Holiday Time in Panama

This gallery contains 2 photos.

Again, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything. I have ideas but the day goes by, and then another, and then a week and I still haven’t written anything. It seems like there is always more than I can … Continue reading

Gallery | 8 Comments

Old Folks in Panama

A pleasant surprise about the culture in Panama was the respect given to the older folks.

I’m from the USA and my profession is health care,. I’ve taken care of countless seniors and I’ve seen the general attitude that they are old, full of problems, needy, and no longer useful. Even people in their 50’s and 60’s have a hard time finding jobs, and their considerable experience, wisdom, and work ethic isn’t always respected.

We arrived in Panama with Joel’s mom (92 at the time), and immediately saw the respect in people’s eyes for her, and for us for taking care of her. There were greetings, pats on the shoulder, offers of seats, and any sort of help that could be offered. Much of it couldn’t be put into words but it certainly could be felt.

Lately, we have had a bunch of errands. One was getting our drivers licenses renewed and since Joel is over 70, a doctor had to sign off that he is physically and mentally fit. We walked into Hospital Chiriquí, made our needs known to  security guard who directed us to an internal medicine doctor. We were seen immediately, and after a short exam and $45, we left with the required document.

We went back to the drivers license office, which was nuts! They had been closed on Saturday, so the guard thought that all the Saturday people had now come in on Monday, and it didn’t help that some of the staff was off on lunch break. After over an hour waiting in line we made it to the desk for the first step. Then, we waited maybe two minutes for Joel’s name to be called by two people, one for his picture and vision test, and the other for the hearing test. Why so fast, when there were obviously quite a few others ahead of us? Because he’s jubilado (retired, and apparently because he’s over 70 since that didn’t happen with me and I’m 67). The picture/vison test lady got him first, and then the hearing test lady did her thing. He didn’t hear any of the high frequencies in the test and thought he couldn’t possibly have passed, but she said he was fine.

Then, time to pay. $16! (mine was $36, and a non-retired person is $40.25) That took only a minute, and then his license was ready only a couple minutes later. So, even though the place was packed and the line was outside the door, once we got through the initial line the waiting time was almost nothing. And, while we were waiting a young guy got up and gave me his seat like it was the most normal thing in the world.

I also had to go to the bank, and it was also nuts with a line well out the door. The security guard at the door wasn’t letting people in but looked at me – jubilada? Si. OK, go in. The line for the tellers was very full but there was only one person ahead of me in the jubilao line and my business was done in no time, and with a smile from my new bank friend Madeline who has seen me each day I’ve come in.

Now all the pressing errands are now done, thank goodness. I figured we have been out 7 of the last 9 days for either errands or band gigs. I saw a joke on Facebook – What did you used to like to do that you no longer like to do?  – Leave the house. HA! Yes. I do not plan to leave the house tomorrow. We have a couple more things but they can wait a couple days.

Retired people also get many financial perks in Panama – discounts on health care, travel, restaurants, hotels, movies, etc. etc. A Google search will provide details if you’re interested. But, that’s a subject for another day. Today I’m grateful for the time not spent waiting in lines, and the feeling that my silver hair as earned me some respect. Thank you Panama.

Posted in Panama | 11 Comments

Whew! Busy Times

We returned from a visit to the US over a week ago. The grandkids are getting bigger and more and more fun. We talked, played, read books, made dinner and treats, and a lot of other activities. I can talk with my daughters over the internet but for the little ones, I want to be there so this is why we go back often.

We came home to a list of things that had to be done. Living in Panama (or anywhere) is not eternal vacation.

It was time to pay the yearly car insurance and update the documents. Many things can be paid by credit card, but this year they didn’t have the machine or something was wrong, so it was check or cash only. Often, when something needs to be paid you can get the account number of the business, go to their bank, make a deposit in that account, send the business a copy of the receipt on WhatsApp or email, and that takes care of it. I didn’t bring checks and the office is downtown by Cervantes Park. Downtown traffic is sort of a pain, and worse right now because of all the Christmas holiday activities and shopping, so the bank process is easier. I owed them $127 for the year, liability only. If your car is over 10 years old you can’t get full coverage.

