It’s Hot

I know you’ve all heard that before. It’s the tropics and unless you are up in the mountains, hot weather is expected. We thought the rainy season had begun though, and the worst of the heat was over. Do they have Indian summer in Panama?

We’ve had some really nice rains and everything is green again. A couple of weeks ago the yard was brown and look at it now. I love the mani, or perennial peanut. When it has water it’s a beautiful green with yellow flowers and it doesn’t need mowing like grass. We take the weed whacker to it maybe once or twice a year since it seems to grow higher than it did in Florida, especially in the shade, but it’s thick enough that it needs minimal weeding. The Panamanians aren’t big fans because they are afraid that snakes like to hide in it but we’ve never seen a snake in the mani.

So, the rain is back, we’ve had some beautifully cool evenings. Then we woke up to heat, breezes, clear skies, and burning sun. The clouds didn’t gather in the afternoon and the rains didn’t come. Yesterday I got an email from Santiago saying he’d never seen it above 100 there, but here’s his thermometer.

I checked ours about 1PM and it wasn’t that hot, but it could have gone up more in the next couple hours. We also live on the north edge of town so it could have been hotter downtown.

Located in the shade on the terrace

Our dog may be nuts. She likes to lie out in the sun. This was also taken about 1PM, the same time as the thermometer picture. She’s either in the sun, in the dirt next to the house where she’s made herself a spot, or if I’m inside she’s behind the sofa or wherever I am. She takes good care of me and takes that job very seriously, so don’t come in our gate without a proper introduction.

It looks like today will be another hot and dry one.

 

People assume that David is impossibly hot. Florida was hotter in the summer. Pretty much anywhere I’ve lived was hotter in the summer. I remember 100+ degrees in Kansas many times. People assume that it rains continuously in the rainy season, but it doesn’t. Rains come in the late afternoon and soak everything, and then it clear up in the evening…. not always but that’s very typical.

It’s just odd to have summer weather again after the rains, but I see some clouds in the sky already so this too may be passing. One nice thing about Panama is that you can choose an elevation that suits your taste in weather. A lot of expats are in the mountains but I like it nice and warm so David is perfect for me, and we have AC for those hot afternoons.

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Posted in Panama | 7 Comments

So You Want to Live in Another Country (Part 3)

Learn the language! It’s not as easy as one would think.

I don’t usually post writing by other people, but this series of articles by my friend By Edgington speaks for us expats as we navigate the joys and challenges of living in another country, and I think it’s well worth sharing.

View at Medium.com

When I copy/paste the link it does weird things in my browser, so just in case I’ll try this too   https://link.medium.com/a5KuCJVX7V

By and his wife Mariah previously lived in Panama, and now they are in Colombia, both of which are Spanish speaking countries. You can get by in Panama with only English, especially in places full of expats, but (if you’ve read this blog for a while, you know what I’m going to say) but why? Why come here and hang out with only gringos? You can do that back in the USA or wherever you are from. Why miss out on this life from a Panamanian point of view?

Learning another language is a challenge, of course, but so worth it. You don’t have to be perfectly fluent, far from it, but if you can carry on a conversation you can have local friends, learn about the life, the culture, the food, what they value, and their sense of humor (which I especially enjoy). I have found the Panamanian people super helpful too. If you need a good plumber, the route to someplace, what is this fruit, or a multitude of other questions they will be happy to help you. I have found them very appreciative of my efforts to learn the language and endlessly patient in helping me along. We also have a repertoire of jokes about my missteps – you go to the canal to see las esclusas (the locks) not los esclavos (the slaves) and jugo de araña (spider juice) is not served for breakfast. (sounds too much like naranja = orange).

I am very happy living in Panama and for me, the biggest part of that is my friendships and interactions with the Panamanian people. I have been treated so well, and have been made to feel so included in their community and lives. None of that would have happened if I couldn’t talk with them. I give thanks every day to the friends who have helped me along the way, and to my very much loved teacher who patiently pounded quite a bit of Spanish into my thick head before I arrived.  http://yairatutoria.com

It takes persistent effort over time, and using your new language every day at every opportunity, and the ability to tolerate frustration when it doesn’t work but little by little, a new word today, a new phrase tomorrow, it will get better. Buena suerte! 🍀 (good luck)

Posted in Panama | 15 Comments

Special on Panama Relocation Tours

Many people find that getting to know Panama with a tour works well for them, and the most highly recommended tour by far is the Panama Relocation Tour. I have written about them before HERE. I don’t promote other people and businesses unless I know them and would use them myself, and I have become a believer in these tours from talking with their clients and seeing many, many positive comments on social media.

