Crazy Weather

Are we being affected by the awful storm that hit the east coast of the US? Or is it something else? I know we can get spill over of storms in the Gulf of Mexico above us, but there doesn’t seem to be anything going on there at the moment.

It’s January, dry season in Panama. My neighbors said they have never seen rain in January. But, it rained most of the day of New Years Eve, again on Tuesday and Wednesday, and more yesterday. Today it was cloudy and breezy, sprinkled a bit now and then between spots of sun, but this evening it’s actively raining.

I’m not complaining, not at all. This is extending our green/rainy season by almost a month.  It’s pleasantly cool and there is no need to water the plants. I’m very thankful for the rain.

Thursday though, I don’t think it rained in David but we had a band gig in Boquete in the evening and we played on the outside terrace. It was cold!! It rained up there, and there was wind so the chilly misty stuff was blowing in. Any audience who stayed out with us was close because everything was wet back by the railings. Most of the people stayed inside to keep warm and dry.

it was a very fun night though. Quite a few other musicians came and some sat in on some songs. I love the camaraderie, friendship, and support in the music community, and there some really excellent musicians here!

Life is strangely wet for this time of year but it’s all good.

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Transferring the Title of the Car

We bought a bigger car. We love our Atos but with me playing in the band, even with the drummer carrying some of our equipment, it was really difficult to manage. My neighbor wanted a smaller car since she is retiring, so we bought her Mitsubishi Montero. It looks like a beast but it sure is great to have plenty of space for band equipment, and it really is a nice car to drive.

We transferred titles before but they were local. This is Panama so of course it requires paperwork, and copies, and more copies, and visits to various offices but it’s not that big a deal. This car, however, is registered in Panama City so the process must be done there.

My neighbor knew someone in Dolega who helped her in the past with cars registered in Panama City, so this morning off we went. We asked, he wasn’t in. We asked again, and got his phone number. Lucho called and learned the guy was out sick, but we could prepare everything he needed and he’d take care of things when he returned to work.

Lucho got copies of all the car documents and two copies of both of our cedulas (an ID card like a social security number card).  Haydee wrote out a statement giving the guy permission to do this process on our behalf. The statement included everything – date, location, names, car type, model, VIN number, chassis number, color, fuel type, transmission type, number of passengers, etc. etc. our signatures, cedula numbers, and it involved three more phone calls to the guy to be sure it had everything right. We needed two of these signed by both of us.

Then, we saw the notary. She inspected all the documents, took our cedulas, put a big stamp on the permission statements and filled in more info on us in the stamp. $40 (my neighbors thought this was awfully high). Then, Lucho was sent back to the copy line for copies of the documents that had been notarized.

Next we went to another office. The lady there inspected all the documents, requested more copies of our cedulas, and disappeared to her desk. We waited probably 30-40 minutes for her to return with the receipt and declare everything ready to go. The whole process took over two hours, but it’s sure better than both of us having to go to Panama City!

It cost $122 for this service, $50 of which was fees for the car, what it would have cost if we did it ourselves. $72 more to avoid the hassle of going to the city? Yes, very good, happy to pay. There was also the $40 for the notary and who knows how many $.15’s for copies. But, it’s done! The paperwork should be back by the end of the month and then everything will be squared away.

Cars here are registered in specific locations so when it’s time to renew and get new plates for the year, I either have to go through a process to get the car registered in David or Dolega, or use this service again to get it done in Panama City. I think I’ll probably change the location since this is a car we expect to keep for a long time. When you need plates for a local car it’s a simple process.

Our Hyundai Atos will be for sale soon. It’s been to the mechanic for maintenance and inspection, and next it goes to the body shop for some dent repair and new paint, nothing major but this tropical sun has been tough on the paint. It’s a great car for around town, easy to drive, doesn’t use much gas, parks in a small space but doesn’t feel small when you are in it. If you are looking for something like that let me know. Oh, and it’s registered in Dolega, not far, in an office that’s easy to get to.

