Paris to Zurich

On our tour, the plan for the day was to go from Paris to Zurich. It looks good on paper, but we didn’t think about how many hours in a bus it takes to make that trip. We drove and drove through beautiful French the countryside of green, rolling hills, while most of us looked out or tried to get a nap or two.

We reached the Swiss border! The crossing was easy. Our guide got out and did something for a few minutes, and then we were on our way again.

Zurich! We stopped by the beautiful Lake Zurich for a rest break. I had a little French and Italian, but here they spoke only German. I can see why Europeans are multi-lingual. You’d have to be! We bought some delicious bratwursts and beer from some nice guys who taught me bitte (please), danke (thank you), hallo (hello), and auf viedersehen (goodbye) . Danke fruende (I admit to using google translate to find out how to spell these)

I like Zurich. The outskirts were normal city stuff, but downtown was charming with interesting buildings, tons of bikes everywhere, buses and electric trains for transportation, lots of people on foot, and the area by the lake with the alps in the background is stunning.

We were at a very nice Radisson hotel for the night. We’re fine with decent, basic accommodations but it was a treat to  have a really nice room for a night. We showered, washed clothes, lounged in the big bed with all the pillows, and went next door to McDonalds for a hot chocolate.

It has been decades since I’ve been to a McDonalds so I don’t know if this is common, but we had an adventure in this one. There are big screens where you place your order. Then you take your receipt, a sign with your number, and go to your table. In a short while, a smiling employee delivers your order to your table. We were surprised to be served hot milk and packets of chocolate powder but it was really really good! It is Switzerland, after all, and they do know how to make chocolate.

So, one more day down. Tomorrow – Milan – oops! No, no Milan. Yesterday we started hearing news of problems with the coronavirus, and on this day we heard that Milan is closed down and we will not be stopping there. Our guild was keeping up with the news and checking ahead frequently, and I trusted that she was doing the right thing for us. Internet on the bus was spotty at best though, so we had to wait until evening at the hotel to get any current news, and there wasn’t much news on line at this point.

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And, update from Panama, today, 3/10. We now have our first case of coronavirus, a Panamanian woman who returned from a visit to Spain, sick, and she tested positive. She is quarantined at home now. Of course the country, social media, and our neighborhood chat group are very active with the news since it broke.

We are on day 10 of our quarantine. We’re feeling rested and ready to rejoin the world this weekend, and the errands are starting to accumulate. But, I’m still really enjoying this at home vacation.

I cancelled my USA trip for next week. It seems like things get more nuts there by the day. My Seattle daughter and her husband are working from home, though daycare for the kids is still open and operating normally. She says it’s an easy drive there now that the streets are almost empty. My Sants Rosa CA daughter is working at her office, but she says it’s also weirdly quiet around town.

What is up with the frantic buying of toilet paper???

Stay calm and wash your hands

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More from Paris

For our second day in Paris we explored a bit on our own, and our primary destination was the Louvre Museum.

The Louvre is something else entirely! There is no way you can see a fraction of it in one afternoon, and I only have a few favorites here of the many, many things we saw. If you are interested in the art, an internet search will bring up lots of info and pictures. I think to really appreciate everything there, one would have to spend weeks exploring the museum. Still, I was really happy that we did get to see the little that we did.

This doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of only these works, not to mention the dozens and dozens more we saw, which were just a fraction of what is in the museum. I wish I could study about all of them, and then go back again!

But, we had one more thing we wanted to do that day, which was to go see Notre Dame. We grabbed a taxi to save our tired feet and went over there.

Notre Dame is closed for renovations after the fire. According to the info I found on line. renovations were already underway to repair years of weather and pollution damage. Some statues and art had been removed for the renovation, and other art was being stored in a location not touched by the fire. People did what they could to save everything else, and if I understand correctly, art affected by the fire suffered smoke damage, not destruction. So thankfully, the vast majority of Notre Dame should be restored, and much of what burned was in poor shape and needed to be replaced anyway. But, it’s going to take years and a lot of money to restore and rebuild this beautiful cathedral. Meanwhile, visitors can only see if from the outside.

