Wow! So Much Has Been Going On, Where Do I Begin…


I’ll begin with my continuation of Spanish classes, which I started about three weeks ago. Scott and I had taken twenty weeks of Spanish classes when we first arrived, which left our brains spinning! We learned so much an then decided it was time to spend a little time in the real world attempting to use what we had learned. I made a few Panamanian friends who I began practicing with on a regular basis. We were getting together three days a week and just chatting . This type of practice was my most favorite because It wasn’t just learning Spanish, it was also making friends.

Fast forward to the last several months and sadly my life got so busy that my regular time with my Panamanian friends went by the wayside, darn it! After we got back from our trip to the states it seems as though our life just sort of clicked into high gear and hasn’t slowed down. We had to move from the house we were renting in Alto Lino (Bond & Luana’s house….Damn them for coming back! Hah! But….I have fallen head over heals for them so all is forgiven! hah!), to our friends Al & Kat’s house near our construction site. We had the truck incident to deal with and our container arriving, and then with me now living so near to our project I was able to get a bit more involved. No longer just driving over for lunch, I started being the ‘material shlepping gal’ and the ‘lovely assistant’ for Scott.

It has felt so good to be around the property more and to be more involved helping where I can has really been great! I was continuing to get a good amount of Spanish practice with our workers but it was not nearly as fun as sitting around with Aris and Rosemary and having fun girl time along with my Spanish learning. I hope I can get back to that again sometime because my time with these two lovely women was such a light in my life and I miss them terribly. So, I’m back at Habla Ya, spending time learning again…well, trying to learn! Ugh! All my previous experience at the school was in private one on one classes which I really liked, now I’m in a group class and there are six of us in the class. All of us are residence here in Boquete, some newbies and some seasoned expats who have lived here over 10 years. I was nervous at first because I am such a slow learner and I didn’t want to hold up the class or fall behind. But, It’s turned out to be such a great group of people! I’m making new friends and really enjoying my three mornings a week learning with these people. I also have to say that I just adore my teacher, Tamara. Like all the other teachers I’ve had at Habla Ya, she is excellent! She’s smart and funny and she’s a great teacher. I’m always so impressed with the teachers at this School. The class is 10 weeks total and its going by so fast! I’m learning a lot but the part of learning a language that I think is the most important is to practice! Living here in Panama there’s lots of opportunity to do just that and one opportunity this week was getting my very first haircut at a salon as a client!

That’s the next part of what I’ve been up to…getting my very first Panama Haircut! I’ve nearly been living here for a year and a half and I have yet to have gotten my hair cut, well, Mariah did cut it when she was visiting in May, so I wasn’t totally out of control! Just minimally out of control! For those of you who don’t know me well, you must understand that I grew up in salons. Both my parents were stylists and my Dad owned a very busy salon my entire life! Then I became a stylist myself and owned a salon and worked in the industry for nearly 30 years. Which means that I’ve never had to be a client in a salon in my entire life! That explains why getting my haircut by a total stranger was a huge milestone for me. Now, I know other retired stylists here and I know I could have easily asked a good friend to cut my hair, but I really wanted to experience what its like to go to a salon here in Boquete. And I like the idea of supporting a young Panamanian stylist.

So, my friend Luana went to get her hair done not long after moving here. She stumbled across Luris because her salon is right next door to a Tipico Panamanian restaurant called Sabrasón where Luana and Bond like to eat . Luana ended up getting a whole new hair color and I have to tell you, I knew when I saw her hair that whoever had done it was a very talented stylist. Now, I must tell you that while I’m always looking for opportunities to practice speaking Spanish, I was a little bit relieved to be going with Luana to visit Luris because Luana is a fluent Spanish speaker and it was a comfort to have her there to translate and help me to communicate about what I wanted. I think I could have muddled through, especially given the fact that I brought a bottle of wine to share with everyone while we were getting beautified! Luris speaks enough english to be able to understand so I was in good hands no matter what. I also brought my own color this time, only because I have it and when I run out I may just have her use her own color. I saw what brands she uses and they are good quality brands that I’m familiar with. But she is very happy to let people bring their own color if they want to, which is so nice.

So, while my color was on she cut Luana’s hair and blow dried Linda’s hair. Linda had gotten to the salon ahead of us and had already had her hair cut before we arrived, and she too got a marvelous do and was quite pleased. My cut turned out wonderfully and she did a very thorough job on my color application, making sure all that nasty gray hair was all gone! We all three walked out of Luris’s Salon feeling like we were just gorgeous, which we were! The name of her salon is Sherly’s , just in case any of my Boquete friends want to know. And you can’t believe the prices…a haircut was $3.50….my cut and color was $15.50, she gave me a break because I brought my own color. I really think she needs to have a little price increase! But, most of her clientele are Panamanian women and men so I bet they would not be able to afford her if she was too much more expensive. She even invited us to bring our lawn chairs in November and watch the parades from the front of her salon! That sounds like fun!