You can expect a lot of things to take time here, and involve lots of documents and copies but if you bring your patience, it always gets done.

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We Bought the Whole Pig

To eat! We don’t need a pet pig, but we do need more pork in the freezer.

When you buy a pig here it comes cleaned, no hair or innards. You can also have the feet and head but we decided he didn’t need to bring those. You have a choice. Do you want it in two pieces or four? After that you are on your own.

This is a front quarter. I had just cut the skin in preparation for removing it.

The first time we bought a pig and it showed up in four pieces, we had no idea what to do. We ended up freezing it, and that farmer made arrangements for us to go to a meat shop where they cut the entire frozen pig into slices.

Last year we bought a pig from Yaira’s brother (my good friend and Spanish teacher Yaira). He pointed out some of the parts and suggested how to start taking it apart. Between that and YouTube, we did it! We learned how to get tenderloin, ribs, roasts, soup bones, everything. We were very very proud of ourselves.

This year is easier since we have done it before, but it’s  still a lot of work. We have half taken apart and we will finish the other half tomorrow. I fried up some of the scraps for a late lunch and they were really good!

Bags of roasts are in the freezer. When they are frozen I’ll bag and label them properly. If you just toss them together in a bag before freezing though  you get a pork iceberg that is hard to separate.

Yay, soup bones. Now that we have a dog they are appreciated not only for our soup, but her food, and she has a great bone for chewing on later.

I like buying from Yaira’s brother. He raises everything without chemicals or hormones, and his pigs have much less fat than the ones I first bought from another farmer. It’s also like buying from a family member. He sells chickens too, very good ones. He also goes around town in his truck selling fruits and vegetables from his farm but we are attached to our regular veggie guy so we haven’t tried those.

I’m trying to remember what the chickens cost. $2.50/pound? It varies a bit depending on his expenses. I know you can get them cheaper in the supermarket but free range organic chickens are worth it to me. The pig was 80 pounds, $2.00/pound. I think it’s just as much in the supermarket but I can’t say for sure since we haven’t bought pork there in years.

It is beyond me how surgeons work on people’s bodies! Pigs are built a lot like people, and seeing how hard it is to get at the knee and hip joints, and remembering how many people I cared for after their knee and hip replacements, it gives me even more respect for the ability to do that and the many other surgeries that are done every day.

I have had so many experiences here that I never would have in the USA. I have killed and cleaned chickens too. I think there is something very fundamental about realizing where your food comes from and preparing it with your own hands. I appreciate this pig, and the many chickens and fish who gave their lives to feed us.

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Life in a Hurricane Zone

Hurricanes don’t come to Panama, thank goodness! At worst one may come close and cause a lot of rain, like Otto that got stuck above us and gave us a good soaking. But a direct hit from a hurricane doesn’t happen here. But, as we know, it was a bad year for many others. I got this from a couple of my blog followers who live in St Croix, in the Virgin Islands. It really hits home to read this in the words of someone who experienced it all first hand.



