Category Archives: Our first year in Panama

My San Blas Birthday Adventure…

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Where to begin…..I had a GREAT Birthday, thank you very much! 🙂 The man who prepared all the food at the resort where we stayed made me a special lobster dinner. Of course the lobster was fresh caught that day! And a delicious cake for desert and all the other guests sang to me!! In Spanish of course!! Wow! What a great Birthday! It really pays off to tell everyone you meet ..”Hoy es mi cumpleaños!¨:) Hee!Hee! I feel so fortunate to live so near to such natural beauty and to have the freedom to explore and learn first hand, about such a colorful culture. The Kuna are just a fascinating group of people. The first thing I saw through the little window of the small airplane as we landed was two Kuna women and I inwardly gasped at their exotic beauty. The traditional clothing that they wear immediately caught my eye and I was mesmerized by the bright colors and beautiful embroidered designs. But what really stood out to me was the amazing adornment on their legs and arms. They wear these beautiful beaded things (‘Things’? ‘Adornments’?for lack of a proper word) that at first looked like leg warmers , covering their legs from ankle to knee. And on their arms from wrist to elbow. When I saw them closer I realized they were actually beads of brightly colored oranges, yellows, reds, black and green. Hand beaded in beautiful geometric designs. We noticed that the young females didn’t wear the traditional garb and our guide told us that they begin to dress in the clothing when they turn 18. They also have their hair cut short at that age and never again wear their hair long. This makes perfect sense to me given the constant wind and lack of lot’s of fresh water and also, I’m sure there’s not a hair salon to keep all that long hair trimmed up! (although this may not be their motivation, shrug!) All these Kuna women are tiny, almost childlike in stature. The traditional costume that they wear is hard to describe and I’m certain to do a terrible job in my verbal description of the beauty and charm of these women, but I’ll do my best. On a side note, before I continue my attempt to describe the female members of the Kuna I must tell you that none of the men wear any such traditional garments. They dress just like any Panamanian you would see almost anywhere. I found that kinda funny. Anyway….The first adjective that comes to mind when describing the Kuna women’s attire is ‘colorful’! They love color and design and they display it well! They wear an amazing mixture of different fabrics, textures and colors as well as patterns. The tops seem to all be made from some type of lightweight, maybe Rayon or chiffon fabric, flowing and lightweight. In beautiful floral patterns and soft geometric designs that are both feminine and bold. They have puffy sleeves that go to just above the elbow and most had scoop necks that set off the brass colored necklaces they wear along with long brass colored earrings. At the bodice this first fabric is connected to a corset-type piece that is embroidered with the traditional Mola designs, each women wears different designs and I don’t know what the significance of these designs are to the individual women, if there is a significance at all. But they are very brightly colored, hand embroidered , and intricately decorated all the way down to where the next piece of fabric begins, this next layer of color and pattern is the Sarong type skirt they all wear. And on their heads they all have a red handkerchief type scarf to tie around their short hair. They all wear the brass jewelry and some of the older women had pierced noses. I did manage to very discreetly get a photo of a women who was standing in front of me at the airport on the morning we left. ( I know “bad girl!”) They don’t like to have their photos taken so I felt kinda bad, but she didn’t see me , I promise! I just had to show those of you who have not had the pleasure of seeing them before. In addition to all this color and amazing external adornment I must add that above all I found their easy smiles to be most endearing of all. Every women I saw gave me a great big smile and a wave, I just love that! I didn’t see one unfriendly face the whole time I was there!

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San Blas Islands Here We Come…

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Well, my Birthday is Tomorrow, Jan 29th and we’re headed to San Blas for four nights. We’ve read a lot about this area of Panama, just off the Caribbean coast, and I’m so excited to finally get to explore it. Several months ago, not long after we arrived in Panama, we discovered that they have a coupon deal similar to “Groupons” in the states called Oferta Simple. We bought two coupons for a stay at a hotel on San Blas called the Dolphin Lodge. It was a great deal, half off! Then we just recently got an email letting us know that it expires on Feb 2!! Yikes!! Better go now!! So, you can imagine right now isn’t the best timing for us to go out of town, but oh well…Guess we’ll just have to suffer! Darn! But seriously, leaving three employees does pose a bit of a complication, not insurmountable of course. Scott is making sure that they have all the materials to continue working on the retaining wall and hopefully all goes well while the Jefe is away. It’s not easy to get out to the islands. Today we’re flying from David to PC, staying one night then catching a small plane out to one of the islands where we will be met by a boat that will take us to our island, there are many so I’m no sure which one we’re going to. Then we have four nights at the Dolphin Lodge where Scott will scope out the nearest hammock and remain there as long as possible! I’m looking forward to doing some snorkeling and likely a bit of hammock time as well!! Kindles are charged up, sadly my iPad is staying home because I seriously doubt there will be internet connectivity on these islands! I may suffer from withdrawal but hopefully I’ll survive! 🙂 You’ll be relieved to know that we have some very good friends who have kindly agreed to spend some time at our house with the kitties so they’ll be well cared for, not to worry! So, I’ll let you know all about this little adventure when I get back home! Following is a little excerpt I copied and pasted from Wikipedia to give you a little info on this wonderful place! Cheers! …. Read the rest of this entry

A Rollercoaster Of Awareness…

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Okay, I’m in a Funk….

As Scott has begun to have a routine of his own, he works on our project from 7:30-4:00, I’m finding myself at a loss, as to what to do with myself. It’s a very strange feeling for me that no one expects me to be anywhere. I could just sit at home alone all day long and no one would even miss me. (don’t panic, I’m OKAY, really) I have no one expecting me to be or do anything at all. This is not a familiar feeling for me and I’ll admit I feel a bit lonely and kinda lost and not a little useless. Right now I don’t feel like I have a ‘purpose’ to my days. I’m enjoying going to the gym and swimming and getting exercise, but the gym is a very quite place. I’ve always been such a people person. Whew! I knew I would miss the social aspects of my salon, the people, the fun conversations about books and life and gossip and the laughing and joking and the reward I got from giving of myself to make people feel good. I know I’ll eventually find my new purpose but at the moment I’m just a bit lost, although at the same time, kinda feeling as though I need to embrace this moment and sit with it so I can process what I’m going through and move forward in a healthy way. Just writing it down feels a little bit better but I don’t like to sound like I’m so pathetic and that’s exactly what it sounds like when I read back to myself what I just said. Geesh! (eye roll!) Well, it’s honest and I think it’s one of the things you like about following my journey. I know it’s one of the things I like about sharing it, being open and revealing to you what this new beginning is truly like for me. (shrug!)

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A Convenient Life…

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Sometimes as I’m running errands and trying to be productive I ponder how many of the things I need to get accomplished just aren’t as neat and tidy and simple and yes, convenient as I’m used to. This isn’t meant to be a complaint, simply an observation of one of the many changes of lifestyle I’ve experienced with this awesome adventure. The task of finding a way to get a simple money order was a good example of what I’m talking about. Normally, (in that other life) I would have known where I needed to go in order to get a money order, I would go there and be confident that I would be walking out with what I needed! Not quite the case for me here. Add to the fact that I not only don’t yet know how or where to acquire such a thing , but I also don’t have a strong grasp on the language and, any semblance of “convenience” just goes right out the window! Another thing as trivial as parking near a store I need to go into can often turn into a search for a place to park that’s at least reasonably near to my destination, you just don’t find big, parking lots up here in Boquete. It’s pretty much a sort of ‘free-for-all’ when it comes to finding a place to park your car. There are a couple of small parking places that are easy to park in, but mostly I park on a side street where I’ve strategically scoped out as the easiest spot to get in and out without too much trouble. I’ve long since given up on any deluded idea that I might just run a quick errand, I constantly remind myself that there’s really no reason to feel hurried, I’m not on any ‘time schedule’. So who cares if I need to walk across town! This is when that “Tranquilo” word comes in handy! And I realize, “Hey, who needs convenience right now? I’m a free bird!” I just take it all in and smile at the friendly faces and say “Bueno!” I watch my step as I stroll along to my destination and I try to adapt to the fact that I may or may not get all the things on my list, at least not today. Who know’s what I may accomplish mañana and what treasure I may find at Romero’s or at Mandarin or Deli Baru! One thing I consistently find as I make my way through town is lot’s of smiles, there’s always an abundance of those. Read the rest of this entry

Morning Bliss…

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As this fresh new day approaches I sit on my terrace with my coffee and just gaze at my surroundings. Ahhh… sip… smile…sip…the trees seem to sparkle right now as the sun shines down from the bright blue sky and the gentle breeze moves all the leaves two and frow. The clouds slowly moving over the hills in the not so far distance look like a soft blanket, gently caressing the hilltops. The birdsong is mesmerizing, so many different and distinct songs busy chirping and tweeting and communicating to one another in a language I wish I understood. I sit quietly observing this place, this haven, this wonderful, peaceful, place that is now my home. It’s so green, so many different shades of green and it feels to me as though life is just so natural and vibrant and free. I breath in the fresh, crisp, clean air and feel the breeze that gently blows this morning. Ahhhh….sip….Smile…What time is it? What day of the week is is? Is it January already? Does it matter? Nawww…what matters to me right now, in this moment is all this Devine beauty the colors, the sounds the feel of the breeze, the quiet, even the rooster that disturbs the quiet 🙂 It’s all just such a gift, and such a pleasure to know each morning it’s just right outside my door waiting for me to soak it all up, to take it all in and to be filled, each day with gratitude for all the richness that is my new home….. Boquete.

Spinning my wheels today….

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20140113-205441.jpgNo, not 4 wheelin’…I wish I were spinning my wheels up there instead of traipsing around feeling like I can’t seem to accomplish anything I need to accomplish. I need to do something very simple but can’t seem to get it done. I simply need to purchase a money order or get a bank check payable to the Consulate of Panama. We need to send payment for the authentication along with our documents to the Washington DC Panamanian Consulate. I’ve been to ten different places to attempt to purchase a money order…”Necesito comprar un giro postal”. Blank looks..No can do! Even the Western Union here in town doesn’t seem to issue money orders. I thought that’s what Western Union does? (Tranquilo…deep breath…) Now, of course I can understand the banks unwillingness to help (kinda) because I have yet to have opened an account here. We are in the process of collecting all the necessary documents they require in order to open an account but the visa stuff has been the priority so far. My last resort has been to contact a friend and ask if she would be willing to meet me at her bank to purchase a money order or get a bank check. I hate to inconvenience people, but the only other option, according to the person I spoke with this morning at the Panamanian Consulate in DC is to go to the Maritime Authority in Panama City to pay. Well, That seems kinda inconvenient , that would be very costly for us to make another trip …..Grrrrrrr.

Sorry, this post is kinda whiny but that seems to be the tone of this day so far, but hey, it’s only noon so it could look up! The other stupidly frustrating thing that happened today is totally my fault..I bought a stapler the other day, so we can staple the different piles of documents together before mailing them. I bought the wrong size staples!!! Humph! So I went to Mandarin today and bought two more boxes of different size staples and….you guessed it…they also don’t fit my new stapler!! What a dummy!! So, I think I’ll just bring the darn stapler with me next time! Uggg!! Honestly, I feel like crawling back under the covers!! Nawww not really! Maybe I should go lay in the sun with the dog who looks so peaceful and cozy!

(Several hours later and all’s well!)
I told you things could quite possibly begin to look up…and I was right! My friend Sela was kind enough to meet me at her bank and arrange to get a bank check Payable to the Consulate of Panama for the amount of the Authentication (which is $30.00 per page! 8 pages!). Whew! Sigh of relief! And Scott found the right size staples to top off my day ( how easily my day is topped off!) ! We organized all the documents, put them all in a big envelope with a pre-paid, self addressed return envelope and I marched them off to Mail Boxes Etc. to be DHLed to DC. Done! And Done! Now we wait until they are returned to us and then add our FBI report to it to send it all off to PC to our attorney, and the application process will officially be in process!! Which means we can then head back to CA to prepare our container for shipping. My next big task is to get a bank account here! This would have been much easier had I had an established relationship with a bank. And now that we have employees working for us it’s of the utmost importance to get the ball rollin’.