Then, it’s time to renew the drivers licenses. It was an easy process for me. Go to the office with my license and ID ($.10 for a copy of the ID since I didn’t bring one), see the lady who verified my information, checked my vision, and took my picture, see the lady who did my hearing test, go to the guy who handles the money and pay $36, then go to the last window to pick up my new license and sign the paper. The whole thing took maybe an hour. Joel. however, is over 70 so he needs to go to the doctor to verify that he is physically and mentally healthy, and then he can get a license for 2 years (instead of 4).  We’ll tackle that on Monday.

We are also planning a February tour to Europe with our friends, put together by an agency in Panama City. They need to be paid so again, deposit money in the bank to their account, and then email the receipt to the business. So, off to the bank I go. No, can’t do it with a credit card, only check or cash. But, it’s a lot of money so both Joel and I withdraw the daily maximum from the ATM, return to the bank and deposit that. Yesterday, we repeated the process. The teller remembered me and said she looked forward to seeing me on Monday. How sweet is that! We’ll be back on Monday, and then Tuesday should complete the transaction. Yesterday was busy in the bank so I really appreciated the “jubilados” (retired people) line which was much shorter.

These are the most pressing obligations, but we also need to see the dentist for our routine cleanings, and the dog needs her nails clipped (she has black nails and I can’t see the quick, so I don’t want to do it. The vet costs $3.06 and a few minutes)

Meanwhile we have also been playing gigs. I didn’t play at all while we were gone, and we only had a day or two to get ready after we got back. Even with songs we know well, I need to practice everything the day before, brush up on the more difficult ones the day of and then play the gig, and rest up the day after, so a gig can take me at least part of 3 days. I’m getting better now that I have more experience but I’ve learned that I need to be well prepared or things can happen, things the audience probably never notices but the band knows.

So, that’s a general overview of what’s been going on. Some times just get busy. We have extra holiday gigs and then things should calm down.

I’ve run on enough for the moment and it’s time to get moving again. One does not have to be bored in retirement. Ha! How did I ever have time to work?

Posted in Panama | 2 Comments

David, Panama, report by IL

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve written on the blog. Sometimes life just gets in the way and I’m off doing other things. At the moment I’m with family so I’m getting even less done, but we are having all kinds of fun!

Joel told me about this article by International Living. We all know to do our own research and get our own information. But, this article seems fairly accurate, though heavy on the rosy outlook which is typical of them.

https://internationalliving.com/countries/panama/david/

We are very happy in David, but our ideal location might not be yours, and life will not be problem free no matter where you live. I’d hate for people to move to “paradise” only to find it’s not what they expected and they won’t be happy.

Usually the first reaction to “we live in David” is, It’s so HOT! We find the mountains too chilly so David works us, and we have AC for hot afternoons. Many people don’t seem to realize that it’s humid at all elevations. it’s dryer in the Azeuro Peninsula and in the dry season but if you hate humidity, Panama is not for you. It is the tropics, after all.

As for David, it’s true that it’s affordable and convenient. Everything you need is nearby. It feels like a very happening place with construction projects everywhere. The biggest one is the Federal Mall which is just getting finished, and it’s huge. We have seen the middle class thriving here. There are many opportunities for education and employment, and we have seen better cars, home improvements, and new homes. But, with all this comes traffic. The joke is that traffic rules are merely suggestions, and there are very few traffic lights even in busy areas. The driving style is hard for some people, though drivers are also considerate and there isn’t road rage.  They are starting to put up road signs but finding your way around can still be challenging.

Other challenges?  Anything to do with government and bureaucracy may be tedious with different processes to learn, things that don’t always make sense, and copies. One must have copies of everything!  And, though we are finding more people who speak English in David, they are still a minority and Spanish is the daily language.

But, much of the hassles are not unique to David, or even Panama. When I get frustrated I remind myself that the local people have been thriving here for generations (and we will be fine too), and when things take a lot of time, I remind myself that we are retired so we don’t need to rush back to the office. Things always get worked out one way or another, and people are always willing to help if you get stuck. Our daily needs and most of our wants are always met.

I’m sure I haven’t mentioned all the hassles but whatever they are, for us, they are insignificant compared to the benefits we enjoy – the natural beauty, warm weather, freedom from hurricanes and other weather problems, affordable cost of living, affordable and good quality health care, delicious fresh produce every day, and most of all, the welcoming and friendly people. I never thought I would be made to feel so at home in a different country!

So, do your own research, and I hope all of you find a place and a life that makes you happy.

