Neighborhood Meetings

We live in a Panamanian neighborhood of about 130 houses. Occasionally if there is a concern in the neighborhood, they have a meeting about the issue. I try to go if I can. I’m a foreigner so I don’t want to make decisions, but I will support and help where I can, And, it’s a chance to meet some more of my neighbors. It’s also interesting to see how they run meetings here.

Here in Panama things don’t always make sense, even to Panamanians. There is a nice little park in the middle of the neighborhood that is managed by the city. Unfortunately it isn’t maintained well, and it often has weeds and grass so high that the kids can’t play. Recently the city decided to do some improvements. They planted trees, built a ranchero (kind of like a pavilion), and a couple bathrooms.

The neighbors are very unhappy that nobody was consulted or even informed about what was going on. Workmen just showed up one day and started doing things. The bathrooms are especially a concern. At this point there is no water. Is it going to be hooked up? Will there be a reserve tank system for those frequent times when the water isn’t on. Who is going to clean the bathrooms, take care of trash, supply paper and soap? Will there be any security or can people go in the bathrooms and do whatever? There also is no electricity, so no lights.

Maybe it was nice of the city to plant trees, but there isn’t nearly enough space in the park for the number of trees they put in. I think they put in 6 which will grow very large, in a park fit for one or maybe two at the most. There were already two fairly large trees at one end of the park, and a guyacan at the other end that is medium size now, but can grow to be very large.

Who is going to maintain the park? Who is going to cut the grass often enough that the park is usable. There are batting cages, a soccer area a slide, swings and other things but by the time the city cuts the grass they are almost invisible in the vegetation. Who is going to set rules for the park about get togethers, loud music, parties, etc. that will affect the nearby neighbors? Who will enforce the rules?

You see why the neighbors are upset and full of questions. So, they had a meeting in the ranchero one afternoon. I think almost 30 people showed up and it lasted two hours. There was a sign in sheet for your name, house number, phone number, ID number… I think that was it. There was a bit of socializing, and the customary greetings from everyone for anyone upon arrival. The meeting got underway after a while with a couple of the organizers presenting the problems to be discussed. Then, anyone who wanted to say anything was invited to speak for as long as they wished until everyone had said everything they wanted to say. One of the organizers took notes. Of course there was a lot of repetition since everyone had pretty much the same concerns, and people occasionally got off on another tangent, but I’d say the main concerns of the day were thoroughly covered. The only thing decided was to have another meeting in a week.

I went to that meeting, and I think 18 people showed up. One of the organizers had printed out what looked an enlarged google map in satellite view so it was easy to identify houses. Another had notes from the last meeting on who spoke and what they said, so that was read at the beginning of the meeting. Then again, people were invited to speak to the group and again the main concerns were thoroughly covered. It was decided that there should be a committee to represent the neighborhood, so a president, vice president, an alternate, a secretary, and a spokesperson were all nominated and approved by the participants of the meeting. That was a week ago and I haven’t heard anything about another meeting or any plans going forward.

I’ve learned that things don’t always progress like we think they should. I’ve been to other meetings where they were going to do this and that to secure or improve the neighborhood, meetings that took place even years ago and nothing ever actually happened. Are they going to convince the city to undo the unwanted work? or maintain the park better? or have a plan for water hookup, bathroom cleaning, security, etc. etc.? I have a feeling not much will actually happen but we’ll see.

I also got to see a little of the cultural differences here. In the US it’s meeting time now, and we make decisions, and we limit talking time, and we get things DONE, NOW! Here it’s much more relaxed. Everyone is extremely kind and respectful with each other. Everyone gets to say as much as they want, and everyone else listens attentively. This takes more time but I like the more relaxed attitude. But, being a gringa, I’d rather see more actual results. But it’s all good. I don’t live near the park or need to use it. I’m mostly curious to see what goes on and how things are handled.

I don’t share pictures without permission, and I didn’t feel like asking permission from all those people so just imagine a bunch of nice Panamanians hanging out in the park. But, I will share a picture of the sky tonight from our evening walk. We’ve had a lot of beautiful skies lately, and a fair amount of rain. Last night was a very big rainstorm that went well into the night. Today though has been beautiful and comfortable.

I have more ideas knocking around in my head but I seem to be unusually busy lately. One day though, maybe even soon!

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Family Secrets and Deceptions

This is nothing about Panama, but it’s been on my mind for a while so I’m putting it out there.