The day just kept getting better because as you may recall Monday is the day I go to my friend Aris’s house to practice Spanish. I had the brilliant idea to walk over to the Feria with her. She also thought that was a Bueno Idea! So I met her at her house and we walked over there. Her house is just practically right next door to the fair grounds so it’s a short walk. I’m glad we went early in the day, around 3:00, because it get’s pretty crazy in the evenings. As a matter of fact I’ve been told that the music goes well past 2:00 in the morning, more like 3 or 3:30. I took a few photos of the enormous stages they have built and they turn into raging Disco’s after dark! I must admit, even though I hate crowds I’m a bit curious and may have to check it out with Aris one night this week, we shall see how brave I’m feeling…. But the Feria is also an amazing place to shop for all sorts of crafts and hand made artisan things. I saw beautiful hammocks and leather purses an jackets and boots and lot’s of woven baskets and plants for sale and hand painted things. I bought a little purse and a key holder to hang on the wall of our house someday. I really enjoyed walking around with Aris. We got an ice cream and found a nice picnic bench near the river and chatted for awhile. Amazing how a yucky day can turn out so not yucky by the end of the day. As a matter of fact…Darn right wonderful! Smiling!

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I’m a 4-Wheelin’ Gal!!

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That’s right! You heard me correctly, I’m a rough and tumble, 4-wheelin’ gal these days! Watch out!! Ha! Ha! Ha! When I lived in California I drove a Jeep Cherokee 4 wheel drive. But I gotta admit If I had ever had occasion or necessity to use the 4-wheel drive on that car I would not have know how to do it! I don’t think I ever shifted that car into 4wheel drive. Now I drive a Toyota FJ Cruiser and just the other day I had my first lesson on how to actually do some off road 4 wheel driving! And I had this new , exhilarating experience driving up to our property. It may sound silly to some, but to me it was such an exhilarating, experience I just have to tell you about it. I know….I do get easily excited by some of the most trivial things, but I just cant help it, It’s all so very different from my life in Los Altos. So, as you know, our property is way up in the mountains and there’s no ‘road’ yet to get up there. Well, let me re-phrase that, for Panama standards there is a “road” kinda, sorta… its actually more like a ‘path’? or a ‘clearing’? But it’s rough going and it’s not for the faint of heart at the moment. As Scott has been trudging up there with his truck for several weeks now the road (or where the ‘road’ will eventually be) is becoming much more evident, you can actually see tracks where your tires go. When we first started driving up there the plants and weeds were higher than our truck. It was very funny. My stomach was always in knots, it just didn’t seem like a place we should be attempting to drive! I was certain we would get stuck and not be able to get out again! Just certain!! Ha! (what an optimist, huh?) After we actually get to our property, after trudging through a very rough path, the ‘road’ goes downhill then hits a creek , (which already has a sort of bridge-ish thing so your not actually driving through water) and heads up pretty steeply, this part, when we were still in the rainy season was much too slick and steep for us to get Scotts truck or my FJ up there, the tires would just spin. So we were hiking up to the spot where our house will eventually be built. Of course before we could even ‘hike’ up there Scott had to first use his shiny new weed-wacker to clear the way to be able to get through the thick brush.

I must pause in my telling for a moment to reflect on the joy my husband got from owning and using his very own nifty Weed-Wacker! Eye roll here! (Smiling Eye Roll, mind you!) That guy….So easily appeased! If you’ll recall, the poor guy had been down for the count for several months before his hernia surgery and then consequently, after the surgery to be well healed. I tell ya, keeping that man down was not an easy feat! He was Stir-Crazy, and insanely unhappy about it!! So I suspect the joyous look on his face as he gassed up that weed-wacker and began to clear the brush was mainly from getting to DO something!! Anyone who knows Scott can imagine how glad he was to be weed-wacking to his hearts content, and my dear husbands heart was indeed ‘content’ as that weed-wacker buzzed and hummed its way through big tall weeds and plants. A couple of times I brought my lawn chair and set it up near the car as he worked away at clearing a path for us to climb to the top of our property. No, I was not interested in trying out his weed-wacker, thanks, but no thanks. 🙂 I wouldn’t want to steal his fun, I’m much to generous for that! 🙂

So back to my joyous experience, cuz as Scott had his joyous Weed-Wacking experience, mine was learning how to utilize the 4-wheel drive in my car. Scott was working up there last week and he had put some bags of cement in the back of my car. He called me and asked if I thought I could manage driving up there so he could get the bags out of my car. Hmmmmm….Well, I had not actually DRIVEN up to the property on that “road” (eye roll) myself and was a bit hesitant, to be honest. But I said I’d drive over and meet him there. When I got there he had driven his truck down to meet me at the bottom and offered to drive my car up so I wouldnt have to…..Well….I gotta learn someday, right? So I may as well give it a shot! So he showed me how to shift the car into low 4 wheel drive and put the gear in low as well and he said,”just follow me”. Okay……So I slowly, at first, began to drive along behind his truck on the path. “Hey…Whoa!…Uhhhh….Whoooooohoooo! THis is pretty FUNNNN!” (Great big smile here!) I couldn’t stop smiling as my trusty FJ slowly made it’s way up through the rough path to where we will someday call our home! Oh Yea! I have now made many trips up there to bring a cooler full of lunch for Scott and I. It’s nooooo Sweat! And It’s soooo fun too! I never dreamed I’d enjoy 4 wheelin’ and I especially never dreamed that I’d be 4 wheelin’ to my HOME!!! Ha!Ha! Ohhhh I just LOVE this place and this new life! Seriously, people I could not be any happier with this Adventure!

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Blogging Lessons…

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Yesterday I got a rather , ummm what word shall I use???? Harsh? Mean? Angry? Bitter? (definitely not kind), resentful? I don’t know what word to use because sometimes it can be difficult to accurately discern the true tone of someones words by email. But suffice it to say , this person who left a comment on my blog, a complete stranger I may add, had issues with my writing and the accuracy of the content of some of my posts. At least I think she meant to portray her distain (?) Possibly superiority as a result of my lack of research into certain information I had published, for example, “Boquete” does not mean” bouquet “and the Feria is not TWO WEEKS its Jan 10-19! Oh, and she knows all about allll the holidays that are observed here in Panama and feels I should also know them and blah blah blah. (maybe she was trying to help me?). I don’t rightly know what the purpose of the comment on my blog truly was, If it was to ‘help’ me, I must say that I did learn something. She’s not wrong about the importance of putting true and correct information on my blog. I do try to write about what I know but given the fact that I don’t know everything about everything, I may occasionally, and very unintentionally, write something that is inaccurate.
May I remind those of you who read my little blog… I’m not a professional writer and honestly it takes some courage to publish my words for all to read. Mostly, I began writing this as a way to stay connected with my friends and family but my readership has grown and now there are hundreds of people who follow my blog who don’t know me and many who tell me they enjoy following my journey. For the most part I’ve been very touched by the kind words I receive from complete strangers. Many of those ‘complete strangers’ have since become good friends and I have my blog to thank for these new friends. They say you have to take the good with the bad and this is something I just had firsthand experience with last night. While I agree I need to remember that putting words out for all to read brings with it a certain amount of responsibility on my part to be as truthful and honest and accurate as I possibly can. But, honestly, truth be told, I Don’t know everything and my experience will not always match those of others who have moved here long ago. I honestly do my best to write and tell you about things as accurately as I can but when I mis-speak, (because I will), I’m happy to make corrections and undo my wrong. Writing a blog, for me, is a learning experience and I’m having a great time doing it, please forgive my mistakes and if you feel the need to share how much more you know than me (which, believe me, will be ALOT!) I ask that you do so in a private email. Boy, is it embarrassing, and I think unnecessary, to get yelled at (that’s how it feels to me) in public. And I beg you to remember that I am human and I’m just sharing my experience, not attempting to sound as though I’m an expert at living abroad or that I am a scholar on all things Panama , did I forget to mention this is a NEW experience for me? As is blogging, I love talking and chatting and sharing my perspective, please don’t ruin my fun, no one’s forcing you to read the junk I write….move on to a different blog or forum or whatever you can find that will provide absolute accuracy , one that will satisfy your need for perfection or does my lack of professionalism,editorial accuracy and literary intelligence just make you feel superior? Hmmmm…..

The “Feria De Las Flores Y De Cafe” is upon us!

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What is the Feria De Las Flores Y De Cafe? Well, it’s my first time to be here in Boquete for this event so I can only describe what I’m seeing so far. Judging by the amount of preparation that has been going on at the Feria grounds all month and all around town as well, it’s a big deal. I’ve seen many store and restaurants repainting and hanging new signs, lot’s of general clean up going on as well. Oh, the town of Boquete is preparing for something that is obviously very big! Since the name of this glorious town actually brings to mind a “Boquete”,( but don’t be fooled it does not MEAN Boquete!) flowers are an obvious theme for a Feria! And Add to that, abundance of flowers , all the coffee fincas spread out all over the mountains here and Cafe is most definitely something to be celebrated. So I’m assuming this Nine day celebration is in honor of these most abundant, and beautiful aspects of Boquete. And have I mentioned , these Panamanians love a Party! Aside from the most amazing flower beds that seem to have bloomed, incredibly, just in time to be celebrated…I see Massive stages being built! There will most assuredly be music! And most likely lots of dancing and general merriment well into the wee mornings at the Feria Grounds. It seems as though there are many more cars in town as well as touristy looking Panamanians who I’m sure are in town to join in on the fun. l love seeing all the people strolling along the bridge with cameras , taking photos of the flower beds at the Feria grounds. It is looking quite spectacular indeed. I will let you know what all the hubbub is as soon as I take a stroll myself and check it out. I suspect it will be crowed, but the good news is, my ankle is almost totally better, so who knows, I might even shake my booty a little bit if the music is playing when I’m there! Of course Scott will run for the hills!

Many of my readers have been asking me about Scotts journey and if he’s back home. Yes, he’s back home again. I picked him up on Tuesday. Unfortunately his trip was not a successful one. He was trying to get to the Panamanian Consulate (not to be confused with the “American” Consulate here in Panama) to have all our Visa documents Authenticated (which can only be done at the Consulate, not the Embassy). There is no “Panamanian” Consulate here in Panama, only an “American” Embassy, which I’ve learned, is not the same. Let me be clear…There is most certainly an American Embassy as well as an American Consulate, what they do not have in Panama is a “Panamanian Embassy & Consulate”, which is who needs to Authenticate our documents.. Because of all the bad weather that the U.S. has been experiencing, his connecting flight was cancelled and United was sooo back logged that we couldn’t even get through to them by phone. So he never made it out of Panama City. He made the most of it though and went to the Embassy to have all the Docs notarized and now we are going to just attempt to mail it all to the Consulate with a self addressed, prepaid envelope and a money order for the Authenicating. Of course, this is also not as straight forward as one would expect! Yesterday I learned that finding a place to purchase a money order isn’t easy. I thought Western Union did that! Not here they don’t’! The lady at the counter of the Western Union looked rather confused by my request, as did the teller at Scotia Bank…HuH? And Fed ex doesn’t offer the service of a PRE PAID , envelope! What? Why is that a problem ?,…I have no idea! I finally asked the guy at Mail Boxes Etc and he said he can do that part and gave me a couple of more places to check about the money order. Sometimes things that should be just easy chores end up turning into a wild goose chase here.

So, that’s what I’ve been up to lately. Now, today is some kind of holiday (which I am not as of yet familiar with, but I’m sure this time next year I will have learned more about the holidays ) so Scott has no worker but he took off to go work alone. He has a new worker starting tomorrow. He’s slowly gathering a small crew to help with the retaining wall and then the road up to the lot. Progress is moving along slowly. And SLOWLY is just what I need to adapt to. That darn Visa will eventually get done so I’m actually, somehow, holding onto my Tranquillo and realizing that “Poco a Poco” is just my new life theme! (Smiling!) And today I get to learn how to play Mahjongg with a new friend, so life is good! I do love to learn new things, and I really like playing games and best of all , getting to know a new friend is icing on the cake of this day! I’ll be letting you know all about the “Feria de las Flores y de Cafe” as soon as I check it out for myself. Today is the first day of the Feria so I’ll try to get over there soon. Cheers!

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When a Scary Experience Turns Into An Empowering One…

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Have you ever had to drive around a big, strange city at night, alone? If that doesn’t faze you, well I gotta salute you my friend, cuz I’m just a total wimp when faced with navigating a strange city, and add nighttime to it and Alone…. I’m tellin’ ya, I’m on the verge of tears! REALLY! I know this admission of wimpyness may have changed your vision of this wild, adventurous gal, but I gotta be honest, right? Well, I probably don’t ‘have’ to be quite so honest but , hey, it’s my blog, so I just gotta be me!

