Sometimes…I look around and think to myself, “Did I really do this?” I think back to my life before I moved to Panama and what it used to be like and I’m just a little stunned that I’ve made such an enormous life change. I mean, Man! I actually picked up my entire life and let go of all that I had built, all that I had worked so hard to create, and I just got rid of it and walked away. Sheesh! And I did that solely because I wanted to! Not because I had to or needed to for any life shattering reasons. I didn’t leave because I hated my life. No. I made this enormous life change simply because I was ready to do something completely different and I wanted to redefine my life and to do it all a bit differently. I wanted to have a different reason to get up in the morning. I wanted to make different choices about what was important in my day to day life. I had a strong drive to discover different priorities and work towards different goals together with Scott. I had gotten what I wanted and much more from all my hard work and in my mind continuing down the same path wasn’t bringing me anything different. In many ways continuing to do the same things and not making this move to another country to start all over again, would have been a much easier route. And in many ways staying in the life I had created and ignoring my longing for something different and new would have been the hardest thing to do. I sometimes wonder what my life would be like right now if the idea to move to another country and have a big adventure together with Scott hadn’t come into my mind. I have the occasional day when that thought will pop into my head and I begin to reminisce about my day to day life ‘before’. I think about the people and the familiar walk to work ,those are two things that usually bring me a sense of longing for my past life. And other times I remember the heavy burden I felt trying to maintain that life I had worked so hard to create. Yes, I remind myself, I worked tirelessly everyday for 30 years, spending most of my waking hours trying to make enough money to afford that life. The house, which included the insurance, the PG&E, , water bill, the garbage bill, the taxes, the mortgage, the second mortgage, the pest control, maintenance,gas , just to name a few things and leaving out all the other expenses that are required to live in the states….Ugggg! The bills, soooo many bills in that mailbox everyday! The weight of all that financial responsibility was really heavy, much heavier than I could handle for much longer. It was all beginning to make me rethink what I wanted in my life. And one thing I knew I wanted more than anything was to rid myself of that feeling of sacrificing my days and a huge chunk of my ‘life’ simply to ‘have’ a house, and many other material things of which had previously been what I had wanted. I know, I may sound whiny. For the majority of people all that is just ‘life’. It’s what we all work for. And I see nothing wrong with that, after all why else do we work , if not to have a home and to create a life for ourselves and our families? But then, after seeing my daughter all grown up and heading down her own life-path Scott and I both just knew it was time for us to go down a different path.

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Familiarity..

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I grew up in a small town in Northern California, called Morgan Hill. I have such fond memories of growing up in a place where I recognized most of the cars that drove by and neighbors felt like family. Then I spent the largest part of my adult life living and working in a small town called Los Altos. One of the things I just love about small town living is the Familiarity of walking around town and seeing faces that you know. I’ve been living here in Boquete for nearly 10 months now and It just occurred to me the other day when we were driving through town that I’m beginning to recognized faces that I see around town. We slowed down to let a young women cross the street and I said, oh, that’s one of the tellers from Romero’s. This isn’t the first time I’ve begun to experience that familiar feeling of recognizing faces from different places in town. I just love it when I run into someone while running errands or walking into a restaurant or driving to the bank. It’s one of the things I loved most about living and working in Los Altos. I loved being at the grocery store and running into people I knew or walking to work and having people honk and wave hello as they drove by. Some people prefer the anonymity of larger cities where they can walk around and not see one familiar face, but not this gal. There’s nothing I like more than seeing a familiar face and I’m finding as time is passing that this is happening more and more for me.

I just can’t believe it’s been nearly a year that we’ve been living in this wonderful town. Boquete is a bit different than any other small town I’ve lived in, for many reasons but mostly because it’s a place where people visit for vacation. It’s interesting to see so many backpackers and tourists with cameras taking photos of the scenery as they drive around or walk around town. Countless times I have found myself stuck behind a car that’s driving so painfully slow and then I see the camera taking a picture out the window and I smile. When I look around at the tourists visiting this gorgeous mountain town in the highlands of Panama I often say to myself, ” I LIVE here!” I still feel so fortunate every single day when I wake to the sound of the birds chirping and the wind blowing through the banana trees in my yard. And as time is flying by I’m finding myself feeling little by little like this is actually ‘home’, and not a vacation.

