I feel like I’m running out of things to write about. When I began writing this blog the subject of making a decision to expatriate and to start a whole new life in another country was a very exciting, new and interesting thing to write about. Now that the flurry that was deciding, preparing and then actually making this move to Panama is done, I’m just living my life. It’s nearly ten months that we’ve been settling into this new life here. We’ve accomplished a lot in those ten months, for sure. After landing in Panama, making our way with our two cats to Boquete and then finding a place to live we had a very specific plan and so far we’ve been pretty successful in making our plan a reality. We wanted to create a life here and to build a home. Not just a physical ‘house’ but a ‘Home’. There are certain components to making a place a ‘home’. There is , of course the physical house where you live your day to day life but there’s also all the people that you connect with, and of course finding some sort meaning to your day to day life. For me, I’m still in that process , of finding out what that means for me….”Meaning” Hmmmmm. I’ve shared our process, the ups and the downs. And as of today, we seem to be just sort of ‘living’ our life.
As you know, we plan to ship a 40 foot container with our household belongings off to Panama. The plan is to leave all our belongings in two storage units until we return later in the year to facilitate the packing of the actual shipping container. We opted to do it this way in order to take advantage of one of the perks of the particular Residency Visa we plan to apply for, the Pensionado Visa. This perk is a one time only exemption on the import taxes on one container from your country of origin. This import tax would be 21 percent of what Panama values the contents of the container. whew! That would be quite a bit. ( this is the most recent information we have gotten , but if It’s different I’m sure we will soon find out, these things often change) This Residency Visa is one that is offered to retired people and although there isn’t an age requirement, there is a requirement to prove that you receive a lifetime income , of a minimum of $1,250.00 per month. Most retired folks could satisfy this requirement with a pension or Social Security but given the fact that we are too young for social security, we decided to purchase an annuity that will provide us with the required proof of lifetime income. This is what is causing the hold-up on shipping our belongings because the document proving we will have this income couldn’t be provided until we got our money from our house in the bank. Then they want to see three months statements from the annuity. Sooooooo we will come back to be here while the packing company packs the container.
We have rented two storage containers to hold all our belongings. It took us some time to find the right place that would work for us. There wasn’t a place that had a single unit to accommodate our belongings , One big unit would have been ideal but , oh well! So the shipping container is 2900 cubit feet , give or take, and our storage units equal 3700 cubic feet, so we are banking on the professional packers being able to pack that puppy much more efficiently than we packed, cuz we have those units packed to the rim. Of course we have a list of things we can abandon but we will just wait until packing day to just be sure we have to give up those things.
The very last big job we have had to accomplish , which by the way, we finally finished just yesterday,(Sunday), is Getting the last of our things into those storage units. We had a bit of a complication because one of the two units was a bit small to fit what we planned to fit so we decided to exchange it for one that had 5 more feet of space! The new unit was one row over from our existing unit so Scott and Me and a worker spent Saturday,(Scott and the worker were also working on it on Friday ) schlepping everything from one to the other! Yikes! Thank God for Dollies! This gave Scott an opportunity to pack the new unit much more efficiently and Voila! It all fit! Whew! Sunday, yesterday, we had to complete this task. On Friday while I was working for my last day, Scott was getting all the final things out of the house and he didn’t have enough time to get it all over to the storage so he left it all in our next door neighbors ( Janet ) garage. She kindly let us do this and she also let us use her pick up truck to get it all to the storage. We had two loads including my 10 boxes of my personal belongings from the salon. We were very relieved to have finished this last big job.
Now, today we have Lunch with Scott’s mom, Pat and Then I’m meeting Natalie and Elisabeth at the salon to get my hair colored one last time before I set out on Tuesday. But before we start the day we are about to get our final pack done here at the hotel. Tomorrow, (Tuesday) the plan is to meet Mariah at 7:00 am for breakfast then return the economy rental car that we have been driving this week, And pick up the SUV we will drive to LA with our four bags and two cats. Off We go! Soon we will be on the airplane headed to Panama , Big smile! What an Adventure it’s already been!
This is what our house looks like at the moment. Note all the suitcases lined up on the floor in the background? Not empty for long!
Today (5/15/13) has been a day filled with signing our names over and over and over again! Whew! We went to the title company and went through a huge stack of papers there. Then off to the attorney to sign the final drafts of our wills and our trust. Then the documents for Schwaab so they can do all their financial transactions through our new trust. Geesh , a lot of rigamarole today , that’s for sure. But all these things are important pieces of the final push to get on down the road.
There’s not much more to accomplish but what we do need to finalize we have just about 6 more days to do. We hope to be officially moved completely out of the house by the 21st. That means at the moment we need to finish boxing up the last few things that are still sitting around the house. A bit more clothes, I think Scott might be completely convinced that he’s married to a CRAZY person! I have wayyy too many shoes, I’ve already gotten rid of a ton of them but I just cant seem to rid myself of enough! Damn! I’m sure that I will never wear the mass majority of what I’m boxing up! By the time that container arrives in Boquete I will very likely open some of those boxes and be in agreement with Scott! Yes, I know I’m CRAZY! It just kills me to get rid of those adorable shoes! Shoot , man! It’s sooooo silly because most of the shoes that I have wouldn’t even be worn by locals if I even decided to donate them! GRRRRRR, The fact remains, they are boxed up and getting shipped to Panama! What’s a girl to do? I hope Scott’s head is attached really well to his neck cuz’ he’s shakin’ it so much lately , I’m expecting it to just tumble into one of those boxes andy moment now.!LOL!!
