For my friends and family who like to keep up on what’s going on around here, this is for you…
First I should make sure to report that at long last we have our electricity! I can hear the cheering and Whoot! Whooting! 🙂 With all the visitors we’ve had lately and so much going on around here I must admit that finally getting power up to our property is a bit anti-climatic! Sigh…But, of course we’re thrilled to have that hurdle over and done with and to finally be totally up and running with our very own power. We’re so eternally grateful to our friends and neighbors Kat & Alan for coming to the rescue and allowing us to run that ugly pipe from our house to theirs to highjack electricity from their house since November. Getting rid of that darn generator was such a godsend! And now that we are officially hooked up to the power supply we need to run all the tools in Scotts workshop, he’s up there as I’m typing this cutting plywood for the carcass’s of our kitchen cabinets in the house.
One great thing about Scotts eternal patience with all we’ve gone through to finally get our electricity installed is that we now have a friend in our electrician Yuri. He actually apologized to Scott for the time it took to complete our project and told Scott that he normally gets yelled at by impatient Gringos when things don’t go smoothly. I think he’ll be coming up again sometime to have a beer with Scott and I must say I’m so glad we didn’t burn a bridge with a good person by losing our cool over the time it took to get our power connected. Had we been jerks about it we wouldn’t be able to have a good electrician like him on our side if we ever need him. So often people who witness much of what we’ve gone through have commented on Scotts ability to maintain such an attitude of Tranquilo in the face of endless frustrations. I too, find myself in awe at times of his calm demeanor during this project. But, I’m so very proud of him for being the way that he is and for giving us Gringo’s a better reputation. Not all of us are spoiled, impatient and rude.
So often we like to laugh at the way things are done here, yes, many times the way they do things seems a little, ahem…shall we say inefficient? We shake our heads in bewildered confusion more often than I like to admit. I think it can be hard not to compare things here to how things are done in the States. But, that being said, I don’t think I can say that the way things are done in the U.S. are always necessarily better. Haven’t we all had very similarly frustrating experiences in the states? I know we have! People are people in this big world and things just don’t always happen on our own personal timeframes, so why make ourselves and everyone around us miserable….getting angry and being mean never really ends well. Of Course I suspect part of the reason its been possible for Scott to keep his cool (aside from the fact that he’s just naturally that way!) is because of the simple fact that he has a million other projects all happening at the same time so his focus never remains on something that requires a long wait. He just moves along and sets his sights on the project at hand that is moving forward and patiently waits for the one that’s requiring a long wait to finally proceed. And having electricity has now opened up a long list of projects that can begin to move forward, like Cabinetry! whoohoo!
We are getting into ‘crunch’ time because we’ve promised our casita to a couple who want to move into it by the end of April. So, we have about eight weeks to get the main house at least ‘livable’. Truth be told I’m really happy to have a timeframe to work towards. And I think we seem to be on schedule for our goal of moving in. We’ve been focusing on getting the side of the house with the two bedrooms, laundry room and one bathroom totally finished. Our plan is to have one totally functional bathroom in our guest room and we will barricade our master bath off and get to that a little later. That side of the house, except for our master bathroom, is just about done. The floor tile will begin to get installed tomorrow, they have been prepping the floor to receive tile, leveling it out and its ready to go in the morning. The walls are all painted and all the tile in the guest bath is totally done. The other side of the house (kitchen, living room, rec room) will begin to get drywall on the ceilings soon…Scott will start to install the base of the cabinets in about a week and have it totally ready to get countertops as soon as that is ready. We’ve purchased ten slabs of granite and marble which Scott will begin to fabricate as soon as we’ve transported it all from Panama City to Boquete…eye roll…here’s the story on that…ya see…in classic ‘Scott’ style he’s decided he wants to tackle the task of doing all the fabrication for all the countertops. Ugh!
So, we went to the city last week and picked out and paid for the slabs and now we’re working on a plan to bring them here, somehow! We got a quote from a guy who transports granite for the store we purchased it from but he wants $1,800.00 to deliver it to us here in Boquete. Gulp, we felt that was a bit steep. There are a few other ideas we had but they involve hiring truckers who are not experienced in transporting delicate slabs of granite and then another idea of renting a big truck ourselves. We’ve rented various different things from the places where we would rent such a truck and we’ve had really bad luck with the things we rented actually working…so,the possibility of renting a truck and having it break down somewhere between here and the city doesn’t really sound appealing. I have a feeling Scott will be driving his truck to the city for three consecutive weekends to bring them in his truck. You might be wondering how he will safely transport huge, heavy slabs of granite that need to remain upright in order to keep them from breaking? Well, ya see…when we had to go to David to pick up all our windows he had welded together a steel carrying rack that fits in the bed of his truck which he will use for the granite. But, unfortunately his truck will only carry three slabs at a time…well..some of the smaller slabs he can take four at a time. So three trips to the city…three slabs the first two trips then the four smaller ones on the third trip. Did I mention..”Ugh!” Meanwhile in preparation for all the granite work we have our welder Ricardo making a fabrication table and a storage rack for the stone. Sheesh! As if Scott didn’t already have enough projects on his plate! An update on this ….our friend Pablo managed to find a guy with a truck that can carry all our granite! The guy is willing to drive to the city and pick it up and bring it here for $700.00! Wow! So the latest is that he will come up here on Saturday and Scott will put the two racks to hold the stone in the truck. Scott will fly to the city to be there and supervise the loading of the stone, just to be sure all is well. this is a much better solution then making three trips!
