Cuba Is fantastic

much news is coming! But, there is minimal Internet and it goes by the minute, so communication is minimal at the moment. I will be back at the end of the week with a thousand pictures! We are having a fantastic time.

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Tree Cleanup

Last Friday on a really windy day, part of a huge tree fell into our yard. It just happened that our landlord was on vacation in Chiriqui (he and his family live in Panama City). We had only met briefly some time ago so I didn’t recognize him when he showed up on Saturday morning to see the damage and plan for cleanup.

After a few messages to confirm plans and time, he arrived on Monday morning with his brother, and a workman with chainsaw and machete in hand. This began a very fun day. Teo, our landlord sent me many photos and most of these are his (thank you Teo!). I was glad because I missed part of the day. I went off for a planned meeting with folks from International Living who showed up 40 minutes late (no apologies), and proceeded to ask me all the same questions I’d been asked in previous interviews *sigh*.

Anyway, you would be amazed at what a strong and capable Panamanian man can do in a short time!

We tend to be lazy in our retirement and not get up early, and Joel was just starting breakfast when the work begun. He wasn’t about to let some hard working guys smell bacon and not share, so there was a breakfast break mid morning.

Teo, our landlord, standing and his brother Alvin talking, while the workman looks at his phone

Teo, our landlord, standing and his brother Alvin talking, while the workman looks at his phone

When I got back home from my meeting, I was amazed at how much had been done! There were only leaves and twigs left.

We were very thankful that our landlord was in the area. He and his brother arranged all the cleanup and consulted with Lucho our friend and neighbor. Later Lucho will rebuild the wall and fence. The tree is on land owned by the government, and it still has some very large limbs that could come down. The concern is that the tree is diseased and weakened which is why it broke, and the other limbs should also be cut before they fall. No one wants to repair the fence until this is done and as owners of the land, it is the government’s responsibility to cut the tree, and also pay for the damage on this property.

This is one big reason why it’s nice to rent. It would have been quite a task for us to figure all this out and make all the necessary arrangements!

Anyway, you can’t expect hard working guys to get things done with no fuel. When I came back Joel had put together some lunch for everyone.

From the left, the workman, Alvin, Teo, Joel, and Lucho

From the left, the workman, Alvin, Teo, Joel, and Lucho

I had SO much fun! We all talked and laughed at meal times, and I spent most of the rest of the time talking with Alvin and some with Teo. Teo also speaks English so he and Joel were able to communicate easily. Alvin lives just up the road in Dolega so who knows. We might see more of each other in the future.

What a great silver lining in the cloud of the tree incident. Up to now communication was always through our realtor which is fine, but I’m happy to have these great new friends. Hopefully in the future Teo and his family won’t hesitate to visit when they are in the area. They never wanted to bother us, but it certainly wouldn’t be a bother for us to see them again.

Tomorrow we are heading to Panama City and then to Cuba on Friday. We are supposed to have internet but who knows. Or more likely, we will be too busy seeing the sights and experiencing the country to spend time on line. I will return eventually though! Meanwhile you all continue with the sentiments of yesterday and send loving greetings. We never need to wait for a holiday on the calendar to do that.

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Happy Valentines Day

I love how this holiday is treated here. I have been getting greetings – Feliz Dia de la Amistad  (happy day of friendship). It was explained that Valentines Day is for everyone, your friends, your family, anyone you love even including your dog and your goldfish. How nice is that?!  How inclusive. Many single people feel depressed on this day, but you can’t do that here when you get greetings from everyone who cares about you.

So, to all of you, all of my friends out there – Feliz Día de la Amistad!

I got a Happy Valentines Day from my husband though, and a Happy Anniversary. 21 years! Our lives have taken twists and turns we never would have imagined when we first met back in 1990. It’s going wonderfully and we have decided to do one more year and see where this one takes us 😀

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Fire in the Woods

We came home Saturday night to this. This is the woods across the street from us, behind our neighbors’ houses. It is supposed to be dark. There is not supposed to be this red glow.


It is summer, dry season, and it hasn’t rained for weeks. Everything is getting more and more dry and these brush fires are starting to pop up. No one seems to know how they get started and the general opinion is that they are started by people for reasons not understood. This woods burned twice last year so I knew immediately what was going on when I saw the red glow.

The wind was blowing mainly from the far right side of the woods to the left, but it was still pushing the fire towards our neighborhood. The light intensified, and soon we could see flames. Before long it was close to the property line of the people across the street. It made for some beautiful photos but otherwise it was not a welcome sight.

At first I wondered why people were so meticulous about keeping their yards clean of leaves and debris. Now I know it’s because they don’t want anything that burns near their houses and property. This night the water pressure was so low that there wasn’t enough water to fight the fire. What kept the fire away was the excellent cleaning job. There was nothing for the fire to burn as it came close.

Panamanian houses are they are made of concrete block and tin roofs, and none of that burns. I have seen more serious fires that burn the shrubbery and send showers of cinders down on homes, but the houses don’t catch on fire. The people mainly don’t want to lose plants and trees in the yard and of course they would rather not breath smoke and ash. But, the risk of property loss is much lower here because of the construction materials and diligent removal of anything burnable in the yards.

