Well, life has calmed down a bit. Of course what counts as ‘calm’ in our house is maybe still hectic to some. Pat went home on Monday, sigh. Having her here with us was so much fun. It really helped to have her here right as we were settling into this new space. She’s so good at organizing and I don’t think anyone takes over a laundry room with quite the efficiency as my mother in law! This week, our first week in our house alone, without Pat, I’ve had to break down and enter her laundry room to reluctantly clean some clothes! Darn it! I’m happy to report working those cleaning machines is not unlike riding a bike, it all came back to me! hahaha! As I mourn my return to being responsible for laundry the dog is mourning that nice lady who spoiled her rotten! She seems sad that Pat isnt here, especially during mealtimes….small treats were consistently and lovingly shared and now she’s sadly disappointed. Pat would make sure to have a special slice of cheese just for Scruffy and would bit by bit dole it out while she ate her food. I have found the dog fast asleep on the floor in the guest room a few times, I think she is hoping when she wakes up that nice lady will be back! Hah! Read the rest of this entry
I think it’s only fair for me to publish a post about what has transpired with our insurance agent. On Monday we went to the insurance office and got a corrected proof of insurance. Then we went to David and went through the process of paying for the ticket, then going to the impound lot and getting our car. All told both the ticket and the charges for the impound lot was a total of $285.00. The Agent had the assistant both send me an email and personally call me to make sure I knew that the mistake was completely her fault and not the fault of the agent. She also informed me that the office would be reimbursing me for all the money we had paid as a result of their mistake. Then later that day the agent called to personally apologize for the way we were treated. Im glad that in the end we received payment for money we should not have had to spend as a result of their mistake and that an apology was given for the unprofessional way our situation was dealt with on the telephone.
I hate that saying! But, unfortunately it’s oh so true. My last post was all rainbows and unicorns. Reflections on a delightful moment that filled my heart with joy. This post however will not be so joyful. Because like the title of this post S#$T happened last night. Here’s what happened… We drove into town to meet friends for dinner and then we were going to stroll through the Flower & Coffee Fair, well our evening out went terribly wrong at a police checkpoint. What we thought would be ‘no big deal’ because we had every piece of paperwork we needed to assure a random checkpoint goes smoothly ended with us standing on the side of the road with a hefty fine and waiting for our car to be towed away!
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Moving away and leaving all my friends was hard ( well…‘hard’ doesn’t even come close to expressing it, but… shrug, I don’t wanna sound too dramatic! Hah) . The fact that It’s hard to leave friends is pretty obvious, I mean, leaving people we care about shouldn’t be an easy thing after all, right? But, now that some time has gone by since I’ve left all my friends, and I’m coming up on my three year anniversary of living here in Panama , I’m noticing more and more that there’s a distance that’s slowly beginning to develop with my friends from California. Not because of anything they’re doing, or not doing and certainly not because of any lack of caring for each other. I believe it’s simply an unavoidable change in the dynamic of a long distance connection that naturally happens when friends move away. Am I surprised by this? No. Why do I write about it now? Well, Its something I’ve been quietly observing as time is going by, relationships that are separated by so much distance are bound to develop a feeling of disconnect eventually. Even though I knew there was no way to avoid it, somehow It still makes me sorta sad and nostalgic for what I’ve walked away from. I’ve had many friends move away in my lifetime, but being the one who has done the leaving is proving to be an entirely different feeling….gulp. Read the rest of this entry
The drummers have begun the drum-drumming away in preparation for the festivities which began this past weekend. El Dia De los Muertos , and Independence from Columbia as well and flag day or colon day were first up and Independence from Spain is up next. There was a parade on the 3rd and the big Disco tech was booming lots ear piercing music until all hours of the early morning. The town has been decked out with streamers and dressed up for the many celebrations. Its fun to see the town Square transformed into a huge party for one and all. It seems like one can almost feel the energy of all the people coming together for their mutual celebrations this month. The town of Boquete is a vacation spot for Panamanian tourists, many from the city. I think its like going to Lake Tahoe for a big holiday. Escaping the big city and enjoying the cool, crisp mountain air. I remember doing just that when we used to visit the beautiful mountains in Tahoe or Yosemite. This little mountain hamlet is very similar to those lovely mountain towns. Read the rest of this entry
We’re making good progress on the main house and hoping to be able to move into it by March! Mind you, just because we plan to move in to the house , this in now way means that it will be totally finished…no way! Hah! Oh, how I wish that were the case, but alas! I’m doomed to only ever live in a partially completed home…Poor me…:( I know, I can hear the violin playing a sad, sad song…hee!hee! Well, I jest…I’m super excited about how much is happening up there and I just can’t wait to live in that house! Every night, after I drive the guys down the hill I take Scruffy for a walk up to the house and just wonder around imagining what it will be like to live in that house which we’ve worked so hard on. I’m just getting so excited, I can barely stand it.. Read the rest of this entry
I bet you’ve been wondering what it takes to have fun here in Panama. Well, luckily I’ve got just the recipe! You start with the completion of a brand new Techo, or Roof for my non-Spanish speaking readers. Then after the sparkly new Techo is completed the required fun must commence with a few key ingredients. The first and most important ingredient for a fun time at this traditional celebration is the food. And , specifically the main dish which is called Mondongo. Basically, this is Tripe, or at least similar to it, let me be more specific….Cow intestines. I know….many of you may be saying..”Yuck!” I’ll stick to Non-Cow intestines please! And I would not disagree, but the traditional celebration of a newly completed Techo is aptly named a Mondongata because these fun-loving folks here love it! It’s Party Food! Shrug, I’m pretty sure we very likely have a taste for many things they think is crazy as well, so, let’s just roll with it, k? Read the rest of this entry
Our life right now…
Life’s just cruzin’ right along! Of course we’ve been keeping incredibly busy, as I’m sure you could guess. Between building our third and final building and creating a garden in the jungle, getting a new dog, enjoying spending time with friends, doing regular household chores and errands and learning Spanish, I have a really hard time finding moments to just sit and write. Which I regret. I really love writing and sharing our story and I know I’ve become a very bad blogger. So, here’s a little peak into what’s going on in our world… Read the rest of this entry
Today was a first for me. I went for a walk with my friend Kat this morning and I was bitten by a dog! Sheesh! I’m still in shock as I write this. In all my life I’ve never been bitten by a dog! I just cant even believe how fast it happened. Ouch! I’m okay, don’t worry. As soon as I got home I washed it really good with soap and water then I sanitized it with peroxide and slathered it with Neosporin. So I feel pretty good about it not getting infected, although I will keep a close eye on it and go see a doctor if it shows any signs of infection. I just had to tell someone cuz’ sheesh Its a crazy thing to have a strange dog just come from nowhere and bite like that! So, maybe there’s a good reason almost every Panamanian I’ve met has a healthy fear of strange dogs. I’ve never felt afraid of dogs. I mean, I don’t make a habit of just walking up to any ol’ dog and petting them, but not because I was fearful, only respectful of animals in general.
