Tag Archives: expat life

Happy New Year! Hello 2018!

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Girls trip to Boca Chica!

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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The latest on our construction project…

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Progress….

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

Okay, let’s get real…

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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…

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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

Let’s Talk About Shoes…

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

Summary (I’ll try to summarize!), of our experience getting our residency visa…

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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

I think Im in yet another ‘transition’!

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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

Construction Progress….

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I can’t just say ,”Casita” progress, because work is progressing to encompass the workshop as well. Things are moving along pretty well. We’ve started work on Scott’s workshop. We had hoped to get the roof on the workshop as fast as possible. So far, rainy season hasn’t been especially rainy. Which is good for us, but not so good for the water supply. So, the foundation is done and half of the floor has been poured. They are ready to start pouring the second half of the floor. All the plumbing has already been installed under the slab and the hole for the septic is dug, the leach field still needs to be done. Scott thinks the floor should be done this week. I think next week they will be starting on the walls, which will go up fast.
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Our latest Adventure….

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Our latest adventure isn’t a fun one or an especially happy one. I thought about calling this post “Live & Learn” or “Lesson’s on Trust”, or possibly “How we Learned our lesson”…Pfffffft! But, although we trusted someone and that trust was betrayed, it wont stop us from continuing to be trusting people. This experience may just serve as a reminder of the necessity to be more discerning as to who we give that gift of trust to, but we wont stop trusting people. It’s just not the kind of people we are. Both Scott & I have a natural tendency to trust people until they prove they don’t deserve it. This mindset could be called a gamble or it could be called foolish by some. But I’ve found that most of the time its proven to be more of a benefit than not. Although there are times when we get let down and face disappointments, even feel rocked by how wrong we were in our assessment of someones character, I’d rather put out positive, generous energy than walk around feeling suspicious of everyone I come into contact with. Read the rest of this entry

On The Bus To Panama City….

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We’re 5 hours into a 7 hour bus ride to Panama City and the beginning of our journey to California. The busses here are not bad and the ride to the city, although looooooong, is comfortable, enough. We could opt to fly the short 45 minute flight from David to PC (which I would MUCH prefer ) but its hard to pass up the savings of a $15.00 bus ticket compared to a $250.00 plane ticket. The bus stops about halfway, in Santiago for a little lunch break. They stop at a cafeteria style place where we can stretch our legs and have a little lunch. It’s a really long day but we have our kindles charged and, as you can see, my iPad too.

Panama has been in the process of lots of construction this last few years. They have recently completed the construction of a brand new metro system in the city which is really quite impressive. When I was in the city with Emma she took me on a trial run ride so I could familiarize myself with it. So last time Scott and I were in town, just last week, we had our metro cards ready to go with money on them and knew how to easily go from the Albrook bus terminal to El Gongrejo neighborhood where The Hotel Milan is conveniently located. Its only about 4 stops from the bus terminal and is really fast and easy.

Another big project that’s currently underway is the expansion of the Interamerican highway. They are in the process of widening the highway and at the moment its quite a mess but this road is sorely in need of a makeover. This is the main road that goes all the way from Panama City to Costa Rica. For many years this road has been in pretty bad disrepair with big potholes that make it a very bad road to drive at night or during bad rain storms. Since we’ve been living here they completed the improvements and widening of the main road that goes from Boquete to David. This too has been a huge improvement when traveling down the hill from where we live.

While driving through Panama one can see many new housing developments and huge shopping malls and new hospitals and police stations under construction. There’s a lot happening here and it’s exciting to see. I can only imagine that there must be a lot of employment opportunity with all this work going on everywhere you look. Not to mention the huge expansion of the canal that’s been going on as well. What a lot of infrastructure improvements for Panama. Yea! Panama!! It’s great to see changes that are making life here even better for everyone.

We’re probably an hour or so outside the city now and I think I’ll do a bit of reading now. Cant wait to get on that plane in the morning and be back in Californina .

Going Back For A Visit For The First Time…

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Going back where? Going back to California. We’ve been gone for nearly 14 months. Sigh… Can I be honest? I’m feeling a bit torn between excited and a little nervous about this first trip back to our old stomping grounds. I don’t really know why…but maybe by the time I finish writing this post I’ll have figured it out.

We’ll be in California for 10 days. Our biggest mission is to meet with the shipping company at our storage unit in San Jose and oversee the packing of all our belongings that have been patiently awaiting this day. We’re hoping this will take up only three or four of our days . But we also have to deal with a bunch of paperwork and things that we need to take to the shredder and dispose of. Do I really need to hold onto 30 years of tax returns? I think not. And it might be okay to let go of all those carefully filed receipts for the remodel we did on the house in Los Altos. I may not need to ship old PG&E bills and Water and Garbage bills either. I think the coast is clear to dump all those papers in that big shredder and just walk away…or runnnnn! Hah! The other job we have amidst the packing is to hold back a few things that we’ve decided are not absolutely essential to bring, just in case all our goodies don’t quite fit in the shipping container. We have a list of items that we will then need to figure out what to do with. Anyone wanna have a garage sale? Read the rest of this entry

Learning the In’s & Out’s of renewing our car registration….

