Daily Life

What do you say when you aren’t doing anything interesting? It’s easy to forget that daily life is interesting to other people who wonder what it’s like to live here.

It’s rainy season but we had a dry spell for many days. More normal weather seems to have returned now with rain in the late afternoon and/or early evening most days. Everything still grows like crazy though so I took advantage of the dry time for my favorite pastime, yard work. I still have to explain occasionally that it’s my therapy and that’s why I don’t hire it out.

The water has been a problem for 2-3 weeks now and we have only had water for a few hours a day, at most (and which hours are anybody’s guess). As usual, nobody knows what is going on, but I have heard rumors about major work at the water plant that supplies us. I am very very thankful that we have a water tank so it doesn’t inconvenience us.

If the water is out for more than a day or so, a water truck comes around to fill any container you provide. Our neighbor, a smart and capable guy, built a pipe extending to the street so the water truck can use it to fill their tank. We were ok with half a tank left, but he has a busy house with adult kids and school age grandkids so he was happy to have a full tank.

The water came back later that night. It’s been on all last night and today, so maybe they are done working for a while?

They are building a huge new mall nearby, so the other day I biked over to see what was going on. Word is that most of the work is going on inside now, and finish date is still expected to be this December. Google “Federal Mall Chiriqui” if you want to know more and see projections for the finished mall. It’s HUGE!

The country has discontinued the use of plastic bags. The bags get everywhere, in the trash, beside the roads, and in the waterways so I think this is a great move. Canvas bags,  and more recently, biodegradable bags are available in the supermarkets. We were given a biodegradable bag at the hardware store yesterday for our purchases.

What else? A couple more pictures of things around town –

So, that’s kind of what goes on here, daily life, shopping , errands and household chores, working in the yard, seeing friends, riding my bike, some on line correspondence and activities, and practicing music.

Last, but definitely not least, I never get tired of seeing all the beauty around us and a view of Volcán Barú, our nearby volcano, is always exciting.

La vida difícil en Panama 😊

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Must See Webinars about Residency Visas in Panama

We love our attorney. He guided us expertly through the whole residency process, and has done the same for many other expats who also love him. All attorneys are not equal, and it’s critical that you have a good one to avoid the many possible hiccups and complications that could cause more time, expense, and frustration.

Photo blatantly lifted from his website 🤓

https://blog.thepanamaadventure.com/2017/06/05/good-people-to-know-in-panama/

His website https://kraemerlaw.com/en/home/

Marcos contacted me yesterday to tell me about some upcoming webinars, and I have to share them here because I’m sure those of you considering Panama as your future home will find them useful and informative.

Friendly Nations Visa August 22nd, 1PM Panama time

https://panamafriendlynationsvisa.com

Retiree/Pensionado Visa August 23rd, 1PM Panama Time.

https://panamaretireespensionersvisa.com

So, now you know, so you can get registered. If you can’t make it, check Marcos’s website above for a lot of good information and then get in touch with him to start moving forward.

As a tourist (from most countries) you can stay in Panama for 180 days, but it’s much more complicated to impossible to live here long term as a tourist. It’s better for many reasons, including your peace of mind, to get legal.  I really appreciate Marcos and his team.

Posted in Panama | 12 Comments

Buying Produce in Panama

We are fortunate to live in Chiriqui. Not only is it really beautiful, but most of the produce for the country is grown in the highlands above us. There are produce markets all over town, and you can often find people selling produce from the backs of trucks.

Enrique comes through our neighborhood every week with his truck loaded with fruit and vegetables. He knows what we like so he saves choice heads of brócoli, green beans, and passion fruits which he knows I love. Yesterday everything looked so good I bought more than I should have but we will eat very well this week.

What is all that?
1/2 of a big pumpkin/squash
2 medium size pineapples
3 beets
3 pounds of onions
3 pounds of potatoes
4 large tomatoes
3 small peppers
3 heads of garlic
2 papayas
1 large cauliflower
2 brócoli
1 bag green beans (guessing 2-2 1/2 pounds)
8 large passion fruit
1 head of lettuce
3 large cucumbers

$33.50, delivered to the door with a smile. He gets up at 3AM and drives to the mountains to pick out the best produce, and then spends his days driving around town selling it. If I need something between visits, all I have to do is let him know and he’ll bring it by. He also educates me on how to recognize the freshest and best tasting things, and how Panamanians eat and cook the various fruits and vegetables. I might be able to shop around for better deals but I love the convenience and personal attention.