If one of these tours interests you, I suggest you make plans and reservations ASAP! All the tours sold out through August and because of demand and a long waiting list, they have added three more tours.

This is the correspondence they just sent to me –

~~~~~~~~~

Panama Relocation Tours just added 3 new tours for 2019:

  • May 31 – June 7
  • July 5 – July 12
  • August 2 – August 9

This is a 6-day, 7-night ALL-INCLUSIVE Panama Relocation Tour which will take you throughout Panama! You’ll learn how to relocate to Panama the EASY way, plus how to get super affordable health insurance, the most affordable Visa options, how to find a rental, how to get your pet and household goods in to Panama. Plus, you’ll get to meet expats who live in each area you visit, see rentals in a variety of different price points and much MUCH more.

They have very limited space on these tours so you need to book ASAP to reserve your spot. Panama Relocation Tours is THE Retire in Panama Expert with 9 years of relocation tour experience, 100+ relocation tours and more than 2000 relocation tour clients.

~~~~~~~~~

The tour will take you to the most popular spots for expats, allow you to meet expats already living here as well as other fellow travelers, and it shares a wealth of valuable information on all aspects of relocating here. I have met Jackie Lange, the organizer and she says her main objective is to help people make decisions that are good for them, and avoid making financially and emotionally costly mistakes. She isn’t trying to sell anyone anything.  She just wants people to be happy and successful.  I also saw the group in Boquete recently at a restaurant. They were all laughing and talking, and a beautiful, new, comfortable bus was parked outside.

Of course if you have a good idea of where you want to live, and/or you want to organize your own tour you can certainly do that. But, the more I hear about Panama Relocation Tours, the more I am willing to share information about them. I’ve met a lot of very happy clients.

I am an affiliate, so if you want to book please use this link. They will share a bit of their profits (at no extra cost to you) which helps me maintain this blog and website (thank you!)

https://panamarelocationtours.com/?ref=7

Here’s to new adventures and fun times!

Posted in Panama | 7 Comments

Moringa and Other Random Things

I’m always snapping a picture here and there of things that catch my attention, and then they accumulate until I get around to sharing them.

I bought two little Moringa trees a few years ago. Moringa is supposed to be super nutritious and good for you (I don’t know much so do your own research). The trees are really beautiful and they have thrived here.

The flowers are small, white, pretty, and lightly aromatic. I think the seed pods look really cool! The seeds are super sweet with a bitter undertaste. I learned that one should eat Moringa in small amounts, especially before your system becomes accustomed to it. You can learn from experience 🙄 or research it.

Other plants and flowers…

The stinky flowers are stepelia gigantea. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stapelia_gigantea..  I have given some starts to my neighbors. One day my friends across the street smelled something bad, maybe a dead rat or mouse. They looked everywhere, moved the furniture, checked above the drop ceiling, and couldn’t find anything until the nephew realized it was the flowers from their plant. Another neighbor pulls off the buds before they can open. I went looking myself a couple days ago until I realized it was my plant!

Food items….

It’s a joke here that if you find something, buy a lot. But it all! You may never see it again. We have learned the truth of this by experience. There was no Balboa  beer for weeks in Pricesmart. We even had to look for our favorite dinner beverage in the supermarket 😮 It eventually reappeared and now we have four cases. 😁

I have no idea what this is about! I was riding around town and saw these toys fastened to poles at every corner of this intersection.

Yesterday was a Good Friday, almost no traffic in town. I don’t go to my favorite bike route very often because crossing the Panamerican Highway there is a real pain. Yesterday though, it was so lovely to see some of my favorite views – living fences, green fields, cows, and if there weren’t so many clouds you could see the mountains in the distance.

And last but hardly least, I was headed home and stopped for a bit in the Pizza Hut parking lot. I was cooling off, getting a drink, and looking at my phone when a young man in a Pizza Hut uniform came up behind me. Are you lost? Are you OK? Thank you, I’m fine, just resting for a while. OK, I just wanted to help if you needed it.

This is the biggest reason I love it here! This sort of thing has happened more times than I can count. These people are the best. Here, I never feel lonely, never feel like I’d be without needed help, and I never feel excluded even though I am different in so many ways. It’s one of those things that can’t be explained until you feel it yourself, but then you never want to go back.

