Tag Archives: living in Panama

Our Two Year Anniversary Living In Panama!

Standard

20140707-112852-41332107.jpgTwo Year Anniversary…

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!

Read the rest of this entry

Advertisements

I Wish You Were Here…

Standard

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

Practicing My Spanish…

Standard

Practicing my Spanish….

I’ve been finding all sorts of new opportunities to practice speaking spanish. Unfortunately I haven’t had any time to get together with my two Panamanian girlfriends to practice since moving to Jaramillo Centro. Living right next to our casita project makes it much easier for me to help Scott in many different ways so I’ve been busier than ever now. No longer do I only make lunch and take care of banking and bookkeeping. Nope..now many mornings I drive into town to pick up our workers and I also started to help transport materials up to our work site. So, what does this have to do with my Spanish practice? Well, you see….this means I’m in a car with spanish speakers! And they’re trapped with me! Whahahahah! Soooooo I muddle through trying to chit chat in spanish with them. Hah! When I’m driving the truck up and down our hill Edgar rides with me and we talk about his family in Bocas del Toro, or about his hobbies or my hobbies, about California, about music and all sorts of different things. I know my grammar is hideous and I sound like a two year old, but I really love to keep practicing. Then in the mornings and the evenings our other two workers are trapped in the car with me, so I try my best to chat with them, now, they are much more like my husband….not big chatters!! Pffffffft! I don’t let that stop me…noooo! I ask them millions of questions and I try hard to think up something…anything to talk about on our ride down the hill, boy do they jump out of my car quickly when I get to town! Now that Kat & Al have left us in charge of their house I’m managing her two gardeners and her cleaning lady…all of whom I am torturing with my bad Spanish! I love it! Read the rest of this entry

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

Standard

Getting Scott’s truck registered…

20140626-162351-59031871.jpg

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

Poco a Poco, Still….

Standard

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

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

Standard

20140611-074555-27955239.jpg

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

Our One Year Anniversary Of Living In Panama!

Standard

20140530-134423-49463863.jpg

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.

Read the rest of this entry

Living The Casual Life..

Standard

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

Losing a pet, it’s hard to be my positive self…

Standard

20140305-205416.jpg

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.

Ummmm…..I’m not proud of this….

Standard

Okay, I’m gonna share a gross thing that happened but, remember….I warned you, it’s gross! I don’t know if this is a normal thing that just happens to everyone… no matter where you live or if it’s a function of my being just an incredibly lousy housekeeper (which could quite possibly be the case!) or could it be that this occurrence was a function of living in a more humid, tropical climate? Of course there’s the possibility that this gross development occurred as a direct result of my lack of proper knowledge in the area of hand washing dishes (a domestic Goddess, I am not!) . Specifically , the maintenance and care of the hand dish washing “equipment”, the drying rack , (eye roll!) this could quite possibly be part of the reason this awful, disgusting event occurred in my kitchen! My inexperience of living without a dishwasher (I KNOW!, No Dishwasher….JEEESH!) therefore requiring me to own that darn drying rack thingy, conveniently located on the counter next to the sink . That little black drying rack sits right next to the sink at all times, just waiting for the clean, wet dishes to be stacked up there to dry. Oh how I miss my dishwasher…Sigh! Anyways, as I was saying….I had a rather traumatizing and deeply upsetting, even disgusting (you get the idea…it wasn’t good) event that has to do with my lovely new friend, the drying rack. Have I caused enough suspense? Or have I just managed to be terribly annoying and whiny? Well, that’s because I’ve been trying to give all of my sensitive readers enough time to run fast away from the screen that your reading these words on….okay, here it goes….