We will be checking into a hotel, cat’s in tow, on the 21 for the remainder of our time here. That is ‘after’ Scott gets done jumping through the hoops that are required to import cat’s into Panama. The hoop-jumping begins on Monday, (5/20) when we take the cats to the vet at 8:30 am for the “certificate of health” document which the vet needs to sign ( In the upper right hand corner!) . After that he will drop me and the cats off at our house and he will drive to Sacramento to the USDA (They do whatever they do to it there? ) and then he will hopefully have time to march over to the Secretary of State to then have it Apostiled (I think this is the proper hoop-jumping but I seem to get totally confused and it’s a good thing Scott is doing it and not me) !! He may have to stay the night in Sacramento if he doesn’t have time to hit both offices on the same day, which is why I cant go along, because I have to work on Tuesday morning. If your wondering why we are waiting until the very last minute to get all this done, it’s because this “oh so very precious” document must not be any more than 10 days old when we submit it to the authorities at the Panama City airport.
The other detail that we really need to deal with asap, is arranging our mail forwarding in Miami Florida. We seem to be having a difficulty creating an account on the web sight for some reason. I think we are going to have to find a phone number and try to see if we can talk to an actual person. This is a detail that we need to address asap, for sure! Aside from that little detail the salon is my last big thing to finish up with,sigh! I need to finalize all the contracts with Stephanie and with my landlord. My lease doesnt actually end until Dec, so I need to sign a termination of my lease contract. Then I have to bring some boxes over and start to pack up my personal things. Yikes! When do the ‘bittersweet’ moments end?
We’re almost there! These last few detail are daunting for us because we are exhausted, not only physically but mentally as well. This adventure is truly an Amazing Adventure but one that comes with sacrifices. Leaving all the people is not an easy thing. As I consider the sacrifices of leaving our home to begin a new life abroad I am reminded of the sacrifices of staying. If we stayed we would continue down the same path of working excessively in order to make enough money to be able to afford to survive here. For us this means not having much free time to enjoy each other and all those people who I’m saying farewell to right now. How many of those people do I wish I had had more time to socialize with? All of them! It’s such a vicious cycle of work, eat,sleep,pay bills, work, eat , sleep, pay bills. Yuck! I want off the merry-go-round we call life in the silicone valley! It’s time for us to figure out a way to live our life the way we really want to live it not the way our lifestyle dictates we live it in order to support all the “things” that make up that life. To me , I often feel ripped off. All these dinners, lunches, and bittersweet gatherings serve as a constant reminder of time lost, time I should have taken , but had no time or energy to do it. All in the name of a Mortgage, and property tax and income tax and blah , blah, blah! Was it all worth it, yes, would I have done some things differently , maybe. The fact is, I get to move forward with lessons of how I will live my life differently in this next phase. I don’t mean to sound as though I regret my life here, noooo, not at all. I just mean to say, as I spend much needed and much appreciated time with so many people I care so much for, I am constantly wishing I had made more time or had had more time to spend with them before now. We all know what they say about ‘Hindsight”, it’s 20/20! Oh Sooo very true.
It wont be long now and this blog will be coming to you from Panama! I’m sooooo looking forward to this next phase that we have planned for and strategized for and worked so hard to get to. Whew! 12 more days till liftoff!!! WHOOT!WHOOT!! BIG SMILE!!!
It’s count down time folks! (like you didn’t notice!) Now we’re down to the very last bits of the planning and Strategizing for this big move to Panama. When I think time is moving sooo slow I just go back and re-read some of my early blog posts. It gives me a fresh perspective on just how far we’ve come and how much we’ve accomplished in this last year. Whew! Boy, oh Boy, have we gotten a ton accomplished ! Of course, when I look back I feel like time has flown by fast.
Let’s see, this is what this last few weeks look like for us:
Our Calendar is getting more and more busy as each day goes by. This period of time was not possible to have planned until we got to where we are right now. The last few bits of the details, selling the truck, getting the rest of our possessions cleared out of the house, renting a car for the last few days,organizing all the cat paraphernalia for travel(travel crates,harnesses and leashes, food,water,flea medicine, toys,scratch pads,Blah,Blah,Blah!) ,staying in a local hotel for the last week,planning our financial situation,setting up a Trust,organizing the storage and packing it appropriately for the shipping container,getting all the documentations gathered properly for importing the cats,finishing up all the details of the transfer of my business to Stephanie,canceling utilities and all the other bills required for living here but unnecessary for Panama (like car insurance, health insurance,PG&E,you know the list, it goes on and on). When I begin to feel overwhelmed I just look back at all we had to accomplish to get to this point . Then I realize, that these last few remaining details are really very minimal in comparison. It wont be long now and we will be looking back at this time with a sigh of relief.
Once we arrive in Boquete We have a studio apartment rented for the first month. That will give us plenty of time to shop around for a more permanent situation. From all we’ve read about Boquete, it’s quite a Mecca for snowbirds during the winter months and about the time we are arriving many of those folks should be heading back home. Which means there should be plenty of longer term rentals available for us! The trick will be finding a ‘pet friendly’ rental! The right situation will turn up , of this I am certain. In the meantime, we are focused on the tasks at hand, and at the moment, that’s my glass of wine…tomorrow it will be a haircut, or maybe a bit of haircolor, maybe a highlight! One thing for sure, time is going by as it should and when we get to Boquete and get settled we’ll look back at this time and wonder how the time flew by so darn fast!!!
