Tag Archives: Habla Ya

Buen Fin De Semana…


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


Mr. Talkative, who is that man?


20130825-130457.jpgThis 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!!

Our Spanish learning experience so far……



Talk about “Immersion”….We decided to make our home in Boquete Panama

I wrote this post as a submission for a little contest at our school. They are giving away 30 free hours of Spanish lessons so I thought, what the heck! I love to write so I gave it a shot! Plus, I have been having such a great experience at the school so I was happy to have the opportunity to express that pleasure with other people who may be considering coming here to learn the language. Two of my blogging friends also submitted wonderful posts and It was fun to read them on the Habla ya blog. So I thought I would share my post with you…..
When my husband and I began our research on where we would expatriate ,( about 7 years ago), one of the many things we considered was language. We both agreed that wherever we decided to make our new home we would learn the native language. We feel very strongly about this for many reasons. One reason that learning the language in our new home is an absolute necessity, in our minds, is simply out of respect to the native people who we will be interacting with on a daily basis. The official language in Panama is Spanish, not English . So we see no reason why we would expect our new neighbors or all the other people we come into contact with on a daily basis to know how to speak English. Of course It’s a huge help at this stage of our very limited ability to communicate , when a taxi driver or cashier at the market just happens to possess a tiny bit more English knowledge than our pathetic Spanish. But We certainly never “expect” English to come out of their mouths. When we arrived here in Boquete eight weeks ago I had virtually no ability to communicate in Spanish and my husband arrived with a fair amount of “construction” spanish given his former vocation as a contractor. So if for any reason we needed a escalera (ladder) or a martillo(hammer), we were in good shape! Although, given the fact that we are both native Californians, and there is a large population of hispanic transplants there, our ears are fairly familiar with many basic words or common phrases. Of course my husband is fluent in most any sentence that has the word “Cerveza” in it. And I arrived ready to use the phrase, “Un coppa de Vino Tinto,Por Favor”. We felt pretty confident we would not suffer any withdrawals with our natural grasp on our “bar” vocabulary, Whew! Well that’s a relief! LOL!

In addition to learning Spanish in our chosen home here in Panama out of a general respect to our new country and it’s people, we believe having the ability to communicate will provide us with a much richer and deeply authentic experience. We hope to someday feel as though we have immersed ourself in this culture and in the community. Having the ability to express ourselves is essential in order to really connect with those around us. It is our desire to build relationships with not only other expats , but also with native Panamanians . As I said, we have only been living here in Boquete for eight weeks but in the eight weeks we have been here we have felt very welcomed by the locals. I am incredibly motivated to learn Spanish so that I can talk to these warm, kind people who I see everyday . I’m a “people” person and not being able to chat with people I come into contact with is a painful torture! I have so many things I want to say to people all the time, but I just don’t have the vocabulary quite yet! But don’t you worry, I’m working hard on learning and there’s no doubt in my mind that I will eventually be conversant!

Before our move we began researching Spanish schools on line and came across Habla Ya. We learned that they have two campuses, one in Boquete and another in Bocas del Toro. So we knew one of the first things we would do after arriving in our new home was to enroll in classes. ( I should tell you, as of this writing we are about six weeks into our lessons.) Even though I was determined and committed to learning Spanish, I was terribly nervous because I had never studied a language before. As a matter of fact, I had a feeling I would be “re-learning” much of my English grammar that had long ago escaped my old brain! Verbs? Conjugating Verbs? HuH??? Oh boy, I was not wrong! We signed up for ten weeks of lessons. Our first two weeks we did a group class together that was Four hours a day, five days a week! Oh, my goodness! Talk about “Diving in head first”! Our first instructor was a very fun young man named Yubal. I think he quickly realized that I would be a very “SLOW” learner! Even though I felt like I was in over my head, I soldiered on and Yubal never made me feel dumb and I never felt like he was impatient with my lack of comprehension. He was very kind and patient and told me that I was doing fine and gave me just the right kind of gentle encouragement that I needed. And I gotta tell ya, I REALLY needed encouragement! Geesh! Talk about a humbling experience. My husband , on the other hand, is a natural learner! His comprehension is, in my mind, incredible. We all learn differently and some have an easier ability with language than others. At least that’s what I keep hearing from many other very kind and encouraging people ,and I’m buying it!

