Practicing My Spanish…

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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

Our Spanish learning experience so far……

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Talk about “Immersion”….We decided to make our home in Boquete Panama

I wrote this post as a submission for a little contest at our school. They are giving away 30 free hours of Spanish lessons so I thought, what the heck! I love to write so I gave it a shot! Plus, I have been having such a great experience at the school so I was happy to have the opportunity to express that pleasure with other people who may be considering coming here to learn the language. Two of my blogging friends also submitted wonderful posts and It was fun to read them on the Habla ya blog. So I thought I would share my post with you…..
When my husband and I began our research on where we would expatriate ,( about 7 years ago), one of the many things we considered was language. We both agreed that wherever we decided to make our new home we would learn the native language. We feel very strongly about this for many reasons. One reason that learning the language in our new home is an absolute necessity, in our minds, is simply out of respect to the native people who we will be interacting with on a daily basis. The official language in Panama is Spanish, not English . So we see no reason why we would expect our new neighbors or all the other people we come into contact with on a daily basis to know how to speak English. Of course It’s a huge help at this stage of our very limited ability to communicate , when a taxi driver or cashier at the market just happens to possess a tiny bit more English knowledge than our pathetic Spanish. But We certainly never “expect” English to come out of their mouths. When we arrived here in Boquete eight weeks ago I had virtually no ability to communicate in Spanish and my husband arrived with a fair amount of “construction” spanish given his former vocation as a contractor. So if for any reason we needed a escalera (ladder) or a martillo(hammer), we were in good shape! Although, given the fact that we are both native Californians, and there is a large population of hispanic transplants there, our ears are fairly familiar with many basic words or common phrases. Of course my husband is fluent in most any sentence that has the word “Cerveza” in it. And I arrived ready to use the phrase, “Un coppa de Vino Tinto,Por Favor”. We felt pretty confident we would not suffer any withdrawals with our natural grasp on our “bar” vocabulary, Whew! Well that’s a relief! LOL!

In addition to learning Spanish in our chosen home here in Panama out of a general respect to our new country and it’s people, we believe having the ability to communicate will provide us with a much richer and deeply authentic experience. We hope to someday feel as though we have immersed ourself in this culture and in the community. Having the ability to express ourselves is essential in order to really connect with those around us. It is our desire to build relationships with not only other expats , but also with native Panamanians . As I said, we have only been living here in Boquete for eight weeks but in the eight weeks we have been here we have felt very welcomed by the locals. I am incredibly motivated to learn Spanish so that I can talk to these warm, kind people who I see everyday . I’m a “people” person and not being able to chat with people I come into contact with is a painful torture! I have so many things I want to say to people all the time, but I just don’t have the vocabulary quite yet! But don’t you worry, I’m working hard on learning and there’s no doubt in my mind that I will eventually be conversant!

Before our move we began researching Spanish schools on line and came across Habla Ya. We learned that they have two campuses, one in Boquete and another in Bocas del Toro. So we knew one of the first things we would do after arriving in our new home was to enroll in classes. ( I should tell you, as of this writing we are about six weeks into our lessons.) Even though I was determined and committed to learning Spanish, I was terribly nervous because I had never studied a language before. As a matter of fact, I had a feeling I would be “re-learning” much of my English grammar that had long ago escaped my old brain! Verbs? Conjugating Verbs? HuH??? Oh boy, I was not wrong! We signed up for ten weeks of lessons. Our first two weeks we did a group class together that was Four hours a day, five days a week! Oh, my goodness! Talk about “Diving in head first”! Our first instructor was a very fun young man named Yubal. I think he quickly realized that I would be a very “SLOW” learner! Even though I felt like I was in over my head, I soldiered on and Yubal never made me feel dumb and I never felt like he was impatient with my lack of comprehension. He was very kind and patient and told me that I was doing fine and gave me just the right kind of gentle encouragement that I needed. And I gotta tell ya, I REALLY needed encouragement! Geesh! Talk about a humbling experience. My husband , on the other hand, is a natural learner! His comprehension is, in my mind, incredible. We all learn differently and some have an easier ability with language than others. At least that’s what I keep hearing from many other very kind and encouraging people ,and I’m buying it!