Posted in Panama | 12 Comments

So You Want to Live in Another Country (Part 2)

My friends By and Mariah lived in Boquete, and now live in Medellin Colombia. This is the second in a series of articles By has written about the expat experience.

https://link.medium.com/B0v6qe2A1V

Read the article, but the main points he makes are:

  • Factor in travel expenses because chances are you will want to go back to see family and friends.
  • Will you feel guilty about moving away from family and friends? Will family and friends make you feel guilty?
  • Will you feel guilty about “doing nothing” after years of work, earning money, and contributing to the world?
  • Will you feel guilty about having more money than most of the people around you in your adopted country?

For me, we can afford travel because our cost of living is so much less. If we were still in Florida but not working, travel would be out of the question. Now that I have grandkids, I’m especially thankful to be able to visit every few months. Yes it takes time, but I have time now.

Guilty about moving away? No, but I didn’t live close to my kids before. My family – we are not that way with each other. Friends who make me feel guilty for any of my choices are not friends.

“Doing nothing”? There are numerous opportunities to volunteer, and how nice to choose without worry if it covers the bills. I felt guilty about not doing anything, and I don’t seem to be recovering from the work that drained me dry. But I’m slowly coming to the realization that I’ve done enough in my life, and being happy and positive is “doing something” enough.

Guilty about having money? No. We live a modest but very comfortable life, and now I have some extra to share with causes and people I believe in. I feel extremely fortunate, not guilty.

As I’ve  said before, there are many things that are common to most of us in this expat experience, but it’s also a very individual experience.

Posted in Panama | 6 Comments

If It Isn’t One Thing…..

…it’s another. On the heels of our friend’s post about the challenges of expat life, let me tell a story of our own. (1000+ word story to follow)

There is no guarantee that if you open your faucet, water will come out. Maybe there isn’t enough water and they have rolling shut offs. This is common in the dry season. Maybe there is too much water in the rivers from heavy rains, and debris has clogged the inlets to the water treatment plant. Maybe they are fixing and upgrading their equipment, which has been going on a lot in this area.

Last summer the water was out so much that we decided to put in a water tank.  https://blog.thepanamaadventure.com/2018/03/09/yay-water-all-the-time/  It’s been wonderful! If the water is out, it comes back on at night and our tank is refilled and meanwhile, we use the water from the tank. We always have water and good water pressure.

BUT…. Sunday the water was out. The tank refilled at night but with muddy water, unfortunately. This happens sometimes after work on the system or heavy rains. The dirt will settle to the bottom and you can use the water but it doesn’t look good for drinking until the tank is emptied, cleaned, and refilled with clean water.

So, Sunday night we got water, but that was the last water.  Monday, nothing. Tuesday nothing but a steady small trickle, not enough to refill the tank. Wednesday, the same. My neighbor said they also had only a trickle so I thought it was everyone’s situation. On the rare occasions that water is out for more than a day, a water truck comes around with clean water. But, if they came around this time we didn’t see them. We were thankful the huge downpour on Wednesday afternoon so we were able to refill the tank to about 3/4 full with collected rainwater.

Thursday, nothing, and the little trickle had now slowed to more dripping than trickling. In the evening I heard pebbles hitting the roof. It was Gilda, our next door neighbor. They also hadn’t had any water since Monday (they don’t have a tank either). We put the garden hose over the fence and they were happy to wash themselves in the yard, but we all still needed drinking water and enough water for daily household use.

Friday, nothing, and we were now carefully restricting our water use. We started checking around the neighborhood and it seems only our two houses were affected, and maybe a third on the corner but nobody was home. Gilda’s daughter Carlita said they had called IDAAN, the water company, but who knows how long it would take to get a response.

On Sunday evening, the band played in Boquete and I was talking with a friend/fan about the challenges of speaking Spanish in unfamiliar situations, like the trip I planned to make to the IDAAN office on Monday or Tuesday to get them going on our water problem. He advised that it would be much better to call a plumber. Good idea!! They plumber who installed our water tank lives in the neighborhood.

Monday, after lunch, who would show up but three IDAAN guys!  They said they were there to make a report which would be taken to the office to arrange for repair guys to be sent. I found out later that our neighbor was going to pick up his grandson from school and saw the guys on the street. He pulled over to tell them they had to come here right now to help us out.

