Home is where the heart is…Home sweet home. Well , gosh, I can’t help it, this is what’s been on my mind these days Ya see, lately it’s becoming more and more evident to me that expat communities are very transient communities. People seem to come and go quite frequently, at least here in our quaint little town of Boquete this seems to be the case. And this truth has never been more evident to me as it has been recently! The obvious reason for this realization is because there seems to be a huge amount of people who once loved living here as much as I do, and who are now moving away. Sigh… A mass exodus seems to be underway these days ( of course, I’m kinda over-exaggerating). Its both kinda sad and exciting at the same time. Sad to say goodbye to so many amazing people but its also exciting to watch them set off on new adventures. But…sigh…I will miss them. Read the rest of this entry
We did it! We adopted a dog! And not just any ol’ dog (not that there is such a thing!) but we think she’s pretty special. Her name is Ruffy, which is short for “Lady Rufina”. I know what your thinking..”I thought she said there was a ‘heart to heart’ about this and they decided the timing was all wrong for a puppy?” And, well, Ahem…you would not be wrong about that recollection. But, shrug, ya know sometimes life just happens. Although, we didn’t get a puppy, we got a very well trained five year old dog who is just right for us and fits into our life like she’s always been here. Read the rest of this entry
Read the rest of this entry
What? How the heck did two years buzz by so fast?? Sheesh! Tomorrow , May 29th it’ll be two years ago that we got on that plane with four bags and two unhappy cats headed to a new life in Panama. I just cant believe we’ve been living here in Boquete for two years already. Its funny, in some ways it feels as though we’ve always been here and then in other ways it seems like we just got here!
And the construction continues at the Carter propiedad! Before our vacation we liquidated all our workers. Which means that we paid them all the required vacation and decimo pay and basically laid them all off. Scott let them know that they could resume work on the first Monday of our return if they wanted to. But, we didn’t know for sure if they would still want to come back to work for us because we couldn’t assume that they wouldn’t go find different work for the three weeks we were gone. So I drove down to pick them up at our regular meeting spot at 7:15 on Monday moring (right at the end of the bridge in town) and….Gulp, no one came! I was sad, I kinda thought in my head that they all really, really liked working for us and that “of course” they’d all be back! The two indigenous guys , Federico and Arquiles both showed up at the job site ready to resume work but no one else on Monday. So Scott very calmly said to me, “No problem, Shrug, we’ll just move on to Plan B”….Gotta love a guy who is calm and adaptable! That vacation really renewed his “Tranquilo”! hah! So Plan B in his mind meant that we would just let the main house sit on the back burner until the next dry season and for now if none of our crew aside from the two guys showed back up we would refocus on finishing up all the details on the casita. There’s still quite a bit to finish up like cabinetry, soffits, all the outside hardscaping, walkways , steps, exterior painting, stone work on retaining walls, just to name a few things. Read the rest of this entry
Eighteen days, Six cities, Planes, Trains, taxis, boats, busses and hiking around more ancient Incan ruins than you can shake a stick at (whatever that means!)….. Luana and I both agree that the Peruvians have no lack of huge old rocks in this country, that’s for sure! hah! But, that being said, we’re all just totally “Awestruck” by Machu Picchu… how could anyone not be? It’s simply magnificent! And Lake Titicaca blew us away as well….I was stunned by the floating reed islands and the life they live there! We all loved the town of Ollantaytambo, our first stop on this adventure. Its one of the few places where the people are still living in an original Incan city! The narrow cobbled streets, walls and many of the houses are original and we marveled at the history that was still alive there. This Foursome feels as though we’ve really “SEEN” Peru! Read the rest of this entry
Day Six: A Character-Building Experience
Today’s Prompt: Who’s the most interesting person (or people) you’ve met this year?
