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.

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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.

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A Day in Boquete

You’re retired. What do you DO all day??  Ha! I always laugh when I see this question. I don’t know how I had time to work.

Maintaining a house, cleaning, cooking, errands, etc. take a certain amount oof time but after that, your time is yours to spend as you wish. We all have to figure that out no matter where we live.

Those of you who follow me know I’m the bass player in a rock cover band. Yesterday we had two gigs in Boquete, an unusual, long day but a whole lot of fun.

The first gig was the Tapout Sports Zone grand opening. This is the BCP event center building, but totally redone and it looks great! There’s an indoor enclosed area with many TV’s showing sporting events, a bar, and a kitchen serving a variety of food (our wings were great!). Outside is a large terrace with bar seating overlooking the yard, foosball, pool tables, and more table seating. In the yard is more seating, a fire pit, and a stage for performers. They have just barely got the place ready so it will be interesting to see how it goes. It feels really good there and I hope it is enjoyed by many. It’s also a fun place for the band and I hope we can play there again.

After chatting with friends and packing up we headed over to the band’s first home, Mike’s Global Grill. Mike is a great chef and tonight was a Chinese buffet. Words was it was very well attended and we were lucky that we were in time to enjoy it before everything was gobbled up. We set up our gear again, and played an evening of music for Mike’s people. It’s usually a dancing gringo crowd who likes the more standard classic rock music, but we mixed it up with some of the newer (to us) and harder rocking songs that we usually play for our Panamanian audiences. It went over really well so maybe we’ll continue this.

Next, we went back to the Tapout. Hashtag played in the early evening. We love them but we have heard them before, so we weren’t too bummed that we were busy elsewhere. Radio Negra was playing later so we could make it in time for them. We had heard about this band for quite a while so I was really happy to finally hear them and meet them. I love what they do! Reggae, rock, original material, and a nice mix to keep it interesting and fun, and they are good musicians and super nice guys.

We usually play at the Boquete Brewing Company every weekend, but it’s good we aren’t playing this weekend. Our drummer has a cold and needs the rest after yesterday. We’re tired too and can use the day to chill and prepare for our trip to the US to see family.

And, in other news, we had another earthquake after midnight on the 26th, a 6.2, not much stronger than the one we had a couple months ago but it seemed like more. Now the media is talking about clusters of earthquakes, 9 in the last 24 hours, but we haven’t felt anything. They are educating people on being prepared with emergency supplies for power and water outages (which is routine anyway for just living here). I wonder if the warnings are helpful since there isn’t anything you can do except maybe push bottles and breakables to the back of the shelves.

But, it gives us something to talk about besides the cane toad. (https://blog.thepanamaadventure.com/2017/10/13/a-cane-toad-can-kill-your-dog/ )  We had one here. Joel caught it and threw it over the fence into the woods. Days later…. cane toad! Over the fence. This went on at least four times. Meanwhile I was cleaning dirty water out of the dogs dish and birdbath most mornings. Finally enough was enough. Joel caught the toad, put it in a bag and into the freezer (as suggested by a friend). It must have been the same dang toad because since then, no more dirty water and no more toad. Thankfully the dog seemed to ignore it, but I didn’t want to take the chance and leave it around. These toads are very bad news for dogs.

Oh, and we found fleas on the dog. We tried the flea baths and all that in the past without success, so today we went directly to the NexGard which worked perfectly before. $27.45 though? Ouch. I’m going to get a couple more in the US to bring back just in case. She doesn’t run the neighborhood so we haven’t had problems for a long time but when there are a lot of other dogs who do run around, it’s always possible.

So, this is what we DO all day 😁 See what we have to deal with here!  Seriously, not too much goes on. These really are the highlights of the week. There are plenty of days like this too.

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The Purpose Of Life Is Not Happiness: It’s Usefulness

You move to another country. You retire. We’ve all had the question “what will you DO all day??” If you don’t have a lot of interests and hobbies outside of work, this can be a consideration no matter where you live.

