Another Lunch Idea

We always have plenty of fresh veggies thanks to our veggie venders who come by our house every week. We also discovered tilapia fillets at Pricesmart that are ready to eat, very easy. One of my favorite lunches is veggies and fish.

Today was cauliflower and celery sliced/cut up, and I love the 21 Seasoning Salute I brought back from Trader Joe’s. Of course you could use any seasoning you like.

Put some water in the pan. Barely enough to cover the veggies seems to work well. Add your seasonings, and put the frozen fish on top. As the veggies cook the fish will thaw and then break apart. When the veggies are done to your liking it’s time to eat.

The other day I tried a variation that was also good. Someone gave me a bag of chayotes so I have had a lot of them on hand. A chayote is kind of like a squash, mild flavor, goes with anything, usually eaten cooked but I like it raw too, usually grated for salad. You see them in the US supermarkets but they are small and expensive. Here they are common, large, and maybe $.25-35 each depending on season and availability. Every part of the plant is edible but I can’t grow them here because the iguanas love them and don’t leave enough leaves for the plant to survive.

Back to lunch… I had some ground turkey, so I sliced up celery and the chayote (you can eat the tender ones without peeling if you wish), a bit of onion, tossed in seasoning and the turkey, and by the time I had some chores done lunch was ready.

We live very well here in Panama, and we eat very well too. Since we are both good cooks and have the time for it, and we enjoy trying new and unfamiliar fruits and veggies, we have not only old favorites but new variations and new dishes as well.

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A Bit of Wildlife

We love living next to a wooded area because of all the wildlife, mostly birds and bugs. Maybe not so much the scorpion that walked across the patio almost under our feet last night, but the majority of the wildlife is beautiful and harmless.

These birds hatched in a little nest in our front bushes. I tried not to bother them much, but when I went to check about a week after this picture was taken they were gone. I hope they flew off with mom instead of being someone’s lunch.

We have tons of grasshoppers. I think the coolest at the large black and red ones, but these interesting grasshoppers are the largest. My neighbor’s first response is to grab her shoe and get ready to smash it because they eat plants, but she’s not allowed to do that in my yard. It’s a safe for critters zone unless they are really causing a problem.

I happened to glance out the window yesterday and saw this laughing falcon sitting on the tree branch. They are very cool  birds but really loud when they have something to say. As they are warming up they sound like they are laughing, thus the name I’m sure.

After five years here I’m fairly accustomed to the wildlife we usually see but it’s still always interesting. I love being surrounded by so much life every day.

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Construction Projects

It seems like everywhere you look something is being built or remodeled. One of the biggest projects is the Federal Mall currently under construction. It is being done by the same people who did Albrook Mall in Panama City and it’s going to be huge. We have been watching it since they first started moving dirt around, and it was a lot of dirt! The site is so big and involved flattening out a large area and removing rocks as big as a small house.

Work stalled for a while. I heard while they were getting permits and permissions and when it restarted, things progressed quickly. After all the intense music practice and successful launch, I am reclaiming other parts of my life like riding my bike. Last week I took a couple rides over to the construction site to see what was going on.

I’m not sure about the bus terminal however. I thought there was also going to be a new terminal next to the mall, and the workers I’ve talked with on the site say this is so. People in my neighborhood, however, say no. The terminal is staying where it is. I found this video that shows plans for a new terminal on the current site but it’s over two years old and who knows if plans have changed.

I guess time will tell. Remodeling the current terminal sounds like a huge disruption. It’s in a busy, congested part of town, and what are they going to do with bus traffic while it is underway? But if it ends up like the video it would be really nice. As they say, not my circus, not my monkeys. I only stand by as an interested observer.

There has also been a huge remodeling project going on for some time at the ball stadium. When it started I had no idea it would be so extensive!

And, speaking of the music, as most of you know I worked hard to learn to play bass to help out my husband’s rock band. We have five gigs under out belts now and it’s going better than I ever dared imagine. Last Sunday we played at the Boquete Brewery, a place owned by a couple working rock musicians and frequented by many young Panamanians. One of the owners was there and this week we were moved to Saturday when there is a much bigger crowd, and the owner even sat in and played drums on a couple songs. It was awesome! Next week we play on Friday because we are already booked on Saturday at the mostly gringo place, where they also booked us for more gigs when they first heard us.