So, spanish class, new haircut….what else has been going on…well, we’ve had a wonderful couple visiting for this past month. I ‘met’ T and Linda through my blog. I swear, I meet the coolest people through this darn blog! They started following my blog a while back and we corresponded through my blog and then via email before they came to visit. They’ve been considering making a move like we did and so they arranged to come and stay in Boquete for a month to see how they liked it. Well, Boy have they had a great time! Its funny, the first week they were here I think they were a bit bored. But, that did not last long at all! They ended up having so much fun and meeting endless amounts of new friends who they will now be sad to leave(they leave tomorrow…Sigh!) . We had lots of fun exploring together and they got to do and see so much, their heads must be spinning. I took them, along with Bond & Luana and my friends Andrea, Kris and her friend Cheryl, to visit Raquel and to meet her sloths and other creatures. What fun to share this experience with my friends. To have the opportunity to hold these animals is such a rare pleasure and quite possibly even a once in a lifetime experience. As if that was not enough fun for one day, on our way to Volcan, which is about an hour drive through a very lush area, we made a stop to see Machu De Monte (I may have spelled that wrong, forgive me if I did). This is a wonderful place , it’s a slot canyon that you can look at both from the road as well as a short hike down to see it up close. Words just don’t really do it justice and so I hope I’ll have photos soon. But , we hiked down together and had a little adventure to see this spectacular natural wonder. Oh, man, this place is just filled with such amazing spots to show people.

So, Spanish classes, a new hair cut, hugging sloths, exploring a slot canyon…what else….Oh yes! A wonderful hike with this same group of adventurers. This was a very easy hike through a farm and up into this very beautiful jungle area and at the end of the hike is a spectacular waterfall! But I think the part of this hike that I really loved was when we were walking back through the jungle we heard a noise which words will never be able to describe. The only word I can use to describe this sound is, Haunting…and Luana told us it is the sound of the famously illusive bird called the Quetzal. I have never seen this bird in real life, I’ve only seen photos of it and I was soooo sure this was IT! I was finally going to see this wonderful creature. It is a large bird with lots of very bright colors, Bright turquoise and red and green feathers and a long long tail. If Luana had not known the call of the bird we never would have known what it was…we all stopped talking and craned our necks to try to spot it…but, sadly the Quetzal remains illusive! We never saw it! Darn it! But I’ll keep looking and now I know what the bird call sounds like, which will be a big help. I must say, even though I was not able to see the bird, the sound that it makes was just so amazing. Have I mentioned how much I love nature! I am constantly blown away by the magnificence of all that surrounds me here. Its just that much more wonderful to get to share these adventures with friends who also appreciate just how lucky we all are to be living here!

So, Spanish class, new Hairdo, hugging sloths, exploring a slot canyon, hiking to waterfalls and listening to the call of the illusive Quetzal….ummmmm what else have I been up to? Oh! Yes, we just had our second Mondongata! The traditional Panamanian celebration of the completion of a new Techo! The roof of the workshop is up and boy did we do our very best to celebrate Panamanian style! This time we told our guys to bring their wives so I ordered enough Mondongo , rice, beans and salad from a restaurant in town to feel 20 people. And for our Gringo friends who appreciate a little less ‘cow stomachy’ menu we made enchiladas and guacamole, and a seven layer taco dip with chips. Al & Sela brought their delicious Jalepeńo poppers which are spicy deliciousness! I made brownies and my friend Luana who is the queen of the kitchen, I may add, made a traditional tres leche cake! That cake was to die for! I tell ya! But, a party is not complete without 6 or 7 cases of cold beer! And enough wine to keep the non beer drinkers happy. Which we also made sure to provide, of course plenty of soda and water too. Only one wife came to the party, and one guy brought his brother and another brought his neighbors. Well, I suspect they can let their hair down more without the wives! Hah! And they did, “let their hair down”! I had borrowed a dart board and my friend Eric who is the master of having fun games to play, gave me a wonderful game involving a brass ring attached to a long string, hanging from the ceiling, you must swing the ring toward the wall where there is a small hook that you try to hit with the ring…hard to picture, but pretty challenging and lot’s of fun. Everybody ate, drank, and enjoyed the evening.

Because of the remoteness of our property and the very bad road leading to the workshop, we had our friends leave their cars down here at Al & Kats place and we shuttled everyone up (Except for Al & Sela who are pro’s at navigating Bad roads!) . One must be a pretty confident 4 by 4 driver to make the drive up to the very top where the workshop is. I’m shocked and to be honest kinda proud of just how good I’ve gotten at this ‘advanced’ 4 wheeling’! Haha! And we of course drove all the workers up as well. Which meant that at the end of the party we were both the shuttle drivers. We drove all our friends down to their cars and then later, when the guys had done a thorough job of drinking up all the beer and hanging on Scott telling him how much they liked working for him…Ahem…Scott hates being the center of attention and at this party he was the star of the show so he was not in his element at all. Add to the fact that we both had to watch our alcohol intake and you can understand when I say, although Scott enjoyed giving the guys a party, it was not his favorite way to spend an evening! Hah! He had about 6 wasted Panamanians all speaking at the same time, and all expressing just how “muy contento” they all are to be working for him! Ohhhhh Scott! They kept wanting to take photos and there was much slapping on the back and lots of drunken smiles all around.