After our first week in the group class it was glaringly obvious that I was not ready to move on. I really felt I needed to review the first week all over again. We went to talk to the administration about this and here is where I begin to really gush about my pleasure with this school and the people in charge. They were so accommodating, understanding and helpful. No problem! They obviously have a lot of experience dealing with many many different people from all walks of life and from many different places in the world. They didn’t bat an eye, just figured out a solution that would work for us . The next week Scott moved on to another group class and I remained with Yubal and one other classmate who also felt the need to review the prior weeks lessons. It was so good for me and I began to feel my brain comprehending at least some of the beginning concepts. My favorite phrase that I have learned and love to use is , ” Poco a Poco”! Little by little I am learning, not only am I learning Spanish but I’m also learning what I need in order to feel successful in my own personal learning style. After my second week in a group class I decided I would like to try a private, one on one , two hour daily class .

I was sad to leave Yubal because I felt like I had gotten to know him and had developed a fondness for his great , fun personality. This is another aspect of Habla ya that I must mention. The entire staff is very friendly and welcoming and we have thoroughly enjoyed every person we have met at the school. When I went to speak with the administration again about my desire to try a different situation they were again very happy to do whatever would work best for me. My new professora is Araliz and she is a beautiful, intelligent young lady who I have come to adore! I have been working with her for almost four weeks now. She is very intuitive about what I need and has shown unending capacity for patience. As she has gotten to know me she has customized my lessons to suit my particular learning style, which is “muy despacio” ! Everyday I feel better and better with my progress and at the end of each lesson I’m always shocked that it’s already over! Time flies so fast in Araliz’s classroom. I’m beginning to really enjoy our attempt at conversation. I can really feel my progress when I am able to have a conversation with her and walk away feeling as though she understood me and I her. What a great feeling to finally be able to chat and connect the way I love to do.

After my ten weeks at Habla Ya I know it will not be the end of my lessons. Given the wonderful fact that Boquete is now my home, I have plenty of time to “slowly” become proficient in learning this beautiful language. I’m hoping to begin to find opportunities where I can be surrounded by more native speakers so I can practice what I’m learning at school. On HablaYa’s web sight I see that they have many volunteer opportunities that they can help me get involved with, and that will be my next adventure. Not only have we made some really great connections with the teachers at the school but also with some of the other students as well. It’s so great to see and meet so many young people who are doing home-stays and who are immersing themselves in the culture while studying the language. I wish I had had such an opportunity when I was their age. I really admire their adventurous spirit at such a young age. We have made friends with many of these people and I know they will be back to visit us here in this beautiful place. The School has endless activities that they organize and although we haven’t had time to join them, we hear that there is tons of fun to be had! So far, this old brain has been too busy having tons of “fun” studying our Spanish! (insert eye roll here?) All this hard work will pay off in the end when I get to sit down with Araliz or Yubal and actually have a “fluent” conversation in their language!

Lion’s and Tiger’s and Learning Spanish, Oh My! 👠👠

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I speak English! Regretably, I’ve never learned another language. Hell, You can likely deduce from my often juvenile writing , that my proper grasp of the English language could use some help! On an immersion trip to Costa Rica many moons ago, I failed miserably on my first incredibly weak attempt to learn the Spanish language, (what does ‘Conjugate’ mean anyways??) In spite of my early failure, one of my first goals upon arriving in my new adopted country is to begin the long and arduous process of learning the language

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It Won’t Be Long Now…

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my newest Heliconia bloom!

my newest Heliconia bloom!

About fifteen more days and we will be officially moved into our new house! Holy Moly! I can hardly believe it! Seriously…it just seems so surreal to finally be nearly ready to live up in that house that we’ve been working towards for so long. We’ve been really working hard to get it ready and although its going to be ‘just’ livable and not even close to finished, it will be home for us. Once I get past my nerves about all that needs to be completed I know I’ll be a lot more excited. Right now the biggest priority is getting the kitchen up and running. The first step is getting the ceiling finished which should be today. Then they will paint and next up will be installing the floor tile. Read the rest of this entry

Back to work…Oh, I know I thought we were retired, but, shrug, there’s work to be done!