I Already Got Invited to join a book club in Boquete!!! Yipee! whoo hooo! I’m very happy about this development, as you can likely guess. Being a very big fan of reading but especially a big fan of making new friends and meeting new people, I’m overjoyed to have been invited. I was invited by my friend Sela. She is a wonderful lady who we met two years ago when we rented her casita in Boquete for our second visit there. She and her husband moved to Boquete many years ago from Bend Oregon and have a wonderful life there. As a matter of fact they are kinda our role models. They may or may not like to read that , I hope they don’t mind the title cuz’ I mean it in the most kind way! When we stayed at their casita they were so kind and generous with advise and information about their experiences living in Panama. We took notes and asked unending questions and they never batted an eye while we soaked up any information they would offer.
Fast forward to today and Al and Sela have been communicating with us frequently and giving us little bits of info when they think of it. We have emailed them a few times , well, I think I’m the one with the most questions, you know Scott, he likes to research online and try to find as many answers on his own as he can. I, on the other hand, like to ask questions. And they very generously an patiently answer and tell us how happy they are that we are on our way. It warms my heart to know that someone is looking forward to our arrival there. And to have been invited to Sela’s book club , well, those who know me know, I’m over the moon! I just hope I fit in with the ladies and that they like me. I already have the list of the books they have selected for the whole year and there are some books I’ve already read but would love to re-read and others I have wanted to read but haven’t gotten to yet, then there are some books I’ve never heard of. I’m looking forward to getting to know new people and I am still trying to imagine what it will be like to go to a ‘breakfast’ book club! Breakfast! Imagine,Not having to go to work, and going to book club in the morning! Well, it may seem silly to you but to me, it sounds sooooo decedent to have the time to enjoy a morning of chatting with a group of like-minded women while possibly enjoying a mimosa or a big cup of (locally grown) coffee! Ahhhhh! With my eyes closed, and a grin on my face, I am imagining it right now! It’s great!!
This week we went back to stay at the house until the close of escrow. Sigh. It’s just not home anymore. I can’t really pinpoint why I feel that way but I do. Although it could have something to do with the fact that I have nothing personal in the house anymore. (Shrug) Also, the reality is, it isn’t our home anymore. I think I may have said at one point in a post awhile back that I couldn’t wait to be ‘homeless’! Wellllllll, you know what they say about being careful what you wish for?? Yep! It’s true, we are on a path of our choosing and heading down that path there are going to be a few bumps and even a tear or two (or three or four). But as Scott says, ‘It’s a means to an end!’ I’ve said it many times and I continue to say, leaving our house is indeed very bittersweet. At the core of it though, It’s exciting and it’s something we will look back at and feel proud of having accomplished as a team. To have designed, and then actually built such a beautiful house all on our own, never even having had any experience doing such a thing before , is something to be proud of, for sure. I don’t know many people who would take on such a project and actually survive it! Or should I say, the relationship survived it! In the 13 years we have been together we have found immeasurable reward in participating together in activities that are new to us both. I swear, every couple should put themselves in situations and commit to activities where they are both learning something new as a team. I suppose most people who choose to have a family together are doing just that! Scott and I didn’t have children together and we have often joked that our house has been our baby. Hence, the attachment we feel for it. Just like a kid that grows up and eventually goes away, it’s time to let go. For goodness sakes! What a total and utter SAP I’m being! Geesh! I’ll be glad to be gone from the house again. Going back hasn’t been a good thing for me. I know Scott is not at all emotional about it like I am. To him it’s a means to an end. I promise I’ll stop these silly emotional posts as soon as we walk out that door. Oh, I also have to walk out the door to my salon as well for all the sappy stuff to be completely over! Again, Geesh! It’s been quite a ride this whole year. When we finally made our final decision on where we would move, the ball really started rolling fast. It’s been a forward motion and a march through list after list of ‘to do’s’. I think we’re both at the point in this process that we are just ready to go. The lists are shrinking and there are just a few more tasks to complete. With each step we make we get closer to our goal and we can see the light at the end of the tunnel now.
We aren’t sure when the close of escrow will be, it looks like sometime between May 11-24. Now It’s time to begin sorting through the rest of the small amount of belongings we have not yet put into storage. We will be able to bring four suitcases on the flight with us. One bag will likely be for cat stuff, litter box,food and water bowls etc. So Scott will have 1/2 a bag (shorts and a few t-shirts!) and I need to attempt to make do with whatever I can manage to fit into 2 1/2 bags! This is where Scott gets to role his eyes! Of course, it’s possible I could manage to squeeze Scott and The Cat’s stuff into one bag then I could have three whole bags! HMMMM! That may be a good plan. We are gettin’ down to the nitty-gritty now and if I thought I had paired down my belongings before, I ain’t seen nothin’ yet! Until our container arrives and we are able to get to some of the things from there, we will be just making due with the bare necessities. I honestly , in all seriousness, am looking forward to a much more simple existence in our next phase of life. As long as I have my iPad and some good hair products, oh! And my sweet man! LIfe is good! Wellllll, a couple bottles of wine too! ha! ha!ha! I better stop now , before that more “simple” existence I just claimed to be looking forward to begins to look awful similar to life as I know it now! ( But seriously, a girl’s gotta have her hair products, right?) Cheers!
