Okay…I’m sitting outside on the terrace with a cup of coffee and my iPad while a cleaning lady cleans the house before we leave tomorrow to stay at Isla Verde. Dani, the property management lady arranged for the cleaning lady to come so that the house will be perfect for the home owners when they arrive tomorrow. Of course, I will be paying her, but I don’t mind because I’m certain she will do a much more thorough job than I would ever be able to do. And she’ll probably be here all day long for $20.00! As I’ve established in past posts I’m not the most talented of cleaners. But I must tell you how silly I feel just sitting here while she cleans! I’ve had cleaning ladies in the past, but I never stayed home while they cleaned, I was always at work and just gave them a key to my house and let them do their thing. Even the cleaning people who cleaned my salon had a key and when I returned to work each week I was always pleased to open the door to a sparkly place. I felt justified to have someone else cleaning for me because I was so busy working. But this is just killing me! Sitting out here like I’m some kind of entitled princess! But I’ve read and been told and somehow my gut just tells me that here, I need to be home. Ugg! I just hate being here while someone else is cleaning, I just want to go help her! Isn’t that soooo silly! Ha! And, I’ve already spent the last two days getting the house ready for her to clean! Yes! I moved all the cat stuff out of the way, made sure there were no shoes on the floor, removed everything from the counters in the Bathrooms, made the bed, cleaned the kitchen…and I’m embarrassed to admit that yesterday I even dusted a little! Just a little! Sheesh!! Isn’t that so stupid! I just didn’t want the cleaning lady to see what a messy housekeeper I am! Hah! I don’t know about you, but if and when I do housework I like to have music playing so, I tried to get her to choose what channel she liked on Spotify. She seemed a bit unsure about my question as I held my iPhone up for her to look at the Latin stations I gave her to choose from. Hah! I’m such a dork! I think she may have said “lo que quiere”, what you want. Okay….so I chose a latin love song station and marched outside to let her work in peace, but with some soothing latin tunes. Hah! What must she be thinking of me? Well, at least I didn’t pour her a glass wine or ask her if she wanted a snack! My question is …what the heck am I supposed to do all day? If I end up posting about 10 blog posts today, you’ll know why! I think this is how Scott would feel if he just hired someone to do all that work up at our property! Oh! Laundry ! that’s what I can do! The dryer just buzzed! Whew! Okay, good, now I have something to do! Cheers! Buen Fin De Semana!
This is Isla Verde, It looks pretty nice, Huh?
When we rented this house there was one small thing that the landlords required. They live in the states and return to Boquete once a year for one week to visit. They pay for a hotel for their tenants so that they can enjoy their house for a week. We moved in here on September 1st. and we knew that we would have to vacate the house in March for the owners. Well, boy did March come fast! This weekend, sunday to be exact, is when we will be moving out for the week. We had to find a place to stay that would accept cats . There’s a lovely hotel in town called Isla Verde, where we will reside for our one week of exile from our home. So I’ve spent the better part of this week moving all our belongings out of the master bedroom and bathroom and storing much of it in the spare bedroom. I really want to make sure all of our belongings are out of their way. Of course we don’t have a lot of things but it is pretty amazing how we’ve spread out as we’ve lived here and we’ve accumulated stuff as well. So I’m organizing it in the spare bedroom along with the other things we have bought for our construction project. You know, the toilet and the sinks and the faucets, yep, all those things and extra clothes , our printer, blah, blah, blah. It’s actually been more work than I expected it to be but at least I don’t’ have to do the deep cleaning because Dani, the gal who is the property manager is sending a cleaning lady over on Saturday morning. Yippee! So all our clothes are back in our suitcases and ready to go. Our cat isn’t going to be happy about this, but he’s just gonna have to deal with a little family vacation. I did see on Boquete News that the place we’re staying has a Spa!! Yep! And they’re having a special on massages and facials….well…I just may have to check that out while I’m staying there! It should also be nice to be in town, we can walk to dinner like we used to when we lived in Los Altos, that’ll be nice. And my new friend Rosemary lives nearby and It will be fun to walk over and say Hola ! to her as well! It’ll feel like a little vacation at home! I must say, I’m a little worried about the two dogs who have adopted me. The homeowners may be a little surprised to see two hungry dogs waiting to be fed on their porch! Ooops! I hope they like dogs. Poor guys, the dogs I mean, not the homeowners. I must say, I’m trying not to get too attached to these dogs but geesh! They’re so darn cute! And they live here so it wouldn’t be right to take them with me when I move, I’d never do that to them, and ahem…they do have homes here after all! I’m just hijacking someone else’s dogs! I’m bad, I know! Well I’ll let you know how our little “forced vacation” goes.
Scott and I are both in agreement that we don’t want to cut down any trees on our property if we can help it. The spot where we chose to build the casita on the property is perfectly situated between a bunch of trees and it fits just right without any need to disrupt the trees, who were there way before we showed up. The area up above where we plan to build our house and Scotts workshop was previously cleared and leveled by the person we bought the lot from. There are a few smallish trees up on the flat spot but no large trees, thankfully, that would be in the way of building. The pre-excavated area is surrounded by a horse shoe shaped grove of trees that act as nice protection from the winds that come from the North. It’s a lovely spot, surrounded by endless shades of green, which we just love! And the view of Boquete is just spectacular. This already excavated spot where we plan to build the main house for us is almost the exact same size as our lot in Los Altos. About Ten Thousand square feet. But it’s more roundish and our lot in Los Altos was long and narrow.
There are a few little everyday things that we’ve had to figure out how to make ourselves or do without or find a substitute for. And other things we’ve just had to learn, silly little things ,like metric measurements and temps on the stove. For the most part we are able to find just about everything we need here. But every once in awhile we find it difficult to find little things like for instance buttermilk, we have yet to have found it here, at least in our Romero’s which is Panama’s equivalent to Safeway. So we just learned how to make buttermilk, which is surprisingly simple and fast. You only need two Ingredients…
1 scant cup milk (whole, 2%, or heavy cream)
1 tablespoon lemon juice or white vinegar
Combine the milk and lemon juice. Measure 1 scant cup of milk. Stir in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar.
Let stand 5-10 minutes. Let the mixture stand at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. When it is ready, the milk will be slightly thickened and you will see small curdled bits. (This substitute will not become as thick as regular buttermilk.)……It’s that simple! Read the rest of this entry
(A side note)
My friend Caroline Chavez has told me that if I keep posting blogs about bugs and critters here, she will never come visit me….So…Caroline, sweetie, this particular post is not one for you, it’s not interesting at all, as a matter of fact , its quite boring…move along my dear… go on…don’t’ you need to make dinner now, or at least have a glass of wine?
Holy crap! The spiders here must be on steroids! Geesh! Why the heck are they so Ginormous??? And the strangest thing is, just lately they seem to be coming up the gosh darn drain in my shower! !@#$ I can’t figure out any other way that they end up crawling around in there. (I have to veer here to tell you about an odd thing that I found when we first moved into this rental house. There are two bathrooms and each of them has a shower. I noticed that inside each shower, placed over the drain in the shower, was a small piece of that green astro-turf type material. The material was cut to generously cover the drain and I wondered why it was there….now I know!) The first two that I spied scurrying around in the shower Scott very kindly and sweetly caught and took outside (anything to shut me up!) . Then another one appeared another day, just as he was leaving for work…. “Gotta Go! Ha!Ha! Have fun with that!” Says my “Sweet”? Husband as I screeeched from the bathroom! How was I going to take a shower? And….How the heck will I ever survive here… living in the tropics, where critters are abundant (and on steroids)? Read the rest of this entry
I feel like I’m running out of things to write about. When I began writing this blog the subject of making a decision to expatriate and to start a whole new life in another country was a very exciting, new and interesting thing to write about. Now that the flurry that was deciding, preparing and then actually making this move to Panama is done, I’m just living my life. It’s nearly ten months that we’ve been settling into this new life here. We’ve accomplished a lot in those ten months, for sure. After landing in Panama, making our way with our two cats to Boquete and then finding a place to live we had a very specific plan and so far we’ve been pretty successful in making our plan a reality. We wanted to create a life here and to build a home. Not just a physical ‘house’ but a ‘Home’. There are certain components to making a place a ‘home’. There is , of course the physical house where you live your day to day life but there’s also all the people that you connect with, and of course finding some sort meaning to your day to day life. For me, I’m still in that process , of finding out what that means for me….”Meaning” Hmmmmm. I’ve shared our process, the ups and the downs. And as of today, we seem to be just sort of ‘living’ our life.
Hoy es muy buen día. Me levanté a la seis en la mañana entonces preparo desayuno para Scott. Después comemos desayuno, Scott fue al trabajo. Luego me llevó a la ciudad para ir a Romero’s y Mailboxes Etc. Regresar mi casa entonces me fui a mi escuela para la práctica de conversación.
Today is a good day. I got up at six in the morning then made breakfast for Scott. After we ate breakfast Scott went to work. Then I went into town to Romero’s and Mailboxes Etc. I went back to the house and then I went to my school for conversation practice. (just in case you didn’t ‘get’ what I said! Hah! (Now you kinda, know how I feel a lot of the time! 🙂 ) I’m really beginning to feel a little improvement in how much I actually understand. But my ability to respond is not very good yet. Poco a poco! I must say, today at conversation practice the instructor was my former professora, Widad, and I felt much better attempting to speak with her than I felt when we had class together. My vocabulary needs a lot of work and just speaking in general is not even what I would call proficient, not even close! But my ability to hear and understand at least most of the words being spoken is getting so much better. It feels incredibly good to be able to get most of what’s being said to me. Even when I’m in town , out and about, I’m really beginning to get most of what’s being said to me. I think one of the most important things I can do while I’m learning is just to expose myself to Spanish as much as possible. And I’m finding that I’m becoming less and less nervous or embarrassed by my inability to speak fluently yet. I notice a huge amount of pleasure from nearly every Panamanian I come into contact with when I attempt to communicate in their language and don’t expect them to speak English. Even when a person speaks English I almost always try to speak Spanish and they’re pleased to help me. Of course I apologize for my Malo Espaniol and explain that Yo aprendo español y ahora es malo pero en la futura me hablo español muco mejor! Es muy importante para me practico mucho! When I try my best I always , without fail, get a kind response and lots of gentle help from anyone I am speaking to. Ahora, es no importante hay perfecto solo para tratar. 🙂 I know…It’s not great! But I’m getting there, and I’m not gonna be fluent for a long long time , but for only having studied Spanish for about ten months, I’m feelin’ great! Muy Feliz!!
My regular meetings with the four Panamanians that I see each week is just great for me. I know I’m supposed to be helping them learn English but I must say, I feel like I’m the one getting the help! And my Zumba class is great too because most of the other people who go to that gym are Panamanians and even the instructor speaks only Spanish! So I mostly have no idea what the heck he’s saying, what with the booming music and the wild lights and my poor, slow brain trying to get my body to do something remotely close to what everyone else is doing (Rhonda, I think of you a lot when I’m trying to get my hips to do those Salsay moves! hah!) . But I know that one of these days I’ll begin to catch on and my ears will begin to hear familiar words. Geesh! Who knows, maybe my hips will loosen up one of these days too!! Hah! All in all, I’m feeling very successful and very pleased with my progress so far….my “Language” learning progress that is….the “Hips” moving like a latina woman…..hmmmmm, that’s gonna take a miracle! :0
Sometimes…I look around and think to myself, “Did I really do this?” I think back to my life before I moved to Panama and what it used to be like and I’m just a little stunned that I’ve made such an enormous life change. I mean, Man! I actually picked up my entire life and let go of all that I had built, all that I had worked so hard to create, and I just got rid of it and walked away. Sheesh! And I did that solely because I wanted to! Not because I had to or needed to for any life shattering reasons. I didn’t leave because I hated my life. No. I made this enormous life change simply because I was ready to do something completely different and I wanted to redefine my life and to do it all a bit differently. I wanted to have a different reason to get up in the morning. I wanted to make different choices about what was important in my day to day life. I had a strong drive to discover different priorities and work towards different goals together with Scott. I had gotten what I wanted and much more from all my hard work and in my mind continuing down the same path wasn’t bringing me anything different. In many ways continuing to do the same things and not making this move to another country to start all over again, would have been a much easier route. And in many ways staying in the life I had created and ignoring my longing for something different and new would have been the hardest thing to do. I sometimes wonder what my life would be like right now if the idea to move to another country and have a big adventure together with Scott hadn’t come into my mind. I have the occasional day when that thought will pop into my head and I begin to reminisce about my day to day life ‘before’. I think about the people and the familiar walk to work ,those are two things that usually bring me a sense of longing for my past life. And other times I remember the heavy burden I felt trying to maintain that life I had worked so hard to create. Yes, I remind myself, I worked tirelessly everyday for 30 years, spending most of my waking hours trying to make enough money to afford that life. The house, which included the insurance, the PG&E, , water bill, the garbage bill, the taxes, the mortgage, the second mortgage, the pest control, maintenance,gas , just to name a few things and leaving out all the other expenses that are required to live in the states….Ugggg! The bills, soooo many bills in that mailbox everyday! The weight of all that financial responsibility was really heavy, much heavier than I could handle for much longer. It was all beginning to make me rethink what I wanted in my life. And one thing I knew I wanted more than anything was to rid myself of that feeling of sacrificing my days and a huge chunk of my ‘life’ simply to ‘have’ a house, and many other material things of which had previously been what I had wanted. I know, I may sound whiny. For the majority of people all that is just ‘life’. It’s what we all work for. And I see nothing wrong with that, after all why else do we work , if not to have a home and to create a life for ourselves and our families? But then, after seeing my daughter all grown up and heading down her own life-path Scott and I both just knew it was time for us to go down a different path.
