Party at My House

People have been asking how my party went, so now that the dust has settled I can say it went very well!

It was my birthday a couple months ago, that milestone 62 when you are eligible for social security. My money should start coming in 7 days, not that I’m counting! I have a lot of good friends. All this sounded like plenty of excuses to get friends together for some company, food, and music.

But, I have no experience putting on parties so I have been busy planning and preparing for the last week or two. Of course I couldn’t do something easy like order pizza. I wanted to make Panamanian food, and learn more about how to make it in the process. The menu was tamales, arroz con pollo (rice with chicken), and potato salad with beets. There were also party mix snack foods, veggies and dip, and a fruit bowl of local fruits. For dessert we bought cakes from PriceSmart.

The food was organized into different shopping or cooking chores for each day. Disposable plates and other party supplies were bought. Invitations were sent out. Chairs were borrowed. Joel was requested to provide the music and song lists were checked and approved. By Sunday, all was ready and in order!

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Starting from the left, Jerry and Jennifer from Boquete, then Holly and Rona also from Boquete. Carlos from across the street is hiding behind Rona. Amarilli, former neighbor has her hand up. There there is Angela, my neighbor on the corner who was nice enough to come even though we barely know each other, then Cedo (my cooking mentor who you will see much more of soon), and Narda, my neighbor behind our house. Ed in black is a new neighbor, behind him is Arelio who lives in the neighborhood, and the startled one is Cindy from Boquete. (What did Jerry just say to her?!) oh, my other neighbor Haydee is also hiding behind Rona.

Everyone chatted and had a bit to eat, and then it was time for some music.

Joel gets the party going!

Joel gets the party going! The table behind is full because people brought food, gifts, wine, and even flowers and a pretty wall decoration for the house.

Where this is music, there is dancing!

In this picture you can also see Dennis in red, husband of Rona, and David next to him, husband of Cindy. Amarilli and Holly had fun dancing, with Nikki, daughter of Jerry and Jennifer, and Scott is on the right, husband of Holly. Even the dogs thought they had to join the party. You can barely see Chucky behind Rona, but Bastard is in plain sight. (they live across the street and no, the family does not know what this word means in English LOL)

In this picture you can also see Dennis on the left in red, husband of Rona, and David next to him, husband of Cindy. Amarilli and Holly had fun dancing along with Nikki, daughter of Jerry and Jennifer, and Scott is on the right, husband of Holly. Even the dogs thought they had to join the party. You can barely see Chucky behind Rona, but Bastard is in plain sight. (they live across the street and no, the family didn’t know what this word meant in English LOL)

It turned out to be a really fun evening, in spite of me totally forgetting the potato and beet salad in the fridge. Everyone talked and ate and laughed and enjoyed the music. I should have taken more photos but as more people arrived I was busier. My teacher and friend Yaira also came with some of her family which made me so happy I didn’t even think of any more photos. (She’s the one who’s baby just had the first birthday party)

We had so much fun and the time went fast so we didn’t even get to the fireworks. I know I will have plenty of other opportunities to enjoy them though since fireworks are a big part of every holiday in Panama.

So yes, it was a good party. PriceSmart sells things in quantity and I still have enough supplies that maybe I’ll have to do it again. Is that a good enough excuse for a party? have supplies that need to be used? Sure, why not!

There are a couple more related posts to come, so stay tuned

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Texture

Weekly Photo Challenge: Texture  This week, share a texture found in an unexpected place. It could be made of natural materials, as in these images, or with man-made objects.  This is a great opportunity to look at the world in a slightly different way — along with looking at things from new angles, zooming very far out or very far in are both great ways to create texture and pattern in photos.

This is an easy one for me! I like textures and see them everywhere. Is there anything without texture? Even smooth is a type of texture. The main challenge is to narrow it down to a manageable number of photos.

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Feliz Cumpleaños – Happy Birthday

Before I arrived in Panama I took lessons on line with Yaira through Habla Ya. After spending an hour a day for weeks and months, we became good friends. I knew her before, and during her difficult pregnancy, and was filled with joy at the news of the birth of her son. Since coming to Panama we have been able to get together in person, and I have been invited to some of her family events and have also come to know many of her family. So, when she invited me to the party to celebrate her son’s first birthday I was definitely going to this event!

The party was held in a large hall filled with at least 100 people there, and she told me that they were all family! Panamanians value family above all else, and I knew this includes extended family but this is definitely a huge extended family.