Secrets and deceptions have a way of blowing up a family, or at least causing all sorts of problems. We probably know at least someone or a few people who have stories. I met someone who hadn’t talked to her family in years after she found out her parents weren’t her parents and she had been born to some other relative. She felt like she had been lied to, denied a truth that was known by everyone else, and she couldn’t trust anyone. That’s only one story. I’ve heard a number of others over the years.

Then, along came DNA testing. In the last few years I’ve been hearing many more stories. Someone has a brother they never knew. There are relatives with no connections, or connections to other relatives they never knew about. If you’ve been reading for a while, you know I’m one of those stories.

Thankfully someone gave my parents the good advice that they should tell me I was adopted before someone else spilled the beans. I knew, and in my 20’s I was able to locate my mother. We have had a happy and friendly relationship ever since. But, she was a high school kid and I was a SECRET, never to be revealed. I knew I had sisters and it was all I could do to honor her wishes and not look for them.

Then, DNA! That was legal, right? I just wanted to know my heritage and nationality (overwhelmingly English, who knew?) If I connected with family that was just an accident, right? 🤥 First I connected with a cousin, and then one of my sisters. By then it was obvious that the secret was half out of the bag, and my mother went ahead and told my other two sisters. It’s worked out better than I ever dared dream, and my sisters are loving and welcoming. I also have a large extended family that I’m getting to know little by little.

Now someone else on the other side of the family got DNA results and learned that her father is not her father. Needless to say she is reeling and trying to process this news. The good news is that her new father and his family are very excited and looking forward to meeting her. I’m very glad that I could talk with her since I have recently gone through a similar experience. Yes it’s exciting but also scary. Who are these new people? Will I like them? Will they like me? Are they psychos? ha! Will they want more from me than I can give, or will I want more from them than they can give? Who knew about this and kept it from me? Who can I trust? Whose version of “the truth” is closest to the actual truth, if there is even such a thing. So, if he’s my father, my siblings are now my half siblings? How do they feel about that? Everyone has feelings and the person is in the middle of all this while also sorting out their own feelings. It’s a lot.

Advice from me, for what it’s worth ($.02), get the secrets out of the closet asap, or better yet don’t even put them in the closet. People will probably be more understanding than you think and if they aren’t, do you really need them?

In other news, it feels like summer has returned. It’s very hot, sunny, and windy but we have had enough rain to raise the humidity which makes it feel worse. Even the whistling bugs of summer were whistling last night. Panamanians who have lived here their whole lives say this is very unusual. Some say some of the problem is El Niño which is warming the oceans and causing more heat.

Another interesting thing – there was drama in the (all Panamanian) neighborhood WhatsApp group. I’ve been a member for many years and this is the first time I’ve seen such a thing. Someone was complaining that our neighborhood park is a mess, money had been allocated but why isn’t everything done and looking perfect, etc. etc. Messages were flying fast and furious for a couple days. I’ve been on social media and forums for ages so this was very interesting to see. I was so impressed with the curtesy, kindness, and loving ways Panamanians have to tell someone to back off and settle down. If only the rest of social media went like this it would be a different world.

In personal news, I’m happy to say that my mother left the hospital soon after we left Oklahoma and she is doing much, much better. We are rested and recovered from our colds, the car is in working condition again, and having last weekend off couldn’t have come at a better time. So, all is well in our little world, and we certainly can’t complain about being cold. 😁

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Back in the US

After 10 years of living here, I’ve made multiple trips back to the US to see family and friends. People sometimes ask if I want to go back and live there. The more time I spend here in Panama, the more that answer is a definite no. I’ve said quite a bit about the differences I see between here and there after my various trips, and those thoughts haven’t changed much. It just seems like the differences become larger and the downsides to the US become stronger over time.

It’s cold. I’ve spent almost three decades in warm climates (Florida before Panama) and I’m less and less tolerant of cold. I spent the majority of my time in thermal underwear which helps enormously. It’s dry. Skin lotion and chap stick are necessary, things I almost never use in humid Panama. Even in Oklahoma where the temperature got as high as 80 on a couple days, it was still much drier than I’m used to. It’s expensive. Prices are rising everywhere, including here in Panama but my goodness, it’s always a shock to see how much more we spend in the US. The produce in the supermarket is neat and orderly and without blemishes of any kind, but you pay for that. Much of it comes from far away, and you pay for that too. We are too used to getting our produce from the food truck that got it from the farms up the mountain that morning. It may not be as pretty but it’s full of flavor and goodness.