So, I’ve posted about this on FaceBook but I must expand on my evening escapades for those of you who aren’t participating in the social gathering that is… FaceBook. You see, this experience is all part of this grand adventure of mine! Learning the ins and outs of navigating a new city, and country, Literally, navigating, and sometimes, all alone, and possibly at night. I just hate driving in an unfamiliar place. I have a lousy sense of direction. Reading a map is not my forte, to put it kindly! I really suck at trying to figure out any map!! To be fair, my sense of direction is very likely effected by my panicky , nervous, frazzled mindset when faced with unfamiliar surroundings. My daughter can attest to my crazy bouts of sitting-up-really-straight-turning-off-the-radio-very-serious-face-moments while driving with me. How many times did she say…”Mommm, Chill!” With a laugh of disbelief while we tried to find an address in a neighborhood I was unfamiliar with.

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Still Working On Getting Our Permanent Residency Visa….

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Boy Oh Boy is this process of gathering all the proper documents for our residence visa a pain in the !@#. We’ve had to wait for three months to begin the process because we needed to provide three months bank statements to prove our lifetime income from the annuity we’re using to satisfy the “lifetime income” requirement. What we didn’t do that we should have done (listen up those of you who are planning to apply for this visa)…we should have gone ahead and began the collecting and Authenticating, getting documents Apostilled, notarized and blah,blah, blah long ago. Now we find ourselves in the unfortunate situation where we’re scurrying to figure out how to do all this before our FBI background check expires in a couple weeks! Yikes! I rrrrrreally don’t want to have to go through the whole crazy fingerprinting thing in Panama City all over again!!

I think one of the more frustrating aspects of this process has been getting consistent answers about what needs to be notarized, what needs to be Authenticated and where and who can do this. Oh, and I am pretty sure all these documents will also need to be translated into Spanish as well. I’ve been on the phone all morning to both the Miami and the Houston Panama consulates trying to ascertain the best way to go about getting all this done. It looks like Scott may be taking a quick trip to Houston tomorrow (sat). And the question still remains, will his FBI report become void when he leaves Panama? Again, very different answers on that one too! We finally have all the papers that we need, with the exception of one thing that we had mailed to Scott’s mom in California, and we will have to have her overnight it to whatever hotel Scott ends up staying at. I’ve met some really lucky and smart folks who have gotten all this done well before their move here and boy do I envy them. We didn’t have the luxury of that option because of the proof of income part. We couldn’t invest in our annuity until the sale of our house and then the requirement of 3 months bank statements showing the income and also a notarized letter of authentication from the institution that holds the annuity took some time as well. We’ve been dealing with a lot of back and forth with many different people trying to slowly and for the most part patiently wait for each piece of this puzzle. Now that we finally seem to actually have all the documents required to start the application process, all that’s left to do is get those stamps of Authentication and notary. Then we can hand them all to our attorney in Panama City and see what’s next. The only part I’m a bit nervous about is the FBI reports. I just hope the information we received from our attorney, (which seems to be totally different from several other people who have gone through this) about the fact that we already left Panama once after having had the background check done. Everyone else has gotten the very specific instructions to not leave the country after the background check or it becomes void. But we had to do our border run in order to have a valid drivers license.

So, we shall see where we are with this after Scott gets all the Authentication done in Houston at the Panamanian Consulate. It will be so nice when this part of our adventure is done. Having our Pensionado will make it so much nicer to live here. For those of you who aren’t regular readers of my blog, in order for our California drivers license to remain valid we are required to leave the country for 24 hours every 90 days. Humph! It’s quite a PIA! We are really hoping not to need to do it again. So cross your fingers that we have gathered all the correct documentation and it’s all properly notarized , authenticated and appostilled . Scott will be heading out tonight (sat) to take the overnight bus to Panama City(7 hours) in order to catch an early flight to Houston on Sunday . Then he’ll be at the Panama Consulate first thing Monday morning and if all goes well he flies back to Panama Tuesday evening,and then catches another bus back to David . Whew! I’ll let you know how it goes….

Transitioning…

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I think I’m going through a bit of a transition in my life at the moment. I just said goodbye to Scott for the day, as he left to go to work at our property. He has a worker now so today’s his first day of being accountable to someone who’s expecting him to be there at a certain time. I’m really glad he’s finally got someone to help him with the physical labor up there but… now I find myself feeling a bit …..Ummmm let’s seee, what word do I want to use? Disconnected? Free? Unfocused? Discombobulated might be the best word….It’s that same ol’ “Now What?” Kind of feeling. For lack of the proper description, I’m not exactly sure what my role is or how I’ll choose to define my purpose right now. Oh, I have a short list of things I need to accomplish today, go to the gym, pay our rent, make some phone calls, bring Scott lunch, clean the kitchen, fill up the hummers food, but I gotta tell you, without a routine I’m just a bit…. lost. It just occurred to me as Scott was driving down the driveway that he’s beginning to have a routine. And I have yet to actually discover what my routine will be, besides going to the gym, which I love. I have a few small goals that are tumbling around my head but I think at the moment I just need to focus on me and I gotta stop getting myself so caught up in feeling guilty about not having a clear, set routine for my days quite yet. In my head I know it’ll come. I’ve spent my whole adult life being so intensely focused, it’s so foreign to me not to have a clear path to follow. Don’t get me wrong, It’s not a crisis or a huge problem. I’m just sharing with you the fact that today I feel as though I’m in the midst of a transition. Since our move Scott and I have been kinda attached at the hip and we’ve been doing most things together. This morning I’m realizing that he’s got a new routine that isn’t mine. Whew! It’s both Freeing and unfamiliar at the same time. Well, I’m off to the Gym now…..I’ll figure this out later….or, maybe I’ll just play Words With Friends! Ha!

Feliz Ano Nuevo

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It’s hard to believe that it’s New Years Eve! After going to the gym, starting laundry, making Scott lunch to take up to him while he’s working on our property, boiling some more drinking water, making more hummer food ,watering the Basil plants, and cleaning the kitchen, I had a minute to stop and think about the year that’s passed as well as my hopes for the new year ahead , before I take a quick drive over to the coffee finca where we purchase our coffee beans. 2013 was a monumental year for us. For the majority of the early part of the year our focus was on this move and then starting in late May, getting ourselves settled here in our new home was our focus. This time last year we were spending a few nights in San Francisco and dreaming about what our new life in a new country would be like. It was a rather emotional time for us as well as for all our friends and family. Goodbyes, were looming in the nearby future as we were closing down our life in California to begin anew in Panama in just a few short months. We were exhausted. But we were also both full of the anticipation that comes with an adventure that’s looming nearby waiting to be embraced. Up until we actually drove off, on our way to the airport with our very unhappy cats in tow, we had a very defined plan, it was clear and fairly predictable. But after landing here, we knew everything wouldn’t be quite so straightforward. There were many unknowns, and things we just couldn’t plan for before we arrived, we would just have to get here and figure it out…. Things like.. Where would we live (minor details! ha!)? What cars would we find to buy? Would we be able to find property to buy? How will the cat’s adapt? Would we meet nice people and make new friends?(well me, not Scott, had that thought!) What will it feel like to live so far away from our families? But when I think back now on all those unknowns, I realize that’s just the way life is all the time. We may think we have a plan and that we’re in charge, but really, much of life just kinda works out the way it should, no matter how hard you may try to force it to fit into a box of your making.

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We had a Wild Night Tonight!

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Wild? Did I say Wild? Well, Ahem…wild for us! It all started with a few (yes, just a few!) grey hairs, and a haircut….then before we knew it we had made quite the rounds!This is how it all started… My friend Andrea mentioned awhile back that the guy who last cut her hair had left and she would have to find another person to cut her hair, my ears perked up…since my friend Valerie has deserted me for visiting her family for the holidays (I know, how rude!) I had no other choice…”Really?” I said to Andrea….”Well….if ya wanna….maybe you could put my color on for me and I’ll cut your hair!” She liked my Brilliant idea and today was the day!! Andrea and Don showed up and Scott and Don quickly skidaddled , soon thereafter, in search of escape from the beautifying afternoon that us girls were so gleefully looking forward to! I don’t know why they ran soooo fast, it’s not like we would’ve been able to beautify them!!! But anywhoooo, Scott took Don up to show him our property with the instructions to meet us back here at the house to go have dinner when we were done getting gorgeous!

Just as we were getting close to finishing up our beauty party Scott called and said that he and Don were at George’s Grill having a beer, “call us when your done and we’ll meet you at the BCP”. Okay…We had a little more time so I told Scott I’d call him in a bit. Andrea and Don had told us about a little event that they thought sounded fun at the BCP ,( for my friends in the States thats the Boquete Community Players, this is kind of a community center where they have plays and they hold the Tuesday Market) . They are hosting a Football night on Sundays and they have two different rooms with different games going on two big screen TV’s and then they have yummy food and drinks, today it was pulled pork which is always a great big YES for us!

Andrea and I were about as purty as we were gonna get so we called they guys to tell them we’d meet them at the BCP. Scott said, “we just ordered another beer and an appetizer,(Surprise, Surprise!) why don’t you guys come on over here then we’ll go to the BCP” That sounded just fine to us so we scooted on over to Georges, I ordered a Sangria and we just chatted a bit while we shared a nice appetizer and the guys finished their beer. Then we all hopped in our cars and headed over to have a little pulled pork…..Well…..Screeeeech! Low and behold they only had enough pulled pork for two little sandwiches sooooo the hungriest of us (I wont mention any names here) ate the two little pulled pork sandwiches and we all had a drink and decided this would be yet another little appetizer. No problem! Next up on our wild night out on the town…..Big Daddy’s for some fish tacos and Margarita’s!!!

Andrea & Don run a small B&B http://www.boqueteguesthouse.com and coincidentally their guests where also having dinner at Big Daddy’s! Such a nice young couple. They let Don & Andrea know that in the morning they were being picked up at 3:00am to go on a big 4 wheel adventure up the volcano, Voncan Baru. This is the highest point in all of Panama and we haven’t done it yet, but have heard it’s quite an amazing trip. Don & Andrea really get to meet so many great people who come to stay at their place. So, dinner was lot’s of fun. We laughed and chatted and laughed some more then decided it was time for one more place…..Yes, you guessed it….Gelato!!! Betcha didn’t know Boquete has Gelato! Yep! And its really yummy! We walked through town on a beautiful evening to top it all off with a bit of gelato! And the evening was complete! I know what your thinking…”wow! They are really wild and crazy!” We hit four different establishments in one night! And lived to tell about it! Ha!Ha! Two gorgeous women and four full tummy’s, I must say , A good time was had by all!

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Here we go!

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More Firsts…

Our first day of working on our property. Scott began early while I was a the gym (Im working hard to strengthen my ankle). In order to begin the staging part of this project Scott’s building two pen-type things to keep the gravel and sand contained for mixing with the concrete. He began his day early by driving up there with a truckload of concrete blocks that he picked up yesterday evening, unloaded them at the top of the lot then drove back down the Ivan to pick up the next load. While he was there he decided to go ahead and let them deliver a load of blocks, (500) two loads. He picked up four loads of gravel which he unloaded himself. The delivery guys don’t have a truck that would make it to the top of our property so they dumped the blocks at the bottom, Scott loaded them into his truck then drove them to the top and unloaded them himself…he’s really gotta get ahold of some workers!

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Drum Roll Please……..

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And the construction project begins with Scott’s shopping spree and a beautiful new Concrete mixer! Although there are many things yet to finalize before we actually ‘break ground’, setting the stage (so to speak) is a big job. We are currently working with our architect to finalize our design for the casita. Today we spent some time in his office going over a few changes and modifications to the plans and walking through the electrical plan the the roof line plan. I had to decide exactly where we want to have all the wall plugs and light switches as well as the actually lights we will have in each room. So we went room by room and laid out where each light fixture would be located, like canned lights, sconces, ceiling fixtures, etc. We also discussed the windows and what size and where each window would go in the house. It seems like we may be fairly well done with the plans and so when he’s finished drawing them up we will review them once more before he begins the permit phase of the project. As soon as we have a blueprint in our hands then we can begin the process of interviewing contractors.

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Feliz Navidad At Rambalita…..

