What Did You Do All Day?

Umm…I dunno…  I found the cable provider’s office, bought some art supplies, made lunch… next thing I knew the day was over.

Getting things done in Panama can be a process. Even the Panamanians comment on how much running around it can take. Thank goodness we aren’t working and usually don’t have to be anywhere.

I had a fraudulent charge on my credit card last month. Chase bank took care of it right away, but it meant cancelling my credit card and issuing me a new one. You don’t realize how much automatic billing you have set up until your card no longer works. One of the bills was Cable Onda, our cable and internet provider.

I had a list of errands and the first was to straighten out things with Cable Onda. We made our way through the always fun and exciting downtown traffic, found a parking spot, and went to the office only to find they were remodeling and the office has moved to a temporary spot. Take that street there, go up to Chiriqui Hospital, then four blocks, turn left, and it’s right there. OK, thanks, no problem. We stopped at the art store, checked on some mail I’m expecting, and then set off to find the office.

Of course it wasn’t where I thought it was. So, we stop at the supermarket to ask the security guard. He hollers to the lottery ticket sales lady and soon everyone in the parking lot was having a conference and giving us directions to the place. Go back to Chiriqui Hospital, turn right at the street below the hospital, go a few blocks and its right by something I never heard of before.

Nope, it wasn’t there either. By now it’s getting to be lunch time and Joel is tired of driving around, so we decide to head towards home. After lunch I headed back to town, back to the hospital, back down the street below the hospital. Nope. So, I tried the street above the hospital, and there it was! They are camped out in a building that I believe is a TV station, judging by all the huge satellite dishes behind it.

They find my account, make a note of my new credit card number, I sign the papers, they make copies (nothing ever happens here without copies!) and I am on my way, quick and easy.

This morning I get an email from Cable Onda. There is a problem with your credit card. The information on the form is correct and other charges have been going through on this card, so I can’t figure out the problem. Back to the office we go. They tell me that it looks like everything is fine, so maybe the email went out before they ran the charges with my new card.

This afternoon I get a statement – thank you for your payment. Whew! OK, all is well.

See, it even takes me a novel to tell the story :D But, this is how things often go in Panama. You go to buy something simple like printer cartridges, blue thread, or a cleaning product they had last month. We went to five stores before we found the printer cartridges (but of course now that we don’t need them they have reappeared in the store where we bought the printer). There is a minimum of thread in the fabric store, but plenty in the supermarket (and I have since found other fabric stores that have lots). I am still looking for pumice scouring stick, (but learned steel wool also does well for cleaning the dark deposits in toilet bowls). When something is easy it’s a surprise! Usually though it’s like a scavenger hunt. You need to set out with this in mind so it doesn’t make you nuts.

And, if you are local and need the Cable Onda office, do not go downtown. Go to Chiriqui Hospital. Turn west on the street on the north side of the hospital, and go three blocks. The building is on the far left corner. Look carefully for their sign above the door.

Next week I get to go back downtown to check on license plates for my bike. They didn’t have any so I have a paper and instructions to come back in early February. But, this afternoon I was sitting on my terrace working on a project, and a toucan landed in the tree not 10 feet from me. I must have had a dozen other kinds of birds visit the bird bath today also. Overall life is pretty darn good, and now I’m friends with the Cable Onda lady.

Posted in Panama, culture, Getting Things Done | 8 Comments

16 Resolutions, or Thoughts to Live By?

I suppose it’s still January so one can talk about resolutions for the new year, or maybe we’ll just call it sharing useful thoughts. I ran across 16 Elevating Resolutions for 2016 Inspired by Some of Humanity’s Greatest Minds on Brain Pickings and liked the article so much I wanted to share. It’s a lot to digest and think about though, so one at a time is about my speed.

#1 Cultivate Honorable Relationships, by Adrienne Rich

The quote is: “An honorable human relationship — that is, one in which two people have the right to use the word “love” — is a process, delicate, violent, often terrifying to both persons involved, a process of refining the truths they can tell each other.

It is important to do this because it breaks down human self-delusion and isolation.

It is important to do this because in doing so we do justice to our own complexity.

It is important to do this because we can count on so few people to go that hard way with us.”

Of all the resolutions I am finding this the hardest to wrap my head around. What does it mean?

