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The Adventure Continues

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I met Linda and T through my blog some months back when they began reading my blog. They are in the process of exploring their options for their upcoming retirement and Boquete is high on their list, actually, after this trip it just might be right on the top of their list of places to move to. I meet so many great people through my blog and Linda & T are just one example of the great followers who I am lucky to have the opportunity to spend time with. They are really having a great Adventure here in Boquete!

Time4Us2Retire

Hi, Everyone!

Here’s what we’ve been up to since our last post.

El Explorador — Last Friday, Holly invited us to join her and the entire membership of her newly-formed Jaramillo Gardener’s Club to tour El Explorador — the remarkable gardens of a lovely señora who has been building her eco-themed gardens for more 25 years — and more than 50 years building their coffee finca before that. The gardens cover more than 5 acres with spectacular mountain views everywhere you look. She strongly believes in recycling and repurposing everything imaginable and has turned old tires into staircases, old tv’s into terrariums and glass bottles into planting beds. Her GIANT swingset has legs built of camshafts … and typewriters, sewing machines, perfume bottles and paint brushes are all integrated into the scheme. She has flower gardens, rose gardens (with almost NO black spot in spite of the humidity here), edible…

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Just had to share….

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The Sounds Of A Sunday Evening…

Gasp!

Gasp!


Dogs Barking in the distance . Birdsong filling the air. The wind gently moving the trees and the windchimes on the terrace. But mostly…Drums, Beating, Drums…in the distance yet sounding as though they were right next door. My how sound does travel! We are several miles up the hill, in Jaramillo. Above the town and boy are the drummers having quite a good time practicing their chops! Drumming is a very popular pastime here. I’m not even sure ‘pastime’ is correct. They take their drumming very seriously here in Panama. And this is the time of year that the real practice begins in earnest. Beginning right now but especially in November when the holidays begin, Boquete is filled with the sounds of these drums. I’m sure I’m just imagining it, but I could swear that the beat is exactly the same for hours on end. Hah! The beat will fade for a moment and then it begins again…boom de boom de boom de boom….boom de boom de boom de boom boom boom de boom …..Oh, and just now the church bells are chiming in! Well….aren’t Sundays peaceful…:) I’m not being sarcastic…I really mean it…Birds singing, wind chimes twinkling, wind rustling through the trees, dogs barking, and drums a drummin’….then, enter the church bells a chimin’! Ahhhhh…..How great is it that I have the time to sit on the terrace and take it all in… It’s coming up on 6:00 in the evening and the sun has been shining all day long. This day has been a gloriously relaxing , do nothing sort of day for us. We have so few of these days. It seems our days just fly by lately. So I find myself taking in each and every aspect of this beautiful mountain paradise. Oh…..my….I hear HORNS joining in with the drums!! HUH? Nice touch! …..what was I saying?….Oh, I love taking in all the lovely aspects of life in the highlands of Panama. This morning began with walking out of my bedroom and seeing the blue, cloudless sky with the majestic Volcan Baru looking down on me from the big picture window as I made a b-line for the coffee. Will that view ever become something I don’t gasp at when I see it? Oh…. well….I wonder if the church is competing with the drums and the horns right now! Hah! ” Ohhhh Panama! “….. As my friend Emma so lovingly says when she’s struck by something so uniquely and genuinely….Panama. I just can’t think of any place I’d rather be right this minute than sitting right here right now! Life is good…and a little drummers drumming makes it even better….mixed in with the occasional dog barking and the Birds chirping….Can you hear it?