It sounds lovely to sit on the beach with an exotic drink with a little umbrella and watch the world go by, but this isn’t a long term solution for happiness. Maybe you find your dream home in a beautiful spot and this is very nice. It’s a bit like what we have been taught all our lives – get the good job, the great spouse, the lovely home, the hot car, etc etc and you will be happy. How disappointing to learn that this isn’t necessarily so.

I’ve met enough elderly people dozing in their wheelchairs to make me think. When I’m at that point, will I be satisfied with my life? Will I be glad I did some things, regret not doing others? Will my little corner of the world be any better because I was here?

Then I ran across this article that brought these thoughts to the forefront

https://getpocket.com/explore/item/the-purpose-of-life-is-not-happiness-it-s-usefulness

We all chase happiness, but maybe happiness is only a byproduct of being useful, of contributing in a positive way to our world. It’s a mindset of being kind to others, meeting a need even in small ways, or using our human mind to create something. Read the article. It explains it better than I ever could.

So, that’s my thought for the day. Otherwise, life here just goes on and I haven’t had anything remarkable to write about.

The car needed some major repairs on a leaking cabesota (engine head, I believe) and I learned a lot of new words in the process. We did shopping and errands yesterday so the freezer is full and we are set for a while. We sort of cleaned the house while the band equipment was still in the car, and did laundry.  I’ve been weeding the yard (it looks like work, but is actually one of my main pleasures).

It took a few days to recover from our Panama City excursion, and then we had a busy weekend with the band which took another day or two of recovery. Now that I’m a much better bass player, I’m realizing the usefulness of playing music. We played well and  had a whole lot of happy people on Friday and Saturday nights.

But, after living here close to 7 years, it’s just daily life and the usual conversations – the sun is hot. Will it rain? What ate my plant this time? Why do the dogs always bark at the trash men? La vida difícil.

Posted in Panama | 16 Comments

Band Gig at the US Ambassador’s Residence

Do you wonder where our US ambassador lives? This week we found out!

(We don’t have an ambassador at the moment, but Roxanne Cabral is Chargé d’Affaires, or the boss, since the last ambassador resigned https://pa.usembassy.gov/our-relationship/our-ambassador/ )

Some embassy employees heard the band in Boquete and liked us enough to hire us for a party in Panama City. The event was a good bye party for some employees who had finished their time in Panama and were moving on to other positions and other countries. We were asked to set up in the afternoon so we had the run of the unoccupied place and I was able to take pictures.

We were told that nobody is currently living at the residence but it is used for events 3-4 times/week. There was a whole staff cleaning and preparing in the afternoon, and at the end of the night they were all busy setting up for a wine tasting event the next day.

We were on the outdoor terrace and it was HOT! We were all dripping by the time we were set up, and it was great that we had the rest of the afternoon to shower and rest.

The evening …. the party started around 7. We were asked to play 7-9 with a break in the middle for announcements. So, at 7 we started playing but the guests (about 300 of them) all stayed inside in the cold air conditioning. They were all dressed in good clothes, the men in long pants and jackets so I’m sure the hot, humid outdoors was unappealing. Joel popped in with his guitar for a moment and said even with the doors open, the noise of the crowd made it impossible to hear the band outside. But, we played as instructed until announcement time.

I was surprised that all the announcements were in Spanish, but everyone seemed to understand. The security people and the people tasked with taking care of us all spoke English also, but I thought in a US embassy function English would be the language of the day. But, all the better that it was Spanish since we are, after all, in a Spanish speaking country.

After announcements we went back to playing to an empty terrace, and went back to sweating. Even after it got dark it didn’t seem to cool off at all. Finally after 30 minutes or so people starting trickling out on to the terrace and the fun for us finally began. One of the guests of honor and his friend who met us in Boquete came out, and a bunch of  other people who loved the music joined in, and the serious dancing and partying happened! Now this was fun.