But mainly, I’m just not as comfortable in the US. I’m so used to the greetings everywhere, these friendly people who wouldn’t hesitate to stop for a chat or offer some help even if we are total strangers. That a shooting might occur never enters our mind. People have their opinions and argue about politics and other ideas, but never with the disrespect and hatred you feel in the US. The problems with healthcare, housing, poverty, and violence just seem so overwhelming and so many people are suffering.

Anyway…. I am here, and thankful every day for the life we have here. Of course there is poverty here also and people grumble about various problems, but it’s not the same.

But, I did have a lot of good times on my trip! I arrived in Seattle before Easter and the granddaughters were on break from school the following week. Mom and Dad worked from home, and I played with the kids. The older one has learned to read, so she was in charge of reading recipes and directing the action in the kitchen. The highlight was mid week when the other grandma arrived, the day after her birthday. We had a cake with fresh strawberries and homemade whipped cream. We hadn’t seen each other in ages so it was great to have some time to talk and catch up.

Next was California. We stay in a hotel nearby because there isn’t a lot of extra space and this family is super busy. There were baseball games, dance classes, gymnastics classes, birthday parties, friends coming over, visiting other friends… there was always something going on and the kids had a thousand things to tell me and show me. And, on that Friday evening we went down to Oakland for the Muse concert. It was fantastic. They did all the songs we play and more, and there were tons of lights, flames, confetti, and special effects. I spent COVID learning to play Hysteria, and when they launched into that song with the bigger than huge bass sound it was awesome. One of the last songs was Kill or be Killed, which I especially love. If you want to get a taste of the over the top production check this out. YouTube can’t duplcate the huge sound but you can get the general idea.

The last stop was Oklahoma, where my mother was in the hospital. She’s 89, prone to falls, her legs were badly swollen, and she was having severe pain in one of her legs. It took three days to get an MRI done, they didn’t see anything broken, so they sent her home. Thankfully it was the weekend which bought her a little more time to investigate options, but ultimately insurance refused to pay for rehab or anything else, so she was sent home. (Do NOT get me started on the US health care system!) She told me yesterday that she’s weak, tired, and short of breath but she’s hanging in there.

Of course I don’t want her suffering and stuck in the hospital, but for me it was ok. She kept apologizing that she wasn’t in a position to do anything, but I only wanted to see my family and spend time with them so it was all good. I spent quite a lot of time as the hospital and with my two younger sisters. The oldest sister lives two hours away so she was only there on Thursday, her birthday. She’s also a nurse and we have many interests in common so we can talk forever. Oh, and there was a BBQ on Wednesday at my middle sister’s house, and my youngest sister came with her daughter and grandson. Also, one of my middle sister’s sons visited the hospital so I got to meet him! And, my oldest sister came with her youngest son, so I got to meet him too! Little by little, I’m meeting more of the family.

It’s good to go and see my people, but it’s always good to come home again. But the best laid plans… we sat on the tarmac in Tulsa for 2 hours waiting for bad weather in Houston to clear. By the time we got to Houston, our flight to Panama had left. They booked us on a later flight but of course by the time we got to Panama City our flight to David had left so we spent the night in a hotel. Thankfully our favorite hotel (Riande) had space for us, but our luggage had gone on to David. When we arrived in David Joel’s suitcase was the first off, but mine never arrived. The Copa staff was very good about tracking it down (somehow it hadn’t gotten on the plane with us in Tulsa). I got a number of emails and then a message the next day that it had arrived in David on the morning flight. But sheesh… I had been fighting a cold for quite a whle. We got up at 4am on Friday to make the Tulsa flight. We got up at 4:30 am on Saturday to make the David flight, and we had a gig on Sunday evening. We purposely loaded the set list with songs we know well, thank goodness, and it was a good evening.

But wait… there’s more! We set out for Boquete on Sunday afternoon and everything is fine until we were half way up the mountain. The car suddenly had less power, and then Joel noticed black smoke coming out of the tail pipe. But, we were still moving forward so we limped our way up the rest of the way and made it to the gig. Something was definitely wrong with the car though, and by the time we packed up it was Sunday night, 10pm, dark, and we did not want to get stuck by the side of the road so we came home in a tow truck. Monday I slept until noon and I can’t even remember when I did the rest of the day.