Now that the biggest things on our list have been accomplished its time to slowly , one , by one , work our way through the remaining list of ‘To Do’s’. We need to set up our mail forwarding service in Miami. This will be our new U.S. address where we will receive any correspondence . First thing we need to do is get rid of as much paper bills and such as we can. Setting up electronic bill pay for whatever isn’t already set up that way. This shouldn’t be too many things because Scott already has most of our bills set up that way. Also, we shouldn’t have too many bills after we cancel out everything here.(Did anyone say whoohooo?) So the mail forwarding service will collect our mail and we will be allotted a weight amount that we pay monthly for. Anything over the allotted weight will be an extra charge. Then they send it to Boquete, possibly to Mailboxes Etc. We will gather our mail once a month.
I found an interesting solution to all the tons and tons of junk mail that we really want to stop receiving. If we keep getting junk mail we will end up actually paying for it! No thanks! There are services to rid you of all the tons of catalogs and credit card marketing junk. The one I have found is $35.00 for five years! So for five years they will continue to make sure you are off all the lists of mass mailing organizations. This sounds good to me. It will take about six weeks for it to actually kick in so it’s a good idea for us to get this started asap. Of course I just realized that means I have to actually try to stop throwing it all in the trash as I remove it from the mailbox. I need to give the name of the catalogs that I wish to have my name and address removed from.
This is yet another part of our preparations to begin our new life. Next up, making sure we have enough original copies of personal documents like marriage licenses and Birth certificates. These things can be very important especially while applying for certain documentation at government offices. They just love documentation in Panama, so we have read. We have also read that poor Scott will be required to actually wear long pants when going into government offices! Gasp! He’s not happy about having to bring pants with him , just when he thought he was finally going to be “Mr. Shorts”! Well, I suspect, he will mostly achieve that goal of nearly never having to actually be forced to wear those dreaded Dockers! It will hopefully be only very infrequently that we will be visiting government offices. After we retain our Pensionado Visa it should be a “shorts” only life for him.
There are still a few more ‘to do’s’ on our list but that list is slowly getting smaller and smaller with each passing day. We’re almost there, for sure! It wont be long now and these posts with start being about our new life in Boquete.
We picked up our Magic Jack yesterday. This is a device that we had heard about from other expats who raved about the efficiency of using it to keep in touch with their family and friends back home. It basically assigns you a local, California phone number when you activate it, (of course not ONLY California, you choose the location of the local phone number). Then, when we are in Panama we will have a local number for people to call us on. It costs us about $20.00 a year and that’s it. So it is equivalent to making a local call for anyone who calls us. It’s using wifi to place phone calls not unlike Skype or Vonage which are similar to Magic Jack. There are many different ways to go in terms of internet phone services but we are hoping this is going to be a good solution for us. We shall see. Stay tuned, I’ll let you know how it goes! For now, I”m very excited that we can give all our friends and family an actual local telephone number where they can reach us. Technology really has made the world a much smaller place. Of course, we have to be at home for our phone to actually work! Good luck catching us between hiking, exploring,roaming around the countryside and generally enjoying our new home.
We booked our flight to Panama! It’s official, we are actually doing this! I’m in a strange fog at the moment. This whole plan has been in the works for such a long time. The research, the planning, the dreaming, the work, work, work ! It’s all culminating in a flight to Panama City on Tuesday, May 28th. Time is flying by fast now. My move is changing so many peoples lives , and although everyone is really happy and supportive , they are very sad to see me go, as am I. It’s unavoidable, everyone knows that. But , there is no way around this period of time. My leaving is a loss to many. We have been in each others lives for a long long time. Even though our relationship consists of seeing each other mostly only once a month it’s still very hard to experience the end, not of the relationship but of the way we are accustomed to experiencing the relationship. Endings are really hard and its especially hard for those who stay when the other leaves.
Now that I’m at the part of my adventure that requires saying goodbye, It’s getting very sad and emotional for me and everyone else. Sigh. Let’s all be grateful for the time we have had together and for what the future may hold. I’m so grateful for each moment I’ve had the honor of sharing with all the people who have sat in my chair or in Natalie and Elisabeth’s chairs! I’ve had the pleasure of spending my days, for so many years, conversing with countless people who I admire, respect and have felt blessed beyond belief to have gotten to know. while I will miss the day to day exchange of conversation with all the wonderful people who I come into contact with in my salon, I am exceedingly grateful for having had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with each and every person I have chatted with . We have talked about books, travel, children, houses,husbands, school, childcare, teenagers,men, men and men,decorating, landscaping, ,work,motherhood,divorce,business,collage,retirement,sports,a bit about hair,death, life,family,marriage, sex,movies,health,animals,grandchildren,hobbies,art, iPads,Kindles,food, and countless other topics. I have LOVED connecting to each and every person who has walked through the door of my little salon . It’s a big part of what defines me. I have really enjoyed styling hair but I must admit I have found the most value and reward in just being in the presence of so many people who I admire. The reward that I find in the people I come into contact with is beyond description. I hope somehow to hold onto and never loose all those connections. Although they must change and even be redefined, they don’t really have to completely come to an end. No, it’s possible to remain connected through the magic of technology! I have finally caved in and joined the Facebook game and my blog will keep everyone updated on all the details of our adventure. For those of you who have access to Facetime on your Apple devices, I will be so pleased to video chat with you! My email will remain the same so please send me emails anytime you think of it. But most of all, I really hope that after we get settled in , you will come to Panama to visit! I know most will not do that but I will still have high hopes for at lease a few visits.