If someone told me I’d be playing Judas Priest songs to an enthusiastic bunch of Panamanians in my retirement….  ha! You just never know where the road leads if you keep your options open.

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What’s For Lunch?

Some friends suggested it might be interesting to share some of our favorite meals. We are lucky to live in Chiriqui where so much fresh produce is grown. There are markets and vendors all over town, and our veggie guy knows what we like, picks out the freshest and best he can find, and brings it to our door every week. I have fought a life long battle with my weight so it’s important that I eat right, and fresh veggies are a big part of that.

Todays lunch is tuna salad. You can add or change anything you like but this is my usual mixture – celery, cucumber, tomato, mayonnaise, tuna, and limón.

Limón (lemon) can mean many things here. There are little green ones that look like key limes, bigger green ones that seem to be regular limes, green ones like this that are orange inside, sometimes with gray/brown odd looking patches on the skin, and yellow ones bigger than grapefruits to name a few types. The only ones I haven’t seen outside of Pricesmart are the yellow ones we are familiar with in the US. But, whatever type happens to be in my kitchen I want limón on my tuna salad because I think it tastes wonderful. My favorite are these green ones with orange interiors.

Here we are ready to mix it up. The cucumber was huge so I only used half. I also have avocado in the freezer I should get out. When they thaw they are soft and can be used with or instead of mayonnaise.

Lets eat!

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Band Video

My friend Joyce took some videos Saturday night and they came out great. Thank you amiga! I stitched them together and put them on YouTube. Listen with some good headphones or good sound system so you can hear the music well.

First is Personal Manager (Albert King), then Runaway Train (Soul Asylum) with Chris on vocals, Werewolves of London (Warren Zevon), Hang On Sloopy (the McCoys), and last is Lets Go Crazy (Prince).

What you can’t see is that the dance floor which was absolutely packed on most songs. It was the coolest thing ever to see everyone having a good time!
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Band Report

Whew! We did it! I mentioned in the past that I was learning bass, and this weekend we went out for my first gigs. It went as well and better than I hoped and our audience was super enthusiastic. So many friends came out to support me which meant so much to me!

We were busy with the gig and didn’t think about taking pictures, but we have this one we took on our last practice. I think a friend took some videos on Saturday night so when I get with her maybe there will be more to share.

I’m so happy! I worked really hard and wanted to do a good job.  I did what I set out to do, and it was really well received and appreciated.

Now though, I’m dead tired. It’s time to rest up and prepare for this weekend. And, Mike’s where we played on Saturday night, has asked us back for two more evenings! The Brewery is a standing gig every Sunday, so we are going to be playing quite a bit.

A big thank you to all my friends who came out to support me, and who have been encouraging and supporting me all along the way. And, a huge thank you to my husband Joel. It is his bass I am playing, his equipment I am using, his extensive experience and knowledge I am relying on, and his countless hours practicing with me that brought it all together. Also thank you to Chris the super drummer who has also practiced a lot with me and encouraged me always, and Gary for presenting this opportunity and for leaving his powerful bass speaker with me while he is away so I can blow the walls down if I want to 😁

I never imagined in my life that I’d be playing bass in a rock band and loving it. You just never know where the twists and turns of life will take you if you are open to new experiences.

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Mango Pancakes!

It’s one of my favorite breakfasts.

  • 1/4 cup oats, mixed with enough water to moisten well
  • pinch salt and a pinch baking soda
  • one egg
  • chopped mangoes

Mix it all up, melt some butter in the pan, and cook until firm. You don’t even need any syrup because the fruit is sweet.

You  can use any fruit and some, like bananas, are nice with a bit of cinnamon also added. I have bananas and plantains from our yard in the freezer, and also bags of mangoes that I picked up when they were in season.

One good reason to ride a bike is to learn where to find all the good fruit trees. If fruit is falling on the ground or street and nobody is using it, I’ll pick it up. I’ve also had people tell me that I am welcome to pick up fruit in their yard anytime.

I especially love the mangoes! I know some excellent trees that drop lots of fruit when it’s season. Anything I can’t eat gets skinned and sliced up, and put in the freezer so I can have mangoes all year long.