Our stories are inevitably linked to the people around us. We are social creatures: from the family members and friends who’ve known us since childhood, to the coworkers, service providers, and strangers who populate our world (and, at times, leave an unexpected mark on us). Read the rest of this entry
We’re enjoying our first house guest here in our little casita. Emma is on her spring break from teaching in Panama City. She flew into David on Sunday morning and I drove down to pick her up. This is the first time we’ve hosted anyone in our new casita. I’m glad its Emma because she’s so low maintenance and doesn’t mind that we’re still kinda roughing it up here. We don’t’ have a guest room in the casita so it’s the air mattress on the living room floor for her. And we also don’t have any interior doors yet which means you must actually say the word, “SLAM!” when you shut the shower curtain that we have as our bathroom door! hah! And then there’s the no electricity thing…well, we have electricity but its coming from that good ol’ generator still. So, Scott has to go out at night and turn it off and then he has to get out there in the morning to start it up again. And heaven forbid the generator should run out of gas in the middle of watching a movie or cooking dinner…ugh! All this hasn’t seemed to faze our first houseguest. She’s lived in Panama for nearly four years so she’s been thoroughly desensitized to things being ‘not-quite-right’ all the time. Read the rest of this entry
Sigh…this is what my daughter said to me in a text last night, “I wish you were here.”. Gulp. Those are hard words for mom to hear from so far away. Especially when I know she’s having a particularly difficult day and really just wants to connect with her mom. Its times like this when I wonder, “Am I a terrible mom for moving so far away?”…Most of the time my daughters life is so fast paced and busy she doesn’t have time to think about me or miss me much, which is as it should be. This dynamic between the two of us was the same when we lived nearby, so its not completely a function of my living in Central America. When we lived near each other I wouldn’t hear from her for weeks on end and I’d be sad that we didn’t spend more time together. Kids grow up and go their own way, which is what’s supposed to happen. But the hardest thing is not having the ability to spontaneously drop by to get a hug every once in a blue moon when we need it. Read the rest of this entry
We’ve been living in our new casita since January 8th. We actually began working up here February of 2014. The first project that Scott tackled was to build retaining walls and drains. With the crazy rains that we get here we realized that the first thing we needed to address was drainage and so that was the very first step in our project. So here we are, a year into our project and boy, when I look around at all the work that’s been done up here It is really quite remarkable. In only a year we’ve already put in most of the infrastructure, water, gas, electricity is nearly done, built two structures and are starting the final one, the main house. Read the rest of this entry
I have no internet and now no 3G!!! Ugh! Is this what this day is gonna be like? Well, that’s just rude! I was ready to enjoy a day of perusing the internet and chatting with my mom, but it looks like I’m going to figure out how to entertain myself with just me. No problema! I got this… let’s see… I’m on “Bombero” watch duty. Someone has to man the house just in case they actually show up to do our final (hopefully final) inspection for our gas permit. This morning Scott has to meet one of our neighbors to go for a hike up to our main water source again. They need to check again what’s going on up there. Read the rest of this entry
I think we’re having one! This morning started out with me standing at the BBQ with my freshly made batch of home made pancake batter and my griddle ready to go with a little dollop of butter ready to melt. The kettle of water was just about to boil to get that delicious pot of Boquete coffee brewing. I turned the nob of the BBQ to fire up my burners and ….sputter, sputter, sputter went the last little bit of propane! Ugh! Nooooooo! Empty! Pfffft! Not to worry, I know we have a full tank somewhere around here. Scott hears my dilemma and puts on his Teva’s and his headlamp, because it’s still dark outside, and heads up the hill to his workshop. I wonder why the heck the extra tank isn’t here close to the BBQ, but now’s not the time to question his bad planning. Crisis diverted when he gets me hooked up and fires up my grill so I can cook some pancakes and finish boiling the water for that much needed coffee. Ahhhhhhh….let the day begin. Read the rest of this entry
We had to take a little three day jaunt to Panama City to take care of our final application process for our Cedula. We took a 5:30 flight on Saturday and just got home last night, Tuesday. Getting a Cedula is not required to be a resident in Panama but its just a good thing to do. As I understand it, the Cedula is sort of like a Social Security card in the States. You are assigned a permanent ID number that never changes. This is important because having a Cedula takes you out of the immigration department completely. When you have a Cedula you no longer have to go through the immigration line at the airport, you are actually a legal Panamanian resident. Our attorney told us we can now put our passports away, we only ever need our Cedula as ID now. Another little detail that makes having a Cedula so good is that many legal documents here like car registration and your drivers license are linked to your Passport number which will change when it expires and you get a new passport. The changing number of your passport is just a hassle because you then have to go through the process of changing all the things that had that old number on them. Once you use your Cedula number for your ID you never have to worry about changing anything, this, in my opinion, was worth one more trip to the city and one more visit to a government office with our attorney. Plus it only cost us $65.00 each and $150.00 for our attorney. Well, I guess you could say that it also cost us a trip to the city but we combined the trip with shopping for things for the main house that we are now beginning to build.