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Oooooop! Sorry, I´ve really been slacking in my writing. First I went on vacation for three weeks then I just seem to get so caught up in my days that I dont stop to take the time to write. So, let me get you caught up on what´s happening here. Well, I´ll begin with our project, the never ending house project! So, we have two new workers that we hired, bringing our total crew to 9 guys now. The main house has all the walls finished and now the roof is just getting started. It should take maybe a month or a little more to complete. Its really fun to see it all come together and to wander around imagining what it will be like to live in it. I´m really excited about how much I like the design and floorplan that we worked so hard to design together. We really put a lot of focus on outdoor living space because living here makes it so easy to spend a lot of time outdoors. Our terrace alone which wraps around the entire back side of the house facing the amazing view is about 900 square feet in size. It will be completly roofed and protected from the elements. It will be like a room without walls! We plan to have our dining room out on the terrace on one side and a living room area on the other end, with an outdoor sofa and some chairs. In the outdoor living room we are planning to have a gas fire pit. There will also be a big wood burning fireplace out on the corner of the terrace. Scott has an outdoor kitchen as well which will be about 200 square feet. The total size of the house, not including the terrace and outdoor kitchen is about 2400 square feet. We will have two bedrooms, a living room a laundry room, the kitchen and a recreation room for our pool table. One aspect that I´m sure I´ve writen about which I´m really excited about is the outdoor shower off the master bedroom. This will be a treat since we can use it pretty much all year around living here. The guest bedroom will have an indoor shower so if its especially rainy or chilly we can use that. Read the rest of this entry
And the construction continues at the Carter propiedad! Before our vacation we liquidated all our workers. Which means that we paid them all the required vacation and decimo pay and basically laid them all off. Scott let them know that they could resume work on the first Monday of our return if they wanted to. But, we didn’t know for sure if they would still want to come back to work for us because we couldn’t assume that they wouldn’t go find different work for the three weeks we were gone. So I drove down to pick them up at our regular meeting spot at 7:15 on Monday moring (right at the end of the bridge in town) and….Gulp, no one came! I was sad, I kinda thought in my head that they all really, really liked working for us and that “of course” they’d all be back! The two indigenous guys , Federico and Arquiles both showed up at the job site ready to resume work but no one else on Monday. So Scott very calmly said to me, “No problem, Shrug, we’ll just move on to Plan B”….Gotta love a guy who is calm and adaptable! That vacation really renewed his “Tranquilo”! hah! So Plan B in his mind meant that we would just let the main house sit on the back burner until the next dry season and for now if none of our crew aside from the two guys showed back up we would refocus on finishing up all the details on the casita. There’s still quite a bit to finish up like cabinetry, soffits, all the outside hardscaping, walkways , steps, exterior painting, stone work on retaining walls, just to name a few things. Read the rest of this entry
Coming home from vacation felt entirely different to me this time! This is our first big vacation away from our new home here in the highlands of Panama and I must admit, after nearly three weeks away, I was looking forward to getting back to my little casita in the mountains. We’ve taken several pretty long vacations in our past and normally we’re never really ready to go home. We love to travel and see the world and seldom have we looked forward to returning to the grind that was our life in California.
