Monday, March 26, 2012

What's Up.....In Panamá These Days?

Just in case inquiring minds want to know our lazy days of retirement have temporarily turned into hard work!  Back in Texas since Clyde had so much time off from the Fire Department, whenever things needed to be done at home he'd be the one to do them while I was working an office job. Now since neither of us work, apparently both of us are expected to take part in the fixing up of the house we bought.  So this princess has traded in her makeup for speckles of paint all over her face.  Along with that broken fingernails, aches and pains,and paint splatters found in some strange places on my body. 

And since homes here are made from cement even on the inside, we are having to cover each wall with sealer-primer first before painting.  After several coats of sealer mixed with paint and several coats of straight paint, finally the previous color doesn't show through.  And today Clyde began the arduous process of sanding paint off the walls in the living and dining room, taking them down to the bare cement since they had some bad spots that couldn't just be repaired.

Entryway

Entryway

Computer Room

Guest Bedroom

Guest Bathroom
Fortunately we both enjoy color and are not afraid to use it on the walls.  We're going for a laid back, island feel with a rustic flair.  Actually the previous owner had lots of color on the inside walls and we're just following suit and adding our own touch.

With four bedrooms, three baths, a large entryway, hallways, and a large dining room....living room area, we've done lots of painting and have more to go.  And I got the bright idea to throw a few coats of paint on the kitchen cabinets to make them usable until Clyde can rebuild them and remodel the whole kitchen.  But nothing is that easy and before we could paint them they had to be sanded and primed first.  But white paint did clean them up for now, although the counter top is still ugly.

Temporary Cabinets


Today Clyde found an old machete in the tool shed on the property and managed to cut up a coconut he found on the ground.  It was his first time using a machete, which every Panamanian man carries on him as if it's a little pocket knife.  Clyde still managed to have all ten fingers and toes when he was finished and we munched on fresh coconut after lunch.

Some of our coconuts, just the ones on the ground
This is how a coconut tree starts
 
We brought home some tamarinds and some other little red fruit that we have not yet identified.  The little red fruit sort of taste like an apple, but it's about the size of a large cherry.  Tamarinds are similar to dates but grow in a long, brown, brittle pod. 

Tamarinds growing on tree

Have not figured this one out yet. 
 They're brownish and excrite a milky substance when squeezed.

Awesome Hanging Basket Plant

We love this plam tree
(notice the red branches)

There must be 100 coconuts on the ground alone, not to mention what's still in the trees.  And when the mangos are fully ripened we'll literally have hundreds of the little suckers to enjoy.  What a thrill to go outside and pluck a fruit right off our own tree!  And with all the press about coconut oil and coconut water and it's many benefits, perhaps we'll now live to be 100 or more.

The This tree is thick with Mangos, and we have others too

 Unidentified Red fruit with Tamarinds

Close up of Tamarind that has been peeled

So once again mañana we're off to color our world and make this house a home.  All the hard work will be well worth it when we're done.....and then we can hang up our hammocks, sip on a tall drink and be back on island time.....along the gringo trail.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Paintin' and Beachin'..................

When our friends asked us to join them at the beach giving us a break from fixing up the new house, we just couldn't resist.  Sharon and Phil the Canadian couple that live in Chicá had their daughter visiting and wanted to show her the beaches. Their daughter Alanna asked me "so what made you choose Panamá?"  Her wise ass father immediately answered for me by saying "because we were here."  Of course we didn't know them at the time, but it got me thinking how funny that people from two different countries meet in a third country and become friends.  That's one of the benefits of expat life, making new friends from other parts of the world.

We all met up at our new house in Chame first for the grand tour, since they had not seen the inside nor the back of the property.  Since they live on a fruit farm they were helpful in pointing out the different types of fruit growing in our new backyard.  Sharon was excited to see mature tamarinds and told us they make tasty sauces. A new to us fruit, the tamarind is a brown pod like fruit that grows in hot tropical climates.  The fruit inside the pod is brownish-red and tastes similar to a date, according to my taste buds.  They can be used in sauces, desserts, jams and jellies just to name a few.