Tuesday, our neighbor came over. He (and his family) have had four Monteros and he does most of his own work on his many cars. He thought it was something wrong in the fuel injection system so he called another guy who specializes in this. We got up early on Wednesday so we’d have both eyes open for his 9am arrival, and he didn’t come until noon. ☹️ But he did come and confirm the diagnosis. We have towing with our insurance so I called them. They were super nice and arranged for a tow and called twice later to confirm that the tow truck had arrived and all was well. But, I had to talk with the neighbor, the guy he called, the insurance gal, the tow truck office, the tow truck driver, our mechanic, and the follow up calls all in Spanish so by the end of the day my brain was too fried to function!

I’ve seen people complain about customer service in Panama, and I wonder what they experience. We were treated SO well! There was excellent help finding my lost suitcase. The insurance and tow truck people were super nice. The driver texted me 4 pictures of the car at the shop so I’d know it arrived ok. My mechanic also texted me a picture of it when it arrived. There were two follow up calls to be sure our needs had been met. I was out with a friend yesterday and we stopped by the shop. We’ve gone to this mechanic for 10 years and trust him a lot so I was happy to hear he agreed with the diagnosis. He had taken the head off the motor, the specialist had gotten the injectors and pump to take to his shop for cleaning, and as soon as they are returned out mechanic will put everything back together. Thank goodness we aren’t playing this Sunday so we have some time!

When I started writing this I thought I didn’t have much to say. HA! But, I think I’m done for now. Hopefully soon we’ll have the car back, and we can figure out what we want to do about the washing machine that doesn’t want to spin (but thankfully still washes), and life will return to some sort of normal.

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Catching Up

I haven’t been here in a month?! I have excuses – busy, travel, tired… I can always come up with excuses. 😁 I save things I think are interesting, but then I don’t get around to actually writing anything. But I think I’ll have a bit more free time now.

One thing I saved was about something I saw at night in my back yard. I was sitting on the terrace and I saw this very bright yellow/white light flying around. It landed in some flowers near the terrace but I couldn’t find it again. I think it was one of these It was a steady light, not blinking like a lightning bug, and it was much brighter. I saw one of these in the past when it landed on my table so I know they are around. I don’t know what made me look up at the moment but I’m really glad I did.

Let’s play “find the iguana” for more backyard fun. There is this really big one who has been visiting occasionally. The first time I saw him he was making his way up on the neighbor’s terrace until their chihuahua spotted him, and the iguana thought it would be best to run away. I’m surprised he has been in our backyard since we have a dog who is definitely bigger than an iguana, but an iguana can be amazingly fast when it needs to be. Look in the very middle of the picture for the tree stump that has three branches going up from it, and the iguana is on the middle branch in a spot of sunlight.

I think I’ve mentioned my bassist friend Arya who got a job playing on a cruise ship. He finished his six months and came back a new man full of experiences and adventures! While he was home for a short while, he became part of a four piece band with his friend/coworker/drummer Alvin, his sister Adhi (vocals), and her duo partner Dario (guitar). In a short time, with two rehearsals, they put together an evening of music and it was awesome! Arya and Alvin are out again until the end of June, and when they return they are going to concentrate on this band hoping to get cruise ship gigs as a party band. This will offer more opportunities than the Latin music band they are part of currently. I’m looking forward to hearing more of them, and I wish them lots of good fortune but I’ll also be sad to lose these excellent musicians from the local music scene.

April, the end of summer, brought some beautiful rainbows in Boquete. Down in David there was a lot of clear blue skies and intense bright sun, and it was hot. Up in Boquete however it was windy, cooler, and the clouds and mists come over the mountains, which makes for some spectacular rainbows. I especially like this shot of a rainbow behind the trees.

We had a strong earthquake! A lot of Panamanians said it’s the strongest one they have felt. We were sitting on the sofa planning a set list for our next gig and all of a sudden the house started shaking, and then rocking and rolling. It’s a very weird feeling for sure! I’m very glad that the houses and buildings are built to withstand these occasional events. The worst I heard was about merchandise falling off the shelves in some stores. Some people did freak out though. I talked with a guy who was in a supermarket when it happened and he said some people went running and screaming out of the store, even leaving their money and wallets behind at the check out counters. If you’ve lived here for some time you certainly have experienced this before, and I would think you’d know that freaking out isn’t necessary. The worst I’ve heard in 10 years was about a crack in a wall of one of the larger buildings (5 stories high, I think), and some buildings closed temporarily so they could be inspected for damage and safety. An earthquake certainly gives us all something to talk about though, something more than the usual topics of the weather and the health of your family.