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Eighteen days, Six cities, Planes, Trains, taxis, boats, busses and hiking around more ancient Incan ruins than you can shake a stick at (whatever that means!)….. Luana and I both agree that the Peruvians have no lack of huge old rocks in this country, that’s for sure! hah! But, that being said, we’re all just totally “Awestruck” by Machu Picchu… how could anyone not be? It’s simply magnificent! And Lake Titicaca blew us away as well….I was stunned by the floating reed islands and the life they live there! We all loved the town of Ollantaytambo, our first stop on this adventure. Its one of the few places where the people are still living in an original Incan city! The narrow cobbled streets, walls and many of the houses are original and we marveled at the history that was still alive there. This Foursome feels as though we’ve really “SEEN” Peru! Read the rest of this entry
We’re enjoying our first house guest here in our little casita. Emma is on her spring break from teaching in Panama City. She flew into David on Sunday morning and I drove down to pick her up. This is the first time we’ve hosted anyone in our new casita. I’m glad its Emma because she’s so low maintenance and doesn’t mind that we’re still kinda roughing it up here. We don’t’ have a guest room in the casita so it’s the air mattress on the living room floor for her. And we also don’t have any interior doors yet which means you must actually say the word, “SLAM!” when you shut the shower curtain that we have as our bathroom door! hah! And then there’s the no electricity thing…well, we have electricity but its coming from that good ol’ generator still. So, Scott has to go out at night and turn it off and then he has to get out there in the morning to start it up again. And heaven forbid the generator should run out of gas in the middle of watching a movie or cooking dinner…ugh! All this hasn’t seemed to faze our first houseguest. She’s lived in Panama for nearly four years so she’s been thoroughly desensitized to things being ‘not-quite-right’ all the time. Read the rest of this entry
This place is really beginning to feel more and more like a home! Even without having electricity its feeling so cozy and homey. The generator works just fine for providing power, who needs electricity! hah! I have to keep our gasoline tanks full, but I don’t mind. Even though Scott may be getting a little tired of going outside at night before we go to bed and in the morning when we get up to start the generator, we’re not feeling like we’re missing out on much not having electricity. Eventually we’ll have power, our architect has told us that our electrical plans are at Union Fenosa (the electric company), for approval for our permit. He had already gotten the permit but it was not for the correct amount of amps. So he had to amend it. As soon as we have the permit we’ll be ready to have the electrician pull the wire through the conduit which Scott already put in the ground . Although….we still need to buy the wire and we had to special order the two transformers which have not yet arrived. So, who knows how long that whole process will take…and as long as I have my handy little generator all is well in my mind.
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Boy, oh , boy, so much has been going on in our Adventure but nothing seems especially exciting. Our adventure has begun to sorta resemble, I don’t know… Our Life. While it’s still pretty exciting to be living here in Panama, and still so much of this relocation to Panama is new, my days seem to be flying by without time to sit and write about it. It’s funny, we called this ‘retirement’, but , ahem….I don’t really think we actually ‘retired’ per-say. I think we actually just left a place where we were working to ‘support’ a lifestyle, and traded it for a life where we happily work to ‘create’ a lifestyle of our choosing. Together we’re building a new life of our own personal design. We’re no longer living to work. One of the many things that Im enjoying about this new life we’re building here in Boquete is the fact that we’re able to work together to create something that will be a reflection of us as a team. This entire new life is all about living it the way we’ve chosen to live it, not how we just sort of feel like we are expected to live our life. We no longer feel driven to work in order to pay a mortgage or, work to pay taxes and credit card debt and car payments and health insurance and more taxes…nowadays we’re working hard, but we’re working hard for our own enjoyment and our own pleasure. Read the rest of this entry
We’ve been living in our new casita since January 8th. We actually began working up here February of 2014. The first project that Scott tackled was to build retaining walls and drains. With the crazy rains that we get here we realized that the first thing we needed to address was drainage and so that was the very first step in our project. So here we are, a year into our project and boy, when I look around at all the work that’s been done up here It is really quite remarkable. In only a year we’ve already put in most of the infrastructure, water, gas, electricity is nearly done, built two structures and are starting the final one, the main house. Read the rest of this entry
I have no internet and now no 3G!!! Ugh! Is this what this day is gonna be like? Well, that’s just rude! I was ready to enjoy a day of perusing the internet and chatting with my mom, but it looks like I’m going to figure out how to entertain myself with just me. No problema! I got this… let’s see… I’m on “Bombero” watch duty. Someone has to man the house just in case they actually show up to do our final (hopefully final) inspection for our gas permit. This morning Scott has to meet one of our neighbors to go for a hike up to our main water source again. They need to check again what’s going on up there. Read the rest of this entry
I think we’re having one! This morning started out with me standing at the BBQ with my freshly made batch of home made pancake batter and my griddle ready to go with a little dollop of butter ready to melt. The kettle of water was just about to boil to get that delicious pot of Boquete coffee brewing. I turned the nob of the BBQ to fire up my burners and ….sputter, sputter, sputter went the last little bit of propane! Ugh! Nooooooo! Empty! Pfffft! Not to worry, I know we have a full tank somewhere around here. Scott hears my dilemma and puts on his Teva’s and his headlamp, because it’s still dark outside, and heads up the hill to his workshop. I wonder why the heck the extra tank isn’t here close to the BBQ, but now’s not the time to question his bad planning. Crisis diverted when he gets me hooked up and fires up my grill so I can cook some pancakes and finish boiling the water for that much needed coffee. Ahhhhhhh….let the day begin. Read the rest of this entry
We often hear of water problems that some areas in Boquete experience, especially during the dry season. But we’ve never really been affected by any lack of water in any of the places we’ve lived so far. Until now. We live in an area called Jaramillo Centro and although we have heard of some brief water outages it really never sounded as though the water problems were especially bad, so I never really thought much about it. Again, until now. We have an Aqueduct that provides water to all the homes up here in Jaramillo Centro. Its up to each property owner to maintain the pipes that supply water to their homes. Some people have large water storage tanks and some just use what water comes directly to their house without bothering to store any. I can not say that I know all the in’s and out’s of how all this water stuff works, I have a very limited amount of knowledge of what we have set up for our property and what our neighbors and good friends right next door have at their house. We have built a water room on one end of Scott’s workshop. In this water room we have four huge storage tanks. This is also where we have our filtration and UV light to create potable water for drinking and so forth. We have planned to collect rain water from our gutters and from our showers and sinks to use for agricultural water, things like watering plants. The agricultural water will fill one of the huge tanks and we have a smaller tank to provide the water that will get pumped down to the casita. At the moment, since its the dry season, we have not yet gotten to collect any rainwater and only have one big tank filled from the aqueduct that we are using for the casita. Read the rest of this entry
We had to take a little three day jaunt to Panama City to take care of our final application process for our Cedula. We took a 5:30 flight on Saturday and just got home last night, Tuesday. Getting a Cedula is not required to be a resident in Panama but its just a good thing to do. As I understand it, the Cedula is sort of like a Social Security card in the States. You are assigned a permanent ID number that never changes. This is important because having a Cedula takes you out of the immigration department completely. When you have a Cedula you no longer have to go through the immigration line at the airport, you are actually a legal Panamanian resident. Our attorney told us we can now put our passports away, we only ever need our Cedula as ID now. Another little detail that makes having a Cedula so good is that many legal documents here like car registration and your drivers license are linked to your Passport number which will change when it expires and you get a new passport. The changing number of your passport is just a hassle because you then have to go through the process of changing all the things that had that old number on them. Once you use your Cedula number for your ID you never have to worry about changing anything, this, in my opinion, was worth one more trip to the city and one more visit to a government office with our attorney. Plus it only cost us $65.00 each and $150.00 for our attorney. Well, I guess you could say that it also cost us a trip to the city but we combined the trip with shopping for things for the main house that we are now beginning to build.