Let’s Talk About Shoes…

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Yes, that’s right, I said, “Shoes”. I know, you thought you were reading a blog about expatriating to Panama…but I happen to think my adaptation to very different shoes is relevant to my subject matter…really! So, this morning I was walking up to our little casita, prepared to do some work with Scott. As I was walking up the hill… and, when I say,”up the hill”, I mean up, up, up the hill… we are in the mountains, remember? Ahem… Like I was saying…As I was walking up the hill I looked down at my hiking boots and I thought to myself ,”my how my wardrobe has changed”. My hiking boots used to be something I would put on my feet only once in a great while. Back when we were living in the Silicon Valley, working our butts off to afford to live there, we had very little time for a hiking. Once in awhile we’d carve out a Sunday afternoon hike at Castle Rock State park or we might take a long weekend and go to Yosemite and do a little hiking. But those boots, which I’ve had for several years, are finally beginning to look well worn, and let me tell you, before we moved, those poor hiking boots hadn’t really gotten much use at all. I can remember wiping the accumulated dust from them a few times when I dug them out for a hike. And they never really felt especially comfy, but, nowadays, my hiking boots are a daily wardrobe choice for me . Just this morning I was marveling to myself, (cuz’ I do a lot of “marveling” these days!)… I was marveling to myself, about just how comfy my boots are now that they are an everyday footwear choice for me. Very different style choice from what I used to wear to the salon everyday for nearly 30 years. Read the rest of this entry

A Quick Trip To The City…

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A couple of days ago we heard from our attorney that our Permanent Pensionado Visa was ready! I was really surprised it was ready so fast. I fully expected it to take several months, we just submitted our application in early July. So, a trip to Panama City to pick up our visa was in order. Given what happened last time we left our employees alone, we really wanted to get this trip done with as few days away from the job site as possible. So we decided to leave early on Sunday morning and return as soon as we got done at immigration on Monday. We got up early on Sunday and drove down to town, parked my car near the central park area and got on the 6:30a.m. bus to David, this takes about an hour. Then we bought our tickets and were on the 8:30 bus to Panama City. Our bus ride into the city went really smoothly, the bus was very comfortable and it only took 7 hours instead of the 8 hours it has taken with all the construction on the PanAmerican highway. Read the rest of this entry

An Eye Opening Day With Aquiles…

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An Interesting Experience…

Yesterday (Thursday) we were heading down to David to pick up some items from Elmec that we had ordered for the workshop studio. One of our workers, Aquiles, asked if he could come along because he needed to buy something. We of course agreed to take him with us. Let me tell you a little bit about Aquiles. He’s one of our Indigenous workers. We have two Panamanians and three Indigenous who work for us. For those of you who don’t know, Panama has several different tribes of Indigenous Indians native to the country. There are several different and distinct tribes many of whom live on lands set aside for them by the government called , Comarca’s. These lands are very similar to the reservations in the U.S. set aside for Native American Indians, although I assume these are much more remote and undeveloped, many have no electricity or running water. A large majority of the indigenous here in Boquete work as farm hands for the many coffee plantations , often seasonal workers traveling back and forth to their comarcas. The Finca owners usually provide very modest housing, or dormitories for these workers. They are almost always very poor and uneducated, and I think I can say correctly that none of them have cars or drive. I don’t consider myself an especially knowledgable person on this subject so I’m only telling you what I’ve learned and observed since living here. Read the rest of this entry

Our Container Arrived!

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Well, that was fast! I must admit, I didn’t expect this container shipment to go so smoothly. I was stunned when today we got a phone call from Brent, the Liaison with Ranier Shipping, who called and said,” are you on your way to the storage?” I said, Ummmm, I can be!” He said,”We’re here,at Chiriqui Storage”…You can imagine my shock! It’s true, our container actually arrived and has now been emptied into our storage here in Panama. I don’t know why I was so hesitant to have high expectations with this shipping experience, it’s all done and all went very smoothly. Read the rest of this entry

Here’s What’s Going On Now…

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IMG_7986 Well, Lot’s of stuff has been going on lately. I’ll try to catch you up on some of our latest news and happenings. I was just mentioning to Kat that my brain feels as if it’s on overload this week because there’s just so much rumbling through my head. besides settling into living in a different house and figuring out where to put all our stuff, we’ve still been trying to figure out all the repercussions of our truck accident. Trying to take care of all the legal issues with discontinuing employment with the young man who was involved. And learning all the ins and outs of how car insurance works here in Panama. Read the rest of this entry

Working With The Guys…

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Yesterday (Wed) was my first full day helping out at our project. Since we’ve lost our only other driver Scott was trying to figure out how he was going to get his projects done that he’s working on in the casita when he needs to keep the supply of sand, gravel and cement up at the top of the property and still get his own projects done. So, I said, “I can help!” I can drive the truck up and down all day while the guys load and unload. I’ve actually been hoping we’d reach a point in the project when I could actually start helping and here’s my opportunity.

