Tag Archives: expat

The ebb & flow of this life has become familiar and I love it!

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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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A Brief Update On Our Insurance Snafu…

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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.

Sometimes S?!T Happens…

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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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The Holidays are upon us!

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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

La Casa Principal…

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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

The Recipe For A Good Time In Panama…

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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

A Little Update…

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

A very Rude Dog…

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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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Where have I been!

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Oooooop! Sorry, I´ve really been slacking in my writing. First I went on vacation for three weeks then I just seem to get so caught up in my days that I dont stop to take the time to write.  So, let me get you caught up on what´s happening here.  Well, I´ll begin with our project, the never ending house project!  So, we have two new workers that we hired, bringing our total crew to 9 guys now.  The main house has all the  walls finished and now the roof is just getting started.  It should take maybe a month or a little more to complete.  Its really fun to see it all come together and to wander around imagining what it will be like to live in it.  I´m really excited about how much I like the design and floorplan that we worked so hard to design together.  We really put a lot of focus on outdoor living space because living here makes it so easy to spend a lot of time outdoors.  Our terrace alone which wraps around the entire back side of the house facing the amazing view is about 900 square feet in size.  It will be completly roofed and protected from the elements.  It will be like a room without walls!    We plan to have our dining room out on the terrace  on one side and a living room area on the other end, with an outdoor sofa and some chairs.  In the outdoor living room we are planning to have a gas fire pit.  There will also be a big wood burning fireplace out on the corner of the terrace.  Scott has an outdoor kitchen as well which will be about 200 square feet.  The total size of the house, not including the terrace and outdoor kitchen is about 2400 square feet.  We will have two bedrooms, a living room a laundry room, the kitchen and a recreation room for our pool table.  One aspect that I´m sure I´ve writen about which I´m really excited about is the outdoor shower off the master bedroom.  This will be a treat since we can use it pretty much all year around living here.  The guest bedroom will have an indoor shower so if its especially rainy or chilly we can use that.   Read the rest of this entry

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

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Coming home from vacation felt entirely different to me this time! This is our first big vacation away from our new home here in the highlands of Panama and I must admit, after nearly three weeks away, I was looking forward to getting back to my little casita in the mountains. We’ve taken several pretty long vacations in our past and normally we’re never really ready to go home. We love to travel and see the world and seldom have we looked forward to returning to the grind that was our life in California.
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Day 7…Writing 101

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Day Seven: Give and Take

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

compare and contrast….

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

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

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

Day 5…Writing 101

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

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

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

Writing 101 Day 4….

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Writing 101, Day 4…

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

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

Update on Casa Principal…

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

Things are really coming together…

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

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

Water Problems…

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

Home Sweet Home…

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

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

Almost ready to move…but, not quite…

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

Our Christmas In Boquete…

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

To Be Tranquilo….

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

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


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

Shhhhhh…This is just between you and me…

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

Wow! This is my 500th Post!

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

A followup on our Thanksgiving…

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

Our Second Thanksgiving in Panama…

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

Cheers For Bananas!

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

My Biggest Challenge So Far…

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My new Spanish teaching crew!

My new Spanish teaching crew!

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

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

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

A Day In The Life Of…Me

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

Just Rollin’ Right Along….

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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

Building a stronger immunity and ….Grandmother?…Gasp!

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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…

Workshop/Man-cave progress…

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This is the computerized rendering of the workshop. We use a program called 'Punch" to do all our designs...

This is the computerized rendering of the workshop. We use a program called ‘Punch” to do all our designs…

The workshop/man-cave is really coming along. This week they’re starting work on the roof structure. We purchased and had delivered, all the cariolas and the metal zinc . It’s going to be a pretty big roof! So I think Scott’s expecting it to take around 3 weeks or so to complete it. As you look at the photos of the workshop you’ll notice as you face the front of the building there is a room with a black water tank in it. This will be the water storage room. We have enough room for four huge tanks. We plan to collect water from the aqueduct to filter and purify for drinking water and we’ll be collecting all the gray water from the bathrooms as well as rainwater from the gutters to use for agricultural water.

