Category Archives: Year Two of living in Boquete, Panama

A Little Update…

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Our life right now…
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Life’s just cruzin’ right along! Of course we’ve been keeping incredibly busy, as I’m sure you could guess. Between building our third and final building and creating a garden in the jungle, getting a new dog, enjoying spending time with friends, doing regular household chores and errands and learning Spanish, I have a really hard time finding moments to just sit and write. Which I regret. I really love writing and sharing our story and I know I’ve become a very bad blogger. So, here’s a little peak into what’s going on in our world… Read the rest of this entry

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Our Two Year Anniversary Living In Panama!

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20140707-112852-41332107.jpgTwo Year Anniversary…

What? How the heck did two years buzz by so fast?? Sheesh! Tomorrow , May 29th it’ll be two years ago that we got on that plane with four bags and two unhappy cats headed to a new life in Panama. I just cant believe we’ve been living here in Boquete for two years already. Its funny, in some ways it feels as though we’ve always been here and then in other ways it seems like we just got here!

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We’re all in this together…

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I wrote about this on my Facebook timeline today (yesterday) but I know many of you don’t do Facebook so I thought I’d share it here. This morning (yesterday morning) , bright and early I had to take Martin, one of our indigenous workers, to the Seguro office to sign some paperwork for his Social security. And, on a side note before I get to the story I was planning to tell you, this young man is 20 years old and has a very young wife who is expecting their first baby, so getting on social security for the first time in his life could not come at a better time for he and his new family. Martin moved to Boquete, like many of the indigenous, in order to find work to support him an his new bride and growing family. Before he began working for us we had seen him around the neighborhood doing other menial labor for other neighbors. He had walked up to our job site on one other occasion to ask if we had work for him but at that time we didn’t. Then about a month or so ago he came by again ,(very persistent, gotta respect that!), to see if we had work for him and this time Scott hired him. Read the rest of this entry

The Holidays Are Upon Us…

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The tree in the Central Park in Boquete...

The tree in the Central Park in Boquete…

Decorations have sprouted everywhere we go. The Western world is not alone in the mass consumption of goods purchased on “Black Friday”. Nope, you should have seen the crowds at our little mall in David on that day! The Panamanians were out in force ready to save big on all the sales in the stores. We made the mistake of going to David to get a few things done before the weekend. We had to pick up some lights that Scott had ordered for his workshop so Lumicentro was our big stop. There wasn’t even any parking in the lot, we lucked out and found a spot on the side of the road. This ‘mall’ is normally busy but not like this! You could barely walk for all the crowds! There were police out in force and people standing in long lines inside all the stores. Not only inside the stores but also outside the stores there were families waiting with large appliances, washers, huge big screen TV’s, and all sorts of purchases. It was seriously a madhouse! So we got our lights and high-tailed it outta there as fast as we could. That was a lesson learned, next year on ‘Black Friday’ you won’t find us anywhere near David and especially not anywhere near any stores! Ugh! We really hate crowds! That was equivalent to Valley Fair on Black Friday…quite possibly even worse! Read the rest of this entry

Should I be telling you this?….Ahhh, what the heck!

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Can I Be Honest? This is not about being an expat, its about being a woman….
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Can I be honest? Well, of course I CAN…but do I really want to? Everyone always loves to know the truth. Everyone always appreciates knowing what’s really going on, deep down. There’s something very appealing to us all when someone shares the raw, honest truth in life. Well, today, on this kinda gray, cloudy, windy morning, I’m feeling kinda blue. To be honest, this feeling has been brewing for a little while now. Just simmering inside, as I’ve been quietly trying to process exactly what is going on for me. I can’t say that I’m totally convinced that It’s just ‘one’ specific thing making me feel a little unsettled lately. I’m nearly 49 years old and entering into that time in a woman’s life when hormones are playing havoc with my head, emotions are crazy and ….who’s body is this anyways? I mean, sheesh! I look in the mirror and try to be calm about all these changes but, come on! Wasn’t it enough to have gone through adolescence….now I have to go through menopause!!! Crap! I hope you don’t find this post to be whiny, or annoying…but , if you do… well, then just stop reading right about NOW….cuz’ I’ve only just begun! Hah! Read the rest of this entry