It happened several months ago and I’m only just now able to talk about it. As I was cleaning the kitchen , putting away all the dry dishes I casually noticed that the little black tray that sits under the drying rack to catch the dripping water off of the clean dishes was full of water. I had not really ever paid much attention to that before, just letting all that water sit there. “Hmmmm? I wonder how long that water’s been sitting there?” After emptying the rack I decided to pour that old water into the white sink and as I dumped the water I was horrified to discover that along with the water came a bunch of little, tiny black worms!!! YIKES!! UGGGGGG! BLAAAAAA!!! !@#$ EWWWWWW! Gross! Oh my gosh! And my clean dishes were just sitting above all those worms! How long has that been going on???? Well, has this ever happened to you? I just about lost my breakfast! I of course opened up the cabinet below the sink and grabbed the bleach and soaked that dish rack in Bleach! And then I had to rewash everything in the kitchen!! I gotta admit, I’m not the most fanatical clean freak but…. worms!!! Ya, that discovery really necessitated a major cleaning and sanitizing binge! Ewww! (shiver!) Needless to say, I now have a very clean drying rack that gets rinsed off and thoroughly dried after every use now. Now, that’s what I call a ‘Live & Learn’ experience! Things really seem to grow fast here, even worms! But who knows how long I had let water sit in the bottom of that drying rack! (looking up to the heavens…) Oh how I’ve learned sooooo many interesting things on this Adventure! But, I’m hoping future lessons don’t’ include worms!

As you can see, I have a few things to learn about being in charge of the house cleaning! It just may be about time for me to hire someone else to do such things! I’ve just never been destined to be a homemaker, of this I am most certain. I’m not bad at going to the market to buy groceries or working in the garden, and I can set a beautiful dinner table, I like to think of myself as a pretty good decorator too, but my cleaning skills, I will readily admit, are greatly lacking! I can fake it and tidy everything up just before someone comes over but that day to day, regular deep cleaning….ya….I’ve just never been one to spend much time stressing over that sort of thing. This fact may be a function of being a full time professional and single mother for most of my adult life. I never had the pleasure of spending all that much time at home except for after a long day at work, only to get home and figure out what to feed my daughter. And then of course, when Scott came along (when Mariah was 7 years old), we would all get home from our long day and roll right into preparing dinner. The house was a place to eat and sleep. This new Adventure has really changed all that for me. I gotta admit, I’m actually enjoying all this domestic junk that I’ve never had time or energy to do. Of course, I could use a little work on keeping the worms from growing in the kitchen, but aside from that little drama, I’m feeling pretty good these days.

I’ve always told myself that I hated cooking and cleaning and caring for the maintenance of the home. But realistically, when did I ever in my life have a lot of time to do such things? Never! I’m gonna tell you something that may shock you, if you know me at all….I’m actually doing more cooking that Scott is!!! Yes! You read that right! (eye roll!) Now, don’t misunderstand me…I did not say I was doing it “WELL”! I’ve managed to keep the guy reasonably fed, and he hasn’t even gotten sick or anything….although…..just yesterday my friend Andrea did just say..”Boy, Scott’s really lost a lot of weight!” Well…..I don’t think that has anything to do with my cooking!! (HEY! No laughing!!!) He’s just getting a lot of exercise lately! I get up every morning with him at 6:00 and I make him a nice breakfast…And then, everyday at 12:00 I four wheel it up to the property, set up two folding chairs in the shade with the cooler and bring him a nice lunch! Crazy, huh! But I’m really enjoying it! I do all the grocery shopping and come up with menu’s for the week and your not gonna believe this…I even bake him homemade peanut butter cookies all the time!! Yep!!! It’s true! This retirement thing has been a major shift in my life in countless ways! It wasn’t long ago that I was bemoaning figuring out what my new “Path” was gonna be….well, my day’s are quickly filling up and a rhythm is beginning to set in. This new rhythm is quite pleasing to me in so many ways.