This next few weeks is sure to be pretty emotional so I will make sure to provide a box of Kleenex on my station at the salon for all the tears that will fall from our eyes. I think this is a good time for me to throw away my mascara! Let’s just get this weepy,sad,emotional part over with , shall we! There’s no escaping your “last” appointment and I’m touched by the fact that I am an important part of your life (as you are mine) and that you will miss me. No “Goodbyes”! Just, “See You Soon”! Cheers!
First things first. Airline reservations, did I mention ‘One Way!’ ( Whoo hoo!) Before we can book our tickets we first have to confirm that we can get the cats booked into Cargo on the same flight which is a Copa flight from LAX into Panama City. Of course they don’t make this an easy thing to do. There is no local office where we can just go talk to a real live person, nooooo. We have to call and arrange that with someone over the phone. So we leave messages and wait, and wait, and wait some more. GRRRR. It’s kinda frustrating because we are not able to purchase our tickets until we are certain they will be able to be in cargo. We have found flights into Panama City on Tuesday, May 28th. Ok, here’s where a whole weeks worth of clients begin to panic! Yikes! I have a booked schedule that last week through June 1 and now my email, Facebook page and voicemail is beginning to fill up! I’m sooooooo sorry everybody, please forgive me? It’s not a done deal quite yet, still working on the scheduling and booking but that is a date that looks like it would be workable, ( not for you, I know.) . I’ll do my best to get everyone in early so we can say our farewells. try not to panic quite yet, like I said, it’s not a done deal yet.
Well, it’s time to begin the next step or the next few steps! The house is sold, the cats are ready,our belongings are packed and ready for shipping,my salon is sold,my clients are extremely sad,gulp. What? you may ask is the next step? Well as soon as we put our signature on that contract for the house Scott was online looking for flights to Panama! Yep, first things first. Then we will contact the airlines to confirm that they have availability in cargo for our two guys. Retain the services of the pet relocation people, Golden Frog, Jose is the name of the person we have gotten very good reviews about. I’ve shot off a few emails to contacts in Boquete to see if anyone may have any recommendations of short term cat friendly lodging for us when we first arrive. We may not be able to secure our long term rental until we are actually on the ground in Boquete so it would be great to, at the very least, know we have a place to stay while we scour the area for something that will work for us for the first six months to a year. The right thing will pop up, of this I am certain. Otherwise you may read about the two globetrotting homeless people who are wandering around Boquete with two very angry kitties in tow. Ha!Ha!Ha! I jest, of course! I have no doubt that the right situation will reveal itself to us just when we are ready! Life is like that, isn’t it? So far, this whole Adventure has fallen together just as it should without too much pain and agony. Well, maybe a bit of pain but certainly no agony! : ) Here It Goes! An Adventure is Beginning in Earnest !
Ive written about my walk to work in earlier posts. Today,( Wednesday) I had a late start, 12:00. We had a couple of things to do at the house so we went over there from the apartment and I decided to walk to work instead of having Scott drive me. I really took the time to enjoy my walk to work since , very soon, I may not have many more opportunities to do that walk . My time alone as I stroll through my beautiful neighborhood is a time of reflection, a time to decompress, it truly feeds my soul. One of the many things I love to soak up as I walk are all the flowers in the gardens I pass by. There are so many different varieties of flowers blooming during different seasons of the year. This time of year the tulips are just about done doing their thing but they are still beautiful as they begin that iconic tulip drip . One yard always has a gorgeous display of springtime tulips and I never walk on by without gazing upon them with much appreciation. During the summer I love the roses! There are endless varieties of roses as I walk down the sidewalk. I especially like the house with the white picket fence that has a very happy climber that covers the little fence, bursting with miniature pink roses. I often think that little picket fence looks as though it couldn’t survive the weight of even one more little bud. I witnessed the evolution of that particular rose through many seasons. I see it burst forth with growth in the summer, growing and growing as the hundreds of tiny buds appear and then it just bursts, almost overnight, with beautiful tiny pink roses that smell delicious as I walk by with a smile . Then the display slowly fades as the tiny roses finish their show for the season. I never tire of pausing to take a whiff of the roses that I pass on my walk to work. Mother Nature is so amazing to me. And I believe I am a very fortunate girl for having had such a delightful walk to work day after day for so many years. Read the rest of this entry
When I think about all we need to accomplish in the next eight weeks I feel a bit weak in the knees! The biggest thing is the house needs to sell, then we have to shut down my business and transfer it to Stephanie, prepare the rest of our belongings for transport, prepare the cats and all the important documentation to transport them. Have you ever considered what needs to be done to shut down your life and start it up again elsewhere? Of course, many of you have done just that , your the ones who have ( in many ways) inspired me! We have a long list of phone numbers and account numbers of everything we need to cancel, credit cards, AT&T, PG&E,Homeowners insurance, health insurance,Water, Garbage,bank accounts, Whew! And that’s not including all the Salon things that I need to cancel or transfer. If for some crazy reason our house isn’t sold and escrow closed by June 1, We are kinda screwed cuz I wont have a job anymore ! Yikes! I don’t even want to think like that ! It has only been two weeks, almost three since the house was listed for sale and there has been a lot of interest, just no official offers yet. The landlord at our temporary apartment told us we will only have the apartment until May 4 so hopefully we will have a much more solid vision of what comes next. This Limbo time is very troubling and Im trying to think positive and remember the “Poco a Poco” mindset ! Little by little Holly, Just one day at a time is all we should focus on. It’s hard when your a planner by nature. Scott is much better at this mindset. He seems so untroubled by the temporary uncertainties that are facing us. I try to adopt his relaxed , seemingly untroubled demeanor but It’s doesn’t always work. I’m pretty good at faking it though, I probably look calm on the outside but boy oh boy, I’m not! I am constantly reminding myself to focus on today, one step at a time, relax, breath, all that good stuff I’m sure to believe it sooner or later. Don’t get me wrong, I have moments of calm and I know everything always works out just as it should. Usually as soon as I just let go, thats when Everything falls into place. So, I think my mantra for the day is, “Poco a Poco!” , “Poco a Poco!”, Ahhhhh! Much better, this is me, relaxing and letting go! Any minute now things will be tumbling into place and before I know it I’ll be writing a post about how crazy we are as we try to prepare to set up all the details of the move. Well, Well, Well, be careful what you wish for, I wished for an Adventure, and an Adventure I am having! Life is good! Crazy, but Good!