The water storage room. This is a small tank, we have not gotten the big ones yet...

The water storage room. This is a small tank, we have not gotten the big ones yet…

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How to get eight, 40 foot steel ibeams up to your work site…

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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

Moving Again…

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Did I mention we’re moving again? Yes, I think I did. Well, I just can’t believe we’ve already been in this wonderful house for ten months. Time has flown by so fast and tonight is our last night here. We started moving our belongings out yesterday. We have two storage units reserved at Chiriqui Storage in Dolega, in preparation for the arrival of our container. So we decided that our storage units would be the best place to put all the things we have purchased for the casita but aren’t quite ready to use yet. Things like the kitchen sink, bathroom fixtures, toilet, garbage disposal, and of course all those great light fixtures I bought on my visit to Panama City, just to list a few things. So we loaded up our two cars and made a very early visit to storage. We knew we needed to get there early because it was the first Sunday of the month and they host a big flea market there. We got to Chiriqui Storage at 7:00a.m. and managed to unload all that stuff and haul ass outta there before the crowds began to form for the flea market.

Did I tell you yet where we will be living? Well, as you may know our little casita should be ready for us to move into it by January-ish. I’ve probably mentioned our new neighbors Allen & Kathy. They own the property just below ours and we’ve all become fast friends. They’ve had us over to their place several times for Happy Hour and they’ve joined us at our place for the few gatherings we’ve had in our nearly done casita. A few months back while enjoying one of those ‘Happy Hours’ at their house they totally surprised us by inviting us to move into their house! Yep! You see, they haven’t quite made living here permanent , yet. They still have a home in Virginia and only spend a few months out of the year living here in Boquete. Although they plan to eventually make Boquete a permanent home, for now they enjoy spending extended vacations here. We were so pleasantly surprised by such a generous offer. Living in their house will be so nice for us. We’ll be right next door to our project, making it much easier to keep an eye on things and making Scott’s commute to the job much much shorter.

Kathy & Allen leave to go back to the States in September. So we will all four + Copper, be roommates for the next three weeks. I sure hope we don’t drive them crazy. I’m pretty sure Copper will be hiding under the covers on the bed for at least the first week or so, he really really hates change. Poor kitty. Luckily Kathy is a cat lover, well, actually, she’s an animal lover, and so our little kitty will be very welcome in their home. And then they will be returning to Boquete right about the same time that we’re hoping to be able to move into our little casita. It’s truly amazing sometimes how things work out so well. To tell you the truth, although we had this move sort of looming in the back of our minds, we never really worried about where we would go. And out of the blue this wonderful arrangement just fell in our laps. I’m smiling as I write this because It makes me feel so happy to have such great new friends in our lives already. And the fact that we will be neighbors is a bonus!

So, today we took most of our clothes over there as well as some boxes of our bookkeeping things for our employees. We will put most of our nonperishable kitchen stuff n our storage and bring fridge stuff and things that Scott uses to cook with, spices and things. It’s pretty amazing how much we have accumulated in the year we’ve been here. We really don’t want to clutter up Kathy & Allen’s place so we’re trying to just brings the bare necessities . But, the ‘bare necessities’ look to be like kind of a lot of crap! Sheesh!! I’m sure once I get organized all will be well, but at the moment I feel a bit discombobulated. I really have to say, I hate moving. And we aren’t even done yet! We still have to move into the casita in January and then it may be a year or so before we are ready to move into our main house. Then that should be it! No more moving for us!
Well, this is what I’m up to these days. I’ve been so busy and I have so many other things to share but have not had the time or the energy to write about it all. We’ve gotten our Panamanian Driver’s licenses and I must tell you all about that. As soon as we’re all settled into our new living arrangement I’ll be writing more. I didn’t even tell you much about our trip back to the states.. sheesh. We got back to Boquete and just seemed to have tumbled right into so many different things. I gotta tell ya, this so called ‘retired’ life….it’s exhausting ! Hah!