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On another note, I think I mentioned that when we returned from our trip, which included Italy, we were taken aside at both the Panama City airport and the David airport. We continue to be under at home quarantine with daily calls from both Panama City and David health departments to check on us for any signs of illness.  So far, knock on wood, Panama has no known cases of the virus, and we are feeling just fine. We were pretty tired so it’s been nice to have an enforced vacation and rest period, but I think by the time we are done on the 14th we’ll be ready to join the world again. And, we’ll be able to get to the errands and things we need to do in town.

We’re lucky though! We have a stocked freezer, a fruit/veggie guy who comes by weekly, and would more often if we asked, and friends we can all on if necessary. I can see how this would be a total pain for someone who didn’t have what they needed on hand, or friends to help, or the worst, a loss of critical income if they couldn’t go to work.

One would think, being home all this time, I could get pictures sorted and posted a bit faster, huh? But… there’s music to practice, things to read, research to do (and you know about those internet rabbit holes), and relaxing and just hanging out. I honestly don’t know how I ever had time to work and do all the things I used to do in the past!

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First Day in Paris

We arrived in Paris on Thursday evening and went directly to the hotel. Friday morning, the agenda was a bus tour of the city to give us a general introduction. Our Spanish guide was on the bus but a local, Spanish speaking guide did the narration on the tour.

I have photos (quite a few taken through the bus window) but I’ll share some of my favorites here.

The afternoon was free time, since we didn’t choose to take one of the optional tours. We mainly wandered around the Arc de Triomphe and La Louvre area, and we visited some of the many tourist shops in the area. We were very lucky, as you can see, with the weather. It was chilly, but sunny and bright which made wandering around outside very pleasant.

It was such  whirlwind trip that many things blur together in my mind. Did we taxi home, or go on the metro? I know we took the metro one day and it was quite easy to navigate. Anyway, we made our way back to the hotel, and then explored the shopping center nearby and the large supermarket.

Thank goodness for photos to help me remember what we did as saw each day, and thank goodness for internet searches of pictures, which has helped me identify and research many of the buildings we saw. I have a lot more photos so little by little I’ll make my way through them.

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Meanwhile, back at home, we seem to be doing a little better today with the jet lag and fatigue, though I still am waking up before dawn. You get more done though when you’re up early, so there’s that. We are staying in per health department instructions, and we continue to get daily calls to check on us. As far as I know everyone in our group is doing ok, and there are no cases of coronavirus in the country. News from the rest of the world seems to change by the hour though, and things don’t sound good in (USA) Washington state and California. I’m pretty sure I’m not travelling as planned, especially now that my daughter’s exchange student guest has been cancelled so she’ll have more free time later.

Here in Panama it’s the height of summer and the afternoons have been beastly hot! Without the sun though, it cools off nicely. It’s been chilly when I get up at sunup, and now that it’s 6:15pm it’s getting downright pleasant out here, and I’m enjoying listening to all the birds while I work on this from my terrace.

 

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Flying Across the Pond

We just returned from a European tour. Of course, the first part of such a trip is to get over there.

We took a Copa flight in the morning to Tucomen (the Panama City international airport) and caught out flight to Frankfurt and then Paris in the afternoon.

Tucomen is a typical airport in most ways, but this was definitely a splash of local color, a very noisy band and dancer making their way around the airport.

Everything went according to plan on the trip over. It’s just looooong!  11 hours from Panama to Frankfurt, a few hours wait, then another 1 1/2 hours or so to Paris. And when you arrive, the time is 6 hours ahead of when you left so your body and head are all confused. We left on Wednesday afternoon, and by the time we arrived it was Thursday evening!

We went a lot of places on this trip – Paris, Zurich, not Milan (coronavirus shutdown!) Venice, Florence, and Rome so I have tons of photos to sort through and research. I’ll post them little by little as I get to it.

Speaking of coronavirus, we got super lucky that our trip happened in just the nick of time! The first we heard of problems was when we were in Paris, and word was that Milan and some nearby towns had been closed. We were scheduled to visit but instead, we went driving right on by and didn’t even stop at a bathroom. Nothing else was affected at that time and everywhere we went, it looked like business as usual.