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Today( Monday,12/22) I had the best Christmas EVER! My friend Lynn invited me to help her with something really special. Last year she and her friend Brian began a new tradition of giving Christmas gifts to all the Children in the Village near her jungle lodge, Rambalita. This project began last year with a generous donation by Brian, who is a good friend of hers, and this year she was able to collect more donations from other friends and with the help of many of her good friends she successfully pulled it off again this year. A lot of work goes into this and I feel so honored to have been invited to help. Lynn put a huge amount of much love and energy into making it all happen.

Her cuidador or property manager, Javiar has a home in this village and he helps by collecting the headcount of all the children, how many niños , niñas and infants. There are 34 houses with 71 children in total, 28 girls and 43 boys. Lynn and a friend went into David and had a great time shopping for all the gifts and they also purchased a bit of food items for each house as well.

After the shopping spree she put out the word that it was time to wrap! And her good friends came with scissors in hand ready to wrap their little hearts out! According to Javier, the children here just love to receive a gift that’s wrapped. Each child got an age appropriate gift as well as a backpack type of bag filled with little goodies. Then each household got a grocery bag of food. And the moms got some pretty plastic flowers and a little gifty item and the dads got a little trinket as well. It was indeed a Feliz Navidad for all!

This was a completely new experience for me and I was overwhelmed. All the Children in the village were so precious I just wanted to hug them all. They were pretty polite, patient and grateful. Although I suspect there were those who were attempting to get more than just one gift. I tried to help handing out gifts for a little while but then it became apparent to me that there was no way for me to know if I was getting repeat customers!! So I began to repeat..”Habla con Javier” “Habla con Javier” Habla con Javier”!!! Yikes!! Javier was much more in the “know” about who had how many hermanos and hermanas ! It seemed as though there were millions of little hands tapping me on the back and on my arms and as I turned to see what they wanted those little faces just melted my heart! I had to let someone else do the handing out before I just blinding gave the same adorable face anything at all!! Did I mention…Overwhelmed!!

In the end I think everyone was happy and a Feliz Navidad was successfully had at Rambalita! As we packed up to leave many of the mothers very sweetly came up to us and took our hands and thanked us and wished us a Feliz Navidad, with smiles on their faces. All I can say is, this Holiday is officially the best one I’ve ever had! I hope I get to do this again next year and many years to come. Christmas is a time for giving and for generosity and even though they don’t know it, those families at Rambalita gave me the best Christmas gift I’ve ever received. The joy in their faces warmed my heart and made me happy as well. You just can’t wrap that and put it under a tree and I’m sure they don’t sell that at a mall. Merry Christmas to all my friends and family.

Lot’s of Holiday Happenings for our first Christmas in Boquete…

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I never could have imagined this time last year that we would be so busy during our first Christmas Season here in Boquete. For the last thirty years my holidays have been so cram-packed with getting all my clients hair ready for all their holiday travels and parties and special events that I never had a ton of time or energy to think of too much else. I always managed to get our big Christmas tree up and decorated on the weekend after Thanksgiving, and I always enjoyed that all through the month. This year we don’t have any of our own belongings here yet so we opted to forego any Christmas decorating at our house. We’ve never been big on buying each other a lot of gifts and sending things to the States is not especially cost effective so the money we would normally spend on gifts we’ve decided to contribute to local causes. There are so many great organizations here and it’s deeply rewarding to feel as though we’re doing something worthwhile to help people who really have ‘need’ of so much. I must admit that this form of giving makes me feel so happy. I always wished I had more time and resources to help those who really need it ,and this year I get to do that.

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A Couple Day’s At The Beach…

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Since moving to Boquete we’ve had the opportunity to take several little trips to different areas in Panama and Costa Rica. We always love seeing new places and experiencing different areas. But, I have to tell you, every single time we’re away from our new home , we’re delighted when it’s time to go home again. It’s funny how happy we are to go ‘home’! So this past two days we spent hanging out on the beach with some great new friends that we met through my blog. Dan & Janet were out visiting back in August and we all got together and went on a coffee tour and had a great time. We’ve kept in touch with them as they’ve been preparing to make their move out here to Panama. They decided to plan one more vacation out here before they make their actual move which will be early next year. But this time they invited their good friends along, Sheldon & Laurie and their two kids Amanda & Branden. They rented a house on the beach in Boca Chica and we rented a small casita nearby. For my readers who don’t live here, Boca Chica is a small beach community about 2 hours drive from Boquete. We had done a bit of driving around that area in the past but had never really spent much time there so we were happy to have the opportunity to spend more time there.

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Another Dog in Doggy heaven..

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Yesterday, (friday the 13th), My neighbor Margot and I had to put “Boy” dog to sleep. 😦 Do you remember me telling you about the two dogs who had adopted me? Well, when we first moved into this house in Alto Lino I went out to enjoy my new patio and there, to my utter joy, were two dogs waiting for me with tails a waggin’! Well, I love dogs, I love all animals but dog’s are just irresistible to me. These two were just so happy to see me, so I promptly bought some flea medicine and some dog food, (okay maybe a toy or two as well) , and made them feel right at home on my porch. As you know I love spending time sitting on my porch writing and reading and just gazing upon the most spectacular view. But the other thing I love about being outside on my porch is the company of these two dogs. I began calling them ‘boy dog’ and ‘girl dog’, for obvious reasons. Now Boy dog was much more needy and loved attention, always by my side wanting to be pet and scratched. He would often sleep by my feet and then occasionally wake up and make it very clear that it was time to play. Often his ‘playtime’ would get a bit too annoying and I would have to go inside until he calmed down, he loved to ‘play-bite’ and having my hands and wrists and ankles constantly gnawed on became a bit annoying. But he was such a happy guy and I would give him lots of attention. Mind you, both of these dogs do not lack for food! Boy dog especially, was rather chubby, really FAT! I was told that Boy dogs owners died ( I’ve heard him also called ‘Floppy’ and ‘Big Blue’) and he has no owners so he would go from house to house in our little neighborhood and get fed everywhere he went. So this last few weeks I noticed that he stopped eating and seemed very lethargic, no more playtime. Then he seemed to stop coming around at all. My friend and neighbor Margot, who lives just at the bottom of my driveway told me that he was laying on her back porch and that she was very worried about him because he seemed to be in pain, moaning and crying and having a hard time getting up. She called her landlord who kindly came over and took Boy to see a vet. The vet said he though maybe he had been hit by a car and gave him a shot and sent him back home. Margo and I both felt that diagnosis seemed rather strange. Then yesterday the poor old guy got up and slowly walked over to a muddy field where he collapsed and just couldn’t get back up. Margot is a very loving and caring soul and she quickly called a mobile vet who came right away. I went down to comfort the old dog and we both stayed by his side until the vet arrived. It was quickly determined that the most humane thing to do for him was to euthanize him right away. The mobile vet said he felt that Boy had advanced heart-worm. One of the other Panamanian neighbors came out to the field to join us and she and her mother and daughter cried with us as we stood waiting for him to pass. It was a very sad thing, but there was no doubt that it was the right thing to do. After it was over I was planning on splitting the cost of the mobile vet with Margot but the vet said it was taken care of. There is a fantastic organization here in Boquete called Amigo’s De Animales and they have a fund for just this type of thing, so it was all paid for by them. I will have to start donating to that very kind organization. Boy dog was an old guy and he seemed very happy to be cared for by so many people and I have to believe that he had a pretty good life.

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Gotta Get Moving..

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Today marks Three weeks since I took my glorious tumble and injured my poor ankle. So, aside from briefly and very gingerly hobbling through the jungle, I’ve been taking it reallllll easy. I’ve been icing and keeping my ankle elevated. I’ve been using my crutches, well, I’m down to using one crutch at the moment, but my point is, I’m getting around very carefully. Although I have a fairly good range of motion, I can’t put much weight on the ankle at the moment. So For the better part of this last three weeks I’ve been SITTING! Watching TV, reading, writing, reading some more and getting extremely bored! HUMPH! So today I joined a gym! In town there are a few gyms to choose from but I really wanted access to a swimming pool so I joined The Haven Spa. It’s a beautiful gym and the pool is just what I needed. I just have to get some exercise! Enough of this sitting business. The pool is a one person pool with a resistance thing on it (sorry for my lack of technical knowledge ). So you sign up for 45 min time slots and you have it all to yourself. I gave it my first try today and Wow! It felt so good! I’m hooked! It felt good just to move and to feel like I got a bit of exercise. I think tomorrow I may also do a bit of upper body work before I do my swim. Scott joined for one month so that he could get some exercise in before he gets started on all the work on the property. I hope I make good use of this new gym membership because I don’t have a very good track record from my past experiences of joining gyms. I’ve done it so many times in my past and I’ve just never enjoyed the atmosphere of gyms and end up not going. I must say, so far, The Haven is just that, its Heavenly! It’s peaceful, clean, serene and it doesn’t seem to be too crowded or busy. Maybe because it’s not the typical huge 24 hour Fitness filled with obsessive muscle heads who are there to be seen. Yep, I may be on to something. I’ve never been a big swimmer, I enjoy swimming but at the moment I believe it’s the very best way for me to get some exercise without doing more damage to the darn ankle. One thing I know for sure, I cant keep sitting here doing nothing! My fingers are crossed that I can get myself into a healthy routine and make this new place my second home.

The Jungle Called and We Couldn’t Resist…

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I’ve written about this very special place in the past…Rambala Jungle Lodge( http://www.Rambalajunglelodge.com ) . This weekend, we were fortunate to have the opportunity to join Eric & Lynn at their beautiful lodge in the jungles of Bocas. We went specifically to lend a hand in the raising of a new cabin. Our good friends Joel & Kris were kind enough to join us on this trip and I think I can speak for all of us when I say, a good time was had by all! I have to tell you that I was tremendously relieved when we arrived to find that their grounds keeper Javier, was prepared to whisk me off to the lodge upon one of his trusty horses. As you may recall, I recently injured my ankle pretty good, and this trip had been arranged before I had my little accident. So, I had prepared myself for a very slow, very careful hike on my injured ankle with my crutches. The hike up to the lodge isn’t horrible, I figured I could make it if I just took my time and went very slowly and carefully. One thing was certain… I wasn’t willing to cancel on account of a little ankle injury! We had packed as lightly as possible because Scott was planning to schlep all our gear and the meal he had volunteered to prepare, without any help from me. On two healthy legs, under normal circumstances, the hike into the jungle lodge is not too far, maybe 20-30 minutes. But had I hobbled in on my crutches it could have been closer to an hour or so. So, as you can imagine I was relieved when we arrived at the spot where we leave our car, and there was Javier with a horse saddled up and ready to cart me in. He also had a second horse all ready to carry all our gear up to the lodge as well, wow! Scott had fully expected to carry our cooler and all our gear and was pleasantly surprised by this turn of events. I should explain that under normal circumstances, when they have guests arrive at the lodge Javier is ready to guide them to the lodge and their belongings get put on the horses. This weekend was an exception because we weren’t normal guests, we were there to work and they had given Javier his yearly vacation time off. But because we arrived on Friday at a reasonable hour, before he was to leave, he was there to help us. Lucky me!
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I’ll Be Right Back!!!

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Geesh! You may be wondering where I’ve been, or maybe you’ve been glad to have a break from my ramblings! But for those of you who are wondering why I havent posted anything for awhile….It’s because our internet has been out of commisssion for over a week!!Grrrr! While I can post over my data plan, I can’t seem to download any photos. We spent an amazing weekend at our friends Jungle Lodge in Rambala and I have lot’s of great photos to share with you as well as all my tales of adventure! We had such a great time and as soon as our internet is back, which should be tomorrow, I’ll post my Rambala post. Until then, It’s our first Tropical Christmas and I must tell you it’s quite humorous to us to see Christmas trees on top of taxi’s and in the back of pick up trucks. Decorations in Palm trees and loads of garlands and lights dripping from the outside of the houses everywhere we drive. Why is it humorous? Well, it just doesn’t feel like Christmas to us! It’s warm and sunny and we haven’t even broken out our winter clothes, oh, I almost forgot…We don’t have any “winter” clothes!! Whaaahahahaha!!! I’m reading all about the freezing cold temperatures in different places in the states and we just made reservations to go to the beach for a couple days next week!! Yep, two weeks ago we were in the mountains in Costa Rica and this past weekend we were in the jungles on the Caribbean side of the country and next week we head to an area near, Boca Chica, about two hours from where we live, to lounge around with friends on the beach. We have friends visiting from Canada who we met a few months ago and they invited us to join them and their friends for a couple of days of fun on the beach!! As I’m writing this post Scott is contemplating what he wants to BBQ on the beach……Big smile!!! I don’t think I’ll get a tree this year, but Scott did come home the other day with a beautiful Poinsettia for me, so we have a tiny touch of the holiday’s , not to worry. Today we stopped at Romero’s ( our version of Safeway ) to pick up some groceries (me and my injured ankle waited in the car) and when Scott got back in the car he had Christmas music in his head, “They must have been playing Christmas music in there!” he said. So It is definitely Christmas here in Panama, it just doesn’t feel the same to us. Life is good(It would be even better if our internet would come back to us!), and we’re living our life to the fullest and enjoying every moment , even with a hurt ankle!! It’s amazing what one can do with crutches! Don’t worry, I’m being very careful as I limp my way through the jungle and I’ll go gingerly on the sand. Thanks for worrying about me….