I never saw mango trees like these either. Many are huge and said to be over 100 years old! They do very well in this climate where it never freezes and I really appreciate them for their beauty as well as the delicious fruit.

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Wow, Florida, Whew!

We may be living in Panama, but after living in Florida for 17 years before moving here, events in Florida have been very much on my mind. I still have many friends there and I’ve been following their Facebook posts. There was a crazy amount of fear and stress before the hurricane hit. I don’t know if it was whipped up by the media, or people between each other, or panicked friends and family from afar, but it sure made things harder for people in Florida.

Today though I have been very happy to hear the news that is now coming from Florida. Everyone I know is safe. Most are without electricity and have debris everywhere, some have damage to their homes, but I can sense the relief that it is over and the aftermath is only cleanup and repair.

Panama does not have hurricanes. There was a very rare event last year when one came close but all it did was stall north of us and dump tons of rain. Panama really doesn’t have much of anything in the way of weather related problems. It’s hot, the sun is strong, it rained, it’s going to rain…. that is the extent of the weather related conversation around here. If you really want to spice things up – earthquake! That gives everyone something to talk about for a few days but it’s rare they do any damage. They just shake the ground a bit.

I love Panama for many reasons, and freedom from worry about weather related disasters is definitely one of them! I really feel for the people in Florida and Texas, in the Pacific Northwest who are battling fires, the Mexican people trying to recover from the earthquake, not to mention Cuba and the islands in the Caribbean who were so hard hit by Irma. It’s been a really tough time for so many people. Many people are helping though. Even Panama is sending tons of relief supplies to Cuba and Caribbean islands. There are so many good people in this world.

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Crazy Times from Mother Nature

Fires in the northwest US, three hurricanes at the same time, and one of the biggest earthquakes hits Mexico. It seems like crazy times on our side of the world.

My west coast daughters are getting used to smoke in the air, and sometimes ash falling on everything and the sun looking like an orange ball in the sky. It has been record breaking hot and no rain has fallen in a long time, conditions that make fires thrive. I’m thankful that they are both in cities and not out in the forest somewhere.

Then of course there was Harvey that hit the Houston area. Those affected are already slipping from the radar in the face of Irma who is poised to hit Florida. Katyia is making landfall in Mexico right about now and though less than Irma, I wouldn’t want those 100+ mph winds coming at me. Jose is out in the Atlantic and if it follows its projected path it shouldn’t hit the US, but those islands already pounded by Irma don’t need Jose coming at them next.

Then, Mexico gets hit by an 8.1 earthquake, southwest close to the Guatemala border. The pictures on line look really bad. Word is that it was felt as far away as Mexico City. We didn’t feel anything here, and neither did my friend in Nicaragua but I have heard that others in the area may have felt some tremors. I was afraid the hurricane was headed to the same area as the earthquake but thankfully it looks like it’s a bit north, but as widespread as the effect of both can be there could be overlapping.

Of course for me, Irma hits closest to home. We lived in Florida for 17 years and are very familiar with hurricanes. We narrowly missed Charlie when it turned into Charlotte Harbor just a short drive south of us. I saw what 150 mph winds could do and it wasn’t pretty. Now many of my friends are facing another at least that strong.

I’ve seen comments from some of my Florida friends on social media who have been asked – why don’t you just get out?! Or friends freaking out thinking of what is headed their way, and none of this is helpful. Now it is time for them to prepare, hunker down, stay calm, and ride it out. Later, people will need resupplies of food, water, building materials, and assistance with recovery. I saw this good article on evacuation- Why So Many People Don’t Just Leave. It’s not that simple or advisable.

Here I sit on my terrace in Panama…. thankful, so thankful. We have an occasional earthquake tremor that rarely causes damage, and it rains. That’s it. High drama here is the cows are in the road, the iguanas ate every flower off my neighbors hibiscus, the sun is hot, it rained a lot, and our veggie guy is recovering from having his appendix out (but his totally charming daughter is covering). Oh, and grasshoppers, we have big ones and they also eat plants, but you can’t kill them in my yard because I still like them.

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The Expat Experience and Mental Health

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