The Sounds Of A Sunday Evening…
Dogs Barking in the distance . Birdsong filling the air. The wind gently moving the trees and the windchimes on the terrace. But mostly…Drums, Beating, Drums…in the distance yet sounding as though they were right next door. My how sound does travel! We are several miles up the hill, in Jaramillo. Above the town and boy are the drummers having quite a good time practicing their chops! Drumming is a very popular pastime here. I’m not even sure ‘pastime’ is correct. They take their drumming very seriously here in Panama. And this is the time of year that the real practice begins in earnest. Beginning right now but especially in November when the holidays begin, Boquete is filled with the sounds of these drums. I’m sure I’m just imagining it, but I could swear that the beat is exactly the same for hours on end. Hah! The beat will fade for a moment and then it begins again…boom de boom de boom de boom….boom de boom de boom de boom boom boom de boom …..Oh, and just now the church bells are chiming in! Well….aren’t Sundays peaceful…:) I’m not being sarcastic…I really mean it…Birds singing, wind chimes twinkling, wind rustling through the trees, dogs barking, and drums a drummin’….then, enter the church bells a chimin’! Ahhhhh…..How great is it that I have the time to sit on the terrace and take it all in… It’s coming up on 6:00 in the evening and the sun has been shining all day long. This day has been a gloriously relaxing , do nothing sort of day for us. We have so few of these days. It seems our days just fly by lately. So I find myself taking in each and every aspect of this beautiful mountain paradise. Oh…..my….I hear HORNS joining in with the drums!! HUH? Nice touch! …..what was I saying?….Oh, I love taking in all the lovely aspects of life in the highlands of Panama. This morning began with walking out of my bedroom and seeing the blue, cloudless sky with the majestic Volcan Baru looking down on me from the big picture window as I made a b-line for the coffee. Will that view ever become something I don’t gasp at when I see it? Oh…. well….I wonder if the church is competing with the drums and the horns right now! Hah! ” Ohhhh Panama! “….. As my friend Emma so lovingly says when she’s struck by something so uniquely and genuinely….Panama. I just can’t think of any place I’d rather be right this minute than sitting right here right now! Life is good…and a little drummers drumming makes it even better….mixed in with the occasional dog barking and the Birds chirping….Can you hear it?
Practicing my Spanish….
I’ve been finding all sorts of new opportunities to practice speaking spanish. Unfortunately I haven’t had any time to get together with my two Panamanian girlfriends to practice since moving to Jaramillo Centro. Living right next to our casita project makes it much easier for me to help Scott in many different ways so I’ve been busier than ever now. No longer do I only make lunch and take care of banking and bookkeeping. Nope..now many mornings I drive into town to pick up our workers and I also started to help transport materials up to our work site. So, what does this have to do with my Spanish practice? Well, you see….this means I’m in a car with spanish speakers! And they’re trapped with me! Whahahahah! Soooooo I muddle through trying to chit chat in spanish with them. Hah! When I’m driving the truck up and down our hill Edgar rides with me and we talk about his family in Bocas del Toro, or about his hobbies or my hobbies, about California, about music and all sorts of different things. I know my grammar is hideous and I sound like a two year old, but I really love to keep practicing. Then in the mornings and the evenings our other two workers are trapped in the car with me, so I try my best to chat with them, now, they are much more like my husband….not big chatters!! Pffffffft! I don’t let that stop me…noooo! I ask them millions of questions and I try hard to think up something…anything to talk about on our ride down the hill, boy do they jump out of my car quickly when I get to town! Now that Kat & Al have left us in charge of their house I’m managing her two gardeners and her cleaning lady…all of whom I am torturing with my bad Spanish! I love it! Read the rest of this entry
Yes, that’s right, I said, “Shoes”. I know, you thought you were reading a blog about expatriating to Panama…but I happen to think my adaptation to very different shoes is relevant to my subject matter…really! So, this morning I was walking up to our little casita, prepared to do some work with Scott. As I was walking up the hill… and, when I say,”up the hill”, I mean up, up, up the hill… we are in the mountains, remember? Ahem… Like I was saying…As I was walking up the hill I looked down at my hiking boots and I thought to myself ,”my how my wardrobe has changed”. My hiking boots used to be something I would put on my feet only once in a great while. Back when we were living in the Silicon Valley, working our butts off to afford to live there, we had very little time for a hiking. Once in awhile we’d carve out a Sunday afternoon hike at Castle Rock State park or we might take a long weekend and go to Yosemite and do a little hiking. But those boots, which I’ve had for several years, are finally beginning to look well worn, and let me tell you, before we moved, those poor hiking boots hadn’t really gotten much use at all. I can remember wiping the accumulated dust from them a few times when I dug them out for a hike. And they never really felt especially comfy, but, nowadays, my hiking boots are a daily wardrobe choice for me . Just this morning I was marveling to myself, (cuz’ I do a lot of “marveling” these days!)… I was marveling to myself, about just how comfy my boots are now that they are an everyday footwear choice for me. Very different style choice from what I used to wear to the salon everyday for nearly 30 years. Read the rest of this entry
Summary (I’ll try to summarize!) of our experience getting our residency visa….