I believe it means that we are willing to break down the barriers with another person and to reveal our true inner self, our vulnerable inner core. It is a scary thing to do, but it is also beautiful because with the right person, you can form a connection that is deep and meaningful and there is nothing else quite like it in our human existence. But as she says, you can count on so few people to go there with you.

I think many people go through their entire lives without a connection like this. I have worked with many families and when you look under the surface, so many of them have problems, dramas, broken relationships, and broken people. If you have someone to connect with this deeply, this honestly, you are fortunate indeed.

So, I believe what she is saying is to look for these special people and nurture these valuable relationships.

Adrienne Rich (May 16, 1929–March 27, 2012) was one of the most influential writers of poetry and prose of the 20th century, and a woman of strong convictions. She was the only person to decline the National Medal of Arts to protest the government’s plan to end funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. You can also read more about her at THIS BrainPickings LINK which contains a number of other links to her books and other articles. There is this WIKIPEDIA LINK which has a detailed biography and list of her work. Google will also point you to more ways to learn more about this remarkable woman.

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Posted in Panama | Tagged | 13 Comments

Just Get Out There!

We all know exercise is good for us, but we also have those days when we just don’t feel like it. I certainly have had a lot of encouragement to get out there this week though. I’ve been propositioned by three different men! Talk about making an old gal feel good :D There was a taxi driver, some well dressed guy in a new truck on his way to the supermarket, and a cop who had stopped under the same tree for a bit of shade.

It’s funny how we often want what is new and different. I remind these guys that Panama has absolutely gorgeous women. But, they don’t want that. They want a gringa with white skin and lighter eyes. I’ve heard that cultural differences can make such relationships challenging. Gringo men and Panamanian women are often successful, but Panamanian men and gringa women, maybe not so much because we’re not so good at the more traditional gender roles that are more common here. I haven’t had any success discussing this with the Panamanian guys though. They can’t imagine that a gringa gal will be a pile of trouble! Explaining that I’m married and don’t need another guy seems to work much better.

Another motivation for me to get out there is the beautiful scenery which I never seem to tire of. Now that it’s summer there are different trees in flower and other interesting seasonal changes.

Here are some of the many views of Volcan Baru below, our nearby active volcano and highest point in Panama (don’t worry, it is quiet and hasn’t done anything in 400+ years)

And, a few other photos from this week around Chiriqui

Tomorrow is Sunday, a good day to be out because there is much less traffic. But, that means there will be less men out there to pull me over and ask for a date. :D I know people complain about Latin men who show their appreciation for an attractive woman, sometimes in ways we think are rude and disrespectful. There is a difference between admiration and disrespect though, and I have never felt the latter. Maybe if I actually was young and cute it would be different, but at this stage of my life it’s not so bad to be appreciated.

Posted in culture, Panama, photography | Tagged , , | 14 Comments

Who Follows the News?

I think in the US, you feel like you have to keep up with the news. Our nightly ritual was to eat dinner in front of the evening news on TV. There are also multiple sources of information on the internet, so there is no excuse to be uninformed and unaware. That would make you look pretty ignorant and stupid, right?

But, how useful is all that news, really? I recently came across an article – Is There Any Reason to Keep Up with the News?  that brings up some very good points. Why do we keep such a close eye on news? What do we get from it?

The news is truth and reality. But, is it? It’s only a narrow version of someone else’s truth and reality and if you believe everything you see and hear, the world is a very bad and dangerous place.

We will have more empathy and compassion. When this was studied it was found that we are able to have empathy and compassion for an individual. But, when it’s about a lot of people, especially far away people from other countries and cultures, it’s more than we can deal with so we tend to just tune out.

We are well informed so we can take action on important issues. How many times have you actually taken an action because you saw something on the news? Chances are if you did, it wasn’t very often and your actions were prompted by your own research, conversations with others, and many other factors beyond what you saw on the news.

In reality, news is mostly entertainment. It’s exciting. There is drama, action, suspense, comedy, and it can usually get your blood pressure up. Sometimes they talk about good things happening but more often it’s disasters, death, destruction, and with the upcoming US elections, politicians behaving badly.

I have cut down on the news a lot over the years, and since coming to Panama I follow almost none of it. As the years go by I have become more and more careful about what I put in my head. I think it all becomes a part of you in some subtle way. If there is something big, someone in my circle of friends and family is sure to mention it. I’ll scan a couple sources for local news (and Spanish practice). Otherwise though, if I feel the need to know about something I can do my own research. Most of the news doesn’t add anything positive to my life and I feel a lot more peaceful without it.