Many of my fellow bloggers and expats have assured me that a day would come when I would wonder where the time was going….well, here it is! Between being in charge of keeping some semblance of order in our home life, keeping laundry done, making sure there’s food in the house, feeding Scott, attempting to keep the house at least sorta clean (eye roll!) And then being the only one of us who can run around trying to get all the banking and visa busywork done, and let’s not forget my new exercise routine (Zumba 2 times a week and soon to be working with a trainer to up my routine!) and my new English students which is a couple hours every day but Friday. Whew! I tell ya….my days really fly by! So can ya give me a little slack on my negligence with the kitchen worm farm?? No? Ya…I gotta agree, that was kinda over the top disgusting…..”What?”…. did you say I need to get a cleaning lady? I could not agree more wholeheartedly! I’ll get right on that! But first I’m committed to doing a bit of schlepping for Scott today….remember, sand, gravel, concrete? Ya, that’s today! But before I leave the house I’ll make sure that damn drying rack is clean and dry! Ugggg!

Scott’s making some serious progress…

Standard

20140228-142753.jpg

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

Still Working On Getting Our Permanent Residency Visa….

Standard

Boy Oh Boy is this process of gathering all the proper documents for our residence visa a pain in the !@#. We’ve had to wait for three months to begin the process because we needed to provide three months bank statements to prove our lifetime income from the annuity we’re using to satisfy the “lifetime income” requirement. What we didn’t do that we should have done (listen up those of you who are planning to apply for this visa)…we should have gone ahead and began the collecting and Authenticating, getting documents Apostilled, notarized and blah,blah, blah long ago. Now we find ourselves in the unfortunate situation where we’re scurrying to figure out how to do all this before our FBI background check expires in a couple weeks! Yikes! I rrrrrreally don’t want to have to go through the whole crazy fingerprinting thing in Panama City all over again!!

I think one of the more frustrating aspects of this process has been getting consistent answers about what needs to be notarized, what needs to be Authenticated and where and who can do this. Oh, and I am pretty sure all these documents will also need to be translated into Spanish as well. I’ve been on the phone all morning to both the Miami and the Houston Panama consulates trying to ascertain the best way to go about getting all this done. It looks like Scott may be taking a quick trip to Houston tomorrow (sat). And the question still remains, will his FBI report become void when he leaves Panama? Again, very different answers on that one too! We finally have all the papers that we need, with the exception of one thing that we had mailed to Scott’s mom in California, and we will have to have her overnight it to whatever hotel Scott ends up staying at. I’ve met some really lucky and smart folks who have gotten all this done well before their move here and boy do I envy them. We didn’t have the luxury of that option because of the proof of income part. We couldn’t invest in our annuity until the sale of our house and then the requirement of 3 months bank statements showing the income and also a notarized letter of authentication from the institution that holds the annuity took some time as well. We’ve been dealing with a lot of back and forth with many different people trying to slowly and for the most part patiently wait for each piece of this puzzle. Now that we finally seem to actually have all the documents required to start the application process, all that’s left to do is get those stamps of Authentication and notary. Then we can hand them all to our attorney in Panama City and see what’s next. The only part I’m a bit nervous about is the FBI reports. I just hope the information we received from our attorney, (which seems to be totally different from several other people who have gone through this) about the fact that we already left Panama once after having had the background check done. Everyone else has gotten the very specific instructions to not leave the country after the background check or it becomes void. But we had to do our border run in order to have a valid drivers license.

So, we shall see where we are with this after Scott gets all the Authentication done in Houston at the Panamanian Consulate. It will be so nice when this part of our adventure is done. Having our Pensionado will make it so much nicer to live here. For those of you who aren’t regular readers of my blog, in order for our California drivers license to remain valid we are required to leave the country for 24 hours every 90 days. Humph! It’s quite a PIA! We are really hoping not to need to do it again. So cross your fingers that we have gathered all the correct documentation and it’s all properly notarized , authenticated and appostilled . Scott will be heading out tonight (sat) to take the overnight bus to Panama City(7 hours) in order to catch an early flight to Houston on Sunday . Then he’ll be at the Panama Consulate first thing Monday morning and if all goes well he flies back to Panama Tuesday evening,and then catches another bus back to David . Whew! I’ll let you know how it goes….