Oh yes! We hosted a successful Mondongata and the new Techo has been celebrated and given what a stormy day it turned into, it was a great thing we had such a big roof to keep us all dry. But, the end of the night was quite funny for me because I was the lucky one to have five drunk Panamanians in my car to drive down the hill! Oh boy, you really have not lived until you’ve experienced this! I don’t think I’ll ever have enough Spanish to ever understand whats being said to me in a situation such as this. All five guys happily chatting to me, all I could make out was the familiar phrase, “Muy Contento!” And of course lot’s of “Muchas Gracias!” As they all sort of stumbled out of my car with their tupperware containers of leftover mondongo, I was really really glad none of them drive! But a little sorry to know they all had been paid that day and none of them had wives to keep them from enjoying the rest of the evening at the bar right down the street! Oh boy! Do ya think that could be why they opted to leave the wives at home? Very likely indeed! 🙂

Life is not boring here! I’ve written before about all the many friends who had asked me before we made this move, “Aren’t you afraid you might be bored?”….If you’re bored living here, there is something terribly wrong with you! I swear, there are endless things to do and so many wonderful people to do them with. We’ve done so much in this first year and a half and the list of things we still want to do just doesn’t seem to get any shorter. Another thing I must mention is the quality connections we are making with all the people we know here. The Panamanians and Expats alike. When I think about the great friends we have already made and all the truly amazing people we know here, I can not help but smile! Amidst all the many many things that we’ve had to adapt to and some quite difficult cultural adjustments that are not easy to deal with, this new life is filled with such joy. I can not imagine what my life would be like had we just let this dream remain a dream and had never made the leap we made to make it a reality. We meant to completely change our lives and boy have we done just that! This life is becoming less new and as time is passing by familiarity is beginning to set in. I walked into a store the other day and saw the same Halloween decorations from last year and it just warmed my heart to see something familiar. As dusk is settling in and this Sunday is about to end, I look outside and see my hummingbird feeders being swarmed by about 8 hummers who frequent my feeders, the rain has been falling all afternoon and I can hear the rush of the stream near the house. Its foggy and gloomy and a little chilly ,( as a matter of fact I think I’ll go put some socks on…), right now, in this moment, I’m content and grateful for so much. But mostly I’m just pleased as punch to be sharing this wonderful adventure with Scott! Life is good, and I’m having fun!


9 responses »

  1. To think I paid $7 for my haircut, but I was in the heart of Coronado! lol And although it turned out great, I want to get the full service the next time (first I will have my stylist in the States do a once over in November, and then I will find a different one here)–meaning a shampoo, cut and blowdry and not have to stand up and bend my head over for it! Isn’t amazing how the weeks are so busy!

  2. I just love your blog! We are doing the same …moving & building in Puerto Armuelles (a cool town on the coast) and as I always say “Attitude is Everything”!!!!!
    Your attitude toward the culture, the language (I had the BEST time at Habla Ya!) the people and the adventure of moving to Panama will ensure a wonderful life here moving forward.
    I am having a fabulous time here in Puerto Armuelles, and I hope one day to meet you. In the meantime, best of luck, and enjoy the adventure!!!!!

    • Thanks for your comment! Its great to hear when people are appreciating my little blog. And How exciting! Your practically my neighbor! We haven’t explored Puerto Armuelles yet, but must do that some time. And I do home we have the opportunity to connect sometime, its always great to meet a kindred spirit! Cheers!

  3. Holly, I’m so happy for you and Scott! You always find fun things to do, I can’t imagine you being bored. Happy you found someone to do your hair.

    Love you and miss you,

  4. Hey, you forgot to report that you tried the mondongo! I saw you eat it with my own eyes 😀
    So many good things, and good times. We are so lucky to be living this life, and we sure enjoy having such great friends up the hill!

  5. Hola! Introducing myself here. We are two North American women friends moving into Jardines de Boquete Monday. Have been here for two weeks before we found a rental we liked. We were here a few months ago after spending 4 months in the Panama City area and this is our third time to Panama. We love this country and we dearly love Boquete so here we are. Such lovely people here and we look forward to perhaps meeting you at some point.
    As for mondongo, well I had to reread that word twice lol because on our last visit here, when we took the bus back to Panama, at the halfway point my friend went through the line and bought what we thought looked like some sort of chicken dish through the glass partition. Not!!! She threw it out after a couple of bites and then offering me a taste. I took one look and said, that looks like tripe! Gross lol lol. I looked it up when we got back and I was right. Not for us. LOL LOL. Guess it’s an acquired taste….
    Thanks for sharing your Panamanian adventures! I love reading others’ stories about their move into a new life. And you’re right, it’s all in your attitude about living here. Not sure many in my family would understand but I love it.

    • Well, Nice to meet ya!! Yes! I would really love to meet two such adventurous women! Please email me a private message and we must meet soon! Your accidental mondongo experience had me laughing this morning! Thanks for sharing, that’s hilarious! Talk soon!

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