Windy Season Is Upon Us…

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At least in the Alto Lino area, the wind has really begun to seem much stronger than normal. For those of you who don’t live here in Boquete, we have two seasons, rainy and dry. Remember, this is our first full year living here so it’s all new to us. But I think we may be through with most of the “rainy” season and soon it may officially be the ‘dry’ season. The professors at our Spanish school, who are all Native Panamanians, refer to Invierno & Verano…. ‘summer & winter”. But it’s all backwards, they call November or December through March or April Summer and May through October orNovember (invierno) Winter. So in their minds Christmas is in the (Verano) Summer! Welcome to the Tropics! 🙂 It’s funny to see all the Christmas decorations going up when it’s sooo sunny and warm outside. Not that this “California girl” has ever really experienced a REAL winter, but this is even more sunny and pretty than Ca would be in December.

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Getting prepared for a big project…

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I think its safe to say that building a house is a pretty big project. We’ve done it before but not quite like this! Last time, although it was a very big project for us at the time, it doesn’t even begin to compare to what we are preparing to do here. Not that we’re planning to build a great big, fancy house , but here in Panama there’s just so many things to consider, from actual building materials to labor laws, the installation of actual infrastructure (water & electricity), dealing with a different language and even getting a bank account established, we have so much to investigate and research not to mention tons of questions to ask (often in Spanish!). Our house building project in the States was a totally different experience but it has prepared us for many of the aspects of building and designing a home. I suspect much of the process will be familiar to us but much is already proving to be very new and different.

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Wow! December 1st. Already!

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November 28 marked our sixth months living here in Boquete, Panama. I don’t know how six months flew by so quickly but I can only say, we were definitely having fun! Which would explain it! Now we’ve entered into our first holiday season living in another country. And I find myself thinking , “what were we doing this time last year?”. Well, this time last year we seemed to be experiencing an emotional whirlwind. We were in the midst of many “lasts”. And this year we’re in the midst of many “firsts”. I must admit, the “firsts” are way more fun.

One thing that Scott and I really have agreed upon since we’ve been here is to let go of big expectations about many things. And the holidays are one of those things we’ve really ‘let go’ of. This has been a period of time for us to reestablish ourselves in a completely new place. We’ve had much to adapt to and have done so with as much care and ease as we can muster. As far as Christmas goes, we don’t yet know what that will look like for us. We may or may not find a tree to decorate, that would mean buying some decorations, given the fact that we haven’t shipped our belongings out here quite yet. I’m not sure I’m up for buying more things that I already have, we’ll see about that. We’re in the very beginning of redefining this new life of ours and that means new traditions too.

There is a possibility that our trip to the states to facilitate the packing of our container may coincide with the Christmas holiday. We wont know for a week or so, but we’re very close to having all our necessary documentation ready to hand over to our attorney and begin the process of getting our permanent visa. Once that’s all in process and we get our mulit-entry visa, we will be able to head back for a week or so and oversee the packing of our container to be shipped out here. This pending trip also has us very limited as far as our plans for the holidays here. We should have a more clear handle on this soon, which will be nice to know. Good thing we don’t have any big expectations for our first Christmas in Panama.

I’ve seen a couple of cars with big Christmas trees tied on top and today I saw a photo of our friends in California cutting down their tree in the Santa Cruz Mountains. These familiar sightings give me small pangs of “ahhhh, that looks fun”, but then I remember that, this year, at least we just aren’t quite ready to go along as normal. I already have two invitations here to attend some holiday gatherings and I look forward to those events. This community here in Boquete is quite welcoming and we already feel so much a “part” of this new place we now call Home. And I’m also looking forward to visiting California and spending time with those that we love. In spite of not quite having our new holiday traditions ready to begin, I know each and every day we find so much to be grateful for . Even without a traditional Christmas tree in our house we can celebrate what the holidays are truly about, which I believe is looking around at the PEOPLE who are so very special and feeling gratitude for each person we love and are loved by.

Our First Panama Thanksgiving…

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Dia de Gracias! Many people from home have asked if we cooked a turkey for our first Panama Thanksgiving and the answer is, nope, but our friends did… and boy was it delicious! We had a great meal, great food, wonderful company and went home feeling quite full and satisfied. And the weekend has just been non stop fun because our friends Kris & Joel, who live in David (about 40 minutes away), are spending a couple nights with us so that they can also enjoy all the festivities that are going on in town. They were originally planning to take the bus up to Boquete for the day because the traffic getting up here for this Panamanian holiday is supposed to be just terrible. When Kris told me about their plans I suggested they just stay with us for a couple nights and join us for Thanksgiving , then on Saturday they’ll already be up here and wont have to deal with all the traffic. So it’s been lot’s of fun having company, especially given the fact that I’m not able to get out and about at the moment.

(a few hours later & a couple bottles of wine…) We had a spontaneous gathering with Valerie & Mark while Kris & Joel are here! Wow! We just had such a great evening , eating some amazing food and drinking some good wine, enjoying the warmth of the fire in the fireplace on the outside patio and getting lot’s of laughter in! I just can’t think of a better way to spend the day after Thanksgiving than to spend it with four great new friends! We had so much fun telling the stories of how each couple originally met and talking about so many different subjects that I can’t even begin to remember all that we talked about. This time last year I remember wondering if we would have anyone to spend Thanksgiving with…Hah! Well, not only did we have such a great gathering at Andrea & Don’s yesterday, but then this evening was just the cherry on top of an already amazing start to the holidays! To say that I’m feeling “Thankful” right now is an understatement. I love my life! And I’m giving Thanks for all that I have! Cheers!

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Happy Thanksgiving..

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Happy Thanksgiving…

This is our first big Holiday away from all our friends and family, and as I’m sitting here in my home in Panama looking out my window at the view of the mountains covered in coffee plants and the banana trees swaying in the breeze I find myself hoping everyone in California has a wonderful day planned, doing whatever makes you happy. Spending time with all the people you care about and who care about you. We’ve been invited to join our friends Don & Andrea for the Thanksgiving celebration today. Andrea’s parents also live here in Boquete and her father is in charge of the Turkey, I hear he’s quite the pro so we are in for a treat!. Scott’s contribution is homemade Parker house rolls, Mocha Pecan Pie and Smoked gouda and garlic mashed potatoes. We also have our good friends from David, Joel & Kris, coming up to join us , and they’re staying with us for the weekend. I’m sure it will be a feast and all will leave feeling happy and full! I know Andrea is especially ready to start the holidays , she’s already put up her Christmas tree! That girl is in the mood! 🙂

This weekend is also a big one for the Panamanians, they celebrate their second Independence Day this month! The first one earlier this month was their celebration of their independence from Columbia and this weekend they celebrate their independence from Spain. From what I hear this particular celebration is very big here in Boquete. Apparently schools from all over Panama converge on this little mountain town to participate in band competitions and a huge parade. Our friends Kris & Joel, who live in David, which is about 40-45 minutes away from here, were planning to take the bus up here to see all the festivities because we hear the traffic is just horrible. But I suggested they just spend the weekend with us and avoid all the hassles of getting here and then back home. They happily took me up on it and I’m soooo excited to spend time with them. I must admit, being immobile at the moment, I’m looking forward to having the company. Sadly, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get to the parade myself, but hey, there’s always next year.

This Thanksgiving is very very different for us, not to say it’s a bad thing, just sayin’. I can’t help but think back to our Thanksgivings of the past and reminisce about good memories. I also can’t help but dream about our Thanksgivings to come, in our new home that we’re having so much fun dreaming and planning. But mostly I’m just grateful for today! The Thanksgiving of here and now. Of knowing all my friends and family in California are thinking of us fondly, and sending us such kind and thoughtful wishes of happiness. And I’m so grateful to know firsthand, that no matter where in this great big world we live, there are great friendships to be made! We’ve been sooooo lucky and blessed to come into contact with so many incredible people who open their lives to us and welcome us! It warms my heart when we walk or drive through town and run into so many people who wave and smile and greet us wherever we may be. Yes, I’m Thankful for all the people I’ve met here that have become my friends and all the ones who have been my friends for many years, you are my family!

I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving. Sending lot’s of Hugs ! Cheers!

Okay, This Sucks…

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Can I be honest with you? I think you’d want me to be honest,right? Sooo, here goes….I know I always try to find the positive in almost everything , that’s just my way. But today I’m feeling a bit down. Humph. Prepare yourself for a bit of venting… Besides the constant pain from both the sprained ankle and the cuts and scrapes, I’m seriously bummed to be so immobile at the moment. Each day will get better but I have a feeling it will be awhile until I can do all the things I’m used to being able to do. It’s a very unfamiliar sensation to me, being unable to do what I want to do…Grrrrr. I was sooo looking forward to celebrating our newly official purchase of land here to build our home. We had planned to go up there with a special bottle of wine that we brought with us from California , and bringing our lawn chairs, a couple of glasses and celebrating the beauty of the spot we are about to call our “home”. That’s not happening for quite awhile, I would never be able to make it up there at the moment, it’s a bit of a hike. I promise, I wont keep moaning about this, I just had to get it out. I’m amongst friends so I figured You wouldn’t mind.

Another sucky thing that’s on my mind, while I’m talking about “sucky” things…some people really suck. The people I’m thinking about are the ones we ran into at the border on Sunday. When we got to the Panamanian side of the border crossing , after getting stamped out of Costa Rica, we were very disappointed to find that there was a long, long line of people waiting . So, of course, we just went to the end of the line and prepared for a long, long wait. All the people in front of us were indigenous Indians , and they all seemed to have papers in their hands and were dressed in their Sunday best. Nicely pressed pants, many with buttoned down shirts and nice black shoes. All looking very hot and not happy, but determined to do whatever it was that they were standing in that long long line to do. These determined, well dressed indigenous are not the ‘sucky’ people I speak of. The “sucky” people I speak of were , sadly, Gringos! Yes, I’m so sorry to say, and quite embarrassed by, the behavior of these people who walked up after we had been patiently waiting our turn in this line behind these determined indigenous people. Ugggg…As these Gringo’s walked up to the line we clearly heard the women say, (there were two men, a women and what we assume was a guide, possibly Costa Rican), “Oh thank God, White people!” (meaning us!) Then one of the men said, with a very unkind face “This line is this long because they don’t know how to write and the papers have to be completed for them!” With a scowl on his face, as though he hated each and every one of those people who were standing in the line……They proceeded to march up to the front of the line to inquire if they were required to wait with the riff-raff. (Big eye roll!) At this moment, I began to understand why many of these indigenous people harbor a dislike of my kind. Humph! I felt so embarrassed. In the end, we learned that all these locals were in line for some sort of work permits and there was indeed a second line for immigration. Well, given the fact that I was on crutches and not doing well, and that we were indeed meant to be in an altogether different line, we very apologetically and humbly made our way to the front of the long long line…I gotta tell you , all four of us felt so bad. Even though we didn’t have that same “better than thou” attitude as those “ugly Americans” who went before us, and we made our way to the place we needed to be with as much humility and kindness we could muster, all four of us felt pretty bad. In a perfect world ( I know Valerie agrees), we would love to have had not only the time, but the knowledge of their language, to stay there and help each and every one of those people fill out the necessary papers they held in their hands.