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Getting Scott’s truck registered…

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Well, its already been a year ago that we bought that shiny new truck for Scott . (That truck is no longer even remotely close to “Shiny” anymore! LOL! ) Which means it’s time to renew the registration and the insurance. No, you don’t get to just do it online. Things get done altogether differently here in Panama. And renewing a registration is not at all the same as what we’re used to. We’ve…Okay… I should say ‘I’ve’ been expecting the whole process to be somewhat stressful and possibly even a giant pain in the @#$. But, here’s the big surprise…it was so darn easy! I think a year ago when we got our cars and we were told that next time we renew the registration we would need to go to Dolega to do it, it sounded a little daunting to me because it was an unknown. At that time we had never really been to Dolega aside from driving through when there was a detour during road construction. And we have had some limited experience dealing with government offices and all the frustrating bureaucracy that one must endure most of the time. So I’ll speak for myself when I say, I wasn’t looking forward to dealing with getting the registration renewed. Read the rest of this entry

We love a party…I may have mentioned this before…

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Scott and I really do love hosting casual gatherings and last night (Well, Sunday night) was the second gathering in our ‘partly’ built casita. We wanted to have a small “Happy Hour” and just have a couple friends who wanted to see the progress and celebrate our new home with us. When we hatched this plan we had two couples in mind but somehow before we knew it, more and more couples came to mind. Suddenly that ‘small Happy Hour” became a party of 15… “Whowsa!” She say’s with a huge smile on her happy face!

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Poco a Poco, Still….

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

Mornings…. this is what mine look like, not that it’s especially noteworthy, just started typing and here’s what came out…

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Hmmmmm….at night, when we go to bed, we set the alarm for 6:15 A.M. My mornings go like this…I get up and Copper is usually meowing and meowing at me to give him some food. This is a new behavior from my 14 year old cat who used to be very independent and aloof. He’s somehow decided to be very talkative, especially in the morning. As soon as I open the bathroom door, there he is, sitting right by the door, looking up at me expectantly and meowing. Okay….So I give him a little bit of food and start to make breakfast for Scott. I may have mentioned in past posts, and those who read this who know me well may be aware, I’m not normally the one who uses the kitchen much. That area of our house has traditionally been Scotts area. But, things have begun to shift a bit in our lives…I now make breakfast…every morning. I know, I also had to read that sentence twice. It’s true. I wouldn’t lie to ya. My repertoire is not extensive, but Scott never ever complains, this could be due to the shock of seeing me preparing food, or maybe its fear? Who knows, possibly fear of what he’s going to have to eat! Hah! Naaaa, I’m choosing to believe that he’s just grateful and hungry! His favorite breakfast food is pancakes. I’ve actually mastered making pancakes… from scratch no less! Yep! Milk, egg, butter , sugar,salt,baking powder, vanilla and cinnamon! I hope your sitting down as you read this…cuz’ it’s fairly unbelievable, but true. One batch makes enough for two days for him, I’m not a big fan of Pancakes so I zip lock the remainder and voila! I have two meals! Hah! Read the rest of this entry

A new road to our property! Yippee!

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When we first bought our property the brush and plants on the ‘road’ were taller than our car. There really was not much of a ‘road’ to speak of, just kind of a general ‘direction’ that we knew we were headed to get there. I remember feeling a bit nervous, (well a ‘bit’ is an understatement) about the lack of infrastructure for this lot we decided to buy. Our neighbors Alan and Kat, who had built their home a few years before, had installed a beautiful road that went as far as their house. You see, our property is accessed through a public easement and we are at the very end of that easement. So after A & K’s house we were in the wild as we made our way to our property, our future home. Along this way to our place we could see that there is a coffee finca on our left hand side ,where we would often see workers caring for the plants as we drove on up past them. We learned from Alan that the owner of that finca is a Panamanian man named Senior Aldo. I believe he lives in Panama City and works at the canal as a boat captain. He has been here to visit a couple of times and we have gotten to meet him , he’s a very nice man. Read the rest of this entry

Time For Our First Mondongada! The Traditional Celebration Of A New Techo…

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Well, the Techo (Roof) is nearly complete and I’ve learned from my new Panamanian friends that it’s customary for us to throw a celebration for our workers. It’s called a Mondongada! I just love a good celebration so I’m READY! Apparently this is a tradition here in Panama. At a Mondogada one serves a traditional dish called Mondongo. It’s a soup that’s similar to the Mexican dish called Menudo, basically tripe or cow stomach soup. Gulp! Here’s a recipe I found… Read the rest of this entry

We all have such different views, all spectacular in different ways…

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Spending time here in the city with Emma and experiencing a little bit of how her life plays out in Panama City, has been a lot of fun and pretty interesting. She’s lived in Panama City for about 3 years. What brought her here from Arizona was a job as a music teacher at an international school. As much as I’m enjoying the tranquility of life in the highlands of Panama in a small town, I must say, Living in the city is much more conducive to being an active, ambitious 20 something career women with a social life. She lives in a beautiful high rise apartment on the 16th floor (27 floors in the building), that has a spectacular view of the skyline of the city. I’m struck by just how safe it feels living in an apartment like this with a very secure parking garage and a security guard in the lobby. Of course, that’s the “mom” in me thinking about safety, hah! Read the rest of this entry

A Girls Getaway on My Way To Get Mariah….

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Yesterday (Tuesday) was a smooth travel day on our way to Pedasi. We left David around 10:00 a.m. and after changing buses in Diviso and then in Chitre and then Las Tablas, Karen picked us up at about 5:30. I know it sounds like a complicated series of buses but it was actually quite easy and incredibly smooth with each transfer. Even the very start of our journey turned out super easy because just as soon as we got our backpacks out of Joel’s car a guy kinda grabbed us (well, not ‘grabbed’ exactly, but you know, approached us intending to get us on his bus) and asked if we were going to Panama City, Kris said, “No, Las Tablas”, and he told us to get right on the but that was about to leave instead of going to stand in the long line for the bigger, double decker bus. (No Problem, we’d much rather get on your bus than stand in that line!) So… we marched on over and gave the guy our bags to be stowed under the bus and found our seats. We made sure he knew we were traveling to Las Tablas and he was diligent about letting us know when it was time for us to exit at Diviso which was really just a little bus stop on the side of the road, in the middle of nowhere. There were two Panamanian women also waiting at that stop and they asked us where we were going and made sure we got on the right little van , the same van they got on, and we heard them tell the driver that we were going to Chitre. We had only waited for a few minutes at that little stop before the van drove up and we were once again swept away to the next leg of our little journey. Once we got to Chitre, the driver gave us our bags from the back of the van and kindly directed us to the Bus for Las Tablas ,right around the corner, second bus, that was just about to leave. Geesh! This whole day we felt so taken care of by all these kind, generous Panamanians who seemed to help us at every turn, even when we didn’t even ask for help. It was really very touching and heartwarming. Even though we were on buses and vans for about 7 hours Kris and I both felt like the day just flew by so fast (could that be due to all the chatting and playing on our iPads?, maybe!) . We only waited a few minutes before Karen showed up and Whisked us off to Pedasi, just about a 20ish minute drive from Las Tablas.
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Someone Has A New Hobby….

