Tag Archives: Panama City

A couple days in the city and back home again…

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We had to take a little three day jaunt to Panama City to take care of our final application process for our Cedula. We took a 5:30 flight on Saturday and just got home last night, Tuesday. Getting a Cedula is not required to be a resident in Panama but its just a good thing to do. As I understand it, the Cedula is sort of like a Social Security card in the States. You are assigned a permanent ID number that never changes. This is important because having a Cedula takes you out of the immigration department completely. When you have a Cedula you no longer have to go through the immigration line at the airport, you are actually a legal Panamanian resident. Our attorney told us we can now put our passports away, we only ever need our Cedula as ID now. Another little detail that makes having a Cedula so good is that many legal documents here like car registration and your drivers license are linked to your Passport number which will change when it expires and you get a new passport. The changing number of your passport is just a hassle because you then have to go through the process of changing all the things that had that old number on them. Once you use your Cedula number for your ID you never have to worry about changing anything, this, in my opinion, was worth one more trip to the city and one more visit to a government office with our attorney. Plus it only cost us $65.00 each and $150.00 for our attorney. Well, I guess you could say that it also cost us a trip to the city but we combined the trip with shopping for things for the main house that we are now beginning to build.
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My Best Ever Mother’s Day Present…

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Well, all the waiting and anticipation is over and my precious daughter is finally here with me in Panama. I had the best Mother’s Day ! It’s been almost a whole year since I’ve seen her and to have her right here next to me makes my heart so happy. Her journey went well and she arrived in Panama City without having any problems with her flights from California. I must admit, I had a bit of a panic attack when she told me that her friend was arriving at her house in San Jose at 6:30 to drive her to the San Francisco Airport for an 8:30 P.M. flight! “WHAT!” Oh my god, I was quickly texting her that she needed to get to the airport at least 2 hours early for an international flight. She had a layover in Vegas but her bags would have to be checked in for the international flight. The drive from San Jose to SF is at least 45 minutes, which means she would not get to the airport until after 7:00 for an 8:30 departure. This is her first time traveling internationally and I was very nervous, I know….”Where’s that ‘tranquilo’ Holly?” Humph! The possibility of her missing the flight had my stomach in knots! My daughter has a natural ability to have that affect on me…hah! Some things never change… Read the rest of this entry

We all have such different views, all spectacular in different ways…

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Spending time here in the city with Emma and experiencing a little bit of how her life plays out in Panama City, has been a lot of fun and pretty interesting. She’s lived in Panama City for about 3 years. What brought her here from Arizona was a job as a music teacher at an international school. As much as I’m enjoying the tranquility of life in the highlands of Panama in a small town, I must say, Living in the city is much more conducive to being an active, ambitious 20 something career women with a social life. She lives in a beautiful high rise apartment on the 16th floor (27 floors in the building), that has a spectacular view of the skyline of the city. I’m struck by just how safe it feels living in an apartment like this with a very secure parking garage and a security guard in the lobby. Of course, that’s the “mom” in me thinking about safety, hah! Read the rest of this entry

The “Feria De Las Flores Y De Cafe” is upon us!

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What is the Feria De Las Flores Y De Cafe? Well, it’s my first time to be here in Boquete for this event so I can only describe what I’m seeing so far. Judging by the amount of preparation that has been going on at the Feria grounds all month and all around town as well, it’s a big deal. I’ve seen many store and restaurants repainting and hanging new signs, lot’s of general clean up going on as well. Oh, the town of Boquete is preparing for something that is obviously very big! Since the name of this glorious town actually brings to mind a “Boquete”,( but don’t be fooled it does not MEAN Boquete!) flowers are an obvious theme for a Feria! And Add to that, abundance of flowers , all the coffee fincas spread out all over the mountains here and Cafe is most definitely something to be celebrated. So I’m assuming this Nine day celebration is in honor of these most abundant, and beautiful aspects of Boquete. And have I mentioned , these Panamanians love a Party! Aside from the most amazing flower beds that seem to have bloomed, incredibly, just in time to be celebrated…I see Massive stages being built! There will most assuredly be music! And most likely lots of dancing and general merriment well into the wee mornings at the Feria Grounds. It seems as though there are many more cars in town as well as touristy looking Panamanians who I’m sure are in town to join in on the fun. l love seeing all the people strolling along the bridge with cameras , taking photos of the flower beds at the Feria grounds. It is looking quite spectacular indeed. I will let you know what all the hubbub is as soon as I take a stroll myself and check it out. I suspect it will be crowed, but the good news is, my ankle is almost totally better, so who knows, I might even shake my booty a little bit if the music is playing when I’m there! Of course Scott will run for the hills!

