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

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

Vacation…It felt so different in so many ways, all good!

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Coming home from vacation felt entirely different to me this time! This is our first big vacation away from our new home here in the highlands of Panama and I must admit, after nearly three weeks away, I was looking forward to getting back to my little casita in the mountains. We’ve taken several pretty long vacations in our past and normally we’re never really ready to go home. We love to travel and see the world and seldom have we looked forward to returning to the grind that was our life in California.
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Our Peruvian Adventure…

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Eighteen days, Six cities, Planes, Trains, taxis, boats, busses and hiking around more ancient Incan ruins than you can shake a stick at (whatever that means!)….. Luana and I both agree that the Peruvians have no lack of huge old rocks in this country, that’s for sure! hah! But, that being said, we’re all just totally “Awestruck” by Machu Picchu… how could anyone not be? It’s simply magnificent! And Lake Titicaca blew us away as well….I was stunned by the floating reed islands and the life they live there! We all loved the town of Ollantaytambo, our first stop on this adventure. Its one of the few places where the people are still living in an original Incan city! The narrow cobbled streets, walls and many of the houses are original and we marveled at the history that was still alive there. This Foursome feels as though we’ve really “SEEN” Peru! Read the rest of this entry

Day 7…Writing 101

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Day Seven: Give and Take

Today’s Prompt: Write a post based on the contrast between two things — whether people, objects, emotions, places, or something else.

compare and contrast….

Dreaming of doing something totally unexpected and freeing or continuing on down the same path your on. Getting up everyday and doing the same thing for years on end. Coming up with an idea, a crazy, wild idea and working towards making that idea a reality. This is a comparison I’ve made in my head many times. I often wonder if, had I not come up with my crazy idea to expatriate and begin an adventure in a different country, would my routine have become so unbearable to me? Or would I have eventually come to feel exactly as I was feeling about the sameness of my days by the time I was prepared to leave? Did the dream of doing something different slowly make my current existence feel unsatisfying? Up until I began dreaming of living in another country and changing my life completely, I was perfectly satisfied with my life and the routine I had created for myself. I often wonder if I would have eventually begun to slowly sink into that feeling of monotony. Read the rest of this entry

Day 6..Writing 101…

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Day Six: A Character-Building Experience

Today’s Prompt: Who’s the most interesting person (or people) you’ve met this year?

Our stories are inevitably linked to the people around us. We are social creatures: from the family members and friends who’ve known us since childhood, to the coworkers, service providers, and strangers who populate our world (and, at times, leave an unexpected mark on us). Read the rest of this entry

A dog banned, A first bribe, and other happenings…

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Poor little Chumbo, the neighborhood doggy who wanders up to our house for love…and food. (I suspect mostly food, but oh well) Yesterday we had to hang chicken wire all around our terrace to keep Chumbo off the terrace. Aww, Poor guy. That may sound mean to you but it had to be done. Unfortunately I couldn’t stop him from peeing on everything! Ugh! I know! Gross! He peed on the BBQ, on the chairs, on my plants in the pots on the terrace and on the pillars too…He really wanted to be sure any other dogs in the neighborhood were well aware of who’s territory our terrace is. And well, he was not aware that it’s not actually his territory at all….it’s Scott’s! Yep…Scott couldn’t enjoy his hammock time with the fumes of Chumbos markings all around him. Now Chumbo has been banned from visiting our porch. He’s more than welcome to visit our yard, I moved his food and water bowl out to the front of the house, so no need to worry about him getting nourishment! I really love dogs and I’ve been looking forward to the day that we can get our own, so I thought I would love having Chumbo up here , and I do, but I must agree dog pee isn’t a pleasant fragrance. He’s such a sweet dog and If he were mine I’d train him not to do such an uncivilized thing, but he’s not mine so I’ll just have to live with the ban on his terrace time visits. Darn it. Read the rest of this entry

Day 5…Writing 101

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Today’s Prompt: You stumble upon a random letter on the path. You read it. It affects you deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter.

Today’s twist: Approach this post in as few words as possible….yeah, right…eye roll! hah!

What’s that? It looks like a white envelope. Right over there, under that tree where the Resplendent Quetzal is peeking out of it’s nest. My what bright, beautiful colors that Quetzal has…strange, it seems to be looking right at me… Read the rest of this entry

Writing 101 Day 4….

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Writing 101, Day 4…

Today’s Prompt: Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more.

Traffic, working 12 hour days, PG &E, AT&T, Los Altos Garbage co, State Farm, Blue Cross, A Huge Mortgage, Property Taxes, State Taxes, These are just a few things that used to be in my life but aren’t in my life anymore. This small list just off the top of my head are just a few of the things that made my life stressful, and for the majority of my days , not fun , and I’ve said, “Audios” to them forever. Oh what a glorious day it was when I had the pleasure of spending an entire afternoon with all my bills in front of me calling each one to request that they cancel my account. Read the rest of this entry

Day 3..Writing 101…

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Day Three: Writing 101…

“Today’s Prompt: Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you?