There’s really no huge hurry with the granite fabrication because once the bases of the cabinets are all in and we install the appliances the kitchen will be workable. Yeah, It won’t be the first time I’ve had to make due with plywood countertops for a little while! hah! And, you may or may not remember , we have all the appliances waiting in the house all ready to be moved into place, plugged in and voila! We’re good to go! The big things that need to be completed aside from inside finish things are… The septic system needs to be completed. We’ve already finished the leach field and the hole for the septic tank is dug and ready to go, the tank is even sitting there waiting to be put into the big hole. And there is a trench being dug this very moment from the house to the workshop to connect our water supply to the house. Of course all the electrical wiring, and plumbing is already done….concrete house, remember ? All that had to be done early on in the building process here, so we need only connect it all to the main sources and boom! Done!
Well…maybe not completely, done…we still need to get the bombero’s (firemen) up here to inspect and give us a permit for our gas lines to get hooked up. And to get an occupancy permit…but, we can move in before we actually get that occupancy permit, we did the same thing in the casita. Like I said, most of the things that make a house livable are pretty darn close to being done ….water, gas, electricity, septic. Yep…I think we just might make it right under the wire for an end of April move day! Well..the plan is actually to start moving our belongings in sooner than that, but to actually be able to live in it seems doable by that date.
Remember we still have a bunch of stuff sitting in a storage container which we need to move up here too. Mostly boxes, dishes and our kayak, a rototiller, my elliptical machine, our pool table, and another mattress for the guest room, things we basically could not fit into the casita. And originally we had planned to rent out this casita totally furnished, but our renters have a house full of their own belongings in storage. They won’t be needing any of our things so all this stuff needs to go up to the house! Which is not so bad because we had planned to buy all new living room furniture for the house and now we don’t have to do that. I never thought I’d say I’m glad I don’t have to go shopping! Hah! In this case, I tell ya…I’m so relieved to not have to go shopping for furniture. Even though we had not planned to rent out the casita quite so soon, we still have a few more finish things to complete but they really want to be here so much so that they say they don’t mind if we work on it while they’re living in the casita. We’re thrilled to have met a nice couple who we think will be happy living here and since we’ll be living so near to one another we really hope they love it up here as much as we do.
I think one other thing that may be motivating my darling husband to get us settled into our new house may be the fact that his wonderful mother, Pat, is coming for her first visit on April 26th! Now, before you start thinking this sounds like a crazy thing to have her visit when we’ll still be sorta in transition, let me just tell you that we just adore Pat and have looked forward to having her visit us for a long long time. That, and before we made this move she lived with us for the last year or so that we lived in Los Altos and we all three had a great time living under one roof. She is very adaptable and easy to have around and we three will have such fun preparing meals together and relaxing in the evenings together like we used to do. Although, I must say….I have a suspicion the only reason she’s really coming to Panama is to meet Scruffy! hah! She’s just crazy for dogs and when we adopted our sweet girl I thought that adorable little face just might be the leverage we needed to convince her to come visit us up here in Boquete. Hahaha! I know…diabolical plan, right? But, look! It worked! We get to have Pat here in Boquete for three weeks and boy are we excited for her to finally experience all this beauty that we’ve been telling her about for so long. She will be so head over heals with Scruffy that she won’t even notice the plywood countertops!
In May we will celebrate three years of living our dream life here in the highlands of Western Panama. Three years of working hard at creating a life that we’ve custom designed to suit us just right. I think we’ve been working on our house project for a little over two years and boy have we accomplished a lot in that time. Many may look at our approach to the expat life and shake their heads in disbelief that we would choose to work as hard as we do in our so-called ‘retirement’. We do have a tendency to choose a path that most would not choose. And we realize not many people very likely look at what we’re up to and imagine themselves doing it the way we have. We’re not trying to impress anyone nor do we think we’ve set out on a life path that most would embrace the way we have. Its a ton of work and often we are overwhelmed and sometimes a bit stressed. We’ve been faced with challenges and have had to learn to do many things very differently than we’ve done them in the past. When we decided to make this move and to redefine our life we wanted to have the freedom and the time to work together as a team as we create something that’s uniquely ours.
And that’s just what we’ve managed to do in this first three years here. To most of you who have watched our process, your seeing us build these structures, planning, designing, working, learning, at times struggling with the challenges of doing this in a new and very different location. For us this adventure isnt just about us building a place to live, its really about this entire experience . Each day is a new day in our adventure together. A new day living in a place where we have the unique opportunity to create a life we feel we own, not live a life that owns us. Of course, many of our friends here might argue that our project is pretty all-consuming and they’d like it if we gave ourselves a little more freedom to have more fun with them more often, and one day we’ll have more time to enjoy other things aside from working up here on this project. We feel like we’re in the home stretch, soon we’ll be moving and although we will still be far from finished each day is bringing us closer and closer to having a bit less work.