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I wake up everyday feeling so happy to look out the window from my bed and see nothing but the sky and trees. It’s such a peaceful place. Well, especially now that the Flower and Cafe Festival has ended…whew! For the last ten days we’ve heard the sounds of so much revelry going on in the pueblo. Music until 4 or 5 in the morning. All night long! And what sounded like hordes of people . And the fireworks various times of the night and early morning. Oh, the Panamanians love to party! Let me tell ya! The nice thing about the wild parties is that it’s just good fun. You really never hear of any violence or muggings , no , they just have a good time with no need for any of that nonsense. Well, with the exception of the Indigenous men! They love to fight. Its common to see Indian men in town with beaten and sometimes bloody faces. I was in a store on Saturday morning , getting beer for Scott, and I was standing in line behind and Indian guy who looked like he’d been in a pretty good brawl. His face was bloody and his hands as well. But I’ll be damned that guy looked as happy as could be, he was all smiles. Of course I’m pretty sure he was still pretty toasted too! Hah! I just have to laugh to myself. To each his own I guess! I don’t really understand why you’d find getting your face beat to a pulp a fun pastime, but that’s just me. Hah! Read the rest of this entry
I know I said one thing I was looking forward to about his new Adventure was simplifying our life, but come on…I didn’t mean quite so simple. A girl’s gotta have a toilet. Paleeeeeease! It is Saturday as I’m writing this portion of the post and we got an email from Price Mart, where we bought our oven, it’s there and ready to be picked up. We plan to go on Monday and get it. So we should have that installed by Monday or Tuesday, we shall see. Of course we won’t be able to use it until the gas is hooked up, which requires an inspection by the bombero’s. I’m crossing my fingers this is a simple process, we shall see. As you may know, I don’t have internet at the moment. So I plan to just keep writing this and just publish it as soon as I can. The internet people are coming on Wednesday to get that all installed, so that should be good. We don’t have cabled internet just yet up in the area where we live so its satellite cable with Planet Telecom. Its 150.00 dollars a month for 2 mb. And so, we shall see how that goes. If we want to increase to 3 mb it will cost $200.00 a month. We are thinking that we won’t get cable TV and try to watch what little television we do enjoy watching just by streaming from Hulu or Amazon Prime. We just have to see how well our internet will stream with 2mb. If its too slow we can change to 3 mb, which should be sufficient. Read the rest of this entry
I’m really getting anxious and excited to get moved into our new place. 9 more days! It seems like each day goes by so fast and there’s still so much to do. Today Scott’s feeling a little overwhelmed and grumpy. But you didn’t hear that from me! And if anyone is gonna be grumpy, Scott is entitled! He is supposed to be installing the front door of the casita today so that we can start to slowly move boxes and things over from the storage and lock up the place . But, he’s so busy this morning organizing all the guys he feels like he’s getting nothing done. I don’t know how he can possibly feel as though he’s not getting anything done when he has been going in about a dozen different directions since he walked out the door this morning. But he’s got Javier and Daniel working on the junction boxes for the electrical run and Federico, Martin and Arquiles are working on cement and ditches, while Richard and Carlos are working on the bathroom tile in the casita and Ricardo is working on the gutters and downspouts on the workshop! Sheesh! How much can one guy really do at one time! Each group of guys needs something in order to stay productive and Scott has already been to Ivan, the supply store about 3 or 4 times today. I’ve seen his truck go by with conduit tubes, cement, sand, 2 by 4’s, wheel barrows, and who knows what else. I know he really wants to be in his workshop finishing up the cabinets and getting the front door put in. Read the rest of this entry
I wrote about this on my Facebook timeline today (yesterday) but I know many of you don’t do Facebook so I thought I’d share it here. This morning (yesterday morning) , bright and early I had to take Martin, one of our indigenous workers, to the Seguro office to sign some paperwork for his Social security. And, on a side note before I get to the story I was planning to tell you, this young man is 20 years old and has a very young wife who is expecting their first baby, so getting on social security for the first time in his life could not come at a better time for he and his new family. Martin moved to Boquete, like many of the indigenous, in order to find work to support him an his new bride and growing family. Before he began working for us we had seen him around the neighborhood doing other menial labor for other neighbors. He had walked up to our job site on one other occasion to ask if we had work for him but at that time we didn’t. Then about a month or so ago he came by again ,(very persistent, gotta respect that!), to see if we had work for him and this time Scott hired him. Read the rest of this entry
This has been our second year to celebrate Christmas here in Boquete. It was nice. I keep trying to figure out what to tell you about our holidays here. I find that I’m torn between writing about how great it feels to get to spend my time and money on buying small gifts for those who can’t afford to buy the things I gave them, and telling you about that dull ache in my heart that comes from being far from friends and family. I don’t think that I will ever stop missing people who are now so far away. And while I find such joy in creating new holiday traditions that have meaning to me, there’s always that little tug at my heart that comes from wondering what everyone is doing back in California. I love that We get to begin new traditions and that we also get to decide just how our Christmas will look and what we’ll do to make this time of year feel rewarding and meaningful. We’re not limited to celebrating the holidays in any particular way, no obligations, we’re in the process of creating our very own, brand new traditions. Traditions take time to establish and so far we don’t have many. But a couple of things just might stick and become things we do each year. One is the holiday Fundraising BBQ that Keith & Julian host each year on Christmas Eve to benefit an organization called Buenos Vecinos. Buenos Vecinos collects money to help feed needy families in our community. We went last year and then again this year and its a great way to spend Christmas eve. They have live music and they BBQ steaks, everyone pays $15.00 to attend and you bring a dish to share, either an appetizer, a side dish or a desert. We bring a couple of bottles of wine and our lawn chairs and we usually like to find a quiet place to sit and relax. Last year and this year we’ve really enjoyed this event, just sitting outside on a nice warm evening, with a great view of the huge pine trees and good music to listen to as we sip our wine, along with lots of really friendly people to chat with is a great way to spend a Christmas Eve. Its really very low key and easy, not a bad tradition , I think we’ll keep this one! Read the rest of this entry