But, I figured it would still be good to keep the afternoon appointment with the plumber, and he could also advise us on our pump which was having some trouble maintaining pressure (a much less urgent problem, for sure).

The plumber came and proceeded to track down the water problem. Nothing had been accidentally turned off. All pipes and valves were open and ready to allow water flow. There was water flow from the street above the meter, but the meter… AH HA! The meter was totally clogged with mud and debris which even included a piece of plastic. He carefully cleaned the meter including a little plastic filter (which didn’t look like it could handle any debris at all), and when he turned the water back on, YAY! Water flow! It came out like mud pudding at first but then clear, clean water.

He then cleaned the neighbor’s meter which was even dirtier than ours and after a start of thick mud pudding, they have clean water too. $50 and a couple hours later, service is restored. Our neighbor helped us drain and clean the tank, and we were back in business with a tank full of clean water.

The pump problem is probably a small leak somewhere so when it’s warm and sunny and everything is dry we can check all the connections for evidence of water escaping.

There is nothing like having your water cut off to make you appreciate clean, running water!! We were able to go to any of the neighbors at any time for drinking water, and we had offers to refill the tank with a hose stretched across the street if it came to that. How many people in the world never have access to reliably clean water, and how many have to carry all their water home every day?

https://www.worldvision.org/clean-water-news-stories/global-water-crisis-facts#facts

Fast facts: Global water crisis

  • 844 million people lack basic drinking water access, more than 1 of every 10 people on the planet.
  • Women and girls spend an estimated 200 million hours hauling water every day.
  • The average woman in rural Africa walks 6 kilometers every day to haul 40 pounds of water.
  • Every day, more than 800 children under age 5 die from diarrhea attributed to poor water and sanitation.
  • 2.3 billion people live without access to basic sanitation.
  • 892 million people practice open defecation.
  • 90 percent of all natural disasters are water-related.

No, we didn’t enjoy our water problems but it’s nothing in the big picture. But, last night we sure enjoyed a great shower, a clean bathroom and kitchen, and a couple loads of laundry hanging up to dry. Thank you Ray for getting our water going again!

Posted in Panama | 12 Comments

So You Want to Live in Another Country

Is the expat life for you? It works for many. It doesn’t work for many others. You can and should do as much research as possible but nothing can totally prepare you for what will happen in your own specific, individual experience.

Our friends By and Mariah lived in Boquete, and are now living in Medellin, Colombia. By has written an article on their feelings about expat life and the challenges they have gone through in the process.

View at Medium.com

I’m not sure what is going on with the link above, so just in case here’s another….

https://link.medium.com/oQ1BfSovRV

“Be extremely honest with yourself” might be the most important line of the article. If you know you don’t like some of the things he mentioned, or humidity, or barking dogs, or an unreliable supply of your favorite cookies, or water…. when the honeymoon phase is over and the rose colored glasses come off, you might find these things intolerable.

Everyone has their own unique experience. Sometimes I worry that just because I’m happy, others think it will be the same for them. As the article says, it is not the same, or necessarily happy for everyone.

Posted in Panama | 6 Comments

New Bike Shop

There is a new bike shop in town not far from our neighborhood. It’s called Todo Bike because, as they said, they have everything bike related that one would need.

Their Facebook page, with a map, is here.

https://m.facebook.com/pages/Todo-Bike-Todo-En-Bicicletas-Y-Repuestos/281180432005206 .. It’s on the old Via Boquete maybe two blocks north of Design Plaza and Elmec, on the west side of the street.

I have always gone to Tomy, downtown, a block south of the bus terminal. They have grown and increased their selection of bikes, and have all the necessary parts and accessories at reasonable prices. There is also an excellent mechanic who will do repairs for a very reasonable price. I noticed that this time they have also increased their inventory and have more optional accessories. Maybe competition is a good thing?

I thought it was great to have a bike shop in our area though. It’s kind of a pain to go downtown in the city traffic. But, be advised, the new shop very expensive! I needed a new bike helmet and went there, thinking I would find the usual $15-35 options. But, the cheapest on display was almost $100! When I was about to leave they did find me a $50 helmet tucked away. It’s a very good helmet, sturdy, comfortable, adjustable, etc and I know my head is an important part of my body.

I didn’t get a new seat though. They didn’t have any of the wide, cushy ones I prefer for my wide, cushy backside, and the prices were in the $100-200 range! A few days ago we went to Tomy and found the seat I prefer for $8. That’s more to my liking.