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One Big Step Closer To Being ‘Legit’ In Panama…

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Our trip to Panama City was a mix of good and not so good. The good is that we’re now ‘officially’ in the system and we have our temporary Panama ID’s in our hot little hands….Yes! Our permanent ID’s should be in our possession in a few months time. The bad part of our trip was the disappointing realization that our plans to fly to California had to be cancelled at least temporarily. This due to a tiny little detail our attorney neglected to make perfectly clear to us clueless Gringos…. When I asked our attorney if it would be okay for us to plan to return to the states as soon as our application was in process she said,”yes, as soon as your application is in process you can leave Panama”. Okay, that seemed clear to us so we booked the trip for the day after meeting with her. But when I mentioned we were leaving on Saturday, (the very next day) I got…”What?, you cant do that!” SCREEEEEECH! (this is the sound of our plans coming to a screeching halt!) Read the rest of this entry

Did someone say, “Pie”?

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I’ve done something extraordinary! Extraordinarily uncharacteristic for Holly, that is. Not Actually, something that anyone but me will think is so special or strange or amazing or stunning or CRAZY FANTASTIC… okay but, maybe those who know me well will understand! Are you dying of curiosity? Well….I made a PIE! Yep, you read that right…I actually baked a homemade pie…from Scratch! Crust and all! Yes!! I really did! Who knew I had it in me? Well, certainly not me, I’ve never even wanted to bake a pie…it’s just not something that ever even occurred to me to even attempt. I mean, other people like to bake and to make pies and treats but not me. I’m the one who keeps all those Frozen food companies in business! I used to frequent that area of the grocery store, in the day’s before Scott. And now, what’s happening to me? I mean, sheeesh! I’m baking now? HUMPH!

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Here’s a lesson I’m Learning…

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As I’ve probably mentioned from time to time, this whole “domesticity” thing is new for me. So I’ve never been the “Laundress from Heaven”, far from it. I’ve ruined my fair share of clothes and Yes, Scott has occasionally had to live with pink underwear that some how ended up in the wrong load of colors. I personally think he looks very manly in Pink, but he’s not so sure! Pffffft! And shrinking things….can you see my eyes rolling now? Yes, I have a habit hence a dread now, of shrinking my clothes! Consequently I hate using the dryer and I almost always use cold water, except for Scott’s filthy work clothes…those need to be BOILED or maybe even tossed each night into the trash!! Hah! For all my clothes I mostly like to air dry them. So I hang my clothes wherever I can find a place to hang them. Here’s where my norma M.O. has run into a snag….it’s a bit more humid here than I’m used to. Gulp! Have you ever smelled mildewed clothes? Well, Um…I’ve got a little problem…My clothes all smell kinda…..Oh hell…. terrible! They just don’t dry nearly as fast as they did hanging in my bathroom in California. And apparently when you let wet clothes hang to dry for three or four days, well, lets just say, yuck! There’s no fresh clean smell commin’ from my freshly washed clothes, that’s for sure. I do believe I have a mildew problem. Sooooo back into the washer goes my laundry and a new plan has been put into action. I noticed a little rope hanging outside with some clothespins on it…Hmmmmm…could that be a better place to let my clean laundry hang to dry? Of course, its the rainy season up here in Boquete. And that means that everyday, usually anywhere between 2 to about 3ish, it rains like crazy! But the early part of the day is just as sunny and warm as can be. And theres always a nice breeze. Which means I’ve gotta keep a close eye on the weather outside. So today I’ve got my clothes drying outside but this means I need to be on top of it and make sure I grab them and bring them all inside soon, right now its 2:45 and I can see the sky beginning to get a little grey. Probably a good idea to go out there and see if my formerly smelly, mildewy clothes are dry. This has been my newest, and rather critical new housekeeping lesson…how to clean my clothes and not let them get mildewy. I got this! Humph! Learning something new everyday!

Stopping to hear, to listen and to appreciate so many things…

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Sounds…
(I know,..,.Two post in one day!! Ayyyy! What can I say, I was feeling inspired today! Hah!)