This is about all I had in mind before we left for the USA, so I’ll leave the travel conversations for the next blog post. All I’ll say now is that I’m very very thankful to see my family, and at every visit I’m less and less inclined to consider even the idea of living in the USA ever again.

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Summer and Other Stories

Summer has returned! We had a week and a half of rainy season weather with some very big downpours. This is very strange in March. It’s supposed to be really hot and dry with no rain, but I appreciated the rain to cool things down and make all the plants green and happy. But, if you are working outdoors it would complicate your afternoon and my friend brought up another good point. If you are counting on summer weather patterns to know when to plant things on your farm, this could cause problems. But, the rainy weather has passed. Yesterday and today we have blue skies, strong sun, wind, and no rain is predicted all week. The mani (perennial peanut) in my backyard looks green and happy though.

green and happy mani (perennial peasut)

When you want to get things done here it isn’t always as straightforward as you would think. I have an internet data plan on my phone which I find very handy, so we decided to upgrade Joel to a similar plan from his pay-as-you-go thing he was doing before. I must have gone through this before and forgotten it, or I thought since Joel already had a phone number it wouldn’t be so complicated. ha!

There was a big form to fill out with all the information you could imagine, including three people as references. They guy wasn’t experienced with this so he had to ask questions of another guy who was in the back office. But, you can’t just pop into the back office. You have to knock and wait for someone to open the door. It finally ended up that they had to start over with a new form and do it together to get it completed correctly. Then there was also another form, and another. Then, there were pictures of his cedula (ID card) alone, the form alone, both of them together. His signature wasn’t exactly like the one on the cedula so that was a problem but they finally let that pass. Then they had to take a picture of him (pretend) signing the form. Then they gave him a new SIM card since he’s forgotten to bring his old one, and we were done! It was very nice that there were some young workers hanging out in the office playing disco music on their phones while we were all waiting around, memories of my younger days in NYC. The kid says his mother listens to that so that is how he came to like the music too. We had to wait for a phone call which came a couple hours later to tell us the plan was now activated. We put in the new SIM card and everything was working properly. Yay! Whew

The dog started scratching herself all the time. We have been using anti flea and tick medicine and we couldn’t find anything on her, so we have no idea what that was all about. I called the vet but couldn’t get an answer, so one day I rode my bike down there. They were in the office and said maybe they were just busy when I was calling. The doctor was on vacation until the following week, but they sold me some antihistamines which turned out to be generic Claritin. It seemed to help quite a bit, so after 5 days I stopped giving her the pills and she continued to do well. So, who knows what that was all about, but I’m glad she isn’t itching any more. This is Avionetta living her difficult life. I usually practice in my room in the afternoons and she loves to lie on her back behind the door.

Other than that, life is pretty routine at the moment. We continue our band gigs in Boquete on Sunday evenings. A couple weeks ago we were set up and waiting for our start time, and a big gust of wind came along and blew one of our speakers over the railing and on to the sidewalk below. On the way it took my plastic bin with it that I use for cords and other equipment. I had put my iPad in there instead of on my microphone stand so it wouldn’t risk being blown over in the wind. Believe it or not though, that was the only thing damaged. The speaker still works, the light on top of the speaker is fine, and nothing in my bin was hurt, just scattered all over the place. My iPad though.. 😢 thankfully it’s fairly old and I had already gotten another as a backup because I knew its days were limited. It’s surprising how much we have come to rely on technology and our devices. My poor iPad..

Speaking of equipment, there’s another story. Joel really wanted a Marshall speaker cabinet for his guitar. He found a place in Germany that would sell him one and ship it to Panama for way less than it would cost in the USA without shipping. So he buys it and a while later we hear from customs here in Panama. They give us the price of the import taxes, but you can only pay by credit card in Panama City. We had to go to their bank, make the deposit into their account, and send them a picture of the receipt. After they verified that the money was there, they put the cabinet on a truck and sent it to David. Two guys showed up in the afternoon after contacting us to expect them. They said they left Panama City that morning with a full truck and were making deliveries all day. Once they explained what was needed the whole process went like clockwork and it was all done with WhatsApp text messages! Technology again.