Nailing Brahms’ Hungarian Dance Number 5 on your alto sax. Making perfect pulled pork tacos. Drawing what you see. Or, writing a novel. Each requires that you make practice a habit.

Today, try free writing. To begin, empty your mind onto the page. Don’t censor yourself; don’t think. Just let go. Let the emotions or memories connected to your three songs carry you.” Read the rest of this entry

Day 2…Writing 101…

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A Room With A View…
Today’s Prompt: If you could zoom through space in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now?

If I could zoom through time and space to anyplace at all I would go to the house in Morgan Hill where I grew up. I would be sitting at the top of our staircase with my little sister by my side. It would be the wee hours of the morning, not yet light, but not totally pitch black. It’s Christmas morning and our Father’s favorite time of the year. He’s been preparing for this morning all month long, he loves nothing more than surprises and seeing us all happy. And this is the moment he looks forward to most! It’s also one of the few memories I have of a time when my little sister and I clung together as one in solidarity. Sitting close together, excitedly huddled at the top most step, in the wee early, dark of Christmas morning… Read the rest of this entry

Day 1…Writing 101….

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I hope this doesn’t bore you too much…I have decided to participate in a writing exercise hosted by Word Press, the hosting site that I use to publish my blog. I Really love writing but I’m not a ‘Writer’, per-say… This post is my first attempt at participating in this four week long writing exercise. Word Press will be emailing a prompt daily for the next four weeks, so please be patient with me as I attempt this daily writing challange. Today is the first of these writing prompts and for the very first one I’m supposed to just write anything at all that comes to mind for twenty minutes! Yikes! So I thought it would be a good way to explain why I may be writing a bit more than I normally do. I’ll try my best to stay within the topic of my blog, but who knows what they may throw at me! Read the rest of this entry

Update on Casa Principal…

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Here’s a little update on the current progress on the main house. It’s well underway and I went up to take a few photos of the action. As you can see in the photos there are walls going up already! whoohoo!! They are still backfilling the terrace and the master bedroom and will be pouring the floors in those areas as soon as they have it all filled in with dirt. The water and gas has been run through the floor and the septic is in as well. They are framing up the corners and soon will begin to pour concrete for the begining of all the outer walls. It will still be a couple of weeks until the floor is done. After the floors then comes the walls and then the roof begins. We finally got the approval for our electrical run. We emailed the electrician today and hope to see the work on that begining soon. Scott and I have been doing a lot of work on the computer for the electrical plan inside the new house. Deciding where all the light switches and plugs will go. We have all the light fixture locations planned out as well as the kitchen design and the plumbing design. It feels like we’re pretty well orgainized at this point. Next week we will be going down to Elemec, the plumbing and tile store, to pick out and purchase all those materials. The woman who always helps us there, Dinah, called today to let us know that they’re having a big sale on April 12. So we’ll get it all picked out and she will let us actually place our order after the sale begins. And, one bit of good news….the little dump truck that could, is back again!!! We’re so happy that its risen from the dead and bringing material up here once more! yeah! Can you hear the angels singing again??? I can!! hah! Here’s a few pics from today…

Hiking, Birdwatching, Orchid Festival and our first house guest…

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We’re enjoying our first house guest here in our little casita.  Emma is on her spring break from teaching in Panama City.  She flew into David on Sunday morning and I drove down to pick her up.  This is the first time we’ve hosted anyone in our new casita.  I’m glad its Emma because she’s so low maintenance and doesn’t mind that we’re still kinda roughing it up here.   We don’t’ have a guest room in the casita so it’s the air mattress on the living room floor for her.  And we also don’t have any interior doors yet which means you must actually say the word, “SLAM!” when you shut the shower curtain that we have as our bathroom door! hah!  And then there’s the no electricity thing…well, we have electricity but its coming from that good ol’ generator still. So, Scott has to go out at night and turn it off and then he has to get out there in the morning to start it up again. And heaven forbid the generator should run out of gas in the middle of watching a movie or cooking dinner…ugh! All this hasn’t seemed to faze our first houseguest. She’s lived in Panama for nearly four years so she’s been thoroughly desensitized to things being ‘not-quite-right’ all the time. Read the rest of this entry

An Adventure…

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Adventure!