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Friends…They’re a GOOD Thing!

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So…before I knew I was going to have a ‘pet drama’, I had planned to spend some time with some friends, one who was coming to visit Boquete for her vacation ,Emma, a fellow blogger who lives and works in Panama City and Kris and Joel, who live in David also came up for the day. I sent them all a text just letting them know about what was happening with Midnight, because we had planned to meet for breakfast and I wasnt sure what my morning would bring. They all got right back to me with an offer to come with me to the vet if I wanted them to. Awwwww……I was so touched that they’d offer to do such a nice thing for me. I was planning to take them up on the offer, but as it turned out, it all happened so fast I just dashed over alone. But after I was all done with everything, instead of driving back home to spend the day moping around by myself, I called them and they were eating breakfast so I went and joined them. I’m so glad I did that because we had a really great day hanging out together and it turns out, I really needed it!

First stop, a tour of “La propiedad de los Carters¨! The four wheel trek up to Jaramillo Centro to see all the progress Scott and his crew have made so far. And they were very impressed with the amazing retaining wall and the spectacular concrete foundation currently under way. Of course, who wouldn’t love to see a sparkly new retaining wall? 🙂 After getting the grand tour and chatting with Scott for a bit we said our goodbyes and were off to go for a hike at the Pipeline Trail, a wonderful hike to a small waterfall that is one of my favorites up here. Screeeeetch!!! On our way back down the hill from visiting with Scott we passed a place that I’ve been curious about for a long long time. I pass this place everyday, many times, as I bring Scott his lunch. The sign out front reads… El Explorador… this is what Lonely Planet says about it…”This private garden is located in a hilly area about 45 minutes’ walk from the town center. The gardens are designed to look like something out of Alice in Wonderland, with no shortage of quirky eye-catching displays, including fanciful suspension bridges, koi ponds and playful sculptures.” And Frommer’s says ….”One of the more curious attractions in Boquete is El Explorador gardens (tel. 720-1989), which provide visitors with splendid panoramic views enhanced by classical background music. But what’s really the attraction here are the eccentric gardens sprinkled with vernacular, artlike recycled items: old television sets, a sewing machine, boots used as planters, shopping carts, old bottles, and more. For example, there is a bush clipped to resemble a cartoonish animal, and in its mouth is a plastic doll — but what this means is anyone’s guess. The main purpose of the gardens is to offer a place for quiet reflection and “spiritual renewal.” To this end, the gardens feature signs (in Spanish only) with uplifting quotes to boost a visitor’s self-esteem. As hokey as it seems, you do leave El Explorador feeling a little better. The garden park is owned by the Miranda family, who bought this property and began decorating it according to whim until it grew into a public venue. There is a cafe here with snacks, fresh fruit juices, and coffee.” I just had to quote these publications because I couldn’t figure out where to begin to describe this place! We ended up spending our afternoon wondering around this delightful place and even got to chat with the lady who owns it and has been working on this creation for fifty years. She is such a special woman who has really embraced her passion of art and gardening. I just can’t believe I’ve driven past this place so many times! I know Kris will publish a post about it, she took tons of photos and I’ll reblog it when she publishes it. I didn’t have my camera! Shocking, I know!

We had such a good time wondering around El Explorador that when we left we didn’t have time to go do our hike. Oh well, it was off to Big Daddy’s for our lunch and our Margaritas! So Emma will just have to come back another time so we can get our hike in. She already booked her flight to come for a few more days at the start to her summer vacation in June!! She wants to do the Volcano Baru Trek, which we haven’t had the opportunity to do yet, so we have something to look forward to. Volcan Baru is the highest spot in all of Panama and I’ve read and heard from others that the view from the top of the Volcano is a spectacular sight! You can see Two oceans from up there and there’s an adventure company in town that will drive you up in a jeep at the wee hours of the morning so that you arrive at sunrise and hope for a clear morning so you can be blown away by the sight! Kris and Joel will also join us and I’m hoping Scott will be able to get some time off work, (he’s got a demanding boss you know). What a great day I had with these wonderful friends. I could have spent the day mourning and feeling sad but it turned out that even though my heart ached from losing my pet, I was comforted by a wonderful day with three friends . Life is good and Friends……They’re a GOOD THING!!! 🙂