I know this may shock you but…Scott actually never reads my blog posts, I know its hard to believe!… But, you must understand, he’s not an especially chatty kind of guy and reading my blog is, to him (I’m only guessing , he’s never actually said this to me!) , kinda like listening to me chat, which he gets the privilege of doing quite frequently in real life! I know, its hard to believe that he could ever get enough of my jabbering but, he does get to listen to me chatting away all the time, so ,there’s no need for him to read my long winded writings…Pffffffft! In light of this fact…. It’s safe to brag a little about the guy. He’ll never know! And he’d kill me if he read this! Believe it or not, he’s a pretty humble guy, not a bragger at all. But not me, I’m so gosh darn proud of him I just want the world to know! Hah! So, if you run into him in town…mums the word! Now that we’ve established that this is a ‘secret’ post just between you and me….Let the bragfest begin! Read the rest of this entry
We’re getting closer and closer with each passing week to moving into our new casita. I have to admit, I’m really really looking forward to having a place of our own. Even though we’ve had really nice places to live in this last year and a half its just going to be so wonderful to have all our stuff with us. Since our container arrived we’ve been slowly sorting through all our boxes. We’ve been deciding what we’ll bring with us when we move into the casita and what we’ll keep in storage until our main house is finished. Getting ready for our Thanksgiving this year we really felt frustrated by the reality that all our things are kinda scattered hither and thither. We have some things here with us where we are currently living, we have a few boxes here. And we have things in two different storage units. And finding certain things that Scott needed for cooking was a huge pain. Yep, having our own place where we can finally unpack is going to be so nice. But, we still have a lot of work yet to do… Read the rest of this entry
How did that happen? I started writing this blog March of 2012. This realization prompted me to reminisce about how I got started with this ‘blogging’ thing… I remember when we were in the research process of our big relocation, Scott was our main researcher. He is sooooooo good at searching online and finding all sorts of information. He found reading forums to be one of his favorite means of finding interesting and relevant information. He found many such expat forums online, including “Panama Laws for expats” “Panama expats” “Expats in David” and lots of other forums in other countries we were also, at that time, researching. I was never especially fond of forums because they have a tendency to , at times, be a little argumentative and petty. to put it nicely…Yuck! So I discovered Blogs! And I fell in love with reading these peoples personal stories of expatriating to countless different places around the world. Reading blogs just felt so much more personal which is right up my isle! I just love reading stories about peoples lives and that’s exactly what blogs are. I remember when this online “blogging “ thing first started. I never really understood what it meant to ‘blog’…kinda like public journaling? Huh? Why would anyone want to put all that personal information out there for the whole world to read? Who cares anyways? Hah! Read the rest of this entry
Decorations have sprouted everywhere we go. The Western world is not alone in the mass consumption of goods purchased on “Black Friday”. Nope, you should have seen the crowds at our little mall in David on that day! The Panamanians were out in force ready to save big on all the sales in the stores. We made the mistake of going to David to get a few things done before the weekend. We had to pick up some lights that Scott had ordered for his workshop so Lumicentro was our big stop. There wasn’t even any parking in the lot, we lucked out and found a spot on the side of the road. This ‘mall’ is normally busy but not like this! You could barely walk for all the crowds! There were police out in force and people standing in long lines inside all the stores. Not only inside the stores but also outside the stores there were families waiting with large appliances, washers, huge big screen TV’s, and all sorts of purchases. It was seriously a madhouse! So we got our lights and high-tailed it outta there as fast as we could. That was a lesson learned, next year on ‘Black Friday’ you won’t find us anywhere near David and especially not anywhere near any stores! Ugh! We really hate crowds! That was equivalent to Valley Fair on Black Friday…quite possibly even worse! Read the rest of this entry
I wanted to share some of my photos of our wonderful day yesterday. It was a belated Thanksgiving and a fantastic day with such great friends! But one of the funnest parts to our day was getting acquainted with little Maggie Mae, Raquel’s 6 week old howler monkey. Raquel is an animal rescue professional and her home in Volcan is home to a lot of wonderful wild animals that are native to Panamá. She gets contacted by different people who know about her and if there is an animal in need she’s usually the person to call. She has such a big heart and a passion for animals of all kinds. We felt honored to have her join us and when she called to let us know she had just a couple of days ago been given a baby howler monkey and could not leave it home alone we were all thrilled to include such a sweet baby in our gathering. So, along with Maggie Mae we had a day of great food, fun games, drinks, great conversation! We all agreed that we are each one of us grateful for this wonderful place we all now call ‘HOME”! Here are a few of my photos…