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Day two of my cement art workshop and I’m hooked!! On the first day we learned all about cement mortar and concrete and how to properly mix it to make different figures and pieces of art. We’ve been mixing a mortar like consistency with sand cement and a little fiber and water. We practiced by making our first project which was a bowl. We simply used a stainless steel bowl placed upside down on the table and added moist sand around the lip to hide that part of the bowl and create a wide rim on our bowl. Then we covered the bowl with wax paper to assure that the cement will easily release from the bowl. We also walked around the yard and collected cool looking little leaves and placed them on the bowl over the wax paper and before adding the concrete which will give a pretty leaf pattern inside the finished piece. Another option , in place of the wax paper some used plastic wrap which gave the piece a shiny surface after it dried. I decided to scrunch up my wax paper and this gave a wonderful texture after it dried. Then we added the mortar and completely covered the bowl and the sand around the lip. I then added more leaves on the cement to give the outside of the bowl the same leaf pattern. We used a trowel to flatten the very bottom of the bowl giving it a level base so it sits nicely. Then we covered it with plastic wrap and let it dry over night. This morning , first thing we unwrapped our bowls and removed all the wax paper and leaves and used a file to smooth out any rough, pokey edges. Then rinsed it off and put a little water inside the bowl, wrapped it in a plastic bag and put it away to finish slowly drying. If it dries too fast it may crack so keeping it a little moist is important. I just love my bowl, its very organic looking, which I love. The next step will be learning to tint and die and all that good stuff. It will be very interesting to learn about all the different dies and tints and chemicals to use to create color on concrete.

Day two (today) we learned about sand casting. We were told to bring a big leaf with us to class. I went up to our property and got some huge leaves to bring. I decided to use one of my giant leaves to make a birdbath. First we placed damp sand down on the surface about the same size as the leaf, the leaf then goes on top of this small form and then on top of the leaf is the mortar. He instructed me to make it about 2-21/2 inches thick and to make the edges a little flatter so the birds would have a place to sit while they drink. This will dry tonight, we shall see tomorrow what happens with that. I also made the base of the birdbath by rolling up some wire mesh and covering it with a scratch coat of mortar to be added to tomorrow. I cant wait to finish this piece. My mind is just racing, thinking about all the different possibilities! One thing I’d really like to consider trying is making concrete countertops for our casita! The most important part will be learning where we can buy all the chemicals for tinting and adding color. Here’s a few photos of the progress so far….. Read the rest of this entry

A Day To Explore A New Medium To Create Art With…

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Today I’m starting a class taught by a local artist who has an art studio in Caldera (a town about 30 minutes from Boquete). He teaches several different classes and I hope to go another time to learn about stained glass. But today is the first of three days of a class to learn about making cement sculpture. Before I left the states I had spent about 3-4 years participating in a figurative sculpture group. This group got together every week to create figurative sculpture and had been doing so for many years before I was invited to join them. There is a local art league in Palo Alto, called the Palo Alto Art League, and through this organization we were able to use a wonderful studio and hire amazing nude models to pose for our classes. So once a week I took off from my busy schedule, as did all the other sculptors , and we spent about 3 hours losing ourselves in our art. We would also have a great time chatting and sharing stories as we worked on our pieces, stories of our lives, our kids, our travels, our work , our spouses, food, whatever happened to bubble out! The group had a core group of about 5-6 of us that consistently attended and there were others who would occasionally join us when they had time or were in town. We liked to call ourselves the “Sculpturistas !” As time went on we grew into a great little social group, gathering for a yearly Holiday extravaganza and attending one another’s art openings as well as just getting together for organizational meetings that were really a nice excuse to get together. I got so much inspiration and support from this group of artists. Before I joined them I had never sculpted and I was looking for an outlet, something other than my own woe’s to focus on. I will never forget the first time I walked into that studio with my bag of clay and my brand new tool box filled with shiny new sculpting tools that I had no idea what to do with. I was filled with such a mix of emotions, I was nervous and excited, but mostly I remember wondering If I would be able to create anything remotely resembling a human figure. I mean, I had never studied anatomy or sculpture. I didn’t know the first thing about what to do or how to do it. But right away these other sculptors encouraged me and helped me and gave me confidence. When the model dropped her robe and stepped up onto the little platform to hold her pose I remember feeling a little shy about looking at her, I mean….She was Naked!! I just followed the lead of all the others and took out my clay, put it on the sculpture stand and began to let my hands accustom themselves to the clay. Almost instantly all my inhibitions melted away. It was as though none of it had ever been there. I began to work and shape the clay and as it warmed under my fingers shape began to emerge. The others were chatting and there was gentle classical music playing in the background , but it all disappeared as I let myself become a sculptor. The feeling I got from my very first introduction to sculpture was one of losing myself while simultaneously finding myself as I created something from the raw clay. To me, there is such a Devine feeling of pleasure in making an ugly lump of clay into something beautiful. Now, I’m not ever going to be a professional sculptor, the other artists in my group were actually selling and showing their work and had reputations in the community of artists as accomplished sculptors and continue to do so. It’s not my desire to do anything but enjoy having my hands in clay and creating shapes and designs and enjoying that wonderful feeling of losing myself in something other than what’s going on around me and in the world, it’s an escape. I have several bags of clay in my container to be shipped out here, although who knows if it will survive the journey. But, sadly, I haven’t been able to find any sculpture clay here in Panama. I’ve asked around and I’ve learned that I will have to have it shipped in from Florida which would be very costly. So when I discovered this cement workshop my heart leapt! My sculpture group in the states had actually done a workshop with a visiting artist who taught them to work in concrete. I was not able to attend this workshop in the states and now I miraculously have the opportunity to learn here! Yea!! So this morning as I type this, I find myself once again feeling that same familiar feeling of trepidation. Will I be able to make something from Concrete? Something beautiful? I hope so. I have printed out a few ideas of some things I might like to try to make but I have no idea what is possible with concrete. I’ll keep you posted on this new adventure. One thing’s for sure, I’ll meet some new people and hopefully make a new friend or two!