The Casita project update…

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

Our Tranquilo Is Being Tested ….

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

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

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

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

A Whirlwind Day…

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

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

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

A Party For The Roof!

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Today is a first for us… Celebrating the completion of a brand new roof! We had no such celebration when we built our house in Los Altos. These Panamanians just love to celebrate and they seem to find any excuse for a Fiesta! This is just one small thing that I love about living here in Central America. Scott & I fit in just fine here, we too love a party! Although, truth be told, I could do without the Cow stomach soup! This could have fit in nicely for our Halloween Parties thought! Hah! Actually, I jest, I also really love the fact that they not only have a traditional celebration for a new roof, but a traditional dish to serve for the celebration! We too have certain dishes that are often reserved for celebrations, Turkey for Thanksgiving, Ham for Easter, and Hamburgers and Hot dogs for the 4th of July. So who's to say a little cow stomach soup is so odd for celebrating a shiny new roof! I'm really excited to do something special for our 7 workers who show up 6 days a week and work side by side with Scott to build our new home.

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My Time So Far With Mariah…

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For months I’ve been counting the day’s until Mariah got to Panama! She arrived on May 11th and today she has 10 more days of her visit left, she goes home on June 3rd. We’ve had so much fun exploring together and reconnecting in a way that we never have before. I must say that I ‘m enjoying the company of my daughter as a mature, (mostly! 🙂 Hah! ) young women, for the first time. It’s been so incredible to get to know this independent, young women and to discover and renew a relationship with her like I’ve never had before. We’ve been working on putting the past travails behind us and on establishing a relationship based on who we are now. The past is long gone and although we all three went through a lot of pain and sorrow together , it’s time that we all let go and forgive. We’ll just chalk it up to a nasty adolescence and move forward from here…

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Casita Progress…

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As I've been running around with Mariah enjoying every second with her, Scott continues to slave away up at the property. He's determined to get the roof on the casita before the rainy season begins in earnest. We've had a little rain, but not too much yet. He thinks by next week we should be pretty close to having the entire house covered with the first part of the roof. Yea! I was up there this week having lunch with him and was very impressed and not a little overwhelmed just watching all the different projects that he's overseeing all at the same time! While Two guys are up on the roof doing all the welding, another two are setting forms and pouring the concrete pillars on the terrace, and then two are working on making a retaining wall and one other guy was digging the long ditch for the septic system. Whew! And Scott must oversee all these different projects simultaneously while he's running back and forth with materials and planning what comes next. I tell ya, it's darn right exhausting just thinking about all the forethought it takes to make a project like this happen, and he's doing it all in a language that he has just learned! That guy! (big, proud smile!) Read the rest of this entry

My Best Ever Mother’s Day Present…

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Well, all the waiting and anticipation is over and my precious daughter is finally here with me in Panama. I had the best Mother’s Day ! It’s been almost a whole year since I’ve seen her and to have her right here next to me makes my heart so happy. Her journey went well and she arrived in Panama City without having any problems with her flights from California. I must admit, I had a bit of a panic attack when she told me that her friend was arriving at her house in San Jose at 6:30 to drive her to the San Francisco Airport for an 8:30 P.M. flight! “WHAT!” Oh my god, I was quickly texting her that she needed to get to the airport at least 2 hours early for an international flight. She had a layover in Vegas but her bags would have to be checked in for the international flight. The drive from San Jose to SF is at least 45 minutes, which means she would not get to the airport until after 7:00 for an 8:30 departure. This is her first time traveling internationally and I was very nervous, I know….”Where’s that ‘tranquilo’ Holly?” Humph! The possibility of her missing the flight had my stomach in knots! My daughter has a natural ability to have that affect on me…hah! Some things never change… Read the rest of this entry

Today’s Casita Progress Photos….

