Boquete Garden Inn Deal

Oferta Simple has a deal today on the Boquete Garden Inn. See it HERE.

Boquete is a tourist destination so of course there are many options, but I’ve seen this one myself and it’s really nice. The rooms are attractive and comfortable and the grounds are beautiful. If you are planning some time in Boquete this might be something to consider. The deal is good for three months starting on June 23rd.

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Language and Communication

I saw a really nice video today. A bunch of people got together to learn some sign language to make a hearing impaired guy feel less alone. What a beautiful thing. (Yes I know it’s a Samsung advertisement but I still like it)

It made me think of us expats living in a country where they speak a different language. Except, in our situation, it is up to us to learn the new language so we don’t feel isolated in our adopted country.

I know I have gone on about this probably too much,  but it’s really important to me. I love to talk with people and I’m interested to learn about who they are, how they think, what they do, and how they live. In this new country and culture, it’s even more interesting because many things are different so there’s always something to learn and explore.

Learning enough Spanish to communicate has vastly changed my experience of living here. I feel like I have more connection and support than I ever had in my native country. Every day I learn something new, a bird, a fruit, how does your retirement system work, what do I do about these ants? It’s endless, the new knowledge and experiences. And, it’s really fun when you can understand the jokes because most Panamanians have a great sense of humor.

I think our connection with other people is a big part of what makes us human. We have lots of electronics and social media these days which is supposed to bring us together, but I wonder if it is isolating us more in some ways. It’s also important to spend time with a friend in person, in my opinion. And, understanding people of different countries and cultures is good for the world.

I thank Yaira every day for her professionalism, perseverance, kindness, and endless patience in teaching me Spanish. I wasn’t great when I arrived but I knew enough basics to get started, and it grew from there. (shameless plug for a good friend)

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The New Bus Terminal and Mall

The amount of construction that goes on around here is amazing. There are residential and commercial projects everywhere! One of the biggest is a new bus terminal and mall which is supposed to rival Albrook in Panama City. I hadn’t been to the site in a while so I rode over to see what was going on. They have been busy! I wrote something in late March, and they were working on the first floor of the terminal and starting the second. Now, they are starting on a fourth floor!

I first went to the entrance of the site on Via Boquete, and then to the residential area south of the site where you can look down on the terminal side of the construction.

There is a video that shows what they plan the finished terminal to look like.

Just a couple other things… Joel’s band has been busy lately so we have driven up to Boquete a number of times. It’s usually gorgeous on the way up but I never get tired of seeing the mountains. This day we drove up in the rain but as we got close to Boquete, the sky cleared up and the sun was shining on the green mountain beyond.

I missed most of mango season between being sick and then away on a visit to the US. But, there is one late fruiting tree that is still dropping really big green/red mangoes that are amazing. It’s in a vacant lot and the iguanas are usually there enjoying the fruit too. I caught one of them with my camera.

Life in Panama! Other than this, settling in with the new dog, and the normal activities of life there isn’t a whole lot new at the moment. Mi vida difícil continúa 😀

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Life with a Dog

Our dog Avionetta has been with us for a week now and it’s going well. Her story is HERE. She seems to think she belongs here and we are her family. She is generally quiet but if someone walks down our street, or even worse is in one of the yards next door, she barks her head off.  My neighbor Haydee was here last Wednesday and was introduced to the dog and all was calm. Yesterday our friend Eduardo stopped by, opened the gate and walked in as he usually does, and Avionetta barked her head off, raised her hackles, and showed her teeth! She didn’t calm down until she saw I greeted him as a friend. Today, Haydee came over, opened the gate and walked into the house and Avionetta didn’t make a peep. Apparently if you are introduced as a friend one time, she will remember you.

Avionetta still likes to sleep under the car until the rain comes, and then she sleeps in the corner of the terrace. She was very timid about going into the house for the first few days, but now if we are inside she will venture in and even lie down in the living room. A kind friend donated a dog bed for her but so far, she is very timid about approaching it. Maybe when she gets more used to seeing it that will go better.

I have a feeling she was a house dog at some point in her life. When there is activity in the kitchen she watches us very closely like she knows that is where food comes from. She is very polite, takes treats very gently from our hands, and seems to understand immediately that a towel on the floor is her place to lie down.  I know the guys at Feduro kept her well fed and appreciated her company, but the ones I asked said they had never touched her. They were surprised that she is so affectionate with us because she usually barks at everyone she doesn’t know and growls at people who come too close. She sure loves to be petted by us though, and will put her nose in our hands if she doesn’t think she had enough.