I hear roosters, various birdsong, more roosters, dogs barking, drums in the distance, a mariachi band at my neighbors house (which has taken a break so I can hear all the lovely sounds of nature all around me). The occasional sound of a car driving by on the road below. Lot’s of different birds, there are so many different and unique sounds all over. And the nearby buzz of the Hummers as they take turns chasing each other from the feeder, all demanding it belongs to them! They sound so fierce as they chase each other, darting so fast and often buzzing right near where I sit. Then the peaceful sound of many hummers flittering around the feeder as they gobble up as much of the sugary nectar as they can before the day is over. Read the rest of this entry

Father’s Day….Sigh…

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It’s been some time since I’ve celebrated Father’s Day. My Dad’s been gone for twenty years. He left us way too soon, he was only 47 years old. My age, give or take, sigh. I was 28 when you left Dad. You meant the world to me. Because you came into my life when I was about 4 or five years old some would label you as my “step-Dad”, but I beg to differ. You were my Dad. The only Dad I ever wanted or needed. I can remember when my mom brought you to meet me and Rora. I remember sitting on your lap and I remember you doing a trick where you took off your thumb. You adored me from the very start, and the feeling was mutual. You loved being a father. I always felt loved, adored, cared about and safe with you around. You gave me advice, you were very protective of me, you punished me when I needed to be punished and you rewarded me when I made you proud. And you were always so proud of us. You deserved that pride. You taught me so much. You taught me manners, how to behave in a fancy restaurant, honesty, integrity, you taught me how to embrace my creativity. I watched you express your creativity all the time. You loved to decorated the house, you were always redecorating something. Making valances for the windows or wallpapering or rearranging furniture. I remember you surprising me with a newly decorated bedroom when I was about 10 or 12, new furniture and drapes with a matching comforter on the bed. I remember when Rora wanted a canopy bed and you surprised her with that. You loved surprising us. You loved seeing us happy and you especially loved spoiling us (me, Rora and Mom) rotten. You taught me to be generous and kind and to express my love and to always always laugh. I think the single most “stand out” thing that everyone who knew you will never forget is your sense of humor! No one, and I mean No one ever got more satisfaction from embarrassing people and making people laugh! You never ever tired of finding the humor in life. I can hear that loud all encompassing chuckle! Hah! Makes me smile just to think of it! What a joker you were. I have endless memories of being embarrassed as an adolescent! And underneath all the eye rolling and yelling I did while being embarrassed….I would be smiling inside, trying like hell not to let you know that I loved it! I was so proud of you. You were so handsome and so cool and so talented and successful and you were so fun to have around. All my friends thought you were so great! Even when your antics affected them, they just couldn’t believe how funny you were. None of their dads behaved like you! You were crazy! And I was proud of you. All my girlfriends liked being at our house because you were always so fun. I miss you so much. I often think about how badly I wish you and Scott could have met. My sweet quiet man would not have known what to think of you Dad! Hah! And I don’t think Mariah would ever want you out of her sight! She loves to hear stories of how you would totally embarrass me in public. And she wishes you could have embarrassed her. Oh Dad, how I miss you and wish everyday that you were here. I would trade anything just to have you back. But life doesn’t work like that. And so, I am just grateful to have had you as my Dad! You came into my life when I needed you most and embraced me with love and adoration and cherished me and made me feel loved. And I hope you felt my love right back. One thing that I know to be true, even now in my life, Family is not defined by blood but simply by love and love was the most precious gift you ever gave to me. You stood by my side during some of the most crucial times and guided and directed me while offering support and unending devotion. I may not be able to spend the day with you Dad, but just writing these words makes me feel as though I’ve celebrated Father’s Day and given you a gift. I miss you everyday but I know you’ll always be with me. And, I’m certain your wishing you could do something from up there to embarrass me! Hah! Happy Father’s Day Dad……..

Happy Birthday To Scott!

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Today is Scott’s Birthday!