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Well ,just in case the photos of the cement art was too boring for you, how bout some exciting construction photos? Whoohoo! I know, you can hardly wait!! Go ahead, roll your eyes now! With each day that passes the walls get taller and now I can make out windows and doorways. They’ve been making forms to pour the parts (forgive me for my lack of construction vocabulary!) that go over windows and doorways. Given the fact that they cant use the concrete bricks in those areas they actually make wood forms to pour the cement into. I know, there’s many reading this who know all about this stuff, but I gotta make sure some of my less knowledgable readers get my easy to understand narrative on all the technical stuff, right? Cuz’ I’m just the gal to describe all this to em’. Pfffffft! 🙂 Well, now you can see where windows and doors will be and the one where you can see my car out the door is the entry. Yes, we do have a big dirt cliff right outside the front door…I noticed that too! We plan to cut into that and build steps up to the parking area. And then on either side of the steps there will be terraced areas with retaining walls, we will plant lovely tropical things and ferns and make it look beautiful, who knows I may even be able to find some sort of leaf Birdbath somewhere! Hah!

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The Finished Products…

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Many of my friends and family asked me to post photos of my finished pieces so here they are. My first attempts at working in Cement to create figurative sculpture has been quite challenging. The most challenging aspect of using cement has been the fact that it eats up my skin on my poor hands! Sheesh! This aspect of working with cement is nothing like clay! The lime in the cement just soaks up all the moisture in the skin and man, is it painful! I had bought a big box of latex gloves for doing my hair color and tried using them instead of kitchen gloves. The kitchen gloves just get holes in them too easily but if I wear the latex gloves under the kitchen gloves while I’m mixing up the cement it really works well. Also, while I’m sculpting I can wear the latex gloves because the cement doesn’t stick to them like it does to the kitchen gloves. The process of sculpting with cement requires layers and drying in between the layers so there’s really not the same instant gratification that you get when sculpting with clay, which is not fun! But I think as I get a bit more experience and have more than one piece in process I’ll have more to work on and wont have to wait until the next day to work. Another aspect of creating figurative sculpture that I’m going to have to get used to is not having a live model to use as a reference! Hah! They don’t have a lot of people who pose nude here in Boquete! Darn!! LOL! I’ll just have to rely on photos and memory. I really enjoyed making the birdbath and the little leaf plates make fantastic gifts, they are perfect to be used as a soap dish or a place to put your jewelry. I got this tip from Mindy! Thanks so much! As a matter of fact all these are gifts for certain people who will remain secret! If I mentioned your names it wouldn’t be a surprise….but… I’ll be seeing you three friends soon!! Hah! You may know who you are!!! I’m just horrible at keeping ‘secrets’! Sheesh! So, as you can see, I have finally found a medium to play with and I’m looking forward to making lot’s more fun things. Chris McCall, the artist who taught the class, also gives classes in Stained glass! I’ll be learning that next! I’m envisioning a couple of pendent lights for our casita!! I’m excited to learn yet another new art form that looks like lot’s of fun! In my mind, there’s really not much that is more fun and gives me more pleasure than making something beautiful, especially when it’s something useful! This Adventure just get’s better and better! And now, it’s only 16 more day’s until Mariah is here in Panama with me!! I can barely wait!!! Cheers!

