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
Another year is behind us and a fresh new one awaits! Whew! I don’t know about you but I’m looking forward to a new beginning. 2017 was a mixture of so much up and down. I don’t like to get into politics, it’s just really not my thing..but I suspect we can all agree that it was quite a divisive year in the U.S. I have a tough time processing all the crap that comes at me via the internet. I’m so glad we don’t watch much television. Being so far away from the states is often hard but stepping away from so much of the media blasts is good for my soul. To be totally honest I don’t miss all that. I can’t imagine what it would have been like if I were still working in the salon. Ugh! I’ve never been one to enjoy political debates …yuck, I sure wish things were not so ugly.
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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 $285.00. The Agent had the assistant both send me an email and personally call me to make sure I knew that the mistake was completely her fault and not the fault of the agent. She also informed me that the office would be reimbursing me for all the money we had paid as a result of their mistake. Then later that day the agent called to personally apologize for the way we were treated. Im glad that in the end we received payment for money we should not have had to spend as a result of their mistake and that an apology was given for the unprofessional way our situation was dealt with on the telephone.
I hate that saying! But, unfortunately it’s oh so true. My last post was all rainbows and unicorns. Reflections on a delightful moment that filled my heart with joy. This post however will not be so joyful. Because like the title of this post S#$T happened last night. Here’s what happened… We drove into town to meet friends for dinner and then we were going to stroll through the Flower & Coffee Fair, well our evening out went terribly wrong at a police checkpoint. What we thought would be ‘no big deal’ because we had every piece of paperwork we needed to assure a random checkpoint goes smoothly ended with us standing on the side of the road with a hefty fine and waiting for our car to be towed away!
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What’s up with us? Well, a lot and not much all at the same time. How can that be? Well, see it seems like most of what I have to write about has to do with the continuation of our construction project. Not much exciting to write about so its hard to write a blog post. Hence the lack of any new posts lately. I find myself sitting down to write something and I figure if I get bored just writing it, who would want to read it, right? But, I do so love writing so I’m going to attempt to keep this post brief…good luck right! I do have a tendency to go on an on an on….I know this about myself…
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Moving away and leaving all my friends was hard ( well…‘hard’ doesn’t even come close to expressing it, but… shrug, I don’t wanna sound too dramatic! Hah) . The fact that It’s hard to leave friends is pretty obvious, I mean, leaving people we care about shouldn’t be an easy thing after all, right? But, now that some time has gone by since I’ve left all my friends, and I’m coming up on my three year anniversary of living here in Panama , I’m noticing more and more that there’s a distance that’s slowly beginning to develop with my friends from California. Not because of anything they’re doing, or not doing and certainly not because of any lack of caring for each other. I believe it’s simply an unavoidable change in the dynamic of a long distance connection that naturally happens when friends move away. Am I surprised by this? No. Why do I write about it now? Well, Its something I’ve been quietly observing as time is going by, relationships that are separated by so much distance are bound to develop a feeling of disconnect eventually. Even though I knew there was no way to avoid it, somehow It still makes me sorta sad and nostalgic for what I’ve walked away from. I’ve had many friends move away in my lifetime, but being the one who has done the leaving is proving to be an entirely different feeling….gulp. Read the rest of this entry
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
We’re making good progress on the main house and hoping to be able to move into it by March! Mind you, just because we plan to move in to the house , this in now way means that it will be totally finished…no way! Hah! Oh, how I wish that were the case, but alas! I’m doomed to only ever live in a partially completed home…Poor me…:( I know, I can hear the violin playing a sad, sad song…hee!hee! Well, I jest…I’m super excited about how much is happening up there and I just can’t wait to live in that house! Every night, after I drive the guys down the hill I take Scruffy for a walk up to the house and just wonder around imagining what it will be like to live in that house which we’ve worked so hard on. I’m just getting so excited, I can barely stand it.. Read the rest of this entry
There’s green stuff growing on my wooden cutting board! When I say, “stuff” I don’t mean trees and flowers and veggies! I mean, mold! Ugh! It’s friggin’ damp up here right now! Here in Boquete there are many different microclimates relatively close in proximity. So, if you don’t like the weather in one area, maybe , lets say, its too windy here, or too rainy there, or just too warm for you there, you can choose to try out a different area. It’s really quite amazing just how different the weather can be in such a reletively small place like Boquete. Of course if you buy a piece of property and spend every waking hour working on building yourself a home, well, then, ahem… it’s a little too late for trying out different areas! hah! Lucky for us we had already gotten a pretty good idea of most of the different microclimates we had to choose from and we just fell in love with the Jaramillo area. What one must do when faced with the reality that its the ‘wet’ season inside and out, is rage a full blown war on the dampness that is invading your house! Or just learn to live with mold and mildew and hope like hell it doesn’t make you sick! Nope…. its war! Read the rest of this entry
