Thursday, November 24, 2011

Hangin in the Hood

Yesterday I was chillin at home after my morning workout, while Clyde was working away building our new computer desk.  Since he's putting the polyurethane on today he had time to take a break and go have the car washed.  But as usual, everything takes longer in Panama, so he was gone for an hour. But they do a nice job of cleaning the inside and outside of the car, wash the floor mats and vacuum it too for only $5.00.  Usually when he goes to the car wash he has a beer while waiting, since this car wash sells booze too.  He shells out a measly 60 cents for a local beer, and sways in a hammock while watching the young boys clean the car.

Back at the casa our friends emailed us a reminder that there was an expat mixer tonight in Coronado.  There are two expat groups here that we've associated ourselves with.  One is in La Chorrera and the other in Coronado.  La Chorrera, said to be the second largest city in Panama, is well stocked with stores, produce stands, clinics, bus stops and hoards of people everywhere.  The locals in La Chorrera are hard working people that walk or take buses, many commute to Panama City for better paying jobs.  In contrast, Coronado is an affluent beach town full of wealthy Panamanians and expats.  Upon heading into the beaches, all cars have to drive through a security gate with a guard.  He's there to protect the expensive homes and properties and keep the riff-raff out.  Although just being gringo's seemed to be enough for the guard to let us in, so we weren't impressed with their security there.

The first mixer we ever attended was with the La Chorrera group since we frequent this town on shopping trips almost daily. This group is stocked with all types and ages of expats that moved here for various reasons.  Although the common thread that seems to bind all expats here is that they're native countries had become too expensive, so they came to Panama for a cheaper, better way of life.  Here we've made friends with people from all over the world.  Although La Chorrera does have some gated communities, most of these people live among the Panamanians and are forced to deal with Spanish on a daily basis.  From what I understand, there are about 60 or more expats in this area. 

The Pan-American highway runs directly through Coronado and is full of shops, restaurants, clinics and hotels.  Directly off the highway is the road to the beach that leads to the security gate.  There are over 100 expats that call this beach community home and most live in gated communities on or near the beach.  This group also boasts people from all over the world, and the group hosts different events like dances, fundraisers, mixers, classes, craft fairs and more.  Since Coronado is geared a bit more to expats, English can be heard more here. 

Our lives have been enriched by mingling among both groups, to meet a diverse group of people that we can begin to call friends. The mixer was a buffet of turkey, ham and the fixins at a restaurant that started at 5pm and didn't leave there until 8pm.  A few friends joined us at home and we chatted into the wee hours of the morning.

Thanksgiving is NOT a holiday for Panamanians, but there were many restaurants offering over priced turkey dinners to gobble up expats money.  Prices ranged from $25.00 to $42.00 in the few ads I checked out.  Way too pricey for two people that can't even eat a whole meal in a restaurant. So we opted to bake a whole, fresh chicken with the trimmings along with a healthy version of oatmeal raisin cookies.

Chickens are in abundance in Panama and can be seen and heard running around everyone's lawn here.  Roosters can be heard crowing not just in the morning, but in the middle of the night or just about anytime of the day.  We've heard them among the honking, traffic jams of Panama City, as well as in the quiet countryside of the interior.  I don't think there's anywhere we could go in Panama without hearing a rooster crowing.

A happy Turkey Day to All as you gobble up words from this blog and keep them in your heart wherever your travels may take you.  Whether that be to the far ends of the earth, or your own back yard I wish to bid you all happy trails.  As for us we continue to have "viaje feliz" or our own happy journey.... along the gringo trail.

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