Losing a pet, it’s hard to be my positive self…

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Life….sigh….it’s times like this when I’m in the midst of the end of a living creatures life that I can only sit with it, ( literally ) and consider what it means to me. Our poor little kitty lasted through the night. When we went to bed, I laid him at the foot of our bed where he always loved to sleep, for the last night together. I decided I would call the vet around 8:00 in the morning to see if I could bring him there to have him euthanized….Gulp. He was no longer able to walk, use the litter box and was not eating or drinking anymore. Witnessing the decline of an animal who you’ve lived with and cared for for 14 years is agonizing. An experience I have not had until now. After calling the vet and hearing her say, “Ahora”, (now) I felt a rush of relief to end his suffering and quickly loaded him into his crate to do what I felt was the most humane thing to do for him.

Fast forward, because I will save you the details of the visit to the vet. Although, I must tell you about a little puppy that I had seen on Monday when I was there. This puppy was so sick, near death on Monday. He was hooked up to an IV, laying in the crate, motionless, and the vet did not have high hopes for him. This morning when I showed up, that same Siberian Husky puppy was running around the yard looking as chipper as could be. He ran right up to me and stood right by my legs during the procedure making me smile every time I looked down at his adorable , happy face. What a little angel, I really needed that puppy and he somehow seemed to know that. Sigh. And one more thing..the vet did not want to charge me…so sweet! I of course insisted and gave her $20.00. She was gentle, caring and very professional.

Entonce (then), I called Scott and told him I was on my way up to the property. We had decided we would bury our sweet kitty in a peaceful spot up on our property so he’ll always be with us. Here’s where I fall in love with my husband even more than I ever thought I could. When I got up there I saw Scott grab a shovel and wait for me to get out of the car. We walked to the spot, a lovely, peaceful , shady spot that is the point where two peaceful creeks meet, under a bunch of trees. He began to dig the grave as I stood there, tears slowly falling down my face. As the hole began to get deeper I looked at Scott and he had tears falling down his face as he was digging….Sigh, Oh how I adore that man! We buried Midnight with much love and will always remember him with fondess. Even though he sometimes liked to bite us and often scratched things that we specifically asked him not to scratch, and don’t even get me started about how unfriendly he was when we had company over, he really only liked me and Scott,(Shrug, the cat had good taste, what can I say!)….And Pat will remember how much he liked to sit on the couch with her when she lived with us. Midnight just loved to torment Molly the dog and jump out at her when she least expected it. We lovingly called him our “Face-kitty” because he just loved to nuzzle up to our face and to be kissed right on his forehead and don’t’ even get me started about how much that silly cat loved my hair, while I was sleeping! Uggggg! Yes, he will be in our memories forevermore. We miss him already and so does Copper, his brother. Having a pet is a huge responsibility as well as a great honor. Animals love us unconditionally and with such abandon they add such joy and fullness to our lives. I’m so glad to have been blessed to have loved Midnight in spite of having also had to feel the painful sting of losing him. It’s hard, but it’s also a good time to celebrate my lovely pet who lived with us and who gave us so much pleasure and made our house feel like home.

Yesterday, (Monday), could be called a “Bad” day…But honestly, It was pretty “Good” in many ways…

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The really ‘bad’ thing about yesterday was that I was trying to deal with a very sick little cat. As you know we brought our two cats with us from the states when we relocated to Boquete. They are litter-mates and they’re 14 years old. I know, not young guys. The transition has gone fairly smoothly for them. The worst part of the whole move for them was the actual day of the move, it was a very long and grueling day. But now we’ve been settled and they seem like their old selves, lounging about all day and running around at night doing who knows what. Taking the occasional break to jump on our bed and make sure we are awake and ready to pet them. They’ve always been very cuddly guys in the evenings when we sit down to watch a little tv. We almost always each have a cat sprawled across our laps. Many nights I’m the Cat lady, and both cats are somehow smothering me in my chair. One on the back of the chair and one on my lap. Yes, so far the cats have been just as happy as can be. But being 14 years old we expected them to start having some sort of health problems sooner than later. It turns out Midnight is the one who has started to show his age. Poor guy. He’s really sick.