I’ll never understand why some individuals think they are better than other people, the way these people clearly felt they were better than those indigenous people who’s country we are visiting . It’s disturbing, to say the least, to witness such behavior and to feel so directly associated to it simply because of our appearance. Ugggg! I have no answer to this dilemma, but since I was in a venting mood, there it is. So, my ankle hurts and some people suck! Blah! I promise to resume my normal optimistic outlook tomorrow….:)

A Very Different Border Run This Time…

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We just got back home from San Vito, Costa Rica and I have to say, all in all, it was a wonderful little mini vacation, in spite of a little unexpected glitch, (otherwise known as me falling down!). Our last border run we went through a different border, there are two borders to choose from, Paso Canoas and Rio Sereno. Last time we went through at the Paso Canoas border and it was a totally different experience (Yuck!). Paso Canoas is a bit closer and easier to get to, but it’s not a pleasant place, in my opinon. Rio Sereno, on the other hand is a fairly pleasant little crossing, much quieter and not crowded at all! The only sort of bad thing is , if you’re prone to motion sickness , the twisting, curving road through the mountains may not be your cup of tea. I don’t happen to suffer from motion sickness so I found the drive delightful. It’s quite lovely, meandering through a lush green, picturesque area.

When we arrived in the little town of Rio Serano we then had to figure out exactly where the border was. It wasn’t especially evident at first, so we just sort of drove around until we saw an official-ish looking building then Valerie hopped out to investigate. Sure enough, that was the spot. Our friends learned many things about us on this trip but I think the first thing they learned was that we don’t do a lot of planning before we go on a trip. We like to think we’re being spontaneous and adventurous but really , there are times when we’re not always especially smart! This was one such instance when we may have been wise to figure out one tiny detail…. We hadn’t looked into where we should leave our car for the weekend. Ooops! Well, Scott simply found a “good enough” looking spot on the side of the road and pulled over. We had no idea how safe or un-safe it was to just leave a nice car parked on the side of the road for the weekend, but (shrug) what else could we do? We walked away from the car just hoping it would still be there, in one piece, when we returned on Sunday. And given the fact that this post isn’t titled “Car-less in Rio Serano” or “Keith, what do we dooooo!”, you doubtless know the car survived the weekend. Whew!

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A weekend Away…

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We’re in Costa Rica at the moment visiting a small town in the mountains called San Vito. We found a great little B&B ,www.casabotania.com. They arranged for a taxi to collect us after we crossed the border Rio Sareno. The taxi cost $25.00 and took about thirty minutes to get here . It was a beautiful drive through the mountains , the landscape is just spectacular … Green as far as the eye can see. Unfortunately I had a bit of an accident at the border, I was wearing flip flops (not smart!) and I slipped and took a pretty bad fall. My ankle is injured and now I can’t walk well at all. Such a disappointment ! But the good news is , our good friends Mark & Valerie are traveling with us and being the consummate athletes that they are , they’ve got lots of past experience with injuries of this sort ( not that they fall down a lot or anything !). All three of my traveling companions helped me make it through the border as best as they could . And we borrowed a wheel chair from the Costa Rica border office, they just happened to have one sitting there and given how pathetic I was, the guy offered to let us use it. It turns out, Considering this Is my first big injury of this sort, I learned that It’s really, not easy for me to lean on people . Valerie had to keep telling me to put all my weight on her and Scott… It’s not easy to do! The ankle is really very bad, I may go see a doctor tomorrow just to make sure it’s not broken…Ugggg!! This is gonna be a reading and relaxing trip for this gal ! Oh well. We had a wonderful dinner and plenty of wine so now I’m ready to sleep! Cross your fingers that my ankle is better tomorrow .

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And…The Obsession Begins…

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It’s time to start planning, strategizing ,designing,shopping,researching,brainstorming, dreaming, and planning some more. Wait a minute….I’ve been here before!! Remember? We did this in our past life in Los Altos! Yes, I remember this stage of the game. We were so excited (just like now!) about all the possibilities and we had such a great time dreaming together about all the things we could do. The only catch was, the only way we could possibly afford to attempt such an endeavor as designing and building our own house was to do it all ourselves. We just didn’t have the budget to hire professionals to design and build a custom home. We could do the building and heck, we ended up really enjoying the designing part of the project as well. We hired an architect to draw all the details and submit it to the city for all the permits but in the end, we both agreed that if we ever did it again we would feel comfortable not spending the money for the architect. “Screeeeech!” That was before we realized that our next house project would be in a different country! Yea, we’re gonna need to utilize an architect. We already hired one and we’re looking forward to working with him.

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A Girl, A Guy, and A Little Dirt…

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No, I’m not talking about ‘dirt’ as in gossip, I’m talking about a piece of land to build our home! Yes! We finally found a piece of property here in Boquete to purchase for our new home. A couple of months after we got here and got a bit settled we slowly began to look around for just the right piece of land where we could build a house and really settle in here. We haven’t been in any hurry and have not wanted to rush into anything but just thought we would try to be smart and start getting acquainted with the real estate market here, begin to learn how the whole process works here in Panama.

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Daily Prompt: Land of Confusion…

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Tell us about a time when you felt out of place….

Okay.. I got this one! It seems many of the daily prompts just don’t resonate with me, but obviously this one does! Although I’ve mostly recovered from my earlier bouts of feeling serious culture shock (Serious? well, maybe not too Serious!), that doesn’t mean that I feel ‘at home’ all the time. I’m gradually adapting to my new life in Panama but there are countless situations when I feel terribly out of place. Situations, that mostly come about as a result of not having a firm grasp on the language yet. “YET!” But mark my words….” There will be a day when I’ll speak like an adult and not like a pre schooler!” And I’m certain this alone will provide a sense of belonging that is, at the moment often alluding me. Read the rest of this entry

Yippee…My iPad will live to see another day!!

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It’s a happy day! I took my precious iPad to the computer fix-it guy here and….You probably guessed it, he can fix it!! Whoot! Whoot! I’m doing a “happy dance” And “jumping for joy!” They said we would first have to pay before they begin any work, no problem. Then he said they charge $110.00 for the replacement screen that they will have to order, (about a week) and then the guy who actually does the replacement work charges $25.00 per hour , and it would take about 3 hours. Hmmmmm? Sooo that didn’t sound too bad! We didn’t have any cash on us and therefore told him we would return tomorrow.

After we got home Scott got online to check about what it costs to buy the replacement screen. Hmmmm… From Amazon.com it’s $ 33.00, including all the necessary tools. Wow! That’s a pretty big price difference. Now we’re considering plan B. You know Scott! He wants to go ahead and order two replacement screens and then give it a try. I agree we should go ahead and order the screen but I think we ought to take it to the guy with the experience and see if he would be willing to install it. There are videos on youtube that demonstrate how to replace a broken iPad screen and it doesn’t look too bad. I’m just thrilled beyond belief to know that it’s repairable. Jumping for joy!! 🙂

A (sad) Day In The Life…

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Today was “mostly” a really great day! It was a great day of connecting with good girlfriends, which is ALWAYS my favorite kind of day. I would have had such great things to say about this day had I not had a tragedy with my iPad… Sad Face! I dropped it!! Whaaaaaaaa!! It is still working but the screen cracked!!! I am devastated! If I haven’t mentioned it before…I am very in love with my iPad. I don’t use a computer so I am very dependent on the iPad . It’s really my most treasured possession. I use it for everything, I Facetime my friends and family, I write and publish my blog, I read magazines, I read the news, I Facebook, I take photos, I search the web, I practice my Spanish, I use the translator and let’s not forget Words With Friends!……nuf said! I just love this silly thing, it’s like an appendage to me! So I’ve put out feelers to see if I may be able to find someone who can repair it, but I don’t know….. Grrrrr! It was my darn cat’s fault….He was sitting on my lap and suddenly jumped and my iPad just went flying onto the hard tile floor. I hate to admit it but I did shed a few tears and Scott was very sweet, he told me not to worry. I just hate to sound so materialistic! But that’s just the way it is. I don’t need a lot of “things” but I really love my iPad. So this is a post filled with not so happy feelings , I’ll be better tomorrow, and I’m very glad that it’s still working. I do feel a bit at a loss without a convenient Apple store to run to. If I were in California I’d already have it on the way to whoever fixes this kind of thing! But I bet there has to be someone here who can help and Damsel in Distress! This makes my silly worries about going to an unknown hairdresser seem like nothing!! The universe always has a way to give me perspective!

It’s a Hairy situation….

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What’s the Freakin’ problem!!! Well, ya see, I’ve been living here in Panama for nearly six months now and about two weeks before I got on that airplane with my kitties and my two suitcases, my dear friend Natalie gave me a haircut. Sooooo it’s been nearly six months since I’ve had my haircut! I know, I can get away with going a pretty long time in between haircuts with this wild, curly hair, but this is getting a bit ridiculous, even for me. Why? you say,is this such a big deal? Well….”Big deal?” Shrug…I don’t know that I’d call it a “Big deal”, per say. It’s just that ,well, I’ve never in my life walked into a hair salon , where I didnt know anyone, and sat down in a styling chair in front of a complete stranger, to have my hair cut ! I know, all my clients who are reading this right now are probably laughing! “Now she knows how we feel!”. And I will say, “yes, and it’s not fun!”

Even before my thirty years as a stylist I grew up in a household with two hairdressers so I’ve ‘never ‘had a haircut by someone I didn’t know. Both my parents were licensed stylists, as a matter of fact they met while they were in cosmetology school! I know, that’s a whole other story! But My Father was the one who ended up pursuing it as his career and he, like me,( or should I say , Me , like him) was a salon owner. As a matter of fact, his salon, where I grew up spending a lot of time, was located in the same small town where I also owned my salon. His salon was very large with about fifteen stylists who worked for him. But I never worked in my Dad’s salon. No, I liked him too much and besides that, I never wanted to be “the owners daughter”. Read the rest of this entry

Daily Prompt: Come Fly with Me

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Share a story about the furthest you’ve ever traveled from home….

Well that’s an easy one, New Zealand! This was my “Maiden Voyage” all by myself. I was about 31 years old and had just experienced a bunch of crazy tragedies in my life. I was about two years in to being a single mother after having gone through a divorce. Two years prior to this was what I like to refer to as my “Oprah” year! Yes, in one year I went though losing my father( who I loved dearly), my husband decided to fall hopelessly in love with our nanny(insert big eye roll here!), I had just opened a business and purchased a home, whew!. My father had helped me buy the house before his death and my ex-husband had no claims to it so I unexpectedly found myself alone with a huge mortgage, not exactly what I had planned for. Whew! I was holding myself together by a thread. You may be wondering what all this personal drama has to do with traveling solo to New Zealand?

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A little art today…

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This day started with a very familiar activity…art. I had the pleasure of assisting a friend with her art show installation at a restaurant in town, Mango’s. Her art will be on display at the restaurant during the holidays and it was so fun to be able to help her as she strategically placed all her beautiful pieces all over the restaurant. I’ve been involved in many other good friends art shows and will never tire of watching a transformation such as adding art to a space will create. It made me think about all my incredibly talented friends who make a living with the art that they create. Weather it be sculpture, painting, jewelry designs, textiles, amazing quilted kimonos, floral designs, ceramics, photography, I’ve had the pleasure of being exposed to so many unbelievable artists. I have so many great memories of attending art exhibits as well as participating in a few of my own. I’m fortunate to have been involved in more art show installations than I can even remember and today brought back so many memories of all my talented artist friends who I miss so much. I get so much pleasure in being around kindred spirits who let the beauty inside manifest in some sort of art that they so generously share with others. It’s no easy thing to create something from your soul and put it out there for all to see . Those who have never gone outside their box to explore what can happen when you let go of your inhibitions and allow yourself to create something outside of yourself, something that is an outward expression of “you”, are missing out on an indescribable experience. You may not think your an “artist” per say. And it may be true that you will never pursue art as a means of making an income, but I firmly believe that the only thing stopping you from creating something beautiful is Your own inner “self-talk” that constantly tells you…”Oh, I could NEVER do that”. The moment you listen to that voice… you have made it so. Only when you can get past that “self-limiting”, knee jerk self-talk, will you allow yourself to experience what it’s like to actually create something with your two hands. There’s a magical thing that happens when your in the process of creating art, it’s a simultaneous feeling of both losing yourself and finding yourself at the same time. At least that’s been my experience . When an artist decides to display a body of work in a public place it takes an amazing amount of courage and generosity to expose themselves in such a way. I admire all my friends who have done just that and I’m so grateful to have been able to lend a hand today and to help a new friend to display the beauty from her heart for this small community in the highlands of Panama to enjoy. I hope all who get to see it will appreciate it. Sound familiar…Judith,Shelly,Julia,Maria,Karen,Brian,Merlin, Pam,Nancy,Marty,Susan,Oh, the names of all my artist friends could go on and on and on…Miss you all, thought of you while I was helping today.