I grew up in a small town in Northern California, called Morgan Hill. I have such fond memories of growing up in a place where I recognized most of the cars that drove by and neighbors felt like family. Then I spent the largest part of my adult life living and working in a small town called Los Altos. One of the things I just love about small town living is the Familiarity of walking around town and seeing faces that you know. I’ve been living here in Boquete for nearly 10 months now and It just occurred to me the other day when we were driving through town that I’m beginning to recognized faces that I see around town. We slowed down to let a young women cross the street and I said, oh, that’s one of the tellers from Romero’s. This isn’t the first time I’ve begun to experience that familiar feeling of recognizing faces from different places in town. I just love it when I run into someone while running errands or walking into a restaurant or driving to the bank. It’s one of the things I loved most about living and working in Los Altos. I loved being at the grocery store and running into people I knew or walking to work and having people honk and wave hello as they drove by. Some people prefer the anonymity of larger cities where they can walk around and not see one familiar face, but not this gal. There’s nothing I like more than seeing a familiar face and I’m finding as time is passing that this is happening more and more for me.
I just can’t believe it’s been nearly a year that we’ve been living in this wonderful town. Boquete is a bit different than any other small town I’ve lived in, for many reasons but mostly because it’s a place where people visit for vacation. It’s interesting to see so many backpackers and tourists with cameras taking photos of the scenery as they drive around or walk around town. Countless times I have found myself stuck behind a car that’s driving so painfully slow and then I see the camera taking a picture out the window and I smile. When I look around at the tourists visiting this gorgeous mountain town in the highlands of Panama I often say to myself, ” I LIVE here!” I still feel so fortunate every single day when I wake to the sound of the birds chirping and the wind blowing through the banana trees in my yard. And as time is flying by I’m finding myself feeling little by little like this is actually ‘home’, and not a vacation.
So…before I knew I was going to have a ‘pet drama’, I had planned to spend some time with some friends, one who was coming to visit Boquete for her vacation ,Emma, a fellow blogger who lives and works in Panama City and Kris and Joel, who live in David also came up for the day. I sent them all a text just letting them know about what was happening with Midnight, because we had planned to meet for breakfast and I wasnt sure what my morning would bring. They all got right back to me with an offer to come with me to the vet if I wanted them to. Awwwww……I was so touched that they’d offer to do such a nice thing for me. I was planning to take them up on the offer, but as it turned out, it all happened so fast I just dashed over alone. But after I was all done with everything, instead of driving back home to spend the day moping around by myself, I called them and they were eating breakfast so I went and joined them. I’m so glad I did that because we had a really great day hanging out together and it turns out, I really needed it!
First stop, a tour of “La propiedad de los Carters¨! The four wheel trek up to Jaramillo Centro to see all the progress Scott and his crew have made so far. And they were very impressed with the amazing retaining wall and the spectacular concrete foundation currently under way. Of course, who wouldn’t love to see a sparkly new retaining wall? 🙂 After getting the grand tour and chatting with Scott for a bit we said our goodbyes and were off to go for a hike at the Pipeline Trail, a wonderful hike to a small waterfall that is one of my favorites up here. Screeeeetch!!! On our way back down the hill from visiting with Scott we passed a place that I’ve been curious about for a long long time. I pass this place everyday, many times, as I bring Scott his lunch. The sign out front reads… El Explorador… this is what Lonely Planet says about it…”This private garden is located in a hilly area about 45 minutes’ walk from the town center. The gardens are designed to look like something out of Alice in Wonderland, with no shortage of quirky eye-catching displays, including fanciful suspension bridges, koi ponds and playful sculptures.” And Frommer’s says ….”One of the more curious attractions in Boquete is El Explorador gardens (tel. 720-1989), which provide visitors with splendid panoramic views enhanced by classical background music. But what’s really the attraction here are the eccentric gardens sprinkled with vernacular, artlike recycled items: old television sets, a sewing machine, boots used as planters, shopping carts, old bottles, and more. For example, there is a bush clipped to resemble a cartoonish animal, and in its mouth is a plastic doll — but what this means is anyone’s guess. The main purpose of the gardens is to offer a place for quiet reflection and “spiritual renewal.” To this end, the gardens feature signs (in Spanish only) with uplifting quotes to boost a visitor’s self-esteem. As hokey as it seems, you do leave El Explorador feeling a little better. The garden park is owned by the Miranda family, who bought this property and began decorating it according to whim until it grew into a public venue. There is a cafe here with snacks, fresh fruit juices, and coffee.” I just had to quote these publications because I couldn’t figure out where to begin to describe this place! We ended up spending our afternoon wondering around this delightful place and even got to chat with the lady who owns it and has been working on this creation for fifty years. She is such a special woman who has really embraced her passion of art and gardening. I just can’t believe I’ve driven past this place so many times! I know Kris will publish a post about it, she took tons of photos and I’ll reblog it when she publishes it. I didn’t have my camera! Shocking, I know!
We had such a good time wondering around El Explorador that when we left we didn’t have time to go do our hike. Oh well, it was off to Big Daddy’s for our lunch and our Margaritas! So Emma will just have to come back another time so we can get our hike in. She already booked her flight to come for a few more days at the start to her summer vacation in June!! She wants to do the Volcano Baru Trek, which we haven’t had the opportunity to do yet, so we have something to look forward to. Volcan Baru is the highest spot in all of Panama and I’ve read and heard from others that the view from the top of the Volcano is a spectacular sight! You can see Two oceans from up there and there’s an adventure company in town that will drive you up in a jeep at the wee hours of the morning so that you arrive at sunrise and hope for a clear morning so you can be blown away by the sight! Kris and Joel will also join us and I’m hoping Scott will be able to get some time off work, (he’s got a demanding boss you know). What a great day I had with these wonderful friends. I could have spent the day mourning and feeling sad but it turned out that even though my heart ached from losing my pet, I was comforted by a wonderful day with three friends . Life is good and Friends……They’re a GOOD THING!!! 🙂
The really ‘bad’ thing about yesterday was that I was trying to deal with a very sick little cat. As you know we brought our two cats with us from the states when we relocated to Boquete. They are litter-mates and they’re 14 years old. I know, not young guys. The transition has gone fairly smoothly for them. The worst part of the whole move for them was the actual day of the move, it was a very long and grueling day. But now we’ve been settled and they seem like their old selves, lounging about all day and running around at night doing who knows what. Taking the occasional break to jump on our bed and make sure we are awake and ready to pet them. They’ve always been very cuddly guys in the evenings when we sit down to watch a little tv. We almost always each have a cat sprawled across our laps. Many nights I’m the Cat lady, and both cats are somehow smothering me in my chair. One on the back of the chair and one on my lap. Yes, so far the cats have been just as happy as can be. But being 14 years old we expected them to start having some sort of health problems sooner than later. It turns out Midnight is the one who has started to show his age. Poor guy. He’s really sick.
I won’t go into all the symptoms, I’ll just say I suspected that his Kidneys or liver have begun to shut down. So I decided it was time to get him to a vet. Oh, boy! Where to start on my quest to find a vet? Well, I decided to ask my friend who has two dogs and a cat. Until recently they also had two cats but lost one to a very similar fate as I am currently dealing with. I’ve read various things on blogs and forums about different vets here, some good, some not so good. My friend sent me a list of all the vets , with phone numbers, locations, what language they speak and she suggested one that she likes best. Of course on the paper she forwarded to me it says..”.Right now, he’s the best of the worst vets around……ask q’s. He’s very personable and believable, just always be skeptical”…(this is a good place for an Eye Roll!) This particular vet is in David, about a 35-40 minute drive , so I loaded my poor little kitty into his crate and headed down the hill with my Google map printed out, ready to attempt to find the vet. Of course before leaving I tried the 3 phone numbers I had on the sheet my friend emailed me, but alas! none of them were right! Ugggg! After asking my friend if she might have a different number, she told me she didn’t think I would need an appointment . So off I went.
I’ve told you before about my dread of driving in strange places. I really hate it. My friend had offered to come with me but Damn it! I hate being a wimp and I really need to learn how to drive in that darn city and stop feeling so nervous about it. The best way to do that is to just do it, right! So I set off, map in hand and I , of course, did not have an easy time. Because, of course, there are no GD street signs here! I know, Get over it! Okay….So I pulled over and opened up a great app, WAZE! It really helped me navigate my way and after taking many deep breaths and trying not to be a big baby and cry….low and behold I see the sign!! WHoooHooo!! I did it! I surprised myself and felt so good! There was one other car in front of the office and I saw a lady exiting the building….I also saw a “CERRADO” sign in the window! ARGGGG! Nooooo! They can not be closed! Holy crap! I got out of the car and the lady, a very friendly gringo lady, said, “They’re closed because of Carnival!” Ohhhhh! (Trying really really hard not to let the tears start!) This lady , Edna was her name. Was so kind. She had a big black lab in her back seat and she told me there was another good vet in town and started to tell me where it was. I can only imagine how pathetic I must have looked, being a very caring and obviously intuitive woman, she stopped, mid-direction, and said,”Oh, follow me, I’ll guide you there.” Deep sigh! “Oh, really? Oh my gosh! Thank you soooo much!” And off we went weaving in and out of streets and through David to the other vet. And Dontcha know….”Cerrado!” Yep! Closed! Okayyyyy! This was obviously not meant to be, but I have to say, I’m so glad to have gotten to meet Edna! What a sweet lady. We chatted a little while standing outside the second closed vet and when I introduced myself to her she told me she has 6 dogs and she has one named Holly. Hah! It’s times like that when I’m struck by just how many truly kind and generous people there are in the world. To have a complete stranger make me feel as though she cared about my situation and take time to help me, just warms my heart to no end. I am sad to say, I neglected to get her email address or phone number, I hope I run into her again someday. She even took the time to lead me back to the highway so I could easily make my way back up to Boquete. We said our goodbyes and I continued to follow her until making it to the highway and then waved a goodbye as I drove off on my way.
So Two strikes! My friend had also mentioned a vet in Boquete who is not actually a full-fledged Vet, but a Vet Tech. I was feeling pretty desperate and decided I would just drive by here office and see if she were open. I really needed to have someone take a look at my poor little lethargic cat who had not made one little peep the entire time in the car. Mind you, Midnight would normally be meowing and howling like he were dyeing. I found the office, no problem,and she was open! Not only was she open but there were two other people waiting outside for her. I spoke with these people, who all just raved about how much they liked this vet (or vet tech). Again, I had just run in to more nice people who I got to chat with. One man with a very strong southern accent was with a young woman with a tiny white dog. And another couple a gringo man and a Panamanian women had brought their neighbors dog in because he had a broken leg. Apparently the neighbor was handicapped and couldn’t get the dog to the vet. All these people were obviously very much “Animal” people and were very concerned about caring for the animal they had brought to see this vet tech. You can see where I’m going with this post….meeting all these nice, caring , generous people made a day that I may have otherwise labeled as pretty “Bad” and turned it into a “Good” day.
The Panamanian lady with the Neighbors dog even stayed to help me communicate my cats symptoms to the vet before she left. Staying for a really long time with me to make sure I was okay. I must say, the vet tech was extremely caring and knowledgable and I felt as though Midnight were in good hands. I don’t know why I didn’t go to her right away, I guess the fact that she isn’t really a full-fledged vet, made me nervous. She told me that because he is such an old cat the prognosis was not good, which I knew. She said he was anemic and very dehydrated and she hooked him up to an IV and began to give him fluids. She recommended a prescription cat food and a supplement that she said would be good to give him. All of which she said I could buy from the pet store in town. I spent two hours in her office and she gave him an IV of fluids and it only cost me$20.00! Yea! Panama! I was not wrong about my suspicion about his organs shutting down. He is on a downward spiral and , sadly it’s just a matter of time. Sigh. I’ve never had a pet for 14 years and seeing an animal decline is heart wrenching.
So, to say I had a day mixed with both good and bad moments would be an understatement. To feel the kindness of strangers is a gift. I feel so grateful to have been the recipient of so much generosity. Also I feel so grateful to my pet loving friend who has been incredibly encouraging and just today gave me really good advice about how to know when it’s “Time”. She says when you see that your pet can no longer do the things he loves to do, thats a good indication that it may be time to step in and do the most humane thing possible. Whew, sometimes its great to just talk to someone who’s been there. All in all, yesterday, while I had a few challenges, I really had some great interactions with several caring people, and It just makes me smile to think about it.