Today, I went to see how things look in the woods.

It’s been a crazy few days! First we had the tree come down. We were supposed to go to the Jazz and Blues festival in Boquete on Friday night but the weather was terrible up there, high winds and lots of rain (we had a lot of wind too but none of the rain). Saturday we did go to the festival but came home to the fire. Sunday we went to the festival again, and today (Monday) was cleanup day for the downed tree. We have been having so much fun! Well, not so much with the tree and the fire, but everything else has been great. Now I need a little time to catch up before the next adventures start.

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Holy guacamole!

This is a post I didn’t plan on writing!

To say it’s a windy day is an understatement. I heard the wind blowing during the night. The leaves and debris hitting the tin roof sound like rocks, and anything larger sounds like someone threw a coconut on the roof. The wind has only intensified as the day has gone on and wind gusts are literally roaring in the trees.

There is an enormous tree in the woods just outside our fence. It must be 100+ feet tall. We hired someone to cut it back last year and he never showed up but I didn’t worry too much. It’s been there for many decades so it certainly should last for a few more. Today I was minding my own business in the kitchen when suddenly I heard this huge noise and I knew immediately what it was – the TREE!

I dashed for the other side of the house just in case it hit the house. It didn’t but dust and debris were raining everywhere, the side yard is a mess, and I’m sure the fence will need major repairs. Neighbors came running from everywhere to see what had happened!

I am very very thankful! Yesterday I was raking and weeding in the side yard exactly where the tree fell. I don’t work over there on windy days just in case but still, if I had been there it could have been a very bad thing.

This is the wind map from WindyTV today, a few thousand feet up at mountain height.

This is the wind map from WindyTV today, a few thousand feet up at mountain height.

The purple areas are 40+ mph winds, and the blue areas 60+ mph. As you can see, it’s worse in the mountains and in eastern Panama near the canal. How does this affect the ships, especially those with containers piled high?

We are very happy here but that doesn’t mean every day is all rainbows and unicorns. We are very thankful we have water today because there have been many afternoons with none. We are thankful that we have electricity and internet, unlike the first windy day when trees fell taking out many power lines. Living here teaches you that nothing is guaranteed, and to be thankful every day for what you have.

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I ran across this interesting video answering the question “what is the hardest thing about living in Costa Rica?”. You would expect the language, culture shock, or any number of other concerns but I never though about alcohol, and how easy it is to indulge too much.

Costa Rica is right next door and I’m sure a lot of things are similar for expats there and here. As Michael in the video says, your time isn’t structured with work and obligations. You don’t have to get up in the morning looking bright and ready to tackle the day. You aren’t responsible for children or other obligations. Alcohol is everywhere and it’s inexpensive so it’s way too easy to get carried away.

I have heard about excessive drinking here also. There are people who go to the bar every afternoon and stay until they are barely able to stumble home again. I have been to a party, at noon, and the main objective was clearly to drink. By the end of the afternoon some were embarrassingly drunk, and I was very concerned about the participants who all had to drive home. I’m sure there are many other people who drink at home and stay out of sight.

I don’t have much advice except to say if you find alcohol very seductive, you might factor this in when you build your new life in retirement. Find other interesting things to do, and get involved with people and activities that don’t involved drinking. Don’t spend your precious retirement years in an alcohol fog.



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Scenery, Fish, and Boats

It seems like I have been out and about more than I have been home lately. Monday, a friend and I decided to visit Boca Chica. It’s my favorite area on the water so you don’t have to twist my arm to go there. I didn’t take many photos because I’ve covered it quite a bit in the past, but we did see something interesting, a small plane landing on the water. The waitress at Boca Brava said it’s a private plane that comes from David. That would be a much shorter trip than by car.


As you can see, it was a beautiful day, quite windy but clear and sunny. We had a nice lunch at Boca Brava, and then stopped for a drink at Seagullcove Lodge to enjoy the beautiful atmosphere and scenery there.

Yesterday some other friends wanted to buy some fish. We hadn’t had fresh fish in a while so a trip to Pedregal sounded like a very good idea. The market was a little hole in the wall with fish in coolers when I first went there, but now they have a large tiled room with large covered ice bins. We both got a large piece of pargo (red snapper) cut from what must have been a huge fish.

There are some fish shops on the main street that you can spot by their signs. This one was recommended by Panamanian friends not long after we arrived so this is where we usually go. I don’t think you’d ever find it though without someone to show you, something I’m happy to do because I like fish too.

Since we were in Pedregal, we decided to check out the marina.

If I had a boat I’m not sure I’d choose to spend an extended amount of time at this marina. It’s not the most scenic area, but the proximity to David is good for daily needs. I’m not sure if there are other options in Chiriqui.