After our first week in the group class it was glaringly obvious that I was not ready to move on. I really felt I needed to review the first week all over again. We went to talk to the administration about this and here is where I begin to really gush about my pleasure with this school and the people in charge. They were so accommodating, understanding and helpful. No problem! They obviously have a lot of experience dealing with many many different people from all walks of life and from many different places in the world. They didn’t bat an eye, just figured out a solution that would work for us . The next week Scott moved on to another group class and I remained with Yubal and one other classmate who also felt the need to review the prior weeks lessons. It was so good for me and I began to feel my brain comprehending at least some of the beginning concepts. My favorite phrase that I have learned and love to use is , ” Poco a Poco”! Little by little I am learning, not only am I learning Spanish but I’m also learning what I need in order to feel successful in my own personal learning style. After my second week in a group class I decided I would like to try a private, one on one , two hour daily class .

I was sad to leave Yubal because I felt like I had gotten to know him and had developed a fondness for his great , fun personality. This is another aspect of Habla ya that I must mention. The entire staff is very friendly and welcoming and we have thoroughly enjoyed every person we have met at the school. When I went to speak with the administration again about my desire to try a different situation they were again very happy to do whatever would work best for me. My new professora is Araliz and she is a beautiful, intelligent young lady who I have come to adore! I have been working with her for almost four weeks now. She is very intuitive about what I need and has shown unending capacity for patience. As she has gotten to know me she has customized my lessons to suit my particular learning style, which is “muy despacio” ! Everyday I feel better and better with my progress and at the end of each lesson I’m always shocked that it’s already over! Time flies so fast in Araliz’s classroom. I’m beginning to really enjoy our attempt at conversation. I can really feel my progress when I am able to have a conversation with her and walk away feeling as though she understood me and I her. What a great feeling to finally be able to chat and connect the way I love to do.

After my ten weeks at Habla Ya I know it will not be the end of my lessons. Given the wonderful fact that Boquete is now my home, I have plenty of time to “slowly” become proficient in learning this beautiful language. I’m hoping to begin to find opportunities where I can be surrounded by more native speakers so I can practice what I’m learning at school. On HablaYa’s web sight I see that they have many volunteer opportunities that they can help me get involved with, and that will be my next adventure. Not only have we made some really great connections with the teachers at the school but also with some of the other students as well. It’s so great to see and meet so many young people who are doing home-stays and who are immersing themselves in the culture while studying the language. I wish I had had such an opportunity when I was their age. I really admire their adventurous spirit at such a young age. We have made friends with many of these people and I know they will be back to visit us here in this beautiful place. The School has endless activities that they organize and although we haven’t had time to join them, we hear that there is tons of fun to be had! So far, this old brain has been too busy having tons of “fun” studying our Spanish! (insert eye roll here?) All this hard work will pay off in the end when I get to sit down with Araliz or Yubal and actually have a “fluent” conversation in their language!

Scott’s day of Golf….My day of riding around in the cart…



Scott has missed his regular golf games since our move to Boquete. Actually, he mostly stopped playing in his golf league when we were getting the house ready to sell , way before our move so It’s been quite a long time for him. I think he was able to fit in a few last games after the house sold but the day’s of golfing at least once a week and spending time at the range are long gone. Scott was very happy to meet a young woman in his spanish class who is a golfer and he invited she and her sister to join him for a round on Sunday morning. Laura and her sister Anne( I’m guessing they are in their mid 20’s) are here in Boquete studying spanish at Habla Ya. They are both doing “home-stays” at two different local Panamanian homes. I must say I was very impressed by these two young women and their commitment to learning the language. I was curious why they chose to stay at different homes and not together and they said that they knew if they were together they would be speaking English which was not what they wanted. They really wanted make an effort to surround themselves with as many native speakers as possible in order to become more proficient speakers themselves. Bravo to them! They are enjoying the host families they have been placed with and seem to be really connecting with them. And did I mention that they are here for eight weeks? After the eight weeks here in Boquete they plan to travel to Bocas Del Toro for another eight weeks. Habla Ya has a school there as well. Didn’t’ I tell you, they are two very impressive young women and crazy adventurous as well! My kind of gals!! So back to the golf part of this post… Laura and Anne are really good (they will likely humbly deny this, as they claim to be rusty, but I beg to differ!) golfers. I asked them how long they have been golfing and Laura said she learned when she was 11 an Anne at 8 years old! I believe they both played college golf and for being a little rusty they didn’t do half bad! Scott enjoyed playing with them and had a great day of golf, his first since moving here.