Now though, just days later, there is much more concern about Italy as cases there and precautions increase. In Paris, the Louvre museum has been closed and according to the news, any gatherings over 5000 people are cancelled. If we had traveled even a week later, we would have been able to do less, we would have been much more worried about going anywhere, and worried about picking up the virus somewhere and bringing it home with us.

When we returned, Panama was very concerned about people arriving from Italy and China. We were all taken aside as soon as we arrived at the airport, and we were greeted/questioned by health care workers in gloves, gowns, masks, thermometers, and googles (on foreheads, but ready). They took all our info, names, passport numbers, local address, phone numbers, etc. and let us go on. Then, a surprise, when we landed in David the next morning, we were again taken aside along with the other couple who travelled with us. Again, info was written down, though this time the guy was just in ordinary clothes without gloves/gowns/masks etc.

Now we are getting daily calls from the health department to make sure we are showing no signs of illness. I questioned the nice lady today – she is calling from Panama City. If we show any signs of illness, they will find a doctor to come to our house. They don’t want us out and about and especially not if we might be infected. I’m a bit confused about staying home though, since our neighbors/travel companions said they specifically asked about that and were told they could be out if they are feeling fine. She is a teacher and went back to work on Monday. It’s not a problem for us. We’re still very jet lagged and tired and very happy to stay home, but I’ll have to verify and ask more questions because it doesn’t make sense to me.

But, we are feeling fine, and I think the chances we caught something are low. But we are definitely being careful though. With so much of the population here using public transportation and being generally very social, I can see the virus spreading like wildfire if it takes hold. I also see a serious lack of education about infection control (which is why I wrote that post on it recently). Wearing masks does NOT protect you, and wetting your fingers in the water is NOT adequate hand washing. People need to be educated on transmission, and how to prevent the virus from getting on your hands, and then to the face.

But, we can only do what we can in our small circle of influence. Now my next concern is visiting family in the USA. I’m supposed to leave for northern California in 2 weeks, and then spend more time in the Seattle area. Except for traveling I don’t expect to be out and about much and I’m not worried for me. But, what if I have trouble getting back in to Panama, or heaven forbid bring something with me?? The kids say life there seems normal, though the news says things quite different. *sigh*. I’m still on the fence.

 

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To Tour or Not To Tour

We just returned from  a tour in Europe – Paris, Zurich, and various places in Italy. (yes, Italy – we drive right past the affected coronavirus spots in northern Italy, but that’s another subject)

The point of this post – what is good about a tour? what is difficult? How much pre-arrangement and caretaking on the trip do you want?

This is our first experience with a tour where everything was taken care of. We were met by a guide when we landed in Paris and stayed with her throughout the tour, right up to the moment when we checked in for our flight back. Other guides joined is for a few hours in Paris, Rome, and Pompei because they were experts in their areas but the rest of the time we were with Bergonia, our multilingual Spanish guide. She rode on the bus, walked with us, told us about the areas we visited, what’s interesting, particulars about the culture and daily life, and particulars about the hotels and areas where we spent the night. I definitely learned a lot from her, and she was very very professional in taking care of many details, and making sure everyone of the group of 44 was accounted for at all times.

I might not recommend a tour like this for relaxing. You are expected to be up and at breakfast by 6:30, or maybe earlier, depending on the day’s agenda, and on the bus at the appointed time. Days are spent with (sometime many) hours on the bus, and most of the rest of the time on foot exploring towns, museums, or whatever attraction is on the agenda. We had tours which were a nice taste of a city but not free time for taking pictures or studying a particular spot. We also had some free time and/or optional tours we could buy, but we didn’t always make good use of our limited free time because we were tired. Along with all the riding and walking, we were also dealing with a 6 hour time difference. But, maybe being that tired was ok since we were able to sleep fairly well most nights.

But, we definitely saw things and I think they did a great job of allowing us to experience so many places in such a short amount of time. And, all details were taken care of. You get a radio and earpiece to listen to the guide while you are walking, and she had a microphone to talk to everyone on the bus. If there is a boat ride or museum tour, for example, tickets are pre-arranged and handed out as you arrive. There were clear instructions on when to go to breakfast, when to get on the bus, and the agenda for the day or two ahead. There was information on the best places to find dinner, supermarkets or things to see in our hotel areas at the end of the days. Hotels were arranged and though not always fancy, they were clean and adequate.