Posted in Panama | 6 Comments

Registering the Car

Sometimes getting things done can be quite a production involving many steps, documents, and copies. There are always copies. Sometimes even just explaining a process takes many words. Here are 1500 words…..

We bought a bigger car a couple years ago, good for hauling band equipment to gigs. It was registered in Panama City which means renewing it had to be done in Panama City every year, not convenient for us. We learned about Arsineo in Dolega who will go to Panama City, take care of the registration, and get everything transferred to Dolega if you wish (the next town up the road from us). He needed $125 (if memory serves) and signed permission to do this in our behalf, and he returned later at the agreed time with our new license plate (you get a new plate every year).

So this year, the month the plate expires comes and we plan for the registration process. First, you need a document of insurance showing you are current (get one from your insurance agent). Then, you need a revisado (inspection) which can be done at a number of service stations around town. We gathered the registro (title) and seguro (insurance) and went to Felipe Rodriguez, our unusual revisado place. They check all the lights, turn signals, tires, and take the required photos of the front and side of the car. We paid the cashier $11 and left with our revisado document.

Next, we went to the Municipial office in Dolega with our documents, and copies of everything (we have learned through experience. Copies of everything are always a very good idea. If you can do them yourself, that’s better than hunting for a place, finding them closed for lunch, or some other complication. Copies are usually not done on site, in the same office as your business). Where is that document from Panama City? What document? Apparently Arsineo had a document giving permission to transfer the registration, but this did not actually do the transfer so little did we know there would be more to this process.

Thankfully someone in the other office was able to look through Arsineo’s files and find the document. Of course we needed a copy so we went to the copy place, which at this time is the residential house across the street. $.10 and a pleasant chat later, we head back to the license plate office. There is no plate for us though so we are given a document that says everything is up to date. (When you do your registration, at that time they order you a plate for next year so if you are making a change like this, or sometimes even if you are late, they won’t have ordered a plate for you).

But, our title still says Panama City so we need to fix that. Off we go to the title office. Dejota? Huh? (Not sure about spelling)  We need a dejota. Ok, where? David. What is it? Verification of the VIN numbers. We are very thankful for friends and neighbors who know stuff, and are able to explain this process and where to go.

We set off for the dejota place and after asking in a couple places, found it in the judicial building across from EP Furniture on Ave Olbaldia. We were told to go early (us? early? Ha!) but found out if you go in the late morning most of the early birds have come and gone, and we only had a wait for a few people ahead of us (maybe an hour. The guy is not the hurry and work fast type).

First we had to go to an office where they checked all our papers, and then we waited outside where the guy was doing the inspections. He found the VIN numbers under the hood, on the motor, and on the chassis, rubbed them with carbon paper, and then used packing tape to make an impression and stuck the tape to a paper form which he filled out with our info. We didn’t realize that waiting in the car with AC on made this really difficult because he had to reach under the hot motor to find the numbers. It would have been hard to access the numbers even in a cold motor, they were so far down and in a space hard to access. He finally got it done though. Then he checked all the papers again and announced that we were missing a receipt from Panama City, a Paz y Salvo document (don’t even ask me what that’s about)

We were told that Arsineo should have gotten this document when he did our business in Panama City, so we went back to Dolega to see if it was there. No… no luck… and no Arsineo on site….and though the gal could find our name on his log of things he’d done, she couldn’t find any file or papers of ours. She determined that we needed to request a copy from Panama City, and she made a permission document giving herself the ability to do this for us. This had to be notarized but apparently there is no longer a notary in Dolega, so this would need to be done in David.

By now this is getting tedious and frustrating! I looked again through all our papers. Then, I got the idea to look through all the papers for the other car, and there is was!! Yay!!!! I don’t know how it got there but at this point I was just really happy to have it. I made a couple copies (of course) and headed back to the dejota guy. He took a copy said he would find our file, and send whatever he needed to send to Dolega. We could return to Dolega in 10 working days to get our new title.

So, after giving them a few extra days, just because, we go back to Dolega. No title. No records of any sort with our name. Nothing. Maybe they went to David, Bugaba, or other municipality? We need to call the dejota guy and find out what’s going on.