The golf coarse, Lucero, is a fairly nice 18 hole course here in Boquete. Two years ago when we were here on our exploratory trip we went to check it out and they had just opened the back nine . It was very new and quite pretty. It’s still a nice course although not nearly as sparkly new and pristine as it was two years ago. The views are spectacular and I had a great time riding around with them. Those girls could really hit that little ball far!! Not being an athletic gal myself, I really admire women who have any athletic ability! And these two definitely have it! They were able to hit that ball every bit as far , sometimes even farther than Scott. So watching them all play, in between reading a good book while I cruised around with them was a great way to spend a beautiful Sunday morning.







Hair Time In Panama!



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!

I just love making new friends!



I just had a wonderful lunch with two really sweet young women, Molly and Allison. They both come from California and I just wanna keep them both!! I met Molly last week , she was in my Spanish class. More than once, Yubal, our teacher asked Molly,”Molly, please can you explain to Holly in English?” . She is so smart and really has a pretty good grasp of the language. Although she will humbly deny it, she is very smart! I’m pretty sure she has already had some experience learning Spanish so she is way ahead of me. I knew right away that Molly and I would strike up a friendship, she is so sweet,(kinda like me! hee!hee!) and I really admire a young women traveling on her own. She is planning to volunteer with the Peace Corp and is waiting to hear where she will be going. Molly’s sister Allison just arrived in Boquete last night to join her little sis on a Panamanian adventure! I have no doubt they are on the cusp of creating memories they will cherish for their whole life. It makes me wish that my little sister and I had had the opportunity to share such an experience together. These two have a very special bond, this is very evident in the way they behave with each other. There is a mutual admiration that just shows. We had a great lunch at Big Daddys, Margarita’s , of course and some yummy shrimp tacos, I think Molly had the Veggie taco and a cerveza . We talked about what they have planned for the time they are in Boquete and they really have a lot of fun things on their agenda. Today they are planning to visit a coffee finca and the rest of the week is filled with a massage for Allison (Thanks to Jordan she knows just the place for that!),thermal pools,water falls possibly rock climbing,a stroll through the fruit market and a hunt for some local authentic tamales . I´m sure they will find plenty of adventure to get into together. They dont seem like the type of girls to sit around and miss out on any fun. There’s plenty of fun to be found in this mountain top haven and they will not be disappointed. I only wish Mariah and Elisabeth were here to hang out with them because they would totally hit it off!! I’ll miss Molly , she and her sis are taking off on saturday to Bocas De Toro for some island adventure, How fun!! I’m sure there will be lots of beach time , snorkeling, zip lining, and maybe they’ll find Jordan somewhere and share a Margarita! I have a feeling wherever Molly and Allison end up , fun will follow, and I’m certain no shortage of happiness created by just being together. Cheers!!

Another First Day Of School…



Today was my first day in my private class with a new teacher. Her name is Araliz and she is very nice, it’s great to get to know another native Panamanian. I really enjoy the very beginning part of the class where we ask each other questions in spanish and get to know about each others lives. She grew up here in Boquete but lives in David. She has a really big family most of which still live here in Boquete. Her grandparents live in Jamarillo, which is the area we are very interested in finding property to buy. I think this one on one class will work much better for me. And the two hours is far better for me than the four hours I was struggling through before. I was really hoping to have Yubal as my instructor but It didnt work out. I will really miss being in his class, he was so much fun to laugh with and he was very patient with me. Who knows, I still have eight more weeks that I’m signed up for so maybe he will be able to take some of my classes down the road.

Although his brain is thoroughly fried by the end of the school day, Scott seems to really enjoy his class. He has six students in his class with him and even though he says he often feels behind, he enjoys the challenge and is learning really well. (of course!) Each night we spend a good amount of time studying and doing homework . Now that our schedules are so different I may be able to spend more time writing and reading. I go to class from 8:00am to 10:00, Scott is still going 1:00 to 5:00. So we shall see how our new routine rolls out. Today Scott got up and drove me into town and stayed in the study room at the school to work on some studying. After I got out of my class we went home and made breakfast then I worked on my homework . When Scott left for school I decided it was time to tackle some housework, this place was becoming a disaster area!! So I stripped the bed and took all the linens down to the laundry room, picked up some clean ones and voila! laundry done! Well, at least the linens! I still have a full basket of our laundry to tackle tomorrow. I used my sparkly new broom to sweep up all the cat hair, and there is a ton of cat hair! Our little kitchen table was drowning in paper and all sorts of junk so I unburied it and spent some time organizing our life. Ahhh, that felt so good!!