Today (Monday) I shared on my Facebook page, a little adventure I had with one of our workers Martin. He came to talk to Scott this morning (Monday morning) as our crew was just getting started. Apparently he needed help getting his young wife to the hospital because she was in labor. Yikes! This conversation with Scott took place on my terrace right in front of the open kitchen window where I was washing dishes. I stopped what I was doing and grabbed my keys. I could understand enough of the conversation to get that Scott told Martin I would drive them to the hospital. So I happily grabbed my purse and my keys, Martin and I got into my car and he directed me to where they live. Martin is only about 21 years old, he’s been working with us on our construction project for about 6 months now. He and his wife are a very young indigenous couple and he speaks very broken Spanish she speaks no spanish or english. Their native language is the Ngobe language and he seems to have about as much Spanish as me, maybe even less! So his ability to direct me to where he lives was a comedy of errors, but I got there eventually. Read the rest of this entry

A Buen Dia! (I know its not correct but its how they say it here, humph!

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To Have A “Buen Dia”….

What does it mean to you to have a good day, or as they say here..”Buen Dia”? To smile. To see my friends, To laugh with my friends, this makes every day good. A day is good when I know the people I love and care about are well. When I know my daughter, my mother, my sister, my friends, my sweet hubby are all well, this alone can make my day a good one.
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Here’s what I’ve learned about learning Spanish…

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I’ve been living here in Panama for nearly two years. Before this move I had never in my life tried to learn any other language. As a matter of fact,I don’t even recall having ever spent much time learning my own language! Boy, nothing like learning how much you dont know about your own native tongue while trying to learn another language! I’ve had to re-learn English in order to learn Spanish! Seriously! I enjoy writing, and I also love talking, but when I write, I do my best but I’m sure all you Grammar junkies out there must cringe at my many naive errors. Run on sentences, horrible paragraphs, spelling errors, misuse of commas, wayyyyyyy too many exclamation marks!!!!! Grammatical boo boos that I can’t even begin to even realize I’ve made. As a matter of fact I’m pretty sure my spell check is about ready to throw in the towel! hah! Read the rest of this entry

Things are really coming together…

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This place is really beginning to feel more and more like a home! Even without having electricity its feeling so cozy and homey. The generator works just fine for providing power, who needs electricity! hah! I have to keep our gasoline tanks full, but I don’t mind. Even though Scott may be getting a little tired of going outside at night before we go to bed and in the morning when we get up to start the generator, we’re not feeling like we’re missing out on much not having electricity. Eventually we’ll have power, our architect has told us that our electrical plans are at Union Fenosa (the electric company), for approval for our permit. He had already gotten the permit but it was not for the correct amount of amps. So he had to amend it. As soon as we have the permit we’ll be ready to have the electrician pull the wire through the conduit which Scott already put in the ground . Although….we still need to buy the wire and we had to special order the two transformers which have not yet arrived. So, who knows how long that whole process will take…and as long as I have my handy little generator all is well in my mind.
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I Wish You Were Here…

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Sigh…this is what my daughter said to me in a text last night, “I wish you were here.”.  Gulp.  Those are hard words for mom to hear from so far away.  Especially when I know she’s having a particularly difficult day and really just wants to connect with her mom.  Its times like this when I wonder, “Am I a terrible mom for moving so far away?”…Most of the time my daughters life is so fast paced and busy she doesn’t have time to think about me or miss me much, which is as it should be.  This dynamic between the two of us was the same when we lived nearby, so its not completely a function of my living in Central America.  When we lived near each other I wouldn’t hear from her for weeks on end and I’d be sad that we didn’t spend more time together.  Kids grow up and go their own way, which is what’s supposed to happen.  But the hardest thing is not having the ability to spontaneously drop by to get a hug every once in a blue moon when we need it. Read the rest of this entry

An Update On This Crazy Adventure…

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Boy, oh , boy, so much has been going on in our Adventure but nothing seems especially exciting. Our adventure has begun to sorta resemble, I don’t know… Our Life. While it’s still pretty exciting to be living here in Panama, and still so much of this relocation to Panama is new, my days seem to be flying by without time to sit and write about it. It’s funny, we called this ‘retirement’, but , ahem….I don’t really think we actually ‘retired’ per-say. I think we actually just left a place where we were working to ‘support’ a lifestyle, and traded it for a life where we happily work to ‘create’ a lifestyle of our choosing. Together we’re building a new life of our own personal design. We’re no longer living to work. One of the many things that Im enjoying about this new life we’re building here in Boquete is the fact that we’re able to work together to create something that will be a reflection of us as a team. This entire new life is all about living it the way we’ve chosen to live it, not how we just sort of feel like we are expected to live our life. We no longer feel driven to work in order to pay a mortgage or, work to pay taxes and credit card debt and car payments and health insurance and more taxes…nowadays we’re working hard, but we’re working hard for our own enjoyment and our own pleasure. Read the rest of this entry

A Surprise Day Of Relaxing…

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We’ve been living in our new casita since January 8th. We actually began working up here February of 2014. The first project that Scott tackled was to build retaining walls and drains. With the crazy rains that we get here we realized that the first thing we needed to address was drainage and so that was the very first step in our project. So here we are, a year into our project and boy, when I look around at all the work that’s been done up here It is really quite remarkable. In only a year we’ve already put in most of the infrastructure, water, gas, electricity is nearly done, built two structures and are starting the final one, the main house. Read the rest of this entry

No hay conexión! (That´s, I have no connection!)