This is our second Thanksgiving here in Boquete. As you know, it isnt a holiday in Panama, so Thursday was a work day for our crew of eight guys. Which meant that Scott and I had to work too. Luckily our friends all agreed they would wait for us to join them on Saturday instead of Thursday. We have such great friends! Although Thursday was not a holiday here for the Panamanians, this weekend is a huge holiday , its their second Independence Day (they also celebrate their independence from Columbia). This weekend they celebrate their Independence from Spain and boy is it festive in town. We’ve heard a rumor that the President is staying in Boquete for the weekend, I don’t know if its true but one things for sure, there are tons of tourists here. The town is humming with celebratory energy. They’ve decorated the entire town square with banners and streamers zig-zagging all over the place. The central park has been getting a facelift for the last few months as well. All the park benches have been painted and the planters have all been freshened up with new flowers. Some of the big huge trees were cut down and they planted a whole bunch of new palm trees all around the park. There are lots of beautiful flowers now and even the big fountain is running. A wonderful new addition to the park is a collection of beautifully hand carved tree stumps. I don’t know if they were done by multiple artists but I do know there is one guy in town who has carved many such pieces of art all over town, so I would assume it was him who has contributed his handiwork to the beautification of the park. Read the rest of this entry
The neighbor kids came over today. They seem to visit more and more lately. It used to be only the three girls would come up but now even the little boys come knocking on the door on occasion. I’m getting used to these kids and not feeling quite so sad about how they live. They’re just such happy kids. They’re as dirty as heck, but what kid cares about that! This morning the youngest girl,( Nicole, she’s about 7), along with her two little brothers (I haven’t quite gotten their names down yet), about 5 and I’m guessing the little one is about 4ish, came up. They brought their little puppy along and their kitten. They seem to really love dragging those little guys everywhere with them. When I answer the door they’re all smiles , “Holly, Tienes manzanas?” They love apples. Apples are pretty expensive here and I’m sure they never get them. So every once in awhile when I’m at the market I’ll buy a few extra apples and give them to the kids, its amazing how much they love them. Which brings me to what inspired me to write this short post. Today I didn’t have any apples , only bananas from Luana’s house. So I said, ‘lo siento, no hay manzanas, pero,tengo bananas”…thinking they would be disappointed, they have banana trees all over the place here. But, to my surprise they were delighted! “Bananas!” they all cheered in unison! Big smiles all around….can you believe that! Kids who felt joyful over someone giving them bananas! Of course they then wanted to know if I also had cookies, and then wanted more bananas…. (eye roll!) kids, they all wanna see just how much they can get! Hah! I’m getting really good at telling them “Estoy muy ocupado, tienes que ir a casa ahora”. ( I’m very busy, you need to go home now). And off they go laughing and playing all the way down the hill. They actually came up to charge their mothers cell phone, it wasn’t just a random mission for manzanas. And I must say, they kinda made my day. I don’t quite get everything they say, but you can’t mistake gratitude on the faces of little kids. They seem to be just having a great day running around filthy dirty and barefoot, with puppies and kittens in tow munchin’ on bananas and not one bit sad that the nice Gringa vecina didn’t have any cookies. Just another day in the barrio…
We went away for the weekend with our friends Bond & Luana and what a great time we had. Although, we all four agreed that just about everyday is great, even at home in Boquete. One big thing we have in common with Bond & Luana is the genuine pleasure we feel everyday, with our choice to live here in Boquete. So, going away for a little mini vacation is just that much more wonderful for the fact that we really weren’t ‘getting away’ from or ’taking a break’ from anything so tiresome or stressful. Of course, Scott may beg to differ! Hah! He really needed a break from our crazy project! And I happened to know that he thoroughly enjoyed every moment of our weekend away. We went to a newish resort in Boca Chica called Isla Palenque. It has only been opened for about a year and a half and we had all read about it and were looking forward to experiencing it for ourselves. We bought an Oferta Simple coupon for half off , for two nights. Boca Chica is not too far away from Boquete, only about an hour and a half drive. Read the rest of this entry
So far, living in Panama has had some challenges. Surprisingly, not as many challenges as I had actually expected. Of course I’ve had a lot to adjust to, and believe me, adjusting hasn’t been the biggest challenge . I expected to need a bit of time to settle in to a much different way of living, which is exactly what we were looking for. We certainly didn’t make a move like this to have all the same things we had in California! Learning Spanish has indeed been a pretty big challenge and will continue to be a challenge for a long, long time to come, but its not the hardest thing I’ve faced. The challenge of learning how and where to find certain things I want or need was something that I was prepared to deal with and although, at times a little frustrating, certainly nothing that makes me bang my head against the wall. Don’t get me wrong, my ‘tranquilo’ has often times waned as I’ve muddled through adjusting to some of the insane inefficiencies I’ve been faced with. Before our move I wondered if I would make new friends in my new home and wow! That has not been a problem at all. The connections I’ve made here have been so rewarding on so many levels and I feel so blessed, no making friends has not been a big challenge . Read the rest of this entry
I’ll begin with my continuation of Spanish classes, which I started about three weeks ago. Scott and I had taken twenty weeks of Spanish classes when we first arrived, which left our brains spinning! We learned so much an then decided it was time to spend a little time in the real world attempting to use what we had learned. I made a few Panamanian friends who I began practicing with on a regular basis. We were getting together three days a week and just chatting . This type of practice was my most favorite because It wasn’t just learning Spanish, it was also making friends. Read the rest of this entry
Here’s a snapshot of my day..which is not to be misunderstood as what everyday looks like because, seriously, I never really know what any day will bring…
I wake up everyday at 6:15, often I snooze for a few more minutes before getting up. I go to the bathroom, do my thing…no need for details here..ahem…brush my teeth, blah, blah, blah…then make my way into the kitchen where I always first and foremost, begin the water boiling for the coffee. After the water is on the gas I grind the coffee. Then given the fact that the cat has been meowing and meowing since about 3ish!!! Ugh! I give the damn cat his food! THERE!! As I look out the window I marvel at the beauty of the view of Volcan Baru. that view never gets old. Often its surrounded by clouds but mostly it stands so proud in the soft morning sunlight. Its seriously , a magnificent sight to wake up to.