Casita Progress…

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This morning I went up to the property to help Scott with the Electrical plan in the casita. We needed to decide on where all the light switches and plugs would go. Here’s where I get to do some actual helping, finally! I know, bringing lunch up there everyday is help, but this is much more fun! As you can see the walls are getting taller and taller and they are really beginning to look like rooms. Its interesting to see them chipping away at the concrete walls to make room for plumbing and electrical installation. Not quite the same as building with wood, huh? Scott’s really wishing he had his tools right now. He’s got lots of great grinders and things that would make the work so much faster and easier, but these guys seem pretty comfortable with a hammer and chisel. Watching them chip away, you can tell that they’ve done this many times before and are very experienced with this type of construction. Scott has his hands full trying to manage six guys who are all tackling different tasks. One guy, Ariquiles, was pounding metal rebar stakes into the dirt for something Scott had told him to do and he just couldn’t seem to do it right. Scott kept telling him no and to do it differently then finally after trying to tell him several times Scott just walked up there and did it himself. And others kept coming over to ask this and that…boy, Scott is really getting very good at this construction Spanish, that’s for sure! I don’t spend too much time at the construction site, I’m just in the way, walking around with my camera. When I am there while they are all working its very overwhelming, I gotta tell ya I really admire Scott for being able to manage such a huge project. He really is good at this. I already knew that, but normally when I’m there it’s lunch time and not much is going on. When all those guys are working the job site takes on quite a different feeling. Lot’s of hustling going on and each guy seems to have a task that they each are very intent on doing. So, here are the photos of the progress today….Tenga Fin De Semana!

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Learning all the in’s & out’s of employer responsibilities here in Panama…

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Poco a Poco we’re getting the hang of this Panamanian employer gig. We were very concerned in the beginning, before we hired any workers about making sure we knew and understood what we needed to do to be totally above board when employing people here in Panama. We went to an attorney and got information about taxes and social security and learned about the best way to make sure we don’t get into any trouble. The attorney sent us to a woman in town named Clavdia, who will do our bookkeeping and take care of filing all the necessary paperwork with the Social Security office in town as well as making sure all our employee taxes are paid. She is a treasure and we feel good knowing she’s got that part taken care of, and for $10.00 per month! We’ve read about some of the issues one can have when hiring people to work for you as well as talked to friends about their experiences and we felt it would be prudent to get ahead of the ball and learn as much as we could learn to hopefully prevent any nightmares in the future. Even though we sat down with an attorney and asked as many questions as we could think of to ask, we find ourselves still learning things that she didn’t tell us. One little thing just came up this week. One of our employees was asking Scott about his Decimo pay….Huh? What the heck is that!! We went down to Clauvdia’s office and she set us straight on that… Apparently this is a bonus they get three times a year April 15, August 15 and December 15 …8.33% of their wages. Other important things we had already learned are that they also have about 10-12 Official “Paid” days off each year. Plus,we’ve also been informed that the best way to structure the hiring of employees is to have them on short contracts that last only a few months at a time. This is to avoid any issues if we need to let someone go. It can be very tricky to fire a worker here so it’s much easier just to tell them the contract for work is over and not to offer them a new contract, this is very important if you find yourself with a particularly unreliable, or lazy worker. “Sorry, no more contract for you”. No need to fire them, the job they were hired to do is just over, easy breezy. As a matter of fact Scott has two workers who seem to have a hard time getting to work on Mondays, so this week was time to renew contracts and he told these two that if they continue to miss work on Mondays this would be their last contract. Another interesting little ‘required bonus’ is each time a contract ends, we are required to give them a project termination fee which is sort of like a severance payment and that is 6% of their pay. So, lets see, these employees work for $23-29 per day and they get 10-12 legal paid days off per year, they also get paid for sick days if they bring a note from the doctor, (which they seem to be very diligent at doing), a bonus at the end of a contract, and a bonus every three months….Whew! These are the rules we know of, but I’m wondering just how many other “bonus’s” we don’t yet know about? Hah! We still need to find out from a Panamanian guy we’re friends with in town who is in the construction business about the validity of what one of the workers told Scott about it being ‘customary’ for the Jefe to purchase rubber boots for the entire crew…..Hmmmm? That seems like a funny one, but ya just never know! If it’s the way they do it here, then we’ll be off to the store to buys some boots!