Happy Birthday to my best friend! He’s finally the same age as me and cant call me the ‘old’ lady anymore! For six whole months he loves to point out that I’m older than him and today is the day that nonsense comes to a halt! HUMPH! We’re spending two nights at Boca Chica. We were here in April for Easter but we stayed at a different hotel last time. I tried to get reservations at the same place, Seagull Cove Lodge, but they were booked. So I found this one , it’s called Bocas Del Mar. And what a nice place it is. It’s actually very near the other place and we both agree we like them both. It’s really nice to have a place like this to visit, it’s only about an hour and forty five minutes from Boquete which makes it a very easy place to get to for a weekend away. For my friends who don’t know, this wonderful spot is on the Pacific side of Panama. The Gulf Of Chiriqui is a beautiful area to visit, although , for us, it’s a bit hot! Today we plan to have them prepare a picnic lunch for us and we’ll take out one of their kayaks and paddle over to one of the nearby islands to relax and read for the day. Last time we were here we paddled over there and discovered a lovely little beach with lots of shade trees and not a soul around. We’ll bring out kindles and just have a lazy afternoon, we might even bring a bottle of wine along….who am I kidding “Might?” Hah! We’ll definitely bring a bottle of wine along! 🙂 Yesterday when we arrived and were having lunch in the restaurant here at the hotel, I told the proprietor who we were chatting with, that today was going to be Scotts birthday. This is something I do every year, which My Sweet, quiet guy just hates with a passion and which I could care less how much he hates it! (said with an evil smile!) Because I made that announcement (lovingly, I may add!) to the management, she said she would instruct the kitchen to prepare him a cake tonight! Hah! So, to his horror, and my delight, I’m certain he’ll get sung to this evening and all will get to celebrate his special day. It really is a special day to me, because it marks the day that my most favorite person came into this world! That, and the fact that he can finally put a lid on that ,”your older than me crap!” hah!!! 🙂 Happy Birthday My Love!!

Mariah Went Back Home…Sigh…

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Sigh! I just realized, because many have been asking me, that I’ve neglected to write about Mariah’s departure. She went back to California on June 3rd. Sad Face….I think she would say that her visit was a really good time. This was her first vacation as a grown up, and her first journey outside of the U.S. Well, to be honest, her father has taken her to Mexico, but in my mind, it really doesn’t count because it was a resort, she never really ‘saw’ Mexico. When you spend time in a plush resort, surrounded by swimming pools and fancy restaurants, can you really feel as though you’ve experienced a different culture and seen a new place? I don’t really think so. But on this vacation to Panama Mariah really and truly saw Panama and experienced a different culture. Read the rest of this entry

The Poor in Chiriqui

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The Poor in Chiriqui

I’m reblogging a post written by my friend Cindy, who also lives here in Boquete. If any of my readers are interested in donating anything to this little organization please contact me personally and I will give you an address to send things to. I just love those sweet little faces and would like to help as well. Thanks…Holly

Chapter 3: Loving Retirement in Panama and now, Colombia

This morning I went to the Volcancito Mission with my friend and head knitter in Boquete.  She was delivering over 100 knitted articles, from blankets to booties.  She organized a group to do this, which originally was made up of expats.   Now it  includes Panamanian and indigenous women – learning a skill and building their self-esteem.

This group does not get a lot of attention in the community.  Their fundraising has been limited.  But the ‘jefa’ of the group, Brandy, is about to change that. Arecela 3 I went to the mission with her today to take pictures of the children who get the caps, sweaters and blankets her group knits.  The children (or their moms) were waiting to be seen by a doctor.  The kids were absolutely adorable.  When a sweater was brought to them to try on, their eyes just lit up.

Samuel and momTheir culture is much different than ours.  They rarely smile, even…

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Isla Iguana 07/05/2014

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This is Karens post from our day on the beach..short , and to the point….Life soooooo doesn’t suck!

In Da Campo

Isla Iguana 07/05/2014

On Sunday I met a young lady who asked me a common question; “What do you do all day.?” With mis amigas Kris and Holly visiting this is what Girls Day looks like in the campo. Life sure sucks…not.