Constantly evolving and adapting is the name of the game! And we are most definitely open to all of the above. Which is a good thing given the fact that we haven’t much of a choice! LOL! Who knows what tomorrow will bring? All I know for certain is I’m looking forward to facing each new day with my mind wide open and a smile on my face. Well, mostly, a smile on my face, once in awhile I might have a bit of a grimace, I’ll admit it. All those verbs and all that conjugating admittedly get’s to me at times!! But, Hey, I take a deep breath and keep on goin’! Shrug! What the heck! It’s called and Adventure, right? Whoot! Whoot! Cheers!

Whew! Time is flying by and there’s much too much to tell, Here it goes…



I haven’t had a second since Thursday to sit down and write . All the fun began on Friday at Spanish school. As usual, the first half of the day consisted of me struggling through class and trying my best to make my head comprehend something. We always have about a twenty minute break at about 2:45ish then we resume our lessons until 5:00. Here is where you begin to get more of an understanding of just why I have fallen in love with my teacher…Yubal, he had the brilliant idea to commence our studies at the bar down the street! He arranged for another class to join us so we could practice our Spanish. And practice we did, with the aide of Margarita’s suddenly Spanish lessons were beginning to become a bit more fun. We sat together and began to converse in español. Mi nombre es, Holly, yo de los estados unidos. Vivo en Boquete. Estoy jubilado. Yo vivido en Boquete por un mes. Blah! Blah! Blah! The last two hours of school flew by incredibly fast and when Scott found me at the bar having a margarita aided lesson, boy was he envious! (Big smile here!) But far be it for my man Scott to hold a grudge, especially when cerveza is close at hand! LOL!! He quickly joined in on the fun and began to take advantage of the opportunity to chat as much as possible with his burned out brain ! We ended up staying at the bar until about 8:00 then everyone decided it was time to go Dancing!!

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Just another day…



We had our maiden trip to Price-mart today. I know, exciting huh? Well it was just as everyone had said, exactly like Costco. Maybe a bit smaller but it’s really no different. They may not have all the same things and maybe not as much of a selection but the selection was adequate for our needs. Surprisingly, the membership process went incredibly smoothly considering we are in Panama. We expected inefficiency but we got unexpected but very appreciated efficiency. We strolled up and down all the isles and picked up the things we needed and as everyone does in those places, a few things we didn’t really ‘need’. We intended to begin cooking tonight , got nearly all the fixins’ for chicken fajita’s . But, that darn Big Daddy’s called to us again after school. Two Margarita’s later and Fish Tacos replaced the home cookin’. We’ll try tomorrow.

While Spanish school is going ok, it’s really, really hard for me. No, I don’t mean , just “hard” I mean HARD! I’m not feeling completely defeated , don’t worry. I’m just in the process of trying to figure out the best way for me to approach this language learning thing. I realize I need to be patient and just keep trying and not be too negative. It has , after all, only been ten days,(after tomorrow). I went to discuss this with the administration at Habla Ya and they were very understanding, of course. Everyone learns at very different rates and they must see this kind of issue all the time. I am thinking about trying a private class that is maybe fewer hours. The added pressure of trying to catch on to the lessons in a group is just too much. The whole group has to wait. while I try soooo hard to ‘get’ it, Geesh! I’m certain I will find just the right way for me to learn spanish. I’m not looking for an easier way, nooo I dont think that is even a possibility, this is going to take a lot of work and determination. But If I can somehow eliminate as much of the added pressure as I possibly can, then I can allow myself to concentrate on “learning” more and less on how my slow process is effecting people around me. Shrug! This is my theory. I’ll just have to give it a try and see what happens.