I went to Italy (Rome, Florence, Venice) with my daughter about 10 years ago on a different tour arrangement. We had plane tickets, hotel reservations, and train tickets between cities but our time in cities was our own to arrange as we wished. It was our responsibility to figure out how to get around and make necessary arrangements for whatever we had in mind. For me, I think this was the best of both worlds. You do give up the expertise of the guides though, which I thought was a valuable part of this tour.

Oh, and I’m glad we went on this tour in the winter! There were plenty of tourists, and I can’t imagine how crowded everything must be in tourist season. Yes it was chilly but we were extremely lucky with the weather. We got rained on a couple nights, but the days when we were out were mostly sunny and beautiful, or at worst, cloudy but dry. It was funny though, my Panamanian friend who had never experienced cold weather – “how do people live in the cold? Do they still go out to work, and take care of their homes? How do they do anything in this cold?? I could not work, or take care of home in this cold!!” I don’t know if she believed me when I told her it was just cool, chilly, not really cold (it was in the 40’s-50’s, maybe 60’s in the midday sun). Cold is maybe the temperature of your chest freezer at home or colder, and yes people still live their daily lives.

So, now we are home again, looking back on everything we experienced, and trying to figure out what day it is, what time it is, and where we are. ha! I’m too tired to move (so I’m sitting at my computer instead, bugging you all), but too awake to sleep because it’s mid-afternoon in our recent European world. As I get time and energy I’ll sort through the many photos and memories, and try to do some research on the places and things we saw. I figure it’s going to take some time to readjust and recover, and I’m thankful we didn’t have to go to work today like most of the rest of the folks on the tour! (they were all Panamanians, almost all working age people from Panama City. Yes, I have had many days of total Spanish immersion along with the tour).

ummmmph…. getting up…. ok legs still work, more or less. Maybe it’s almost nap time?

PS I wrote this yesterday. and I managed to sleep better last night and didn’t get up until 6:30 am. I hope my friend did better too. She wasn’t too happy to have woken up at 2am yesterday!

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Infection Control

With coronavirus all over the news, and misinformation all over everywhere, I thought I’d write a bit about infection control. As a nurse for 30+ years, I’m familiar with the concept.

Infection control basics are the same for whatever you are trying to prevent. Stop the devils from getting from their infected host to a new host. We are usually affected by viruses (coronavirus, colds, flu) but bacterial infections operate under this same concept.

For the sake of easy imagining, we’ll talk about flu and cold viruses now. Let’s say they are like little green beasties. SusyQ is infected with these beasties, and they are living in her breathing department. Their whole objective in life is to survive and reproduce. They do this by leaving through her face (mouth, nose, eyes) and finding their way to another victim (again through the face), where they can survive and reproduce in that breathing department.

SusyQ may not feel sick, or not sick enough to stay home, or so sick she doesn’t want to get off the sofa. Maybe the green beasties just moved in and haven’t gotten far with their reproduction. Maybe her immune system is keeping their population down. Or maybe the green beasties have gone to town like mice in your pantry. They are destroying everything, pooping everywhere, and making babies like mad until your pantry (breathing department) is so irritated that you are coughing, sniffling, and sneezing everywhere, and your whole house (body) feels under assault.

So, what’s the agenda of these green beasties?  STEP 1 – SuzyQ touches her face, covers her hands with green beasties, and leaves them on whatever she touches. SusyQ coughs and sneezes, covering her mouth (like her mom taught her), and now her hands are even more covered with green beasties. SusyQ blows her nose into a tissue which is now full of green beasties, and it gets thrown into the trash (to be touched by whomever empties the trash, perhaps?) or worse, she just tosses it any old place. SuzyQ is spreading green beasties everywhere. Yuck!

STEP 2 – Now it’s your turn. Pick them up! Touch something with green beasties, maybe a doorknob, phone, bathroom door, or any number of other surfaces. (The green beasties are patient. They may wait for you for a day, or even a week and still be ready to carry on.)

STEP 3 – Now, with the green beasties on your hand, touch your face. Transfer some of then to your eyes, nose, or mouth. YAY!! Happy beasties. Now they have a new home. They move in a and set up shop in your breathing department, like mice in your pantry. The cycle is complete.