A followup on our Thanksgiving…

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I wanted to share some of my photos of our wonderful day yesterday. It was a belated Thanksgiving and a fantastic day with such great friends! But one of the funnest parts to our day was getting acquainted with little Maggie Mae, Raquel’s 6 week old howler monkey. Raquel is an animal rescue professional and her home in Volcan is home to a lot of wonderful wild animals that are native to Panamá. She gets contacted by different people who know about her and if there is an animal in need she’s usually the person to call. She has such a big heart and a passion for animals of all kinds. We felt honored to have her join us and when she called to let us know she had just a couple of days ago been given a baby howler monkey and could not leave it home alone we were all thrilled to include such a sweet baby in our gathering. So, along with Maggie Mae we had a day of great food, fun games, drinks, great conversation! We all agreed that we are each one of us grateful for this wonderful place we all now call ‘HOME”! Here are a few of my photos…

Our Second Thanksgiving in Panama…

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This is our second Thanksgiving here in Boquete. As you know, it isnt a holiday in Panama, so Thursday was a work day for our crew of eight guys. Which meant that Scott and I had to work too. Luckily our friends all agreed they would wait for us to join them on Saturday instead of Thursday. We have such great friends! Although Thursday was not a holiday here for the Panamanians, this weekend is a huge holiday , its their second Independence Day (they also celebrate their independence from Columbia). This weekend they celebrate their Independence from Spain and boy is it festive in town. We’ve heard a rumor that the President is staying in Boquete for the weekend, I don’t know if its true but one things for sure, there are tons of tourists here. The town is humming with celebratory energy. They’ve decorated the entire town square with banners and streamers zig-zagging all over the place. The central park has been getting a facelift for the last few months as well. All the park benches have been painted and the planters have all been freshened up with new flowers. Some of the big huge trees were cut down and they planted a whole bunch of new palm trees all around the park. There are lots of beautiful flowers now and even the big fountain is running. A wonderful new addition to the park is a collection of beautifully hand carved tree stumps. I don’t know if they were done by multiple artists but I do know there is one guy in town who has carved many such pieces of art all over town, so I would assume it was him who has contributed his handiwork to the beautification of the park. Read the rest of this entry

Cheers For Bananas!

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The neighbor kids came over today. They seem to visit more and more lately. It used to be only the three girls would come up but now even the little boys come knocking on the door on occasion. I’m getting used to these kids and not feeling quite so sad about how they live. They’re just such happy kids. They’re as dirty as heck, but what kid cares about that! This morning the youngest girl,( Nicole, she’s about 7), along with her two little brothers (I haven’t quite gotten their names down yet), about 5 and I’m guessing the little one is about 4ish, came up. They brought their little puppy along and their kitten. They seem to really love dragging those little guys everywhere with them. When I answer the door they’re all smiles , “Holly, Tienes manzanas?” They love apples. Apples are pretty expensive here and I’m sure they never get them. So every once in awhile when I’m at the market I’ll buy a few extra apples and give them to the kids, its amazing how much they love them. Which brings me to what inspired me to write this short post. Today I didn’t have any apples , only bananas from Luana’s house. So I said, ‘lo siento, no hay manzanas, pero,tengo bananas”…thinking they would be disappointed, they have banana trees all over the place here. But, to my surprise they were delighted! “Bananas!” they all cheered in unison! Big smiles all around….can you believe that! Kids who felt joyful over someone giving them bananas! Of course they then wanted to know if I also had cookies, and then wanted more bananas…. (eye roll!) kids, they all wanna see just how much they can get! Hah! I’m getting really good at telling them “Estoy muy ocupado, tienes que ir a casa ahora”. ( I’m very busy, you need to go home now). And off they go laughing and playing all the way down the hill. They actually came up to charge their mothers cell phone, it wasn’t just a random mission for manzanas. And I must say, they kinda made my day. I don’t quite get everything they say, but you can’t mistake gratitude on the faces of little kids. They seem to be just having a great day running around filthy dirty and barefoot, with puppies and kittens in tow munchin’ on bananas and not one bit sad that the nice Gringa vecina didn’t have any cookies. Just another day in the barrio…

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

The Casita project update…

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All this traveling and leaving Boquete has created a bit of a difficult crimp in our project, but progress continues in spite of it all. Luckily for us, we have a very dependable crew of hard working guys who we can trust to continue doing what they are supposed to do even when Scott isn’t there to watch their every move. It’s not everyday that you end up with men like that. It means a lot to us that we can leave them unsupervised for short period of time and come back to see that they kept working hard and doing a good job. And our neighbors are also a huge help when we have to go out of town. Al has very kindly taken care of giving the guys their pay when we are gone for a payday. It is something that is more helpful than he even realizes. We are so blessed to have such amazing neighbors who I can tell will be like family to us when we live there. I often marvel at our good luck. 🙂 Read the rest of this entry

Our Tranquilo Is Being Tested ….

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We’re in Panama City to officially begin the application process for our residency visa. Our attorney told us to bring copies of our passports, copies of the last entry stamp in our passports. Copies of a bill or contract that shows proof of our address in Boquete and five passport photos along with cash to pay for application. No problema….