Scott may be a generous and fair Jefe but one things for sure, he’s not one to be taken advantage of. He’s always had a very consistent code of ethics that he deems very important and to be sure, those who know him know that he’s never one to lose his cool, there’s never any yelling coming out of his mouth. He’ll be fair and honest and often generous to a fault but don’t let him down or betray his trust or respect because your day’s of working with him will end and he wont look back. It’s like a light switch just goes to the off position and he’s just walked away. No, there’s never any drama or games, probably one chance but definitely not two. So, when his workers bust their butts on an especially physically exhausting week like they did last week, Scott will always acknowledge that, maybe not always with a Friday treat of cold beers and a paid day off, sometimes just a hearty thanks, but they will feel appreciated to be sure. And if an employee is just not living up to Scott’s standards he’ll let them know that they can go now. So, as we are just getting started with our project, because we still have a long ways to go until we’re done building, I’m sure we’ll go through a few workers along the way. But the smart one’s will be able to see that they’ve got a good thing going with this particular Gringo Jefe. Scott’s trying his best to strike that balance of being a good Jefe but not feeling as though he might be thought of as a sucker. Hence the time spent getting the low-down from people who know the actual rules and laws. We have a lot to learn and Poco a Poco we’re learning about what it takes to do things right and to give and receive a mutual respect with the guys working on our house. We’ll make mistakes and I’m sure a day will come when we’re let down somehow by a worker we trusted and liked, that’s just the way it goes. But so far we have a pretty solid crew of guys who seem to be consistent, hard working and glad to have a job to go to everyday. It’s all part of the Adventure!

Ahhhh, Good To Be Back Home…

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Not only is it good to be back home, but it’s also great that we feel so ‘at home’ here! After living in this house since Sept 1st, (7 months! wow!) It’s become, “HOME” to us. I felt comfy in this house from the very first time I came to see it with Daniesa. It’s a funny realization, having gone to live in a temporary spot for a week, just how much we were looking forward to being back here. I’ve written about how nice it will be to be in our own home with all our own belongings, and it will indeed be nice. But that’s not to say that this wonderful house is not a perfectly comfy and homey place to live. After all, I’m learning that old saying ‘Home Is Where The Heart Is’, happens to be quite true! Oh, I may miss having my own ‘stuff’, but I never realized just how easy it could be and has been, to make a place a ‘home’. It’s really true that it’s a state of mind, and not simply material possessions that make a place a home. In my adult life I can count on one hand the amount of places I’ve lived. I really haven’t moved around all that much. Which may be the reason why I attribute my deep-seeded need to feel as though I have a place to call my home. I’m a ‘nester’, for sure. I love to create an environment where I feel I belong and where I can be myself. It seems as though most of the people I’ve known in my life have moved around and lived in many different places. Not me, I normally like to put down very deep roots and stay put. I lived in my house in Los Altos for 20 years. For me, even though I chose to leave my ‘home’ and start all over again someplace totally different, even ‘foreign’ I still have a deep need to nest That being said, I have to say I’m learning to redefine my notion of what ‘home’ is to me. What that ‘re-defined’ notion is…I’m not exactly sure, but I’m more certain about what it’s not. One thing I’m learning is that my home isn’t defined by my pictures on the wall and furniture that I picked out and purchased nor is it my paint colors on the walls or plush towels in my bathroom. I know these things are not what make me feel as though I’m ‘home’, because I have none of it and here I sit in this house that is merely a temporary stopping point for us and after being gone for a week, I walked in the front door and felt a sigh of relief at being ‘home’ again. Sigh! I’ve always known in my head that material things weren’t what really matters in life but this is one of those times in my life when my head and my heart are actually connecting and a realization is becoming, ‘Truth’. This heart of mine is at “HOME” here! Mind you…..this doesn’t mean I won’t be extremely jubilant to unpack those ‘lush’ towels from our container when they arrive!!! Hah!

It’s So Much More Than ‘Teaching’…

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What I love about making friends in Spanish…

As you know , I’ve sorta ‘fallen into’ teaching English to four Panamanian women. I’m very uncomfortable thinking of myself as a ‘teacher’, and my so called ‘classes’ are taking on more of a ‘social gathering’ than any sort of structured ‘class’. This is exactly what I enjoy…Social Gathering! I mean, that’s what my hairstyling business often felt like as well. I think anyone who walked into that salon felt as though they were getting together with friends and not only coming to an appointment. Isn’t that the way life should feel? As though we were gathering to connect and not just robotically going through life? I didn’t have this awkward feeling I have now when I’m supposedly ‘teaching’, a feeling of being an imposter , cuz’ I was right at home behind the chair making people feel good. As these wonderful women and I are becoming more comfortable with each other and they have gotten to see that they too are ‘teachers’,( because they help me so much in my Spanish learning) it’s beginning to feel so much more like friends getting together to chat and to laugh and have a good time. I’m much more comfortable with this ‘give and take’ type of learning. They are just as much teaching me as I am supposedly teaching them, which I just love. But what I love the most is the laughing fits that we often get into during our little gatherings. Read the rest of this entry

Staying in Town Is Not So Bad….

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An Evening Stroll,

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

Living The Casual Life..

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I do love my new casual lifestyle, this is a wonderful thing about Panama, or is it just me? It could be Me… I’ve spent most of my adult life as well as my childhood, around hairdressers and in Salons. The constant and never ending expectation from those who look to us (stylists) to always be on the cutting edge of fashion can be exhausting. I know the majority of my former colleagues in the beauty business thrive on and love this part of what it means to be a stylist, and I applaud you because that’s as it should be. But the novelty of this aspect of being a hairdresser wore off for me about…oh, I dont’ know…maybe 15 or so years ago? Maybe longer. The expectation to look a certain way and to care so much about that external persona lost it’s appeal for me as I matured and began to find meaning in things that just seemed more important to me. I spent many, many years caring incessantly about how I looked and what clothes I wore. What people thought of me and feeling as though in some important way that my external appearance defined me. I spent hours getting fills on my acrylic nails, panicking when I broke one and rushing into the manicurist to get it repaired, and I never left the house without my make up just right. I lived to shop and never had enough clothes in my closet. I just ‘had’ to have all the latest and most current clothes that were in style. I always had coordinated jewelry and just the right shoes to pull together my look and my hair was of the utmost concern to me each and every moment of every day. Oh man! I remember those days, and the time I spent looking in the mirror! Constantly aware of what others looked like and comparing myself, and putting a ton of energy into caring about what those around me thought of how I looked. It was exhausting when I think back on that period of my life. Of course, I was raised by a hairdresser so this was just the way of the world to me. Read the rest of this entry