A Tree Full Of Tamarinds

Here is an Orchid, We have Orchids!

Cashew Apple
The Cashew on top of the Apple

We have much to learn about the strange and wonderful fruits that grow in Panamá, some of which are growing right outside our door.  Mangos are weighing down the trees but not quite ripe yet.  Another tree has small round, brown fruits that ooze with white mile when picked.  Sharon seemed to think this was some type of guava and thinks they need more time to ripen.  I picked my first cashew apple with the nut attached to the bottom.  The fruit is yellow and has a strange stringy texture and taste that I didn't care for.  But later after looking up the nutritional value of the cashew apple I'll have to give it another try since it's full of good stuff.  Coconuts are in abundance and some on the ground have even sprouted new plants.  Once the inside work is done we'll have time to play in the garden and try out some of the many fruits on our trees.

Next we headed out to Santa Clara to park our butts under a bohio and listen to sound of the surf.  The ocean waves were too rough to venture out too far safely.  So we vegged out for a few drinks, snacks and conversation with good friends.  The beach was dotted with bikini's and a few stray dogs looking for food. 

Terry and Clyde Posing

Sharon and Terry getting some sun

This is Phil

Alanna, Phil's daughter visiting from Canada
Lovin' the Panamá Beaches


Our Crew Hanging Out

View of high-rise condos over
the rustic Bohios

Small Island with Fishing Boats anchored

 Today it was back to work at the house putting primer on the walls in preparation for paint.  Clyde did some work on the outside trimming plants and hedges. We painted the kitchen cabinets for a temporary fix until Clyde has time to rebuild them. 

We've discovered that the Glidden paint stores will give a discount if you ask for one.  Clyde told the man he bought a big house and will be buying lots of paint so the man gave him a card for 35% off.  And since we will be painting every last inch of this house, we do need lots of it. The house is currently painted with a mix of bright Caribbean colors like yellow, orange, green, pink and blue.  Since we both like bright colors we plan to continue this theme making every room come alive with color.  And since the whole house has a dropped ceiling we will also replace the tiles and paint the grid that holds them in place.  About the only thing that we're not replacing at this time is the tile on the floor.  It's a white background with brown splotches in it.  Although we're not in love with it we don't hate it either.

As I type my tired hands cramp up and ache a bit from our first week of painting. But I'm sure in the end it will all be worth it, when we're able to sit back and relax in our newly decorated casa.  A temporary break from retirement as we paint, scrap, tear down, scrub and replace the old with the new.  Thirty years of paint put up by Panamanians is covered up by American hands in the attempt to color our new world, and pave a new way.......along the gringo trail.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Scraping Plaque And Paint.....

Spent yesterday morning at the vet expecting Venus to have surgery to remove as lipoma, or fatty lump. The surgeon felt the lump and said he was absolutely sure it was not a lipoma but thought it was an allergic reaction to something, maybe a shot?  But since her last shots were in October he said probably not that, but a reaction to something.  He suggested heat compresses and if it's not gone by next October when she's due for her yearly checkup, he will remove it and investigate further.  So we'll watch, wait and see what happens to the lump.

He also told us we should be brushing her teeth so we bought a three-sided doggie toothbrush that came with vanilla flavored toothpaste.  It took both of us to keep her mouth open while I attempted to brush her teeth.  She was more interested in licking off the toothpaste than anything else.  Another first in my life!  This girl that never wanted a dog is now scraping off plaque inside a dogs mouth.  The day before we bathed her and I carefully used the blow dryer on her brushing her hair dry.  Soon after she ran into the grass and rolled around to re-scent herself so she'd smell like a dog again.  The vet did tell us not to over do it on the bathing and said that a dog needs to smell like a dog.  Perhaps he made this statement after seeing a lady in the waiting room holding a dog dressed in a shirt and tutu.  The other dogs kept laughing at her while Venus just rolled her eyes.