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And the construction continues at the Carter propiedad! Before our vacation we liquidated all our workers. Which means that we paid them all the required vacation and decimo pay and basically laid them all off. Scott let them know that they could resume work on the first Monday of our return if they wanted to. But, we didn’t know for sure if they would still want to come back to work for us because we couldn’t assume that they wouldn’t go find different work for the three weeks we were gone. So I drove down to pick them up at our regular meeting spot at 7:15 on Monday moring (right at the end of the bridge in town) and….Gulp, no one came! I was sad, I kinda thought in my head that they all really, really liked working for us and that “of course” they’d all be back! The two indigenous guys , Federico and Arquiles both showed up at the job site ready to resume work but no one else on Monday. So Scott very calmly said to me, “No problem, Shrug, we’ll just move on to Plan B”….Gotta love a guy who is calm and adaptable! That vacation really renewed his “Tranquilo”! hah! So Plan B in his mind meant that we would just let the main house sit on the back burner until the next dry season and for now if none of our crew aside from the two guys showed back up we would refocus on finishing up all the details on the casita. There’s still quite a bit to finish up like cabinetry, soffits, all the outside hardscaping, walkways , steps, exterior painting, stone work on retaining walls, just to name a few things. Read the rest of this entry

Whew! Time is flying by and there’s much too much to tell, Here it goes…

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I haven’t had a second since Thursday to sit down and write . All the fun began on Friday at Spanish school. As usual, the first half of the day consisted of me struggling through class and trying my best to make my head comprehend something. We always have about a twenty minute break at about 2:45ish then we resume our lessons until 5:00. Here is where you begin to get more of an understanding of just why I have fallen in love with my teacher…Yubal, he had the brilliant idea to commence our studies at the bar down the street! He arranged for another class to join us so we could practice our Spanish. And practice we did, with the aide of Margarita’s suddenly Spanish lessons were beginning to become a bit more fun. We sat together and began to converse in español. Mi nombre es, Holly, yo de los estados unidos. Vivo en Boquete. Estoy jubilado. Yo vivido en Boquete por un mes. Blah! Blah! Blah! The last two hours of school flew by incredibly fast and when Scott found me at the bar having a margarita aided lesson, boy was he envious! (Big smile here!) But far be it for my man Scott to hold a grudge, especially when cerveza is close at hand! LOL!! He quickly joined in on the fun and began to take advantage of the opportunity to chat as much as possible with his burned out brain ! We ended up staying at the bar until about 8:00 then everyone decided it was time to go Dancing!!

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Keeping In Touch…

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Yesterday (Saturday) while I spent the day at home with my sick husband, I got to spend time socializing with some of my family back in California. I just love modern technology! Natalie likes to use Skype and Mariah and Elisabeth use FaceTime on their iPhones. My daughter, Mariah and her roommates were having a housewarming party and I was invited to attend via FaceTime! She was so excited to show me how much work she and her roommates put into the preparations for their party. The decorations, the food, the SANGRIA, and the yard with all the tables and chairs . She was right, I was proud of her and her friends. It was so fun to feel like I was there. And to be introduced to so many of her friends, “This is my MOM, she lives in Panama!” Adorable! My daughter, that is. She sounded so proud of her old mom. Her friends thought it was pretty cool that I was there with them via FaceTime, from Panama . Now, had I ‘actually’ been there,( I mean, ‘Been There, Been There’), It would probably not have been quite so ‘cool’. LOL! Again, I just love modern Technology.

Mariah and Elisabeth are good friends and so Elisabeth went to the housewarming party. After being walked around the party with Mariah and getting introduced to lot’s of her friends, she and I got a chance to catch up a bit . I hadn’t talked with her for about a week or so and It was good to hear how things are going for her. I told her to go enjoy her party and I would talk with her later. When Elisabeth got to the party they called me again and I got a chance to catch up with her for a while. It’s the first time I’ve gotten to talk with Elisabeth since I left. I really miss her. For those of you who don’t know, Elisabeth is a very talented hairstylist who worked with me in my salon. I sent the majority of my clients to her after I retired and as I already knew, they are in good hands. It was great to spend a little time with her and to hear about how my clients are doing. She’s working really hard and feeling great about all the new people who she’s getting to know. It sounds like the transition is working out good for everyone and that makes me so happy.