There was a day…

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There was a day when getting up before the sun would be a dreaded thing. There was a day when I’d never even seen a machete much less kept one in my car. There was a day when I only bought my coffee from Costco and I didn’t have the coffee plantations to go to just down the street, and purchase directly from the people who grow it. There was a day when I didn’t have dozens of banana trees growing in my yard. There was a day when I never heard a rooster in the morning or drums in the distance. There was a day when I didn’t understand anything when a spanish speaking person tried to speak to me. There was a day when we drove 70 miles per hour on a crowded freeway rushing to wherever I was going. Rushing? I vaguely remember rushing all the time.
There is a day…today, when I got up before 6:00 and made a pot of coffee and went to sit outside to watch the sky begin to light up. It’s a different show every morning. Today it began with a small patch of light but most of the sky was black. Then I began to see small areas of pink with tiny patches of blue behind the clouds. Now the sun is shining behind the clouds and there are grey clouds mixed with pink ones and the blue patches in the foreground are slowly growing. I’m enjoying the sounds of the morning and wishing I could record it to share with you. There are so many different birdsongs and always the roosters in the distance, as well as crickets and dogs parking. Today there’s no wind rustling the banana leaves, it’s still and peaceful as I type this post. The sky is an ever-changing show of color and texture as it slowly lights up and the day officially begins. Who knew I would love the early morning so? There was a day when I wanted only to sleep until the morning was no more. Now I awake hoping I haven’t missed it……

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Daily Challenge…

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Hmmm

Sometimes I just cant figure out how to use the daily prompt that word press supplies. This is one such day. So then I need to come up with my own subject and there are days when I just don’t know what to talk about…..Let’s see….. Last night we went to a fantastic gathering where we met a whole bunch of our neighbors who we had never had the pleasure of meeting before. Who knew we had so many nice people living practically right next door. One couple who were at the gathering I had met last week while I was waiting at the deli meat counter at Romero’s. They were a really friendly couple who told me they were visiting Boquete for the 5th or 6th time and trying to decide if they wanted to move here permenantly. They are from Northern California , like us, Berkley, I think. But they told me they lived in Alto Lino, which is where we live but I didn’t realize they live right next door! And we met several other couples who also live in Alto Lino, very nearby. Two of the ladies that I met like to go walking for exercise three days a week and I think after my school is over, in four more weeks, I may start to join them, that sounds fun to me. This gathering we went to was a potluck at our friends Manzar and Terry’s new house. Terry’s family was visiting and it was great to meet them. I can only imagine how Manzar and Terry must have enjoyed opening their home up to all their new friends and having a full house. I bet there were around twenty five or thirty people and the house accommodated all those people without even feeling crowded. And THE FOOD!! Holy cow…there was so much food! And GOOD food too! I don’t think I’ve ever attended a Potluck with so many really good dishes to choose from! No one left that party hungry, that’s for sure. Read the rest of this entry

Daily Prompt:” About” Page of the Future

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Write the” About ” page for your blog in 10 years.

Todays challenge is interesting….I had to go back and re-read my “About” page on my blog. I wrote that a little over a year ago and it’s fun to think back to where I was, not only physically but emotionally as well. Todays challenge asks me to imagine what that “About” page on my blog would say ten years from now. Hmmmmmm…. That’s an interesting thing to consider. Let’s see…Here is what I wrote on my “About” page a little over a year ago…

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Lucky Dogs…

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We were craving a good juicy steak for dinner tonight. Scott bought a beef tenderloin at Ray, the grocery store in David for $3.50lb. We baked a couple of potatoes, poured the wine and Scott seasoned the meat and threw it on the BBQ. MMMMMM. It looked pretty good and we were starving! Then before he even took them off of the grill he said, “I don’t know…they might be terrible” Huh? my response…”did you just say they might be terrible?” I thought he was joking, although that ‘s nothing to joke around about when the taters are bakin’ and the wine is poured! And truth be told, Scott doesn’t joke around when it comes to Steak! Well, you might have already figured out the sad, sad ending to this tale just based on the title…yep…It was terrible! RATS!!!! As Scott said, it was very flavorful (because he heavily seasoned it) shoe leather! As a matter of fact we’ve been debating weather or not it was actually STEAK??? Looked a bit like pork after it had been cooked but the pork here is actually pretty good and this was nothing remotely close to “Good”. Soooo as the title says….there are two very happy dogs at our house tonight! And we had delicious baked potatoes and wine!! What’s for desert????

Daily Prompt: Cheering Section

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Do you have a mentor? Tell us about him or her. Are you a mentor to someone else? Tell us what that relationship has added to your life.

Todays Prompt has got me thinking about all the people who I admire and who mentor me without even knowing they’re doing it.( side note…I know, I know, mentors are not usually mentoring without their knowledge, but I have a slightly different perspective which I happen to like ) I’m an observer of people. I really love to people-watch. And I learn so much from just observing others. Does that sound strange? Well, I suppose I may be a tiny bit strange so let’s just accept that and move on, shall we…. what was I saying? Oh, yes, Mentors…Hmmmmm. In my life I’ve quietly watched and learned many lessons from many people and many of them had no idea they were teaching me . From some of my mentors I’ve learned lessons of what I wanted to do in my life and from others I’ve learned important things about what I wanted to avoid doing in my life. I guess you could say that I’ve often learned from others mistakes ( not to say that I haven’t made tons of my own mistakes to learn from! Hmmm I wonder if anyone learned anything from watching my epic fails? That would have made them worth it! ) . At the same time I’ve often seen a path that I admired and tweaked that path a bit to suit me as I set a goal and went in that direction. Is it just me? Or is this what many people do? Maybe you don’t necessarily realize it, but have people in your life influenced a particular path you went down? I don’t know about you , but to me, people who’ve entered my life almost always seem to have been sent to me for a reason and when my eyes are wide open and I’m paying attention (which isn’t always!) there can often be invaluable gifts to receive. Read the rest of this entry

Daily Challenge….

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The daily prompt from WordPress is : what’s the last thing you googled and why?

Well, that’s an easy one, Hummingbirds was my last search. And I wanted to tell you about this anyways so hey, good timing. Yesterday, like many days, I was sitting on my porch enjoying an especially glorious bird show. There’s a great tree right in front of my porch, where I put ripe bananas in a little basket attached to a low limb, and the birds just show up from every direction to eat the bananas. Birds of every color! Lately we’ve noticed a new (to us) bird that’s a crazy bright Orange on his chest and black on his back. He’s not the same as the bright Orange one who has Orange on his back and black on his chest. And the Orange is much more of a true orange not as red as the other one who we’ve seen l lot. Anyways, as I was saying.. the little basket of bananas was being visited by such a beautiful array of colorful birds and I was enjoying the show immensely when I began to notice that my little troupe of hummers was also quite active. They always swoop around, seemingly fighting over the feeder and I just love to watch them. But yesterday they were especially vocal, one would sit on top of the feeder and just chirp, and chirp, and chirp , seriously, non-stop ( almost to an annoying degree)! And there just seemed to be a kind of frantic sort of feeling about them, I can’t really put into words what I mean but suffice it to say, something was definitely up with my little guys. Low and behold, something was up alright….There was a new hummer in the hood trying to hone in on their territory! A different variety of hummer that I’ve never seen around here. I wish I had my bird book, I tried to look him up on Google and didn’t see him. He was at least twice as big as my regular hummers and he looked mostly black but when the light hit him just right he had a bluish tinge to him and he has a very big fan-like tail with white along the bottom of the feathers. When this intruder would feed from the feeder he looked like he had on a big skirt, that fanned out. I think he may have been one of the varieties that we saw at that ladies house last week, but those seemed so much more purplish-blue, so I’m not sure. The only thing I was sure of was that my little regular hummers were not having any of this guys swooping in on their territory and they were putting up a major huff over the whole situation. They were very lucky that there was only one of these big hummers because he was massive compared to them. I know what your thinking…”Boy Holly, you are easily entertained!”. And you would indeed be correct about that! (Big smile here!). I have spent many a live long day , me and my iPad, just sitting out here listening to the birdsong and the wind rustling through the banana trees while I watch the ever changing clouds roll across the view of the mountains in the not so far distance. Some days as I look up from playing a word on WWF’s, it seems as though the evening is upon me and before I realize it, I am sitting in the dark. I write, I read, I play, I read some more, and I watch my birds, pet the dogs, give the dogs a little treat, read some more, and stop to Google an uncommon hummer that’s causing my familiar hummers to behave differently than normal, because yes, I know what “normal” is when it comes to how my little hummers behave….that’s just my life! And did I mention…..It’s Good 🙂

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Daily Prompt…Googled

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Describe the last time you were surprised by the intensity of a feeling you had about something, or were surprised at how strongly you reacted to something you thought wouldn’t be a big deal.

Intense…Hmmmm. what is something that made me feel an intense emotion? I’ve had a lot of those this last year. There were a lot of intense feelings about selling my house and about leaving my salon. Intense feelings were just rattling around at every corner. I was about to leave everything and everyone that had until then, made up what was my life as I knew it. I was preparing to make a move that we had been planning for and preparing for and dreaming about for seven years. Moving to Panama was something I wanted to do . I had hoped and dreamed and researched and planned to do it. I was filled with such a huge mix of emotions from excited,sad,scared,nervous,happy, to sad,anxious,frustrated,and more emotions than I can even describe . I had a good life. I wasn’t escaping some terrible life of turmoil or strife. I loved my neighborhood, my salon, my house, my colleagues at work, my neighbors, all the things that made life comfortable I was preparing to walk away from. Emotions were running high! Not just my own emotions but the emotions of everyone around me seemed to be at a boiling point. One small thing that I can remember being surprised by had to do with preparing my house to sell. We had hired professional stagers to stage our house and make it look perfect in order to list it for sale. On this particular day the painters were to begin painting the interior of the house. I should tell you, I love to decorate and to express myself in my living environment. One of my favorite ways to express myself in my home has always been to have a lot of colors on my walls. Colors always seems to add warmth to my life and I just always feel happy when I am surrounded by a lot of color. The thing about color is that we all have very different opinions about it. I’m certain that not everyone who visited my home would agree with my personal choices in terms of colors. With this in mind, I understood that the stagers felt it was necessary to tone down the colors in my house in an effort to make it more appealing to more people. This made perfect sense to me and then the day came for the painters to begin to paint….

I had been at work all day and when I walked into my house, my warm , inviting house that was a reflection of me, GASP! It was WHITE! Gasp again! Oh my! Not all white, they kept some of my colors on a few ‘accent’ walls but much of my color was now muted and toned down as I had agreed it needed to be. But even though my head had intellectually agreed with the designers, my heart sank when I saw it. I don’t know why , but tears began to well up in my eyes and I felt an instant knot in my stomach. Holy crap! Why was I feeling so gosh darn emotional over white paint? Looking back, it seems so silly to have had such an intense feeling about this. After all, I WANTED to sell my house, no one was twisting my arm and making me leave. It was my decision to change my life and move to Panama. But the fact remains, I was having a little meltdown because I was beginning to see the actual physical manifestations of my plan actually coming to life in the form of white paint on the walls of my house.

Sometimes, even when we take a step towards something good , and new, and exciting, we must also face some things that challenge our resolve. In my experience there’s always a balance and it’s true that we must take the good with the bad, or if not ‘bad’ per-say, then, not so ‘good’. They say, “Good things come to those who wait”, but I think’ “Good things also come to those who accept that with difficulty comes great reward!” Preparing to make this move to another country and begin again was one of the most difficult things I’ve done in my life. Leaving so many people and so many things that I love and was proud of, forced me to have a tremendous amount of Intense emotions. I must say though, that as I was going through those intense moments of occasional ‘Gasps’ and ‘knots’ in my stomach, tears welling up and falling down my cheeks, and watching tears fall down the cheeks of so many people who were sad to see me go, I never once doubted that those intense emotions were going to be worth it. I had already enjoyed the colors on those walls and there will be other walls and bright, warm colors to express myself with. It’s not the end but a new beginning. And who knows, maybe I’ll have a new appreciation for white….Naaaaay..I’ll always be a color girl, no matter where my home is.