I think that’s about it for the moment. I have gone on quite enough for now. I have some pretty clouds and sunset pictures, and some interesting bugs, but I’ll save them for another day. I hope you all are doing well out there!

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It’s March? Already?

There were the holidays. Then it was January. Somehow February flew by. How does this happen?

It’s OK with me if March flies by also. We are in the height of summer right now. I like warm weather but daily afternoons in the mid to upper 90’s are a bit much, there hasn’t been a drop of rain for weeks, and everything is drying out and burning up in the intense sun. Water is a problem when there isn’t any rain, so the water has been off during the day every day. I think they are trying to conserve water but as more and more people get reserve tanks, they use their usual amounts of water so nothing is really saved. I’m very thankful for our tank but I still try to be mindful of how much water we use. In Florida, water was very expensive so that trained us.

We’ve also had days of strong trade winds. I’ve seen reports of 50-60 mph winds! Thankfully, knock on wood, so far, we haven’t seen many fires. People want to clear their land and/or dispose of trash with minimal cost and effort, so they set it on fire. When everything is bone dry and the wind is blowing, you can imagine how easy it is for this to get out of control. We still have about six weeks before the rains return so we’ll keep our fingers crossed that there aren’t more fires coming. But, on the positive side, we get flowers and fruits that we usually don’t have the rest of the year. The bougainvillea are especially spectacular, and mangoes are coming soon.

The band continues to play in Boquete and it’s an entirely different world up there, only 40 minutes away! It’s still windy but evenings are in the 60’s and often damp if not downright wet. The mist comes rolling through like clouds descending, but it makes for some spectacular rainbows! The sun is getting low in the sky behind us when we are setting up for the evening, so the rainbows appear right in front of us beside our venue.

We’re happy with how things have been going with the band. We video our gigs so we can watch later and find areas to improve, and this has been very helpful. Some friends are stuck in the US at the moment, so I’ve been putting more videos on my channel so they can still come to the gigs in spirit. Hmm, I’m not sure if that link works. Maybe this is better, a link to the last video and you can click on my name there to find others

That’s about all at the moment. I’m also looking forward to March flying by because we have plans in April. We’re going to see kids, grandkids, and my new sisters! We’re also going to see Muse in concert in California. They are just beginning their US tour and videos are starting to appear on YouTube. It looks like it’s going to be awesome.

You all have probably heard more than enough of me complaining about the heat when so many of you are suffering through winter weather and getting hit by storm after storm. I hope the time marches quickly towards spring for you all, and without tornadoes or other weather-related problems. You all take good care of yourselves!

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Internet, Wind, Carnavales

It’s been one of those weeks with something going on every day. We took the cars for maintenance and minor repairs. Since he’s in San Pablo we may as well stop at Pricesmart on the way (our version of Costco). We’ve tried other mechanics but this guy treats us better than anyone, we’ve known him for 10+ years, so we’re staying with him.

Our internet (with Tigo, formerly CableOnda) started going out intermittently. Our internet has been quite reliable so we were starting to wonder if there were problems somewhere, but nobody in the neighborhood chat was saying anything about similar problems. Wednesday we had no internet whatsoever. I contacted them by WhatsApp on Thursday morning and they sent someone out that very afternoon. He said our signal was good, the modem was good, so it had to be the router. It’s really old so we figured he was right and we bought a new one. Good move. The internet was back on and much faster than before. But, that night it went out again. Back to WhatsApp in the morning, and they sent another guy out in the afternoon. Of course, right before he came the internet came back on but I still wanted things checked out. He determined that the problem was in the line coming into the house, so they scheduled someone to come out Saturday morning between 8 and 12. 8:00 on the dot my phone rang. They were in the neighborhood and needed directions to the house. They replaced all the cable from the pole to the modem, and we’ve had no problems ever since, except for a few minutes ago. Now the power is out.

But, we’ve been really happy to have the internet back. You don’t think about how much you use it until it’s not there. And, even more frustrating, my devices will connect with my phone but not do anything, so I was stuck doing everything on my little iPhone. I’m very thankful I decided to get a data plan on my phone though so I could use it when I’m out and about, and at least I had some connection through all these problems. And I was very thankful that Tigo was very pleasant to work with, and very fast sending someone out to help us get back online. We’ve been with them for 10+ years and this is the first time we’ve needed help, so I would say they have done very well by us.