After catching up with Mariah and Elisabeth I got to Skype with Natalie. She is in the process of remodeling her kitchen. It was fun to see all the work in progress and to hear how happy she is with all her new tile and appliances. She agonized over this remodel and how to do it, what she wanted it to look like , and all the things everyone agonizes over when demolishing a part of your home in the process of a remodel. I could hear the pleasure in her voice, she’s really pleased with her design choices and with the contractor who she hired to do the work. I’m so glad for her, it looks amazing! We also chatted a bit about the salon and she told me how different it is there now. The new owner, Stephanie is in the process of completely remodeling the place. It’s quite sad to think about how easily something you create and have felt proud of for so many years can just be gone forever . I know my decision to change my life has changed my co-workers lives as well as all the many clients and friends who have enjoyed visiting the salon all these years. Everyone seems to be adjusting to the change, some happily and others not so much. One nice thing is that Elisabeth and Natalie sound as if they have grown quite close and are enjoying working together and supporting each other through their mutual struggle to adapt to all the changes they are experiencing. When you have spent so much of your time , (every single day,for so many years) practically living in a space such as that little salon, it’s very much like your home. I know they were also very attached to it and are doing their best to remain optimistic with what is going on around them. So much change, especially change that you did not choose and have no control over, has got to be difficult , and those two are managing to embrace it all with such a positive outlook . Hopefully their work environment will be back in order soon and they can feel proud of where they work again and enjoy the new, updated aspects that Stephanie and her husband are working hard to install.

I’m really glad I have the ability to keep in touch with everyone back in California . FaceTime is just like being there! This weekend I got to spend time with not only Mariah , Elisabeth and Natalie, but my mother and Scotts mom as well. It’s been almost a month that we’ve been here and now that the hurry and scurry of making an international move is settling in, I am really beginning to feel the ‘pangs’ of missing those I love. I think this weekend , just relaxing and staying in is the first real ‘Down’ time I’ve had in a really long time. It’s a comfort to see everyone and to have the ability to stay connected. I’m happy to report that Scott is on the mend and cooking up our breakfast as I’m typing! Not only are our friends and family having a period of adjustment but apparently our internal organs have a bit of adjusting to deal with as well. I’ve learned from our good friends who have lived here for many years and are seasoned expats, that it’s not uncommon to have occasional tummy issues. The solution to this issue comes in the form of two little pills that we need to take every four months. I took a dash down to our local pharmacy and managed to acquire these magic, gringo tummy pills right away. Good to know!! Let’s hope we got a handle on this little issue!

As another week begins I’m feeling recharged from the restful weekend and ready to face the next week of Spanish lessons. I got so much encouragement from so many people! I’m not gonna be too hard on myself and I know Im not in any hurry! It takes a very long time to learn a new language and I am reminded that, ” Poco a Poco”, and I’ll get it! 😄 Cheers!

Light at the end of the tunnel…I can see it! Whoot! Whoot!

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I haven’t published a blog post in quite some time. It seems I blink and a month has gone by! We’re going on three years , this January, since the start of our project. Wow! How did that happen? Lately Iv’e noticed that we’ve begun to have more of a rhythm to our days. I think this must mean that life is beginning to be more about ‘living’ here and not as much about ‘settling’ here. What does that mean? Well, just that its felt like up until recently this new life here in Panama was so focused for us on finding our footing and getting things set up. But, now as I sit back and take a look at what our days consist of, well, our days are not especially exciting and not especially new. Our days are just ‘our life’. Somehow we aren’t settling in so much as just living the life we’ve made. Read the rest of this entry

Oh my! It’s our 3 year Anniversary of living here in Panama!

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A photo taken at a concert in San Francisco just before our move...

A photo taken at a concert in San Francisco just before our move…

How could It already be our 3 year anniversary? Ummm, well…I’m a tad distracted by a little project we’ve been working on so it snuck up on me. Hah! Three years…sigh….for me this anniversary is a great time to reflect on what this move has done to our lives. So many changes and so many incredible adventures have transpired in this last three years. Where do I begin? New home, new dog, new friends, new language, new culture, new experiences with every corner we turn. When we first came up with this idea to expatriate, so many years ago, I must admit I didn’t really believe we’d actually do it! I know! Right? In my head I quietly just sorta thought we were dreaming and it all seemed way too crazy to actually make it happen. And here we are three years into a life changing adventure that brings us so much joy and has changed us in ways I could never even have imagined. With each passing day I feel more and more a sense of being home here in this heavenly place. (not to say its “perfect” here, but man! is it pretty and so full of so many things to love!) (besides, no place is Perfect, right?) Read the rest of this entry