The main problem we have had is keeping her in the yard. She ran off one day and explored the neighborhood within a block or so, but came back in a little while when I called her. She wasn’t happy to see she was on the wrong side of the gate though and I closed it before she could go back out. Another time I had her on a leash and got too close to the gate as we were bringing the car back in, and she managed to slip her collar and run. Thankfully though I was by the gate and managed to catch her, but barely. I know she is used to running free and I think she would come back, but I’d rather not worry about her or the other neighborhood dogs. The neighbor dog that greeted her at the gate with much tail wagging, he got through the fence today and into our yard and it was quite the commotion! She did NOT want him in the yard. That bit of screen has been reinforced so hopefully there won’t be a repeat of that.

But, all in all it’s going very well and she is an excellent dog. Just be careful if you don’t know her though, and call me from outside the gate to come and introduce you and let you in! I don’t want any of my friends bruised and battered by a dog who takes her job very seriously.

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Mailing a Package from Panama

Mail in Panama is not like it is in the USA. There are mailing services like Mailboxes Etc which for money, will get your packages and mail to and from the US or other countries. There is also the Panamanian mail system which is not fast, but is much cheaper. When we first arrived we had something mailed to us in David at general delivery, and it took almost three months! (this may be unusual) If you need something quickly you would probably want to use a mailing service.

I had a little dress for my granddaughter that I forget to take out of my suitcase when I was there, so I decided to try the Panamanian mail service to get it sent to Washington state. It was a hand made dress I bought from this woman in Cuba so something unique, but not a disaster if it gets lost.

We went back to the boulevard and found two cute dresses for my granddaughters, hand made by this lady. She was thrilled to learn they were going to two little girls in the USA.

I had heard that mailing a package is a process but didn’t remember any details so I tried to be prepared. I put the dress in a manila envelope with my card inside with contact details, and the destination name and address, and then the destination name and address outside, unsealed in case they wanted to inspect the contents. I folded this envelope and put it in another manila envelope with the destination name and address, again unsealed. I had tape in my purse just in case.

At the post office, my package was weighed, and then there was some shouting between employees to determine the correct price. I was asked what was inside, the price of the contents, but she only removed the inner envelope and didn’t open it. Then, of course there was paperwork. We had to fill out a form for customs that was stuck to the back, and then another form. That had my phone number, invoice number, office number, destination name and my name, price, date, an official post office stamp with the date, and a sticker with a bar code. I was given the original of this as a receipt and a copy was left in their book. I was also asked for a copy of my passport, and was thankful that I had tucked a copy in my wallet “just in case” a long time ago. I was also asked to write my name and address on the back of the package. Since there are no addresses as we know them here, my address is just the name of my neighborhood, David, Panama.

Then I was sent to another window where a woman had a bottle of glue, and she glued the package closed, telling me “shhhh” like she was doing me a favor and I should have brought my own glue. I remembered there was something about closing packages a certain way, not with string or tape, but glue and my vague memory combined with this experience tells me that yes, I should have brought glue with me to the post office. They used the white glue like kids have in school, and it can be found for sale pretty much anywhere.

Then, I returned to the first lady, she collected my $2, gave me the receipt document, and we were done! This was on Tuesday June 6th so we will see when the package arrives. I was told by a Panamanian that packages to the US can take 2-3 weeks, and if this is true the Panamanian postal service would be a good option for things that aren’t time sensitive.

I will let you all know what happens

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Our New Dog

I have been friends with a street dog who lives at Feduro, a trucking company down the road. The company is in the process of moving to San Pablo, another town west of here and they won’t take this dog and her friend with them. I was told the friend dog’s owner died, and then the dog decided to live at Feduro but the family is still there and the grandson has responsibility for her. The watchmen say there is a man who drives a semi, and when he is in town he brings her food so I don’t feel taking that dog to my house is the right thing to do. But, Avionetta (little airplane) will be totally alone. I can’t leave her there to fend for herself, so today we brought her to our house.