The time is fast approaching. We’ve worked really hard and concocted a plan that we have been very focused on achieving. It seems as though we have been obsessed with our relocation to Boquete forever! In reality we made our final decision on the location last year in June. I remember how excited I was to have finally made the decision after so much time researching where to go. The decision to move to another country seemed easier to make than the decision of ‘where’ to go. We decided on a path, made our list of tasks that needed to be completed and began to march in that direction. The biggest milestone in our march towards our final goal has been to ready the house to sell. Now that we are anxiously awaiting an offer on the house we find ourselves able to sit back for a minute and take a deep breath. Of course while Ive been at work Scott has been trapped in our little apartment getting all our taxes ready so we can submit it on time. He’s not feeling like he’s necessarily gotten to catch his breath quite yet!
I love reading! I’ll read almost anything, Historical fiction, non fiction, satire,fantasy, you get the idea, literature is my friend. In my mind, there’s nothing more delightful than being completely enveloped in a story and just relishing in each chapter, wishing all along that the chapter I’m in or the book itself would never end. It’s like saying goodbye to a cherished friend when I finish a particularly engrossing book. I was thinking about this today as I was discussing with a friend , all the transitions I am currently facing. She said something very apropos , ” It must be so hard for you right now when your facing so many “transitions” and so many exciting, new beginnings are awaiting you in Panama”. This made me ponder how a chapter must be complete before the next chapter can begin. Isn’t that just what a Chapter is about? It’s a transition , a place in the story where a new point of view begins or a different sequence of events begins. Such a true statement , and an analogy that is close to my heart. As an avid lover of all things literature, drawing a parallel to a difficult, sad or challenging event in my life with my love of books really speaks to me.
A new chapter is not an ending to the story, not at all, it’s a point in the story line where a different direction may begin or a different narrator begins a different perspective . All the same characters remain a part of the story, the next chapter is what I almost always look forward to experiencing. Depending upon the book, sometimes I may dread or fear what direction the storyline may take on in the next chapter. But dread or fear never stop me from continuing on to see what the next chapter will bring. I’m often pleasantly surprised by a turn of events or by the introduction of a new character into the storyline. The story just gets better and better as more complexities are layered into the narrative. A good story must do just that, it must twist and turn and cause you to follow the story with baited breath .
Aren’t we all the authors of our own story? Yes, there are plenty of experiences that present themselves to us which may seem as though we would be self destructive to have written that into our own story on purpose! But I think it’s ‘how’ we decide to travel through those parts of the story and ‘how’ or ‘if’ we decide to carry the results of those more complicated life experiences along the path that is our story. There are some juicy parts to the story that only we can decide where it will take us. There are those who choose to believe that they are the victims of their life, that they have been dealt a bad hand, I say “Peshaw!” Buck up! Everybody gets to experience difficulty of some sort during their lifetime, It’s the fire of life that we must walk through to find our strength and our power. I’m taking the reigns of my story. I’m creating the next chapter and it’s building on the chapters that Ive already been through. It is a thrilling story with suspense and humor a story that is unpredictable and I’m on the edge of my seat as the suspense is building and the story is getting more thrilling to me as time is passing.
Don’t we all look forward to the next chapter? Transitional life moments are often fraught with powerful emotions. I’m in the midst of a new chapter myself. As you can see , from this post, It’s on my mind a lot. Transitional times are not unusual but having the opportunity to actually plan it and make it happen is not always the case. Many changes in life are just natural life transitions like becoming an adult, living on your own for the first time, getting married, having a child, starting a career, then your child grows up, you become an empty nester, maybe you decide its time to retire. These new chapters are somewhat predictable , at least they are events that you expect. They are events that most folks have expectations of experiencing at some point in time. Scott and I have chosen to write a storyline that is not so predictable. Ours is a road less traveled. Many have gone before us and made a life for themselves abroad, created a completely new storyline. This is our “Next Chapter”. Instead of allowing the chapters to unfold in a traditional path, we’re customizing the next chapter to appeal to our sense of adventure and our desire to experience something totally different and unpredictable. Oh, we have a plan but that plan is simply a ‘rough draft’ of the story. We don’t know exactly what twists and turns it may take and we may find aspects of our adventure will occasionally need to be edited or re-written in places. That’s the way it goes in life, and we are prepared to expect the unexpected. Expecting the ‘expected’ sounds , oh sooooo boring after all. What genre is ‘your’ story? Ours is part suspense, a bit of a thriller, often a comedy, but mostly a mystery. We don’t know all the answers or what turns may come next , and the suspense keeps us on the edge of our seat!