After publishing this post my friend emailed me with the answer to what this hummer is…Its got a great name..A Violet Sabrewing

Rebar is our enemy…

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20131104-175433.jpgI didn’t need to depend on WordPress for inspiration on a subject to write about today because in the dark of the night it came to me. We were invited to meet a group of friends for dinner last night at a great little Italian restaurant nearby called, Pianista. We got in the car and proceeded to drive down our driveway and at the bottom of the drive it becomes a communal driveway that is kinda narrow, not really meant for two cars. So one must pull over and let the other car pass. We politely moved to the side as an oncoming car went on past us, as we have done numerous times in the past, but this time as we pulled over and began to go again we heard an awful noise coming from under our car. Yikes! We looked at each other quizzically, shook our heads and continued on down the drive onto the main road. We were on a mission to get to that Italian restaurant so we shrugged our shoulders and hoped for the best. But the “Best” was not to be. About a mile or so down the road it quickly became apparent that there was a problem in the form of a flat tire! HUMPH! No, amount of shoulder shrugging was gonna let us continue on down the road to our destination. RATS!

Those who know my husband will know that he is ‘Mr. Calm, Cool, and Collected”. And yes, in situations such as flat tires, on the side of Dark, narrow, windy roads , at night, he remains just as calm as usual. This is something that I am very grateful for given the fact that I am not so calm. I try to keep my head and just silently panic without causing too much commotion but being inside my head is not a picnic. I’m instantly terrified about the someone coming along around the corner (did I mention it’s DARK!) and not seeing us, which is absurd, because it’s pitch black, and practically deserted, hardly any cars on the road, so how could anyone miss the only brightly flashing hazard lights in sight? Scott immediately assess the situation, goes to the back of the car and begins to find the little tire changing kit that comes with the car, removes the spare tire from the back of the car and proceeds to begin quietly and calming changing the tire. And of course it begins to become apparent that the jack isn’t going to work. This doesn’t stop him from attempting to use it . This is when I begin to point out that we do have roadside assistance included in our car insurance and we can just call for help. Hah! Call for help? My husband? Not gonna happen. Ugga!Ugga! He will fix this himself, no matter how much time it takes. Besides, he points out that it is a Sunday Night of a Holiday weekend, and I agree, it could quite possibly take just as long to wait for help.

After attempting to make the jack work it became apparent that it was a great big FAIL. So on to plan B! I would stay with the car while he walked back the mile or so to get his truck which would hopefully have a functioning jack. I could not sit inside the car on the side of the dark road because he already had it partially jacked up and it was unstable. So I had to stand by the car, alone, on the dark quiet road! Gulp! I should tell you that the area where we were pulled over was very near the housing for some indigenous Indian laborers. For those of you who don’t live here I should explain that here in Boquete there’s a large community of indigenous Indians who make up a large part of the workforce for the Coffee plantations here. The owners of the plantations usually provide housing for these laborers and they tend to be pretty rustic dorm-like buildings that you see all over the place. Outside many of these dwellings you will see women washing clothes or bathing their babies. Many times driving by we see the kids playing soccer or baseball in the street. These people seem very humble and quiet, private and reserved. Last night I was standing outside one of these places and I must say, I felt pretty safe. they seemed curious about what we were doing but I never felt afraid. I was very touched by the kindness of passing vehicles who stopped to ask us if we were okay and needed help. We also knew we needed only ask and our friends who we were meant to be sharing dinner with would have been there in a minute. But we were fine, only a bit frustrated , luckily it wasn’t raining. I had my iPhone and began texting my mom in Texas in an effort to feel less alone. She , of course was up to the task of keeping me company during my moment of solitude.

It didn’t seem to take Scott long to return with a working jack. We were soon able to jack the car up enough and replace that poor sad flat tire. Our flat tire adventure had a happy ending and even though we missed an Italian dinner with our friends we triumphed over a nasty piece of rebar. I’m so grateful for such a calm husband who responds calmly during times of stress. We’ve many more adventures that await us, of this I’m certain. And Pianista will still be there next time we decide to go grab some good Italian food. Let’s just hope that nasty piece of rebar stays far away from my sparkly new tires next time! And we’ll be going down to David to shop for a good car tool kit with a functioning jack.

Daily Prompt: Conflicted

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Again: I’m challenging myself to write a blog post every day this month based on the prompt from WordPress. So I may be veering a bit from my usual subject matter, which is my new life in Panama. I think, my new love of writing is something that I’m embracing now that my life has changed and I get to redefine who I am and what I do with my time . Who knows what I’ll decide to do when i grow up, but right now I will write…

You’re in the middle of a terrible argument, and everyone turns to you to help resolve it. How do you respond? How do you react to conflict?

Wow! This is a hard one for me. In my life I have strived to be a great avoider of conflict! Conflict and me are newly acquainted, we haven’t known one another for long. For most of my life I’ve tried my best to avoid conflict. Have you ever heard of a personality study called, The Enneagram? The Enneagram (pronounced ANY-a-gram) system is represented by a circle containing a nine-pointed starlike shape. Ennea is Greek for the number nine, and gram means “a drawing.” Enneagram means “a drawing with nine points.”
The Enneagram teaches that early in life we learned to feel safe and to cope with our family situations and personal circumstances by developing a strategy based on our natural talents and abilities.( The Nine personalities are
1. the perfectionist 2. the Helper 3. the Achiever 4. the Romantic 5. the Observer 6. the Worrier 7. the Adventurer 8. the Asserter 9. the Peacemaker.)

Well, I am The Peacemaker. Yes, I like nothing more than keeping the Peace! In spite of this fact the universe has been known to send conflict my way and I’ve come to learn that If I face conflict with authenticity and integrity It doesn’t feel so scary. As a matter of fact, I’ve slowly begun to see my relationship with “conflict” at times, as an opportunity to grow and become a better person. But when conflict arrises, my knee-jerk response is just to make peace, at any cost, I’m not proud to admit that I’ve been known to lose myself and simply please the person, or people, who are manifesting the conflict. This ‘knee-jerk’ response is one I somehow naturally learned as a child and although it was a behavior that may have served me well as a child, as an adult I’ve slowly come to learn that being an “Un evolved Peacemaker” has a tendency to create a very “unauthentic” person.

Being a Peacemaker at the cost of my authenticity was a price I began to realize I just wasn’t willing to pay. I needed to learn to be in the same room with “Conflict” and face it with courage and integrity. Thus began my relationship with “conflict”. I’ve come to accept that when I’m In the middle of a conflict and it’s up to me to resolve it, I try hard to practice being okay with the possibility that it may get ugly. I may end up not necessarily being “liked”…..Yikes! Someone may even be mad at me….Gasp! But in the end, I have to live with “me”, with who I am,( As soon as I figured out just “who” I was) . I began to realize that Conflict had been a huge distraction for me. Conflict caused me to avoid facing my authenticity. All to keep the PEACE! Well, I still like to keep the peace, but I now have the presence of mind to realize that it’s not always my job and when I am involved in a conflict, I need not sacrifice my own needs in order to make everything okay . There are times when I disagree or when I’m angry, or when I have to give my title of “Peacemaker” to someone else. While I’ll always feel most comfortable with conflict far away from me, I’ve learned and am ever learning that conflict isn’t necessarily my enemy. Nowadays I’m usually pretty good at finding a peaceful way to deal with conflict and when me or someone in my life has a conflict I’m up to the challenge of facing it, instead of my past reaction of exiting stage right. Mind you, I’m still learning and growing and those tendencies to avoid conflict will likely always be a part of who I am. The Peacemaker in me , although, hopefully becoming more evolved as I grow older, will always be a big part of what makes me who I am. Where would the world be without us Peacemakers after all? The important thing , to me, is to identify and understand, those personality traits that hinder my ability to live my life authentically.

Daily Prompt..Eat, Drink, and Be Merry… …for tomorrow we die. The world is ending tomorrow! Tell us about your last dinner — the food, your dining companions, the setting, the conversation.

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( WordPress, the blog hosting sight that I use to publish my blog, is hosting a “Daily blogging” challenge and I’m thinking I just may give this a try. I’m challenging myself to write a post a day. Not necessarily a long post, just ‘something’ every day this month, starting today. They offer a prompt and on days when I just don’t know what to write about I may take advantage of the ideas, like today….)

Boy do we love to host dinners! A big part of what we, as a couple enjoy about hosting dinners is, believe it or not, all the planning and Strategizing about what to serve, we enjoy the debate about what entree to prepare with what side dishes, and what appetizer to serve and then what to prepare for desert. Then Scott starts to research online for new and interesting recipes (not that he’s ever followed a recipe!, they serve as inspiration for him) One of our favorite ways to share a meal is to enjoy an array of Tapa’s, a variety of small dishes. We think It’s just good fun to experience several different small dishes instead of the traditional plate full of food. A Protein, a starch a vegetable, blah, blah, blah, how boring. Not boring to eat mind you because I’m most certainly a fan of all those ingredients that define a traditional dinner. But it’s not always, in our opinion, so fun to prepare the same thing, meal after meal. When we prepare a meal for our friends, it’s a gift really, and we like it to be special. In addition to finding and trying to prepare new and different foods.

My husband is the cook in our house and I’m the lowly sous chef. Well, not “lowly” just not at all interested in the actual ‘preparation’ of the food. We make a great team because my forte is in the table-scape! I love to set the table. Picking out the dishes, doing a centerpiece and creating a beautiful place to gather with people we like to spend time with. I get great pleasure in setting the stage, candles, flowers, you get the idea. Given the fact that my table is always ready for the meal way before the meal is ready to consume, I naturally make myself useful by doing any prep work the cook assigns to me while simultaneously cleaning up after him, of course. (eye roll here!) And may I add here….my man, while he CAN COOK, he’s exceedingly messy while he’s doing it! He leaves no pot or pan unused! As I roll my eyes during this part of my narrative I should add that, I jest, the entire process from menu planning to shopping, prepping, cooking and yes, even cleaning, when we’re working along side one another we’re enjoying our time together. Some couples enjoy jogging together or hiking or reading the paper in the morning over their coffee, but we cherish, cherish? Well, that sounds slightly dorky, okay, how bout, “thoroughly enjoy” preparing special meals for friends and creating a gathering and sharing our home. To us, this is good fun.

When a gathering at our dinner table is in the making we begin with the guest list. How many should we invite? We’ve found that, in our opinion, 6 to 8, people is a perfect sized gathering. Of course, if you are a reader who has known us from our Los Altos days then you may be familiar with our gigantic, blow out! Hollyween parties! Yea, that may have been a few more than 6 to 8 people. Believe it or not, they started out smaller and then through the years grew until the last one was close to 200 people! Whew!! While we enjoyed throwing those parties, I never really got to socialize with anyone as I would have liked to. That’s just wayyyyy too many people to actually sit down and enjoy entertaining, a different form of entertaining for certain. The more intimate gatherings are my cup of tea these days.

Given the fact that we’ve just made a major move to Panama and are just now, five months into it, getting settled, we’re only just getting back into the swing of entertaining. It’s a little different for us, given the fact that all the people we know so far are very new friends. And this house we’re renting isn’t exactly stocked with all the kitchen equipment we’re used to cooking with, so it’s an adventure preparing meals like we enjoy preparing. We’re slowly beginning to host small gatherings and have done it about three times so far. In order to continue hosting these small gatherings that we so enjoy, we’ve had to search out certain ingredients and even had to purchase a couple basic things like a cheesecake pan, measuring cups,mixing bowls, a hand mixer (Scott is jonesing for his Viking Mix-master!!) . It’s funny, you don’t realize how much you depend on certain little conveniences until you don’t have it. I don’t think I ever remember cutting up a boiled egg with a knife instead of using that handy little egg chopper! Ha! Most of the silly little gadgets and kitchen conveniences are easily found here in Panama, but we have a 40 foot container that we plan to ship out here and we already own all that good stuff and are trying to live without it now. It seems frivolous, and unnecessary to buy things that we know we already have.

I see, as I’m winding up my little essay, that I’ve veered terribly from the prompt! Oh well! That’s just too bad…hah! I just started writing and here’s what I ended up with. Writing about dinner and hosting a dinner , naturally lead me to talk about how and why we, as a couple , enjoy entertaining. I’m going with it! I soooo enjoy writing, it’s fun, therapeutic and just a new way for me to express myself. Please forgive any grammatical errors and limited vocabulary, I’m not a “writer”, I just enjoy writing.