I first became friends with Avionetta when she got hit by a car. I saw her with a bloody foot and I know the watchmen at Feduro don’t have the means or ability to get her vet care, so I took her to the vet. Thankfully nothing was broken. She had just lost all the skin from the top of her foot. I went by every day to clean and dress her wound, and gave her antibiotics. At this time she also had ten day old puppies! People at the company adopted the puppies later, and when she was almost healed I took her to a spay and neuter clinic so there won’t be any more puppies. This photo was taken in March 2016 when I first started caring for her (with Joel’s help), and we have been friends ever since.

I learned the guys named her Avionetta. Here she is with Joel after this evening’s care. (pulling off the gauze causes the wound to bleed again, which is why I’m going to hunt for alternatives tomorrow)

She growled at me when we first met and I had to give her tranquilizers so I could get her to the vet. She quickly got to know me though, and was super good through the vet visit and all the bandage changes afterwards. I think she knew I was trying to help. Since then, I visit her every time I bike down the road and she is always happy to see me.

Avionetta checks out the surroundings today in her new home.

I never wanted a dog or any pets or anything that needed care, but we’ll see how this goes. She is a super sweet dog and I really like her, so if we are going to have a dog she is the one.

I will also keep an eye on the black dog, the other dog at Feduro. If they are totally gone and she is alone in the street, I will try to track down the family and make sure she will be cared for.

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Good People to Know in Panama

If you come here to visit, or to live, there are some really good people who will make your life easier, and/or assist with critical processes. I thought it might be good to gather them all together here for reference. It doesn’t mean these are the only people who do what they do, but these are people I know personally and I can recommend them with confidence.

Lawyer – Marcos Kraemer  If you want to apply for residency, a good lawyer is critical to make things go smoothly. Marcos responds in a timely manner, pays meticulous attention to every detail, and is just a nice guy who really knows his job. His prices are on the website.

Panama City – Luis Arce 6536 1179 He will pick you up from the airport, give you a tour, help you get your drivers license or cedula, arrange for shipping your extra suitcases across the country, drive your dogs where they need to go, and probably about anything else you can imagine. He speaks English, responds promptly, shows up on time, and works hard to meet your needs whatever they may be.

Chiriqui, Boquete and David – Eduardo Horna 6567 1127 He is a realtor who can help you find a place to live. He will pick you up from the airport or bus station, give you a tour, or help with anything else you need on your visit or to get settled into your life here. He’s a native of Chiriqui so he knows the area and has many contacts, and speaks fluent English.

Travel agent – Andrea Cook (Licensed and Bonded in Panama )  She is a gringa who speaks English, and understands how important it is to respond and get things done in a timely manner. She is based in Boquete but can do everything by email and phone from wherever you are. And, if you qualify for the jubilado discounts (retired people discounts) she can arrange that for any flight, any airline leaving Panama. We have used her a few times and she has gotten us good prices and thought of every detail to make our trip go smoothly.

Spanish teacher – Yaira Muñoz Concepcion  She teaches over skype so you can have private lessons wherever you are. She will work with your schedule, has endless kindness and patience, is affordable, and has years of experience. She is Panamanian so you can learn the local accent, culture, and customs. Even a little Spanish will make your time in Panama much easier and more enjoyable.

Panama runs on relationships, so not only is it very helpful to know people who can help you get things done, these relationships can open doors into the social fabric of the country. Start with Yaira to learn some Spanish, Andrea to make arrangements to get you here, Luis and Eduardo to take care of you while you are here, and Marcos to get you legal to stay.

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Back in Panama

When I go back to the US I usually write something about how it feels to be there after living here. I don’t think I have much to add to what I have said in the past. It’s still expensive, people won’t look at you when you pass them on the street, it is very orderly and manicured compared to here, and almost everyone is really tall. It’s easier in some ways. You know what store to go to for various things and they don’t use words you don’t understand. But for me, I’ve enjoyed a new language and new things so this isn’t something I need.