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I have no internet and now no 3G!!! Ugh! Is this what this day is gonna be like? Well, that’s just rude! I was ready to enjoy a day of perusing the internet and chatting with my mom, but it looks like I’m going to figure out how to entertain myself with just me. No problema! I got this… let’s see… I’m on “Bombero” watch duty. Someone has to man the house just in case they actually show up to do our final (hopefully final) inspection for our gas permit. This morning Scott has to meet one of our neighbors to go for a hike up to our main water source again. They need to check again what’s going on up there. Read the rest of this entry

Have you ever had one of “Those” days?

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I think we’re having one! This morning started out with me standing at the BBQ with my freshly made batch of home made pancake batter and my griddle ready to go with a little dollop of butter ready to melt. The kettle of water was just about to boil to get that delicious pot of Boquete coffee brewing. I turned the nob of the BBQ to fire up my burners and ….sputter, sputter, sputter went the last little bit of propane! Ugh! Nooooooo! Empty! Pfffft! Not to worry, I know we have a full tank somewhere around here. Scott hears my dilemma and puts on his Teva’s and his headlamp, because it’s still dark outside, and heads up the hill to his workshop. I wonder why the heck the extra tank isn’t here close to the BBQ, but now’s not the time to question his bad planning. Crisis diverted when he gets me hooked up and fires up my grill so I can cook some pancakes and finish boiling the water for that much needed coffee. Ahhhhhhh….let the day begin. Read the rest of this entry

Water Problems…

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We often hear of water problems that some areas in Boquete experience, especially during the dry season. But we’ve never really been affected by any lack of water in any of the places we’ve lived so far. Until now. We live in an area called Jaramillo Centro and although we have heard of some brief water outages it really never sounded as though the water problems were especially bad, so I never really thought much about it. Again, until now. We have an Aqueduct that provides water to all the homes up here in Jaramillo Centro. Its up to each property owner to maintain the pipes that supply water to their homes. Some people have large water storage tanks and some just use what water comes directly to their house without bothering to store any. I can not say that I know all the in’s and out’s of how all this water stuff works, I have a very limited amount of knowledge of what we have set up for our property and what our neighbors and good friends right next door have at their house. We have built a water room on one end of Scott’s workshop. In this water room we have four huge storage tanks. This is also where we have our filtration and UV light to create potable water for drinking and so forth. We have planned to collect rain water from our gutters and from our showers and sinks to use for agricultural water, things like watering plants. The agricultural water will fill one of the huge tanks and we have a smaller tank to provide the water that will get pumped down to the casita. At the moment, since its the dry season, we have not yet gotten to collect any rainwater and only have one big tank filled from the aqueduct that we are using for the casita. Read the rest of this entry

A couple days in the city and back home again…

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We had to take a little three day jaunt to Panama City to take care of our final application process for our Cedula. We took a 5:30 flight on Saturday and just got home last night, Tuesday. Getting a Cedula is not required to be a resident in Panama but its just a good thing to do. As I understand it, the Cedula is sort of like a Social Security card in the States. You are assigned a permanent ID number that never changes. This is important because having a Cedula takes you out of the immigration department completely. When you have a Cedula you no longer have to go through the immigration line at the airport, you are actually a legal Panamanian resident. Our attorney told us we can now put our passports away, we only ever need our Cedula as ID now. Another little detail that makes having a Cedula so good is that many legal documents here like car registration and your drivers license are linked to your Passport number which will change when it expires and you get a new passport. The changing number of your passport is just a hassle because you then have to go through the process of changing all the things that had that old number on them. Once you use your Cedula number for your ID you never have to worry about changing anything, this, in my opinion, was worth one more trip to the city and one more visit to a government office with our attorney. Plus it only cost us $65.00 each and $150.00 for our attorney. Well, I guess you could say that it also cost us a trip to the city but we combined the trip with shopping for things for the main house that we are now beginning to build.
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Rainbows make me smile!