Many of my readers have been asking me about Scotts journey and if he’s back home. Yes, he’s back home again. I picked him up on Tuesday. Unfortunately his trip was not a successful one. He was trying to get to the Panamanian Consulate (not to be confused with the “American” Consulate here in Panama) to have all our Visa documents Authenticated (which can only be done at the Consulate, not the Embassy). There is no “Panamanian” Consulate here in Panama, only an “American” Embassy, which I’ve learned, is not the same. Let me be clear…There is most certainly an American Embassy as well as an American Consulate, what they do not have in Panama is a “Panamanian Embassy & Consulate”, which is who needs to Authenticate our documents.. Because of all the bad weather that the U.S. has been experiencing, his connecting flight was cancelled and United was sooo back logged that we couldn’t even get through to them by phone. So he never made it out of Panama City. He made the most of it though and went to the Embassy to have all the Docs notarized and now we are going to just attempt to mail it all to the Consulate with a self addressed, prepaid envelope and a money order for the Authenicating. Of course, this is also not as straight forward as one would expect! Yesterday I learned that finding a place to purchase a money order isn’t easy. I thought Western Union did that! Not here they don’t’! The lady at the counter of the Western Union looked rather confused by my request, as did the teller at Scotia Bank…HuH? And Fed ex doesn’t offer the service of a PRE PAID , envelope! What? Why is that a problem ?,…I have no idea! I finally asked the guy at Mail Boxes Etc and he said he can do that part and gave me a couple of more places to check about the money order. Sometimes things that should be just easy chores end up turning into a wild goose chase here.

So, that’s what I’ve been up to lately. Now, today is some kind of holiday (which I am not as of yet familiar with, but I’m sure this time next year I will have learned more about the holidays ) so Scott has no worker but he took off to go work alone. He has a new worker starting tomorrow. He’s slowly gathering a small crew to help with the retaining wall and then the road up to the lot. Progress is moving along slowly. And SLOWLY is just what I need to adapt to. That darn Visa will eventually get done so I’m actually, somehow, holding onto my Tranquillo and realizing that “Poco a Poco” is just my new life theme! (Smiling!) And today I get to learn how to play Mahjongg with a new friend, so life is good! I do love to learn new things, and I really like playing games and best of all , getting to know a new friend is icing on the cake of this day! I’ll be letting you know all about the “Feria de las Flores y de Cafe” as soon as I check it out for myself. Today is the first day of the Feria so I’ll try to get over there soon. Cheers!

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Good people

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As soon as we got on our bus for our journey home from Panama City, I realized I had left Scott’s kindle cover and my money belt (empty , thank goodness) in the safe at the hotel! Darn it!! I had taken the cover off Scott’s Kindle because it was too heavy in my purse when we were exploring the city. We usually bring our Kindles because one never knows when a peaceful spot summons you to sit and read for a bit, right? When I went to give him his Kindle on the bus the light bulb went on! @#!#$ . I was sure we would never see the two forgotten items again. Not that they were expensive or irreplaceable but it’s just a bummer to lose something. We quickly looked up the phone number of the hotel and tried calling, hoping someone answered who Habla’s English! No luck on the Habla English but I was able to comprende that the manager, Ana, speaks English and would be there the next day. I called the next day only to be informed that she would return at 4:30. When finally I was able to talk with Ana, I was pleasantly surprised to talk with a very helpful and exceedingly friendly woman who assured me there was no problem, she would gladly mail the items to me . I offered to reimburse the hotel for any expense for the mailing but she refused to let me do that. She said she was happy to help and not to worry about anything but to please come visit again when we are in Panama City. That I will certainly do! The hotel was in a very nice area near many good restaurants and was clean and comfortable. We will be staying at the Hotel Milan again. It’s just so nice when people are nice and helpful and honest. I wanted to share, thought everyone might appreciate this sweet email I just received…

” Good evening Mr. and Mrs. Carter:

I took this afternoon your money belt and your kindle cover to the Mail Boxes Etc. that is closest to the hotel, that is, in Vía Argentina, El Cangrejo . Attached you will find the receipt for the delivery. It will be sent to your Mail Box in Boquete. If there is any trouble, please let me know, so I can contact the girl that receive the items (her name is on the receipt: “Chantal Avila”.)

Best regards,
HOTEL MILÁN”

Nice people rule!!!

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The Canal De Panama…(and our Fingerprint adventure!)