Late March we flew to Phoenix, Arizona to see our dear friend (name of friend) and her family.We had not seen them for 14 years!
An exceptional time spent in company of our dearest friend. to further enjoy our main meals, we had carefully selected a bottle of Champagne to accompany our meals, a real treat.
Mid June, we found out we needed to replace our rooftop. A major expense in The tropics. We deposited 50 % of the cost to insure a prompt construction.
We finally got our new rooftop installed after 20 weeks!
20 weeks of daily worrying about roof failure smack in the middle of a very active hurricane season.  
Late August (the 25 th.), we could not attend to the THA meeting in Annecy, France 
This was the 45th year reunion since graduating from the Nice Hotel School. We could not be there because we were in the high of Hurricane season. This decision proved to be a great one.
TS HARVEY visited St. Croix on August 25 with torrential and epic rains.
A little more than a week later IRMA came by on September 6. (Just in time for Carole’s Birthday).
IRMA CAT 5 Hurricane with winds over 186 miles per hour was to be a direct hit on St. Croix.
At the very last moment the storm took a North-North West trajectory, missing this island by a mere 40 miles. St. Thomas took a bull’s eye after Saint Martin being 90% destroyed.
In our neighborhood the winds were only 100 mi/hr, but 3 feet of rain fell within 48 hours. A new record.
Our house held. We sustained a few leaks in one of the bedrooms and, in the kitchen.
We only lost power for 44 hours while most of the Island went without for 12 days!
TS JOSE visited our place on September 10 with heavy rains and flooding, winds at 70 mi/hr, abundant precipitations.
MARIA CAT 5 Hurricane, sustained winds of 176 mi/hr stayed over for a long, scary visit. It’s winds howled over our garage/house from 9 pm until 5 am! A very long night of fear and worry (not sure if we would have a roof when we looked out).
The winds were measured at 175 mi/hr in our neighborhood while south of us (Fredericksted) they were registered at 186 mi/hr. Maria was an outstanding 300 miles wide Hurricane!.
St. Croix took a direct hit, the destruction is intense, south of us, most houses were blown up, or, their roofs flew away!
Once again our house and garage held up. Our garage is made of re-bar cement, it is supposed to be hurricane proof; in this case, it proved to be so. 
The walls of our house are also reinforced with re-bar cement, 7 to 13 inches thick, the ceiling beams are anchored in the walls, The rooftop is Galvalume.
We lost most of our fruit and palm trees, bushes and many plants.
Most of our buddies lost their roofs, some lost it all.
Our only Hospital is partially destroyed. All patients were flown out to Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, the Carolinas and New York by military cargo planes.
Our Governor stated that Hurricane MARIA was the most powerful storm to hit St. Croix in written history of the Virgin Islands. Never before these Islands were ever hit by two CAT 5 Hurricanes in 12 days.
15,000. electric/phone poles were brought to St. Croix to replace the ones that were destroyed by these massive storms.
In late October more than 765 Linemen arrived in St. Croix (from Canada and 37 States) to help us reconstruct our electrical infrastructure that was destroyed.
The preliminary cost of MARIA’s destruction is evaluated at 6 Billion Dollars.
St. Croix is only 22 miles long by 8 miles at it’s widest. 
Since September 19, at home, we do not have Power, Land or Cell phones, TV, Internet.
The only radio station issue local news and directives.
Every 3 days we brave the roads, full of fallen trees, branches, poles, severed electrical lines and many other debris, to fill 2 Jerry cans of gasoline for our generator.
We run it 12 hours a day to cover our immediate electrical needs, this “machine” eats $350.00 a month to cover our most basic needs..
November 18, the power is back on!!! 59 days without it was not fun.
Like our fence, our washing machine did not make it, these are the only damages from the storms; they both are being replaced.
Since the Hospital is inoperable, a new Hospital will be constructed within 4 years, meanwhile 22 specialized Military Tents are to be erected to serve as our Hospital! (M.A.S.H. type tents.)
December 10, 120 additional Linemen arrived from Missouri, at this time, a little more than a quarter of the island is energized.
With Carole’s truck, it took 27 trips to the dump to clear our yard of debris, then we hired a 4 men crew for 2 days to finish the job.
Follow us on Facebook for our latest news.
We plan to resume our daily snorkel by Christmas. The sand is slowly returning to our favorite snorkeling beach ( all sand was gone, only rocks left on beach). A bunch of new treasures are waiting for us!



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What’s to Drink?

It’s a warm climate here in Panama, especially if you aren’t in the mountains so it’s important to stay hydrated. There are lots of options for yummy and healthy things to drink. My favorites are ice tea with lemon, lemonade, passion fruit drink, and tamarindo drink. If I’m lucky I have Stevia in the Raw on hand. Otherwise the single serving packets of stevia are available.

Right now it’s lemon season, those crazy big lemons I have written about before. The first tree was severely trimmed last year but we have gotten a few. Yesterday we checked the other tree and it had a lot waiting to be picked up.

These 24 lemons gave me a gallon of juice!