They say a picture is worth 1000 words, so let me tell a bit more of the story with pictures.

It was such an honor to be included in this event. We also had a lot of time to people watch which is always interesting. There was plenty of beer. If your bottle looked empty another was put in front of you but, there was no hint of conflict or problems. Everyone mingled and chatted and seemed genuinely happy to be together. I have worked with countless families in the US over the years and a peaceful family like this is the exception, not the norm. Not so in Panama though. This was a demonstration of what we have been told by every Panamanian – there is nothing more important than family.

It was very interesting to watch the kids. They also play together peacefully. The bigger kids help the smaller ones. No one grabbed toys away from each other. Instead, I saw bigger kids making an effort to help the small ones participate in the play activities. There was almost no crying, only a couple small episodes where a smaller child fell down and needed a moment of comforting. Babies and toddlers were happy to be passed from lap to lap, and men were holding babies at much as women. Even the birthday boy was calm and happy through many hours of partying.

As for the party itself, it was Panamanian hospitality all the way. Snacks and drinks were brought to every table as guests arrived. Mom and Dad both made the rounds and personally greeted everyone. Later on, food was served to everyone (prepared by family members, I learned), and more drinks were offered at regular intervals. If things got busy children were pressed into service delivering plates and drinks, which they did without a moments hesitation. There was a DJ for music, balloons and decorations everywhere, drinks, food, birthday cake, gift bags for the kids, the piñata, games, photo ops, and dancing later (which we didn’t see because we didn’t stay late). It felt like every details was attended to so the guests would all enjoy themselves.

If you ever get an invitation to go to a Panamanian party or get together, by all means go! It will definitely be a good time.

I thank Yaira every day for her professionalism and patience in pounding a bit of Spanish into my thick head. My Spanish will never be wonderful but it is good enough to communicate, and that has so enhanced my experience of living here. What a pleasure to celebrate the birthday of her beautiful baby with all those good people.

I will leave you with a video of some of the party scenes…

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Critters of the Day

Yesterday was an interesting day for new critters.

I walked towards the woods behind our house and saw this little guy hanging out on a plant. He was nice enough to wait while I dashed to the house for a camera (I know, I know, never go anywhere without a camera!)

I walked towards the woods behind our house and saw this little guy hanging out on a plant. He was nice enough to wait while I dashed to the house for a camera (I know, I know, never go anywhere without a camera!)

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Joel unfolded the hammock to find this beautiful little guy hiding in the folds.

Joel unfolded the hammock to find this beautiful little guy hiding in the folds.

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Joel got a great photo of him as he crossed the tile in front of the house.

Joel got a great photo of him as he crossed the tile in front of the house.

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I've seen this interesting tiny, baby lizard a few times on the terrace, but Joel got a great photo of him.

I’ve seen this interesting, tiny, baby lizard a few times on the terrace, but Joel got a great photo of him.

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I've been spending evenings on the terrace instead of going inside. Last night when I came out this beautiful sphinx month was sitting on my iPad case. The camera caught it such a way the eye glows! I gently nudged it off the iPad and it spend the rest of the evening on the table next to my computer.

I’ve been spending evenings on the terrace instead of going inside. Last night when I came out this beautiful sphinx month was sitting on my iPad case. The camera caught it such a way that the eye glows! I gently nudged it off the iPad and it spend the rest of the evening on the table next to my computer.

There is always something new around here, but yesterday we saw quite a few interesting critters all in the same day. I love being outside so much I’m spending less and less time indoors, and the wildlife is part of the attraction.

The days seem to fly by and I haven’t been writing as much. I’ve been out and about, spending time with friends, biking, and preparing for a party. I have minimal experience entertaining so I’ve been working on some of the preparations every day, but it should be a lot of fun. I will also check in here now and then and try to keep updated about anything new and interesting.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Zigzag

Weekly Photo Challenge: Zigzag For this week’s challenge, share with us your own take on zigging and zagging. It can be a winding path, the Herringbone pattern on your coat, a scar: any jagged line that tells a story. 

A bit of Panamanian scenery in Chiriqui, northwest of David….