But, if you’re a serious cyclist and you want a selection of the best of the best, Todo Bike is your place.

My son in law is a very serious cyclist, and he has a racing bike that looks like this one below. Yes, that is an almost $4000 price tag! I don’t think he paid that much for his but here, with shipping costs and import fees, things cost more.

It’s interesting to see the growth in this area. There is building everywhere, and more and more upscale shopping opportunities are available. People here are generally doing well.

its great to have bikes and accessories available, but it’s the best to get on the bike to cruise around town, especially during mango season. 😁

Posted in Panama | 4 Comments

Oatmeal Banana cookies

What do you do when you have a huge head of bananas?

Slice them, freeze them, and make yummy things. When they thaw they aren’t as firm as fresh bananas but they are still good as snacks, especially if still a bit frozen, and they are perfectly fine for anything you might want to make. Banana bread is fantastic but since I try to control my weight and eat healthy, I was looking for a healthy snack.

These are basically oatmeal, bananas, a little applesauce, and optional fruit or nuts. Mix all this together –

1 cup ripe mashed banana
2 cups oatmeal (the quick cooking kind is best)
1/4 cup milk (any kind you like)
1/3 cup apple sauce (unsweetened)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon (or to taste. I used 2)
1 teaspoon vanilla (or to taste. I used 2)
1/4 (or more) cup of any additions you like eg: dried fruit, nuts. I used almost 1\2 cup of raisins

Put spoonfuls on a greased cookie sheet, flatten gently with a fork, bake at 350 for 16-18 minutes until they feel firm and dry on top.

I got 18 cookies, slightly chewy and very satisfying. I don’t think you can mess them up so adjust any seasonings and additions to your own taste. I store mine in the freezer because when frozen, they take longer to eat and they can’t go bad or get ants (we have more kinds of ants here than you would believe!)

On other subjects, not too much else going on. We are anxiously waiting for rain to break this beastly hot, dry weather. There are serious water problems all over Panama from lack of rain. Our water plant is working at about 25% capacity because the rivers are so low and I am SO thankful for our water tank. The water was off from Friday morning until late Saturday night, and then came in at a trickle but at least our tank is full again this morning. More serious, lack of water affects the capacity of traffic in the Panama Canal, the country’s ability to make hydroelectric power, and the lives of livestock in some areas. There have been electricity restrictions in the past (no A/C in businesses during daytime hours) but I haven’t heard about that this year. Maybe all the windmills are helping.

Mangoes continue to fall from the trees and my stash in the freezer is growing, along with the chunks of frozen lemon juice from our very productive tree. I haven’t been biking as much as I should, but we have a number of new songs in the band coming out tonight or in the next couple weeks. I practice outside sometimes (with headphones) and enjoy the many birds who come to the birdbath. Life is hot and dry but still very good in Panama.

Posted in Panama | 9 Comments

Around Town

It’s still summer with bright sun, 94 degrees, very windy, and no rain in sight. I’m glad I didn’t plan to go biking today with this wind. Instead I cut up yesterday’s mangoes and did other chores at home, and sorted through some photos from yesterday.

They are building a huge mall nearby so I went over there to see what is going on. I could see quite a bit of progress, the outside walls looking better, coverings over entry doors, and men hard at work. Word is that the most serious work is now going on inside. It’s a huge project which is expected to take many more months to complete.

Here’s a video with a look at what has been going on inside.

 

A couple pictures from yesterday.

Summer is also a time of flowering trees. The guyacan can be spectacular but you have to catch them before a windy day blows off all the flowers. These other yellow ones are also beautiful and seem less prone to being stripped by the wind. The other tree with the big balls is also interesting. The balls are hollowed out and dried, and used for cups and bowls.

This is one of the mango trees I have been visiting. It looks very old but has been trimmed back quite a bit. This is the first year I have seen it with fruit.

This is another tree nearby that we visited a few days ago. It is really huge and must be very old, and this is also the first year I have seen it fruit. If you stand below these trees in the wind you can hear fruit hitting the ground all around you! The fruit is small, yellow,  but sweet and delicious. Mangoes in the freezer all year? Oh yes, thank you mango trees!

It’s now after lunch and the wind is still blowing like crazy. It’s time to go inside and practice new songs 🎸 😊

Posted in Panama