Okay, I’m gonna share a gross thing that happened but, remember….I warned you, it’s gross! I don’t know if this is a normal thing that just happens to everyone… no matter where you live or if it’s a function of my being just an incredibly lousy housekeeper (which could quite possibly be the case!) or could it be that this occurrence was a function of living in a more humid, tropical climate? Of course there’s the possibility that this gross development occurred as a direct result of my lack of proper knowledge in the area of hand washing dishes (a domestic Goddess, I am not!) . Specifically , the maintenance and care of the hand dish washing “equipment”, the drying rack , (eye roll!) this could quite possibly be part of the reason this awful, disgusting event occurred in my kitchen! My inexperience of living without a dishwasher (I KNOW!, No Dishwasher….JEEESH!) therefore requiring me to own that darn drying rack thingy, conveniently located on the counter next to the sink . That little black drying rack sits right next to the sink at all times, just waiting for the clean, wet dishes to be stacked up there to dry. Oh how I miss my dishwasher…Sigh! Anyways, as I was saying….I had a rather traumatizing and deeply upsetting, even disgusting (you get the idea…it wasn’t good) event that has to do with my lovely new friend, the drying rack. Have I caused enough suspense? Or have I just managed to be terribly annoying and whiny? Well, that’s because I’ve been trying to give all of my sensitive readers enough time to run fast away from the screen that your reading these words on….okay, here it goes….
It happened several months ago and I’m only just now able to talk about it. As I was cleaning the kitchen , putting away all the dry dishes I casually noticed that the little black tray that sits under the drying rack to catch the dripping water off of the clean dishes was full of water. I had not really ever paid much attention to that before, just letting all that water sit there. “Hmmmm? I wonder how long that water’s been sitting there?” After emptying the rack I decided to pour that old water into the white sink and as I dumped the water I was horrified to discover that along with the water came a bunch of little, tiny black worms!!! YIKES!! UGGGGGG! BLAAAAAA!!! !@#$ EWWWWWW! Gross! Oh my gosh! And my clean dishes were just sitting above all those worms! How long has that been going on???? Well, has this ever happened to you? I just about lost my breakfast! I of course opened up the cabinet below the sink and grabbed the bleach and soaked that dish rack in Bleach! And then I had to rewash everything in the kitchen!! I gotta admit, I’m not the most fanatical clean freak but…. worms!!! Ya, that discovery really necessitated a major cleaning and sanitizing binge! Ewww! (shiver!) Needless to say, I now have a very clean drying rack that gets rinsed off and thoroughly dried after every use now. Now, that’s what I call a ‘Live & Learn’ experience! Things really seem to grow fast here, even worms! But who knows how long I had let water sit in the bottom of that drying rack! (looking up to the heavens…) Oh how I’ve learned sooooo many interesting things on this Adventure! But, I’m hoping future lessons don’t’ include worms!
As you can see, I have a few things to learn about being in charge of the house cleaning! It just may be about time for me to hire someone else to do such things! I’ve just never been destined to be a homemaker, of this I am most certain. I’m not bad at going to the market to buy groceries or working in the garden, and I can set a beautiful dinner table, I like to think of myself as a pretty good decorator too, but my cleaning skills, I will readily admit, are greatly lacking! I can fake it and tidy everything up just before someone comes over but that day to day, regular deep cleaning….ya….I’ve just never been one to spend much time stressing over that sort of thing. This fact may be a function of being a full time professional and single mother for most of my adult life. I never had the pleasure of spending all that much time at home except for after a long day at work, only to get home and figure out what to feed my daughter. And then of course, when Scott came along (when Mariah was 7 years old), we would all get home from our long day and roll right into preparing dinner. The house was a place to eat and sleep. This new Adventure has really changed all that for me. I gotta admit, I’m actually enjoying all this domestic junk that I’ve never had time or energy to do. Of course, I could use a little work on keeping the worms from growing in the kitchen, but aside from that little drama, I’m feeling pretty good these days.
I’ve always told myself that I hated cooking and cleaning and caring for the maintenance of the home. But realistically, when did I ever in my life have a lot of time to do such things? Never! I’m gonna tell you something that may shock you, if you know me at all….I’m actually doing more cooking that Scott is!!! Yes! You read that right! (eye roll!) Now, don’t misunderstand me…I did not say I was doing it “WELL”! I’ve managed to keep the guy reasonably fed, and he hasn’t even gotten sick or anything….although…..just yesterday my friend Andrea did just say..”Boy, Scott’s really lost a lot of weight!” Well…..I don’t think that has anything to do with my cooking!! (HEY! No laughing!!!) He’s just getting a lot of exercise lately! I get up every morning with him at 6:00 and I make him a nice breakfast…And then, everyday at 12:00 I four wheel it up to the property, set up two folding chairs in the shade with the cooler and bring him a nice lunch! Crazy, huh! But I’m really enjoying it! I do all the grocery shopping and come up with menu’s for the week and your not gonna believe this…I even bake him homemade peanut butter cookies all the time!! Yep!!! It’s true! This retirement thing has been a major shift in my life in countless ways! It wasn’t long ago that I was bemoaning figuring out what my new “Path” was gonna be….well, my day’s are quickly filling up and a rhythm is beginning to set in. This new rhythm is quite pleasing to me in so many ways.
Many of my fellow bloggers and expats have assured me that a day would come when I would wonder where the time was going….well, here it is! Between being in charge of keeping some semblance of order in our home life, keeping laundry done, making sure there’s food in the house, feeding Scott, attempting to keep the house at least sorta clean (eye roll!) And then being the only one of us who can run around trying to get all the banking and visa busywork done, and let’s not forget my new exercise routine (Zumba 2 times a week and soon to be working with a trainer to up my routine!) and my new English students which is a couple hours every day but Friday. Whew! I tell ya….my days really fly by! So can ya give me a little slack on my negligence with the kitchen worm farm?? No? Ya…I gotta agree, that was kinda over the top disgusting…..”What?”…. did you say I need to get a cleaning lady? I could not agree more wholeheartedly! I’ll get right on that! But first I’m committed to doing a bit of schlepping for Scott today….remember, sand, gravel, concrete? Ya, that’s today! But before I leave the house I’ll make sure that damn drying rack is clean and dry! Ugggg!
I’ve told you before about the Hydroponic lettuce place before. A lovely man named Rodrigo runs this place and I just love going there. Not only for the spectacular lettuce but also to visit his pet Toucans that live there. He has a passion for birds and especially Toucans. I counted eight but I’m not certain that’s correct. They are in a huge pen off to one side of the huge greenhouse and when I walk up to the pen they all fly up to say hello. Who knew Toucans were so friendly? Today Rodrigo was there and he chatted with me a bit and brought one of his oldest birds out to show me. The bird actually gave him a little kiss and you can see how bonded all the birds are to him. After returning the magnificent feathered friend to his home Rodrigo said (with childlike enthusiasm) “Look what I have” and walked me over to a large cardboard box that had a warm blanket draped over the top. Inside the box were four beautiful baby Parrots . He told be the name of them but I don’t remember. They were so pretty and he looked just so pleased! He is caring for them until they are a bit older and then plans to find homes for them. I am fascinated by birds but can’t imagine actually having one as a pet….animals in cages just hurt my heart a little and letting a bird fly around the house ….nope not my style! And my kitty’s would just be wayyyy tooo happy to have a nice bird dinner so I’m not a candidate for a pet bird. Rodrigo helped me with my lettuce, cutting them off for me and while he was doing that I had a question I have always wondered about. I wanted to know if it was necessary to wash his lettuce, I mean , it is grown in Water and indoors after all. I just wasn’t clear on weather or not he sprayed them with any type of chemical…I know, I’m pretty ignorant on this “hydroponic” thing. And I felt so lucky to be able to ask the guy in Charge…The answer was, ‘No, you don’t need to wash them but if you want to rinse them just to give them a little moisture that might be okay, but I don’t use any chemicals so there’s no need to wash”. Okay, I got my answer. They are just as clean as they look! I Love this place!
I’m not a teacher!! But somehow I find myself teaching English to three Panamanian women….sometimes you just gotta go with the flow. And right now, in my life, the flow seems to be… me teaching English, who’d a thunk?. I never looked for opportunities to teach English, but in my mind when something just drops in your lap, why not give it a shot? Here’s how this came about…. I’ve talked about my good friend Valerie, she and I have really developed a great friendship and we just enjoy each other’s company tremendously. I’m very sad to say that she and her husband are moving back to the states to care for her aging mother who has Alzheimer’s. My heart aches at the thought of her not being here anymore but more than anything I’m really glad she’s following her heart and doing what she feels she needs to do. So, her departure is what has opened up the opportunity for me to teach English classes. You see, Valerie has been teaching English because she inherited the opportunity from a good friend of hers who also moved back to the states. As a matter of fact my friend Aris who I meet with once a week to practice my Spanish with is another of Valerie’s former students. Aris is learning English and I’m getting a bit of Spanish practice in at the same time. Now Valerie has introduced me to Rosemary and Elisabeth, sisters, who both are very serious about learning English. I will be meeting with them two times a week at Rosemary’s home. And there’s another possible student, a trainer at the gym that I just started going to. Apparently this young man is interviewing with Copa Airlines and needs to improve his English. So I may meet him this week and hopefully start getting together with him to practice one time a week. I’m nervous about this new development, me teaching, but mostly thrilled to dive into the challenge of a new experience. It’s also a great opportunity for me to develop relationships with more Panamanians . Read the rest of this entry
My friend Valerie has told me so many times how much I would like her gym which is a much more ‘Panamanian” style setting, not that she thinks there’s anything at all wrong about mine, she just thinks I would enjoy the more social aspects of the smaller little neighborhood gym .(I don’t remember the name of the gym, but I’ll check and edit this post later.) I must admit, I’ve really enjoyed going the The Haven to rehab my ankle with the gentle swimming. The setting at the Haven is just beautiful, peaceful , relaxing and serene. It’s really luxurious and I’ve enjoyed my time there. All the staff are very friendly and the gym is sparkly clean. I had planned to check out the gym that Valerie goes to but in the back of my mind I didn’t really expect to like it as much. It’s a much smaller, casual gym with no pool and just mainly machines and a small weight room where a lot of young muscly Panamanian men work out (not a bad thing, nice scenery!) . Although I had read that they offered a nice selection of classes including Zumba. I had tried Zumba in California and whew! It was brutal! But I do really enjoy the music and the latin dance flavor of the Zumba classes, it’s really a fun way to get some exercise. So, last week when Valerie invited me to join her for a class I agreed to go and see what I thought.
I just loved it!! I loved the feeling of the gym and the people, everyone was so welcoming and friendly and it just felt so energized. The Zumba class, while a great aerobic workout, wasn’t as killer as the one I went to in the states. Don’t get me wrong, I worked up a sweat, but for some reason this instructor is much easier to follow. Maybe because it’s a man and not a young, tiny, blonde whose body does unrealistically crazy moves that my body would never in a million years be able to copy. The instructor is a fabulous dancer, of course…He’s Latin! And he just smiles and is having a good time. Most of the class is women and while not all Panamanian, I would say a large majority are . And Man Oh Man, can those ladies shake their booties! I think maybe all the strobe-lights and clapping and whooping just make me feel like I am at a party and not exercising in a gym. I can’t stop smiling the whole time the class in in session. I’ve been three times now and I think I’m hooked. My membership at the Haven is up, I only joined for three months so I think I may go ahead and join this gym now. It costs $40.00 a month and that includes all the classes. This Zumba class is two days a week Tuesday and Thursday at 8:45. Valerie also tells me that the personal trainer there is also very good and It think I’ll talk to him about helping me to set up an exercise routine to go along with my new Zumba class.
I just love how friendly this gym is. I met so many people before and after the class. Last week I think I met more people at that place in just three visits than I ever met in the three months I was going to the other place. Not that this is a bad thing, The Haven is a wonderful gym, I’m not trying to say that I didn’t like it, just that this little gym might be a little bit better for my social spirit. I do so love to make new friends and meet new people. And I just may have a new hobby….Zumba!! Whoohooo!! I sense a shopping trip in my near future..gotta get some exercise clothes! I’m so glad my ankle injury is a thing of my past because this girls gotta do some Zumba! Then maybe a little birdwatching and hiking and I’ll have to get the banking done (now that I have a bank account!) and fill up my hummingbird feeder, feed the neighbor dog, bring Scott Lunch and Hmmmmm I havent even told you about the English classes I’m teaching…to be continued, I’ll tell you all about that next time! My days are filling up quickly and a wonderful routine is beginning to set in, a routine that leaves room for spontaneity just in case someone invites me to play Mahjongg or go for a hike or maybe have a pedicure…life is good!
My new neighbor, Kat sent me an email asking if I would be interested in going on the monthly Birdwatching hike through town with her. I had read about this hike and had always wanted to do it but just hadn’t made the time yet and what better way to do it than with a new friend. We met the leaders of this hike in town , and after introductions all around with binoculars in hand set off to spy birds! (Kat was kind enough to loan me a pair of binoculars) The two women who organize this wonderful hike are very experienced and extremely knowledgable birders and I felt so fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from their vast knowledge of not only the birds but also the plants and flowers and other little animals we saw on our walk. We spotted many different varieties and species of birds and I learned so much about the sport of birding. Not only are they amazing at spotting birds just by seeing them in a tree, on a utility pole, in a clump of plants or way off in the distance but also by hearing a particular birdcall. Their sense of hearing is very attuned to all the different birdsong of all the many different birds. Another thing was their ability to describe to us newbys , just exactly where they were seeing a particular bird as we lamely tried to look with our binoculars for something they so easily spotted. “Look at that second tree, with the vines growing up the center, just a two o’clock, between the dead branch and the third section .” I was very impressed at their ability to help us spot a particular bird and they seemed so pleased when we would say ,”Got It!, I see it!” I learned that I have a lot to learn! And I need to get myself a good pair of binoculars and a bird book to help me identify what I’m seeing. I am hooked! I hope someday I’ll be able to know even just a fraction of what those two women know about the many wonderful birds here in Panama. I think Kat and I have some work to do!
The other elusive thing that I was able to get today was a Bank Account!! Yes! We got a call from the bank manager that we were to meet her at the bank at 11:00 to open our account. Whoohooo! We actually did it! After collecting all the necessary documents and waiting and waiting we went in to Soctiabank today and got it all done. Of course we first had to sit in her office for over an hour and a half while she filled out paperwork and typed tons of stuff into the computer and walked in and out of her office to get copies of more things for us to sign,and lets not forget all the stamping of papers,(they do love their stamps here!). She stressed to us the importance of our signature. Apparently banks here are extremely picky about making sure when we sign any check , our signature must match “Perfectly” with what is on our passport! So if some person at the bank decides that they don’t like how the signature looks they will not honor the check and they will charge us $20.00! So she explained that we should make sure to sign all the checks very very carefully to avoid this from happening. Okay….(eye roll!) Oh, the strange things that they find important…but, no problem, we are just glad to get that milestone taken care of. Now it will be much easier to pay for our construction project. And we are one step closer to feeling even more settled in our new home.
Last night, I tried to be in denial that I was beginning to feel a head cold coming on! I tried drinking an extra Margarita hoping the alcohol might kill off those lousy germs, (it was not an easy thing but I suffered), to no avail. I woke up this morning feeling like a head cold was eminent but I thought maybe, just maybe, if I were able to be in denial just long enough to get outside and get a bit of fresh air and a hike in, maybe I would feel better….Alas, it was not to be…I have succumbed and after bird watching and a marathon bank appointment I cancelled all my social engagements for the weekend in an effort to keep my stupid germs to myself, and went to bed! !@#$ I do sooooo hate being sick! I’m really hoping it’s not a long lasting head cold, maybe a quick one that’s just passing through? It could happen, right? Well, in spite of a yucky cold, I had a great day! A new hobby, a new friend, and a new bank account all in one day…what more could a girl ask for ? Well….possibly to not have a gosh darn cold! Humph!
I´m sure many of my friends from Los Altos are wondering what Mariah’s been up to…most of my clients were used to getting an update on that little girl every six to eight weeks for most of her life, so it’s been a long time since I’ve gotten you caught up on her life. As you’re aware, I’m sure… I’m happy to report that those nightmare teen stories are a thing of the past….Sigh of relief! Not only did we all make it through those sad, dark times, but I believe I can say that the path she chose, although extremely painful and tremendously scary for all of us who witnessed it, was instrumental in making her the strong, independent, self assured young women that she is now. It would have been nice to have taken a little less rocky path, but “Oh Well!”.
We rolled back into Boquete yesterday morning (Sunday) by 9:45ish and were on a mission to find a good breakfast and some much needed caffeine(mostly Caffeine)! We had started our morning off first thing with a stroll to the border to finish our border run. Costa Rica side first, BAM! I love the Costa Rica side…they really have it down! No problems, no politics, just fill out the little piece of paper, stand in a short line that moves along quick and BOOM, stamp in our passports and we’re on our merry way. Off to the Panama side to stamp back in….SKREEEEETCH! Then the bureaucracy begins and slow motion sets in, oh, my goodness, how my Tranquilo wanes! Why oh why Panama? Why do you have to make it so unbelievably difficult and (seemingly difficult, Cuz’ what do I know, maybe there’s a perfectly good reason for all the BS ) unnecessarily complicated to get into the country? It seems to me that Panama should be trying to encourage tourism and they would want to encourage people to cross their border…well, in my mind, (which I’m certain is not as bright as the ‘rule-makers’ in Panama) . All I know is that the requirement that each person entering Panama have a minimum of $500.00 cash on them seems a crazy thing, if only for safety reasons. They were making people actually count out the cash at the window right in front of all to see! Really!! Now, the Frontera is a very busy place, crowded, confusing, and I’m sure there are ( not so honest) eyes watching that cash and waiting for an opportunity to relieve people of their hard earned money. I saw young and old, Costa Rican, Nicaraguan, Panamanian, Indigenous, American, European….all being asked to take out the money they have on them and count it, Sheesh!! To many of those people $500.00 is a life savings! . It just seems like there could be more important requirements for coming to Panama than showing all to see that you have $500.00 CASH on you when you walk across the border. But that’s just me….what do I know? After satisfying all the different questions from the man behind the plexiglass window who really didn’t seem as though he were in any hurry to stamp our Passports, he eventually ran out of things to ask for because we are pro’s after all. Yes, we were prepared with an airline ticket out of Panama, (refundable of course!), our bank balance on a withdrawal receipt , which has worked the last two times as proof of our financial solvency, but this particular guy wanted to see the actual $500.00 cash, which I had tucked away in a money belt, so I reluctantly and not happily, brought it out and counted it for him….Grrrrr! After satisfying the guy, he finally, and very slowly stamped our passports and off we went. Good to go for another 90 days…maybe our last one? It could happen. Read the rest of this entry
Yet another border run for us…
Yes, it’s that time again! It’s amazing how fast 90 days flies by when your havin’ fun. Last time we did the border crossing at the Rio Sereno border which I really liked. Sadly, that border is not quite so easy to do a quick, one night run. It would require having a bit more time than we have at the moment. Given the fact that Scott is a full fledged ”
jefe” right now with four full time employees depending on him, we need to make this next border run a fast one. So It’s back to Paso Canoas, darn it! The good thing is that this time we know what we’re doing and already know where to stay,(Hotel Canarias), where to park our car and hopefully there wont be any new surprises. You just never really know what new and totally random requirement they may decide to throw in the mix. Our plan this time is to leave Boquete after Scott finishes working for the day on Saturday. He usually works until 4:00 but he’s planning to call it a day at around 1:00 so we can get outta town on the early side. Then, if all goes well, we will get up bright and early, and go back to the border to check back into Panama when the border opens up first thing. My fingers are crossed that it goes smoothly, let’s hope I don’t’ fall down again! (eye roll!) I’m just kidding!
(The next Day) Well, here I sit, comfortably ensconced in our hotel at the Frontera. We’ve checked out of Panama and stamped into Costa Rica and now we are happily chillin’ in the hotel for the night. Scott’s watching TV while I play on my ipad. We’re officially in no mans land here at the Frontera. The border area is a very popular place where the local Panamanians enjoy shopping. There are all sorts of stores and malls here. We haven’t done a lot of exploring because its just so darn hot! Whew! I know we’re total whimps! So after we got ourselves checked into our hotel and parked our car in their private lot we left our things in the room and set off on foot to get those stamps in our Passports. Easy breezy when you know what to do and where to go. Last time we were here it was a much different feeling, not knowing what to do or where to go was a little disorienting. This time, we’re ahem’ ‘seasoned’ border runners! 🙂 No need to be nervous, we just marched right up to the window got our stamp and went our merry way. I’m hoping the worst part of this particular border run will be stepping in a huge hunk of bubble gum which somehow jumped onto my ankle and unbelievably wrapped itself completely around my ankle!!! Geesh!! (Looking up to the sky and wondering…why meeee??LOL!)
Last time we did this we were hoping it would be out last time….well, here’s to hoping ‘this’ is the last time we have to do this. Maybe in the next 90 days we’ll have succeeded in the completion of the ‘never ending’ collecting of all the required documents for our permanent visa. For now, we’ll just enjoy our wine and our cheese and crackers that we brought for our ‘Hotel Picknic”! In the morning we’ll walk back to the Costa Rica border and check out then check back into Panama then we’re home sweet home!! Back to Boquete and the Boquete Jazz & Blues Festival!! Cant wait to sit it the fresh, cool Boquete air and listen to some good music, who knows maybe even get a little booty shakin’ in??? It could happen!! 🙂
The fun part of building a house is when you get to go shopping!!! Yipee!! I’m right, right?? Faucets, sinks, floors, light fixtures, whoooohoooo! Here we go!! We’ve been slowly researching where to purchase all these wonderful materials locally for our casita. There are plenty of places to find nice fixtures and even many brands that we recognize. For our bathroom we got Hansgrohe fixtures and a Toto toilet. We were glad to see so many familiar brand names. All of the fixtures we found at a really nice store in David called Elmec. We had already been on the Hansgrohe web sight and written down the style numbers of the things we liked, which made our shopping much easier. Dina (our saleslady) just showed us what they had on the showroom floor and then looked up other things on the computer and if they didn’t have the exact model then she found one that was comparable. Right now we are just purchasing materials for the casita and down the road we’ll go back for all the things we want for our house.
Scotiabank only needs one last thing from us in order to open our bank account and oh my goodness, I think I may have hit a little snag…They want a letter from our immigration attorney simply confirming that we have retained her services for the Pensionado application. (sounds simple..right? Well…..) I spoke with her assistant this morning, he told me that she will not do that until we have our actual Cedula (Panamanian ID) . I explained, we are not asking them to tell the bank that we have our Cedula, just that we have retained the services of an attorney to facilitate our application… He told me (sounding somewhat annoyed, I may add) that I could talk to Mayra and see what she says…Grrrrrr! It’s rather Frustrating that this one little thing could put the cabash on our ability to establish a bank account until our visa is in hand. Ug! We’ll see where this goes… Read the rest of this entry
I’ve been working on getting a bank account established here. This has been my next big project. As I’ve told you before, they make you jump through hoops to open an account. I wonder how hard they make it in the states to open an account if you aren’t a citizen? Hmmm? So I went into Scotiabank (on the advice of both our attorney and our realtor) to give Ana all the documents she requested, Two years tax returns, copies of passports and U.S. drivers license, copy of utility bill for the house we rent, copy of rental agreement, a letter of recommendation from my bank in the states just stated that we have been customers in good standing for at least two years, a letter from my attorney here in Boquete vouching for our intention to settle here in Panama, and a copy of the deed to the land we purchased…whew! I also had to fill out an application that included three panamanian references, which was pretty funny because the bank manager who I was dealing with, Ana, happened to know personally all the people who we know. Funny, it’s a small town. This was helpful because she knew how to spell their names and what their addresses were, ha! And she saw where we currently live and it turns out she’s my neighbor as well! The final thing the bank needed was to contact the bank manager in California to confirm her letter of recommendation. So I email Susan at my bank in Los Altos to give her a heads-up that she would be receiving a correspondence from Panama, hoping to make it go as smooth as possible. Good thing I did that because they contacted her via email immediately yesterday and she forwarded me her response. Looks like we should be good to go, I hope! I’ll go down to the bank on Monday and see if there’s any other information they need, but I feel pretty organized. Read the rest of this entry
I joined Facebook just before I moved to Panama. Before I moved I was never interested in becoming another obsessed person on Social media. But then I began to realize that Facebook was going to be just one more great way for me to keep my connections back in California. And I was right. It’s been so much fun to be able to see photos and read all the posts people share about their lives, as well as sharing my own special, and not so special moments with friends and family. Today I noticed something new on FB, Facebook Movies…I wasn’t sure what it was and then I started watching them and my morning has just flown by as I’ve been sitting here with tear-filled eyes watching all these little clips from peoples lives. Sigh…It’s just so sweet to see all the different moments people wanted to share with the world. Babies, flowers, cakes, soldiers, sunrises, hubbies, weddings, mountains, christmas trees, graduations, hockey games, Anniversaries, funny times, sad times, new cars, daughters, sons, Moms, Dads, Races, beaches, Births, deaths, sunsets and rainbows, just to name a few of the things that brought tears to my eyes. I have to say, I just find it so heart warming to be able to feel as though, in some small way we are all a part of one another’s lives. Between my blog, Instagram and Facebook, as well as email, Facetime , Skype, and Magic Jack, living in Panama doesn’t feel such a world away from all the people I love and care about.
Where to begin…..I had a GREAT Birthday, thank you very much! 🙂 The man who prepared all the food at the resort where we stayed made me a special lobster dinner. Of course the lobster was fresh caught that day! And a delicious cake for desert and all the other guests sang to me!! In Spanish of course!! Wow! What a great Birthday! It really pays off to tell everyone you meet ..”Hoy es mi cumpleaños!¨:) Hee!Hee! I feel so fortunate to live so near to such natural beauty and to have the freedom to explore and learn first hand, about such a colorful culture. The Kuna are just a fascinating group of people. The first thing I saw through the little window of the small airplane as we landed was two Kuna women and I inwardly gasped at their exotic beauty. The traditional clothing that they wear immediately caught my eye and I was mesmerized by the bright colors and beautiful embroidered designs. But what really stood out to me was the amazing adornment on their legs and arms. They wear these beautiful beaded things (‘Things’? ‘Adornments’?for lack of a proper word) that at first looked like leg warmers , covering their legs from ankle to knee. And on their arms from wrist to elbow. When I saw them closer I realized they were actually beads of brightly colored oranges, yellows, reds, black and green. Hand beaded in beautiful geometric designs. We noticed that the young females didn’t wear the traditional garb and our guide told us that they begin to dress in the clothing when they turn 18. They also have their hair cut short at that age and never again wear their hair long. This makes perfect sense to me given the constant wind and lack of lot’s of fresh water and also, I’m sure there’s not a hair salon to keep all that long hair trimmed up! (although this may not be their motivation, shrug!) All these Kuna women are tiny, almost childlike in stature. The traditional costume that they wear is hard to describe and I’m certain to do a terrible job in my verbal description of the beauty and charm of these women, but I’ll do my best. On a side note, before I continue my attempt to describe the female members of the Kuna I must tell you that none of the men wear any such traditional garments. They dress just like any Panamanian you would see almost anywhere. I found that kinda funny. Anyway….The first adjective that comes to mind when describing the Kuna women’s attire is ‘colorful’! They love color and design and they display it well! They wear an amazing mixture of different fabrics, textures and colors as well as patterns. The tops seem to all be made from some type of lightweight, maybe Rayon or chiffon fabric, flowing and lightweight. In beautiful floral patterns and soft geometric designs that are both feminine and bold. They have puffy sleeves that go to just above the elbow and most had scoop necks that set off the brass colored necklaces they wear along with long brass colored earrings. At the bodice this first fabric is connected to a corset-type piece that is embroidered with the traditional Mola designs, each women wears different designs and I don’t know what the significance of these designs are to the individual women, if there is a significance at all. But they are very brightly colored, hand embroidered , and intricately decorated all the way down to where the next piece of fabric begins, this next layer of color and pattern is the Sarong type skirt they all wear. And on their heads they all have a red handkerchief type scarf to tie around their short hair. They all wear the brass jewelry and some of the older women had pierced noses. I did manage to very discreetly get a photo of a women who was standing in front of me at the airport on the morning we left. ( I know “bad girl!”) They don’t like to have their photos taken so I felt kinda bad, but she didn’t see me , I promise! I just had to show those of you who have not had the pleasure of seeing them before. In addition to all this color and amazing external adornment I must add that above all I found their easy smiles to be most endearing of all. Every women I saw gave me a great big smile and a wave, I just love that! I didn’t see one unfriendly face the whole time I was there!
Well, my Birthday is Tomorrow, Jan 29th and we’re headed to San Blas for four nights. We’ve read a lot about this area of Panama, just off the Caribbean coast, and I’m so excited to finally get to explore it. Several months ago, not long after we arrived in Panama, we discovered that they have a coupon deal similar to “Groupons” in the states called Oferta Simple. We bought two coupons for a stay at a hotel on San Blas called the Dolphin Lodge. It was a great deal, half off! Then we just recently got an email letting us know that it expires on Feb 2!! Yikes!! Better go now!! So, you can imagine right now isn’t the best timing for us to go out of town, but oh well…Guess we’ll just have to suffer! Darn! But seriously, leaving three employees does pose a bit of a complication, not insurmountable of course. Scott is making sure that they have all the materials to continue working on the retaining wall and hopefully all goes well while the Jefe is away. It’s not easy to get out to the islands. Today we’re flying from David to PC, staying one night then catching a small plane out to one of the islands where we will be met by a boat that will take us to our island, there are many so I’m no sure which one we’re going to. Then we have four nights at the Dolphin Lodge where Scott will scope out the nearest hammock and remain there as long as possible! I’m looking forward to doing some snorkeling and likely a bit of hammock time as well!! Kindles are charged up, sadly my iPad is staying home because I seriously doubt there will be internet connectivity on these islands! I may suffer from withdrawal but hopefully I’ll survive! 🙂 You’ll be relieved to know that we have some very good friends who have kindly agreed to spend some time at our house with the kitties so they’ll be well cared for, not to worry! So, I’ll let you know all about this little adventure when I get back home! Following is a little excerpt I copied and pasted from Wikipedia to give you a little info on this wonderful place! Cheers! …. Read the rest of this entry
Okay, I’m in a Funk….
As Scott has begun to have a routine of his own, he works on our project from 7:30-4:00, I’m finding myself at a loss, as to what to do with myself. It’s a very strange feeling for me that no one expects me to be anywhere. I could just sit at home alone all day long and no one would even miss me. (don’t panic, I’m OKAY, really) I have no one expecting me to be or do anything at all. This is not a familiar feeling for me and I’ll admit I feel a bit lonely and kinda lost and not a little useless. Right now I don’t feel like I have a ‘purpose’ to my days. I’m enjoying going to the gym and swimming and getting exercise, but the gym is a very quite place. I’ve always been such a people person. Whew! I knew I would miss the social aspects of my salon, the people, the fun conversations about books and life and gossip and the laughing and joking and the reward I got from giving of myself to make people feel good. I know I’ll eventually find my new purpose but at the moment I’m just a bit lost, although at the same time, kinda feeling as though I need to embrace this moment and sit with it so I can process what I’m going through and move forward in a healthy way. Just writing it down feels a little bit better but I don’t like to sound like I’m so pathetic and that’s exactly what it sounds like when I read back to myself what I just said. Geesh! (eye roll!) Well, it’s honest and I think it’s one of the things you like about following my journey. I know it’s one of the things I like about sharing it, being open and revealing to you what this new beginning is truly like for me. (shrug!)
Sometimes as I’m running errands and trying to be productive I ponder how many of the things I need to get accomplished just aren’t as neat and tidy and simple and yes, convenient as I’m used to. This isn’t meant to be a complaint, simply an observation of one of the many changes of lifestyle I’ve experienced with this awesome adventure. The task of finding a way to get a simple money order was a good example of what I’m talking about. Normally, (in that other life) I would have known where I needed to go in order to get a money order, I would go there and be confident that I would be walking out with what I needed! Not quite the case for me here. Add to the fact that I not only don’t yet know how or where to acquire such a thing , but I also don’t have a strong grasp on the language and, any semblance of “convenience” just goes right out the window! Another thing as trivial as parking near a store I need to go into can often turn into a search for a place to park that’s at least reasonably near to my destination, you just don’t find big, parking lots up here in Boquete. It’s pretty much a sort of ‘free-for-all’ when it comes to finding a place to park your car. There are a couple of small parking places that are easy to park in, but mostly I park on a side street where I’ve strategically scoped out as the easiest spot to get in and out without too much trouble. I’ve long since given up on any deluded idea that I might just run a quick errand, I constantly remind myself that there’s really no reason to feel hurried, I’m not on any ‘time schedule’. So who cares if I need to walk across town! This is when that “Tranquilo” word comes in handy! And I realize, “Hey, who needs convenience right now? I’m a free bird!” I just take it all in and smile at the friendly faces and say “Bueno!” I watch my step as I stroll along to my destination and I try to adapt to the fact that I may or may not get all the things on my list, at least not today. Who know’s what I may accomplish mañana and what treasure I may find at Romero’s or at Mandarin or Deli Baru! One thing I consistently find as I make my way through town is lot’s of smiles, there’s always an abundance of those. Read the rest of this entry
Scott’s making progress up on our property…I really need to come up with a good name for our property so I can stop calling it ‘our property’…I’ll work on that ! Anyways, He now has three good laborers who are working out pretty well so far. Two are father and son, Ricardo 1 and Ricardo 2, and the other is Archiles. The father and son have worked for one of the construction companies in town and have a lot of experience. Ricardo 2 is also very skilled at welding and metal working which will come in very handy. Already he will be doing some work on making a metal door for the Bodega (shed) that they built to store bags of cement and tools. We also need a nice gate at the entrance to the property and maybe we can get him on that as well. There’s another worker who we have been introduced to who is waiting in the wings for Scott to be ready to add to his crew. This is another very experienced guy who will be very good to have around. Originally we had planned to hire a contractor to do the building of the main structures of the two houses we will be building on the property. But….now that Scott seems to be gathering such experienced men he’s rethinking this original plan and considering moving forward on his own! Yikes! Well, not really Yikes! I know he’s fully capable, I’ve just been a bit hesitant to build singlehandedly, like we did in Los Altos because of not having the knowledge of things like, where to purchase materials, building houses here is done very differently than they do it in the states, the language and possible trouble communicating, and just the general headaches that will certainly come from not having an experienced contractor in charge. I’m a bit conflicted, as you can tell, about our ability to tackle such an enormous project all on our own. Believe me, Scott’s not diving in to such a big decision, he’s weighing all the pro’s and cons very carefully before making a firm decision. This project may well go through many varied and different decisions on many levels, until we come up with a solid plan that we both feel comfortable with. But for now Scott and his little crew of three have been very productive and are getting a lot done. They got the roof on the bodega this week and only the door is left to make it a secure place to lock things up. Yesterday Scott bought all the metal necessary to make the door and Ricardo 2 will be welding it up at his house today.
As this fresh new day approaches I sit on my terrace with my coffee and just gaze at my surroundings. Ahhh… sip… smile…sip…the trees seem to sparkle right now as the sun shines down from the bright blue sky and the gentle breeze moves all the leaves two and frow. The clouds slowly moving over the hills in the not so far distance look like a soft blanket, gently caressing the hilltops. The birdsong is mesmerizing, so many different and distinct songs busy chirping and tweeting and communicating to one another in a language I wish I understood. I sit quietly observing this place, this haven, this wonderful, peaceful, place that is now my home. It’s so green, so many different shades of green and it feels to me as though life is just so natural and vibrant and free. I breath in the fresh, crisp, clean air and feel the breeze that gently blows this morning. Ahhhh….sip….Smile…What time is it? What day of the week is is? Is it January already? Does it matter? Nawww…what matters to me right now, in this moment is all this Devine beauty the colors, the sounds the feel of the breeze, the quiet, even the rooster that disturbs the quiet 🙂 It’s all just such a gift, and such a pleasure to know each morning it’s just right outside my door waiting for me to soak it all up, to take it all in and to be filled, each day with gratitude for all the richness that is my new home….. Boquete.
No, not 4 wheelin’…I wish I were spinning my wheels up there instead of traipsing around feeling like I can’t seem to accomplish anything I need to accomplish. I need to do something very simple but can’t seem to get it done. I simply need to purchase a money order or get a bank check payable to the Consulate of Panama. We need to send payment for the authentication along with our documents to the Washington DC Panamanian Consulate. I’ve been to ten different places to attempt to purchase a money order…”Necesito comprar un giro postal”. Blank looks..No can do! Even the Western Union here in town doesn’t seem to issue money orders. I thought that’s what Western Union does? (Tranquilo…deep breath…) Now, of course I can understand the banks unwillingness to help (kinda) because I have yet to have opened an account here. We are in the process of collecting all the necessary documents they require in order to open an account but the visa stuff has been the priority so far. My last resort has been to contact a friend and ask if she would be willing to meet me at her bank to purchase a money order or get a bank check. I hate to inconvenience people, but the only other option, according to the person I spoke with this morning at the Panamanian Consulate in DC is to go to the Maritime Authority in Panama City to pay. Well, That seems kinda inconvenient , that would be very costly for us to make another trip …..Grrrrrrr.
Sorry, this post is kinda whiny but that seems to be the tone of this day so far, but hey, it’s only noon so it could look up! The other stupidly frustrating thing that happened today is totally my fault..I bought a stapler the other day, so we can staple the different piles of documents together before mailing them. I bought the wrong size staples!!! Humph! So I went to Mandarin today and bought two more boxes of different size staples and….you guessed it…they also don’t fit my new stapler!! What a dummy!! So, I think I’ll just bring the darn stapler with me next time! Uggg!! Honestly, I feel like crawling back under the covers!! Nawww not really! Maybe I should go lay in the sun with the dog who looks so peaceful and cozy!
(Several hours later and all’s well!)
I told you things could quite possibly begin to look up…and I was right! My friend Sela was kind enough to meet me at her bank and arrange to get a bank check Payable to the Consulate of Panama for the amount of the Authentication (which is $30.00 per page! 8 pages!). Whew! Sigh of relief! And Scott found the right size staples to top off my day ( how easily my day is topped off!) ! We organized all the documents, put them all in a big envelope with a pre-paid, self addressed return envelope and I marched them off to Mail Boxes Etc. to be DHLed to DC. Done! And Done! Now we wait until they are returned to us and then add our FBI report to it to send it all off to PC to our attorney, and the application process will officially be in process!! Which means we can then head back to CA to prepare our container for shipping. My next big task is to get a bank account here! This would have been much easier had I had an established relationship with a bank. And now that we have employees working for us it’s of the utmost importance to get the ball rollin’.