Living here is much less expensive, and the biggest savings are in housing and locally grown food. I think I feel better here too because of all the fresh fruits and vegetables. Now it’s time for lunch, to enjoy some of this, and practice up for for a busy weekend with the band. Salud!

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A Nightmare, Lost Passport

I had a nightmare last week. My purse was lost. I couldn’t find it anywhere, and it contained my wallet with my passport and all my ID cards. I was thankful to wake up and put my hands on my passport. Without that, you can’t leave the country, and I don’t know what happens in the country if you need to produce ID and you have none.

It was only a bad dream for me, but it was a reality for a friend. He (Panamanian) and his wife and two young kids (USA citizens) were traveling from their home in California to visit family here in Chiriqui. Somewhere between Panama City and David, his fanny pack containing some cash and all the passports was lost, probably while getting off the bus with all the kids and luggage.

What followed was a series of text messages between us. His wife tried unsuccessfully to contact the US embassy by phone and email, and they were unable to find an embassy warden in this area. She didn’t want to go to Panama City because there is a checkpoint in Guabala, and she was now without her passport/ID. When she finally was able to talk with someone, she was told she was here illegally without a passport. “So, deport us!”

He, being Panamanian, figured it was less risky for him to go to the embassy in Panama City. There were no appointments available in the upcoming days so he just showed up, telling them it was an emergency.

The next message said he got to the embassy, paid, and they would have emergency passports when he showed up with the family in a week. He said it’s highly recommended to have social security numbers of the children when traveling. It was not said, but implied to him that they would have some sort of emergency permission for the children to travel even without their social security numbers.

The next message was a few days later. He had passports in hand good for a year, but children’s passports were only good for a few days, just until a day after their flight back to the USA.

The last message was “back home”, and they had all made it safe and sound. Whew!

What a stressful hassle!! I’m sure you can all imagine. The US embassy in Panama City is here to help US citizens with anything they need, but outside of Panama City it isn’t always easy to get things done with them. I’ve never tried the emergency number but I know regular calls are only answered during certain limited hours on certain days.

So, I would say, have copies of all your IDs and documents somewhere, preferably on line where you can get to them from anywhere, just in case everything you carry is gone. This includes credit cards and phone numbers for banks, and phone numbers for emergency contact people. In this day of smart phones, how many of us can remember anyone’s phone number?! And, don’t have all your cash in one place or rely on only one credit card.

And, GUARD YOUR PASSPORT with your life!! I’ll be happy to listen to anyone else’s story about a lost passport, but even happier to know this hasn’t happened to anyone else.

Posted in Panama | 6 Comments

Looking Back at the Old Life in the USA

I was raised in the USA and lived there my whole life. I’m sure that describes a lot of you too. I’d barely been out of the country and I believed what we were taught, that the USA is the greatest country in the world and it’s people are the best of the best.

It has been very interesting to look at the USA from the outside, through the eyes of my Panamanian friends. Many things are different here, but not worse and many things are better, in my opinion. I love how the locals don’t stress nearly as much, and how kind and respectful they are of everyone regardless of the many things (looks, age, ethnicity, economic status, etc etc) that we often use to evaluate people in the USA.

But, we are still aware of what happens in the USA. Even if I don’t follow the news (on purpose) I hear about it. Why are people in your country shooting people? Why is your president doing (insert news of the day)? Why do they want a Wall? Why do they hate Mexicans? Muslims? Guatemalans? Why this? Why that?

Why are there people living in the streets? This is a problem that especially tugs at my heart. Some thoughts from my bike trip – https://silverwheelsblog.wordpress.com/2016/05/12/the-homeless-traveler/ Or for a number of past posts https://blog.thepanamaadventure.com/?s=Homeless

Even those who aren’t homeless, so many struggle. The American dream – work hard, get an education, get a good job, make sensible decisions, and be set for life – that doesn’t work for more and more people. A classmate of my daughter with a PhD in Physics looked for a year before she found a job. I recently came across these articles. Crushing student loan debt – https://www.huffpost.com/entry/student-loan-debt-poverty_n_5d40a81be4b01d8c9782b727. And an endless unsuccessful search for a job – https://www.huffpost.com/entry/unemployment-poverty-america_n_5d387f32e4b004b6adb9a15e?ncid=newsltushpmgnews__TheMorningEmail__073119

Then, of course, there is the recent news about yet more mass shootings and I worry. I may have left the US but my children, grandchildren, and many people I care about are there. I am thankful every day for this life we have here. Yes we have made good decisions but we are also incredibly lucky. I just hope things in the USA will turn in a better direction and good people who are doing their best will have it a little better.

Posted in Panama | 6 Comments

Snake

There are snakes in Panama. If you do not want to see one, even in a photo, you will want to avoid this post. There is also a photo of one having dinner. You have been warned.

We live next to a woods and a river on the edge of town, but we have averaged about one snake sighting a year. That’s not many. Half of them were the poisonous fer de lance pit viper, and the others were harmless.

The other night I walked towards the back door and found a beautiful little snake on the floor. It was slender and graceful with the triangular head of a viper, but different markings. It left under the door and headed under some storage shelves in the laundry room. Some internet research identified it as a rhombic cat eyed snake, mildly venomous (maybe causes some itching), non aggressive, frog and lizard eating snake. I’m really glad we didn’t kill it!

The next morning the snake was just in front of the storage shelf, with proof indeed that it is a frog eating snake!

I could not believe that little snake could eat that frog that looked so much bigger, but it only took minutes to accomplish the job. We let it finish and then Joel took the snake to the woods where we won’t bother each other. Thankfully the dog totally ignored the snake.

Panamanians tend to kill any and all snakes on sight. I think, historically, there have been too many deaths from pit vipers which has caused a fear of snakes to be passed down through the generations. I know to shake out boots, clothes, etc. and not put my hands where I can’t see, and so far our desire to avoid each other has kept both the snakes and people safe in our household.

Last night there was a little scorpion on the bathroom wall. Life in Panama. If you don’t like wildlife you might not be comfortable here. Thankfully I do like wildlife and I feel very lucky to have shared some time with this snake.

Posted in Panama | 14 Comments

Bureaucracy (a funny)

Dealing with bureaucracy is never fun. Here, it can be worse when we don’t understand the language and procedures, things don’t always make sense to us, and it can be frustrating to get everything in order according to requirements. Apparently we aren’t the only ones frustrated! These folks made a hilarious video which we can all relate to.

Thank you Robert for sending this to me! I laugh every time I watch it. 😂

(PS I am trying to catch up on correspondence this week, but things tend to get lost in my mailbox. If you are feeling ignored, please poke me)

Posted in Panama | 8 Comments

Geisha Coffee

Geisha coffee, the most expensive coffee in the world, is grown right here in Boquete. Recently, an auction drove the price to a record high, $1,029 a pound!

https://www.prensa.com/economia/Familia-Lamastus-mundial-subaste-Geisha_0_5351464838.html

Panama is known for the excellent coffee grown in the fertile soil of the cooler highlands. Geisha, however, is a very different type of coffee. The plants aren’t as productive which means less is available and the flavor is more like a fruity tea, which is probably why the Japanese love it.

https://www.newsroompanama.com/business/panama-world-best-coffee-at-1029-a-pound?fbclid=IwAR0Jv-gZsL30iJAYnUKERo68xY9fj4BrbyfzdLRo2q1fToA3FaVfHSkl_wo

No, we don’t drink Geisha coffee here, and certainly not at $75/cup. We prefer the more traditional coffee, of which many delicious varieties are available in any local supermarket.

I think Chiriqui Provence is the most productive area in Panama. Almost everything we need is grown right here in our backyard – fruits, vegetables, beans, rice, dairy, beef, chicken, pork, and you can get fresh fish as soon as the boats bring it in.

And, now that I’ve finished my cup of Palo Alto coffee, I’m ready to get on with my day.

(Banner picture is the Lamastus family who grew the Geisha coffee. Photo is from La Prensa article shared above).

Posted in Panama | 10 Comments

Bob Adams Report On Panama

Bob Adams has lived in Panama for a number of years. He has written the Retirement Wave newsletter, and he has a number of very interesting, informational videos on YouTube. Recently he has published this report (link below). I won’t try to paraphrase, so take a look. It’s a PDF that looks long, but there are a lot of charts and graphs so it isn’t that long to read. He’s always been very positive about Panama and this is no exception.

EDIT – apparently the link below doesn’t work 😦
Try this – go to https://www.retirementwave.com/
From there look for Reports https://www.retirementwave.com/reports
And, from there look for red text – NEW! THIS IS THE MOST RECENT “REPORT FROM PANAMA” ISSUED IN JUNE OF 2019. YOU CAN DOWNLOAD IT HERE.
which, with any luck, will take you to where you can see the report. If this doesn’t work, please comment and I’ll see if I can just post the whole thing in another post. Thanks Chugwa for the heads up, and to all of you for your patience.

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/59f786e01f318d89961fbe50/t/5d12677cee147e0001b2dfc4/1561487232078/Report+from+Panama+-+June+2019.pdf

I have always considered Bob Adams a knowledgeable and trustworthy source of information. For a bit of background on Bob, read this. https://www.retirementwave.com/about

In other, more personal news, we have just returned from a great visit with family in the US. It’s beautiful summer weather up there, good for 4th of July parties, picnics and events in parks, trips to the beach, and general fun and time with important people. I also ate my fill of cherries and blueberries 😁

As always though, it’s wonderful to be home. It is convenient to speak English everywhere, and to know you can find Italian seasoning in a predictable place in any supermarket. But, for me, I love the sense of community in Panama, the social connections, and the general ease of daily life. I feel very at home here.

Travel is exhausting though! Excuse any typos as my brain tries to reconnect to my fingers. As much as I appreciate Copa’s direct flights to San Francisco, I might have to rethink the overnight flight home. But, they got me home without any problems or hiccups for which I’m thankful.

So, now we resume normal living in Panama, and I might even write something now and then 🤓 First though, we have a couple gigs this weekend so we need to rock out! Hasta pronto. Que tengan un buen fin de semana (Until soon. Have a good weekend).

Posted in Panama | 6 Comments

Adjusting to a New Country, Culture, and Life

People move to Panama (and other countries all over the world). Sometimes the transition is easy. Sometimes it is so difficult that people give up and return to their home country. Most people, however, fall between these two extremes and manage to adapt to their new lives and become happy in their new homes.[/caption]

I happened across this post written 2 1/2 months after these people moved to Boquete. It will give you a good idea of their adjustment and how they feel as they adapt to their new lives.

Thoughts On Life In Panamá (so far)

Of course everyone is different and adjustment processes and times vary. Locations also vary. We rarely have problems with electricity and internet in David, and we have a water tank to see us through water outages which seems much less frequent than in Boquete. We have two gas tanks so when one runs out, we just switch it for the other and get a refill when it’s convenient.

Eggs are not refrigerated, but milk is available in the usual refrigerated quarts, half gallons and gallons as well as boxes that keep indefinitely without refrigeration. Maybe you can’t find everything you are used to in the store, but you’ll find new things to try and the veggie markets have wonderful, inexpensive, locally grown produce that for me, is a great bonus.

It is true that many things, like getting something done in a government office, are different. It may take more time and multiple visits to wherever they make copies, but when you are finished you are done. You don’t have to wait for car titles or other documents to arrive in the mail (because there is no mail). That can be frustrating at first when your Spanish isn’t good and you don’t understand the process but it always gets worked out. When you are retired and don’t have to get back to the office, the time doesn’t matter as much.

On other notes, I have been in the US with family for the last couple weeks so I haven’t been writing. I haven’t been taking pictures either. In the past I’ve spent too much time behind my camera rather than experiencing what was happening, so I purposely took no pictures at all on this trip. I’ve also listened to some interesting books and podcasts, and done some thinking about where I’m at in general. I believe if you aren’t growing, you are dying, and I’m no where near ready to stop growing regardless of where I happen to live.

Sesame Street will be over soon and it will be playtime again. Having time with these beautiful grandkids is really special. Blogging will resume at some later date.

Sent by my friend Richard, people photographing the moment rather than enjoying it.

Posted in Panama | 6 Comments