Read the rest of this entry
Its not a good day. We’ve decided to just pay the $3,000.00 to the lady who’s car was damaged by our former employee back in July. Instead of pursuing the young man who is legally responsible for at least half of the damage. We know that there will never be any way he would be able to make that kind of money , and we just want to put it behind us and move forward.Ugh! Scott is beyond unhappy about such an injustice. The employee had assured us that he would take care of her damages so we had hoped to only have the repair of our car to have to pay for. Nope. He did nothing. For being honest, trusting people we are rewarded by paying his debt and feeling punished by his wrongdoing. Sigh… Sometimes I wonder about people. And I wonder if he realizes how we have been affected by his stupidity. The time and energy and now money that his bad decision has cost us is just really frustrating. Read the rest of this entry
I wake up everyday feeling so happy to look out the window from my bed and see nothing but the sky and trees. It’s such a peaceful place. Well, especially now that the Flower and Cafe Festival has ended…whew! For the last ten days we’ve heard the sounds of so much revelry going on in the pueblo. Music until 4 or 5 in the morning. All night long! And what sounded like hordes of people . And the fireworks various times of the night and early morning. Oh, the Panamanians love to party! Let me tell ya! The nice thing about the wild parties is that it’s just good fun. You really never hear of any violence or muggings , no , they just have a good time with no need for any of that nonsense. Well, with the exception of the Indigenous men! They love to fight. Its common to see Indian men in town with beaten and sometimes bloody faces. I was in a store on Saturday morning , getting beer for Scott, and I was standing in line behind and Indian guy who looked like he’d been in a pretty good brawl. His face was bloody and his hands as well. But I’ll be damned that guy looked as happy as could be, he was all smiles. Of course I’m pretty sure he was still pretty toasted too! Hah! I just have to laugh to myself. To each his own I guess! I don’t really understand why you’d find getting your face beat to a pulp a fun pastime, but that’s just me. Hah! Read the rest of this entry
I wrote about this on my Facebook timeline today (yesterday) but I know many of you don’t do Facebook so I thought I’d share it here. This morning (yesterday morning) , bright and early I had to take Martin, one of our indigenous workers, to the Seguro office to sign some paperwork for his Social security. And, on a side note before I get to the story I was planning to tell you, this young man is 20 years old and has a very young wife who is expecting their first baby, so getting on social security for the first time in his life could not come at a better time for he and his new family. Martin moved to Boquete, like many of the indigenous, in order to find work to support him an his new bride and growing family. Before he began working for us we had seen him around the neighborhood doing other menial labor for other neighbors. He had walked up to our job site on one other occasion to ask if we had work for him but at that time we didn’t. Then about a month or so ago he came by again ,(very persistent, gotta respect that!), to see if we had work for him and this time Scott hired him. Read the rest of this entry
We’re getting closer and closer with each passing week to moving into our new casita. I have to admit, I’m really really looking forward to having a place of our own. Even though we’ve had really nice places to live in this last year and a half its just going to be so wonderful to have all our stuff with us. Since our container arrived we’ve been slowly sorting through all our boxes. We’ve been deciding what we’ll bring with us when we move into the casita and what we’ll keep in storage until our main house is finished. Getting ready for our Thanksgiving this year we really felt frustrated by the reality that all our things are kinda scattered hither and thither. We have some things here with us where we are currently living, we have a few boxes here. And we have things in two different storage units. And finding certain things that Scott needed for cooking was a huge pain. Yep, having our own place where we can finally unpack is going to be so nice. But, we still have a lot of work yet to do… Read the rest of this entry
Decorations have sprouted everywhere we go. The Western world is not alone in the mass consumption of goods purchased on “Black Friday”. Nope, you should have seen the crowds at our little mall in David on that day! The Panamanians were out in force ready to save big on all the sales in the stores. We made the mistake of going to David to get a few things done before the weekend. We had to pick up some lights that Scott had ordered for his workshop so Lumicentro was our big stop. There wasn’t even any parking in the lot, we lucked out and found a spot on the side of the road. This ‘mall’ is normally busy but not like this! You could barely walk for all the crowds! There were police out in force and people standing in long lines inside all the stores. Not only inside the stores but also outside the stores there were families waiting with large appliances, washers, huge big screen TV’s, and all sorts of purchases. It was seriously a madhouse! So we got our lights and high-tailed it outta there as fast as we could. That was a lesson learned, next year on ‘Black Friday’ you won’t find us anywhere near David and especially not anywhere near any stores! Ugh! We really hate crowds! That was equivalent to Valley Fair on Black Friday…quite possibly even worse! Read the rest of this entry
Can I Be Honest? This is not about being an expat, its about being a woman….
Can I be honest? Well, of course I CAN…but do I really want to? Everyone always loves to know the truth. Everyone always appreciates knowing what’s really going on, deep down. There’s something very appealing to us all when someone shares the raw, honest truth in life. Well, today, on this kinda gray, cloudy, windy morning, I’m feeling kinda blue. To be honest, this feeling has been brewing for a little while now. Just simmering inside, as I’ve been quietly trying to process exactly what is going on for me. I can’t say that I’m totally convinced that It’s just ‘one’ specific thing making me feel a little unsettled lately. I’m nearly 49 years old and entering into that time in a woman’s life when hormones are playing havoc with my head, emotions are crazy and ….who’s body is this anyways? I mean, sheesh! I look in the mirror and try to be calm about all these changes but, come on! Wasn’t it enough to have gone through adolescence….now I have to go through menopause!!! Crap! I hope you don’t find this post to be whiny, or annoying…but , if you do… well, then just stop reading right about NOW….cuz’ I’ve only just begun! Hah! Read the rest of this entry
We went away for the weekend with our friends Bond & Luana and what a great time we had. Although, we all four agreed that just about everyday is great, even at home in Boquete. One big thing we have in common with Bond & Luana is the genuine pleasure we feel everyday, with our choice to live here in Boquete. So, going away for a little mini vacation is just that much more wonderful for the fact that we really weren’t ‘getting away’ from or ’taking a break’ from anything so tiresome or stressful. Of course, Scott may beg to differ! Hah! He really needed a break from our crazy project! And I happened to know that he thoroughly enjoyed every moment of our weekend away. We went to a newish resort in Boca Chica called Isla Palenque. It has only been opened for about a year and a half and we had all read about it and were looking forward to experiencing it for ourselves. We bought an Oferta Simple coupon for half off , for two nights. Boca Chica is not too far away from Boquete, only about an hour and a half drive. Read the rest of this entry
I’m up at the job site everyday at lunchtime. I love to walk a round and see what’s new from the day before and what they are working on that day. It’s usually a flurry of action. Guys working on so many different things, my head sometimes spins wondering how Scott keeps a handle on all the projects that are going on all at the same time. Richie and Ricardo have been installng the gutters and Javier and Federico have been working on the repello inside, while Arquiles and Leo were working on the septic system down the hill from the casita and edgar was assisting them.