I won’t go into all the symptoms, I’ll just say I suspected that his Kidneys or liver have begun to shut down. So I decided it was time to get him to a vet. Oh, boy! Where to start on my quest to find a vet? Well, I decided to ask my friend who has two dogs and a cat. Until recently they also had two cats but lost one to a very similar fate as I am currently dealing with. I’ve read various things on blogs and forums about different vets here, some good, some not so good. My friend sent me a list of all the vets , with phone numbers, locations, what language they speak and she suggested one that she likes best. Of course on the paper she forwarded to me it says..”.Right now, he’s the best of the worst vets around……ask q’s. He’s very personable and believable, just always be skeptical”…(this is a good place for an Eye Roll!) This particular vet is in David, about a 35-40 minute drive , so I loaded my poor little kitty into his crate and headed down the hill with my Google map printed out, ready to attempt to find the vet. Of course before leaving I tried the 3 phone numbers I had on the sheet my friend emailed me, but alas! none of them were right! Ugggg! After asking my friend if she might have a different number, she told me she didn’t think I would need an appointment . So off I went.

I’ve told you before about my dread of driving in strange places. I really hate it. My friend had offered to come with me but Damn it! I hate being a wimp and I really need to learn how to drive in that darn city and stop feeling so nervous about it. The best way to do that is to just do it, right! So I set off, map in hand and I , of course, did not have an easy time. Because, of course, there are no GD street signs here! I know, Get over it! Okay….So I pulled over and opened up a great app, WAZE! It really helped me navigate my way and after taking many deep breaths and trying not to be a big baby and cry….low and behold I see the sign!! WHoooHooo!! I did it! I surprised myself and felt so good! There was one other car in front of the office and I saw a lady exiting the building….I also saw a “CERRADO” sign in the window! ARGGGG! Nooooo! They can not be closed! Holy crap! I got out of the car and the lady, a very friendly gringo lady, said, “They’re closed because of Carnival!” Ohhhhh! (Trying really really hard not to let the tears start!) This lady , Edna was her name. Was so kind. She had a big black lab in her back seat and she told me there was another good vet in town and started to tell me where it was. I can only imagine how pathetic I must have looked, being a very caring and obviously intuitive woman, she stopped, mid-direction, and said,”Oh, follow me, I’ll guide you there.” Deep sigh! “Oh, really? Oh my gosh! Thank you soooo much!” And off we went weaving in and out of streets and through David to the other vet. And Dontcha know….”Cerrado!” Yep! Closed! Okayyyyy! This was obviously not meant to be, but I have to say, I’m so glad to have gotten to meet Edna! What a sweet lady. We chatted a little while standing outside the second closed vet and when I introduced myself to her she told me she has 6 dogs and she has one named Holly. Hah! It’s times like that when I’m struck by just how many truly kind and generous people there are in the world. To have a complete stranger make me feel as though she cared about my situation and take time to help me, just warms my heart to no end. I am sad to say, I neglected to get her email address or phone number, I hope I run into her again someday. She even took the time to lead me back to the highway so I could easily make my way back up to Boquete. We said our goodbyes and I continued to follow her until making it to the highway and then waved a goodbye as I drove off on my way.

So Two strikes! My friend had also mentioned a vet in Boquete who is not actually a full-fledged Vet, but a Vet Tech. I was feeling pretty desperate and decided I would just drive by here office and see if she were open. I really needed to have someone take a look at my poor little lethargic cat who had not made one little peep the entire time in the car. Mind you, Midnight would normally be meowing and howling like he were dyeing. I found the office, no problem,and she was open! Not only was she open but there were two other people waiting outside for her. I spoke with these people, who all just raved about how much they liked this vet (or vet tech). Again, I had just run in to more nice people who I got to chat with. One man with a very strong southern accent was with a young woman with a tiny white dog. And another couple a gringo man and a Panamanian women had brought their neighbors dog in because he had a broken leg. Apparently the neighbor was handicapped and couldn’t get the dog to the vet. All these people were obviously very much “Animal” people and were very concerned about caring for the animal they had brought to see this vet tech. You can see where I’m going with this post….meeting all these nice, caring , generous people made a day that I may have otherwise labeled as pretty “Bad” and turned it into a “Good” day.

