Home is where the heart is…Home sweet home. Well , gosh, I can’t help it, this is what’s been on my mind these days Ya see, lately it’s becoming more and more evident to me that expat communities are very transient communities. People seem to come and go quite frequently, at least here in our quaint little town of Boquete this seems to be the case. And this truth has never been more evident to me as it has been recently! The obvious reason for this realization is because there seems to be a huge amount of people who once loved living here as much as I do, and who are now moving away. Sigh… A mass exodus seems to be underway these days ( of course, I’m kinda over-exaggerating). Its both kinda sad and exciting at the same time. Sad to say goodbye to so many amazing people but its also exciting to watch them set off on new adventures. But…sigh…I will miss them. Read the rest of this entry
Driving around town the other day, (with two smelly tanks of gasoline in the back of my car, yuck!), I was navigating the traffic in the tight little intersection where the gas station is located. As I sat at the stop sign waiting for my turn I was thinking about this little town and about how much I’ve grown accustomed to the rythym of how things work here. We’ve been living in this beautiful little mountain town for nearly three years already! Sheesh! How the heck does time fly by so darn fast? It seems like it wasnt all that long ago when I was writing about feeling a little bit of culture shock living in Panama. I remember feeling sorta outside myself for a little while in the early days of my move. I was in such uncharted territory and feeling out of place.
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I think it’s only fair for me to publish a post about what has transpired with our insurance agent. On Monday we went to the insurance office and got a corrected proof of insurance. Then we went to David and went through the process of paying for the ticket, then going to the impound lot and getting our car. All told both the ticket and the charges for the impound lot was a total of $285.00. The Agent had the assistant both send me an email and personally call me to make sure I knew that the mistake was completely her fault and not the fault of the agent. She also informed me that the office would be reimbursing me for all the money we had paid as a result of their mistake. Then later that day the agent called to personally apologize for the way we were treated. Im glad that in the end we received payment for money we should not have had to spend as a result of their mistake and that an apology was given for the unprofessional way our situation was dealt with on the telephone.
The drummers have begun the drum-drumming away in preparation for the festivities which began this past weekend. El Dia De los Muertos , and Independence from Columbia as well and flag day or colon day were first up and Independence from Spain is up next. There was a parade on the 3rd and the big Disco tech was booming lots ear piercing music until all hours of the early morning. The town has been decked out with streamers and dressed up for the many celebrations. Its fun to see the town Square transformed into a huge party for one and all. It seems like one can almost feel the energy of all the people coming together for their mutual celebrations this month. The town of Boquete is a vacation spot for Panamanian tourists, many from the city. I think its like going to Lake Tahoe for a big holiday. Escaping the big city and enjoying the cool, crisp mountain air. I remember doing just that when we used to visit the beautiful mountains in Tahoe or Yosemite. This little mountain hamlet is very similar to those lovely mountain towns. Read the rest of this entry
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Oooooop! Sorry, I´ve really been slacking in my writing. First I went on vacation for three weeks then I just seem to get so caught up in my days that I dont stop to take the time to write. So, let me get you caught up on what´s happening here. Well, I´ll begin with our project, the never ending house project! So, we have two new workers that we hired, bringing our total crew to 9 guys now. The main house has all the walls finished and now the roof is just getting started. It should take maybe a month or a little more to complete. Its really fun to see it all come together and to wander around imagining what it will be like to live in it. I´m really excited about how much I like the design and floorplan that we worked so hard to design together. We really put a lot of focus on outdoor living space because living here makes it so easy to spend a lot of time outdoors. Our terrace alone which wraps around the entire back side of the house facing the amazing view is about 900 square feet in size. It will be completly roofed and protected from the elements. It will be like a room without walls! We plan to have our dining room out on the terrace on one side and a living room area on the other end, with an outdoor sofa and some chairs. In the outdoor living room we are planning to have a gas fire pit. There will also be a big wood burning fireplace out on the corner of the terrace. Scott has an outdoor kitchen as well which will be about 200 square feet. The total size of the house, not including the terrace and outdoor kitchen is about 2400 square feet. We will have two bedrooms, a living room a laundry room, the kitchen and a recreation room for our pool table. One aspect that I´m sure I´ve writen about which I´m really excited about is the outdoor shower off the master bedroom. This will be a treat since we can use it pretty much all year around living here. The guest bedroom will have an indoor shower so if its especially rainy or chilly we can use that. Read the rest of this entry
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!
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
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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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 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 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
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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…
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
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…
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
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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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
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
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
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
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
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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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Can I Be Honest? This is not about being an expat, its about being a woman….