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Sculpting with concrete…

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Well, after learning how to properly mix the cement, what proportions of sand cement and fiber to use, I’m beginning to get the hang of it. I’ve made a beautiful birdbath from a giant leaf I got on my property up in Jaramillo, and I made a bowl using a stainless steel bowl as a form and placing small leaves in the cement to create a leaf pattern. I also made the stand for my birdbath . Yesterday we learned about staining the cement. Chris (the instructor) gave us notes on all the formulas for the tints and dies, thankfully because he already had all the colors all mixed up and Geesh! The guy is like a mad scientist when he’s working and not especially great at teaching how to actually do what he’s doing. I can totally relate to how hard it is to teach, It’s near impossible for me to teach someone how to do a haircut! I don’t really have the words to describe to someone in great detail , exactly what to do, I have to just do it and show someone. Chris is much like that when he’s trying to teach what he already has in his head. It’s all just such second nature to him and I notice he’s best at showing rather than talking. He has provided us with some great notes on all the formulas and all the important procedures for working with concrete. So, as I said, we colored our pieces yesterday and I had a great time watching all the other students pieces come to life as they painted the different colors onto them. We really have a great group of people in our class, which to me has made this experience even more fun! You know how much I love making new friends and I met some great people as well as got to know someone I already knew. Everyone ended up making some great pieces, all very different and all just beautiful! I’m going back today to finish up a few things. I also started trying to create a figure, which was my whole goal in taking this class. I was really hoping to learn how to do my figurative work that I love so much. The torso that I started is not looking so good! Yikes! It seems as though working with cement is not quite as forgiving and its not the same immediate gratification that you get when working with clay. I just hate that I have to work in layers and wait till the next day to add any detail! I’ll work on it some more today and see where it goes. I suspect I just need to get used to this new medium. Another thing that’s not so great about working with cement is “Ouch!” it’s terrible on your hands!! Sheesh! I’m all cut up from bending the chicken wire and my poor fingers have areas with no skin from the lime in the cement drying it out so badly!! Yesterday I experimented with working with my latex gloves that I have for doing my hair color and that seems to have really worked pretty well! I can buy them at Price Mart in bulk and they aren’t too expensive so as they tear I can just dispose of them and get new ones. I’m going to keep trying to acclimate myself with using cement and I may even set up a little space here at the house, under the carport to work on making a few things. It’s really nice that you don’t need a kiln and the pieces just dry up on their own. There are so many cool possibilities, I’m psyched to explore what I can do and what I can create with this new (to me) medium. I just hope my poor hands will forgive me, Yikes! Latex gloves are my new best friend!

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Our Very First Happy Hour At The Casita…

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Life is GOOD! And it’s even better when it’s shared with good people! And I tell ya, we do have sooooo many great people in our lives! Last night our friends A & S joined us for a Happy hour up at our new Casita. We really had a great time sipping wine and chatting and enjoying the spectacular view from our new place.

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Friday, Treat Day…

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Friday…

It’s Friday and Scott decided that given the fact that his crew kicked but this whole week and got the entire floor of the casita poured, he would give them tomorrow off ….paid(mind you, Saturdays are a short day, they only work 7:30-1:30). He had expected to only finish the first two pours this week, which were the bedroom/bathroom/closet and then the living room/kitchen/entry. But they managed to work so efficiently that they were able to do the terrace today, which is the last part of the floor. And so he asked me to round up a case of beer and get it chilling in the cooler so they can have a little “Friday Treat” after they finish work for the day. He’s such a nice Jefe! I must tell you, that guy really is building a pretty good relationship with his crew. I wonder to myself if they’ve ever worked with a guy like him (sounding just like the proud, biased wife that I am!). He isn’t the kind of guy who stands around giving orders, oh don’t get me wrong, he gives plenty of orders, but he gives them while he’s sweating and working right along side of them. I could tell that at the beginning the guys were a bit baffled by this foreigner who was working just as hard as they were working. One time while they were unloading a bunch of stuff from Scott’s truck, one of the guys tried to take something from Scott and Scott said, “no” and pointed to the bed of the truck where there was a lot to unload. The guy just kinda shrugged and went to get a load out of the truck. It’s just not in Scott’s nature to do it any differently, he’d never stand aside and watch as others did all the work. In the states I don’t think he had a crew any larger than 3 or 4 guys at one time. He’s up to six employees now and I sure hope they’re appreciating how good they have it working for someone like Scott who is honest, generous and hard working. Even though he always treated his employees in the states with the same kind of appreciation and respect that he’s treating these guys here, It always made me so mad to see them lie or steal and work as half-ass as they possibly could get away with until Scott had no choice but to fire them. It was very frustrating at times to go through workers time and again who were just plain lazy and many times pretty dishonest. Scott’s just a good guy and he conducts himself with such integrity I often worry he’ll get taken advantage of (although, I know he’s not gonna let that happen). He told me this week that one of his guys didn’t have any rubber boots, which they needed to wear when working in concrete. So he asked him what size shoe he wears and he went to Melo and bought the guy a pair of boots! Ahhh…that Scott! Of course one of the other guys saw this and proceeded to show him the big hole in the bottom of his boot! Uggg! No, He didn’t run out and get that guy boots! He may be generous but he’s not a sucker! Humph! These guys really do work hard. And Scott appreciates it and makes sure they know it by being fair and by treating them with integrity. I mean, come on…A cooler full of ice cold beer on a Friday!! Whataguy!!! I think he’s building a good relationship of mutual respect and appreciation and that’s never a bad way to deal with people in life. Hopefully it pays off with a crew of guys who are loyal and who appreciate Scott as much as he does them. So far, so good.