Wow! A year has already gone by! How the heck did that happen? I have no idea, but it’s certainly been a wild ride!. It’s funny how the year ‘before’ our move seemed to drag on and on, but our first year living here in Boquete seems to have flown by like the blink of any eye. Anniversaries are usually a good time to reflect on many things about the previous year and the experiences that we had. I’ve tried to share the good, as well as the not so good or especially challenging parts of my first year of adjusting to living in another country and adapting to a totally different life. I’ve shared my story and my own personal perspective on my expat experience. We’ve accomplished a lot in the first year of our new adventure. We’ve managed to create a new life here that suits us and is making us very happy. Building a new life takes a lot of time and energy and the great news is, we have all the time in the world! We’re in no hurry and our adventure is moving along at a pace that suits us just fine.
Today when I went to Rosemary’s house for our language class we talked about the Easter holiday which is upon us. I must admit I had not even really thought much about the fact that it’s a holiday weekend. Our workers do have two paid days off, Friday and Saturday so Scott will also have a couple days to take it easy. Because of this fact we decided to take advantage of the time off and made plans to go to Boca Chica for one night. Rosemary was telling me that she and her family have given up eating Chicken and Beef for Lent. Not being an especially religious person myself, I’ve of course never participated in this observation and I am very interested in learning how they celebrate this Holy Week here in Panama. It is a very important week for this Catholic country and there are many processions and gatherings to celebrate as a community. It’s during holidays here that I really enjoy observing how all the town comes together to put on huge displays that they seem to all enjoy with great gusto. Rosemary tells me that for three nights they have a long procession that marches all throughout the town and either begins or ends with a service at the church (remember she is telling me all this in Spanish and I’m doing my best to understand but I’m sure I’ve gotten some of the details totally wrong, forgive me for those of you who know all about this holiday). I would love to see this and I may try to go into town on Friday night to see if there is anything going on. Here is where my total ignorance comes out…remember, this is my first year living here so I’m still learning! I had to ask if they had the Easter Bunny and Easter Egg hunts and she shook her head and laughed ,”Noooo! ” “No Bunny!” hah! okay….I had to ask, feeling a little dumb. But now I know! That may be why It hasn’t really occurred to me that it’s actually Easter time, I haven’t seen any Easter egg dies for sale at Romero’s and come to think of it….not one easter basket either. Hmmmm….Okay. Got it! So it’s strictly a religious holiday, as I’m pretty sure it was originally meant to be. As many of the new customs I’m learning about this year, it’s refreshing that it’s not as commercialized as it is in the States. It’s very personal and it brings the entire community together as a big family to observe something that’s holy and a tradition all of the town gathers to participate in. We, heathens will be relaxing in a kayak exploring the coastal town of Boca Chica and likely enjoying a refreshing cocktail. If we happen upon an Easter egg hunt I’ll probably join in, but I suspect that isn’t the most likely thing we’ll see this weekend!
Life….sigh….it’s times like this when I’m in the midst of the end of a living creatures life that I can only sit with it, ( literally ) and consider what it means to me. Our poor little kitty lasted through the night. When we went to bed, I laid him at the foot of our bed where he always loved to sleep, for the last night together. I decided I would call the vet around 8:00 in the morning to see if I could bring him there to have him euthanized….Gulp. He was no longer able to walk, use the litter box and was not eating or drinking anymore. Witnessing the decline of an animal who you’ve lived with and cared for for 14 years is agonizing. An experience I have not had until now. After calling the vet and hearing her say, “Ahora”, (now) I felt a rush of relief to end his suffering and quickly loaded him into his crate to do what I felt was the most humane thing to do for him.
Fast forward, because I will save you the details of the visit to the vet. Although, I must tell you about a little puppy that I had seen on Monday when I was there. This puppy was so sick, near death on Monday. He was hooked up to an IV, laying in the crate, motionless, and the vet did not have high hopes for him. This morning when I showed up, that same Siberian Husky puppy was running around the yard looking as chipper as could be. He ran right up to me and stood right by my legs during the procedure making me smile every time I looked down at his adorable , happy face. What a little angel, I really needed that puppy and he somehow seemed to know that. Sigh. And one more thing..the vet did not want to charge me…so sweet! I of course insisted and gave her $20.00. She was gentle, caring and very professional.
Entonce (then), I called Scott and told him I was on my way up to the property. We had decided we would bury our sweet kitty in a peaceful spot up on our property so he’ll always be with us. Here’s where I fall in love with my husband even more than I ever thought I could. When I got up there I saw Scott grab a shovel and wait for me to get out of the car. We walked to the spot, a lovely, peaceful , shady spot that is the point where two peaceful creeks meet, under a bunch of trees. He began to dig the grave as I stood there, tears slowly falling down my face. As the hole began to get deeper I looked at Scott and he had tears falling down his face as he was digging….Sigh, Oh how I adore that man! We buried Midnight with much love and will always remember him with fondess. Even though he sometimes liked to bite us and often scratched things that we specifically asked him not to scratch, and don’t even get me started about how unfriendly he was when we had company over, he really only liked me and Scott,(Shrug, the cat had good taste, what can I say!)….And Pat will remember how much he liked to sit on the couch with her when she lived with us. Midnight just loved to torment Molly the dog and jump out at her when she least expected it. We lovingly called him our “Face-kitty” because he just loved to nuzzle up to our face and to be kissed right on his forehead and don’t’ even get me started about how much that silly cat loved my hair, while I was sleeping! Uggggg! Yes, he will be in our memories forevermore. We miss him already and so does Copper, his brother. Having a pet is a huge responsibility as well as a great honor. Animals love us unconditionally and with such abandon they add such joy and fullness to our lives. I’m so glad to have been blessed to have loved Midnight in spite of having also had to feel the painful sting of losing him. It’s hard, but it’s also a good time to celebrate my lovely pet who lived with us and who gave us so much pleasure and made our house feel like home.
When we were staying at Villa Marita, we would occasionally walk into town for our Spanish classes and on our way we would pass a construction site, a beautiful house that was being built. The construction workers were some of the first Panamanians who made us feel so welcomed here. They never failed to say Buenos Dias to us as we walked by, many of the men pausing to wave to us. On a couple of occasions one of the workers even attempted to chat with us, sadly,we weren’t yet able to comprehend what was being said to us. We admired the design of the house and we still continue to take great pleasure in watching the progress everyday as we passed by. I remember thinking that we ought to find out who the contractor is for our future house project. So here’s the funny part of this story, (no it’s not just about us admiring a new house and making friends with the constructions workers!) Last week I introduced myself to Terry, I had seen Terry and Manzar in town on several occasions and I knew I wanted to meet them and add them to my list of new friends. And come to find out….That beautiful new house is theirs! Sometimes I marvel at what a small town this is.
Terry and Manzar are, in the throws of making their dream come true here in Boquete. They began planning and dreaming about opening a B&B here about five years ago when they discovered this area and fell in love with the beauty that they saw. Long story short, they purchased land and began building a beautiful house about 1 1/2 years ago. The house is nearing completion and they are getting very excited. When I met Terry he was so friendly and told me that he and Manzar would love to get together sometime, I , of course thought that was a fantastic idea! After emailing him the next day, he asked if we would like to meet them at the house because they were going to be there waiting for all the appliances to be delivered. We of course, were very excited to get the grand tour and see the inside of the house we had been admiring for so long. Given the fact that we will be building a house down the road (not down the road from their house, down the road as in… soon ),we’re always so curious to hear about the experiences other people have.
I really should have taken more pictures but I’m sure I will have an opportunity to do that down the road when it’s all done. For now I gotta tell ya, It’s magnificent! The house has a very grand entrance with high ceilings and the office is located right off the entrance which will be perfect when they have guests arriving . They have so many great , creative plans and I just loved hearing about the little details that will make this place so special. There is one guest room on the main floor as well as their private area and four guest rooms on the upper level, all with spectacular views and private bathrooms, flatscreen tv’s and most have a private balcony as well. They have chosen really fun, warm and artistic colors for the interior of the house , which I think makes it really feel homey. On the main floor of the house they have a huge kitchen which has professional grade appliances and I just can’t wait to see it when it’s done. The kitchen will be the heartbeat of the B&B , and I can just imagine Manzar & Terry in there cooking and chatting with their guests . Just outside the kitchen is a huge covered patio with beautiful tiled floors and a gigantic fireplace. Terry told me they plan to have several tables out there and a sectional sofa placed in front of the fireplace, I can imagine people milling around enjoying the fire and the beautiful view of the lush green hills off the back off the patio. To top it all off, they also have a lower patio where they plan to have a jacuzzi, as if it could get any better, right? Well, I haven’t even told you about the upstairs bar patio area….I know, it just keeps getting better and better, huh!
One of my favorite features of this B&B is the upstairs Covered Patio. They have a great fireplace and bar where their guests can hang out and relax. They really have thought of it all.
I bet they can’t wait to move all their furniture in and receive their first guests. Those two are going to be so good at running a B&B. They have the perfect personalities for making people feel as though they’re staying with two old friends. Additionally, the location is perfect. They’re right on the main road walking distance to downtown. Here’s a link to their web sight… http://www.casademontana.com
We feel so lucky to have gotten the opportunity to get to know Terry and Manzar . They shared with us a huge amount of very valuable information that will be very helpful to us when we get ready to build our home here. They had a great contractor and architect and have made invaluable connections with so many professionals in the process of building their house. They had a few bumps in the road but with really great attitudes and tons of patience they’ve been able to make the most of each difficult experience that came their way. It’s just amazing what a “Tranquilo” mindset will do!