The Panamanian lady with the Neighbors dog even stayed to help me communicate my cats symptoms to the vet before she left. Staying for a really long time with me to make sure I was okay. I must say, the vet tech was extremely caring and knowledgable and I felt as though Midnight were in good hands. I don’t know why I didn’t go to her right away, I guess the fact that she isn’t really a full-fledged vet, made me nervous. She told me that because he is such an old cat the prognosis was not good, which I knew. She said he was anemic and very dehydrated and she hooked him up to an IV and began to give him fluids. She recommended a prescription cat food and a supplement that she said would be good to give him. All of which she said I could buy from the pet store in town. I spent two hours in her office and she gave him an IV of fluids and it only cost me$20.00! Yea! Panama! I was not wrong about my suspicion about his organs shutting down. He is on a downward spiral and , sadly it’s just a matter of time. Sigh. I’ve never had a pet for 14 years and seeing an animal decline is heart wrenching.

So, to say I had a day mixed with both good and bad moments would be an understatement. To feel the kindness of strangers is a gift. I feel so grateful to have been the recipient of so much generosity. Also I feel so grateful to my pet loving friend who has been incredibly encouraging and just today gave me really good advice about how to know when it’s “Time”. She says when you see that your pet can no longer do the things he loves to do, thats a good indication that it may be time to step in and do the most humane thing possible. Whew, sometimes its great to just talk to someone who’s been there. All in all, yesterday, while I had a few challenges, I really had some great interactions with several caring people, and It just makes me smile to think about it.

Ummmm…..I’m not proud of this….

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Okay, I’m gonna share a gross thing that happened but, remember….I warned you, it’s gross! I don’t know if this is a normal thing that just happens to everyone… no matter where you live or if it’s a function of my being just an incredibly lousy housekeeper (which could quite possibly be the case!) or could it be that this occurrence was a function of living in a more humid, tropical climate? Of course there’s the possibility that this gross development occurred as a direct result of my lack of proper knowledge in the area of hand washing dishes (a domestic Goddess, I am not!) . Specifically , the maintenance and care of the hand dish washing “equipment”, the drying rack , (eye roll!) this could quite possibly be part of the reason this awful, disgusting event occurred in my kitchen! My inexperience of living without a dishwasher (I KNOW!, No Dishwasher….JEEESH!) therefore requiring me to own that darn drying rack thingy, conveniently located on the counter next to the sink . That little black drying rack sits right next to the sink at all times, just waiting for the clean, wet dishes to be stacked up there to dry. Oh how I miss my dishwasher…Sigh! Anyways, as I was saying….I had a rather traumatizing and deeply upsetting, even disgusting (you get the idea…it wasn’t good) event that has to do with my lovely new friend, the drying rack. Have I caused enough suspense? Or have I just managed to be terribly annoying and whiny? Well, that’s because I’ve been trying to give all of my sensitive readers enough time to run fast away from the screen that your reading these words on….okay, here it goes….

It happened several months ago and I’m only just now able to talk about it. As I was cleaning the kitchen , putting away all the dry dishes I casually noticed that the little black tray that sits under the drying rack to catch the dripping water off of the clean dishes was full of water. I had not really ever paid much attention to that before, just letting all that water sit there. “Hmmmm? I wonder how long that water’s been sitting there?” After emptying the rack I decided to pour that old water into the white sink and as I dumped the water I was horrified to discover that along with the water came a bunch of little, tiny black worms!!! YIKES!! UGGGGGG! BLAAAAAA!!! !@#$ EWWWWWW! Gross! Oh my gosh! And my clean dishes were just sitting above all those worms! How long has that been going on???? Well, has this ever happened to you? I just about lost my breakfast! I of course opened up the cabinet below the sink and grabbed the bleach and soaked that dish rack in Bleach! And then I had to rewash everything in the kitchen!! I gotta admit, I’m not the most fanatical clean freak but…. worms!!! Ya, that discovery really necessitated a major cleaning and sanitizing binge! Ewww! (shiver!) Needless to say, I now have a very clean drying rack that gets rinsed off and thoroughly dried after every use now. Now, that’s what I call a ‘Live & Learn’ experience! Things really seem to grow fast here, even worms! But who knows how long I had let water sit in the bottom of that drying rack! (looking up to the heavens…) Oh how I’ve learned sooooo many interesting things on this Adventure! But, I’m hoping future lessons don’t’ include worms!