It is easy to get very busy even in retirement, so I enjoyed this downtime. We were busy in California helping out, running errands, and shopping,  but in Seattle it was just me when everyone was at work (Joel went east to see other family). I walked to the supermarket a few times to pick up something for dinner, but otherwise I was in the house watching TV (where in spite of having a million channels, there is very little of substance), reading (better), pulling weeds in the yard (yard therapy), and I stripped the wallpaper in the bathrooms (by request of course, home improvement therapy). I ignored the internet and email, except correspondence from actual people who needed responses (and if I missed any of you my apologies), I ignored my blog and barely kept in touch with friends. I was supposed to meet some people in the area but it turned out they were in another city nearby and unable to come to me, so that didn’t work out. Maybe next time…

It is so easy to get caught up in life and forget the need for solitude and quiet time. I think this is why I have always been a night owl. That time late at night when everyone else is asleep, the phone doesn’t ring, and no one expects anything from you, I love that time and I still do. I’m not working but my days still tend to be quite full and my husband is almost always home when I am. We have worked out together time and separate activities in a way that works for us but when we are home we are still together. Maybe I have overextended myself since I am still feeling a need to back off. I’ve always been an extroverted and gregarious person. Am I changing in my old age? Or, maybe I’d rather nurture a few close friendships instead of a multitude of casual relationships?

I do have some good friends and thanks to WhatsApp, we kept in touch even when I was far away. There is a guy who comes every week with fruits and vegetables. He knows me now and always picks out the best broccoli and cauliflower and hides it under the seat just for me. Where else would you get messages from your veggie guy asking how things are in the US and sending greetings to the family? My neighbor kept the birdbath clean, put out trash, and unplugged everything in the house. Even the Indian guy who works in the neighborhood said he missed me and was happy to see me back.

But, I am going to try to take better care of myself and say no when people want time and attention I don’t feel I can give. My career was taking care of people so that is my default mode, but it eventually wrung me dry. I still have to be mindful of taking care of myself now. I don’t have to be available all the time and I don’t have to take care of everyone. Maybe all that quiet time in the US was just what I needed to remind me of this.


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More Family

For a long time my daughters were busy with education, work, and getting their lives in order. Then, suddenly there were grandchildren! My older daughter has a son who is 4, and both of my daughters have girls who are 1 1/2 years old, born 3 weeks apart. How cool is that! It is so interesting to watch them at this age as they watch everything, soak up everything in their environment and get more skills every day.

One of the cats has been amazing with the baby. She puts up with being petted, and sometimes none too gently, or being laid on, or stepped on, and never protests. The other two cats leave when they see Autumn coming but Pumpkin seems to love the attention. Autumn is getting better at petting gently but she’s still an energetic toddler who doesn’t always remember.

Elizabeth’s house is a bit calmer since there is only one child, but there is still plenty to do. When Autumn is awake and active it’s a full time job to keep an eye on her, but she is a lot of fun to play with too. She talks a lot sometimes, entire stories but unfortunately nobody can understand a word. Her mother used to do the same thing, and then stamp her foot in frustration when I had no idea what she was telling me. All of the kids were taught some sign language though, which they still use. It’s great because they can communicate even before they are able to form words, and now they are adding words to the signs.

I visited last in November and at that time Autumn wanted to keep her distance. It’s hard for kids to know me when they have only seen a face in an iPhone or tablet, and it’s been many months since we have been together in person. This time though she warmed up quickly, and it wasn’t long before she was asking me to pick her up or read books with her.

My daughters are adults and we can keep in touch well between visits, but the grandchildren are another matter. They are growing and changing so fast, and I don’t want to go so long between visits that I am a stranger to them. We have decided that if we all work together on travel expenses, I can go every three months instead of every six, which seems like a good idea to me and I am very appreciative of the opportunity.

In case you wonder what happened to Joel, he went to Maine to see his mother and then Kansas to see his children and extended family. We met up together on the second flight from Atlanta to Panama City where my travel agent who thinks of every detail had booked us with seats together. (Andrea Cook Next time though, he’ll get to see the whole family. We are already planning a double second birthday bash with everyone together Thanksgiving blowout holiday! whew 😀


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Seattle Flowers

My second stop was in Seattle to see my younger daughter and her family. The Pacific Northwest is gorgeous in the spring. They had been having many rainy, cool, gloomy days so there weren’t as many flowers as I remembered from last year, but there were still many and the weather turned gorgeous soon after I arrived.

I walked to the nearby shopping area sometimes and enjoyed the pretty yards and trees along the way. Other days I spent some time weeding. The neighbors thought I was working so hard, but they don’t realize this is what I do to relax and enjoy myself – yard therapy – put a book on the headphones and enjoy being outdoors. A few days were so warm and beautiful I even took off my sweatshirt! 😀

Next up – the real reason I was there – the family!

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