Last year I had enough juice in the freezer to last all year. This is more than I can possibly use so most of this is going in the freezer.

Two of the bigger containers will make a pitcher of lemonade. One of the smaller ones is good for ice tea or anything else that needs a smaller amount.

Frozen lemon juice “cubes” in the bag, ready for the freezer. The containers were refilled for the next batch of “cubes”.

I had also bought a bag of passion fruit. I learned that it’s easy to put the pulp in the blender with some water. Then you can use it as is, or strain out the seeds and pulp. If you don’t strain it the seeds sink to the bottom and are easy to avoid.

Four fruits seem to be a good amount for a 2 liter pitcher of drink. Sweeten to taste.

I buy my tamarindo like this from the produce market down the street. I have finally discovered a tree nearby but need to wait for fruiting season. It makes pods of seeds and fruit that need to be boiled, and then you would get something like this already prepared fruit in the bag. To make the drink, put the fruit in water and squish it around with your fingers to loosen the fruit pulp from the seeds. Then, strain out the seeds, add water and sweeten to taste. This package is good for a 2 liter pitcher of drink.

We also have a limón tree in the yard. Here, limón is generic for many tart citrus fruits from little key limes to the big lemons above. We have these odd lemons, green with scaly beige patches but they are so good! They have an excellent flavor and give lots of juice.

We had two trees but one died last year. We also didn’t have fruit last year because of the brush fire the year before which caused the trees to drop all their leaves. But, this year we have fruit again. Thank you tree!

There is a lot of citrus fruit here. Besides the many limóns there are varieties of oranges and grapefruits as well. They usually don’t look as pretty as the ones in the US but they taste really good.

I was on my way out yesterday and snapped this photo of our front yard because I’ve taken the time to weed and clean a bit, and I thought it was looking especially pretty.

The yard was mostly weeds when we arrived but now it has a lot of things growing. That’s moringa on the left, and a small patch of ginger in front. Behind is a lemon tree, the really big ones. I started it from seed and maybe next year it will be big enough to fruit. Behind are a couple avocados near the fence. In the middle is a lipstick palm, some plantains, and behind that a dwarf coconut palm, pineapples, and a plant that’s good for making tea. On the right, the tall things are yucca. There are more pineapples below, and some heliconias behind. Farther back are a couple young cashew apple trees.

Fun, huh :). When I was a kid, working outside and growing things was my refuge, and it’s remained a pleasure throughout my life.

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The Saga of a Tooth

My recent experience with dental care in Panama, and how sometimes things are much more than they appear.

In early November I discovered a very small hole in a tooth, the first premolar according to the anatomy charts. It was on the outside, up near the gum, and painless. I figured I’d better go to the dentist though to get it checked out. It turned out to be a cavity, the tip of a rather large and deep cavity inside the tooth. The dentist was worried because it was deep and above the gum line, and she filled it with a large temporary filling ($30).

I was sent to another office for an X-ray ($7), which I brought with me to my next appointment.

The next step was to see the gum specialist for a procedure to raise the gum. I was confused until I did some research on google. Who knew that a cavity or filling below the gum line was a big problem! My research confirmed that my dentist, or now my dentists were proceeding correctly. I had the procedure which took maybe an hour ($125). The next week I returned to have the stitches removed. The whole thing was pretty much painless, only some minor irritation from the stitches after they were in for a while.

Stay with me. We aren’t even done yet. Next stop, the root canal specialist. I didn’t bring my X-ray so she took a couple more ($10). She projected them on the overhead TV, carefully explained what she saw, that darker line extending up the side of the root which was not a good thing. Even though I had no pain, she was afraid that it would flare up in the future and then we’d have to remove any restoration, have the procedure, and redo the restoration.

So, I scheduled the root canal for shortly after my USA trip. It took well over an hour but was painless. She put on the TV overhead to distract me, and took pictures periodically which I could see on the TV. After it was done I never had any pain. She also left me with a temporary restoration to get me by until I got back to the dentist. It was $265, $275 total with the X-rays.