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Familiarity is Blooming…

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I may be strange (I’ve accepted this fact about myself!) , but I really thrive on the connection I feel when people around town begin to recognize me and remember who I am. This is just beginning to happen and when it does It just makes me so happy. I’m getting to know several of the people who work in some of the places I frequent, like the butchers in Romero’s, the lady who pumps my gas at the gas station, the guys at my favorite stalls in the produce market and the security guards at my bank, just to name a few. Yesterday I had a great chat , (well a ‘chat’ of sorts) with both the butchers at the Chicken side of the meat counter as well as the nice man on the sliced lunchmeat counter. The chicken guy who is normally pretty serious looking, not a big smiler, suddenly became very very smiley and friendly when I apologized to him for my lousy Spanish (in Spanish!) and told him that in a year my Spanish would be much better (Mucho Mejor!)! He told me that he has learned a little English and agreed that it is very hard to learn another language! I suspect from now on I will get many more of those nice smiles from him when I go to buy my Chicken. Then the guy at the sliced meat counter helped me learn how to say 1/4 Libra of Canadian Bacon. I normally stick to ‘un libra or media libra’ but was not prepared to throw in 1/4 libra…he gave me a very good lesson and I wrote it down on my little pad of paper I always carry with me. I told him he was my new Profesor de Espaniol! He laughed and said something I didn’t understand one bit!! Hah! I got “Nada”! Oh well! Again, very ,very friendly and helpful! At first they seem kinda annoyed and not happy but when I attempt to talk to them boy do their faces light up! Oh, and I must tell you about the sweet teller at the cash register and the bagger. Again, they are always nice enough but not especially friendly. Yesterday I was buying one of those great big 5 gallon jugs of water and It was my first time buying one so of course I didn’t know what I was expected to do as far as , do I lift it out of my cart and put it with the rest of my groceries to be scanned, or just leave it in the cart? I asked and I thought she said yes (meaning, yes, put it up here), so I lifted it and she and the bag boy both quickly stopped me…’No!, No! No Necesasita!” OOOOPS! I laughed really hard and immediately put it back down. The bagger even sort of dashed over to help me..oh boy, another embarrassing moment! So I said..”Oh Loco Gringa!” and they looked at each other and we all laughed! Just today, I ran in to Romero’s to get some Cilantro and there was that bagger, saying Hola! Como Esta? to me like we were old friends! Love That!! The lady who pumps my gas is beginning to remember me when I go there. Just this week we had a little chat (again, of sorts!) about our Hair! Hah! She asked me if my curls were natural? She’s so sweet, I really like getting to know people. Do you remember how nervous I used to be when I went to the Mercado, (the produce market)? Well, today I ran over to find some Jalapeños . I marched right up to my favorite guy, Benjamin , and said, without any hesitation (mind you, I had said it at least a hundred times in my head before I got there!) “Tiene Usted Jalapeños picante ?” And dontcha know…I got a smile and a big bag of Jalapeños! Whoot! Whoot! And there was a time, not so long ago , when I very nearly had tears welling up in my eyes trying to make myself understood. He was very clearly pleased by my progress too.
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Here we go….Jumping through more hoops! (and trying like hell to hang onto my Tranquilo!)

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We seem to get no where with our permanent residency visa at each turn. This week I finally had all our required documents ready to mail to our attorney in Panama City. They had all been authenticated, notarized and Apostiled, and to the best of our knowledge all was in order. Schreeeech! Nope! I received an email from Mayra, our attorney, that our FBI reports are three weeks too old! They cant be older than six months and we went three weeks past that, unknowingly. We knew that the Apostile on them was too old so our attorney had told us that if we simply had them ‘re-apostilled’ all would be in order, which we did do. But no one told us about the six month requirement (big eye roll here!). This seems to be our biggest problem, not knowing the little rules like that. If you don’t know the questions to ask then you end up making mistakes. We had a big hold up when we sent all the letters of authentication and our marriage certificate and bank statements to the Panamanian Consulate in Houston to be authenticated. We were notified after waiting weeks for them to acknowledge that they had received them, that they were not able to authenticate documents that had been notarized in Panama, so they could authenticate only about two out of the six that we sent them. Uggggg! So we then learned that the U.S. State department could Apostille the remaining documents. After receiving them back from the Panamanian Consulate we put them back in the mail to Washington DC to be Apostilled by the U.S. State department. Then waited, and waited and waited. My heart leapt with joy after we finally received everything and we were finally ready to mail it all off to Mayra. Then my heart sank last night after receiving this email from her…
“I am very sorry to tell you that your FBI records are too old to be used in the application of the visa. According to the latest rule immigration issued the FBI or any police report is only good for 6 months. You FBI reports have a date of 9/3/2013. The bank statements are too old.”