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This isn’t an uncommon sight here in Boquete, especially this time of year. This beautiful rainbow greeted me as I was sitting on my couch , I looked up and Bang! There it was…Hello beautiful! They pop up various times during the day here, just any ol’ time one can look around and spy a rainbow. And I have to believe it makes everyone, not only me, smile. 🙂 How can you not marvel at the beauty that surrounds you? In Los Altos rainbows were not common. Every once in awhile I’d spy a spectacular rainbow and I always had to stop and try to get a picture of it. Well, even though they are so prevalent here in Boquete I still have to stop and try to get a photo! My daughter told me I’ve probably sent her hundreds of pictures of rainbows…she thinks I’ve lost it! Hah! But sheesh! They’re just so magnificent I have to share the joy! So, this one’s for you….I know your smiling!

Life goes on…..

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Well, here we go again! I don’t know about you but I certainly don’t like to wallow in the negative so let me tell you how we move on…Today we have a tractor guy, Rigoberto, coming to start digging for our foundation of the main house! Yeah! Here we go again! Oh wait….I already said that! But, it’s true, the casita isn’t even completely finished yet, and we just roll right into building our main house already? Most people would probably complete a project before starting another one, but ahem…we aren’t ‘most’ people! Hah! I wish we were, cuz’ I’d love to have all the little details all done before i see my crew of busy worker-bees moving up to the main house! I really hate to see em’ go…but they’ve not gone quite yet. They are still buzzing around my casita working on various details outside. Javier is nearly done on the terrace, all the arches are done and today he’s finishing up the arch on the face of the outside fireplace. I’ve gotten a kick out of watching him working on the arches. He’s quite the artist. I’m really excited about how pretty the terrace is and I expect to spend most of my time sitting out there enjoying the view and the fresh mountain air! Read the rest of this entry

A no good, rotten, terrible day…I really hate it when this happens…

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Its not a good day. We’ve decided to just pay the $3,000.00 to the lady who’s car was damaged by our former employee back in July. Instead of pursuing the young man who is legally responsible for at least half of the damage. We know that there will never be any way he would be able to make that kind of money , and we just want to put it behind us and move forward.Ugh! Scott is beyond unhappy about such an injustice. The employee had assured us that he would take care of her damages so we had hoped to only have the repair of our car to have to pay for. Nope. He did nothing. For being honest, trusting people we are rewarded by paying his debt and feeling punished by his wrongdoing. Sigh… Sometimes I wonder about people. And I wonder if he realizes how we have been affected by his stupidity. The time and energy and now money that his bad decision has cost us is just really frustrating. Read the rest of this entry

Another Wonderful Day Living In Our Casita In The Trees!

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I wake up everyday feeling so happy to look out the window from my bed and see nothing but the sky and trees. It’s such a peaceful place. Well, especially now that the Flower and Cafe Festival has ended…whew! For the last ten days we’ve heard the sounds of so much revelry going on in the pueblo. Music until 4 or 5 in the morning. All night long! And what sounded like hordes of people . And the fireworks various times of the night and early morning. Oh, the Panamanians love to party! Let me tell ya! The nice thing about the wild parties is that it’s just good fun. You really never hear of any violence or muggings , no , they just have a good time with no need for any of that nonsense. Well, with the exception of the Indigenous men! They love to fight. Its common to see Indian men in town with beaten and sometimes bloody faces. I was in a store on Saturday morning , getting beer for Scott, and I was standing in line behind and Indian guy who looked like he’d been in a pretty good brawl. His face was bloody and his hands as well. But I’ll be damned that guy looked as happy as could be, he was all smiles. Of course I’m pretty sure he was still pretty toasted too! Hah! I just have to laugh to myself. To each his own I guess! I don’t really understand why you’d find getting your face beat to a pulp a fun pastime, but that’s just me. Hah! Read the rest of this entry

Home Sweet Home…

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I’ve been slowly writing this post as we’re moving and settling into our new home. I don’t have internet yet in the house so I can’t publish it quite yet. We’re exhausted, but happy, and really busy trying to get all the last minute things done in order to be able to live in our new casita. As I’ve told you before, Scott is always going in so many different directions each day, so often the small details end up being the last things to get done. Small details like, oh, I don’t know, a toilet! And, running water…Ugh! I don’t care one iota about the ‘no cabinets’, thats no biggy. But….a toilet and running water are two pretty nice things to have in your house. Even the fact that we have no electricity isnt really freaking me out, because I know we have a generator, so we have a source for lights. No problema. But no water to the house….that’s gonna be a bit of a problem! And bless his heart, he actually managed to get the pump, connected to the water tank that feeds the water to the casita all hooked up and wired just before our first night staying here. Sadly, the water guys had been here the day we moved, to install the UV purification and the filter system and when the water hit the casita there were leaks, ugh! We called them and they came the next day, but that meant that we had no water on our first night in the casita…meaning, no toilet! ugh! So, it was sorta camping our first night and morning…at least we had the generator so we could make coffee. Well, we don’t have our oven yet , but one of our workers had actually brought a small microwave here to heat up their lunches when they’re working. Its sitting out on our terrace so I used it to warm up water to use in our French press. Coffee in the morning is a must, especially when you have to pee outside! Sheesh! Can I just enjoy one luxury? Hah!