I bet you’ve been wondering what it takes to have fun here in Panama. Well, luckily I’ve got just the recipe! You start with the completion of a brand new Techo, or Roof for my non-Spanish speaking readers. Then after the sparkly new Techo is completed the required fun must commence with a few key ingredients. The first and most important ingredient for a fun time at this traditional celebration is the food. And , specifically the main dish which is called Mondongo. Basically, this is Tripe, or at least similar to it, let me be more specific….Cow intestines. I know….many of you may be saying..”Yuck!” I’ll stick to Non-Cow intestines please! And I would not disagree, but the traditional celebration of a newly completed Techo is aptly named a Mondongata because these fun-loving folks here love it! It’s Party Food! Shrug, I’m pretty sure we very likely have a taste for many things they think is crazy as well, so, let’s just roll with it, k? Read the rest of this entry
Our life right now…
Life’s just cruzin’ right along! Of course we’ve been keeping incredibly busy, as I’m sure you could guess. Between building our third and final building and creating a garden in the jungle, getting a new dog, enjoying spending time with friends, doing regular household chores and errands and learning Spanish, I have a really hard time finding moments to just sit and write. Which I regret. I really love writing and sharing our story and I know I’ve become a very bad blogger. So, here’s a little peak into what’s going on in our world… Read the rest of this entry
We did it! We adopted a dog! And not just any ol’ dog (not that there is such a thing!) but we think she’s pretty special. Her name is Ruffy, which is short for “Lady Rufina”. I know what your thinking..”I thought she said there was a ‘heart to heart’ about this and they decided the timing was all wrong for a puppy?” And, well, Ahem…you would not be wrong about that recollection. But, shrug, ya know sometimes life just happens. Although, we didn’t get a puppy, we got a very well trained five year old dog who is just right for us and fits into our life like she’s always been here. Read the rest of this entry
Today was a first for me. I went for a walk with my friend Kat this morning and I was bitten by a dog! Sheesh! I’m still in shock as I write this. In all my life I’ve never been bitten by a dog! I just cant even believe how fast it happened. Ouch! I’m okay, don’t worry. As soon as I got home I washed it really good with soap and water then I sanitized it with peroxide and slathered it with Neosporin. So I feel pretty good about it not getting infected, although I will keep a close eye on it and go see a doctor if it shows any signs of infection. I just had to tell someone cuz’ sheesh Its a crazy thing to have a strange dog just come from nowhere and bite like that! So, maybe there’s a good reason almost every Panamanian I’ve met has a healthy fear of strange dogs. I’ve never felt afraid of dogs. I mean, I don’t make a habit of just walking up to any ol’ dog and petting them, but not because I was fearful, only respectful of animals in general.
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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!
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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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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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…
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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…
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
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
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
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…
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
As you know, Scott is in the process of building his 2,000sq.ft. workshop…a serious ‘man-cave’ if I’ve ever heard of one! Sheesh! At the moment they are building the walls and the next step will be to install the supports for the mezzanine section of his workshop. This will be an upper area of the main workshop that will be for wood storage. He wanted to make it strong enough to hold a substantial amount of wood given the fact that he’ll likely be leaving the wood up there to dry out. Living in the tropics the wood is pretty wet and requires some time to dry before he can build things. The strength of this particular area of the workshop is going to come from eight forty foot steel ibeams installed up under the roof, on the top of the walls. So, he’s been shopping around, asking a lot of questions and doing a ton of mathematical equations on his computer to come up with the right dimensions to get the support he needs. After figuring out what he needed and then finding a source to buy it he then had to figure out how to get those puppies up our hill! Sheeesh! We just an’t do anything the ‘easy’ way! Nope! As usual, the delivery truck would never be able to make it up to our property so Scott had to come up with a way to get that steel up there….. Read the rest of this entry
I haven’t had much time or energy lately to write many posts. I’ve written quite a bit when I’m sitting in the truck waiting for the next load of sand or rock or bricks to be loaded or unloaded in between driving Edgar up and down our road, but for some strange reason I haven’t posted them????? I don’t really know why, but today I was thinking and I realized…”Hey!I think I’m having a bit of a transition!” Read the rest of this entry
All this traveling and leaving Boquete has created a bit of a difficult crimp in our project, but progress continues in spite of it all. Luckily for us, we have a very dependable crew of hard working guys who we can trust to continue doing what they are supposed to do even when Scott isn’t there to watch their every move. It’s not everyday that you end up with men like that. It means a lot to us that we can leave them unsupervised for short period of time and come back to see that they kept working hard and doing a good job. And our neighbors are also a huge help when we have to go out of town. Al has very kindly taken care of giving the guys their pay when we are gone for a payday. It is something that is more helpful than he even realizes. We are so blessed to have such amazing neighbors who I can tell will be like family to us when we live there. I often marvel at our good luck. 🙂 Read the rest of this entry