We’ve met so many great people so far on this adventure and I never tire of hearing all the different stories and seeing all the very different ways people have chosen to live this expat life. Each person we meet here has a different story of why they chose to move to Panama and the way each of these adventurous people choose to live their lives differ vastly. Some have simply retired and are living the life of leisure here because the cost of living suits their budgets. They golf or hike or discover their inner artist. And then others move here to start a business and just have a more laid back lifestyle where they can work and play, they find that here it’s much easier to strike that balance. Then we’ve met other’s who are just exploring different countries, not yet ready to commit to living in one particular place, preferring to spend a few months or even a year in one place and then moving on to experience the next place on their list. We’ve met Men and Women here on their own, families with young children who are raising adventurous children who are so lucky to be experiencing such a different lifestyle. As well as couples who are living their lives their way and having the adventure of a lifetime. Isn’t that what life is all about? Living your life your way and embracing each day with gratitude for the choice you made to be where you are and if your not exactly where you want to be I hope your working towards making your adventure your reality.
This is a post that only those who know Scott well, will find as much humor in as I do. All who know him are well aware that he is a man of few words. Scott has never been accused of being a “chatty” guy. Nooooo on the contrary, Scott is rather quiet. Am I right? I can hear all the collective nods of agreement. Yes, Scott is not shy or even especially reserved, no , he is simply just more of an observer and will easily contribute to a conversation but is not one to waste a lot of time chatting. It’s not his way…..Until now!
I don’t know this man who has begun to chat with anyone who will listen!! HUH? The other day after class as I was returning to the area where Scott and I usually meet up and as I was walking towards him I saw him just chatting away with a fellow student, deeply involved in a conversation , in spanish mind you! I had to smile. This is beginning to be a common occurrence, this new “chatty” behavior that my quiet husband has recently begun to engage in of late. I know, it’s hard to imagine, but I kid you not…..I’m finding more and more that I have been much more the one lately who is observing rather than participating in these “chat-sessions”. I can hardly get a word in edgewise! But not for want of something to say, noooo I always have something to say! But he is so intent to learn Spanish that he , probably for the first time in his life, has a really good reason to chat!! It’s so funny, and soooo great! He really tries hard to practice speaking every chance he gets. And He’s doing a great job. But I have to tease him because when he’s talking he’s concentrating so hard on recalling what he has so recently learned that he’s using his hands (as though he were an Italian) to describe much of what he’s saying. As he talks he is sort of looking off to the side and searching through his mind for the correct verb or conjugation or what have you, to express correctly , what he wants to say. The Animated conversations that I’m witnessing are inspiring! 🙂
For those of you who have ever learned a language , you know first-hand, the only way to actually learn it and retain what you learn is to use it. Scott is doing just that and he’s really determined. In classic Scott style, he will master Spanish in no time because when he’s determined to learn something it is a sure thing that he will learn it and learn it well. That’s just the way he rolls! This adventure is surely providing many new learning experiences for both of us. And I am also very determined to learn the language , but my process will be much slower and don’t’ you worry, I’m finding my own ways of practicing to speak. I’ve made some new Panamanian girlfriends who I’m getting together with every Monday for a few hours to chat with! They want to practice English and I get to Practice Spanish too, it’s just great! But I just thought you would all enjoy hearing about this new guy who I just can’t shut up!! 🙂 Who ever thought Scott would morph into Mr. Chatty??? Well, he has!! And I just love it!!