It seems like there has been a lot going on lately. There was the somewhat time consuming expensive lesson about car documents last weekend, then out and about Monday and Wednesday. What did I do Sunday and Tuesday? Sheesh, I can’t even remember. Wednesday night we went to the opening event for the Blues and Jazz Festival in Boquete and it was great. We’ll be going back tonight and through the weekend. Then, we have three days before our trip to Cuba!

This retirement is rough, I tell ya, just go go go all the time! 😀

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The Homeless Chronicles Pt. 15: An Update and a Thank You!

I haven’t written any new entries lately because I have been working hard to change my situation. I didn’t realize that it’s been 18 days since my last blog, so I will give an upd…

Source: The Homeless Chronicles Pt. 15: An Update and a Thank You!

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Let Me Google That For You

I happened across this cool site!     It shows people how to do a google search. I know it’s kind of snarky but I still love it.


What kind of money does Panama use?

Is it hot in Panama?

Cool huh?

And, a couple favorites that bring quite a bit of traffic to my blog (why are so few people writing about crocodiles in Panama?) (my push button post is always in the top ten posts visited today! Sex sells 😀 )

I participate on some forums and of course I have this blog, so I see and get asked questions all the time. It is unusual that a day goes by that someone doesn’t contact me about something. I enjoy talking with people and I’m happy to answer questions, but please don’t ask something that can easily be found with google or YouTube.

One forum moderator said that if he could find the answer in less than 15 seconds, he would kick out the person who asked 😀 I don’t think he ever actually did it but I understand the feeling.

So, if you see a snarky “let me google that for you” response from me or someone else, maybe that will remind you that the internet has tons of information that you can find yourself.

And, for those of you who want to see Panama through the eyes of people actually living here, which is an excellent idea that I totally understand, here is my list of Panama blogs. Panama City and eastern Panama Panama City Panama City David David David Chiriqui (Boquerón) Boquete Boquete Gorgona Pedasi Pedasi Pedasi Panama City Panama City, and general info for expats. Chame and Coronado area travels all over Panama A peace corp volunteer in the Cormaca

and last but hardly least! Boquete

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Shipping Your Vehicle and Household Items to Panama, a Guest Post

Many people consider shipping household goods and/or a vehicle to Panama when they move, and questions about it come up on the forums and discussion groups all the time.

Jason has experience in auto transport and some great advice on moving to Panama. You can check out his facebook page: A1 Auto Transport, Inc. or his website for further information on importing your vehicle to Panama.

Before making your move, you should consider all that comes with the move. Panama has a wide array of things to do for fun. Whether you like spending time at the beach, getting to know your neighbors or heading out to spend time shopping or checking out the local restaurants and lounges, you’ll find many things to do here. It’s a good idea to learn Spanish before you make the trip if you don’t already speak it. The language is spoken everywhere and while many people speak English, you’ll find it easier to communicate when you at least know some basic Spanish.

Panama is a far move from the U.S., so you need to be sure that you’re moving the items you need, including your vehicle, with you. Without your own vehicle, you may find it a hassle to find reliable transportation with taxis or buses locally, especially if you live in a rural area.

What to Expect with Shipping Goods and Your Vehicle

When you want to know what to expect, it is important to note not only how it can be done but what the prices are going to be like. Enjoy more from the move when you choose a reputable, highly qualified shipping company to work with. You will need to provide documentation when moving items, such as a declaration of goods being shipped, title of the vehicle, insurance and government documents including your passport. You’ll also need to pay import taxes on the vehicle which can range between 50-60% of the value of the vehicle.

There are a few types of transport that you can choose from, depending on how you feel on each. The roll on and roll off (RORO), as well as container shipping options provide you with a way to get your items, as well as your vehicle to Panama. Containers generally cost more, but it protects not only your vehicle, but your items that are being shipped with it. Air shipping is usually reserved for extremely expensive cars and it can be costly to use. RORO is the most economical and is widely used and trusted for overseas transport.

When you need to ship household goods you need to have a detailed shipping list to show every item inside your container so customs will not have a problem with their inspection and clearance. Some people prefer to ship vehicles separately just in case the household goods are held up with customs and delayed for clearance.

You should expect to have your items around a week or two after you have them shipped. You may want to bring along some necessary household items when you fly over to start your life in Panama. Shipping times can vary depending on the shipping company you work with. It also depends on their shipping schedule and how far out they need to go.

Pros and Cons of Shipping Your Vehicle to Panama

There are pros and cons to everything and importing to Panama is no exception.


  • You can trust a reputable company to ensure that your vehicle makes it to the destination
  • You can travel in Panama without relying on the public transportation system
  • Enjoy the fact that the value of your vehicle is not going to go down when you move it, since they do not devaluate as fast as they do in the states


  • You may have to save some cash to move the items and your vehicle to your location in Panama as it can be a little expensive
  • When looking for the right company to move your car, you may go through a trial and error phase until you find the one that is best for you

The pros outweigh the cons when it comes to vehicle transport and a pro can help you get all your items from one place to the next without having to worry about a thing. Whether you are moving or simply taking a much-needed vacation, you will quickly find that Panama has much to offer visitors as well as residents and it’s a place you will find easy to call home.

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