The day just kept getting better because as you may recall Monday is the day I go to my friend Aris’s house to practice Spanish. I had the brilliant idea to walk over to the Feria with her. She also thought that was a Bueno Idea! So I met her at her house and we walked over there. Her house is just practically right next door to the fair grounds so it’s a short walk. I’m glad we went early in the day, around 3:00, because it get’s pretty crazy in the evenings. As a matter of fact I’ve been told that the music goes well past 2:00 in the morning, more like 3 or 3:30. I took a few photos of the enormous stages they have built and they turn into raging Disco’s after dark! I must admit, even though I hate crowds I’m a bit curious and may have to check it out with Aris one night this week, we shall see how brave I’m feeling…. But the Feria is also an amazing place to shop for all sorts of crafts and hand made artisan things. I saw beautiful hammocks and leather purses an jackets and boots and lot’s of woven baskets and plants for sale and hand painted things. I bought a little purse and a key holder to hang on the wall of our house someday. I really enjoyed walking around with Aris. We got an ice cream and found a nice picnic bench near the river and chatted for awhile. Amazing how a yucky day can turn out so not yucky by the end of the day. As a matter of fact…Darn right wonderful! Smiling!
That’s right! You heard me correctly, I’m a rough and tumble, 4-wheelin’ gal these days! Watch out!! Ha! Ha! Ha! When I lived in California I drove a Jeep Cherokee 4 wheel drive. But I gotta admit If I had ever had occasion or necessity to use the 4-wheel drive on that car I would not have know how to do it! I don’t think I ever shifted that car into 4wheel drive. Now I drive a Toyota FJ Cruiser and just the other day I had my first lesson on how to actually do some off road 4 wheel driving! And I had this new , exhilarating experience driving up to our property. It may sound silly to some, but to me it was such an exhilarating, experience I just have to tell you about it. I know….I do get easily excited by some of the most trivial things, but I just cant help it, It’s all so very different from my life in Los Altos. So, as you know, our property is way up in the mountains and there’s no ‘road’ yet to get up there. Well, let me re-phrase that, for Panama standards there is a “road” kinda, sorta… its actually more like a ‘path’? or a ‘clearing’? But it’s rough going and it’s not for the faint of heart at the moment. As Scott has been trudging up there with his truck for several weeks now the road (or where the ‘road’ will eventually be) is becoming much more evident, you can actually see tracks where your tires go. When we first started driving up there the plants and weeds were higher than our truck. It was very funny. My stomach was always in knots, it just didn’t seem like a place we should be attempting to drive! I was certain we would get stuck and not be able to get out again! Just certain!! Ha! (what an optimist, huh?) After we actually get to our property, after trudging through a very rough path, the ‘road’ goes downhill then hits a creek , (which already has a sort of bridge-ish thing so your not actually driving through water) and heads up pretty steeply, this part, when we were still in the rainy season was much too slick and steep for us to get Scotts truck or my FJ up there, the tires would just spin. So we were hiking up to the spot where our house will eventually be built. Of course before we could even ‘hike’ up there Scott had to first use his shiny new weed-wacker to clear the way to be able to get through the thick brush.
I must pause in my telling for a moment to reflect on the joy my husband got from owning and using his very own nifty Weed-Wacker! Eye roll here! (Smiling Eye Roll, mind you!) That guy….So easily appeased! If you’ll recall, the poor guy had been down for the count for several months before his hernia surgery and then consequently, after the surgery to be well healed. I tell ya, keeping that man down was not an easy feat! He was Stir-Crazy, and insanely unhappy about it!! So I suspect the joyous look on his face as he gassed up that weed-wacker and began to clear the brush was mainly from getting to DO something!! Anyone who knows Scott can imagine how glad he was to be weed-wacking to his hearts content, and my dear husbands heart was indeed ‘content’ as that weed-wacker buzzed and hummed its way through big tall weeds and plants. A couple of times I brought my lawn chair and set it up near the car as he worked away at clearing a path for us to climb to the top of our property. No, I was not interested in trying out his weed-wacker, thanks, but no thanks. 🙂 I wouldn’t want to steal his fun, I’m much to generous for that! 🙂
So back to my joyous experience, cuz as Scott had his joyous Weed-Wacking experience, mine was learning how to utilize the 4-wheel drive in my car. Scott was working up there last week and he had put some bags of cement in the back of my car. He called me and asked if I thought I could manage driving up there so he could get the bags out of my car. Hmmmmm….Well, I had not actually DRIVEN up to the property on that “road” (eye roll) myself and was a bit hesitant, to be honest. But I said I’d drive over and meet him there. When I got there he had driven his truck down to meet me at the bottom and offered to drive my car up so I wouldnt have to…..Well….I gotta learn someday, right? So I may as well give it a shot! So he showed me how to shift the car into low 4 wheel drive and put the gear in low as well and he said,”just follow me”. Okay……So I slowly, at first, began to drive along behind his truck on the path. “Hey…Whoa!…Uhhhh….Whoooooohoooo! THis is pretty FUNNNN!” (Great big smile here!) I couldn’t stop smiling as my trusty FJ slowly made it’s way up through the rough path to where we will someday call our home! Oh Yea! I have now made many trips up there to bring a cooler full of lunch for Scott and I. It’s nooooo Sweat! And It’s soooo fun too! I never dreamed I’d enjoy 4 wheelin’ and I especially never dreamed that I’d be 4 wheelin’ to my HOME!!! Ha!Ha! Ohhhh I just LOVE this place and this new life! Seriously, people I could not be any happier with this Adventure!
Yesterday I got a rather , ummm what word shall I use???? Harsh? Mean? Angry? Bitter? (definitely not kind), resentful? I don’t know what word to use because sometimes it can be difficult to accurately discern the true tone of someones words by email. But suffice it to say , this person who left a comment on my blog, a complete stranger I may add, had issues with my writing and the accuracy of the content of some of my posts. At least I think she meant to portray her distain (?) Possibly superiority as a result of my lack of research into certain information I had published, for example, “Boquete” does not mean” bouquet “and the Feria is not TWO WEEKS its Jan 10-19! Oh, and she knows all about allll the holidays that are observed here in Panama and feels I should also know them and blah blah blah. (maybe she was trying to help me?). I don’t rightly know what the purpose of the comment on my blog truly was, If it was to ‘help’ me, I must say that I did learn something. She’s not wrong about the importance of putting true and correct information on my blog. I do try to write about what I know but given the fact that I don’t know everything about everything, I may occasionally, and very unintentionally, write something that is inaccurate.
May I remind those of you who read my little blog… I’m not a professional writer and honestly it takes some courage to publish my words for all to read. Mostly, I began writing this as a way to stay connected with my friends and family but my readership has grown and now there are hundreds of people who follow my blog who don’t know me and many who tell me they enjoy following my journey. For the most part I’ve been very touched by the kind words I receive from complete strangers. Many of those ‘complete strangers’ have since become good friends and I have my blog to thank for these new friends. They say you have to take the good with the bad and this is something I just had firsthand experience with last night. While I agree I need to remember that putting words out for all to read brings with it a certain amount of responsibility on my part to be as truthful and honest and accurate as I possibly can. But, honestly, truth be told, I Don’t know everything and my experience will not always match those of others who have moved here long ago. I honestly do my best to write and tell you about things as accurately as I can but when I mis-speak, (because I will), I’m happy to make corrections and undo my wrong. Writing a blog, for me, is a learning experience and I’m having a great time doing it, please forgive my mistakes and if you feel the need to share how much more you know than me (which, believe me, will be ALOT!) I ask that you do so in a private email. Boy, is it embarrassing, and I think unnecessary, to get yelled at (that’s how it feels to me) in public. And I beg you to remember that I am human and I’m just sharing my experience, not attempting to sound as though I’m an expert at living abroad or that I am a scholar on all things Panama , did I forget to mention this is a NEW experience for me? As is blogging, I love talking and chatting and sharing my perspective, please don’t ruin my fun, no one’s forcing you to read the junk I write….move on to a different blog or forum or whatever you can find that will provide absolute accuracy , one that will satisfy your need for perfection or does my lack of professionalism,editorial accuracy and literary intelligence just make you feel superior? Hmmmm…..
What is the Feria De Las Flores Y De Cafe? Well, it’s my first time to be here in Boquete for this event so I can only describe what I’m seeing so far. Judging by the amount of preparation that has been going on at the Feria grounds all month and all around town as well, it’s a big deal. I’ve seen many store and restaurants repainting and hanging new signs, lot’s of general clean up going on as well. Oh, the town of Boquete is preparing for something that is obviously very big! Since the name of this glorious town actually brings to mind a “Boquete”,( but don’t be fooled it does not MEAN Boquete!) flowers are an obvious theme for a Feria! And Add to that, abundance of flowers , all the coffee fincas spread out all over the mountains here and Cafe is most definitely something to be celebrated. So I’m assuming this Nine day celebration is in honor of these most abundant, and beautiful aspects of Boquete. And have I mentioned , these Panamanians love a Party! Aside from the most amazing flower beds that seem to have bloomed, incredibly, just in time to be celebrated…I see Massive stages being built! There will most assuredly be music! And most likely lots of dancing and general merriment well into the wee mornings at the Feria Grounds. It seems as though there are many more cars in town as well as touristy looking Panamanians who I’m sure are in town to join in on the fun. l love seeing all the people strolling along the bridge with cameras , taking photos of the flower beds at the Feria grounds. It is looking quite spectacular indeed. I will let you know what all the hubbub is as soon as I take a stroll myself and check it out. I suspect it will be crowed, but the good news is, my ankle is almost totally better, so who knows, I might even shake my booty a little bit if the music is playing when I’m there! Of course Scott will run for the hills!
Many of my readers have been asking me about Scotts journey and if he’s back home. Yes, he’s back home again. I picked him up on Tuesday. Unfortunately his trip was not a successful one. He was trying to get to the Panamanian Consulate (not to be confused with the “American” Consulate here in Panama) to have all our Visa documents Authenticated (which can only be done at the Consulate, not the Embassy). There is no “Panamanian” Consulate here in Panama, only an “American” Embassy, which I’ve learned, is not the same. Let me be clear…There is most certainly an American Embassy as well as an American Consulate, what they do not have in Panama is a “Panamanian Embassy & Consulate”, which is who needs to Authenticate our documents.. Because of all the bad weather that the U.S. has been experiencing, his connecting flight was cancelled and United was sooo back logged that we couldn’t even get through to them by phone. So he never made it out of Panama City. He made the most of it though and went to the Embassy to have all the Docs notarized and now we are going to just attempt to mail it all to the Consulate with a self addressed, prepaid envelope and a money order for the Authenicating. Of course, this is also not as straight forward as one would expect! Yesterday I learned that finding a place to purchase a money order isn’t easy. I thought Western Union did that! Not here they don’t’! The lady at the counter of the Western Union looked rather confused by my request, as did the teller at Scotia Bank…HuH? And Fed ex doesn’t offer the service of a PRE PAID , envelope! What? Why is that a problem ?,…I have no idea! I finally asked the guy at Mail Boxes Etc and he said he can do that part and gave me a couple of more places to check about the money order. Sometimes things that should be just easy chores end up turning into a wild goose chase here.
So, that’s what I’ve been up to lately. Now, today is some kind of holiday (which I am not as of yet familiar with, but I’m sure this time next year I will have learned more about the holidays ) so Scott has no worker but he took off to go work alone. He has a new worker starting tomorrow. He’s slowly gathering a small crew to help with the retaining wall and then the road up to the lot. Progress is moving along slowly. And SLOWLY is just what I need to adapt to. That darn Visa will eventually get done so I’m actually, somehow, holding onto my Tranquillo and realizing that “Poco a Poco” is just my new life theme! (Smiling!) And today I get to learn how to play Mahjongg with a new friend, so life is good! I do love to learn new things, and I really like playing games and best of all , getting to know a new friend is icing on the cake of this day! I’ll be letting you know all about the “Feria de las Flores y de Cafe” as soon as I check it out for myself. Today is the first day of the Feria so I’ll try to get over there soon. Cheers!
Have you ever had to drive around a big, strange city at night, alone? If that doesn’t faze you, well I gotta salute you my friend, cuz I’m just a total wimp when faced with navigating a strange city, and add nighttime to it and Alone…. I’m tellin’ ya, I’m on the verge of tears! REALLY! I know this admission of wimpyness may have changed your vision of this wild, adventurous gal, but I gotta be honest, right? Well, I probably don’t ‘have’ to be quite so honest but , hey, it’s my blog, so I just gotta be me!
So, I’ve posted about this on FaceBook but I must expand on my evening escapades for those of you who aren’t participating in the social gathering that is… FaceBook. You see, this experience is all part of this grand adventure of mine! Learning the ins and outs of navigating a new city, and country, Literally, navigating, and sometimes, all alone, and possibly at night. I just hate driving in an unfamiliar place. I have a lousy sense of direction. Reading a map is not my forte, to put it kindly! I really suck at trying to figure out any map!! To be fair, my sense of direction is very likely effected by my panicky , nervous, frazzled mindset when faced with unfamiliar surroundings. My daughter can attest to my crazy bouts of sitting-up-really-straight-turning-off-the-radio-very-serious-face-moments while driving with me. How many times did she say…”Mommm, Chill!” With a laugh of disbelief while we tried to find an address in a neighborhood I was unfamiliar with.