So, this day began much differently than any other day. I started making pancakes for Scott, got all the ingredients together and began measuring the dry ingredients when I noticed two of the young indigenous girls from down at the bottom of my driveway slowly walking towards my house. I must admit, my first thought was,”uh oh”, I wondered what was up. I have never had them visit me early in the morning. When they got to the house I opened the front door and stepped onto the front stoop and said,”hola, como esta” The oldest girl answered,”Mal” (bad). Gulp…Oh no, “cual es la problema?”….then begins the very difficult task of trying to figure out why their sweet faces have obvious signs of tears running down their cheeks. After much back and forth I came to understand that they had had a nightmare night. Sometime in the night, their father had come home drunk and beaten the only other female adult in their home…their Tia (aunt). Ugh! Read the rest of this entry
That’s what life feels like to me..like it’s “just rollin’ right along”. That’s not to say its a bad thing…just Life. 🙂 I must admit, lately I’ve been at a loss as to what to write about. It seems as though all that enthusiasm I normally have for sharing is kinda on simmer at the moment. In my early stages of blogging I had so much to share. Everything was new and exciting. And although Its been just under a year and a half since our move and we’re still feeling like ’newbies’ in this new life, most of the major milestones of getting ourselves settled into a new life have passed. Most of our day to day lives at the moment seems to be taken up with our construction project. Sometimes It feels a little repetitive writing about each new thing that’s happening with that. And then the rest of the time, well, I’m finding myself just living a pretty normal life, you know, paying bills, running errands, cleaning house, doing payroll, laundry, grocery shopping, blah, blah, blah…nothing especially different from life anywhere else. Read the rest of this entry
We’re 5 hours into a 7 hour bus ride to Panama City and the beginning of our journey to California. The busses here are not bad and the ride to the city, although looooooong, is comfortable, enough. We could opt to fly the short 45 minute flight from David to PC (which I would MUCH prefer ) but its hard to pass up the savings of a $15.00 bus ticket compared to a $250.00 plane ticket. The bus stops about halfway, in Santiago for a little lunch break. They stop at a cafeteria style place where we can stretch our legs and have a little lunch. It’s a really long day but we have our kindles charged and, as you can see, my iPad too.
Panama has been in the process of lots of construction this last few years. They have recently completed the construction of a brand new metro system in the city which is really quite impressive. When I was in the city with Emma she took me on a trial run ride so I could familiarize myself with it. So last time Scott and I were in town, just last week, we had our metro cards ready to go with money on them and knew how to easily go from the Albrook bus terminal to El Gongrejo neighborhood where The Hotel Milan is conveniently located. Its only about 4 stops from the bus terminal and is really fast and easy.
Another big project that’s currently underway is the expansion of the Interamerican highway. They are in the process of widening the highway and at the moment its quite a mess but this road is sorely in need of a makeover. This is the main road that goes all the way from Panama City to Costa Rica. For many years this road has been in pretty bad disrepair with big potholes that make it a very bad road to drive at night or during bad rain storms. Since we’ve been living here they completed the improvements and widening of the main road that goes from Boquete to David. This too has been a huge improvement when traveling down the hill from where we live.
While driving through Panama one can see many new housing developments and huge shopping malls and new hospitals and police stations under construction. There’s a lot happening here and it’s exciting to see. I can only imagine that there must be a lot of employment opportunity with all this work going on everywhere you look. Not to mention the huge expansion of the canal that’s been going on as well. What a lot of infrastructure improvements for Panama. Yea! Panama!! It’s great to see changes that are making life here even better for everyone.
We’re probably an hour or so outside the city now and I think I’ll do a bit of reading now. Cant wait to get on that plane in the morning and be back in Californina .
We’re in Panama City to officially begin the application process for our residency visa. Our attorney told us to bring copies of our passports, copies of the last entry stamp in our passports. Copies of a bill or contract that shows proof of our address in Boquete and five passport photos along with cash to pay for application. No problema….
She seems to have been very thorough except for one tiny little detail…. We must have a multi entry visa before leaving Panama when our visa application is in process! Which we knew , what we did not know is… This visa takes two business days to process..Gasp !! This little bit if information somehow didn’t get explained to us when I very clearly asked about leaving the country when the application is “in process”, which she very clearly answered, “YES you can leave as soon as it is “in Process”. If we had left panama we would have been fined $ 4,000.00! Deep breath…. Okay… So, my mistake was not asking extremely specific questions . When I asked if we could leave after our application was officially ‘in process’ I should have asked ‘WHEN” we could leave. Ugggggg! Oh Boy! Gotta chalk this one up to yet another lesson learned. Be more specific Holly.