It’s much easier to go in person, so back to the dejota guy we go. He’s not there, so an office gal looks through files and books, many files and books, and finally finds our document with the VIN numbers and tape, nothing more, and on the top of the document is written in pencil “wait”. They track down the dejota guy in some back room. Apparently he wasn’t busy so he was just hanging out. He says he needs the documents. (I don’t know what happened to all the documents we already gave him plus the missing one we brought in a couple days later). Thankfully I came armed with copies of everything, title, revisado, insurance, transfer document from Arsineo, paz y salvo receipt…. I think that might be all? Again, he takes everything, 10 business days…. Dolega….. Dolega! For sure, yes? No other municipality please. Dolega.

Again, we allow some extra time and then go to Dolega. She looks through a book, makes a check mark next to a name, checks our old title… it’s there!!! Yay! She only needs a copy of my cedula (the Panamanian universal ID card).

I had copies of everything in the world, except that. Back to the house across the street, $.10 and a pleasant chat later, I return with my copy. Ok, now go to the next window and give her $20. She gives me a Paz y salvo receipt which I give to the title lady, and she hands me the new title which now says Dolega! YAY!!!!  Whew!!!  Sheesh, can’t believe we finally got it done.

There is still no license plate though. Check back in May. May?? Ok.

Now, after all that, do you want to hear an easy story? Plan for the worst, and sometimes it’s even worse than that, but sometimes it’s amazingly smooth and you’ll have a happy surprise. We decided to keep our old Atos. It’s perfect for in town and costs hardly anything to keep. You can only get liability insurance for anything over 10 years old, and our insurance for this 13 yr old is only around $120-130/year.

The time came for the registration on the Atos. Our insurance document was current so I made a copy, and a copy of the title and we headed out for the revisado. There was a new girl who only glanced at the tires, took the photos, and $11 and a surprisingly short time later we headed out with our revisado document. We made a copy of this too, and headed to Dolega. There was no room full of waiting people, no wait at all. We gave the gal the revisado and I think a copy of the title, and around $35, and she gave us our new plate. Done! That fast!

See, sometimes you’ve done something before so you know the process, and it goes quickly and smoothly.

Posted in Panama | 1 Comment

Fruit, etc.

There are a few photos in my stash I’ve been meaning to share.

Our veggie guy had pipas, or coconuts for sale. “Agua de Pipa” is coconut water, so if you see that on a sign stop by for an excellent tropical treat. “Pipa Fria” is the same thing, cold coconut.  Usually they expertly whack off a piece of the husk with a machete to expose a small hole into the inside and insert a straw. After you drink the juice they can open the coconut, and make a slice of the husk to be used for scooping out the meat. Sometimes you can also buy juice by the cup or larger container, especially if you bring your own container.

The Pipa from our veggie guy were especially large and full of juice, and really delicious!

Our laundry room is an enclosed outdoor space and we keep the freezer there. It has a cardboard cover for protection, and one day I noticed a collection of tiny white eggs stuck to the cardboard. Then, the other day, I saw a line if tiny caterpillars marching single file across the cover.

I coaxed them on to a piece of paper and put them on the ground next to the terrace and some shelves so they would be in a protected spot. They were in a clump when I disturbed them but as soon as possible, they formed their line again and proceeded to follow the leader in circles until he finally decided to lead them off the paper. There’s always something new and different around here!

My neighbor gave us some oranges. The usual way of eating them is to peel off the outer skin in a long ribbon, and slice off a little piece on top. Now you have something like a natural juice box or juice pouch. Squeeze and suck on the opening to drink all the juice.

There is a lot of citrus grown here! Most homes have a tree, and there are large orchards not far from here. There are a various types of oranges, and what seems like an endless variety of “limons” the catch all term for lemons, limes, and other tart citrus varieties.

Last, but not least, we are going to be overrun with bananas! We have two making fruit at the same time.

To me, nothing says tropical living like bananas and coconuts. I love looking at the bananas in the back yard, and we are waiting for coconuts from the beautiful tree in the front yard.

Posted in Panama | 2 Comments

Report from Bob Adams

Bob Adams has lived in Panama City for quite a few years. He has also lived all over the world and has been involved in global affairs of many countries. I think he is credible, knowledgeable, and trustworthy and I value his opinion.

He has a website,  Retirement Wave.   Check it out for interesting articles and information.

Bob also has a YouTube channel with dozens and dozens of informative videos on a variety of Panama related topics. If you search for “Bob Adams” on YouTube you’ll have no trouble finding him.