How do you stop this?? Stop the transfer at each step. #1 – SuzyQ needs to stay away from people if she is sick. She needs to wash her hands and disinfect surfaces she touches. She needs to dispose of tissues in a plastic bag, and tie it shut before putting in in the trash. But, you can’t count on SuzyQ to do her part. YOU have to stop picking up green beasties, and stop giving them a trip to your face.

#2 – WASH YOUR HANDS! Really wash, with soap and plenty of friction under running water. Wash them long enough to sing happy birthday to yourself. Wash the fronts, the backs, and between your fingers. When your hands are clean, grab a paper towel and dry your hands. Don’t touch that dirty faucet! Use the paper towel to turn off the water, and use the paper towel to open the door. Then toss the towel in the trash behind you as you leave. If you can’t wash your hands, use hand sanitizer and rub it all over your hands, and let it dry. KEEP THOSE HANDS CLEAN! You can’t transfer the green beasties to your face if there are none on your hands.

#3 – DON’T TOUCH YOUR FACE  You can’t avoid touching everything in the world or guarantee that your hands are free of green beasties at all times, so avoid touching your face. We don’t realize how much we touch our faces to brush away that bit of hair, to rub that minor itch, to rest our face in our hand, etc etc etc. Masks will only protect you from someone coughing or sneezing directly on you but they do have value in keeping your hands from touching your face.

So, do both parts that are under your control and you can succeed in infection control! Congratulations! Your reward is not getting sick, and not passing along any green beasties to make others sick. And, of course if you ae sick, or suspect that you could be sick, the first part now applies. Keep your green beasties to yourself. We love you and wish you well, but we don’t love your green beasties.

Here’s wishing you all good health! These measures  aren ‘t just for coronavirus. They apply at all times, especially in crowded environments and if you are around sick people. Stay calm and wish your hands. 

not to mention drug overdoses, gun violence, traffic accidents, poverty, lack of health care….. the list goes on and on. You get the idea. Do everything you can to be sensible and protect yourself, but do not expect the world to be a safe place. “The future’s uncertain and the end is always near” (Roadhouse Blues, the Doors). Every day is a gift. Appreciate it, stay calm, and wash your hands.

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Thank You

You all are the best blog readers. I love your comments and participation, and I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting quite a few of you when you come to this area. Some of you all have also taken the trouble to send some money my way.

I’m an affiliate with Panama Relocation Tours, so if you use my link (https://panamarelocationtours.com/?ref=7), I get compensated which I really appreciate. Last year it covered all my website/blog hosting costs, and this year it’s on the way to doing that again.

We didn’t take a relocation tour because we were quite clear on where we wanted to settle, and we had some good friends who helped us along the way. But, since then, I’ve heard more and more about the relocation tours. The feedback I’ve heard both personally and on social media has been overwhelming positive, and the tours have become so popular that they are booked months in advance. People love seeing the many different areas, meeting their fellow tour participants, and getting tons of valuable information along the way. Jackie Lang organizes the tours, and her numerous informative articles on the website and her input in forums and social media seem to me to be sensible and accurate. If you have questions about Panama it would probably be well worth your time to poke around the website. Maybe start with the Living in Panama section and scroll down to the articles.

I just got an email informing me of another payment, but this time I think I’ll pass it along to someone who needs it more than I do. Health care is very good and inexpensive here, but not free. One of our fellow expats and a fellow musician had a terrible fall with bleeding in her brain. She had surgery to remove a large blood clot and is now coming off days and days of sedation to allow her brain to recover, but her future is very uncertain. Her husband and friends would appreciate not only the financial support, but the emotional support of knowing others care. The GoFundMe page is HERE https://www.gofundme.com/f/nicole-hart-angelus-restoration

There is an overwhelming amount of suffering in this world but people we know personally, of course, touch us the most. You all don’t know this person, but she was my nursing supervisor and coworker in Florida and now she is fighting a battle for her life against pancreatic cancer. It breaks my heart to see her go through all this. She never thought at her young age that she would need anything but a typical bathroom, but now she needs something safe and suitable for a person with a walker who can stand for only short periods. She has asked for so little, but this is one thing that would really help her. Her Facebook page is here https://www.facebook.com/groups/2354258028130460/ and she is using PayPal https://www.paypal.com/paypalme2/CandyPearce?fbclid=IwAR3_xIsIvGJuPhfHNnj9PvQRETz2Bpnm5AWCzgyAB0JFHZuq_nViVOSWq8Q  I know that’s a crazy looking link, but the process is super easy.