About the wind… it’s summer here so we expect to get blown around by the trade winds but yesterday and today they have been crazy! People in the area are reporting 40, and even 50+ mph winds. Trees are down, and our remaining banana tree is definitely leaning. People who have been here for years are saying these are the strongest winds they have experienced.

And, it’s Carnavales time, a huge country wide celebration of parades, street parties, floats, colorful costumes, water trucks hosing down the crowds, and general mayhem and festivities. Most businesses are closed until Thursday, and travel around the country could be complicated. If you want to know more check this link,queen%20followed%20by%20outdoor%20dancing%20%28evening%20and%20night%29. We’re old folks so we don’t plan to participate but it’s fun to know what’s going on. Panamanians definitely love to celebrate and have good times. And, this is the first one since COVID so it’s really special and important! The most we’ve experienced so far is the loud music from the bar across the river. We heard it last night, and it started again about 9 this morning. We can hear it clearly but it’s far enough away that it doesn’t bother us. There aren’t Carnavales celebrations in Boquete so we’re not sure what to expect when we go up there to play this evening. Will it be quiet, or full of people avoiding the celebrations? Either way we’ll play the music and hope we don’t get blown into the street. ha!

The power can back on fairly quickly so it’s back inside to run through the rest of the songs for tonight. Hasta lluego.

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My new word of the day, garrapatas (ticks) 🙄 I know fleas and ticks are a problem here. Our dog was covered with fleas when we got her.(a bit of her story here Her fur is so thick that I had no luck with flea baths, so I ended up getting her a pill which worked. When I took her to be spayed (when she was still living on the street) they said she had tick fever, so I gave her antibiotics every day for a month. Neighbors have also had ticks and have mentioned treatments for tick fever.

Avionetta came to live with us in June, 2017. Once we got all her issues cleared up we have had almost no fleas and ticks. I brought back some of that medicine that you apply to the back of the neck and I think I’ve only used it once. She stays in our yard and doesn’t roam the neighborhood, and our only neighbors with a common boundary are in the house next door with two chihuahuas who don’t spend much time outdoors.

We had some really heavy rains at the end of the rainy season, and we lost part of the wall supporting the fence on the northeast side of the yard. Last week I discovered that Avionetta had figured out that she could go through an opening in the wall and make her way down into the woods. I have a feeling that she got the ticks down there. Joel discovered one on her back, and when we examined her closely we found dozens of the little devils, especially in her armpits behind her front legs. Of course I gave her a dose of the medicine, and we found some more ticks the next day. Today, four days later, we found maybe 5 ticks and they barely move, like they are half dead (which is good, hopefully an indication that the medicine is helping). Before, if you put a tick on the table it would immediately run off.

Researching how to remove ticks and then practicing the skill over and over, this was not in my plans this week. I am very thankful that she is a super good dog and cooperated fully with all our fussing. I am thankful that she is a super good dog in general and she has been a wonderful member of the family. And from now on I’m going to treat her monthly, routinely, so we don’t have any further problems!

in the living room

So, that’s some of the news of the week. Other than that, it’s definitely summer and day after day has been super windy. We have three tall banana trees. One was tipping over into another, so Joel cut those two down. Now we have one tall banana and various pups coming up. Bananas are cool but when they fruit, they make a ton of fruit and we’re forever cleaning off dead leaves because I don’t like the way they look. Maybe at this stage of life, less bananas is a good thing.

The power was out all morning. I’m not surprised in all this wind. This doesn’t happen very often and they always get it going again in a few hours. The water, however, seems to be out almost every day (thankfully it comes back at night). I’m very thankful that we have a tank. Outages seem to be common especially in summer when supplies are low because there is very little rain. I’m also thankful that the power and the water weren’t out at the same time because we need the pump to use the water in the tank. Living here is a lesson in not taking things for granted. Electricity and clean water are luxuries in much of the world.

Now it’s 11PM and the winds have finally calmed. It’s about 72 degrees, very light breeze, and a beautiful time to be outside on the terrace. Many people say David is way too hot. The afternoon sun is definitely intense but the nights are gorgeous! Hopefully next week will bring new words that are more fun than garapatas, but any new words I can learn are always useful. I hope you all have a good weekend free of garapatas, pulgas (fleas), and all other annoying pests!

