Thursday, January 12, 2012

Another Day in La Chorrera......

Americans living abroad look to their local U.S. Embassy for protection, advice, legal issues, and to fill out necessary paperwork, and we have made several trips to the U.S. Embassy here in Panama City.  Yesterday a group of U.S. expats were invited to meet with the new Consul General of the U.S. Embassy in a local restaurant.  Kent Brokenshire recently moved his wife and family here to Panamá to assume the role of Consul General.  He explained to the group that it is his job is to protect all American citizens living in Panamá, and protect American shores by issuing travel visas to foreigners traveling to the U.S.  The Consul General seemed very nice, was much younger than we expected and hopefully will make some necessary changes in the U.S. Embassy here.  Our issue with the Embassy is that an appointment is necessary for everything and not being aware of this, we just showed up.  On our last visit we needed some documents notarized to get a driver's license.  The women looked at the paper, stamped it and charged us $50, and for this we needed an appointment.  Soon we will need to make an appointment in order to make an appointment.  But perhaps this eliminates waiting for hours, staring at the wall and counting tiles on the floor.

After the meeting we went to look at a house for sale that somebody we just met was trying to sell.  Located on a large piece of land with spectacular views, it was too far from civilization for my liking and much more money that we're looking to spend.  We drove back slowly stopping along the way to check out pineapple plantations and other points of interest. 

We headed back into La Chorrera and stopped for lunch at a little cafe, full of locals on their lunch hour.  The "menu del dia" or menu of the day had several choices and we choose chicken, rice, and cole slaw.  As usual with typical Panamanian food, the server piled white rice onto the plate, filled the other side with slaw and threw two pieces of chicken on top forming a huge mountain of food.  The price for this colossal volcano of food was a mere $2.50, and we both shared one plate and still had leftovers.

Next stop was into nearby El Machetazo, a huge department store that carries groceries, appliances, clothing, crafts, a pharmacy, toys, electronics and more.  I complained to my darling hubby that he needs some new shirts and made him pick out a few.  He picked up five new button down, short sleeved, sport shirts for a total of $35.00.  I have to encourage him to buy clothes once in a while so he doesn't complain when I indulge in some local bargains.

In the grocery department, Clyde took off to buy some fresh chicken from the meat counter while I picked out other things.  He was gone for a long time and not surprising that he found someone to talk to at the meat counter.  A local gentleman heard him speak Spanish and asked him how long he'd been here.  They struck up a conversation and he brought the man over to meet me in produce.  The man seemed to be a local who spent some time in the U.S. years back and couldn't wait to return to Panamá.  He asked me how I liked living here and went on to talk about how perfect the weather is here and that he'll never leave again because Pamaná is paradise.

On one street in La Chorrera we noticed a line of people wrapped around a blue building.  The building was the lottery commission, and since Wednesday and Sunday are days to buy lottery tickets here, all these people were waiting to spend money on lottery tickets.  Kind of ironic that these people make so little money, about $1.50 an hour, yet they love to spend money on lottery tickets.  Clyde reminded me that this is not so unlike us Americans.  We make more money so we spend more money, even on lottery tickets.  I'm way too cheap to throw it away on lottery tickets, but clothes and shoes that I may never wear, well that's different. 

The following are pictures from our
drive thru La Chorrera

It's Lottery Day!

Selling Lottery Tickets in the Street


This is what is left of the hardware
store where the firefighter died


These are not "Easter Chicks" for sale


I found a "little friend"

Back home Clyde put on his chef's cap and grilled up some kabobs of chicken, bell peppers and onions.  And for the first time he tried cooking up some "arepas" which are thick corn tortillas that we purchased, cut in half, filled with cheese then grilled. These have become a favorite of ours at a local roadside "parrillada" which is a local barbeque joint. 

The night ended with a call to my one and only darling daughter Desireé and my grandson Vash.  Desi is excited and a bit nervous about going back to school at the ripe old age of 30.  She is interested in majoring in foreign languages and has a desire to live in another country someday possibly in Japan.  We are proud that she has the ambition to try something new and the spirit of adventure to want to live abroad.  Being an only child, Desi has always been very independent, a trend setter, unique, and a bit stubborn in her ways.  She is fascinated with Japanese cartoons called "anime" and loves to attend conventions where participants dress up like the cartoons and take on their personalities.  Desireé is also a talented artist who loves to draw cartoons and could easily make a living doing that, if she desired.  But for now her life is about to change as she takes on a tremendous undertaking, to get a college degree, while being a single mother of as almost 5 year old boy, and holding down a job too.  Makes me tired just writing about it!
 
Vash, age 4

The Many Faces of Desireé


    

An Example of Desi's Artwork

                                             
As for today it's just another boring day in paradise.  We have an expat mixer in La Chorrera at lunch time, and these things sometimes drag on into the dinner hour.  Maybe something exciting will happen today that I can tell you all about tomorrow, and maybe it won't.  But either way you'll probably read all about it, and wish you were here basking in the gorgeous weather.... along the gringo trail.

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