Okay, those who know us from California are well aware of Scott’s talent in the kitchen. Now that he’s officially retired and doesn’t have any houses to work on or woodworking to do (closets to build or cabinets to make!), he has much more time to experiment and learn to cook new things as well as how to cook some things a bit differently. Now, we may not have the big fancy kitchen anymore. No professional Viking stove or top quality cookware to make life easy for him. We have about two inches of counter space and an oven with no temperature settings, only 1,2 or3! Scary! Who knows what temperature it actually is,( we realize an oven thermometer would solve this mystery but we just haven’t gotten to that quite yet) . In our past life we had a few dishes that he would rotate through during our work-week ,which were easy to do and didn’t require a whole lot of work. Some of our standards were, Chicken or beef fajitas, lasagna, shrimp pasta, beef stroganoff, veggie pita pizzas, fish tacos, burgers with baked fries, and the occasional steak and baked potato (just to name a few). Most nights we tried to eat at home and Scott would occasionally branch out and experiment with something new but mostly we were just too brain dead and tired to spend a whole lot of time trying out new dishes . Read the rest of this entry
Our drive home felt pretty treacherous to me but of course when I look over at Scott he’s just as happy as can be. Yes, there are BIG puddles for him to drive through and he’s just pleased as punch to hit every single puddle he can hit. Of course he was very careful driving down the Pan American Highway in that rain (don’t worry Pat ) but I was a bit of a nervous nelly and he finds humor in this. HUMPH! Seriously, you can hardly see out the windshield in front of you!! It’s really dangerous. But of course as you can see, we made it back to Boquete without any problems whatsoever. Whew! And as we drove up the hill and got into Boquete it didn’t even look as if they got any of the storm up here. David, was practically flooded and then up here it’s a bit foggy but not rainy at all. I’m constantly amazed at all the little Micro-climates we see up and around all these places. Even up here , I love it. That was our Sunday, not too exciting but now we know how to get to the beach if we suddenly get the urge to swim in the ocean and drink a Pina Colada, this is important stuff you guys!! A girls gotta know where she can get her Pina Colada on, I got the Margarita spot narrowed down, Big Daddy’s is a no brainer, and now my Pina Colada spot is locked in! The important things are certainly beginning to get established for us, I’m sure your all glad to know this. Next up….. Finding a decent pedicure! I may have this one figured out as well, with the help of mi Amiga, Andrea. But this is a whole subject for later! Cheers! Stay tuned…
We were thinking about catching a movie today down in David. Given the fact that we had a couple of things we wanted to go shopping for we figured, what the heck, we haven’t seen a movie in a long time. So we got online to check out what movies the Chiriqui Mall offers today. They have six movies playing , we picked one, “Now you see me” and then looked at the times. Here’s the funny thing…they show all six movies all starting at the same time! Can you imagine how crowded it will be with people standing in line to buy tickets for six movies all at the same time!! And then, being a fan of movie theatre popcorn, the lines for goodies would be out of control!! You would think they could stagger the movie times just a bit to avoid such a cluster !@#$ Well folks , welcome to Panama, the land of the “just not quite right”. LOL! We gotta chuckle as we work on plan B for our Sunday. We’re thinkin’ maybe Los Lajas? Yep, a little drive and maybe a little beach time doesn’t sound half bad, standing in a crowded line to sit in a crowded theatre, no, not today. Maybe we will wait for that movie to hit Netflix. Just thought I’d share, a little something we found humor in.
Once again my blog has enabled us to become acquainted with more great people. Dan and Janet arrived in Boquete a couple days ago. They had somehow found my blog while researching Panama as a destination for their retirement. They live in Canada and are planning to relocate in the Spring, likely to Panama. They are fed up with the cold in Alberta and ready to find a place where they can enjoy the outdoors year around. When Janet called me to let me know they were in town, I suggested we meet them at Big Daddy’s for dinner. When Scott and I were waiting for them I had no idea who we were waiting for because I neglected to ask them what they looked like. But I noticed a couple walking to the back patio and the husband was looking at his watch as though he were checking to see if they were on time, I knew this must be who we were meeting because ,who looks at their watch here in Boquete?LOL! We ended up really hitting it off with these two. We have much in common with them including the all important similarity, Dan is the guy in charge of cooking in their family! Scott and Dan both bemoaned the fact that leaving the kitchens that they love hurts their hearts just a little. ( ok, that’s my take on the conversation..Ja!Ja!Ja!) They both agreed that the ovens they are accustomed to cooking on are far superior to what they have so far experienced here. Yep, Stove-snob kindred spirits, for sure! (Jim Varsamis, are you feeling their pain?) Read the rest of this entry
Well, we went into town after my español class to get the final part of our health insurance application requirements completed. They want a blood test which meant fasting prior to going to the Imunotech (I’m sure I slaughtered the spelling, oh well). So I nearly slept through my español without having my morning coffee! The little lab work office was very professional and of course clean. We gave them all the bodily fluids they required and were on our way (running to the coffee shop!) to get some much needed breakfast. We will pick up the results on Monday and take them to back to Hospital Chiriqui . Irma, the lady at the hospital already has our results from the two tests we had yesterday, the chest ex-ray and the EKG’s. So we are almost done with the application process for the health insurance. Check one thing off our list, almost.
Next up….Beginning the process of collecting all the required documents for our Pensionado Residency Visa. Our proof of income should be complete in the next 6 weeks so we now need to provide fingerprints to the FBI for the required background check. So we have consulted an attorney in Panama City who has told us that we need to go there to have that done. It’s important to be sure to get them done well otherwise we have heard that it could take up to 6 weeks for the FBI to notify us that the prints were unacceptable. Our friend Jordan recently had his fingerprints done in David and they were not good so he has to get them done again which is a headache considering he is currently enjoying fun in the sun in Bocas del toro. Based on his professional experience, we decided a trip to Panama City would be our best option. Sooooo we decided to skip out on my class for tomorrow and friday and catch the bus to PC in the morning.
We made a reservation at a hotel and hopefully finding the right place to get the prints done wont be too much of an Adventure!!! I have a feeling our newly developed “Tranquilo” mindset will come in handy on this mission! Ja!Ja!Ja!