This post has gone a bit afield of the Thank You I started with, but when I think about all the blessing I have it seems only right to share where I can, even if it’s just a tiny bit.

The main plan for this post though was to thank all of you for your support, for taking the time to read, participate, and comment, and for spending some time with me in person. When I started I never imagined this  blog would be such a thing, and that it would reach so many people. I appreciate all of you who have made this possible.

I wish all of you a healthy and happy life! It’s a privilege not given to many.

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What is Your Stuff Worth?

I ran across an interesting article recently. We all have stuff. We all leave our homes one way or another when we can no longer care for ourselves, or we reach the end of the road in this life. If you move out of the country it may be even more of a concern. What stuff do you move with you, and what becomes of it after you leave (because you will leave one way or another. That dang death rate still is right around 100%).

We all have stuff that means something to us, things from beloved family members, things acquired in special times, or things we just love. But, does this stuff mean anything to others? What will become of it when you leave? Who gets to deal with it all?

The article Here, https://dallas.momcollective.com/most-of-your-stuff-is-worthless-3-things-you-should-be-doing-now-to-reduce-what-you-own/ a bit disheartening to learn not only does your stuff not mean as much to others, most of it cannot even be reused or turned into money. How difficult for your family to see grandma’s beloved (whatever) get sent to the trash.

I found a great feeling of freedom when I got rid of almost all my stuff. I sent boxes to each daughter with a few special items like baby clothes, books from my childhood, newspapers from Kennedy or the first man on the moon, etc. The rest, except for a few boxes, went away. If something happens to us here, we have a rental house with nothing in it worth saving. Hand the keys back to the landlord, and now he has a furnished house to rent to the next people. My daughters don’t have to deal with selling property and there is no stuff worth their attention.

So, the advice is, keep only a few sentimental items. Digitalize pictures. Buy quality stuff that you will really use, not lots of stuff that will be thrown away or take up space. Keep life simple and uncluttered. You will feel better and your heirs will thank you. Moving will also be a lot cheaper and easier.

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Crazy Times

Well, maybe a little crazy for us, which isn’t much but once in a while we need to go sort out something.

I’m minding my own business this morning, when an IDAAN (water company) truck and three guys with IDAAN t-shirts and ID badges show up at my gate to inform me that they were shutting off the water for non payment. Huh?? The landlord pays the water and sometimes he gets a month or two behind but never this. I explain it’s the landlord’s fault, and they say if I go to the IDAAN office TODAY and take care of it, they will leave the water on. Otherwise it gets shut off tomorrow.

My neighbor explains how to find the office. I also look it up on Google maps and it doesn’t look quite the same, but whatever… we set off and Google navigation directs us to a big lot walled off and under construction. That can’t be it, so we set off for the municipio (City offices) which are close to the location my neighbor described.

Since we were close to the post office we decide to mail a card I’ve been carrying around for a while. There was only one other customer before me, so it took only a few minutes for the lady to hand write some forms, put many bar code stickers on everything, and get all the paperwork in order and collect $1.15. Then I’m done and on my way.

Traffic downtown is nuts! Intersections usually have a stop signs one way, and you just take your chances the other way with any tiny break in traffic (or you wait all day). People pull out, ease in, and generally drive aggressively enough to make their way and everyone else just adjusts. It looks intimidating and since I don’t enjoy driving, I’m very happy Joel has no problem dealing with it all. People here seem to remember though, that those other cars also contain people with needs and feelings. People will do their best to get where they are going, but they are also considerate of others and honking the horn is usually only a “hey I’m here” curtesy beep, except maybe the taxis who are notoriously more aggressive, maybe because they have to fight traffic all day every day.