Boy Oh Boy is this process of gathering all the proper documents for our residence visa a pain in the !@#. We’ve had to wait for three months to begin the process because we needed to provide three months bank statements to prove our lifetime income from the annuity we’re using to satisfy the “lifetime income” requirement. What we didn’t do that we should have done (listen up those of you who are planning to apply for this visa)…we should have gone ahead and began the collecting and Authenticating, getting documents Apostilled, notarized and blah,blah, blah long ago. Now we find ourselves in the unfortunate situation where we’re scurrying to figure out how to do all this before our FBI background check expires in a couple weeks! Yikes! I rrrrrreally don’t want to have to go through the whole crazy fingerprinting thing in Panama City all over again!!
I think one of the more frustrating aspects of this process has been getting consistent answers about what needs to be notarized, what needs to be Authenticated and where and who can do this. Oh, and I am pretty sure all these documents will also need to be translated into Spanish as well. I’ve been on the phone all morning to both the Miami and the Houston Panama consulates trying to ascertain the best way to go about getting all this done. It looks like Scott may be taking a quick trip to Houston tomorrow (sat). And the question still remains, will his FBI report become void when he leaves Panama? Again, very different answers on that one too! We finally have all the papers that we need, with the exception of one thing that we had mailed to Scott’s mom in California, and we will have to have her overnight it to whatever hotel Scott ends up staying at. I’ve met some really lucky and smart folks who have gotten all this done well before their move here and boy do I envy them. We didn’t have the luxury of that option because of the proof of income part. We couldn’t invest in our annuity until the sale of our house and then the requirement of 3 months bank statements showing the income and also a notarized letter of authentication from the institution that holds the annuity took some time as well. We’ve been dealing with a lot of back and forth with many different people trying to slowly and for the most part patiently wait for each piece of this puzzle. Now that we finally seem to actually have all the documents required to start the application process, all that’s left to do is get those stamps of Authentication and notary. Then we can hand them all to our attorney in Panama City and see what’s next. The only part I’m a bit nervous about is the FBI reports. I just hope the information we received from our attorney, (which seems to be totally different from several other people who have gone through this) about the fact that we already left Panama once after having had the background check done. Everyone else has gotten the very specific instructions to not leave the country after the background check or it becomes void. But we had to do our border run in order to have a valid drivers license.
So, we shall see where we are with this after Scott gets all the Authentication done in Houston at the Panamanian Consulate. It will be so nice when this part of our adventure is done. Having our Pensionado will make it so much nicer to live here. For those of you who aren’t regular readers of my blog, in order for our California drivers license to remain valid we are required to leave the country for 24 hours every 90 days. Humph! It’s quite a PIA! We are really hoping not to need to do it again. So cross your fingers that we have gathered all the correct documentation and it’s all properly notarized , authenticated and appostilled . Scott will be heading out tonight (sat) to take the overnight bus to Panama City(7 hours) in order to catch an early flight to Houston on Sunday . Then he’ll be at the Panama Consulate first thing Monday morning and if all goes well he flies back to Panama Tuesday evening,and then catches another bus back to David . Whew! I’ll let you know how it goes….
I think I’m going through a bit of a transition in my life at the moment. I just said goodbye to Scott for the day, as he left to go to work at our property. He has a worker now so today’s his first day of being accountable to someone who’s expecting him to be there at a certain time. I’m really glad he’s finally got someone to help him with the physical labor up there but… now I find myself feeling a bit …..Ummmm let’s seee, what word do I want to use? Disconnected? Free? Unfocused? Discombobulated might be the best word….It’s that same ol’ “Now What?” Kind of feeling. For lack of the proper description, I’m not exactly sure what my role is or how I’ll choose to define my purpose right now. Oh, I have a short list of things I need to accomplish today, go to the gym, pay our rent, make some phone calls, bring Scott lunch, clean the kitchen, fill up the hummers food, but I gotta tell you, without a routine I’m just a bit…. lost. It just occurred to me as Scott was driving down the driveway that he’s beginning to have a routine. And I have yet to actually discover what my routine will be, besides going to the gym, which I love. I have a few small goals that are tumbling around my head but I think at the moment I just need to focus on me and I gotta stop getting myself so caught up in feeling guilty about not having a clear, set routine for my days quite yet. In my head I know it’ll come. I’ve spent my whole adult life being so intensely focused, it’s so foreign to me not to have a clear path to follow. Don’t get me wrong, It’s not a crisis or a huge problem. I’m just sharing with you the fact that today I feel as though I’m in the midst of a transition. Since our move Scott and I have been kinda attached at the hip and we’ve been doing most things together. This morning I’m realizing that he’s got a new routine that isn’t mine. Whew! It’s both Freeing and unfamiliar at the same time. Well, I’m off to the Gym now…..I’ll figure this out later….or, maybe I’ll just play Words With Friends! Ha!
It’s hard to believe that it’s New Years Eve! After going to the gym, starting laundry, making Scott lunch to take up to him while he’s working on our property, boiling some more drinking water, making more hummer food ,watering the Basil plants, and cleaning the kitchen, I had a minute to stop and think about the year that’s passed as well as my hopes for the new year ahead , before I take a quick drive over to the coffee finca where we purchase our coffee beans. 2013 was a monumental year for us. For the majority of the early part of the year our focus was on this move and then starting in late May, getting ourselves settled here in our new home was our focus. This time last year we were spending a few nights in San Francisco and dreaming about what our new life in a new country would be like. It was a rather emotional time for us as well as for all our friends and family. Goodbyes, were looming in the nearby future as we were closing down our life in California to begin anew in Panama in just a few short months. We were exhausted. But we were also both full of the anticipation that comes with an adventure that’s looming nearby waiting to be embraced. Up until we actually drove off, on our way to the airport with our very unhappy cats in tow, we had a very defined plan, it was clear and fairly predictable. But after landing here, we knew everything wouldn’t be quite so straightforward. There were many unknowns, and things we just couldn’t plan for before we arrived, we would just have to get here and figure it out…. Things like.. Where would we live (minor details! ha!)? What cars would we find to buy? Would we be able to find property to buy? How will the cat’s adapt? Would we meet nice people and make new friends?(well me, not Scott, had that thought!) What will it feel like to live so far away from our families? But when I think back now on all those unknowns, I realize that’s just the way life is all the time. We may think we have a plan and that we’re in charge, but really, much of life just kinda works out the way it should, no matter how hard you may try to force it to fit into a box of your making.
Wild? Did I say Wild? Well, Ahem…wild for us! It all started with a few (yes, just a few!) grey hairs, and a haircut….then before we knew it we had made quite the rounds!This is how it all started… My friend Andrea mentioned awhile back that the guy who last cut her hair had left and she would have to find another person to cut her hair, my ears perked up…since my friend Valerie has deserted me for visiting her family for the holidays (I know, how rude!) I had no other choice…”Really?” I said to Andrea….”Well….if ya wanna….maybe you could put my color on for me and I’ll cut your hair!” She liked my Brilliant idea and today was the day!! Andrea and Don showed up and Scott and Don quickly skidaddled , soon thereafter, in search of escape from the beautifying afternoon that us girls were so gleefully looking forward to! I don’t know why they ran soooo fast, it’s not like we would’ve been able to beautify them!!! But anywhoooo, Scott took Don up to show him our property with the instructions to meet us back here at the house to go have dinner when we were done getting gorgeous!
Just as we were getting close to finishing up our beauty party Scott called and said that he and Don were at George’s Grill having a beer, “call us when your done and we’ll meet you at the BCP”. Okay…We had a little more time so I told Scott I’d call him in a bit. Andrea and Don had told us about a little event that they thought sounded fun at the BCP ,( for my friends in the States thats the Boquete Community Players, this is kind of a community center where they have plays and they hold the Tuesday Market) . They are hosting a Football night on Sundays and they have two different rooms with different games going on two big screen TV’s and then they have yummy food and drinks, today it was pulled pork which is always a great big YES for us!
Andrea and I were about as purty as we were gonna get so we called they guys to tell them we’d meet them at the BCP. Scott said, “we just ordered another beer and an appetizer,(Surprise, Surprise!) why don’t you guys come on over here then we’ll go to the BCP” That sounded just fine to us so we scooted on over to Georges, I ordered a Sangria and we just chatted a bit while we shared a nice appetizer and the guys finished their beer. Then we all hopped in our cars and headed over to have a little pulled pork…..Well…..Screeeeech! Low and behold they only had enough pulled pork for two little sandwiches sooooo the hungriest of us (I wont mention any names here) ate the two little pulled pork sandwiches and we all had a drink and decided this would be yet another little appetizer. No problem! Next up on our wild night out on the town…..Big Daddy’s for some fish tacos and Margarita’s!!!
Andrea & Don run a small B&B http://www.boqueteguesthouse.com and coincidentally their guests where also having dinner at Big Daddy’s! Such a nice young couple. They let Don & Andrea know that in the morning they were being picked up at 3:00am to go on a big 4 wheel adventure up the volcano, Voncan Baru. This is the highest point in all of Panama and we haven’t done it yet, but have heard it’s quite an amazing trip. Don & Andrea really get to meet so many great people who come to stay at their place. So, dinner was lot’s of fun. We laughed and chatted and laughed some more then decided it was time for one more place…..Yes, you guessed it….Gelato!!! Betcha didn’t know Boquete has Gelato! Yep! And its really yummy! We walked through town on a beautiful evening to top it all off with a bit of gelato! And the evening was complete! I know what your thinking…”wow! They are really wild and crazy!” We hit four different establishments in one night! And lived to tell about it! Ha!Ha! Two gorgeous women and four full tummy’s, I must say , A good time was had by all!
Our first day of working on our property. Scott began early while I was a the gym (Im working hard to strengthen my ankle). In order to begin the staging part of this project Scott’s building two pen-type things to keep the gravel and sand contained for mixing with the concrete. He began his day early by driving up there with a truckload of concrete blocks that he picked up yesterday evening, unloaded them at the top of the lot then drove back down the Ivan to pick up the next load. While he was there he decided to go ahead and let them deliver a load of blocks, (500) two loads. He picked up four loads of gravel which he unloaded himself. The delivery guys don’t have a truck that would make it to the top of our property so they dumped the blocks at the bottom, Scott loaded them into his truck then drove them to the top and unloaded them himself…he’s really gotta get ahold of some workers!
And the construction project begins with Scott’s shopping spree and a beautiful new Concrete mixer! Although there are many things yet to finalize before we actually ‘break ground’, setting the stage (so to speak) is a big job. We are currently working with our architect to finalize our design for the casita. Today we spent some time in his office going over a few changes and modifications to the plans and walking through the electrical plan the the roof line plan. I had to decide exactly where we want to have all the wall plugs and light switches as well as the actually lights we will have in each room. So we went room by room and laid out where each light fixture would be located, like canned lights, sconces, ceiling fixtures, etc. We also discussed the windows and what size and where each window would go in the house. It seems like we may be fairly well done with the plans and so when he’s finished drawing them up we will review them once more before he begins the permit phase of the project. As soon as we have a blueprint in our hands then we can begin the process of interviewing contractors.
Today( Monday,12/22) I had the best Christmas EVER! My friend Lynn invited me to help her with something really special. Last year she and her friend Brian began a new tradition of giving Christmas gifts to all the Children in the Village near her jungle lodge, Rambalita. This project began last year with a generous donation by Brian, who is a good friend of hers, and this year she was able to collect more donations from other friends and with the help of many of her good friends she successfully pulled it off again this year. A lot of work goes into this and I feel so honored to have been invited to help. Lynn put a huge amount of much love and energy into making it all happen.
Her cuidador or property manager, Javiar has a home in this village and he helps by collecting the headcount of all the children, how many niños , niñas and infants. There are 34 houses with 71 children in total, 28 girls and 43 boys. Lynn and a friend went into David and had a great time shopping for all the gifts and they also purchased a bit of food items for each house as well.
After the shopping spree she put out the word that it was time to wrap! And her good friends came with scissors in hand ready to wrap their little hearts out! According to Javier, the children here just love to receive a gift that’s wrapped. Each child got an age appropriate gift as well as a backpack type of bag filled with little goodies. Then each household got a grocery bag of food. And the moms got some pretty plastic flowers and a little gifty item and the dads got a little trinket as well. It was indeed a Feliz Navidad for all!
This was a completely new experience for me and I was overwhelmed. All the Children in the village were so precious I just wanted to hug them all. They were pretty polite, patient and grateful. Although I suspect there were those who were attempting to get more than just one gift. I tried to help handing out gifts for a little while but then it became apparent to me that there was no way for me to know if I was getting repeat customers!! So I began to repeat..”Habla con Javier” “Habla con Javier” Habla con Javier”!!! Yikes!! Javier was much more in the “know” about who had how many hermanos and hermanas ! It seemed as though there were millions of little hands tapping me on the back and on my arms and as I turned to see what they wanted those little faces just melted my heart! I had to let someone else do the handing out before I just blinding gave the same adorable face anything at all!! Did I mention…Overwhelmed!!
In the end I think everyone was happy and a Feliz Navidad was successfully had at Rambalita! As we packed up to leave many of the mothers very sweetly came up to us and took our hands and thanked us and wished us a Feliz Navidad, with smiles on their faces. All I can say is, this Holiday is officially the best one I’ve ever had! I hope I get to do this again next year and many years to come. Christmas is a time for giving and for generosity and even though they don’t know it, those families at Rambalita gave me the best Christmas gift I’ve ever received. The joy in their faces warmed my heart and made me happy as well. You just can’t wrap that and put it under a tree and I’m sure they don’t sell that at a mall. Merry Christmas to all my friends and family.