Scott, on the other hand is enjoying his higher level class that he moved into. It is level 2 and it’s much more of a challenge for him, which he likes. He is also working really hard to get it. The thing about Scott is, he has really good recall. His ability to comprehend is amazing. I think he already has a pretty good amount of vocabulary memorized which is helping him a lot. Now he is focused on learning the more complex things like stringing those vocabulary words together to make a proper sentence. He’s focused and determined and just as brain dead as I am at the end of each day. I seriously wonder if we are ever going to actually have the energy to begin to cook at home in the evenings after school. Especially with those Margarita’s calling our names everyday at the end of class…..”Scooootttt, Hooolllllyyy…..YoooooHooooo!”. You know how convincing a good margarita can be, right??

So far, this adventure we have undertaken has proven to be everything we could have hoped it would be. Each new day brings us more and more new experiences and we come into contact with so many new , interesting people and all of this adds up to lot’s of smiles and happiness. Today, my teacher Yubal, and I had a laughing fit that we just could not stop! I’m not even exactly sure we both completely know why the other was laughing so hard but it was soooo fun! He’s too funny! I wish I could bring him to life with my words but I just couldn’t begin to do him justice in the written word. Suffice it to say, He’s the kind of ‘guy friend’ every girl loves to have! From his distaste of anything buggy, dirty, or unfashionable to his exclamations of “Perrrrrfecto HOLLY!” And of course his love of Taylor Swift and of Shopping malls, I at times feel as though my Dad is teaching this class! And his sense of humor , even though we barely understand each other just tops it all off! Yes, Yubal is yet another part of my Adventure that makes me smile! I may be having a hard time learning and attempting to comprehend is painful but as long as I can laugh and have fun all is well! And I must say…..All Is Well!! Cheers!





20130627-224021.jpg can you spot the portrait of me in this picture? We were learning about getting and giving directions.

Just Thinkin’…



This is Yubal, our very patient teacher at Habla Ya!!

It’s 10:15 at night and Scott is fast asleep. Our week days are flying by so fast! Spanish class is really quite all-consuming. We usually get up by 6:30 or 7:00 then we have our coffee while we slowly wake up. Crack open the Spanish workbooks and casually begin to do a bit of studying. Then we have our breakfast and continue studying until its time to get showered and dressed for the day. We leave the house by 12:15-12:30. Class begins at 1:00 and before I know it , it;s 5:00 and we are like two Zombies as we walk out of our classes! I’m amazed how tired one can get from attempting to make an old, lazy brain do things it’s not accustomed to doing.(like memorizing verbs and conjugating?)

I’m very impressed with the Restauranteur who very wisely and strategically opened “Big Daddy’s” right next door to Habla Ya,(the spanish school). Not only are they right next door to the school but they serve the absolute best Margarita’s in town!! And May I add, at precisely 5:00pm every day, that comes in very handy!! Mind you. the proprietor of said,”Big Daddy’s” , has suggested to us, after hearing our moaning and groaning about the difficulty of learning Spanish, that we may want to try having one or two of his famous Margarita’s “Before” class!! HMMMMM! I’m not sure this is prudent advise! But, who knows, I will ponder it. I’m pretty sure the Post-school Margarita is about all I can take and Yubal, my teacher would surly frown on this student snoozing in his classroom. No, I’m afraid Big Daddy’s will continue to be our “after school hang out”.

Today after class we invited Jordan, Molly and Angelica to join us at Big Daddy’s. It was nice to hang out with our fellow spanish students and to get to know them a little better. Molly is a very sweet 29 year old collage student who works as a server at a restaurant in California and is here studying Spanish for her degree. She is staying in a youth Hostel down the street from the school and plans to study here in Boquete for two weeks then move to the Bocas del torro campus for one additional week. She would humbly disagree but I think she is the most advanced student in our class. Today when we were quizzed on numbers she got almost all of them right after only studying them while walking around this morning. She told us today that she is very excited because her sister is coming here to visit with her. She is learning about all the fun outdoorsy activities there are to do here so she will be able to show her big sis around and enjoy some adventures together.