Yesterday, (Tuesday) was Hair day ! Lyn , like myself, was a stylist in another lifetime. My grey roots were yelling to be covered up! I kid you not! I could hear them “screaming”! So She very kindly agreed to apply my color for me and stop those pesky grey hairs from all that screaming. I, in return offered to give her a little trim while my color was processing. This was a brilliant idea all around. She is a very busy realtor so I was grateful that she was willing to do this although I would never assume that this will be a forever solution to my annoying grey hair. No, I’ll keep my ears open and who knows , I just may have to branch out sometime and give a local Panamanian stylist a shot. I’m pretty sure I’ll still be able to bring my own color with me, they’re pretty relaxed here. Lyn had another Amiga who stopped by for a little color application while we were at it. It was good fun to sit around and chat and get to know another local expat who has made a great life here in Boquete.
What an enormous change for me from the life I was living in Los Altos. A change that I am soaking up with a grateful heart. (a little side-note to my Los Altos peeps, please don’t be offended, I had many many very happy years and not one regret, I’m just so glad for a change 🙂 ) This life and the people I’m surrounded by are a breath of fresh air. It’s all so very “relaxed” and casual and mostly I think ,so far , it’s just ‘easy’. I’m certain I still have much to learn about this new town but so far I’m pleased with the people I’m connecting with and getting to know. One of my biggest concerns about moving away from everything and everyone I know was making new friends and I’m pleased to report that I had no need to worry. There are a ton of terrific people to spend time with and I’m already wishing I had more free time to hang out with them. Our spanish classes are pretty all consuming at the moment. But that’s just temporary ,I’m sure when we finish with our classes more free time will allow for some other activities where we can meet even more people.
Scott and I were just commenting this morning about how many great people we’ve met through our classes at Habla Ya. Even though most of them are here in Boquete for a short time I have a feeling some will come back to visit us and even have a place to stay (WITH US!) . It’s great to see how many people come here and do “Home stays” through Habla Ya. Most of the people in Scotts class are staying with local Panamanian families and having such a great, authentic experience. Our friend Jordan who we met a couple weeks ago really developed a great relationship with his house mom, I think he was a bit sad to leave and I’m certain he has a new lifelong friend. I thought he was such a thoughtful young man because as a thank you gift he gave her a gift certificate to have a massage at a local spa! Awww! What a sweetie! We have met people from the states as well as Canada, Holland,Germany,The Bahama’s, and most of these people are traveling around for at least a month most of which they are staying here in Boquete. I just love talking to these young backpackers who are having such amazing adventures !
Our Spanish classes are coming along pretty good, although dont expect me to be able to actually speak quite yet! The Private, One on One lessons are exactly what I needed and I’m so glad that they were so accommodating and worked around me and what I needed. My teacher, Araliz is just so intuitive about how to work with me and I am very impressed with her ability to sense how to best teach a student who learns as slowly as I do. I have not really felt frustrated or defeated at all! Each day I walk away feeling like I made a tiny bit more progress and I think I can even say that I am enjoying the process now!! Can you sense the smile on my face? One little thing Scott and I have both been discussing is that we need some actual ‘real life’ practice. He is much more assertive with his practice when we are out shopping and running errands . I usually rarely even try to chime in much . So I am brainstorming different ways for me to give myself opportunity to practice speaking with locals. I am considering some sort of volunteer work with children. I know there are orphanages where I can volunteer and work with the children or maybe at one of the local schools. I need to start asking around and trying to get myself connected with people in the know. I just hope my lack of anything even close to fluent spanish wont be too hard to get me out there, helping somehow.
Scott is talking with the School today about trying to switch his lessons over to private as well. He feels like he needs a bit more personal tutoring now instead of the group lessons he’s so far been doing. The groups move forward pretty rapidly and so a bit of private time will be a good balance for him. Plus this schedule we have is a real bummer for us. I go to class from 8-10 and he goes from 1-5 , which totally ruins our days if we need to get anything else done. Like I said before, the people at Habla ya are very flexible and accommodating so I’m sure they will figure out something that will work for him. And I’m not sure how he plans to get some practice in but I’m sure he’ll manage somehow. He really enjoys shopping in the fruit and Vegetable market and has already settled on his favorite venders in there. There is a little old lady who runs the booth in the very front and one day he told me he asked her if a particular pepper she had was spicy and she took his hand and led him to a different booth and showed him exactly what to buy! He will shop from her from now on. And then another guy who we buy avocados from always asks when we are going to eat it and finds the best one, not too ripe or ripe enough for Hoy! He has earned Scotts loyalty as well. One lady just sold him a couple of very unripe avocados even though he explained that he would eat them hoy, she is on the banned list. So he gets his practice in talking with the venders at the market and I think if they would hire him he would get a huge kick out of working there with them, that’s not gonna happen!
I’ll keep you posted on our continuing quest to learn spanish and hopefully our opportunities to connect with more locals. I continue to awaken each new day with a smile on my face and I am constantly looking around this beautiful mountain village and basking in the fact that with many years of research and lot’s of hard work, we made this happen, this is our home!! I have to pinch myself right now , I’m really not dreaming, am I? OUCH! Nope!! Life is good! Cheers!