Next, the crown. I had so little actual tooth left that this was the sensible option. Back to my first dentist, 2 1/2 hours and $350 later, I had my temporary crown. The permanent one should arrive from Panama City any day now. She explained that the best work was done there, so even though it takes a little longer they prefer the best they can find for their patients.

The grand total for all this work came to $787. This is with the 20% discount I get as a retired person, but even without the discounts I think it would have been around $940.  I felt very very well cared for. Every dentist was meticulous and exacting in her work and very concerned about my comfort and understanding of the treatment.

I started at Dr Spiegel’s office 775-2683.  It is just southwest of the ball stadium in David that has been undergoing the big makeover. He has been appointed ambassador to Singapore but has had other dentists covering. I have been seeing Dr Fatima Samudio as my main dentist. The gum specialist came to that office too but I forgot to write down her name. She and Dr Fatima consulted with each other throughout my treatment. The root canal specialist was Dr Mirna Escalona. 774-0128 ext 2142. Her office is in Hospital Chiriqui. She and the other dentists consulted by email before and after my root canal.  Dr Fatima only speaks a few words of English but the other two are fluent.

I am SO thankful to be here, and affordable health and dental care is one of the reasons. Throughout my life dental care has been by far my biggest health related expense. I don’t know what I would do if I had to pay US prices for all that work. I doubt I could have saved the tooth, but even a bridge isn’t cheap.

And, an aside, all my adult life I have had trouble with gum disease. I had cleanings every three months, gum surgery, lost one of my back teeth, and it was a daily battle to keep my mouth healthy. Shortly after getting here all that was gone, just gone! It definitely wasn’t low stress living the first six months. I started here alone setting up the house, and then lived in a very stressful family situation. Still though, my mouth problems disappeared within a month or two and I felt noticeably better overall. Maybe it’s cleaner air and food? I don’t know, but thank you Panama. Now I get cleanings every six months. My gums don’t bleed. I’m told my mouth looks fine and healthy.

I have so much to be thankful for! I don’t have a hole in my smile, or an intolerable one in my bank account. Thank you Panama.

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Christmas in Panama

What did we do on Christmas day here?

First, some housekeeping. Joel cleaned the bathroom with the power washer. It’s all tile and cement, so why not, and it does a fast job.

Then some Boquete friends invited us to their traditional Christmas afternoon at the beach. I knew we would be passing another friend on the way, so we picked him up and brought him along.

There is a large area with benches and thatched roof which was cool and comfortable, and out of  the sun (I burn too fast). Usually the beach is very quiet but today there were lots of people enjoying the day. Of course, on a beautiful day at the beach, my camera will be used!

In the last photo you can see the new condo building, and the police who were wandering around along with some Sinaproc guys (emergency services). One of them went to the water once whistling loudly when someone got too far from shore. This beach has a strong undertow and riptides so one must be very careful when swimming and not get too far out.

After a wonderful, relaxing time at the beach with good friends on a beautiful day, we decided to head home. By the time we left people were arriving by the dozens and cars were parked everywhere along the road. Word is that at night there is a huge beach party with a big bonfire, fireworks, and lots of fun. Maybe next year we will have to book a room at the hotel down the road and check out the party.

When we got home the sun was lower in the sky and it was very pleasant outside, so I worked in the yard until it got dark. My neighbors think I’m a bit odd for doing my own yard work since you can easily hire someone for little money.  I explain that it’s my therapy, that I love listening to a book while I enjoy the outdoors.

I spent the rest of the evening on Facetime and I think I talked to everyone! I felt like I was right back in the house of my daughter’s in-laws where we all spent Thanksgiving together, and I got to see and talk with everyone. Next I talked with my other daughter and my granddaughter showed me all her gifts, the favorite being a potty chair 😀 Then I talked with my sister and her family. I often think about how different it must have been in the past when communication was difficult and slow. I wouldn’t be as happy here if I felt like I was cut off from my family. But, thankfully, now we have the technology to make it feel like you are almost right there.