Now , yesterday I told you a little about Angelica. She is the 17 year old who is here on her own for 5 weeks. Well, I gotta tell ya, after getting to know her a bit more today, she scares me!! She is rather…. clueless, (I say this in a loving way, not mean at all.) Learning spanish is coming easy for her because she has no inhibitions and is rather fearless. But we all know that in life having a bit of healthy fear can help us to stay safe? She is staying with a very nice Panamanian family way up in the mountains, not close to town. Today she had a bit of trouble getting to school because she got lost, caught a taxi,dropped her school books and the books got run over by a car then they were soaking wet so after getting in the taxi she sat the books next to a vent so they would dry and proceeded to leave them on the bus when she got off. And the hand drawn map with directions to her house where she is staying was with her school books!! Oh boy! That’s not all, her bank card isn’t working, she has no money and her cell phone died! So, she lost her school books, has no phone or money and doesn’t know how to get back to where she is staying, as if that weren’t scary enough, she was not one bit worried about any of this!!!! Nope! She was giggly and relaxed and as 6:00 was fast approaching (It gets dark here at that hour) this mom(me!) was trying so hard to just let it be. She seemed to think all was well and I could tell that she’s the kind of person who would have no problem asking for assistance if she felt she needed it so I kept my mouth shut. Oh boy!! Everyone has their own journey and she will be fine, I just have a tendency to worry about a young girl on her own in a strange country. I’m really hoping she got back to her host family and that she is ok. I’m sure she is.

Now, Jordan is a very fun, happy , adventurous, independent guy. He loves to laugh and is making the class so fun for me. Today we were paired up to create a conversation with all the phrases we learned for when your eating at a restaurant. So we had to write down what we would say , he was the server and I was the customer. We had a good time, at one point I ordered The special of the day( Cual es el especial del dia?) which he said was pollo y Papa’s Frita”s. then he brought be a salad and I told him that’s not what I ordered( Esto no es lo que pedi) and he proceeded to tell me that I had drank too much vino tinto!! How rude!! LOL! Yes, it’s good to have fun while attempting to learn! Jordan is in law enforcement and works with the state department on contract. He gets sent to different countries to train their law enforcement people there. He just finished 3 years in the Middle East and is taking a break right now before his next contract which is in Haiti. What an adventurous spirit. He too is doing a Home stay with a Panamanian family close to the school. When I asked him what language they speak in Haiti, he said,”French!, and I’m studying Spanish!, I may not have thought that one through!” Ha!Ha! Yes, I’m having a great time getting to know some very very amazing people. And I haven’t even begun to describe my teacher, Yubal! I’ll have to get to that in another post, it’s nearly 11:00 now!

I knew that for me, the most rewarding aspect of this new beginning would be getting to know so many new people. And here I am, enjoying getting to know such a variety of kind, open-minded, adventurous, friendly people!! Ahhhhh! Learning Spanish may be a huge challenge but making connections with new people is making it worth every minute. And in the end, after I get a grasp on the language I will be able to connect with more of the local panamanians I come into contact with in my day to day life. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…. The hardest , most challenging things I’ve done in my life have always, without exception, ended up being the most valuable!! Each day of this Adventure is beautiful in more ways than I could have imagined it to be.! Cheers!

Semana número dos en español …or something like that😁


I just got out of my Spanish class and I’m waiting for Scott to come from his class. It was our first day in separate classes so I’m interested to hear how it went for him. I’m doing a review of last week and I must say it’s muy bueno ! My decision to review last weeks lesson has been the right thing for me. The pace last week was just too fast for me. Not only have I never learned another language, I haven’t even been in a classroom in over thirty years! Soooooo here I go UNO MAS time!

I really felt good about my lesson today. Nooooo, I’m not quite fluent yet, but I’m having a good time learning a tiny bit each day. I’m also enjoying getting to know some interesting new people , which to me is a win win!! Last week our class included myself, Scott and one other student named Jordan . This week Jordan an me are joined by two new students . One young lady is studying Spanish here as a requirement for her degree, she’s staying in a hostel in town for two weeks. The other young lady is a 17 year old who is here doing a home-stay all by herself for five weeks. We’ll call her Angelica. I was very impressed by this 17 year old! She flew from Virginia to Miami then into Panama City and finally into David. After all these flights she caught a public bus up here to Boquete where she is now staying with a local family while she study’s spanish for the next five weeks. Pretty impressive for such a young girl!

Scott’s new class is much more of a challenge for him which I think he will like. Although I suspect there will be much more studying going on around here now. As long as we manage to balance studying with equal amounts of relaxing and having fun , all will be well for these two adventurers. Poco a poco and day by day we live we love and most importantly we laugh and enjoy each passing day… Cheers!

Aey!! Who’s idea was it to learn Spanish???