We were supposed to quit at 9 but we couldn’t stop now that people were finally enjoying the music, so we ended up playing until almost 10:30. By then the crowd was getting thin and we were exhausted. That is tiring anyway but in that heat, it was worse. The staff brought out some more really big fans but that didn’t seem to make much difference. We were all soaked, as were the guests who were dancing. But, we all had fun and they were so appreciative. Apparently they have jazz and other music sometimes, but good old American rock by a group of US gringos is something different and they loved it.

I think it was midnight when we finally left. A lot of people wanted to talk, take pictures, and of course we had to do the puzzle of getting all our gear back into the car. Chris had rented drums from someone Ricky (our manager) knew which made it possible to use only one car but it was really tight.

After such a slow start I’m glad the evening ended on a really high note. And, the staff was super nice to us and did everything they could to meet our needs, which was very appreciated.

And, we got asked back for next week, an early 4th of July party on Thursday afternoon! How nice, and it would be really cool if we could do it but we are booked on Friday and Saturday, and the whole trip exhausted us more than we expected. It’s now Friday and we are just starting to come alive again. It was a big undertaking to manage a gig with that much planning and travel and we wouldn’t want to do it often, but it was a real honor to be asked to do this one and I’m glad we were able to do it.

Posted in Panama | 14 Comments

Living in Panama – The Ultimate Guide for Expats (2019 Edition)

This is an excellent website from the folks at Panama Relocation Tours. It covers probably any topic you need to research and does it in a very realistic and truthful way. If you are considering Panama you need to check it out.

https://panamarelocationtours.com/living-in-panama

These people have earned my respect on line and in person because they really want to be helpful. They aren’t trying to sell you anything. They want people to understand the realities of moving to Panama so they can make the right decision for themselves, even if not moving to Panama is the right decision. It is costly both financially and emotionally to move and then find out the reality isn’t what you expected and isn’t making you happy.  It’s much better to be well informed beforehand.

So, check out the article, and if you want a tour, make reservations as soon as you can. Tours are selling out faster and faster as word from happy clients gets around. Here’s my affiliate link https://panamarelocationtours.com/?ref=7  (thank you 😊)

Happy Travels!

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More on Panama Real Estate

Joel is very good at internet research. He found a few things I’d like to share.

The first was written in January, 2011 but it’s still very useful and detailed information about buying real estate in Panama, the pros and cons, working with an agent, and a lot more. If you are considering buying property in Panama it’s well worth reading.

https://www.panamaequity.com/blog/blood-on-the-streets-panama-real-estate-market-review/

The second article is by the Panama Relocation Tours people. I am getting more and more respect for them for their very realistic and useful advice. They truly want to help potential expats rather than make money off them. Read this one too if you are thinking about buying property here.

https://panamarelocationtours.com/is-there-any-affordable-real-estate

(If you are considering one if their highly recommended tours, use my link.  https://panamarelocationtours.com/?ref=7 Thank you 😊)

Then, there is this more general post about the pros and cons of Panama by this family who made their home here.

https://insidepanamarealestate.com/blog/relocation/panama-pros-cons-guest-post-by-trey-morrison

If you are thinking about buying property in Panama, please do it with your eyes open. This is NOT the USA, Canada, or wherever you’re from. Things aren’t the same, and may not be what they appear to be. Of course you can find a great property and make a happy life, but you can also have some nasty surprises or fall victim to someone who does not represent your interests, which would be very unfortunate.

And, RENT first. LIVE in the area you are thinking of buying. Get to know the area, the people, the prices, and the features you will need. Panama runs on relationships and you will do much better when you know people. Your perfect property may not even be officially for sale. Maybe your neighbor’s coworker’s friend’s aunt wants to sell something good. You just never know!

Best wishes, good luck, and do your homework.

Posted in Panama | 6 Comments