It’s So Much More Than ‘Teaching’…

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What I love about making friends in Spanish…

As you know , I’ve sorta ‘fallen into’ teaching English to four Panamanian women. I’m very uncomfortable thinking of myself as a ‘teacher’, and my so called ‘classes’ are taking on more of a ‘social gathering’ than any sort of structured ‘class’. This is exactly what I enjoy…Social Gathering! I mean, that’s what my hairstyling business often felt like as well. I think anyone who walked into that salon felt as though they were getting together with friends and not only coming to an appointment. Isn’t that the way life should feel? As though we were gathering to connect and not just robotically going through life? I didn’t have this awkward feeling I have now when I’m supposedly ‘teaching’, a feeling of being an imposter , cuz’ I was right at home behind the chair making people feel good. As these wonderful women and I are becoming more comfortable with each other and they have gotten to see that they too are ‘teachers’,( because they help me so much in my Spanish learning) it’s beginning to feel so much more like friends getting together to chat and to laugh and have a good time. I’m much more comfortable with this ‘give and take’ type of learning. They are just as much teaching me as I am supposedly teaching them, which I just love. But what I love the most is the laughing fits that we often get into during our little gatherings. Read the rest of this entry

Hair Time In Panama!

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Yesterday, (Tuesday) was Hair day ! Lyn , like myself, was a stylist in another lifetime. My grey roots were yelling to be covered up! I kid you not! I could hear them “screaming”! So She very kindly agreed to apply my color for me and stop those pesky grey hairs from all that screaming. I, in return offered to give her a little trim while my color was processing. This was a brilliant idea all around. She is a very busy realtor so I was grateful that she was willing to do this although I would never assume that this will be a forever solution to my annoying grey hair. No, I’ll keep my ears open and who knows , I just may have to branch out sometime and give a local Panamanian stylist a shot. I’m pretty sure I’ll still be able to bring my own color with me, they’re pretty relaxed here. Lyn had another Amiga who stopped by for a little color application while we were at it. It was good fun to sit around and chat and get to know another local expat who has made a great life here in Boquete.

What an enormous change for me from the life I was living in Los Altos. A change that I am soaking up with a grateful heart. (a little side-note to my Los Altos peeps, please don’t be offended, I had many many very happy years and not one regret, I’m just so glad for a change 🙂 ) This life and the people I’m surrounded by are a breath of fresh air. It’s all so very “relaxed” and casual and mostly I think ,so far , it’s just ‘easy’. I’m certain I still have much to learn about this new town but so far I’m pleased with the people I’m connecting with and getting to know. One of my biggest concerns about moving away from everything and everyone I know was making new friends and I’m pleased to report that I had no need to worry. There are a ton of terrific people to spend time with and I’m already wishing I had more free time to hang out with them. Our spanish classes are pretty all consuming at the moment. But that’s just temporary ,I’m sure when we finish with our classes more free time will allow for some other activities where we can meet even more people.

Scott and I were just commenting this morning about how many great people we’ve met through our classes at Habla Ya. Even though most of them are here in Boquete for a short time I have a feeling some will come back to visit us and even have a place to stay (WITH US!) . It’s great to see how many people come here and do “Home stays” through Habla Ya. Most of the people in Scotts class are staying with local Panamanian families and having such a great, authentic experience. Our friend Jordan who we met a couple weeks ago really developed a great relationship with his house mom, I think he was a bit sad to leave and I’m certain he has a new lifelong friend. I thought he was such a thoughtful young man because as a thank you gift he gave her a gift certificate to have a massage at a local spa! Awww! What a sweetie! We have met people from the states as well as Canada, Holland,Germany,The Bahama’s, and most of these people are traveling around for at least a month most of which they are staying here in Boquete. I just love talking to these young backpackers who are having such amazing adventures !