Our first week of Spanish school and I’m exhausted!! Holy Moly!! It’s gonna be a longggg ten weeks! I really like our teacher, Jubal, he’s extremely patient with this slowww gringo. The amount of repetition my old,slow brain requires is hard to believe. He must think I belong on the special bus. Heck, I am wondering myself why it takes me so long to learn, especially compared to my sweet (insert eye roll here) Scott! It seems as though he needs only to hear it one time and it’s forever embedded in his brain! Geesh! I’m just kidding,(mostly) but Scott really does learn relatively fast and seemingly effortlessly. Ok….I’m probably being a touch dramatic but that guy is some kind of genius! GEEEESH!

I’ve never been a good student, academia is not where I feel at home. I’ve got a feeling, I’m my own worst enemy . My self talk is debilitating and at times causes my brain to completely shut down. I went into this Spanish class fully aware of this self-sabotaging habit of mine, it’s nothing new. In spite of this life-long habit I’m determined not to let this weakness overcome my determination to learn Spanish. I had a similar experience when I went to my very first sculpture workshop. I stood there in front of my lump of clay and my mind went blank. I looked around at the other sculptures in the room and saw that they began to work in their clay without a bit of hesitation. I had to force myself not to compare myself to them. In order to allow myself to open my mind and attempt to do something I was not at first comfortable doing, I had to just let go of my inhibitions and dive in . I wasn’t an instant success at creating a beautiful likeness to the pose the model was holding. Heck, I may never have the natural talent that most of my sculpture friends have, but I did a pretty darn good job for a beginner. Although, mostly, I really enjoyed seeing my lump of clay miraculously turn into something kinda pretty! In that instance, I persevered and I triumphed over my negative self-talk that was saying,” I can’t do this!”

It’s only the first week but I can see that I have indeed committed myself to a challenge, that damn negative self-talk is at it again. Yesterday, at the end of the day Scott and I discussed how we felt the first week went for us. For me the class is moving much too fast. For him, the pace was not a problem. (No surprise) So something needs to change for me. We have one other student in our class with us , Jordan, who agreed with me about the pace being too fast. So after discussing this with our teacher and going to the office to discuss it we decided that Scott will do next week in a private ,one on one class while me and Jordan spend next week reviewing everything we went through this week. This idea seems to be agreeable to everyone. We will see where it goes from there. It just may be that Scott and I will not be in the same class, which is what I always expected.

I must say that, as usual, learning with Scott is an absolute pleasure. I like to joke around about how weirdly smart the guy is but to be quite honest he selflessly helps me study and patiently explains things to me over and over and over again until it “mostly’ sinks into my stubborn head. He never, ever, not even once, makes me feel stupid or gets even the least bit frustrated with me. As we walk into town he will quiz me on numbers and each day it’s like I’m learning it all over again for the first time. He encourages me and tells me I’m improving, but I’m not so sure. See, there I go again! Seriously though, I’m committed to learning Spanish in spite of my history with my self-sabotaging ways!! Ya, it’s hard and I might find myself crying in frustration, but I’m deeply determined to continue on and to working hard . I may take two or three times as long to get it but Im confident that if I just keep moving forward and stop thinking negative thoughts, eventually I’ll get it. Whew!

Hablo Un Poquito!! Emphasis on Poquito!



Our first day in Spanish class!! Drum role please……I survived! Not only did I survive my first day in Spanish class, I actually enjoyed it! And I must have been having fun cuz’ time flew by pretty fast! Even though Scott learns annoyingly fast, I tried not to compare myself to his freaky, crazy smartness! Smartness? (is that even a word?) Well, in spite of our vastly different speed, learning new things with Scott is something I never tire of. He is incredibly encouraging, patient,helpful and supportive beyond belief! There’s truly no one I would rather be diving into this adventure with but him.

We were in a class with only one other person, a 37 year old guy who is here in Boquete for two weeks studying spanish and then going to Bocas Del Toro for two more weeks to study spanish there. Luckily, he was pretty similar to me in his experience of the Spanish language so that made me feel good. Our teachers name is Yubal. He is a good teacher, I really like him a lot. It’s really good that Yubal doesn’t speak much English. It makes it hard to get him to make it easy for me. It felt so good to occasionally understand what he was attempting to say. Four hours of lessons is rather taxing on the old noggin’ but I may actually comprehend at least some of what we learned today. We have a book to study and we did just that as we ate dinner tonight. Scott helped me study some of the numbers. We will be quizzed tomorrow on two pages of phrases. It’s 8:30Pm and we just finally decided it was time to rest our brains.