I know I said one thing I was looking forward to about his new Adventure was simplifying our life, but come on…I didn’t mean quite so simple. A girl’s gotta have a toilet. Paleeeeeease! It is Saturday as I’m writing this portion of the post and we got an email from Price Mart, where we bought our oven, it’s there and ready to be picked up. We plan to go on Monday and get it. So we should have that installed by Monday or Tuesday, we shall see. Of course we won’t be able to use it until the gas is hooked up, which requires an inspection by the bombero’s. I’m crossing my fingers this is a simple process, we shall see. As you may know, I don’t have internet at the moment. So I plan to just keep writing this and just publish it as soon as I can. The internet people are coming on Wednesday to get that all installed, so that should be good. We don’t have cabled internet just yet up in the area where we live so its satellite cable with Planet Telecom. Its 150.00 dollars a month for 2 mb. And so, we shall see how that goes. If we want to increase to 3 mb it will cost $200.00 a month. We are thinking that we won’t get cable TV and try to watch what little television we do enjoy watching just by streaming from Hulu or Amazon Prime. We just have to see how well our internet will stream with 2mb. If its too slow we can change to 3 mb, which should be sufficient. Read the rest of this entry

Almost ready to move…but, not quite…

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I’m really getting anxious and excited to get moved into our new place. 9 more days! It seems like each day goes by so fast and there’s still so much to do. Today Scott’s feeling a little overwhelmed and grumpy. But you didn’t hear that from me! And if anyone is gonna be grumpy, Scott is entitled! He is supposed to be installing the front door of the casita today so that we can start to slowly move boxes and things over from the storage and lock up the place . But, he’s so busy this morning organizing all the guys he feels like he’s getting nothing done. I don’t know how he can possibly feel as though he’s not getting anything done when he has been going in about a dozen different directions since he walked out the door this morning. But he’s got Javier and Daniel working on the junction boxes for the electrical run and Federico, Martin and Arquiles are working on cement and ditches, while Richard and Carlos are working on the bathroom tile in the casita and Ricardo is working on the gutters and downspouts on the workshop! Sheesh! How much can one guy really do at one time! Each group of guys needs something in order to stay productive and Scott has already been to Ivan, the supply store about 3 or 4 times today. I’ve seen his truck go by with conduit tubes, cement, sand, 2 by 4’s, wheel barrows, and who knows what else. I know he really wants to be in his workshop finishing up the cabinets and getting the front door put in. Read the rest of this entry

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

Our Christmas In Boquete…

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This has been our second year to celebrate Christmas here in Boquete. It was nice. I keep trying to figure out what to tell you about our holidays here. I find that I’m torn between writing about how great it feels to get to spend my time and money on buying small gifts for those who can’t afford to buy the things I gave them, and telling you about that dull ache in my heart that comes from being far from friends and family. I don’t think that I will ever stop missing people who are now so far away. And while I find such joy in creating new holiday traditions that have meaning to me, there’s always that little tug at my heart that comes from wondering what everyone is doing back in California. I love that We get to begin new traditions and that we also get to decide just how our Christmas will look and what we’ll do to make this time of year feel rewarding and meaningful. We’re not limited to celebrating the holidays in any particular way, no obligations, we’re in the process of creating our very own, brand new traditions. Traditions take time to establish and so far we don’t have many. But a couple of things just might stick and become things we do each year. One is the holiday Fundraising BBQ that Keith & Julian host each year on Christmas Eve to benefit an organization called Buenos Vecinos. Buenos Vecinos collects money to help feed needy families in our community. We went last year and then again this year and its a great way to spend Christmas eve. They have live music and they BBQ steaks, everyone pays $15.00 to attend and you bring a dish to share, either an appetizer, a side dish or a desert. We bring a couple of bottles of wine and our lawn chairs and we usually like to find a quiet place to sit and relax. Last year and this year we’ve really enjoyed this event, just sitting outside on a nice warm evening, with a great view of the huge pine trees and good music to listen to as we sip our wine, along with lots of really friendly people to chat with is a great way to spend a Christmas Eve. Its really very low key and easy, not a bad tradition , I think we’ll keep this one! Read the rest of this entry

To Be Tranquilo….

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I'm Thinin'  Tranquilo looks a lot like this...