?!#$!!! DEEP BREATH….where’s that good ol’ TRANQUILO? More deep breaths and a good nights sleep and here I am getting in a little blogging therapy. We spent the majority of our evening trying to strategize about ‘what now?’. Back to the beginning. By the time we get this straightened out all the other documents will also be too old so we may as well just have it all redone. Deep Sigh… So, we are due for a good ol’ border run once again. We are thinking about just doing a really fast and furious flight into Houston and visiting the Panamanian Consulate to re authenticate and notarize all our documents and also having our fingerprints done while we are there and just mail them to DC while we are in the states. This way we get our border run requirement out of the way as well as having a much easier time getting fingerprints that the FBI will accept. (I sure hope my cement injured fingertips heal quickly! ) And a personal visit to the consulate should make things go much faster. Of course we will make sure to make all the proper appointments and to ask lots of questions, hopefully the right questions , before getting on the plane.

All this right before Mariah is due to arrive!! Geeesh! And don’t forget, we have six Panamanian employees who are depending on us for their living. So we need to keep them working or we will have to pay them for working while Scott is gone even if they don’t work, It’s only fair. So, this should be interesting. We have found flights , luckily we have plenty of miles on our airline points so we wont have to spend a ton of money. Some of you may be reading this and wondering why we didn’t just get all this paperwork done in the states before our move….well, in case you haven’t read earlier posts let me explain so we don’t’ look completely idiotic, (only slightly idiotic). Well, you see, it’s all because of the requirement of having proof of a “lifetime income”. Most retired people can satisfy this requirement with a pension or social security which would show that you do indeed have a lifetime income of a minimum of 1,250.00 per couple, per month. We have chosen to make this move a bit earlier than traditional ‘retirement’ age, which means , no Social Security and we also have no pension, so our only other option for this proof of ‘lifetime income’ was to purchase an annuity which would pay us that amount for the rest of our lives. We could not afford to do this until after we sold our house in California and then after purchasing the annuity we had to wait three months to have bank statements to show proof of payments. Also, they wanted authentication from the company that the annuity is from as well as proof of the validity of that company, it got a little more complicated than we expected but we were able to acquire all the necessary documentation that our attorney told us we would need. All these documents are part of the Authentication, notarizes and Appostille issue. Not an issue really, just a process of getting all these ducks in a row within the right time period, which we seem to have so far failed to do. So let’s try it all over again, shall we?

There are other different residency visas that we could have opted to apply for but one of the big perks of this visa allows us to ship our container of belongings from California to Panama without paying any import taxes which could be fairly hefty. Of course, in my mind, by the time we pay for all this time of storage in the states and all the other costs involved in flying to and from Houston now and because Scott doesn’t have his tools we have had to purchase many things for our project that we already own, I’m questioning weather or not it’s even worth it all just to avoid paying ‘import taxes’? But Scott seems to think it is , so given the fact that he’s the one who has done the bulk of the research, we will march forward and just keep jumping through hoops until we have jumped through enough of them and see if we actually get this visa. I’m getting a bit discouraged, can you tell? It really helps that Scott is such a calm, focused and sensible person. I get frustrated while his mind is spinning on what is the most logical and realistic step to take next. And yes, he’s always that calm! I must admit, I am one person in his life who can get him a bit ruffled but he’s pretty darn good at tuning me out! Humph!

In our life we often choose to do things a little out of the box, unfortunately this time it’s proving to be a headache. Although I know plenty of other people here who have experienced just as many headaches in their process as we are being confronted with. Rules change, lawyers aren’t always especially , uh, shall I say, ‘reliable’? I know many who have had their @#$! together and still end up jumping through endless hoops only to be told that , oooops, the rules have changed. So, everyone has their story, some have lucked out and it goes smoothly , others , like us, have their ‘tranquilo’ tested! But in the end I’ve seen many many people who endured through all the BS and now carry that little cedula and Panamanian Drivers license , and no longer need to run to the border ever 3 months to re-validate their drivers license. Our day will come, I’m sure and like all those others we will really really appreciate having it all behind us. And The advise I’ll pass on to those of you applying for residency…don’t try to do something a little ‘out of the box’ when it comes to dealing with government officials and lawyers. Just go with what everyone else is doing and save yourself a little trouble, oh there will still be trouble but maybe, just maybe, not quite as much as we seem to have created for ourselves! Hah!