Our Spanish classes are coming along pretty good, although dont expect me to be able to actually speak quite yet! The Private, One on One lessons are exactly what I needed and I’m so glad that they were so accommodating and worked around me and what I needed. My teacher, Araliz is just so intuitive about how to work with me and I am very impressed with her ability to sense how to best teach a student who learns as slowly as I do. I have not really felt frustrated or defeated at all! Each day I walk away feeling like I made a tiny bit more progress and I think I can even say that I am enjoying the process now!! Can you sense the smile on my face? One little thing Scott and I have both been discussing is that we need some actual ‘real life’ practice. He is much more assertive with his practice when we are out shopping and running errands . I usually rarely even try to chime in much . So I am brainstorming different ways for me to give myself opportunity to practice speaking with locals. I am considering some sort of volunteer work with children. I know there are orphanages where I can volunteer and work with the children or maybe at one of the local schools. I need to start asking around and trying to get myself connected with people in the know. I just hope my lack of anything even close to fluent spanish wont be too hard to get me out there, helping somehow.

Scott is talking with the School today about trying to switch his lessons over to private as well. He feels like he needs a bit more personal tutoring now instead of the group lessons he’s so far been doing. The groups move forward pretty rapidly and so a bit of private time will be a good balance for him. Plus this schedule we have is a real bummer for us. I go to class from 8-10 and he goes from 1-5 , which totally ruins our days if we need to get anything else done. Like I said before, the people at Habla ya are very flexible and accommodating so I’m sure they will figure out something that will work for him. And I’m not sure how he plans to get some practice in but I’m sure he’ll manage somehow. He really enjoys shopping in the fruit and Vegetable market and has already settled on his favorite venders in there. There is a little old lady who runs the booth in the very front and one day he told me he asked her if a particular pepper she had was spicy and she took his hand and led him to a different booth and showed him exactly what to buy! He will shop from her from now on. And then another guy who we buy avocados from always asks when we are going to eat it and finds the best one, not too ripe or ripe enough for Hoy! He has earned Scotts loyalty as well. One lady just sold him a couple of very unripe avocados even though he explained that he would eat them hoy, she is on the banned list. So he gets his practice in talking with the venders at the market and I think if they would hire him he would get a huge kick out of working there with them, that’s not gonna happen!

I’ll keep you posted on our continuing quest to learn spanish and hopefully our opportunities to connect with more locals. I continue to awaken each new day with a smile on my face and I am constantly looking around this beautiful mountain village and basking in the fact that with many years of research and lot’s of hard work, we made this happen, this is our home!! I have to pinch myself right now , I’m really not dreaming, am I? OUCH! Nope!! Life is good! Cheers!

Celebrating the 4th in Panama, and other random news…

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Most of our days are filled with Spanish studying so we didnt really think about the fact that it was an American holiday until later in the day. Then we thought we should try to get out and do “something”. In Scott’s class he has two young classmates, brothers, Tristan 14 and Liam 16. Who, I may add are rather good at Spanish. Tristan is also a very accomplished musician. He was invited to play music a local restaurant/bar called Amigo’s. We decided it would be fun to go hear him play and enjoy some dinner while celebrating the 4th of July. We were not disappointed! It was open mic night at Amigo’s so there were several different musician/singers who joined in on the fun!! Amigo’s is owned by some Expats so they had a special Gringo menu in honor of the 4th of July. Of course that ‘special menu’ was a good ol’ fashioned BBQ! Hamburgesa’s, con queso, chili cheese-dogs and all the other goodies one expects to find at a 4th of July BBQ.. What more could you ask for? Good food, good people to chat with and good music to enjoy! Oh, and lets not forget un vaso tinto vino para me! All was well for us on our first 4th of July celebration in Panama.

There is one tiny (well, not so tiny!) story to tell… while enjoying listening to a group of young local Panamanian musicians play some great music, I happened to notice a rather large…Who am I kidding!!! A MONSTROUS SPIDER!!! Walking across the floor , and yes, it was coming toward yours truly! YIKES!! When I first noticed the big guy strolling around I tried not to panic and cause a “Gringo-Hissie-Fit-Scene!”. So I ,very calmly, sat still and watched to see what direction Senior spider would go…Well, as luck would have it, he decided to visit me! So I was forced to throw my calm exterior to the wind! We were at a table with a gentleman we met at school, let’s call him Peter, I tapped him on the shoulder and pointed and in , what felt like an instant me and Peter and Liam (Tristan’s 16 year old brother) and the table of gringos next to us were all standing up and giving Senior spider plenty of room to roam! YIKES! Here’s where the funny part comes…You know my husband? Ya, the one with the beard? Well, of course in typical Scott fashion, he was peacefully and blissfully enjoying his cerveza, happily listening to the music when he noticed all this commotion commencing around him. From the other side of the room I couldn’t help but smile , there’s my guy, not budging ,only calmly lifting his feet to allow Senior spider to go where he wished to go. With a cold beer in hand there was no reason for him to move, nope! HA!HA!HA! Ohhhhh, that guy is so funny!! Nothing, not even a MONSTROUS spider, could get him to abandon his cerveza or to panic. I love that about him!! But I was fine loving that about him from across the room as Senior spider trotted off, on his way to who knows where.