We moved into our temporary apartment on Friday(March 15) . It’s a furnished apartment in Santa Clara, about 20 minutes away from Los Altos. As I’ve said before, we looked at staying at a pet friendly long term hotel but this place provided much more room at a much more economical cost. So our very first night was quite a comedy. First , before leaving our house in Los Altos, we could not find one of our cats, Copper. They both have been rather Traumatized with all the commotion going on in their home lately. They have both spent all day everyday this past two weeks , hiding in the basement only coming out at night when we would sit down to relax and it was quiet around the house. Poor guys, I feel so bad for them. They must be very confused by all the recent upheaval . So on Friday, moving day, Scott and I first made a trip to the apartment with a load of our belongings so that when we came back with the cats they wouldn’t have and opportunity to sneak out the door while we moved things in. When we went back to the house to retrieve the cats only Midnight was there. We waited and searched until after 9:00 and just finally had to leave without Copper. We knew we would be able to find him eventually so were not especially worried. Midnight was not happy about the move , of course. I figured it would be a rough first night with him meowing and climbing all over us as we attempted to get a bit of sleep the first night. I was right about him, he was like a magnet to my hair, clawing and clawing my hair and head and wondering around the new place all night long. At one point he finally settled down for a bit and then some kid in the complex began yelling at the top of his lungs, ” Don’t Talk To Me!!, Don’t Talk To Me!” It was really loud and then when he finally stopped his rampage we began to go back to sleep, and outside out window was a very loud ‘QUACK!” ‘”Quack!” ( insert eye roll right about here) Scott said,”What the Hell is that???” My answer… “A Duck?” As it turns out, the swimming pool is just outside our bedroom window and a pair of very chatty ducks were enjoying a very early morning float in said pool! They were involved in a very exuberant conversation and did not care who was eavesdropping!
We’re not in Los Altos anymore! Welcome to apartment living. We have been in our temporary housing for a week now and It’s actually going very well. The next morning after very little sleep, I realized that our bedroom window was not closed and that explained why everything was so loud. It has since been closed and we now have two cats who are very slowly and not very happily adapting to their new surroundings. They are slowly beginning to let up on the nightly ‘walking on our heads’, maybe they feel as though they have tortured us enough for the time being! Now that the mad dash to prepare the house is over we are trying to be with the cats as much as possible. We feel so bad about having to leave them alone so much right after we took them there. After this week Scott should have a bit of down time so hopefully he will be around there a bit more, that will make the cats happy , although getting at those darn ducks would probably make them the most happy! Come to think of it, a nice ‘Duck’ dinner doesn’t sound half bad!!!
For those of you who are not retired yet, Try to imagine if you had 10 more weeks until it was time to begin a new chapter in your life! For those of you who have already begun A shiny new chapter, you know just how excited I must be. I’m excited and terrified all at the same time! For nearly 30 years I have known what each day held for me. Maybe not exactly what each day would bring but I could predict with relative accuracy, what my day would hold. Now as I look forward to 10 weeks from now, it is unwritten, it’s not predictable at all. To some , this fact would be unacceptable. To me and to Scott, the unpredictability is exhilarating! The unpredictability is not just related to my career, but to every single aspect of my life! People I will come into contact with, food, where I will live, language, customs and traditions, even the landscape I will see when I look out the window in the morning will be different. In 10 more weeks I will wake up with the reality of a fresh new start.
What will our “fresh new start” look like? Your guess is as good as mine! We can plan and strategize and make arrangements all we like, but we still won’t know exactly what will happen once we hit the ground in Panama. Things could go as planned or more likely it could be a comedy of errors! Let’s just hope we can have a sense of humor and roll with the punches as we navigate our new, unpredictable life. We are planning to find a furnished place to rent for our first year in Boquete. We are hoping to be able to find a place fairly soon, we’re always keeping our eyes open , watching online on forums what is happening in the rental market there. Our friends, Al and Sela may have a place available close to town but we don’t know much about it yet so we are looking and attempting to keep our eyes peeled for just the right spot. Our cats are most likely going to be a bit of an issue, limiting us on what we can rent. I totally understand landlords wanting to restrict renting to folks with pets. The right place will show up eventually, of this I’m sure.
I envision our early days in Boquete being filled with a bit of relaxing and getting acclimated with everything. Stocking up on food and essentials. Getting the cats settled, getting signed up for spanish classes, relaxing some more, maybe getting caught up on my reading. All this and also getting all our essential things lined up like banking and cell provider and wifi and I’m sure we will still have a bunch to do about our residency visa. We will see how long we can live without a car, taxis are pretty cheap and easy to use, we shall see how long we last. Buying a car in a foreign country will be an adventure. I hope we will be able to find an animal sitter so we can get a bit of traveling in. But, wait! I still have 10 more weeks, and I am planning on enjoying these last few weeks. I’m gonna hug everyone I can hug and I’m planning on appreciating each and every moment with all the people in my life here. Not that I will not see everyone again, cuz It’s not goodbye! Noooooo! It’s “farewell”, “see ya soon!” and “Bon Voyage!” Initially there will be tears but then time will pass and we will become accustomed to being connected via, Facetime, email, Facebook, my Blog, Skype, and even the old fashioned telephone! The world is not so big these days and I have a feeling many of you who I only see and catch up with once a month or so will be hearing from me much more frequently. You’ll probably wish you’d stop getting so many emails from ‘Let The Adventure Begin!’ Yes, it will not be “The Same”, but who says “The Same” is the best? “Different” will work!