Scott’s making some serious progress…

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I thought I’d post a few photo’s of Scott working right along side his workers. That guy just never ceases to amaze! He’s really in his element
giving everything he’s got to create something beautiful! And I think you’ll all agree, that foundation wall is mighty beautiful, indeed! I think the only thing I’ve heard him complain about so far has been the fact that he has to wear jeans to work instead of his customary shorts that he almost always wears! Oh, Poor guy! He really hates to wear ‘big boy pants!’ But honestly, he’s already seen several snakes and here, you really don’t want to risk having bare legs for poisonous snakes to have access to! So…..Jeans it is! And I gotta tell ya, one reason he’s movin’ along pretty productively with the foundation may just be so that he can get busy working on the interior of the project when he can go back to wearing shorts again! Ha!Ha! Just today he actually said just that…”I can’t wait to start working on tile and cabinetry and interior stuff so I can get rid of these Jeans!” As I lovingly roll my eyes! We had to buy him three pairs of jeans from Price Mart because he didn’t bring any. And I already need to take them into town and have them mended, ( NO I don’t sew!) One pair lost a belt loop and another pair managed to get a huge hole in the knee after getting snagged on a piece of rebar….so one more good reason to have been wearing jeans. That tear in his jeans could have been skin!! On this wardrobe note, I gotta just make mention, about the fastidiousness of the workers here in Panama! They are very talented in managing to work an 8 hour day without getting even remotely close to as filthy as my sweet hubby! I swear! Its funny, Scott says they bring an extra pair of jeans that they put on ‘over’ their good pants and then at the end of the day they take off the dirty ones and clean themselves up a bit before going home! They really are neat-nicks about their appearance! I cant imagine what they must think of this Jefe they are working for! Scott is “Pigpen” ! Ha!Ha! That guy comes home looking as though he had rolled around in dirt and cement! There have been a couple of occasions when I had to drive a worker home at the end of a day and I swear he had put on cologne! Well, tomorrow I get to get in on the action up there, kinda! Scott has been making trips back and forth from Ivan (the supply place, not quite Home Depot, but sorta kinda) to get truckloads of sand and rock and bags of cement. So tomorrow they need to start building the new form for the next side of the foundation which Scott needs to be there to help with. So I will be doing the driving back and forth. I’ll go with him in the morning for his first load so that I can meet everyone and they will know who I am. They will load all the materials into the truck and I’ll just deliver it up to the property and keep going back and forth. I’ve got a good audio book loaded onto my iphone and I’ll be happy to do a little something to help so that Scott can focus on what needs to be done to get rid of those damn Jeans….BUILD THE FOUNDATION!! LOL!! The Adventure Continues….

Our first border run is this weekend…

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It’s about time for us to do our first border run. We arrived here on May 28 and as I’ve written before, everyone who arrives in Panama automatically gets a 180 days tourist visa stamped on their passport. This would normally be more than enough time for most actual “tourists” to be in Panama. But if you decide to stay and make this place your home then there’s a bit of a complication If you decide not only to stay, but to buy a car and enjoy the privilege of driving that car. You see, the brilliant folks who make the rules here decided to allow a foreign drivers license to be legal for only 90 days of those 180 days. So, even though our actual “tourist” visa is still valid, our drivers licenses are about to expire. As soon as our paperwork is in process for our permanent residency visa we will no longer have this issue. But for now, we are off to the border of Costa Rica to stamp out of Panama and hopefully, turn around and stamp right back in. It should be that easy but…

Unfortunately, there is a very recent rumor going around the local forums about a change, not in the law exactly, but in the immigration officers and what they are lately requiring for foreigners to re-enter Panama. We’ve taken notes from many different people who live here and have had lots of first hand experience. It seems that the same thread that we hear is that the requirements all depend upon how the particular guy at the particular gate at that particular moment feels and what he/she decides to require on the day you are passing through. The requirements seem to vary. But basically we should need a valid Passport with at least six months remaining on it, all the proper documents filled out (the ones we get there) they want to see either a bank statement showing you have at least $500.00 (or cash of that amount on your person, we aren’t clear if we each need to have this amount or only one of us?), some sort of proof of how we will be returning to our country of origin, since we are supposed to be on a “tourist” visa. (a bus ticket or proof of an airline ticket out of the country) . The latest rumor we are hearing about is that they are requiring that when you leave Panama you must stay two or three nights in Costa Rica before being allowed back into Panama! HUH? This is a very new rumor, this week and we are watching the comments on the forums closely, no one has actually “confirmed” this to be true. As a matter of fact there is a U.S. attorney who lives in Bocas and hosts her own forum dedicated to laws for expats in Panama, she just posted a comment today about this and says she has not found any such new laws requiring tourists to stay out of the country for a period before being let back in.

Our plan is to go this Friday, after school to the Rio Serrano boarder outside of Vocan, which is not the main border. The one that most people seem to go to is called Paso Canoas , just outside of David. The one we’re planning to try is about thirty minutes further than the one in David but we hear it is much less crowded with busses and much faster. We think It will be about a two hour drive. We figured we would go on Friday then if indeed we end up being forced to stay in Costa Rica for a couple of nights we wont miss any School on Monday. So we will pack a change of clothes and our swim suits and make the most of whatever happens! We will arm ourselves with all the possible requirements, copies of our passports (as well as our actual passports), our registration for our cars (another document we have been told they might accept instead of an airline ticket) We will take along $500.00 (taking $500.00 each just doesn’t feel too safe!) and we may just take the advice of a friend and just book a flight online and bring a copy of the itinerary and confirmation number and cancel the flight after we get back home. Many times you can just reserve a flight that you then never confirm and the airline will not hold it for you.