The dog wouldn’t have the same Christmas report though. She is still totally upset by the fireworks. There were only a few going on yesterday but she refused to go outside, and she didn’t eat anything all day either. I finally carried her outside last night to enjoy our usual before bed time on the terrace, and she seems calmer today but she still stays within a few feet of me wherever I go. I don’t know how she managed to live in the street for three years. I’m sure she doesn’t want to know that even more is coming for New Years.

But, other than the upset dog, it was a perfect Christmas Day! I think we will make Christmas at the beach our new tradition too.

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Feliz Navidad!

It’s Christmas Eve in Panama. This is our fifth Christmas here, and I’ve written about it in other posts.

It’s also the beginning of summer and the dry season, and summer vacation time for the kids and many adults. And, it will be tourist season soon also as the “snowbirds” come down after the holidays to escape the cold weather in the north, though that affects Boquete much more than David. It was an adjustment here to have summer when everyone else is having winter, and having the days pretty much the same length the year around.

Christmas here is fun if you stay out of the shopping areas. All the stores are really busy in December because Christmas gift giving is an important part of the holiday. We went to Pricesmart last week and waited 30 minutes to check out. The staff said it’s like that every day in December. Parking lots of shopping areas are jammed. But, when you are retired the extra time isn’t a big deal.

Christmas eve is the main event here. People party, shoot off fireworks, and hang out with friends and family until midnight. At midnight it’s time to head indoors to call friends and family not present, have a traditional dinner, and open gifts. Christmas is relatively quiet, probably because everyone is recovering from the night before.

Our holiday is going very well so far. We went to Boquete last night for a band gig, fearing we would get tangled up in the congestion of the Christmas Parade but everything was fine and we arrived in the normal time. Some people were out of town, or on the wrong side of time to make it where we were, but we still had a very fun crowd. I enjoyed meeting some friends I had only known on line, and some others who I have known for longer, and everyone at “the blog table” had a great time! The drive up was gorgeous. We left breezy warm David, drove towards clouds and rainbows over beautiful mountains, but it was raining in Boquete for a good part of the evening.

Christmas for us will be quiet time at home, and enjoying tonight with friends and neighbors. Christmas (or any holidays) never has been a big event for me. I worked more than I spent it with family, and I’m not into the whole gift thing. If I can spend time with any friends and family who are nearby, and touch base with others who aren’t, that’s the holiday spirit for me.

I do want to take a moment to thank all of my blog followers! I have corresponded with many of you, and met others in person who have become good friends. I appreciate the time you all take to read what I post, and the time it takes to comment. I never expected the blog to turn into such a thing, way more than just keeping my friends and family updated. I’m really glad so many of you have found it helpful and enjoyable. I hope all of you have a good holiday season and those of you who find it challenging, find it easier than expected. But whatever happens the New Year is coming soon, and it will be time to plunge forward.

Best wishes to all of you 🙂

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Being Mortal

This is the title of a wonderful book by Atul Gawande that I have been listening to (I love audiobooks, listen while you do other things).

Wow, I just pasted a link and Amazon did all the rest!  Anyway…

The book is about medical and custodial care of the elderly and dying. I know, not everyone’s favorite subject but as many of us get to a certain age where the years ahead are fewer than the years behind, it definitely needs conversation and thought. That darn death rate continues to hover right at 100% and never wants to budge.

Medicine has done a lot to cure disease, fix injuries, and alleviate suffering. But, medicine is all about fixing the problem and when the problem is terminal and life ending, there is no fixing that. We need to look at that care from other angles, to enhance the quality of the last stages of life for the patient and the family.

Yes, “death is the enemy,” he writes. “But the enemy has superior forces. Eventually, it wins. And in a war that you cannot win, you don’t want a general who fights to the point of total annihilation. You don’t want Custer. You want Robert E. Lee… someone who knows how to fight for territory that can be won and how to surrender it when it can’t.” In his compassionate, learned way, Gawande shows all of us—doctors included—how mortality must be faced, with both heart and mind.