Today we got a call from Oscar telling us that our new truck is ready to be picked up. We will catch the first bus, which we’re told is 7:00am. The Toyota dealership opens at 8:30 so we should be there ready to become proud owners of our very own truck, yippee! After driving off with our new truck we plan to take a quick trip to find a broom and dustpan, and a mixing bowl. Three things we discovered we need here in our new apartment. Poco a Poco we are settling in here! And Poco a Poco we are becoming bi-lingual ! One of these days I’ll be writing a post in Spanish and you’ll have to use Google Translate to read it! But for now I will enjoy my classes and learning something new together, which is always and Adventure! Ciao for now!





Another Move… Across the Hall.



Well, a successful move across the hall has been accomplished. To the horror of the cat’s , who were getting pretty comfy in the studio apartment, we now have an actual bedroom and , yes folks, a full fledged DRESSER! AHHH! We are officially unpacked and sittin’ pretty here in our nice little one bedroom apartment. The thing I just love about this apartment is the windows. There’s a whole wall of windows in the living room and two big ones in the bedroom. The view is so beautiful, I just cant wait till there’s a nice thunder and lightening storm. I can sit on the sofa and just gaze at the sky and enjoy the view . We even have a much bigger refrigerator , not an actual full sized refrigerator, but not a counter height one which is much better.

Today is a very relaxing day, aside from moving, we aren’t getting much else accomplished. Although, I happened to think that relaxing is very important. Tomorrow is the first day of our Spanish school so It’s good to take advantage of a bit of down time.

About an hour or so later…
I just had a little FaceTime with my friend Cindy and Skype with Natalie. I am a big fan of keeping in touch with my friends this way. It’s so nice to be able to catch up and chat with people back home. I’ve also discovered the chat feature on Facebook, and it’s a good thing as well. I got to have some great chat time with a couple of really good friends who I miss terribly, Rhonda and Sandy! There are so many different ways to correspond with everyone back home. Natalie was sitting on the beach in Carmel …. It was a beautiful sunny, blue sky day. Cindy took me for a walk around her beautiful backyard and showed me her huge hydrangea. Yes, technology makes it easy to stay connected from here.

The next morning…
Ahhhh. It’s a beautiful morning, again, here in the highlands of Boquete! Can you see the smile on my face as I’m writing this? We had a good nights sleep in our new apartment, in spite of the “king” sized bed that is actually two twin beds pushed together! UGG! The proprietors here at the inn keep pigeons and they are kept in these big cages outside our bedroom window. The cat’s are mesmerized by this set-up. They also have a pet parrot who apparently hates the rain! He screamed during the entire time that it rained yesterday, not a happy parrot. The funny thing is , he has a covered section in his little caged in home but was choosing to stand in the pouring rain, yelling his little head off! Could he be singing in the rain and it just sounds like screaming? It’s possible. Anyways , the cat’s are quite entertained by the pigeons and I think it will be prudent to close the windows when we leave the apartment or we may come home to two “cat shaped” holes in the screens.

As I wrote up above, yesterday, Today is our first day of Spanish class! Oh Boy! I’m both scared and excited. I’m scared because It’ss been a really long time since I’ve been in a classroom setting and I’m hoping this brain of mine is still capable of learning!! And I’m super excited because I love to talk to people and get to know them and this language barrier is really cramping my style!! I just can’t wait to have the ability to talk with whom ever I like! So I think the excitement and anticipation of being able to speak another language is the overriding emotion so I’m ready to tackle this! Like most of the new things I’ve found myself diving into, I’ll just dive on in with a positive attitude and enjoy the process of learning something new. It’s all part of the Adventure, right? Yep! I’ll keep you posted on our progress, one thing I’m certain about…Me and Scott won’t be in the same class, at the same level for long! That darn guy learns sooooo fast, I’m sure he’ll be in the next level before I know it! That’s ok though, we all just learn at a different pace and my pace just happens to need to be repeated , and repeated and repeated! I’m prepared to be in the moment and continue to remember to embrace that “Tranquillo” mindset in this situation and to “Breathe”. Oh and most importantly, I’m planning to enjoy the process! I’ll be meeting many new people and making new friends along the way, this is something to really look forward to. Sooooo Let’s get this part of the Adventure started!!