I’m Thinkin’ Tranquilo looks a lot like this…


Do you have to live in Panama to be “Tranquilo”? Nope…Its a way of being that can be adopted to any place in the world. Mind you, one must attempt to go through life not minding when things don’t go your way and letting go of any expectations you may have about most things being or happening a certain way. You must be fine with inefficiency. It should not bother you when you trip over and nearly break your neck on a rickety, hole ridden sidewalk. Who cares if stop signs are optional as well as most any other street sign that’s meant to prevent accidents or help traffic move smoothly and efficiently? And a very important part of living the “Tranquilo” life is having no regard or need for appointments, you know Doctors, dentists, anything like that. Oh, you might set up an appointment but for goodness sakes don’t expect it to mean anything! Hah! If you think you’ve adapted to “Tranquilo” and yet you find yourself feeling annoyed by not being acknowledged by a store clerk when you walk into a particular store….think again! This , my friend, is not an expectation one may have if the goal is to embrace ‘Tranquilo’. It needs to not matter one tiny bit that you feel as though you have bothered an employee by expecting to be served, Pfffft ! Silly you! Tranquilo, can only happen when one let’s go of any such expectations. Read the rest of this entry

Shhhhhh…This is just between you and me…

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I know this may shock you but…Scott actually never reads my blog posts, I know its hard to believe!… But, you must understand, he’s not an especially chatty kind of guy and reading my blog is, to him (I’m only guessing , he’s never actually said this to me!) , kinda like listening to me chat, which he gets the privilege of doing quite frequently in real life! I know, its hard to believe that he could ever get enough of my jabbering but, he does get to listen to me chatting away all the time, so ,there’s no need for him to read my long winded writings…Pffffffft! In light of this fact…. It’s safe to brag a little about the guy. He’ll never know! And he’d kill me if he read this! Believe it or not, he’s a pretty humble guy, not a bragger at all. But not me, I’m so gosh darn proud of him I just want the world to know! Hah! So, if you run into him in town…mums the word! Now that we’ve established that this is a ‘secret’ post just between you and me….Let the bragfest begin! Read the rest of this entry

Casita Update..

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We’re getting closer and closer with each passing week to moving into our new casita. I have to admit, I’m really really looking forward to having a place of our own. Even though we’ve had really nice places to live in this last year and a half its just going to be so wonderful to have all our stuff with us. Since our container arrived we’ve been slowly sorting through all our boxes. We’ve been deciding what we’ll bring with us when we move into the casita and what we’ll keep in storage until our main house is finished. Getting ready for our Thanksgiving this year we really felt frustrated by the reality that all our things are kinda scattered hither and thither. We have some things here with us where we are currently living, we have a few boxes here. And we have things in two different storage units. And finding certain things that Scott needed for cooking was a huge pain. Yep, having our own place where we can finally unpack is going to be so nice. But, we still have a lot of work yet to do… Read the rest of this entry

Wow! This is my 500th Post!

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I love the beautiful trees!
How did that happen? I started writing this blog March of 2012. This realization prompted me to reminisce about how I got started with this ‘blogging’ thing… I remember when we were in the research process of our big relocation, Scott was our main researcher. He is sooooooo good at searching online and finding all sorts of information. He found reading forums to be one of his favorite means of finding interesting and relevant information. He found many such expat forums online, including “Panama Laws for expats” “Panama expats” “Expats in David” and lots of other forums in other countries we were also, at that time, researching. I was never especially fond of forums because they have a tendency to , at times, be a little argumentative and petty. to put it nicely…Yuck! So I discovered Blogs! And I fell in love with reading these peoples personal stories of expatriating to countless different places around the world. Reading blogs just felt so much more personal which is right up my isle! I just love reading stories about peoples lives and that’s exactly what blogs are. I remember when this online “blogging “ thing first started. I never really understood what it meant to ‘blog’…kinda like public journaling? Huh? Why would anyone want to put all that personal information out there for the whole world to read? Who cares anyways? Hah! 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…

A Wonderful Weekend Getaway…You may wonder, Getaway from what? I’m not sure! (Although, Scott may be able to tell ya!)

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We went away for the weekend with our friends Bond & Luana and what a great time we had. Although, we all four agreed that just about everyday is great, even at home in Boquete. One big thing we have in common with Bond & Luana is the genuine pleasure we feel everyday, with our choice to live here in Boquete. So, going away for a little mini vacation is just that much more wonderful for the fact that we really weren’t ‘getting away’ from or ’taking a break’ from anything so tiresome or stressful. Of course, Scott may beg to differ! Hah! He really needed a break from our crazy project! And I happened to know that he thoroughly enjoyed every moment of our weekend away. We went to a newish resort in Boca Chica called Isla Palenque. It has only been opened for about a year and a half and we had all read about it and were looking forward to experiencing it for ourselves. We bought an Oferta Simple coupon for half off , for two nights. Boca Chica is not too far away from Boquete, only about an hour and a half drive. Read the rest of this entry