Staying in Town Is Not So Bad….

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An Evening Stroll,

It’s actually been pretty nice staying in town this week. And not having a kitchen to cook dinner has meant going out to eat every night, which we don’t usually do. And the added bonus of living in town is having the ability to walk everywhere. Of course my friends Valerie and Mark would beg to differ about some of the benefits, during the many festivals that kept them awake until 3 and 4 a.m. The Boom! Boom! Boom! of the drums and the “Are You Ready!” Blasting from the make shift disco techs that sprout up during these very festive times of the year. We are fortunate to be staying in town while there’s nothing going on. Which is a rarity around these parts, they do love any reason to have a celebration. No, it’s been fairly quiet so far and being able to walk to dinner is something we miss about our home in Los Altos. Read the rest of this entry

Here’s the cure for House Spiders….

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Boy does it pay to write a post about spiders in my house…
My friend John sent me this link to remedy my spider problem!! I love it!! I’m gonna try the peppermint one first!! And we shall see if these things work well with these Panamanian spiders!
http://www.naturallivingideas.com/9-natural-ways-to-keep-spiders-out-of-your-home/

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!

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.

Scott’s back to his old tricks…

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He’s Back! Back to work that is! And with gusto! That guy….he set’s his mind to something and Whammo! He just makes it happen! He decided on a plan of action and it is moving forward quite nicely. We’re still working with our architect to finalize the design of the casita and that’s moving along fairly well, the plans should be ready to submit for permits soon. But we haven’t yet hired a contractor to build the structure so Scott is preparing the road up to the lot as well as a retaining wall (about 200 ft) along the road. As I said before, in order to do all that concrete work, he must first prepare a staging area where he can store some tools like shovels and such, and a dry, secure spot to store bags of cement. So, he first constructed two pen/type things to contain gravel and sand,then today he began constructing a small ‘bodega’ or shed that will have a metal roof and a locking door. That famous, sparkly new Concrete mixer got hauled up to the lot this morning and put to work mixing some of that gravel and sand and cement to pour the pad for the floor of the bodega. And of course, I’m just as pleased as to be because he has one worker that is taking over my role as assistant. Archiles, is the guys name and he was working just one day a week on the coffee finca right next to us. When we were loading and hauling all those concrete bricks he was always there and we would wave to him and say Hola. Then he approached Scott and asked if he need a worker. Scott agreed to give him a try and so far, after this first week, he seems to be working out just fine. And he lives very near our property. We have two more guys to talk to on Wed, so very soon it looks like Scott will have gathered a fairly good crew to work with him….Yippeee! The other aspect of ‘setting the stage’ for all the concrete work is of course, water. Given the fact that we have yet to establish access to water up there quite yet, Scott bought a 600 gallon water tank and a smaller290 gallon tank. He found a good spot for the big tank and got it all set up and the plan is to haul the smaller one in the back of the pick up and fill it up in the morning here and just syphon it to the bigger tank until it’s full. We’ll just keep refilling it that way for now, hooking up a hose to it to create access. Yesterday we had to make a run to the local “Do It” center , which is their equivalent of Home Depot, to pick up some tools that he needed. Given the fact that we have a storage unit back in the states that’s overflowing with tools, Scott was not hugely happy to have to buy new ones. And Given the fact that the good ones here are so much more expensive than they are in the States, he decided to just go with the lesser expensive ones and deal with it for now. He even had to buy another generator, believe me he wasn’t happy about spending the money, but unless we want to just wait to do all this work until he has his tools, there was no other choice. Poor guy….forced to go tool shopping, eye roll! So, here’s a few pictures, I know they aren’t especially exciting but it’s the beginning ….. It’s really moving along well so far. Achilese has also been clearing away a lot of the wild, weeds and things, chopping away with his good ol’ machete when Scott runs to get more materials. That guy really works fast clearing and weeding, gotta love that!! We’ve got a long way to go, but it’s great to have had our very first week of construction under our belt…

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Feliz Navidad!

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Originally posted on The Panama Adventure:
This is my 400th post, which seems fitting because I’m writing about a wonderful and significant Christmas for us, one that has me thinking about how our lives have changed since moving to Panama. Christmas is celebrated a bit differently in Panama. Some people go to church on Christmas…