It should be an interesting experience and we cant say that we will know what to expect next time because you just never know what new requirements they made come up with! But if all goes well with our application for permanent residency, this should be our first and last time that we need to do this. Who knows, its an Adventure, that’s for sure!

A Saturday Hike…The Pipeline Trail

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This weekend we decided to take a hike on the Pipeline trail. Scott had gone on this hike with a group earlier in the week while I was in class. We just love being out in nature and this trail was so beautiful. We spent about three hours hiking and enjoyed every minute of it. After we got up to the waterfall we enjoyed a nice picnic but wondered why we didn’t bring a bottle of wine to enjoy!! What were we thinking? Oh well, it was such a nice spot to just sit and chill and we soaked up all the natural beauty around us. I took lots of photos of interesting leaves and a few wildflowers to share with you. Next time we will have to take the good camera and see if we can get some better pictures than I can get with my iPhone. We passed a couple who had hired a guide to take them on this hike and they said that they had spotted a sloth and a small viper but we didn’t see much more than lot’s of birds. Those guides probably know exactly where to look for all the critters but we were just too busy soaking up all the flora and Fauna to spot any wildlife, maybe next time. There are so many trails to explore and we are really looking forward to seeing many more magical places as time goes by. We are still pinching ourselves and saying, “we live here!” What a wonderful Adventure we are on….

Dos experiencias más divertidas…

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It’s a possibility that not everyone has the same sense of humor as I do , so if stories about dead chickens and children urinating offends your sensibilities you may want to skip this post. Occasionally, when walking around town or strolling to work (HAH! did I just say WORK?, I meant SCHOOL!) in the morning, I witness little “everyday occurrences” that often strike me as funny. Nothing earth shattering, just funny (to me) little things that I think to myself,” now, that’s something I never saw while walking into town in Los Altos!” Then I chuckle to myself and must turn around and share these silly sightings with you. Because that’s just the kind of generous gal I am. Ja!Ja!Ja!

So, the most recent sight happened this morning on my stroll into town. As I was just peacefully strolling along, listening to my podcast on my iPhone I was , as usual, soaking up all the many beautiful sights that continue to delight my eyes. When I suddenly noticed that a pack of dogs ( actually 3 dogs, but that constitutes a pack, right?) in the distance running towards me at full speed. They were really in a hurry which is different because most of the dogs around here just very peacefully wonder around not really looking as though they have a care in the world. But these three, they were bookin’ right towards me! As they got closer to me I began to notice that the big dog who was seemingly being chased by the others had something really big in his mouth. It quickly became apparent to me that that “really big thing” in his mouth was, yes you guessed it, A CHICKEN! A whole, I think dead, chicken!! Feathers flying as he ran like the wind to enjoy his morning treat. I couldn’t help but smile at the sight because It just isn’t especially common for this Gringa to see a dog gleefully racing down the street, with feathers flying and little chicken legs hanging out either side of his happy little doggy face. Maybe I have a warped sense of humor, but you had to see it, seriously, it was kinda funny. But the next part that was also humorous was when I was attempting to describe this sight to my Spanish teacher. She was laughing hysterically ,not because “she” thought it was funny but because “I” thought it was funny! She said, “This is not common for you to see such a thing in Estados Unidos?” “Noooooo!” I said. My telling of this story to Araliz started a long discussion between the two of us,(In Spanish, of course, and I’m pleased to tell you that I’m beginning to understand about 75% of what she says, she speaks no English!) about the cultural differences between here and the U.S. It was very fun to laugh with her, She must think I’m crazy! Oh well, it wouldn’t be a first for me.

The second story is not mine but Scott’s , he just told me this today . One day when He was walking to work( did I say WORK again!!!! you know what I mean, School!, man, I gotta stop that!) he noticed a man outside his house washing his taxi. The man was inside the car cleaning the dash and listening to music while he was intently cleaning away. The car was immaculately cared for and Scott said he could tell the man took great pride in his taxi. Here’s the funny part…. As Scott was walking by he noticed a young kid, maybe four or five years old , (he assumed it must be the taxi owners son) Peeing on the tire!! OMG!! Too funny, right? I suspect he learned that either from his dad or the family dog! At any rate, just another funny little sight that, in our past life, was not a common thing to see while walking down Orange Ave.

Ahhhh, the joys of living as a fresh new expat in a country that is not your own. Experiencing sights and sounds that are unfamiliar, sometimes strange, but never boring. This first year for us is surly going to be full of many such stories and in time these things that seem so foreign to me will begin to be just ordinary everyday occurrences . But I assure you I’ll never stop appreciating the humor in all the differences and being grateful for having the opportunity to learn about a different way of life. Who say’s there’s only one “right” way to live life? Sometimes a kids just gotta pee and the tire just happens to be conveniently located and If Colonel Sanders isn’t around to serve up a little chicken to a hungry pooch then A dog’s gotta do what a dog’s gotta do…. right? Ja!Ja!Ja! Everyday’s and Adventure!

Smiling…

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20130814-115837.jpgToday as I walked out of my Spanish lesson I was smiling. I had a great lesson with Araliz. Some day’s I walk out not smiling but instead looking rather stoic. Not sad, not mad, but feeling kinda dumb. And on those not so good days, when I just don’t have a smile after my lesson I remember that tomorrow may be better. The thing I thought about today, as I walked to my car, was that I felt grateful for those un-smiling-feeling-kinda-dumb days. I wont call them “bad” because without them I would not have the very clear perspective when I have a smiling-feeling-kinda-smart day! On those days when I walk away feeling dumb and a little defeated I try to remember that tomorrow I just might be smart again!!! (laughing!) Ahhh, it’s a challenging process and aren’t I the lucky one to have chosen to embrace the opportunity to very consciously and deliberately dive in “head-first” into all these new experiences. I know from lot’s of past experiences that the most difficult and challenging life experience have always been the best opportunities for growth, spiritually,mentally,intellectually,as well as physically . I’ve read a quote that I just love..