I will continue to vote though. I feel strongly about that. I may not live in the US but I’m still a citizen of that democracy, and what goes on there affects me and mine.

Posted in Miscellaneous | Tagged , | 36 Comments

Quilts at the Boquete Library

The last time I was in Boquete, my friends and I decided to stop by the library to see the exhibition of quilts.

The top floor of the library had a very nice space for exhibitions. On this day it was full of quilts by the Volcan Quilters. I found their website HERE. The main purpose of this organization is to teach local women to sew and quilt, and give them a skill they can use to earn money. I talked with Sherri Jones from the organization who told me that it is going very well, and some of the women are supporting their entire family with their skills.

I thought it was very interesting to see these quilts – something we have all seen, but here with the artistic skill and taste of these Panamanian women. The first thing that struck me were the bright, vivid colors that made the entire room come alive! There were some more traditional designs, and also a lot of original and creative designs, some I never would have thought of seeing in a quilt. There were quilts to put on your bed or wall, as well as bags and purses, all reasonably priced when you consider the materials, skill, and considerable time it takes to make one of these creations.

If there is a exhibition of these quilts in your area I think it’s worth the time to go see them. And, if you are able to support them, buy something beautiful and/or help them with money or materials. There is an easy donation button on their website, or instructions on how to send supplies on their “about us” page.

Posted in Miscellaneous, Panama | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments

A Big Bee

Last night, a very large bee was attracted by my desk lamp and spent a while hanging out by my computer. I have my macro lens back thanks to some new batteries for my Nikon, so I was happy to get it out and try for a few shots.

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I think the bee looks more interesting in the enlarged photos than it does in real life.

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Check out that face!

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The wings sparkled like glass in the lamp light.

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It looks like a soft and cuddly toy.

And, while we are at it, here’s a macro photo of a tiny but beautiful moth that also landed on my desk.

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Posted in insects, Panama | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

A Muñenco, A Funny

There is a New Year’s tradition in Central America of making muñencos. They are effigies full of fireworks that are set on fire at midnight, sending all the bad things of the last year up in smoke, and hopefully bringing good things and wishes to people in the coming year. I wrote a post about them in the past with some pictures and of course google will find you more information.

Unfortunately this year I didn’t see muñencos around town, but there was one great one in our neighborhood.

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Yes, it’s Donald Trump, and his sign says “Vote for Trump”.

We were elsewhere and missed the burning on New Year’s Eve, but the next day this is all that was left of him – a hand, a shoe, a sleeve, and a pile of ashes.

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This is my favorite picture because that black ball down in the ditch – the head of Donald Trump :D

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Since leaving the US I have come to realize that rest of the world is very aware and keeps a close eye on what goes on in the US. I hope I am not embarrassed by the choices we are going to make this November. If only we could reduce all our problems to a pile of ash at the end of every year!

A couple asides…. one of my readers saw the post on the iguana and told me that it was a very pregnant female who was probably on the ground looking for a place to lay her eggs. Sometimes iguanas in this state are very docile, so perhaps this accounted for her behavior. I hope so, and I’m very glad we got her out of harm’s way. Wouldn’t it be totally cool if she laid her eggs in my yard? She probably went into the quiet woods, but it’s common to see babies around here so whenever I do, I will think of her.

Since deciding my blog will be less service oriented and more for my own entertainment, it’s been a lot more fun and I’m quite happy with my change of direction. Also, my Nikon with the macro lens now has new batteries and is ready for bug pictures. You have been warned :D

Posted in culture, Panama | Tagged , | 10 Comments

Just Some Scenery

I always take a camera when I go biking because there is usually something beautiful along the way!

On my route northwest of town you have to cross this beautiful little stream.

On my route northwest of town you have to cross this beautiful little stream.

 

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As I left the neighborhood, I saw these two birds with the really long tails sitting on the utility lines. I believe they are fork-tailed flycatchers.

I think we were driving to town when I saw these spectacular clouds, and had to ask Joel to stop so I could snap a photo.

We were driving to town when I saw these spectacular clouds.

This is the river before Guarumal on the way to La Barqueta beach

This is the river before Guarumal on the way to La Barqueta beach

This is the same river looking in the other direction from the bridge. It must not be very deep because this man easily walked across it.