I’m writing this post in the study room of our Spanish school, Habla Ya. Scott had to take a drive into David this morning to have the first maintenance service done on the new truck. His appointment was at 8:30 and it is now 12:00. His class starts at 1:00, so I hope he gets back soon. I don’t have a working cell phone yet because I need to have my iphone unlocked which I could not do until my early cancelation fee was paid to AT&T. So Scott has no way to contact me. Our plan was that he would send me an email message to let me know what time he would be here, but there seems to be no wifi here today. So my trusty iPad is no help, hence the writing of this post. Today, Friday, is the end of my first week of private lessons and I feel so good about it! Not that I can speak a cohesive sentence yet, but I can feel myself getting into a better space with my lessons. Eliminating the added pressure of being part of a group has made all the difference for me and my ability to learn much better without feeling so stressed. I can even say that I’m beginning to actually “enjoy” my class!

This weekend we are getting a second opportunity to join our friends Eric & Lyn at their Jungle Lodge, Rambala Jungle Lodge (www.Rambalajunglelodge.com) . I’m so excited to go and to see this beautiful place. I’ll write a post about it soon. I’m sure it’s going to be a great weekend. I just wish we could have more time. Eric & Lyn are leaving early today ,Friday, but because of our Spanish School we have to go tomorrow, Saturday and then we will have to return as late as possible on Sunday. My class is bright and early on Monday,(8:00am) hence the unfortunate necessity to depart on Sunday. 😦 Hopefully, we will be able to go another time and have a bit more time to soak up the beauty that I’m certain Rambala Jungle Lodge has to offer.

Well, I’m still waiting for Scott, it’s 12:30 now and I know he will be very unhappy if he is late for his class. He will likely be walking up any moment so I will publish this post now. Here is my new phrase for the day…”Buen Fin De Semana!” Cheers!

Just another day…

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We had our maiden trip to Price-mart today. I know, exciting huh? Well it was just as everyone had said, exactly like Costco. Maybe a bit smaller but it’s really no different. They may not have all the same things and maybe not as much of a selection but the selection was adequate for our needs. Surprisingly, the membership process went incredibly smoothly considering we are in Panama. We expected inefficiency but we got unexpected but very appreciated efficiency. We strolled up and down all the isles and picked up the things we needed and as everyone does in those places, a few things we didn’t really ‘need’. We intended to begin cooking tonight , got nearly all the fixins’ for chicken fajita’s . But, that darn Big Daddy’s called to us again after school. Two Margarita’s later and Fish Tacos replaced the home cookin’. We’ll try tomorrow.

While Spanish school is going ok, it’s really, really hard for me. No, I don’t mean , just “hard” I mean HARD! I’m not feeling completely defeated , don’t worry. I’m just in the process of trying to figure out the best way for me to approach this language learning thing. I realize I need to be patient and just keep trying and not be too negative. It has , after all, only been ten days,(after tomorrow). I went to discuss this with the administration at Habla Ya and they were very understanding, of course. Everyone learns at very different rates and they must see this kind of issue all the time. I am thinking about trying a private class that is maybe fewer hours. The added pressure of trying to catch on to the lessons in a group is just too much. The whole group has to wait. while I try soooo hard to ‘get’ it, Geesh! I’m certain I will find just the right way for me to learn spanish. I’m not looking for an easier way, nooo I dont think that is even a possibility, this is going to take a lot of work and determination. But If I can somehow eliminate as much of the added pressure as I possibly can, then I can allow myself to concentrate on “learning” more and less on how my slow process is effecting people around me. Shrug! This is my theory. I’ll just have to give it a try and see what happens.

Scott, on the other hand is enjoying his higher level class that he moved into. It is level 2 and it’s much more of a challenge for him, which he likes. He is also working really hard to get it. The thing about Scott is, he has really good recall. His ability to comprehend is amazing. I think he already has a pretty good amount of vocabulary memorized which is helping him a lot. Now he is focused on learning the more complex things like stringing those vocabulary words together to make a proper sentence. He’s focused and determined and just as brain dead as I am at the end of each day. I seriously wonder if we are ever going to actually have the energy to begin to cook at home in the evenings after school. Especially with those Margarita’s calling our names everyday at the end of class…..”Scooootttt, Hooolllllyyy…..YoooooHooooo!”. You know how convincing a good margarita can be, right??

So far, this adventure we have undertaken has proven to be everything we could have hoped it would be. Each new day brings us more and more new experiences and we come into contact with so many new , interesting people and all of this adds up to lot’s of smiles and happiness. Today, my teacher Yubal, and I had a laughing fit that we just could not stop! I’m not even exactly sure we both completely know why the other was laughing so hard but it was soooo fun! He’s too funny! I wish I could bring him to life with my words but I just couldn’t begin to do him justice in the written word. Suffice it to say, He’s the kind of ‘guy friend’ every girl loves to have! From his distaste of anything buggy, dirty, or unfashionable to his exclamations of “Perrrrrfecto HOLLY!” And of course his love of Taylor Swift and of Shopping malls, I at times feel as though my Dad is teaching this class! And his sense of humor , even though we barely understand each other just tops it all off! Yes, Yubal is yet another part of my Adventure that makes me smile! I may be having a hard time learning and attempting to comprehend is painful but as long as I can laugh and have fun all is well! And I must say…..All Is Well!! Cheers!

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20130627-224021.jpg can you spot the portrait of me in this picture? We were learning about getting and giving directions.

Hablo Un Poquito!! Emphasis on Poquito!

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Our first day in Spanish class!! Drum role please……I survived! Not only did I survive my first day in Spanish class, I actually enjoyed it! And I must have been having fun cuz’ time flew by pretty fast! Even though Scott learns annoyingly fast, I tried not to compare myself to his freaky, crazy smartness! Smartness? (is that even a word?) Well, in spite of our vastly different speed, learning new things with Scott is something I never tire of. He is incredibly encouraging, patient,helpful and supportive beyond belief! There’s truly no one I would rather be diving into this adventure with but him.

We were in a class with only one other person, a 37 year old guy who is here in Boquete for two weeks studying spanish and then going to Bocas Del Toro for two more weeks to study spanish there. Luckily, he was pretty similar to me in his experience of the Spanish language so that made me feel good. Our teachers name is Yubal. He is a good teacher, I really like him a lot. It’s really good that Yubal doesn’t speak much English. It makes it hard to get him to make it easy for me. It felt so good to occasionally understand what he was attempting to say. Four hours of lessons is rather taxing on the old noggin’ but I may actually comprehend at least some of what we learned today. We have a book to study and we did just that as we ate dinner tonight. Scott helped me study some of the numbers. We will be quizzed tomorrow on two pages of phrases. It’s 8:30Pm and we just finally decided it was time to rest our brains.

Today we got a call from Oscar telling us that our new truck is ready to be picked up. We will catch the first bus, which we’re told is 7:00am. The Toyota dealership opens at 8:30 so we should be there ready to become proud owners of our very own truck, yippee! After driving off with our new truck we plan to take a quick trip to find a broom and dustpan, and a mixing bowl. Three things we discovered we need here in our new apartment. Poco a Poco we are settling in here! And Poco a Poco we are becoming bi-lingual ! One of these days I’ll be writing a post in Spanish and you’ll have to use Google Translate to read it! But for now I will enjoy my classes and learning something new together, which is always and Adventure! Ciao for now!

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The Journey is The Destination!

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We love the journey! It starts with a dream or an idea or just a curiosity. Hearing my clients talk about far away places , exotic sights, sounds and flavors ! My mind begins to wonder. I dream of jungles and beaches with soft white sand and warm water, old historic architecture , cobbled streets crowded with merchants selling thier goods. Foods I’ve never tasted, smelled, or even heard of. Even the animals, bugs, Butterfly’s and birds lure my imagination to faraway places.

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