“Our biggest regrets are not for the things we have done but for the things we haven’t done”
― Chad Michael Murray

Yes, I see the wisdom in that quote and I feel that way myself. Just because an experience is a challenge, I don’t think to myself that I should not have done something but that I’m doing something which , although difficult, is worthy of the hard work it takes to persevere and learn and grow from the hard work. I am where I should be in my life and even with all the difficulties and challenges I face in my new and often disorienting new life I have no regrets only joy in being in this very spot at this very moment….

Is it just me?

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I’m going to try my best to articulate an experience I’ve been having since I’ve been living here in Panama. I am going to assume that this is all a part of adjusting and I wonder if this feeling is one that other expats have also experienced , or am I the only nutty one,(which I’m happy to embrace, I got no problem with being “NUTTY”) I’m not one to complain and I hope this post doesn’t come across as whining, but… Since I arrived in my new home just about three months ago, I’ve been experiencing, at times, a rather odd sense of total disorientation. I hope I can accurately describe what I mean by that. I seem to have lost any and all sense of direction when I’m in a store or just generally walking around town . It’s not just that I don’t know where I am, that’s nothing strange , I just moved to a new town in an entirely new country , I expect to feel this type of “lost”. But what I’m talking about is hard for me to put into words, possibly , “spacial awareness”? Is that what it is? I don’t know. All I know is for example, when we are in Romero’s shopping for groceries I am constantly in peoples way, I never seem to realize when someone is trying to get past me or which way I should push my cart to avoid an oncoming shopper. I feel such a strange , unfamiliar sense of confusion when I’m out in public, which for me is just crazy. I’ve never felt such a sense of feeling as though I need to be very careful with each and every step I make as I am walking around. Maybe it has to do with my inability to culturally pick up on social cues? I usually think of myself as a very intuitive person, I like to be courteous and thoughtful and I admit to almost feeling a sense of pride in myself for being able to intuitively pick up on the needs of those around me. I seem to have lost that ability and this, in part makes me feel rather lost in public. In addition to feeling so inept and a bit confused, I cant’ even express to the people around me how sorry I am. “No, really, this isn’t how I am!,” “I’m not usually so stupid!” “I didn’t mean to roll my cart over your foot! I’m soooo sorry!” GEESH! And they all seem so kind and mostly patient with this strange gringo who can hardly push a shopping cart through the store. I wonder what I must look like to them?

Scott thinks I’m just overwhelmed. There’s just too much to process so I’m just a little bit out of it. Every single thing about this new place has me feeling as though I’m upside down most of the time when I’m in town. The sights, the sounds, the smells, the people, how they behave, How I’m supposed to behave to be polite, Just about every aspect of life for me is entirely unknown and new. I was surprised today , when Scott and I were in Romero’s and unbeknownst to me, a man was coming up behind me, Scott said, very calmly,”look out!”, I just kinda froze, with a terrified look on my face, I didn’t know which way to move and felt so nervous. My response was inappropriate, He didn’t say it in an urgent manner or in a mean way at all, my reaction was just kinda strange. I’m so unaccustomed to this feeling of constant and long-term disorientation everywhere I go. Today was the first time I actually talked about it with Scott and I felt somewhat relieved to hear him say that he has noticed my apparent disorientation. I’ve been thinking it for some time but have been thinking that it would soon pass, as I’m sure it will.

In a much earlier post, before we moved, I promised to write about not only the good things about becoming an Expat, but to also share the challenges. Well, I seem to have come up with one (although this one may be just “me”) . I’m sooooo damn confused and disoriented by everything around me. Given the fact that I’ve never, in my 47 years, moved out of California I’m out of my element in more ways than one. Yes, I moved from Morgan Hill to Mountain View, Los Altos area in my twenties, but now, having moved to an entirely different country it’s proving to be an overwhelming experience for me. Almost nothing is recognizable. Even the simple fact that I’m not a familiar person here, no one knows anything about who I am. So that sense of knowing that comes from seeing familiar faces and familiar places and knowing that people around me know the type of person I am is not a “given” here. Lucky for me, Scott seems unaffected by this dilemma. As usual , the guy just glides through such an enormous life transition without seeming to be one bit disoriented. He constantly amazes me with his ability to overcome new experiences and to adapt so , seemingly easily, to all this newness that surrounds us. I honestly think he is in his element.

I’m really learning a lot about myself and about my perception of myself. I like to think of myself as a pretty easy going, relaxed kinda gal, going through life with my rose colored glasses at times, to make everything just a little prettier, a natural optimist, is how I like to see myself. But my “rose colored” glasses are only confusing me at the moment, nothing looks familiar even with the “rose color”! So the realist in me is poking it’s head out, (not a common occurrence for me). I realize I will adapt and this life will become more familiar and I will eventually learn how things work here. Surly I’ll soon find myself feeling as though this is where I belong. Soon? I look forward to coming to the realization , one day, that I no longer feel so disoriented. Because I know this must be , for me, just part of my adjusting period. I’m certain each person, no matter where they move, has a period of time when they must familiarize themselves to the new world around them. It’s exciting and I am not fretting too much. I love so many things about this choice to move and to embrace a new life which will naturally include many new and different experiences . I knew that there would be challenges and maybe I would face certain aspects of this new beginning that would be hard, but this isn’t too bad. I’m not one to wallow in negativity or let a difficulty cause me to feel defeated, noooo, not this girl! I plan to adapt and to grow and to change because anything less is just not acceptable,not to mention no fun at all! I may be a tiny bit disoriented and at times kinda confused and always a tad nutty, but I’m soooo happy to be living my adventure my way I’m fine with my temporary confusion, it’ll pass. Everyday is an Adventure and with each new day it begins again…