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Panama Coffee

First, before I forget, thank you to whomever used my link ( to buy spots on a Panama Relocation Tour. I’m an affiliate and the payment came at the perfect time to pay for my website hosting. The PRT business has been around for many years and has a well deserved, excellent reputation. If you want to know more, read this post and all the comments

Today though, coffee is on my mind since my plant bloomed, and we just had a big fair in Boquete. Wonderful coffee is grown in the mountains right above us. The climate and growing conditions are good so there are many coffee farms here. A number of them also give coffee tours which are very interesting. The plants are beautiful with glossy, dark green leaves and fragrant flowers, or when the time is right, red berries that contain the coffee beans. I even have my own coffee plant! I don’t expect to be harvesting coffee but it’s interesting and very pretty.

Geisha coffee is also grown here. It is the most unique and expensive coffee in the world! This article here explains it much better than I can. The geisha plants are slow growing, don’t produce much, and are fussy about their growing conditions but the coffee they produce is unlike any other coffee.

Geisha coffee price set a record a couple years ago, $2560/pound! Can you imagine how you would feel if you grew and sold this coffee!

Here are a couple YouTubers I follow discussing Geisha coffee

Coffee is a big deal here in the Chiriqui highlands! They have a big fair every year to celebrate. This year’s fair just ended on Sunday and there were tons of visitors, loud music well into the night, and many happy people. And, of course, it’s a huge economic boost to the town. Our band played in Boquete on Sunday night. There were big busses from all over the country parked everywhere, lots of cars, many people on foot, and a wonderful, enthusiastic crowd at our gig so we had a blast.

We are into the tourist season now, so hopefully we’ll have more fun band nights ahead. When the holidays are over and it’s cold up north, people come down to enjoy the warm weather. Boquete is a tourist and expat destination so you’re likely to meet people from all over the world. We prefer to live at a lower, warmer elevation but we’re happy to be close enough to Boquete to enjoy times up there.

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Summer Flowers

it’s summer here with hot days, cooler nights, and minimal rain. You can see the change of season in the trees and plants. This mango tree looks like it’s covered with fur, but those are actually clusters of little mango flowers. You can see the clusters better on the tree in the second picture. A few trees are starting to have fruit, and by April and May there should be many varieties of mangoes ready to enjoy.

The bougainvillea are really beautiful in the summer. We’re already seeing some of them busting out with flowers. They come in a variety of colors, and these are just a couple I passed on my way home.

We also have cashews here. They are just beginning to flower, and with any luck cashew apples will follow, each with a cashew nut on the end. There has been some kind of sickness the last couple years so there have been no cashews. The trees are looking better so hopefully they are recovered. The flowers and good looking leaves look like a good sign.

There is a surprising amount and variety of citrus here. Oranges are plentiful and inexpensive. I bought 16 big ones from our veggie guy for $2, or you can buy bags of 50 smaller ones for I think, $6-8? I don’t buy them because it’s more than we can use. Grapefruit are really good right now too. Our chicken guy has a tree and too much fruit so he brings me a sack full when he comes. Our veggie guy usually has some for, if I remember, 6/$1. I never knew there was such a variety of lemons either. Our tree is loaded with green lemons with beige patches and orange insides. They have a lot of juice and I really like them. The neighbor behind has a tree of the little key limes. This tree is on a vacant lot in the neighborhood. The fruit looks like grapefruit but they are actually lemons with edible skin, and a flavor very much like the lemons we are used to buying in the USA.

I rode past this pretty spot the other day. That is Volcan Baru in the background, our volcano and highest spot in Panama. The vine climbing up the tree covered with purple flowers, I’ve seen a field nearby totally covered with these flowers. Maybe it will happen again this year.

Something I really love in summer is the guayacan trees. When they are in full bloom they are spectacular! They come in yellow, pink, and white. The yellow ones seem to be the most prevalent and are just starting to bloom now. In the first picture one is just starting to bloom behind a mango tree. The reddish color is new leaves.

Last but not least, a couple horses decided to wander the neighborhood.

So this is a bit of what we are seeing around here these days. Keep in mind that we are at sea level. The climate is different in the mountains so they tend to have different things growing and a bit more rain. Up there the flowers are even more spectacular. We live in such a beautiful country.

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