A little progress report…

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We’ve been living In Panama for nearly 18 months now. After spending so much time researching and then planning for this move, it feels so good to feel ourselves settling in more and more with the passing of time. Never having made a move like this in my lifetime, Its been quite an adventure for me. As I’ve said before , I had never moved away from Northern California where I grew up, so this transition has been all encompassing for me. I can’t even begin to express what a huge life change our move to Panama has been. And its a change that’s creating endless opportunities to learn and to grow in countless ways. I’ve never really thought of myself necessarily as a ‘risk-taker’, but I imagine most of my friends and family may beg to differ with my opinion of myself in that regard, Hah! My life before moving to Central America was pretty ‘normal’, and I felt very secure in the lifestyle I had worked so hard to create. Well, ‘normal, aside from being an Entrepreneur, because I know that owning a business isn’t always something everyone is interested in taking on. I think my life was pretty ‘run of the mill’ so to speak…..well, not anymore! Read the rest of this entry

My Biggest Challenge So Far…

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My new Spanish teaching crew!

My new Spanish teaching crew!

So far, living in Panama has had some challenges. Surprisingly, not as many challenges as I had actually expected. Of course I’ve had a lot to adjust to, and believe me, adjusting hasn’t been the biggest challenge . I expected to need a bit of time to settle in to a much different way of living, which is exactly what we were looking for. We certainly didn’t make a move like this to have all the same things we had in California! Learning Spanish has indeed been a pretty big challenge and will continue to be a challenge for a long, long time to come, but its not the hardest thing I’ve faced. The challenge of learning how and where to find certain things I want or need was something that I was prepared to deal with and although, at times a little frustrating, certainly nothing that makes me bang my head against the wall. Don’t get me wrong, my ‘tranquilo’ has often times waned as I’ve muddled through adjusting to some of the insane inefficiencies I’ve been faced with. Before our move I wondered if I would make new friends in my new home and wow! That has not been a problem at all. The connections I’ve made here have been so rewarding on so many levels and I feel so blessed, no making friends has not been a big challenge . Read the rest of this entry

Wow! So Much Has Been Going On, Where Do I Begin…

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I’ll begin with my continuation of Spanish classes, which I started about three weeks ago. Scott and I had taken twenty weeks of Spanish classes when we first arrived, which left our brains spinning! We learned so much an then decided it was time to spend a little time in the real world attempting to use what we had learned. I made a few Panamanian friends who I began practicing with on a regular basis. We were getting together three days a week and just chatting . This type of practice was my most favorite because It wasn’t just learning Spanish, it was also making friends. Read the rest of this entry

A Day In The Life Of…Me

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Here’s a snapshot of my day..which is not to be misunderstood as what everyday looks like because, seriously, I never really know what any day will bring…
I wake up everyday at 6:15, often I snooze for a few more minutes before getting up. I go to the bathroom, do my thing…no need for details here..ahem…brush my teeth, blah, blah, blah…then make my way into the kitchen where I always first and foremost, begin the water boiling for the coffee. After the water is on the gas I grind the coffee. Then given the fact that the cat has been meowing and meowing since about 3ish!!! Ugh! I give the damn cat his food! THERE!! As I look out the window I marvel at the beauty of the view of Volcan Baru. that view never gets old. Often its surrounded by clouds but mostly it stands so proud in the soft morning sunlight. Its seriously , a magnificent sight to wake up to.
So, this day began much differently than any other day. I started making pancakes for Scott, got all the ingredients together and began measuring the dry ingredients when I noticed two of the young indigenous girls from down at the bottom of my driveway slowly walking towards my house. I must admit, my first thought was,”uh oh”, I wondered what was up. I have never had them visit me early in the morning. When they got to the house I opened the front door and stepped onto the front stoop and said,”hola, como esta” The oldest girl answered,”Mal” (bad). Gulp…Oh no, “cual es la problema?”….then begins the very difficult task of trying to figure out why their sweet faces have obvious signs of tears running down their cheeks. After much back and forth I came to understand that they had had a nightmare night. Sometime in the night, their father had come home drunk and beaten the only other female adult in their home…their Tia (aunt). Ugh! Read the rest of this entry

The latest on our construction project…

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Progress….

We’re making progress on our projects so here’s the latest….We’ve got a lot going on all at once. We have the workshop roof nearly finished. Scott thinks in about one or two more weeks the roof will be done. Which means its nearly time for another Mondongata! Whoohoo! Fiesta time! We decided that this time we think we will ask the guys if they’d like to invite their wives to the celebration. And so it will mean twice as many people to feed Mondongo to . And it will mean Scott and I both driving down with our cars to transport them all up here since none of them drive. So I’ll take the ladies in my car and the guys can ride up in the back of Scotts truck just like a normal workday. We have two indigenous guys who usually walk to our property and we aren’t sure if their wives live here in Boquete or on the Comarca so we shall see if they bring anyone with them. Read the rest of this entry

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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