Now and then, Bob sends out a newsletter to his subscribers. I can’t find the latest one on the website or figure out another way to share it, so I’ll copy/paste it here for you all.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Friends,

Since I sent the last newsletter announcing the Report on Panama in June (if you did not get a copy, a link will be provided at the end of this letter), the elections are over, the new administration is in office, and  we now prepare for November’s “patriotic days” which celebrate independence from Spain in 1821 and from Colombia in 1903.

As I explained in the June report, Panama is passing through a “growth recession” where the national “macro” economy continues to grow, although at a slower level than in past years, while the “micro” economy at street level is stagnant or sliding.

This results from a variety of factors that are not long-term and will reverse, but together have caused us some pain, as well as the traditional Panamanian tendency to reduce spending when the economy is slow which creates a negative feedback loop that just makes it all more difficult – income and jobs go down, sales go down, more jobs are lost, incomes fall a little more, sales go down, and so on.

This happens in other societies and, while annoying, is normal behavior that will reverse as major projects like the convention center, second airport terminal, the cruise port, and other projects are operating and business begins to grow again.  I think this administration is really going to push hard on this and it will be a relief to everyone.

In this regard, I want to share two thoughts.  First, the new administration’s first task was to do a complete audit of the government’s financial situation.  Finding things that clearly needed to change, they sat down and took care of it.  There will be time for finger-pointing and angry comments over who was responsible for letting the situation get to this point and the results could have been weeks of anger and shouting.

Instead, the new administration put together an emergency plan to get past this and other parties and institutions joined together to do what had to be done to straighten things out.  It was quick, thorough, impressive, and something I have not seen happen in one of the “advanced” societies in many years.  Panama had a problem.  Panama took care of it.  Well done. It is one of the reasons why Panama is among the very few Latin American nations to be considered “investment grade” internationally.

So we now have an “austerity budget” and everyone is busy explaining why their agency or project needs more funding.  In other words, it is a democracy.

Meanwhile, hold onto your hats, we have Nicaragua continuing to be in a social, political, and financial mess but is too small for most other nations to care, our Central American neighbors have plenty of serious problems and some have a desperate migration situation, Venezuela continues to amaze everyone by getting worse, and then worse, and then worse, Colombia has to deal with a return of cartel activity and must care for what is now probably closer to two million Venezuelan refugees, especially since Ecuador almost fell apart and is not welcoming them, while Bolivia is in the middle of a dangerous controversy over the honesty of its recent election, Brazil is dealing with multiple political problems and continued tension over the state of the Amazon basin, Argentina continues to be sharply divided socially and on the verge of another destabilizing shift politically, and if all that was not enough, poor Chile explodes into violence that I last heard has reached at least 19 dead and hundreds of millions of dollars of damage to public and private institutions.

Trust me on this.  Panamanians are very much aware of all this.  I think it is fair to say they will settle for a “growth recession”1

‘This is not first time Panama has been an island of relative peace and security in a sea of troubled nations, but the “sea” may be the worst it has been in decades.  Panama had its difficult times in the 20th century, but in the 21st century, they are focused on a brighter future, not the illusion of a brighter past.  I have often said after 50+ years working all over the world in development, nations that focus on the future, have one.  Those who do not…well, I’m happy I live in Panama.

Here at Retirement Wave, some of you have reached out in recent weeks under our Metro Match program for help in finding properties either for sale or for rent.  Again, this is discussed in more detail in the June Report from Panama, all 22 pages of it, and reflects the severely depressed real estate market currently in Panama.

Metro Match is a very simple and free program to help those who are looking for a purchase or a rental and want to benefit from this buyer’s market in the Panama City metropolitan area.  I have never seen anything this good for buyers in more than a decade.

But it helps to have a professional to work with you and I use a very few licensed real estate agents known to me on the basis of direct experience to be good and honest at what they do.  They have already helped two RW members to purchase homes and are in mid-process with a third.  They have helped or are helping six of you find rentals.

I have allowed this to happen gradually and without any serious promotion.  If you have signed up with some of the “international” sites out there, you know how intense their promotion can be!  Well, I have no intention of pushing it like they do, I have nothing to sell you, but I have been watching it carefully in these early weeks as a test and it has been working very well, so I will mention it more often.

There is no charge to you.  The agent gets his or her commission from the owner as happens everywhere else.  My role is to help you connect with the right agent for your needs and be available if there are any problems.  Otherwise, you make the decisions.