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A zigzag sign on a zigzag road

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I like the zigzaggy looking bumps and terraces on the side of the hills

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another zigzaggy road

I know this isn’t the most imaginative interpretation of the challenge but hey, I am caught up on the photo challenges!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Summer Lovin’

Weekly Photo Challenge: Summer Lovin’  This week, share a photo that says summer lovin’ to you. It might be a favorite pair of sandals you can’t bear to part with, the homemade salsa you made with veggies from your garden, the flowers you planted, or your family frolicking on the beach. If summer is on the way in your hemisphere, show us something hot hot hot: your homemade sriracha sauce, some friends shuckin’ and jivin’ on the dance floor, or even the furnace or boiler that heats your home.

It isn’t summer here, but I have spent enough time in northern places where summer is a time of outdoor activity and productivity because the rest of the year is cold. Something has definitely been productive in these photos.

There was a very impressive number of tiny spiders! I'm lucky I saw them because I'm sure they dispersed as soon as they could.

There was a very impressive number of tiny spiders! I’m lucky I saw them because I’m they dispersed as soon as they could, and there was no sign of them a short time later.

These are spiders though. I saw this web going from one plant to another and it was covered with many, many tiny spiders making their way up and down between the plants

There was a web going from one plant to another and it was covered with many, many tiny spiders making their way up and down between the plants

I thought this was a bunch of tiny, newly hatched spiders but when I looked at the photo, I saw that they are not spiders at all

I thought this was a bunch of tiny, newly hatched spiders but when I looked at the photo, I saw that they are not spiders at all

 

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Photo Challenge: Containers

Photo Challenge: Containers  From “Don’t judge a book by its cover” to “Don’t look at the jug, but at what it contains” (an old Rabbinic saying), we’re constantly taught that the contents of things are more important than the vessels, wrappers, and boxes that hold them in place. This week, let’s give outer shells their due and focus our lenses on things that contain other things.

I have been learning all sorts of new things from my friend who has dairy cattle on her farm.

Cedo checks the milk storage tank at her farm.

Cedo checks the milk storage tank at her farm.

The milk truck comes every other day to collect the milk.

The milk truck comes every other day to collect the milk.

Before the milk is in the tank, it is in these containers.

Before the milk is in the tank, it is in these containers.

Future containers

Future containers

This one was contained only days before, and may become the father of future containers in the future.

This one was contained only days before, and may become the father of containers in the future.

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Photo Challenge: Relic

Photo Challenge: Relic  Share a photo of what “relic” means to you — it could be your still-running 1979 Honda Accord Hatchback, an historic building in your town, or an old, rusted farm implement poking up through the long grass in a field.  

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A little old house I passed while riding in the country.

This building is right in town, and appears to have been a school for little kids.

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Everyday Greetings

It is always interesting to go back to the US and see how it feels. I think the longer I live in Panama the more I notice the differences because Panama has now become my”normal”. What differences struck me the most this time?

People in the US still seem really tall. At first I had to remind myself to speak English. Everything is expensive. I thought imported items cost a lot here but they seemed even more expensive in the US – not that I buy a lot of anything that isn’t local so I’m no expert, but just daily costs of living are much more. Everything seems neat, tidy, manicured, and cared for. There are generally no holes in the roads and sidewalks, the grass is neatly trimmed, farms are planted in rows, cities are zoned, and there are no chickens running through the neighborhoods.

Most of all, I miss the greetings. People in the US generally don’t make eye contact, don’t greet you, and are a bit startled if you greet them. It just isn’t the way things are done. When you live where everyone greets everyone, all the time, everywhere, you feel like a welcomed part of the community. That is very easy to get used to. Funny how such a simple thing can make daily life feel so different.

In the US, things feel easier. I am totally fluent in the language. Even in an unfamiliar city I have a general idea of how things work. Google will navigate you through bus transfers and roads are clearly marked. In Seattle, all traffic stops if you try to cross the road! But, easy is not what I want. I want the challenge of a new country, culture, and language. I want to see how others think, how they live, how they feel about their world. And, I want to be part of my new world. I want the everyday greetings. My trip was a wonderful and very precious time with important people, but it is also good to be home again. There is a tranquility, an openness, and a joy of living here that I really love.

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Triathlon

Sunday morning in Seattle, my daughter’s husband competed in a triathlon. I had never been to such an event and wanted to see it. It was better than I expected, and quite inspiring!

That was certainly worth getting up for in the morning. I was so inspired by the participants who were as old and older than me. There is no reason you can’t be fit and active at any age. I am definitely getting on my bicycle as much as possible!

This is the end of my photo collections from my USA trip, so I will posting about Panama news for the next month. After that, there are more adventures and travels in the works :D

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