This is the same river looking in the other direction from the bridge. It must not be very deep because this man easily walked across it.

Just a bit of countryside with some living fence trees, hay bales, and a field of beans

Just a bit of countryside with some living fence trees, hay bales, and a field of beans

A bit more countryside on the way to La Barqueta beach - living fences, sugar cane fields, and Volcan Baru in the distance

A bit more countryside on the way to La Barqueta beach – living fences, sugar cane fields, and Volcan Baru in the distance

On that same route is the beautiful, tranquil pond. I'm told there are alligators there but I've never seen one.

On that same route is this beautiful, tranquil pond. I’m told there are alligators there but I’ve never seen one.

There was something fairly large that kept surfacing but it looked like a turtle.

There was something fairly large that kept surfacing but it looked like a turtle.

Across from the site for the new sports complex on the way back to town is a nice shady spot good for a rest and a drink of water. I love this beautiful tree!

Across from the site for the new sports complex is one of my favorite rest spots. I love this beautiful tree!

Coming back through town, the red/orange part of this banana flower caught my eye.

Coming back through town, the red/orange part of this banana flower caught my eye.

Posted in Panama, photography | Tagged , | 6 Comments

A Strange Iguana Experience

Yesterday afternoon I went out to putter around in the yard. When I looked across the street, this is what I saw.

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My neighbor was watering an iguana! Of course I grabbed my camera and went over to see what was going on. It was very strange that the iguana was just sitting there. Usually, if they see a person, they are gone!

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My neighbor said he thought the iguana was very hot out there in the sun on the dirt and needed some water. He was afraid a dog had gotten it and it was hurt. The iguana was missing the tip of its tail but otherwise, we couldn’t see any injuries. We were worried though about the dogs, so we decided to try and get the iguana into my fenced yard where it would be protected and safe.

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I came over with a trash can, put it in front of the iguana and used my shoe to try and coax it into the can. It didn’t move a bit! I figured if it was that inactive I would take a chance and pick it up, which would be less traumatic than pushing it into the trash can. I gently picked it up, one hand under the chest and the other near the back feet and the iguana still didn’t move a bit!

I carried it across the street and by the time I got into my yard it looked back, opened its mouth, and tried to push its feet against my arm like it wanted to get away. (those claws are very sharp! I did get a scratch before I moved my arm out of range). I gently put the iguana on the ground next to my back terrace and left it alone. I still didn’t see or feel any evidence of injury except for the tail.

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I came back a while later and it had moved about 8 yards into the back yard, but it was again sitting still and didn’t react when I came close.

When I came back to look again it had moved another 8-10 yards and was sitting under one of my banana trees. I got some papaya from my fridge and put it nearby, and again left the iguana alone. When I came back later the papaya was untouched and the iguana was nowhere to be seen.

My neighbors think the iguana was just stunned and would be fine with some time to regroup. It should be small enough to make it through our fence and into the woods if it wanted to leave. I was encouraged to see no visible injuries, and to see the iguana was able to move about the yard. Hopefully it’s doing better now and is back to living its normal life. It was very cool though to have it in my hands for a moment!

You just never know what is going to go on around here :D

Posted in Panama, wildlife | Tagged , | 16 Comments

A Fun Night in Boquete and Pollera Dancers

Last Friday there was a benefit evening for the upcoming Jazz and Blues Festival. It was held at the beautiful Oasis Hotel. It included dinner, the dance demonstration by the Pollera Dancers, and then dancing and music by Yella Fever.

The grounds of the hotel are beautiful so we couldn’t resist taking a short walk around.

Then came the Pollera Dancers doing traditional Panamanian dances. It was very fun and interesting to see them, so check out the video to see a bit of the dancing.

Their dress, especially the woman’s Pollera is a very beautiful, intricate, and labor intensive traditional dress.

It’s not only the dress though. Look closely and you will see that the lady also wears a lot of jewelry and her hair is done in a very special way. My friend and fellow blogger wrote a very interesting post about the Pollera which includes an excellent video, so be sure to check it out.

I also found this charming video of another women getting dressed in all the parts that make up the pollera.

The Panamanian women are very beautiful, and when they get dressed in pollera they are stunning indeed!

Posted in culture, Panama | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments