An Art Exhibition at the School

The Centro de Arte José Cáceres O. is not far from my house, and I have been taking painting classes there with Víctor Aguirre Chirú. (There isn’t much about him or the school on line except for their Facebook page HERE) It is an interesting and growing school offering classes in music, dance, and art. There is an occasional adult student but the majority of them are children, and many of them are very young children.

Last night they had a very well attended event and art exhibition.

There was some social time for the crowd and beautiful guitar music by José Cáceres. Then people from the school, including one of the students, addressed the crowd.

Some of the youngest students were brought on stage and honored for their achievements in art, dance, and music. Then, there was an interesting dance performance, a shadow dance behind a large piece of fabric.

Next was a drawing for gifts, one of which was a small painting by Chirú, and then dinner was served. There were long breaks between each activity for socializing, and dinner took a while too. Small plates were made up as people came through with green salad, potato salad, a bit of chicken, a piece of sandwich, and a square of flan for dessert. But, it was all very good. There weren’t enough chairs for everyone though and by now I was tired of standing. We decided to call it a night but Chirú caught us on the way out and took us to the kitchen for a celebratory glass of wine.

What a nice evening. I’ll leave you with a ton of photos of the art work. There was art outside, inside, and on every available flat surface! Keep in mind that many of these students are as young as four, and the more advanced looking paintings are probably done by students around 10-14 years old. Unfortunately the information included the name, but not the age of the student on each painting or drawing so I can’t say the age of the specific artist.

I’ve really enjoyed art classes. I like working beside the little kids and seeing how well they do, and I am enjoying exploring my own abilities with paint and canvas. You just never know what interesting things you may end up doing, especially when you are retired and your time is your own.

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We Went to the Dentist

Joel had a problem with a filling, so a trip to the dentist was in order. We had been going to Dr Spiegel but he was appointed ambassador to Singapore! His practice is still active though, and is being maintained by other dentists who come in to cover.

Joel went in last week and the filling was fixed ($25). Yesterday he had an appointment for a cleaning (many dentists don’t even require appointments. You just walk in and wait your turn. But, us gringos who are used to appointments like the appointment system too). Anyway, the cleaning appointment… I went with him this time.

It turns out that the dentist is a very lovely woman who lives in our neighborhood about three blocks away! What a small world. He liked her so much that I wanted to go meet her, and while I was there she was happy to clean my teeth too ($30 each, done by the dentist. There is an assistant and a secretary in the office but no hygienists). We had so much fun talking that it is a wonder we got the cleaning done😀

I didn't take pictures of the dentist, so instead you get to see pictures of Panama this morning in another absolutely beautiful morning.

I didn’t take pictures of the dentist, so instead you get to see another absolutely beautiful morning in Panama.

I have had trouble with my teeth pretty much all of my life. I went in for cleanings every three months. I had the gum surgery (I’d rather lose teeth than do that again!), I had many deep cleanings, I used the water pick every time I ate along with flossing and brushing but if I let up for an instant on my constant care, my gums would start to bleed. They were always measuring my pockets and tisk tisking, and I have lost one of my back teeth entirely.

I came to Panama and my dental problems were GONE! Immediately! It’s crazy. The water pick is gathering dust. I still floss after eating and if  I’m even somewhat consistent with that my gums never bleed. I went for cleaning every six months with Dr. Spiegel and he always said everything was fine. This time though, I hadn’t been in for well over a year. She said I had some cemento (tartar) on my teeth but other than that everything looked fine, no gum disease, no cavities, no problems, nothing.

Why is this?! I haven’t changed my diet much, but I think the fruits and vegetables are fresher since they are grown so close by. I have a lower stress life because I’m not working, but maybe higher stress navigating a new culture and language as I adapted to living here, at least at first (and we won’t mention living with mother in law). I am happier and I have stronger connections to my friends, neighbors, and the people around me. I think happiness and connections need to be given more credit in physical health. But even with all these points, why did it change so quickly after arriving, before I had barely settled in and started to make friends? I noticed I also felt generally better within a month of arriving and I have a feeling it’s the fresh produce. Here it’s grown for flavor, not appearance, and it only spends hours in shipping, not days or weeks. Maybe it has nutrients we don’t even realize we are missing when things are shipped in from a long ways away. Who knows, but I am very happy for my improved dental and general health.

I love beautiful skies with interesting clouds, and today you can see this everywhere you look.

I love beautiful skies with interesting clouds, and today you can see this everywhere you look.

We have found that if you need dental care here, it is much more affordable and of very good quality. If any of you need a dentist here let me know. This lady doesn’t speak English, but if that is necessary a friend raves about another dentist who does speak English.

 

 

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A Beautiful Morning

This morning the sun was shining, there were great cloud formations against a blue sky, and a very light breeze was blowing. What a wonderful day to be out.

One thing about all those gray and rainy days is that you sure appreciate a sunny day when you get one again!

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Rain, Humidity, and Mold

This is the rainy season in the tropics, and we have had SO much rain! According to this article in La Prensa, we have broken the record for the most rain in 30 years. David usually gets 179 mm (7 inches) in the first half of November, and this year we got 325 mm (12.8 inches). Other parts of the country have similar statistics. There was even heavier rain in the second half of the month as Otto came though.

With humidity comes mold. This year, especially in the mountains, it has been really bad. Boquete friends told me they have mold growing on everything including walls and ceilings, and there is thick fog that comes though for a few hours every day.

Come and live in Paradise, in the land of flowers and eternal spring…. rainbows… unicorns… they forget to mention some of the real challenges you will face, especially in those beautiful mountain areas. If you have health conditions that don’t do well in wet climates, you may be really unhappy here.

The subject of mold was brought up on a Facebook group today (Expats in Panama). Suggestions have been to remove humidity by AC or dehumidifier. Try to increase ventilation by fans and open windows/doors for air flow. Some recommend cleaning with bleach, but others say this only makes things look better and doesn’t kill the mold. Others recommend vinegar, and someone said tea tree oil works well mixed with water and vinegar. I might try that one. Someone is selling Concrobium Mold Control at this website. I might try that too.

Thankfully we haven’t had too much trouble. We have some things we do – squeegee the shower walls, remove any wet towels or other items to dry outdoors, do not return any worn clothing to the closet (which is the other half of the bathroom, nice idea except for moisture control), and Joel put a small fan above the closet that vents air to above. Anything we don’t wear or use gets cleaned, dried in the sun, and then stored in a plastic bin.

We don’t have much mold, but things do get musty smelling – clothes we haven’t worn for a while, the suitcase in the back of the closet, Joel’s speakers that have wooden cabinets… pretty much anything made of wood and leather? Forget it. Mold loves leather. The dry season isn’t my favorite but at least the dryness has the benefit of discouraging mold for us. In the mountains though even though it doesn’t rain, they still get moist foggy air rolling through.

But, on a positive note, we have had three good days! Tuesday I went biking and made it home just as the rain started. Yesterday I went out again and it was one of those days where a single cloud comes through and rains on everything below. I got wet once but the rest of the ride was wonderful. Today, it didn’t rain until after 5PM! I did errands and even worked in the yard a bit. You can imagine how badly that is needed after all this rain and no care.

It is predicted that we will continue to see rain until the end of the month instead of the usual middle of December. If I can enjoy the mornings and get in some yard cleanup time I’m fine with that.

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Even mold has its uses. Look at the great pattern it made on the underside of a plastic chair!

 

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The Lemons are Back!

There are a couple lemon trees nearby that have enormous lemons in December and into January. I hadn’t checked our favorite tree because it’s too early. What? Tomorrow is December?! How did that happen already?

So Joel, more on top of things than I, rode past the tree today and picked up these.

This is Joel's photo. I stole it from his Facebook page. Thanks you Joel

This is Joel’s photo. I stole it from his Facebook page. Thanks you Joel

There are so many kinds of “limons” here in Panama. The name covers everything from little key limes, bigger limes, a variety of green or green with gray patches citrus fruits that have yellow or orange sour flesh, to these huge lemons. There is everything here except the traditional lemons that we find in the US (which you can find imported at Pricesmart), but the various limons here are really good so there is nothing to complain about, for sure.

These big lemons are the closest in flavor to our US lemons. They are the same yellow color inside also but the skins are edible, not bitter like most lemons. They are so big though, bigger than any grapefruit.

I’ve written a couple other posts, one in 2014 when we discovered them, and another last year also. Check them if you want to see pictures of the tree. There is another tree in the neighborhood and both of them are attractive, round shaped, not really tall, but have vicious thorns. Thank goodness the fruit drops to the ground when ready so I only have to pick it up. Between the two trees I’ll have plenty of fruit for the neighbors, myself, and to freeze for later.

About the weather, I am happy to report we woke up to party cloudy skies and I was able to get in a good bike ride. But, it’s one of those days where a cloud will pass overhead and soak everything underneath, and then move on. I got wet once. Joel went out later and also got wet. I expect we will see more of these showers that have also passed over the house.

I was able to get out though so I’m not complaining. We are not in Boquete either, which is a good thing right now. Friends report that they have had thick fog rolling through for hours every day and it’s so wet that mold is growing on the walls and ceilings. Our clothes get musty smelling if we haven’t worn them in a while, but thank goodness our humidity control measures have prevented them from molding, and there isn’t any mold growing anywhere on the house.

It is the tropics in the rainy season. We have warm and humid. The mountains have cooler and humid. In three months though we will be begging for rain!

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Out and About

I woke up this morning and the sun was shining!! Normally this wouldn’t be remarkable but after two weeks of almost continuous rain, it was a very welcome sight. So, after breakfast I set out for a bike ride.

They are building a new bus terminal and mall nearby so I went to see how things look over there. It looks like they are finished moving dirt around and are starting to prepare the sites for the buildings. I went first to Via Boquete where the guard told me they are working on both the terminal and the mall at the same time. The mall will be close to Via Boquete and the terminal will be farther down and to the west, closer to Ave Joseph Halphen.

From here, I decided to go by the art school to find out when the professor may be coming in. There is a huge palm in the neighborhood which I believe is a bismark, or bismarkia. It looks like a silver palm but it isn’t silver. I noticed a couple months ago that it was making odd spikey things at the top.

This huge tree is near the art school. It is the biggest of its kind that I have ever seen. The last time I was over there I noticed this strange part growing out of the top. I've seen other trees make flowers within the fronds, but I've never seen anything like the top of this tree. I will have to keep an eye on it to see what happens next.

This huge tree is near the art school. It is the biggest of its kind that I have ever seen. The last time I was over there I noticed this strange part growing out of the top. I’ve seen other trees make flowers within the fronds, but I’ve never seen anything like the top of this tree. I will have to keep an eye on it to see what happens next.

Between traveling and being housebound in the rain, I hadn’t seen the tree for a couple months. Now look at it!

That is SO cool, but I wonder what comes next. Is this the end for this tree? They usually grow by making new leaves above, but now above is only a mass of flowers. Yes, that is BLUE SKY behind the tree!

Since I was having a good time, I decided to ride down Via Boquete towards the Pan-American highway to show you some new developments in the neighborhood. The first was an office building that was finished shortly after we came here (almost four years ago). It has been vacant all this time. I heard the local government was interested in renting it rather than have offices scattered all over town, but it was just too expensive. A few months ago there was a for sale sign on it and I heard it had gone back to the bank. Now, they are making it into apartments. I went by to investigate in early October but they had nothing to show me, only a computer simulation. They will email me when they have something to show (I’m still waiting). From what I could see the most basic apartment will be very small, and the living room window will be one of those big full length windows you see on the front. $69K?? You could get a pretty decent house with land for that. It will be interesting to see if they sell anything.

The other photo is the next block down. The Honda dealership moved in maybe a month ago, and the wine and deli shop has opened very recently. I should stop by and check it out one of these days.

By now, I could see the clouds getting darker and the rain in the hills was coming towards me, so it was time to head home.

It was a good thing I was almost home

It was a good thing I was almost home

What a great morning! It felt so good to be out. I visited my dog friend and the guys at the trucking business, ran into another friend, visited a couple others, stopped by the art school, and checked the neighborhood for new developments. It’s been raining very steadily since I got home. I don’t mind nearly as much when it’s been nice enough to go out in the morning.

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Some Wildlife on a Rainy Holiday Afternoon

The joke says November is the month when nothing gets done in Panama because there are too many holidays. Nov 3rd is Independence Day (from Colombia), the 4th is Flag Day, and the 5th Colon Day. Nov 10th is the Shout in Villa de los Santos and today, the 28th, is Independence Day (from Spain). Schools and many businesses are closed, and there are parades for most of these holidays.

December is right around the corner with Mother’s Day on the 8th, and then Christmas and New Years. We live in Party Central! Why not though? It’s a pleasure to live with people who love to celebrate a lot and enjoy life.

Also today, it is raining again. I remember that wonderful Saturday morning when we saw the sun, but now it is only a memory and we haven’t seen it since. Yesterday morning we had some periods of only clouds, not rain but today it has been pretty much steady rain since I was awake enough to notice. I expect there are parades today, but it won’t be as much fun for either the participants or the spectators. Though, activities seem to go on here rain or shine and no one gets upset about getting wet. I, however, plan to stay home in my dry house.

Because of all these rainy days I have been spending a lot more time in my “office” which is really the outside terrace. If I look right, I can see the front gate and what is going on in the street. If I look left I see the back yard, the birds and any other interesting critters who visit. The guanabana tree behind the white pillar seems to be a favorite spot for birds to hang out.

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My office, and I use it day and night. There are a few mosquitoes with all this rain but not enough to drive me indoors (though the fly swatter stays on the table just in case)

Many of these photos were taken from right here at my table, and the farthest I went was out to those banana trees you can see on the left. There are some trees just outside our fence that the birds also like.