I received a request from one of my readers to post a summary of our experience getting our Pensionado Visa. Obviously this process varies “a lot” for every person. There are, of course, endless different accounts of how this process goes, some good and some not so good, some easy and smooth (although not many!) and some complicated and frustrating as hell (Some serious Tranquilo killers!) . In the end, so much seems to depend upon the attorney you use because they set the pace, and will guide you, or let you flounder, during the entire process. I’ve heard nightmare stories of attorneys giving bad advice or just not doing their jobs. Some who have been through the process read my account and wonder why it was a bit more complicated than it was for them. One things for sure, anything I tell you about my experience will not be the same for you. It’s important to keep in mind that you can’t count on any other persons tale to be what you will experience. Unlike some places in the world where there are clear and concise processes in place and you have access to all the answers to all your questions, here, one seems to just muddle through as best you can and just try to hold onto some semblance of ’Tranquilo’…Good luck with that! Hah! Read the rest of this entry
A couple of days ago we heard from our attorney that our Permanent Pensionado Visa was ready! I was really surprised it was ready so fast. I fully expected it to take several months, we just submitted our application in early July. So, a trip to Panama City to pick up our visa was in order. Given what happened last time we left our employees alone, we really wanted to get this trip done with as few days away from the job site as possible. So we decided to leave early on Sunday morning and return as soon as we got done at immigration on Monday. We got up early on Sunday and drove down to town, parked my car near the central park area and got on the 6:30a.m. bus to David, this takes about an hour. Then we bought our tickets and were on the 8:30 bus to Panama City. Our bus ride into the city went really smoothly, the bus was very comfortable and it only took 7 hours instead of the 8 hours it has taken with all the construction on the PanAmerican highway. Read the rest of this entry
An Interesting Experience…
Yesterday (Thursday) we were heading down to David to pick up some items from Elmec that we had ordered for the workshop studio. One of our workers, Aquiles, asked if he could come along because he needed to buy something. We of course agreed to take him with us. Let me tell you a little bit about Aquiles. He’s one of our Indigenous workers. We have two Panamanians and three Indigenous who work for us. For those of you who don’t know, Panama has several different tribes of Indigenous Indians native to the country. There are several different and distinct tribes many of whom live on lands set aside for them by the government called , Comarca’s. These lands are very similar to the reservations in the U.S. set aside for Native American Indians, although I assume these are much more remote and undeveloped, many have no electricity or running water. A large majority of the indigenous here in Boquete work as farm hands for the many coffee plantations , often seasonal workers traveling back and forth to their comarcas. The Finca owners usually provide very modest housing, or dormitories for these workers. They are almost always very poor and uneducated, and I think I can say correctly that none of them have cars or drive. I don’t consider myself an especially knowledgable person on this subject so I’m only telling you what I’ve learned and observed since living here. Read the rest of this entry
Scott giving the driver directions to follow us..
the delivery truck
As you know, Scott is in the process of building his 2,000sq.ft. workshop…a serious ‘man-cave’ if I’ve ever heard of one! Sheesh! At the moment they are building the walls and the next step will be to install the supports for the mezzanine section of his workshop. This will be an upper area of the main workshop that will be for wood storage. He wanted to make it strong enough to hold a substantial amount of wood given the fact that he’ll likely be leaving the wood up there to dry out. Living in the tropics the wood is pretty wet and requires some time to dry before he can build things. The strength of this particular area of the workshop is going to come from eight forty foot steel ibeams installed up under the roof, on the top of the walls. So, he’s been shopping around, asking a lot of questions and doing a ton of mathematical equations on his computer to come up with the right dimensions to get the support he needs. After figuring out what he needed and then finding a source to buy it he then had to figure out how to get those puppies up our hill! Sheeesh! We just an’t do anything the ‘easy’ way! Nope! As usual, the delivery truck would never be able to make it up to our property so Scott had to come up with a way to get that steel up there….. Read the rest of this entry
Well, that was fast! I must admit, I didn’t expect this container shipment to go so smoothly. I was stunned when today we got a phone call from Brent, the Liaison with Ranier Shipping, who called and said,” are you on your way to the storage?” I said, Ummmm, I can be!” He said,”We’re here,at Chiriqui Storage”…You can imagine my shock! It’s true, our container actually arrived and has now been emptied into our storage here in Panama. I don’t know why I was so hesitant to have high expectations with this shipping experience, it’s all done and all went very smoothly. Read the rest of this entry
