And this week…


My gardening helper...Scruffy-the plant smoosher!

My gardening helper…Scruffy-the plant smoosher!

Before I get to this update, I should update you on our electrical dilemma from my last post. Your maybe wondering if we’ve been powerless this whole time…nope! Its all fixed and fairly quickly and efficiently as well! I often make sarcastic jokes about Panamá and the frequent and hard to understand inefficiency we often run into, well, when something goes smoothly I have to jump for joy! Our electrician had one of his associates out right away, he figured out what the problem was and spent an entire day fixing it and voila! Power is restored and all is well again. I’m so glad it was not a giant issue and that we were up and running again so quickly.

Last week I succumbed to a nasty head cold! Ugh! I haven’t been sick in a long time so I suppose it was time. Being laid up all week really made me think about how very different it is to be sick when you don’t have to get up , get dolled up, and go to work everyday. I bet I could count on my two hands the amount of times I didn’t go to work because of being too sick. I swear! I almost never called in sick in all my 30 years of styling hair. Mind you, that doesn’t mean I never got sick, but I very seldom let it get the best of me. I powered through almost any illness and just didn’t let anything stop me. I also think that I had a wicked immune system because of being exposed to so many people for all those years. Im not an expert on immunology or anything even remotely close to it, but I just believe while I was working with the public my body was good at fighting off germs. I also have a theory that so much is mental. I just always thought, “Oh, I’m fine”..”I’m not sick” “I’m not sick” “Im not sick”….hah!

The first year of living here in Panamá It seemed as though I was always sick! I got so many colds and flu’s it was ridiculous. I think (here’s another one of my theories), that my immunity just had not come into contact with the new germs I was exposed to here. Also, could it be that being retired and not having to get up and out of the house everyday, I was just in need of some serious down time? Now, year three of our life here in Panamá and I haven’t been sick much at all. So, I won’t complain too much about a silly cold and a few days in bed. Nope, its actually so incredibly wonderful to have the luxury of being able to just stay in bed all day long and not have to worry about so many people and trying to reschedule their hair appointments. As much as I loved my job, there was so much pressure to be responsible and reliable. I often joked that even though I was self employed and didn’t have a “Boss”, I actually had hundreds of ‘Bosses’! Calling in sick wasn’t just making one phone call to let your boss know you would not be coming in….it was making dozens of phone calls and then trying like hell to find an alternative date to fit people into my schedule for their hair appointment when I got better! Oftentimes it just was not worth it to stay home, it just felt like too much work and worry to have to deal with the backlash of unhappy women with gray roots! ugh! And, don’t even make me describe the fear of telling a woman who’s been waiting for weeks for her highlights that she’s gonna have to wait a few more weeks with that mousy hair! hah! A silly illness seems so trivial compared to the desperation of needing a bang trim! Sheesh!

Well, thankfully my recent nasty cold is in the past. I’m all healed and back to the land of the living! Our days continue to be focused mainly on making as much progress on this house project as possible and we’re really getting tons done. Each passing day we see more and more accomplished and we’re beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel…..well, ahem….Kinda! I’m happy to see the cement up here in the front of the house getting closer to being finished. This is providing us with places to park our cars and a walkway to the front door. Also a couple of spots for our friends to park when they come up to visit. Up until now most people had to either park up here amongst the mud and construction debris or park down near the casita and hike up the very steep hill to the house. Not so fun in the pitch black or the pouring rain.

The living room and rec room have the drywall installed on the ceilings, its taped and next week it will be mudded and then textured. After the texture we get to paint and then the remainder of the tile floor gets installed. After the floor is tiled the workers will be pretty much all done being in the house for now. The fireplace on the outside terrace really turned out nice! We’ve had a couple of fires in it and its working great! Scotts next big project will be to fabricate the granite for all the countertops. We are hoping to start shrinking our crew down soon so I think he’s hoping to get these huge slabs moved while we still have all the muscles to help! I’ll be pleased to have his granite workspace off my terrace! Most of the stonework outside that we’d planned to do is nearing completion as well. The last bit of stone will be the light posts we plan to have along the side of the drive through the property and the two gate posts at the entry to our property where we will eventually have an automatic gate. The majority of the metal/welding work is getting close to being done, still need quite a few railings fabricated and of course that gate, some bars for the casita windows and that should about do it. But, we may get rid of the guy who does this work and address the remaining metal work later.

So, the cement crew is nearly done, the stoneworkers as well, and hopefully the metal guy will be done soon too. Our hope is to get down to just two guys who will stay on to help Scott with the last of the projects. Woodworking is the biggest one and we decided to wait to finish the tile roof on the main house until after the rainy season is over. Our goal for getting down to only a couple of workers is Oct/Nov. Having only two guys up here instead of eight will be so nice! Well, technically three guys because we have our full time gardener who we will keep around as well. We also plan to cut down on the hours and days the guys work so we can start to have Saturdays off! yeah!

this is the granite fabrication area on the terrace, see the big slabs leaning against the wall?

this is the granite fabrication area on the terrace, see the big slabs leaning against the wall?