She seems to have been very thorough except for one tiny little detail…. We must have a multi entry visa before leaving Panama when our visa application is in process! Which we knew , what we did not know is… This visa takes two business days to process..Gasp !! This little bit if information somehow didn’t get explained to us when I very clearly asked about leaving the country when the application is “in process”, which she very clearly answered, “YES you can leave as soon as it is “in Process”. If we had left panama we would have been fined $ 4,000.00! Deep breath…. Okay… So, my mistake was not asking extremely specific questions . When I asked if we could leave after our application was officially ‘in process’ I should have asked ‘WHEN” we could leave. Ugggggg! Oh Boy! Gotta chalk this one up to yet another lesson learned. Be more specific Holly.

We should have known better to plan things so tightly. This is Panama after all, right. Things just seem to get done much differently than one would expect. It would have been so nice to have had a list of important things and this whole entire process has been such a trial and error for us. You would think this was the first Residency Visa ever to be applied for. I mean come on! When someone asks about leaving during the application process why not include in your answer,”Be aware, you must not leave the country until the multi entry visa is processed which takes TWO days!” Uggggg! And our attorney specializes in immigration law. Well, I cant put the blame all on her, I am the one who didn’t ask the right questions. As a matter of fact, even besides our mistake of planning to leave the country, we couldn’t even return to Boquete if we wanted to until Tuesday because the immigration will have our passports. So no matter what, even besides the snafoo on the trip back to the states, had we planned only to be here in Panama City for Thursday & Friday, we would have been in for a big surprise because we wont have or passports back until Tuesday. So, We sit, time to start the fun of canceling all the hotels, the rental car, the airline itinerary, and oh yes…letting all our friends and family know the bad news.

We have already arranged the shipping company to meet us at our storage in San Jose, to pack our container. Right this minute we are thinking about sticking with that part of our plan. We might just have to get to Ca on Wed, meet with the shippers on Thursday and fly home on Friday. But, nothing is set in stone at the moment. We are relaxing and recovering from our crazy morning, I’m pretty sure Scott is fast asleep, a nap will cure everything. In a little bit we will regroup and strategize about what to do. There must be an upside to this dilemma, I just haven’t seen it quite yet. But, don’t you worry, I’ll figure out why its a good thing and get right back to ya….For now my mantra is ….Breath…Tranquilo….Breathe….Tranquilo…..Ahhhh feeling better already! Whew…what an Adventure! PFFFFFFT…

A Whirlwind Day…

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Yesterday, (Monday) was a crazy day. We had made plans to go to Panama City on Wednesday so that we would be there in the morning on Thursday to meet with Mayra, our Attorney. She had emailed us to let us know we need to be there to sign paperwork to start the application process of our residency visa. At long last all the documents we’ve been working on gathering are all acceptable. They’ve been processed and now we can go To Panama City to meet with the Attorney and begin the official application process for our visa and then to California to prepare our container to be shipped to Panama. In the morning Scott said,”Why don’t we go ahead and try to get our trip to the States in while we’re at it.” Oh Boy, that’s gonna take some organizing…. Read the rest of this entry

That illusive residency visa may be in our hot little hands soon!

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Our attorney in the city has received all our documents for our application for the Pensionado visa. She says they have processed them and that we need to come to the city this Thursday & Friday to sign all the paperwork and get the application process going. Wow! I cant believe it’s finally almost there. This news has started a whirlwind of activity for us because we’ve been patiently waiting to begin the process of shipping our belongings from California to Panama. Read the rest of this entry

I notice myself adapting more and more, and it just makes me smile…

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As I sit at the dining room table and gaze outside at the gray, breezy morning. I’m trying to decide what to write about today. So many different things come to mind. I just returned from running a few errands and can’t help but think about how much easier it’s become to get things done. Not that anything in Boquete has changed, but I can feel myself changing. My perspective is changing and I notice some things that, in the early days of living here, seemed a little complicated or frustrating, are just my new ‘normal’. Does that make sense?

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Poco a Poco, Still….

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I haven’t written about my spanish progress for awhile. There’s a good reason for that…It’s slooooow going! I’m trying, EVERYDAY, I’m trying! And I gotta tell ya…its a bit discouraging at times, not devastatingly discouraging, just a bit frustrating . Don’t worry too much, that sounded rather discouraged, not to worry, I promise, I’m farrrr from beating myself up too much. I have moments of wonderment when I actually get something out that is understood and I realize I have actually communicated to someone in SPANISH! Whoohoo! My heart soars when that happens, and I think its beginning to happen more and more, it’s true! Read the rest of this entry