I’m a nurse. I’ve worked in hospitals, and then in home health where the majority of my work was with seniors. I’ve moonlighted in nursing homes and seen many in assisted living. More recently when I was in home health and there was more awareness, part of my job was to have the conversation. If we find you on the floor in big trouble do you want us to do everything, or nothing, or something in between? Have you talked with your family about this?  If you couldn’t speak for yourself, who would you want to make decisions? What is important to you? What makes you happy to be living this life? How can we help you? Your family?

I have seen many cases of aggressive treatment to the very end. One reason I left the hospital, and nursing altogether for a while, I never want to see a code blue ever again. It’s traumatic, dehumanizing, and rarely has a good outcome. I threatened for years to tattoo DNR (do not resuscitate) on my chest. I lectured my kids when they were barely old enough to understand because of things I saw in the hospital.

I may be shortening my life by living in Panama. Maybe I won’t have access to the latest and greatest medicine has to offer (like I could afford it in the US anyway.) But, maybe I will have a longer life here, less stress, better food, clean air, good community ties, and a happy mind. We all want to make our own decisions, to live how we want to live. As a nurse I saw people do things contrary to their health and best interests, but that is their right.  Do we keep people safe at the expense of allowing them to live their own lives? Do we take away so much of what makes life worth living? Thankfully there are innovative and caring people who are asking these questions and working hard to find better answers.

Anyway, read the book, have the conversations. As Jim Morrison said in Roadhouse Blues, the future is uncertain and the end is always near. But knowing that makes every day sweeter.

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This and That

Things have been really good here! Friday we went to Boquete for band practice which went great. Then we had dinner at Mike’s Global where Adam’s Reach band was playing. We’ve always known Adam is a hugely talented and capable musician, and he was with a great bass player, and a guy on drums I’d seen at the birthday party of my painting teacher in David. (small world!)  It was nice to have someone else cook for us, and be able to enjoy some really good music.

Saturday I went out on my bike to check out the progress at the new mall site. Its a huge project but it’s been steadily coming along.

I also stopped by the art school, and my teacher was there. We hadn’t seen each other in ages so it was great to reconnect. I’m going back to classes this coming week because I have missing painting, and with classes there won’t be that I’ll do it tomorrow which never actually happens.

Oh, and I almost forgot the car. We love our little Atos but with me playing in the band, even with the drummer carrying some of our equipment, it was almost impossible to manage it all. So, now we have a much bigger vehicle, bought from our neighbor who wanted something smaller now that she is retiring. Her husband changed tires on his big vehicle, and sold us his barely used others for good price so we all went to the tire shop. They removed the worn front tires, put the back tires on the front, and put the new sturdy tires on the back, all by hand, $10!

We have lived here over 5 years and we have seen Volcan Baru all the time, but it never gets old for me. We live in David and drive to Boquete for band gigs but every time we get to enjoy the beautiful scenery between here and there. Yesterday was SO beautiful! The hills and mountains are all green, blue sky, and fluffy clouds on the tops of the mountains.

Summer arrived Saturday. It was like the weather just changed overnight, from afternoon clouds and rain some days, to sunny, windy, and clear, typical summer weather. It’s nice for a while but as weeks go by with no rain, everything getting crispy and brown, I long for the rain to come back. Right now though it’s really beautiful.

We played at the Boquete Brewing Company last night and had a fantastic evening. Now that I have been playing out for three months, things are really coming together and we are so happy with our new equipment. The crowd grew throughout the evening and we got so many nice comments, saw some old friends, and made some new ones. We started at 5PM so it was still light, and as we started one song I looked up to see this!!

It was actually brighter than this, such vivid colors it was breathtaking but I had to wait until the end of the song to grab my phone and snap a photo. It did cause me to miss quite a few notes on the bass! But, it was right in front of me and I couldn’t help ooohing and ahhing.

Life in Panama! We are so very fortunate. I’ve told many people how glad I am that we were too poor to retire in the US. If that wasn’t the case we would have missed all this.

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