And always remember, there are plenty of agents here in Panama City, so it does not matter to me whether you come to us or not.  I just want you to know that we are here to simplify your life and give you a running start when you arrive looking for a residence to buy or rent.

That’s enough for this letter.  New members and those who did not download a copy of the Report from Panama I sent out four months ago can easily download one byclicking here.  If you do have any problem, just write me and I can email you a copy.

Finally, I hope those of you most interested in Panama as a potential home will take a moment to subscribe to my YouTube channel.  I post my very informal videos there far more often than I write, I answer a lot of questions that come up, and I try to provide useful information.  There is no obligation if you do subscribe and “unsubscribing” is very simple.

If you do hit the Subscribe button, take a moment to “ring” the little bell beside it.  Doing that means that you will be notified of any new video and not miss any.  These notifications are super-simple and can be turned off at any time too, but most of my YouTube subscribers prefer them.

Thank you so much for your friendship and your interest in Panama!  I hope you have the chance to visit us soon!

Bob

Posted in Panama | 4 Comments

Car Trouble

”Luck ain’t even lucky, gotta make your own breaks” (Bon Jovi, It’s My Life). Well sometimes you do have good luck. We were headed to Boquete for a gig, driving our big Montero beast loaded with our equipment. There was squeaky noise, belt problem kind of noise, then a burning rubber smell, then everything on the dash lit up.

This happened as we were approaching the new gas station half way up Via Boquete, so we pulled over there. The main belt was gone so we weren’t going any farther under our own power, but we had a roof and protection from the light rain, lights, friendly people, and a location easy to describe. That’s definitely lucky, much better than the shoulder of the road in the dark!

Here, towing is included with your car insurance. Our agents answered their phone immediately (on a Friday night) and called the tow truck place. The tow truck manager called me to verify our location, and even spoke some English. He said the truck would arrive in about an hour.

So, we hung out and waited. The gas station employee put an orange cone behind us since we weren’t going to move, and offered to contact a tow truck driver nearby (which wouldn’t be covered by insurance but if we needed them, would be great). In just over an hour, the tow truck arrived, loaded us up and took us back home.

We found out later that it rained all evening in Boquete, hardly anyone was in town (still slowest season), and it would have been a very slow night so if we were going to miss a gig, it was the best possible time. We play this coming Friday and then Tuesday for Fiestas Patrias so we definitely need to show up for those!

(November is full of holidays and the joke is nothing gets done in November. Then, it’s December with Mother’s Day, super important in Panama, and Christmas, also a really big deal. But, would you rather get stuff done or have a lot of fun? Yeah… they work really hard for long hours most of the time, but they don’t feel guilty for having fun and enjoying parties, holidays,  family and friends. There’s a lot to be said for that)

Anyway, we got towed home, which woke up the neighborhood including our neighbor who can fix everything, including the number of Monteroes  in his own family.  He picked up new belts in his morning travels, and installed them last night just in time to make it to our Saturday evening gig. The car is now running perfectly and we had a great gig last night.

On a different subject – I am very concerned for my California daughter and the people in her Santa Rosa / Sonoma County area. There is a huge fire bearing down on them, very high winds and extremely dry conditions. Tens of thousands are under evacuation orders, shelters are full, and roads are clogged. Even some of the shelters and the area hospitals have been evacuated. My daughter is in one of the very few areas not evacuated but they can see the glow of the fire from their house, and they are ready to leave on a moments notice. Ugh. Thousands of people lost everything in Santa Rosa, IN the city,  and people died. This was just two years ago so one can only begin to imagine how stressful this is now for everybody.

We should complain about being at a gas station on a warm evening with friendly people nearby, tow truck on the way, and a number of people we can call for repairs? I think not!

Send hope that people aren’t burned out, or killed, in California. Unfortunately that’s all we can do at this moment.

Posted in Panama | 5 Comments

Wildlife

I came out to eat breakfast and ewwww. What’s that smell? I have this plant that makes spectacular flowers but they smell like rotting meat. Thankfully the breeze doesn’t blow it this way very much. It’s a Stapelia or carrion flower https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stapelia  

A funny  – I gave a cutting to my neighbor. One day they smelled something bad and looked everywhere. Was it a dead mouse? They even looked in the ceiling before they realized their plant was blooming. Now she pulls off the flower buds before they open. This plant is an import, not a Panama native. I found it at the Féria that’s held every summer.