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
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…
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
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
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
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
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
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
That’s what life feels like to me..like it’s “just rollin’ right along”. That’s not to say its a bad thing…just Life. 🙂 I must admit, lately I’ve been at a loss as to what to write about. It seems as though all that enthusiasm I normally have for sharing is kinda on simmer at the moment. In my early stages of blogging I had so much to share. Everything was new and exciting. And although Its been just under a year and a half since our move and we’re still feeling like ’newbies’ in this new life, most of the major milestones of getting ourselves settled into a new life have passed. Most of our day to day lives at the moment seems to be taken up with our construction project. Sometimes It feels a little repetitive writing about each new thing that’s happening with that. And then the rest of the time, well, I’m finding myself just living a pretty normal life, you know, paying bills, running errands, cleaning house, doing payroll, laundry, grocery shopping, blah, blah, blah…nothing especially different from life anywhere else. Read the rest of this entry
I realize I haven’t published a post in some time! Sheesh! My life is really beginning to feel as though it’s taking on a sort of Rhythm. And it’s hard for me to discern when I should share what’s going on. I don’t want to bore you to death with the same ol’ same ol’! To be honest, what started out as a big adventure has somehow begun to just feel like a normal, everyday life! Nothing so special so share. Shrug! But I know my friends and family get a kick out of knowing what’s going on , so….
Here’s what’s going on in our life, not especially exciting or even very interesting, but here goes…Let’s see, well, I’ll begin with our construction project, since that’s what seems to dominate our lives these days. Our workers have been making good progress on the roof of the workshop. They’ve got the majority of it nearly framed with the cariolas. Which means the walls are all done as well. So, In about a week or so they will begin to put up the zinc part, which is the big metal sheets that go on top of the metal beams, (for those of you not so familiar with this type of roofing procedure!). Earlier in the week we went down to David to a place our friend Keith told us about, a place called Kame. This is THE place to find the commercial-type, roll up garage doors that we wanted to install in the workshop. We need three of them. We got a quotation which seemed fair and so Scott drove back today (Saturday) to order them. Check that big thing off our list! Just when I begin to wonder,”How are we gonna find that?”, someone here who’s in the ‘know’ shows up and saves the day! Now, the next big thing we need to find is an electrician who will actually follow through and get our power run up to our property! Ugh! This is proving to be a hard one. Read the rest of this entry
I know I’ve mentioned the adorable indigenous children who live down the hill from our new casita. I met them after moving into Al & Kat’s place. They occasionally come up here to either play on the grass with their soccer ball or use the outside outlets to charge their cell phone. They do not have electricity at their home and Al & Kat told me they don’t mind giving them access to theirs for charging their cell phone. So, yesterday they came by and I was in the house, holed up as I was recovering from a terrible cold…on the subject of colds…Just a sec, I’ll get back to the girls in a minute. I always consider myself, heck,( I’ll admit), I kinda pride myself, on being pretty damn healthy. I very seldom got sick when I was working as a stylist in CA. If I ever had to cancel my day and stay home all my clients knew I must be really bad off, because calling in sick was not something I did often. I attributed my strong immunity to the simple fact that I was so highly exposed to so many germs, making that afore mentioned immunity mega strong! Seriously, I hardly ever got so much as a cold. And if I did get a cold, Pfffffft! No big deal! A silly little cold would never stop me from going to work or continuing to do whatever I needed to do. Not so with these Panamanian Monster Colds! Sheesh!! What the heck!! I’ve had more colds since living here, I swear! And guys…I’m not talkin’ just the sniffles and a little cough! These damn colds knock me out! And most often they seem to settle in my chest! I won’t even go into the Phlegm…no, really, you don’t wanna hear about that! (eye roll, here!) I’ve counted 5 boxes of tissue I’ve gone through since Monday! So, I’m obviously not a doctor nor do I consider myself remotely knowledgeable about immunity, but I’m guessing (only guessing, mind you), It’s gonna take my immunity a little time to catch up to how best to fight these Panamanian bugs. “hack, hack”….”sniff, sniff”! Happily, I’m over the worst of this one and admittedly, they seem to be lasting less time that the first couple I had. I swear , the first cold I got lasted like a month! It’s crazy how long it takes me to actually totally kick it! But, enough about that!
What was I about to say? Oh, yes….Well, the sweet little girls ( 12 and 14 years old) showed up to charge their cell phone yesterday. I just love to find any opportunity to chat with them so I went outside to do just that…chat. They’re always so happy to see me and they are so good at talking really really slowly so I can understand. They’re much easier to understand than any adult, that’s for sure! They told me all about their mother, who lives at the Comarca and has really long bonita cabello! I braided their hair and told them that me Trabajo en Estados Unidos was a stylista. (I have trouble with words like was ?) They thought that was so great! I also grabbed my computer and showed them this thing on my laptop called “Photo Booth” . It’s an application that distorts your face and its just tooooo funny! They got such a kick out of it and we had fun laughing and making pictures of them! So, the part about this interaction that I wanted to tell you about was the part where it was time for them to say goodbye. They both hugged me so tight and smiled up at me with those big brown eyes, and they say…”You are our Grandmother!”…….GASP!!! HUH??? GRANDMOTHER??? Oh my gosh! Don’t worry, I did not teach them any bad English Curse words! I did contain myself and graciously hugged them back, (tried not to strangle them! haha!) and said, “Ahhh, Gracias!, Buenos noches”.