As you can see, I have a few things to learn about being in charge of the house cleaning! It just may be about time for me to hire someone else to do such things! I’ve just never been destined to be a homemaker, of this I am most certain. I’m not bad at going to the market to buy groceries or working in the garden, and I can set a beautiful dinner table, I like to think of myself as a pretty good decorator too, but my cleaning skills, I will readily admit, are greatly lacking! I can fake it and tidy everything up just before someone comes over but that day to day, regular deep cleaning….ya….I’ve just never been one to spend much time stressing over that sort of thing. This fact may be a function of being a full time professional and single mother for most of my adult life. I never had the pleasure of spending all that much time at home except for after a long day at work, only to get home and figure out what to feed my daughter. And then of course, when Scott came along (when Mariah was 7 years old), we would all get home from our long day and roll right into preparing dinner. The house was a place to eat and sleep. This new Adventure has really changed all that for me. I gotta admit, I’m actually enjoying all this domestic junk that I’ve never had time or energy to do. Of course, I could use a little work on keeping the worms from growing in the kitchen, but aside from that little drama, I’m feeling pretty good these days.

I’ve always told myself that I hated cooking and cleaning and caring for the maintenance of the home. But realistically, when did I ever in my life have a lot of time to do such things? Never! I’m gonna tell you something that may shock you, if you know me at all….I’m actually doing more cooking that Scott is!!! Yes! You read that right! (eye roll!) Now, don’t misunderstand me…I did not say I was doing it “WELL”! I’ve managed to keep the guy reasonably fed, and he hasn’t even gotten sick or anything….although…..just yesterday my friend Andrea did just say..”Boy, Scott’s really lost a lot of weight!” Well…..I don’t think that has anything to do with my cooking!! (HEY! No laughing!!!) He’s just getting a lot of exercise lately! I get up every morning with him at 6:00 and I make him a nice breakfast…And then, everyday at 12:00 I four wheel it up to the property, set up two folding chairs in the shade with the cooler and bring him a nice lunch! Crazy, huh! But I’m really enjoying it! I do all the grocery shopping and come up with menu’s for the week and your not gonna believe this…I even bake him homemade peanut butter cookies all the time!! Yep!!! It’s true! This retirement thing has been a major shift in my life in countless ways! It wasn’t long ago that I was bemoaning figuring out what my new “Path” was gonna be….well, my day’s are quickly filling up and a rhythm is beginning to set in. This new rhythm is quite pleasing to me in so many ways.

Many of my fellow bloggers and expats have assured me that a day would come when I would wonder where the time was going….well, here it is! Between being in charge of keeping some semblance of order in our home life, keeping laundry done, making sure there’s food in the house, feeding Scott, attempting to keep the house at least sorta clean (eye roll!) And then being the only one of us who can run around trying to get all the banking and visa busywork done, and let’s not forget my new exercise routine (Zumba 2 times a week and soon to be working with a trainer to up my routine!) and my new English students which is a couple hours every day but Friday. Whew! I tell ya….my days really fly by! So can ya give me a little slack on my negligence with the kitchen worm farm?? No? Ya…I gotta agree, that was kinda over the top disgusting…..”What?”…. did you say I need to get a cleaning lady? I could not agree more wholeheartedly! I’ll get right on that! But first I’m committed to doing a bit of schlepping for Scott today….remember, sand, gravel, concrete? Ya, that’s today! But before I leave the house I’ll make sure that damn drying rack is clean and dry! Ugggg!