Well, Lot’s of stuff has been going on lately. I’ll try to catch you up on some of our latest news and happenings. I was just mentioning to Kat that my brain feels as if it’s on overload this week because there’s just so much rumbling through my head. besides settling into living in a different house and figuring out where to put all our stuff, we’ve still been trying to figure out all the repercussions of our truck accident. Trying to take care of all the legal issues with discontinuing employment with the young man who was involved. And learning all the ins and outs of how car insurance works here in Panama. Read the rest of this entry
I haven’t had much time or energy lately to write many posts. I’ve written quite a bit when I’m sitting in the truck waiting for the next load of sand or rock or bricks to be loaded or unloaded in between driving Edgar up and down our road, but for some strange reason I haven’t posted them????? I don’t really know why, but today I was thinking and I realized…”Hey!I think I’m having a bit of a transition!” Read the rest of this entry
Did I mention we’re moving again? Yes, I think I did. Well, I just can’t believe we’ve already been in this wonderful house for ten months. Time has flown by so fast and tonight is our last night here. We started moving our belongings out yesterday. We have two storage units reserved at Chiriqui Storage in Dolega, in preparation for the arrival of our container. So we decided that our storage units would be the best place to put all the things we have purchased for the casita but aren’t quite ready to use yet. Things like the kitchen sink, bathroom fixtures, toilet, garbage disposal, and of course all those great light fixtures I bought on my visit to Panama City, just to list a few things. So we loaded up our two cars and made a very early visit to storage. We knew we needed to get there early because it was the first Sunday of the month and they host a big flea market there. We got to Chiriqui Storage at 7:00a.m. and managed to unload all that stuff and haul ass outta there before the crowds began to form for the flea market.
Did I tell you yet where we will be living? Well, as you may know our little casita should be ready for us to move into it by January-ish. I’ve probably mentioned our new neighbors Allen & Kathy. They own the property just below ours and we’ve all become fast friends. They’ve had us over to their place several times for Happy Hour and they’ve joined us at our place for the few gatherings we’ve had in our nearly done casita. A few months back while enjoying one of those ‘Happy Hours’ at their house they totally surprised us by inviting us to move into their house! Yep! You see, they haven’t quite made living here permanent , yet. They still have a home in Virginia and only spend a few months out of the year living here in Boquete. Although they plan to eventually make Boquete a permanent home, for now they enjoy spending extended vacations here. We were so pleasantly surprised by such a generous offer. Living in their house will be so nice for us. We’ll be right next door to our project, making it much easier to keep an eye on things and making Scott’s commute to the job much much shorter.
Kathy & Allen leave to go back to the States in September. So we will all four + Copper, be roommates for the next three weeks. I sure hope we don’t drive them crazy. I’m pretty sure Copper will be hiding under the covers on the bed for at least the first week or so, he really really hates change. Poor kitty. Luckily Kathy is a cat lover, well, actually, she’s an animal lover, and so our little kitty will be very welcome in their home. And then they will be returning to Boquete right about the same time that we’re hoping to be able to move into our little casita. It’s truly amazing sometimes how things work out so well. To tell you the truth, although we had this move sort of looming in the back of our minds, we never really worried about where we would go. And out of the blue this wonderful arrangement just fell in our laps. I’m smiling as I write this because It makes me feel so happy to have such great new friends in our lives already. And the fact that we will be neighbors is a bonus!
So, today we took most of our clothes over there as well as some boxes of our bookkeeping things for our employees. We will put most of our nonperishable kitchen stuff n our storage and bring fridge stuff and things that Scott uses to cook with, spices and things. It’s pretty amazing how much we have accumulated in the year we’ve been here. We really don’t want to clutter up Kathy & Allen’s place so we’re trying to just brings the bare necessities . But, the ‘bare necessities’ look to be like kind of a lot of crap! Sheesh!! I’m sure once I get organized all will be well, but at the moment I feel a bit discombobulated. I really have to say, I hate moving. And we aren’t even done yet! We still have to move into the casita in January and then it may be a year or so before we are ready to move into our main house. Then that should be it! No more moving for us!
Well, this is what I’m up to these days. I’ve been so busy and I have so many other things to share but have not had the time or the energy to write about it all. We’ve gotten our Panamanian Driver’s licenses and I must tell you all about that. As soon as we’re all settled into our new living arrangement I’ll be writing more. I didn’t even tell you much about our trip back to the states.. sheesh. We got back to Boquete and just seemed to have tumbled right into so many different things. I gotta tell ya, this so called ‘retired’ life….it’s exhausting ! Hah!
Yesterday (Wed) was my first full day helping out at our project. Since we’ve lost our only other driver Scott was trying to figure out how he was going to get his projects done that he’s working on in the casita when he needs to keep the supply of sand, gravel and cement up at the top of the property and still get his own projects done. So, I said, “I can help!” I can drive the truck up and down all day while the guys load and unload. I’ve actually been hoping we’d reach a point in the project when I could actually start helping and here’s my opportunity.
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