As I’m counting down 10 more weeks, I plan to savor the joy and anticipation I’m feeling . Beginning anew is not something that happens everyday and I’m really excited, filled with so many different and varied emotions. There are so many things happening at the moment with the beginning of trying to sell our house and moving into our little apartment and selling my business, just to name a few. I could be stressed and grumpy and sad and many other less optimistic emotions but I’m choosing to be focused on all the exciting aspects of this next chapter. Yes, An Adventure is A’ Brewin’, for sure! WhooHooo! 10 More Weeks! La, La, La! ( That’s me doing a Happy Dance!) I hope your dancing with me!
Now that the house is ready to be gobbled up by someone who just can’t live without it, we are living in our little apartment and waiting for the next step in this big adventure of ours. Scott is finishing up a few more details at the house, clearing out his workshop being the biggest chore at the moment. He needs to sort through his big mess back there and decide what he wants to keep and what he will give away or throw away, sounds like my Hollyween purge huh? It’s a pretty big job and he is hoping to be nearly done by mid week. There are still a few little details to address inside the house like installing a few more handles on cabinets and finalizing all the CAT5 wiring. The outside sprinkler system is getting a few repairs done at the moment as well so I wont have to keep doing the watering by hand which takes a couple of hours to complete now that the yard is landscaped all around. As soon as Scott gets his workshop all cleaned and packed up the only thing left to do is wait for our buyer to step up! Hopefully that wont take too long.
I am still planning to work until June 1. I have sold the salon to a friend and as soon as she has her meeting with the landlord we can begin to finalize all that. I haven’t written too much about that yet because she has not officially told her co workers where she is currently working so it’s still kinda hush, hush. The time between now and June 1 will be busy choreographing the move to Panama. Up until now we have obviously been completely focused on selling our home but now the next phase is all the paperwork and details of making an international move. We have to retain a container moving company and arrange the date for them to load all our belongings into the container from our storage facility. We still have all the paperwork to gather and complete for importing our cats to Panama, lot’s of work on that front. We will most likely retain the services of a pet relocation company that we have found in Panama. We need to begin the process of getting our permanent residence visa for living in Panama. Retaining an attorney in Panama is the first step in that process then we will proceed as we are instructed by them. Let’s not forget our taxes! Dee (my accountant) will be happy to know that is on the top of our list of things to do in the next few days!
Yes, we have made it through the preparation of our house and next up is all the technical stuff. No rest for the weary! I’ll be back to my busy schedule at the salon and Scott will be busy with all the gathering of all the documentation required to move our cats, our belongings and US to Panama! As soon as we get to Boquete, we are gonna really need a drink and possibly a hammock where Scott can sleep for about a week! This Adventure is so far proving to be much work and we are looking forward to having some down time after June. Time is flying by , to be sure!
Whew! Today was yet another productive day at our soon to be on the market house. I did a bit of running around while Scott was working on the never ending job of finishing up cabinetry and overseeing the finishing up of the drip system one of the workers was working on. My mission was to try to find a replacement for the missing safety pull out doohickey that makes the jacuzzi run, ( I failed miserably) then mission number two was to locate and order or buy pieces of glass for the four cabinet doors in the dining room area. I’m pleased to report that my mission was a success! Aside from the fact that the guy made a booboo on one piece and I have to go back tomorrow to get it, no big deal, I was just overjoyed to be able to walk out with three beautiful pieces of glass.
A Few Days Later, Tuesday, March 19
It’s been a grueling few days! Remember those beautiful pieces of glass? Well the painters broke all but one of them! Rats! Well, back to the glass store! It took them a few days to order more of the glass so I picked them up yesterday, we should be good to go on that! I also ran around while Scott was chipping away at the remaining details of his woodwork for the interior. I went to the storage unit to drop off a few more boxes. We have just been trying to empty out all the little nooks and crannies in the house so Ive been just tossing things in boxes taping them up and throwing them in storage. We may end up opening some of the boxes when we get to Panama and wondering why in the heck we brought that! lol! Like I said, I was the, ‘Run Around Girl” yesterday, after picking up the replacement glass I went to the hardware supply place to get more drawer slides and cabinet hinges and 14 more cabinet handles. Then back to the house, anxious to see what the stagers had done to my house. Then after the flurry of people left I tacked installing the covers on the plugs all through the house and making sure all the hardware is installed on all the windows. I also cleared out my glorious closet and made it look beautiful.
Today I’m back to work, the work were I actually get paid! : ) I just hate not being at the house helping with all the last bits of final work but I guess we do still have a mortgage to pay so we just have to divide and concur ! The Realtor is stopping by the house to check out the staging at 8:30 then the stagers return at 9:30 to polish it all off then the virtual tour photographer arrives at 12:45 and the Realtors have invited some of their top producers over to help determine pricing. and then at 6:15 when I’m done working we will meet Christy and Ed to discuss all the listing details. Whew! I think the biggest job Scott has left to accomplish is packing up his workshop which is a pretty big job but should be able to get at least a big amount of it done by the time the open house happens on Saturday. One of my favorite blogging friends posted a blog that included a phrase she and her husband learned in Spanish class, ‘”Poco a Poco”, Little by Little! Yes, We can see the light at the end of the tunnel and Poco a Poco we will get it done.