After they left I began to think about their perception of me as a Friggin’ Grandmother! And….well….admittedly, I suppose that could be. I mean , the kids here do seem to have babies awfully young. So if their mother had them at say 14 or 15 ….well, then I could quite possibly, very realistically , be a Grandmother! UGH!! Well, I’ll get over it ,eventually. They meant it in the sweetest way. And, honestly, I don’t care what title they decide to grace me with, I’m so glad to be ‘anything’ to them. I’m grateful that I met them and who knows what the future holds. I hope I can somehow contribute to their lives in some healthy way that makes a difference. There is a very fine line here between contributing and being taken advantage of so I must tread carefully. For now, if they want to call me ‘Grandmother’ and hug me with abandon, well, I’m up for that! Poco a poco we will see where it goes…
The workshop/man-cave is really coming along. This week they’re starting work on the roof structure. We purchased and had delivered, all the cariolas and the metal zinc . It’s going to be a pretty big roof! So I think Scott’s expecting it to take around 3 weeks or so to complete it. As you look at the photos of the workshop you’ll notice as you face the front of the building there is a room with a black water tank in it. This will be the water storage room. We have enough room for four huge tanks. We plan to collect water from the aqueduct to filter and purify for drinking water and we’ll be collecting all the gray water from the bathrooms as well as rainwater from the gutters to use for agricultural water.Read the rest of this entry
Everyone knows I’m an optimist. Okay, some may say at times I’m a bit too optimistic. But, hey! I can’t help it if I choose to see the ‘bright’ side as often as I can. I mean, why focus on the negative? So often the negative is the easiest thing to see. But it just ruins my day to spend valuable energy looking at the negative when I’m so adept at finding something happy to focus on that will feed my soul and make me feel so warm & fuzzy. But…..I do have my moments…and I’m thinking maybe I’ll share a few of those. Cuz’ what the heck, it’s realistic and as much as I like to share all the wonderful things about my new adventure living as an expat in Panama, once in awhile I have a bad day! Yep, it’s true…its not always rainbows and flowers and birdsong while sipping margaritas! Read the rest of this entry
Practicing my Spanish….
I’ve been finding all sorts of new opportunities to practice speaking spanish. Unfortunately I haven’t had any time to get together with my two Panamanian girlfriends to practice since moving to Jaramillo Centro. Living right next to our casita project makes it much easier for me to help Scott in many different ways so I’ve been busier than ever now. No longer do I only make lunch and take care of banking and bookkeeping. Nope..now many mornings I drive into town to pick up our workers and I also started to help transport materials up to our work site. So, what does this have to do with my Spanish practice? Well, you see….this means I’m in a car with spanish speakers! And they’re trapped with me! Whahahahah! Soooooo I muddle through trying to chit chat in spanish with them. Hah! When I’m driving the truck up and down our hill Edgar rides with me and we talk about his family in Bocas del Toro, or about his hobbies or my hobbies, about California, about music and all sorts of different things. I know my grammar is hideous and I sound like a two year old, but I really love to keep practicing. Then in the mornings and the evenings our other two workers are trapped in the car with me, so I try my best to chat with them, now, they are much more like my husband….not big chatters!! Pffffffft! I don’t let that stop me…noooo! I ask them millions of questions and I try hard to think up something…anything to talk about on our ride down the hill, boy do they jump out of my car quickly when I get to town! Now that Kat & Al have left us in charge of their house I’m managing her two gardeners and her cleaning lady…all of whom I am torturing with my bad Spanish! I love it! Read the rest of this entry
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
Summary (I’ll try to summarize!) of our experience getting our residency visa….
I received a request from one of my readers to post a summary of our experience getting our Pensionado Visa. Obviously this process varies “a lot” for every person. There are, of course, endless different accounts of how this process goes, some good and some not so good, some easy and smooth (although not many!) and some complicated and frustrating as hell (Some serious Tranquilo killers!) . In the end, so much seems to depend upon the attorney you use because they set the pace, and will guide you, or let you flounder, during the entire process. I’ve heard nightmare stories of attorneys giving bad advice or just not doing their jobs. Some who have been through the process read my account and wonder why it was a bit more complicated than it was for them. One things for sure, anything I tell you about my experience will not be the same for you. It’s important to keep in mind that you can’t count on any other persons tale to be what you will experience. Unlike some places in the world where there are clear and concise processes in place and you have access to all the answers to all your questions, here, one seems to just muddle through as best you can and just try to hold onto some semblance of ’Tranquilo’…Good luck with that! Hah! Read the rest of this entry