Blue morpho butterflies are native though, and they are spectacular! They like old fruit, and since we compost we see them here. They take a lot of patience to photograph though since they only pop open their wings for a split second. My pictures from the other day aren’t worth sharing but I have this much better video I took some time ago.

We also see a lot of owl butterflies which are equally large but not colorful. They fly through the yard like they are drunk,  but they seem to get where they want to go. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Owl_butterfly  They also like the fruit in the compost pile.

On another subject, they have been repaving the Panamerican Highway through town. Yesterday they were a bit west of Terronal and traffic was rerouted to one side of the road but it wasn’t too bad. They are doing a really nice job and the finished parts are great. I still say, however, that traffic lights are the first priority but the planners didn’t ask my opinion 😳

I have decided that October is my very favorite month. We live in (deathly hot, according to many) David but it’s been so beautiful. Some mornings are pleasantly  cloudy but even when it’s sunny, by the time it’s getting uncomfortably hot the clouds are moving in. We have some days with gentle afternoon rains and others with crazy downpours. Last Thursday we had one of the most intense storms I can remember. The thunder was right overhead and deafening, and the rain poured down in buckets! It even knocked out the power for a couple hours. That night though it was so cool that I had to have a blanket over my lap.  Many, if not most evenings are that cool now. Summer will be coming all too soon and I’ll miss this rainy season. But, we don’t have to work outside or even go anywhere most of the time so I have a different perspective than many.

Well that’s all I have on my mind at the moment. This morning is beautiful and sunny, and I’m enjoying listening to the activity in the neighborhood. La vida tranquila en Panama 🇵🇦

 

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Seven Years

Thursday, 7 years ago, I arrived in Panama with my suitcase and my laptop. Friday, I arrived in David to start my new life here. So, I thought I should at least write a few words.

By now, it’s normal daily life that is familiar and routine. But also, still,  there’s always something I don’t know how to do, something I don’t know where to find, and words I don’t know. Some days I wake up and wonder, what am I doing HERE?? This is a *gasp* foreign country with different people, climate, culture, language, wildlife, appearance, vegetation, many many different things. But, it’s also the same. People love their families, care for their kids, go to work, hang out with friends, and deal with the usual chores and hassles of living. They just want to be happy the same as everyone the world over. We all look at the same moon and stars.

There are chores and hassles of living here but there seems to be so much less. For example, our roof in Florida – wood (prone to rot) covered with tar paper and shingles (prone to wearing out in a couple decades, or flying off in a bad storm). Here we have a metal roof, won’t rot, good for many decades, and there aren’t storms that would tear it apart. That’s only one thing.  It never crosses our mind that we will get written up for a lawn not mowed, or we could get shot when we are out and about. I never feel alone either.  Anyone, any stranger on the street will smile, stop to chat, or help if they see a need. I feel good here, almost like the air we breathe has peace and happiness.

All the hassles of moving are pretty much a memory now. The worst was wrapping up the old life, the house, and all the stuff! We accumulated a lot in 17 years in the Florida house. I came here with next to nothing and against instructions, rented an unfurnished house. This means no stove, fridge, nothing. I am still friends with Myrla in the appliance department at the DoIt Center who helped me get everything from a washing machine to pots and pans, all in one evening.! What do you need? Everything! I was here alone (husband was still wrapping things up in the US) and my Spanish wasn’t great, but I kept putting one foot in front of the other. People were so kind and helpful at every step and I managed to put a home together.

People move with nothing, with entire containers of everything they own, and everything in between. I’m glad we came with minimal stuff. It’s hard to know what you will need and what you will use since life here can be quite a bit different. The shoes I brought in my suitcase are molding in the closet because other shoes are much more appropriate (love my Keens sandals that don’t mind getting wet). The humidity is bad for a lot of furniture, and the climate calls for different clothes. It’s just hard to know until you’ve lived here for a bit. And, if it turns out life here isn’t working out, if you have minimal stuff it’s easy to just go somewhere else. I’ve heard a recommendation that you put your stuff in storage for a year if you are having a hard time deciding what to do. This seems sensible to me.

Anyway, I could go on about my life here, thoughts about the moving process, and many other things, but I think this is plenty for the moment. Pretty good huh, when I started out with nothing to say. ha!

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