Feeling just a little homeless…

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When we signed the lease for the house that we’ve been renting we agreed to this one week away at a hotel payed for by the home owners. That was back in June when we did that . So We gladly agreed to this and knew is was coming. You know how it is though….it felt at the time, like March was so far away. And here we are, all packed up, living out of our suitcases again. Hmmmmm….how time does fly by! It sort of feels like a subtle reminder of our semi-homeless state in the beginning of this adventure. That nomad, gypsyish state of living that we so gleefully set off for nearly a year ago. I can’t believe it will be one whole year in May since we arrived in our new home and started an entirely new life. This new home in Boquete, Panama, that we’d dreamed about and planned for for such a long time. It had been seven long years of research and travel and preparing not only us but also preparing all the people around us as well for what would be a major shift in our lifestyle. When we first arrived we spent the first two months living in a temporary apartment, not unpacking all our belongings because it was just a short stay until we secured more permanent lodging, no need to get too comfortable. It was so wonderful to make ourselves comfortable and unpack everything once we moved into the house. Even though it isn’t our house, it was ours for at least 10 months. And ten months back then felt like a long time. We’re nearing the end of our lease on the house, the owners are relocating from the states to begin their retirement in July. So, now what? Well, we don’t know exactly quite yet. Here in Boquete there’s a fairly large amount of people who rent out furnished casitas to snowbirds who love to escape the harsh winters in Canada and other similarly snowed in spots in the States. By July many of those snowbirds have flown back to where they live and there’s a good selection of places available. We shouldn’t have too much of a difficult time finding our next spot to live. Except that we’re a bit limited due to the fact that we have a cat. There’s a lot of landlords who, understandably, prefer not to rent to us poor suckers with pets so it can be a bit tricky. Read the rest of this entry

A Difficult Cultural Difference In Our Feelings For Pets…

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Dogs…

I was just chatting with my mother in law the other day about the different cultural treatment and feelings of domesticated animals here in Panama. I felt the need to tread gently when talking with her about this subject because she has the biggest heart when it comes to all animals but especially dogs. The last thing I want her to think is that all the Panamanian people are cruel or mean, because they aren’t. There’s just certain ways of life that are unlike our ways such as their perspective on dogs and cats, this happens to differ greatly from what we are accustomed to. This in no way makes them bad or mean or even necessarily wrong, It’s sad to those of us who don’t understand, but just because it’s different doesn’t make it ‘wrong’. I have a strong belief, that something can be ‘wrong’ to me but that doesn’t mean others need agree with what I think is ‘right’. I’m not unlike my mother in law, in my adoration of dogs. They almost all melt my heart no matter what breed, I just love them so much.

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