 

I mentioned the chachalaca and the racket they make, and caught a bit of that on video.

I also mentioned the oropendula, and I have an old video of one doing his thing on that very same tree.

Life in Panama on another rainy day, hanging out and watching birds. It could be worse🙂

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The River

We have a beautiful river behind our neighborhood and I have taken tons of photos. But, we have been having crazy amounts of rain and I was curious to see how it was in these conditions. So Thursday, after another day of very heavy rains, we set off to take a look.

The river was muddy and the water was flowing fast. We have seen debris in the trees that makes me believe the river has been even higher, but it was still higher on this day than I had ever seen it.

If you use the search feature and type in river I’m sure you will find posts and photos of the river under other conditions. These are from January 2015, early in the dry season. They are taken from the same place so you can see the difference. In the third one you can see the rock wall that had the waterfalls on our last visit.

These are from last August. It was rainy season then but you can see the river in it’s more normal state when there haven’t been recent heavy rains.

I love living where we live. Being so close to this beautiful river just puts it over the top. Thank goodness though, as you can see by all the stairs, we are well above the river and out of danger of flooding. But, how nice that we can visit anytime we want.

 

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Today We Saw the Sun!

This usually isn’t an event. We get plenty of sun. But, after ten days of rain and no sun, what a welcome sight!

I went out on my bike this morning. What a pleasure to be out, finally, after being housebound for day after day of rain. It seemed like everyone was enjoying the morning. The gardeners were all busy working in yards and almost every house had laundry hanging out to dry, including ours, taking advantage of the welcome sun.

There were still some clouds and a couple showers that made people scranble for their laundry, but for the most part it was sunny and warm until 3PM in our part of town. I sure need to get busy on the bike though! I hadn’t ridden in more than a month, not since before my US trip and I have lost a lot of conditioning. I want my strong legs back again.

There are some cows that live just outside our neighborhood, and today I saw that they have a couple new babies. We also had an iguana on the roof yesterday. I had to go across the street to see it and use my zoom, but I caught him. We have a tin roof so you know when something is up there.

It sure was busy around town, especially in the shopping areas! Christmas season has come. There are trees for sale outside of El Rey, Christmas decorations everywhere, and Christmas carols playing overhead. It was hard to find a parking spot and there were a lot of people in the stores. I’m sure part of it was catching up from the rainy days, but things tend to get more and more nuts as we get closer to Christmas.

 

Just because we are happy to enjoy the sun doesn’t mean that we should forget hurricane Otto. Costa Rica got the equivalent of a month of rain in a few hours. Nine people are reported dead, many towns are covered with mud and water, bridges are washed out, and it’s going to be a big job to put things right again. Reports say damage was minimal in Nicaragua and no one lost their life. My friends on Ometepe Island say there was a lot of rain, minimal wind, and things are fine there.

There was also a 7.0 earthquake off the coast of El Salvador and Nicaragua just as Otto was approaching land. There was a tsunami warning but thankfully that never happened and it was canceled quickly. There is no reported damage to people or property.

Whew! Enough. Lets hope the rest of the year is peaceful and we can complain about the heat of the morning sun, the afternoon rains, and the stores crowded with Christmas shoppers.

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Goodbye Otto 11/25

Otto has left the area and is making it’s way west out in the Pacific. It landed yesterday afternoon in Nicaragua just north of the Costa Rica border, and made it’s way west through Nicaragua and northwest Costa Rica. Thankfully there are no reports of deaths, but of course there was wind and lots of rain so there will be a good amount of cleaning up to do.

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There is an article HERE that has more information about the storm. It is unusual because it is so late in the season and because it is so far south, the farthest south in recorded history. It is also unusual that it didn’t weaken enough to lose its named tropical storm status as it crossed land, so it kept its same name in the Pacific.

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This is the current weather/rain picture. It looks much calmer than it did yesterday, though heavy rains are still likely in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Here in David it is cool, still, and cloudy. We saw a patch of blue sky when we got up but it didn’t last long. Ooops, I spoke too soon. It has just started to rain again. *sigh* I’m fine with rain but nine days straight is a bit much. I wonder if it will put a damper on the Black Friday insanity shopping? Probably not.

I have been concentrating on the storm because that is what has been affecting us in Panama, but yesterday there was also a 7.0 earthquake off the coast of El Salvador. (article HERE)  There were tsunami warnings for a while for Nicaragua and El Salvador but thankfully that didn’t happen, and there are no reports of significant damage either. We didn’t feel the earthquake here.

I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving, and that Central America has more peaceful times going forward.

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