On the garden front we purchased about 75 new tropical plants from our local Heliconia grower in Volcan. For my blog followers who don’t know about Carla Black let me just say she (well, her garden specifically, but her too…she’s such a lovely woman! ), is my inspiration. Amongst many wonderful things about her, she is the president of the International Heliconia Society and she travels the world collecting and identifying different species of Heliconias and other tropical plants. Her finca is in Vocan (about an hour or so from Boquete, on the other side of the volcano) and she moved to panama from Oregon 20 years ago. She opens her incredible garden to the public only one weekend each year. During this open house she sells her amazing plants and let me tell you, its a total paradise! Trying to describe her garden is impossible to do. The beauty of what she has created is breathtaking. Each time I’ve toured her place my heart seems to beat a little faster and I’m even more inspired to hurry up and get my tropical garden going! While Scotts mom was visiting we emailed Carla and asked if she might be willing to let us bring Pat to see her garden. She was so sweet to us and welcomed us with open arms for a quick little tour. That part of Pats trip was her favorite day. And, she now has a vivid picture in her mind of what our property will , hopefully, look like someday.

After our day at Carla’s back in May, we went to her web site and started to make plans for what plants we would purchase at the open house. We ended up picking out so many plants that we thought we might see if we could place our order a little early and get started on planting while the rainy season is just getting going. She very generously agreed to let us buy our plants ahead of time and we just finished planting them. We cleared an area just near the house and created pathways winding through the hillside. Then we planted lots of new tropical beauties all throughout the trails. Our gardener has really been busy planting and prepping and I think he’s enjoying the fun of creating something out of nothing. Seeing the plan come alive is really fun. Next year we plan to tackle the rest of the hillside just below the house and it will be so much fun to see how it all connects together to make a wonderland of jungle right in our yard. Its going to be wild and colorful but not manicured or especially organized. I like to call it organized chaos! I don’t want to put in sprinklers or have to spend too much time watering because I’d love to have it be as natural as possible. Many of the plants we purchased will bloom all year long after they get established. And, they will make babies which we can carefully dig up and propagate in different areas of our property.

When I think about my yard in Los Altos and my yard here I am filled with so much joy . Because I loved my yard and I loved making it look pretty. That last little burst of gardening I did with some of my girlfriends to prepare it for being sold was so bittersweet. It was hard to leave my little yard but to have this incredible property here in Boquete to nurture and to care for….well, it very nearly makes me tear up with joy. The only thing I’m missing is my next door neighbor Janet! She and I used to work in our yards on the weekends and occasionally chat when we met up in the front yards. I’m so lucky to have my new neighbor Kat, she does the same thing, only in order for us to meet in our yards she has quite a hike up the hill! Not that that stops her! I often think I must be a very lucky gal to have had two such crazy, amazing woman as my neighbors! Life really is good!

The ebb and flow of this life here in this wonderful place is really wonderful. Between our house project, my garden, lots of fun friends to spend time with, developing new hobbies, learning Spanish, loving my dog, feeding my hummers, planning exciting adventures for when we have more time to get away….This adventure is not bad at all! I think the highlight of my life right now is just getting settled in this house we’ve spent so much time and energy to create. We still have so many projects to complete and so many people are curious when we will be ‘done’. But, if I were to guess I think this project is just going to be life for us. Especially for Scott. Truth be told all the things he has in mind to do up here are his passion and he’s not really doing it just to be ‘done’. Having a long list of projects is what makes Scott happy. He is thoroughly enjoying the process and as soon as the biggest parts of the house are more finished and we don’t have a huge crew of men to manage, he can settle into his workshop, and just really enjoy making stuff. The flurry of this project is nearing an end and soon our life will become much more tranquilo. I’m looking forward to that and can actually begin to see that we’re not too far off from life becoming a bit more about living and a little less about working.


About hollycarter184

Life is Good! But it's time for a change, and more adventure! I'd like to share the whole experience of preparing then actually making a reality of expatriating, and moving to a new country. It's an exciting, and slightly scary move full of possibility . I'm looking forward to learning a new language and making new connections with the people who share our spirit of adventure. This blog is my way of continuing my connection with my friends and family in the States. Sooooo here it goes! :)

6 responses »

  1. I absolutely love your blogs you leave nothing out and that’s what all of us that love you both want to know😘😍😘. The house is looking really great. Your yard is going to be a beautiful tropical garden. I am looking forward to seeing everything someday maybe soon😉. Got to get that pass port first….soon, soon very soon 😉 Love you 😘😘

  2. Hoe wonderful your home will be.. You are right about your immune musings. We think alike organized chaos is one of my favourite sayings. Your workers will be sad to see the end of the project, not only have they had regular pay but employers who respected them and I am sure they have learnt a lot about building.

  3. You and Scott have so much to be proud of, one of the most important, and possibly overlooked, is what role models you have been as expats in the community. I’m very much looking forward to getting to know you Holly, you’re a class act. Beautiful home, awesome outdoor space, and love growing everywhere on your piece of the planet. Hugs, (the other) Mariah 💞😉

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