We should have known better to plan things so tightly. This is Panama after all, right. Things just seem to get done much differently than one would expect. It would have been so nice to have had a list of important things and this whole entire process has been such a trial and error for us. You would think this was the first Residency Visa ever to be applied for. I mean come on! When someone asks about leaving during the application process why not include in your answer,”Be aware, you must not leave the country until the multi entry visa is processed which takes TWO days!” Uggggg! And our attorney specializes in immigration law. Well, I cant put the blame all on her, I am the one who didn’t ask the right questions. As a matter of fact, even besides our mistake of planning to leave the country, we couldn’t even return to Boquete if we wanted to until Tuesday because the immigration will have our passports. So no matter what, even besides the snafoo on the trip back to the states, had we planned only to be here in Panama City for Thursday & Friday, we would have been in for a big surprise because we wont have or passports back until Tuesday. So, We sit, time to start the fun of canceling all the hotels, the rental car, the airline itinerary, and oh yes…letting all our friends and family know the bad news.
We have already arranged the shipping company to meet us at our storage in San Jose, to pack our container. Right this minute we are thinking about sticking with that part of our plan. We might just have to get to Ca on Wed, meet with the shippers on Thursday and fly home on Friday. But, nothing is set in stone at the moment. We are relaxing and recovering from our crazy morning, I’m pretty sure Scott is fast asleep, a nap will cure everything. In a little bit we will regroup and strategize about what to do. There must be an upside to this dilemma, I just haven’t seen it quite yet. But, don’t you worry, I’ll figure out why its a good thing and get right back to ya….For now my mantra is ….Breath…Tranquilo….Breathe….Tranquilo…..Ahhhh feeling better already! Whew…what an Adventure! PFFFFFFT…
Scott and I really do love hosting casual gatherings and last night (Well, Sunday night) was the second gathering in our ‘partly’ built casita. We wanted to have a small “Happy Hour” and just have a couple friends who wanted to see the progress and celebrate our new home with us. When we hatched this plan we had two couples in mind but somehow before we knew it, more and more couples came to mind. Suddenly that ‘small Happy Hour” became a party of 15… “Whowsa!” She say’s with a huge smile on her happy face!
I’m up at the job site everyday at lunchtime. I love to walk a round and see what’s new from the day before and what they are working on that day. It’s usually a flurry of action. Guys working on so many different things, my head sometimes spins wondering how Scott keeps a handle on all the projects that are going on all at the same time. Richie and Ricardo have been installng the gutters and Javier and Federico have been working on the repello inside, while Arquiles and Leo were working on the septic system down the hill from the casita and edgar was assisting them.
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
When we first bought our property the brush and plants on the ‘road’ were taller than our car. There really was not much of a ‘road’ to speak of, just kind of a general ‘direction’ that we knew we were headed to get there. I remember feeling a bit nervous, (well a ‘bit’ is an understatement) about the lack of infrastructure for this lot we decided to buy. Our neighbors Alan and Kat, who had built their home a few years before, had installed a beautiful road that went as far as their house. You see, our property is accessed through a public easement and we are at the very end of that easement. So after A & K’s house we were in the wild as we made our way to our property, our future home. Along this way to our place we could see that there is a coffee finca on our left hand side ,where we would often see workers caring for the plants as we drove on up past them. We learned from Alan that the owner of that finca is a Panamanian man named Senior Aldo. I believe he lives in Panama City and works at the canal as a boat captain. He has been here to visit a couple of times and we have gotten to meet him , he’s a very nice man. Read the rest of this entry
Today is a first for us… Celebrating the completion of a brand new roof! We had no such celebration when we built our house in Los Altos. These Panamanians just love to celebrate and they seem to find any excuse for a Fiesta! This is just one small thing that I love about living here in Central America. Scott & I fit in just fine here, we too love a party! Although, truth be told, I could do without the Cow stomach soup! This could have fit in nicely for our Halloween Parties thought! Hah! Actually, I jest, I also really love the fact that they not only have a traditional celebration for a new roof, but a traditional dish to serve for the celebration! We too have certain dishes that are often reserved for celebrations, Turkey for Thanksgiving, Ham for Easter, and Hamburgers and Hot dogs for the 4th of July. So who's to say a little cow stomach soup is so odd for celebrating a shiny new roof! I'm really excited to do something special for our 7 workers who show up 6 days a week and work side by side with Scott to build our new home.
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.
For months I’ve been counting the day’s until Mariah got to Panama! She arrived on May 11th and today she has 10 more days of her visit left, she goes home on June 3rd. We’ve had so much fun exploring together and reconnecting in a way that we never have before. I must say that I ‘m enjoying the company of my daughter as a mature, (mostly! 🙂 Hah! ) young women, for the first time. It’s been so incredible to get to know this independent, young women and to discover and renew a relationship with her like I’ve never had before. We’ve been working on putting the past travails behind us and on establishing a relationship based on who we are now. The past is long gone and although we all three went through a lot of pain and sorrow together , it’s time that we all let go and forgive. We’ll just chalk it up to a nasty adolescence and move forward from here…
As I've been running around with Mariah enjoying every second with her, Scott continues to slave away up at the property. He's determined to get the roof on the casita before the rainy season begins in earnest. We've had a little rain, but not too much yet. He thinks by next week we should be pretty close to having the entire house covered with the first part of the roof. Yea! I was up there this week having lunch with him and was very impressed and not a little overwhelmed just watching all the different projects that he's overseeing all at the same time! While Two guys are up on the roof doing all the welding, another two are setting forms and pouring the concrete pillars on the terrace, and then two are working on making a retaining wall and one other guy was digging the long ditch for the septic system. Whew! And Scott must oversee all these different projects simultaneously while he's running back and forth with materials and planning what comes next. I tell ya, it's darn right exhausting just thinking about all the forethought it takes to make a project like this happen, and he's doing it all in a language that he has just learned! That guy! (big, proud smile!) Read the rest of this entry