I never could have imagined this time last year that we would be so busy during our first Christmas Season here in Boquete. For the last thirty years my holidays have been so cram-packed with getting all my clients hair ready for all their holiday travels and parties and special events that I never had a ton of time or energy to think of too much else. I always managed to get our big Christmas tree up and decorated on the weekend after Thanksgiving, and I always enjoyed that all through the month. This year we don’t have any of our own belongings here yet so we opted to forego any Christmas decorating at our house. We’ve never been big on buying each other a lot of gifts and sending things to the States is not especially cost effective so the money we would normally spend on gifts we’ve decided to contribute to local causes. There are so many great organizations here and it’s deeply rewarding to feel as though we’re doing something worthwhile to help people who really have ‘need’ of so much. I must admit that this form of giving makes me feel so happy. I always wished I had more time and resources to help those who really need it ,and this year I get to do that.
Since moving to Boquete we’ve had the opportunity to take several little trips to different areas in Panama and Costa Rica. We always love seeing new places and experiencing different areas. But, I have to tell you, every single time we’re away from our new home , we’re delighted when it’s time to go home again. It’s funny how happy we are to go ‘home’! So this past two days we spent hanging out on the beach with some great new friends that we met through my blog. Dan & Janet were out visiting back in August and we all got together and went on a coffee tour and had a great time. We’ve kept in touch with them as they’ve been preparing to make their move out here to Panama. They decided to plan one more vacation out here before they make their actual move which will be early next year. But this time they invited their good friends along, Sheldon & Laurie and their two kids Amanda & Branden. They rented a house on the beach in Boca Chica and we rented a small casita nearby. For my readers who don’t live here, Boca Chica is a small beach community about 2 hours drive from Boquete. We had done a bit of driving around that area in the past but had never really spent much time there so we were happy to have the opportunity to spend more time there.
Today marks Three weeks since I took my glorious tumble and injured my poor ankle. So, aside from briefly and very gingerly hobbling through the jungle, I’ve been taking it reallllll easy. I’ve been icing and keeping my ankle elevated. I’ve been using my crutches, well, I’m down to using one crutch at the moment, but my point is, I’m getting around very carefully. Although I have a fairly good range of motion, I can’t put much weight on the ankle at the moment. So For the better part of this last three weeks I’ve been SITTING! Watching TV, reading, writing, reading some more and getting extremely bored! HUMPH! So today I joined a gym! In town there are a few gyms to choose from but I really wanted access to a swimming pool so I joined The Haven Spa. It’s a beautiful gym and the pool is just what I needed. I just have to get some exercise! Enough of this sitting business. The pool is a one person pool with a resistance thing on it (sorry for my lack of technical knowledge ). So you sign up for 45 min time slots and you have it all to yourself. I gave it my first try today and Wow! It felt so good! I’m hooked! It felt good just to move and to feel like I got a bit of exercise. I think tomorrow I may also do a bit of upper body work before I do my swim. Scott joined for one month so that he could get some exercise in before he gets started on all the work on the property. I hope I make good use of this new gym membership because I don’t have a very good track record from my past experiences of joining gyms. I’ve done it so many times in my past and I’ve just never enjoyed the atmosphere of gyms and end up not going. I must say, so far, The Haven is just that, its Heavenly! It’s peaceful, clean, serene and it doesn’t seem to be too crowded or busy. Maybe because it’s not the typical huge 24 hour Fitness filled with obsessive muscle heads who are there to be seen. Yep, I may be on to something. I’ve never been a big swimmer, I enjoy swimming but at the moment I believe it’s the very best way for me to get some exercise without doing more damage to the darn ankle. One thing I know for sure, I cant keep sitting here doing nothing! My fingers are crossed that I can get myself into a healthy routine and make this new place my second home.
I’ve written about this very special place in the past…Rambala Jungle Lodge( http://www.Rambalajunglelodge.com ) . This weekend, we were fortunate to have the opportunity to join Eric & Lynn at their beautiful lodge in the jungles of Bocas. We went specifically to lend a hand in the raising of a new cabin. Our good friends Joel & Kris were kind enough to join us on this trip and I think I can speak for all of us when I say, a good time was had by all! I have to tell you that I was tremendously relieved when we arrived to find that their grounds keeper Javier, was prepared to whisk me off to the lodge upon one of his trusty horses. As you may recall, I recently injured my ankle pretty good, and this trip had been arranged before I had my little accident. So, I had prepared myself for a very slow, very careful hike on my injured ankle with my crutches. The hike up to the lodge isn’t horrible, I figured I could make it if I just took my time and went very slowly and carefully. One thing was certain… I wasn’t willing to cancel on account of a little ankle injury! We had packed as lightly as possible because Scott was planning to schlep all our gear and the meal he had volunteered to prepare, without any help from me. On two healthy legs, under normal circumstances, the hike into the jungle lodge is not too far, maybe 20-30 minutes. But had I hobbled in on my crutches it could have been closer to an hour or so. So, as you can imagine I was relieved when we arrived at the spot where we leave our car, and there was Javier with a horse saddled up and ready to cart me in. He also had a second horse all ready to carry all our gear up to the lodge as well, wow! Scott had fully expected to carry our cooler and all our gear and was pleasantly surprised by this turn of events. I should explain that under normal circumstances, when they have guests arrive at the lodge Javier is ready to guide them to the lodge and their belongings get put on the horses. This weekend was an exception because we weren’t normal guests, we were there to work and they had given Javier his yearly vacation time off. But because we arrived on Friday at a reasonable hour, before he was to leave, he was there to help us. Lucky me!
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Geesh! You may be wondering where I’ve been, or maybe you’ve been glad to have a break from my ramblings! But for those of you who are wondering why I havent posted anything for awhile….It’s because our internet has been out of commisssion for over a week!!Grrrr! While I can post over my data plan, I can’t seem to download any photos. We spent an amazing weekend at our friends Jungle Lodge in Rambala and I have lot’s of great photos to share with you as well as all my tales of adventure! We had such a great time and as soon as our internet is back, which should be tomorrow, I’ll post my Rambala post. Until then, It’s our first Tropical Christmas and I must tell you it’s quite humorous to us to see Christmas trees on top of taxi’s and in the back of pick up trucks. Decorations in Palm trees and loads of garlands and lights dripping from the outside of the houses everywhere we drive. Why is it humorous? Well, it just doesn’t feel like Christmas to us! It’s warm and sunny and we haven’t even broken out our winter clothes, oh, I almost forgot…We don’t have any “winter” clothes!! Whaaahahahaha!!! I’m reading all about the freezing cold temperatures in different places in the states and we just made reservations to go to the beach for a couple days next week!! Yep, two weeks ago we were in the mountains in Costa Rica and this past weekend we were in the jungles on the Caribbean side of the country and next week we head to an area near, Boca Chica, about two hours from where we live, to lounge around with friends on the beach. We have friends visiting from Canada who we met a few months ago and they invited us to join them and their friends for a couple of days of fun on the beach!! As I’m writing this post Scott is contemplating what he wants to BBQ on the beach……Big smile!!! I don’t think I’ll get a tree this year, but Scott did come home the other day with a beautiful Poinsettia for me, so we have a tiny touch of the holiday’s , not to worry. Today we stopped at Romero’s ( our version of Safeway ) to pick up some groceries (me and my injured ankle waited in the car) and when Scott got back in the car he had Christmas music in his head, “They must have been playing Christmas music in there!” he said. So It is definitely Christmas here in Panama, it just doesn’t feel the same to us. Life is good(It would be even better if our internet would come back to us!), and we’re living our life to the fullest and enjoying every moment , even with a hurt ankle!! It’s amazing what one can do with crutches! Don’t worry, I’m being very careful as I limp my way through the jungle and I’ll go gingerly on the sand. Thanks for worrying about me….
At least in the Alto Lino area, the wind has really begun to seem much stronger than normal. For those of you who don’t live here in Boquete, we have two seasons, rainy and dry. Remember, this is our first full year living here so it’s all new to us. But I think we may be through with most of the “rainy” season and soon it may officially be the ‘dry’ season. The professors at our Spanish school, who are all Native Panamanians, refer to Invierno & Verano…. ‘summer & winter”. But it’s all backwards, they call November or December through March or April Summer and May through October orNovember (invierno) Winter. So in their minds Christmas is in the (Verano) Summer! Welcome to the Tropics! 🙂 It’s funny to see all the Christmas decorations going up when it’s sooo sunny and warm outside. Not that this “California girl” has ever really experienced a REAL winter, but this is even more sunny and pretty than Ca would be in December.
I think its safe to say that building a house is a pretty big project. We’ve done it before but not quite like this! Last time, although it was a very big project for us at the time, it doesn’t even begin to compare to what we are preparing to do here. Not that we’re planning to build a great big, fancy house , but here in Panama there’s just so many things to consider, from actual building materials to labor laws, the installation of actual infrastructure (water & electricity), dealing with a different language and even getting a bank account established, we have so much to investigate and research not to mention tons of questions to ask (often in Spanish!). Our house building project in the States was a totally different experience but it has prepared us for many of the aspects of building and designing a home. I suspect much of the process will be familiar to us but much is already proving to be very new and different.
November 28 marked our sixth months living here in Boquete, Panama. I don’t know how six months flew by so quickly but I can only say, we were definitely having fun! Which would explain it! Now we’ve entered into our first holiday season living in another country. And I find myself thinking , “what were we doing this time last year?”. Well, this time last year we seemed to be experiencing an emotional whirlwind. We were in the midst of many “lasts”. And this year we’re in the midst of many “firsts”. I must admit, the “firsts” are way more fun.
One thing that Scott and I really have agreed upon since we’ve been here is to let go of big expectations about many things. And the holidays are one of those things we’ve really ‘let go’ of. This has been a period of time for us to reestablish ourselves in a completely new place. We’ve had much to adapt to and have done so with as much care and ease as we can muster. As far as Christmas goes, we don’t yet know what that will look like for us. We may or may not find a tree to decorate, that would mean buying some decorations, given the fact that we haven’t shipped our belongings out here quite yet. I’m not sure I’m up for buying more things that I already have, we’ll see about that. We’re in the very beginning of redefining this new life of ours and that means new traditions too.
There is a possibility that our trip to the states to facilitate the packing of our container may coincide with the Christmas holiday. We wont know for a week or so, but we’re very close to having all our necessary documentation ready to hand over to our attorney and begin the process of getting our permanent visa. Once that’s all in process and we get our mulit-entry visa, we will be able to head back for a week or so and oversee the packing of our container to be shipped out here. This pending trip also has us very limited as far as our plans for the holidays here. We should have a more clear handle on this soon, which will be nice to know. Good thing we don’t have any big expectations for our first Christmas in Panama.
I’ve seen a couple of cars with big Christmas trees tied on top and today I saw a photo of our friends in California cutting down their tree in the Santa Cruz Mountains. These familiar sightings give me small pangs of “ahhhh, that looks fun”, but then I remember that, this year, at least we just aren’t quite ready to go along as normal. I already have two invitations here to attend some holiday gatherings and I look forward to those events. This community here in Boquete is quite welcoming and we already feel so much a “part” of this new place we now call Home. And I’m also looking forward to visiting California and spending time with those that we love. In spite of not quite having our new holiday traditions ready to begin, I know each and every day we find so much to be grateful for . Even without a traditional Christmas tree in our house we can celebrate what the holidays are truly about, which I believe is looking around at the PEOPLE who are so very special and feeling gratitude for each person we love and are loved by.
Dia de Gracias! Many people from home have asked if we cooked a turkey for our first Panama Thanksgiving and the answer is, nope, but our friends did… and boy was it delicious! We had a great meal, great food, wonderful company and went home feeling quite full and satisfied. And the weekend has just been non stop fun because our friends Kris & Joel, who live in David (about 40 minutes away), are spending a couple nights with us so that they can also enjoy all the festivities that are going on in town. They were originally planning to take the bus up to Boquete for the day because the traffic getting up here for this Panamanian holiday is supposed to be just terrible. When Kris told me about their plans I suggested they just stay with us for a couple nights and join us for Thanksgiving , then on Saturday they’ll already be up here and wont have to deal with all the traffic. So it’s been lot’s of fun having company, especially given the fact that I’m not able to get out and about at the moment.
(a few hours later & a couple bottles of wine…) We had a spontaneous gathering with Valerie & Mark while Kris & Joel are here! Wow! We just had such a great evening , eating some amazing food and drinking some good wine, enjoying the warmth of the fire in the fireplace on the outside patio and getting lot’s of laughter in! I just can’t think of a better way to spend the day after Thanksgiving than to spend it with four great new friends! We had so much fun telling the stories of how each couple originally met and talking about so many different subjects that I can’t even begin to remember all that we talked about. This time last year I remember wondering if we would have anyone to spend Thanksgiving with…Hah! Well, not only did we have such a great gathering at Andrea & Don’s yesterday, but then this evening was just the cherry on top of an already amazing start to the holidays! To say that I’m feeling “Thankful” right now is an understatement. I love my life! And I’m giving Thanks for all that I have! Cheers!