Anyway, we find our way to the area I’m looking for, and the traffic light I was told about (there are very few of those so they make good landmarks). Unfortunately the office doesn’t have a sign outside and it’s not easy to spot, so we have to ask, drive by a couple times, and finally stop at a bank which turns out to be in the same building. The bank guards direct us to the proper door and we make our way to the cashier’s window.

Everything is paid up! Huh? so why did those guys show up this morning? She calls a guy from the back office who disappears with our bill, and returns a few minutes later without an explanation, but with reassurances that all is well. No one else will show up at our door and no one will shut off the water. Who knows what happened, but it’s obviously a mistake.

So, sometimes you wake up with a plan for the day and proceed with it, and sometimes your plan for the day gets shot all to pieces. But, thankfully, since I like my plans, this doesn’t happen too often. And, even more thankfully, if you get muddled up people are super helpful. Today we were helped by our neighbor, a guy in the street selling water, the guards at the bank, and the people in the IDAAN office. It can be stressful and frustrating when everything is different and hard to understand, but it always gets worked out one way or another.

“Everything always works out in the end. If it hasn’t worked out yet, then it’s not the end.” (Tracy McMilian)

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Shipping Household Goods to Panama

I ran across this article by Panama Relocation Tours.

https://panamarelocationtours.com/shipping-your-household-goods-to-panama

I have mentioned these folks in the past because of their many happy customers. (If you book a tour, use my affiliate link please https://panamarelocationtours.com/?ref=7) They also write a lot of good information, and what they say seems credible and sensible.

So, do you want to bring all your stuff to Panama? Your life here will be different. Almost everyone I know says they ended up not needing or using a lot of the stuff they brought. You will have a new and different life and activities, and a lot of your stuff won’t be suitable and/or won’t do well in this tropical climate.

The article says that most rentals are furnished. This may be true in some areas, but I here in David it’s much easier to find unfurnished rentals because of the less transient population. But, it is true that you will need to find a rental that’s suitable for your furniture and other items. If you replace furniture here, it’s expensive. You are unlikely to find used furniture sources, and good quality US type furniture costs probably as much as in the US (though not sure, I didn’t buy new furniture there). But, local furniture is more likely to be suitable for this climate, and will still be cheaper than spending thousands to ship furniture. And, there are many artisans who can custom make furniture items to your exact specifications which is useful, fun, and supports these local, hard working people.

We sprung for a comfortable sofa for relaxing at night, and new mattresses. Otherwise, except for our custom living room tables, we have plastic tables, perfect for our lives. If they need cleaning you can scrub them with a brush and Comet (or locally available equivalent). They aren’t bothered by water, humidity, or termites and if we really ruin them, replacements are economical. We upgraded some of our $12 plastic yard chairs to better looking $25 chairs, but they are still plastic and suitable for our lifestyle and climate. Our home doesn’t look “fancy” but it suits us and our lives, and is easy to afford and maintain.

It is recommended that you NOT ship a car here. It’s takes time and there are expensive fees. I haven’t done it myself so I have no first hand experience, but from what I understand even the jubilado residency doesn’t save you from a lot of the fees associated with importing. Anyone who knows more than I do feel free to chime in. And, once your car is here, it will need maintenance. Even the same brand and make of car may be different from the ones here which will make finding parts challenging. It’s so much easier to just get something here. You can find a good selection from little economical cars to big SUV’s in familiar brands, from used to new. Save yourself the time and headaches, and get a car here.

Pets, however, may be worth bringing. There is a process of vet certifications and time sensitive documents, and airline regulations, but many people have brought their pets are happy to have their 4 legged family members with them here. Of course this lifestyle and climate may also be a big change for your pets, so keep that in mind when making your decisions. If you want to get a pet here though, there are many many good dogs and cats who need homes.

So, in the end, what you move is a personal decision. We sold/gave away/trashed pretty much everything we owned except for Joel’s musical stuff and some tools. Even many of the tools don’t get used in our different life here, but the musical equipment was definitely worth shipping. There is minimal selection here and the prices are high. But, in general, you can get pretty much everything here. These people have lived here for generations, and have attractive homes and comfortable lifestyles, and you can too.

I think the best advice I have heard, if you can’t decide what to do, is to put your stuff in storage and live here for a year or more. Then you will still have your stuff, but a much better idea of what you want to bring to Panama.

 

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