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As you know, we spent the weekend in Panama City attempting to get our fingerprints done in order to begin the process of applying for our Permeant residency visa. We have heard various stories, (most bad) of other expats attempting to do this very same thing to differing successes. Without exception each telling has required multiple attempts to attain fingerprints that the FBI will accept (apparently the panamanians don’t know how to do them the way our FBI likes !) . Many such stories tell of as many as 7 or 8 different tries! Yikes!! We had read on one of the expat forums here in Panama that it’s also a very good idea to go directly to the FBI web-site and actually print out the fingerprint form that they use because many people got to the DIJ (the official place for this process) only to find that they are all out of the form!! We printed out multiple copies of this form ,”just in Case”! Good thing we did that because the lovely young lady at this office asked if she could make copies herself because she indeed had none!! Ha! So armed with every single piece of paper and copies of everything we could think of , including copies of our passports, we felt prepared,(NOT!). Of course we requested that she do both our prints two times, “just in case”. It was a very time consuming ordeal but we remained “Tranquilo” throughout! I was sadly disappointed when she told us we would need to return the following week to pick them up!!!NOOOOO!! We really did not want to go back to Panama City AGAIN next week!! UGGG!! But we asked if our attorney could come get them and she said yes. Whew!! But she needed us to provide her with a passport picture when the prints were picked up. “Ok, we can figure out how to do that”. I’m thinking to myself,”@!#$! What!! Where are we suppose to get passport pictures?” We said our good-byes to the very helpful,(albeit, quite frustrated with my inexperience in the proper fingerprinting procedure?) and off we went to try to figure out if our attorney would be able to arrange to pick up the prints next week. Mind you, we have never actually met our attorney, we have only corresponded with her via email so far. We immediately sent her an email explaining what we needed and hoped to hear back from her asap. I did also try to phone her at both her office and her cell phone with no luck. We figured this was a good time to start DRINKING! We remembered seeing a Brew Pub just across from our hotel!! WHoot! WHoot!! We hailed a taxi and made a Beeline to said Brew Pub and wait to hear back from our attorney. Oh, I almost forgot to tell you about how we succeeded in acquiring the additional passport photos… after exiting the very crowded DIJ, there were the usual venders outside selling food and who knows what else and Scott saw one little kiosk that said “photos”!! Yep! Right there we stepped inside and the guy took our pictures with his little camera and Voila! We had our additional passport photos. It’s impossible to ever predict what will be difficult to do here and what will be strangely simple!

Of course Friday came to a close with no word from our attorney so we decided we would go ahead and make arrangements to go see the Canal the next morning (Saturday). We figured we would be able to contact the attorney after we got back home to Boquete. Worse case scenario we schlep back to the city again and just get done what we need to get done, (Big Eye Roll here!). We made a reservation and paid for tickets to go on a small boat tour through all the locks in the canal (an all day event). Then , Of course , who do we finally hear from? Yep, you guessed it, our attorney! Telling us to meet her at 10:00a.m. on Saturday! UGGG!! We told her that because we had not heard from her we made arrangements to go on a tour and we could not cancel it. She said she could indeed arrange to go pick up our prints and deliver the passport photos but we would need to provide her with a deposit to retain her services as well as a signed document to authorize her to pick it up for us. No problem. Whew, disaster diverted! Now it is monday and we are trying to get ahold of her to learn how we make arrangements to both send her the photos and our authorization and how we will get her the money for her retainer? All will work out, not without a bit of hair pulling and nail biting at times but as I am constantly reminding myself about many things, “Poco a Poco”. And Breeeeeathe! Ahhhh….There we go, Tranquilo!!

When I began to write this post I was intending to tell about the canal tour. Needless to say, it was spectacular! It wasn’t the most “Exciting” thing we have ever done but we really enjoyed it. We were especially glad we chose to do the whole canal. They had an option to do a partial crossing and I’m sure that would have been fine as well but we really wanted to experience the entire crossing at least once and we figured, what the heck! Most people I know who have been through the Panama Canal have been on huge cruise ships. Being in a (relatively) tiny little vessel going through the canal really made us feel as though we were actually “in” the action! We could see every aspect of the process and the narrated tour really added a lot of information that made it even more enjoyable. I am dumbfounded by all the work and engineering that went into the building and designing of the Canal! Especially given the period that it was done! Wow! What a marvel of human endurance and ingenuity! I just cant say enough about how impressed I was to see such a magnificent thing up close and personal. I will include some of my pictures to share with those who have not had the pleasure of seeing it in real life yet. One other thing that was pretty cool , they have a live web-cam and so I quickly texted my mom and Scotts mom so they could go on line and actually see us going through the canal! I don’t think either one was able to figure it out but had I known beforehand It would have been fun for them to be able to see it.

All in all, our impromptu weekend away was pretty successful. We feel good about accomplishing our first attempt at acquiring our fingerprints , I will keep my fingers crossed that I will be able to tell people, someday , that it wasn’t that bad . (I know, I know, wishful thinking! ) . And seeing the canal is one more thing I can cross of my list of things I wanted to see in the world. We also had never really had the time to do a little exploring of Panama City so we are glad to have that done as well. The Journey on the bus from the city was a bit harrowing because there was quite a good size storm the entire drive. On the Pan American Highway there were many fallen trees partially blocking the road which added about an hour to our already 7 hour ride! I was glad to have my trusty kindle so I could lose myself in a good story during the whole bus ride! (By The Way, for those of you who miss my book recommendations, I was reading The Physician by Noah Gordon, I really enjoyed it) We both agreed that we were overjoyed to return to our new home here in the highlands of Boquete!! It’s much more our style, not so hot, crowded and busy. This morning it was good to be awakened once again by the sound of the roosters crowing in the distance and the birdsong outside my window. Ahhhh, good to be “HOME”!

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