The good news is that she didn't try to eat or attack any other dogs while at the vet, but later was another story.  Sometimes she's a bully around other dogs, even though her back legs shake in fear.  Clyde said the dog was nice until she started hanging around me, now she's trying to bully others like I do.  But since he's a man we'll consider the source and just ignore that comment!

Then another day spent painting at the new house while Clyde scraped off some more wallpaper border and patched some cracks in the walls.  Venus chose to stay outside and amused herself chasing geckos around the property again.  The house is so quiet and peaceful and already feels like home.

HalfWay thru scraping the
wallpaper border in this room!

Have been trying to talk Terry into
leaving the walls the same color

Back at the rental house we dropped off the dog and headed to our favorite "parrillada" or barbecue place for a $3.00 basket of pork and "arepa."  Arepas are thick corn tortillas that are sliced in half and filled with white cheese, then grilled for more flavor.  It's my understanding that they originated from Columbian cuisine but we're glad they made it to Panamá.  On our first trip to Panamá we noticed these thick corn tortillas in the grocery stores and thought they looked disguesting.  How could people eat these blocks of cornmeal?  But grilled with cheese they really are tasty, although probably not too healthy.

Back at the casa we turned in early since our internet and cable were down and we were both tired from working on the house all day.  Why is it that on those home improvement shows on HGTV they can finish off an entire house project in under an hour?  But as we know nothing in Panamá moves fast including us, so we'll just take our time and get things done the way we want, one room at a time, one project at a time.......along the gringo trail.

Monday, March 19, 2012

We Got The Keys......

Even though we don't have the final paperwork back from the public records department on the house we're buying, we managed to get the keys.  On Saturday we met the owner at the house in Chame to decide what furniture we wanted him to leave in the house for us, at an additional cost.  He had another person interested in buying whatever was left after we made our selection, since we had already expressed an interest.  Since the house we're buying is twice the size of the house we're renting, we needed more furniture.

Hutch Filled With Pottery
 Old Dinette Set and Chairs
Leather Bench In Entryway
This Clay Pot Was Used To Hold Water When
Homes Didn't Have Any.  Small Cups Above
 Were Used To Drink From
It Also Sits In Our Entryway


Love Seat Will Go Nicely On Porch
Two Chairs Also For Porch
Another View of Chair

From the current owner we bought a wooden dining table that seats eight people and a matching hutch.  There are eight rustic, embossed leather chairs, very common in Panamá that go along with the table but several of them need repair. The entry way has a three-person wood and leather bench made in the same local fashion which we also bought, along with a twisted root three-piece living room set that will work well on the porch.  As a gift he threw in three large diablo (devil) masks and a large assortment of pottery personalized with his name on it.  The pottery must have service for 8-10 along with pots, pitchers and more.  These are the type of things sold for high prices in tourist shops that we wanted but just couldn't afford.  But since they're personalized with his name we have decided to change our name to "Arellano" since we look so much like the locals.

Large Assortment of Pottery
More Pottery
Close Up Of Plate
Notice The Name "Arellano" In The Design
Rustic Chandelier

Buying a 30 year old house is full of challenges and plenty of work to make it our own.  Yesterday we began painting closets, since they're dirty and smelly.  Today more painting, cleaning and fixing up with much more to go.  We even took Venus with us today and as soon as we opened the door to the house in she went like she knew this was her new home. But she seemed to prefer to stay outside running around after geckos, and exploring the lovely grounds.  She got lots of exercise running in and out, and all over the 1.6 acre piece of land.

Diablico Sucio Masks
These were given to us as a gift from Dr. Arellano
We will be decorating our new house
with art from Panama

Tomorrow a trip to the vet in the morning to discuss the lump on her back and a few other issues.  After that another day of working on the house to make it liveable.  Since Venus now loves going in the car we plan to take her to the house whenever we're there to make the move as comfortable for her as possible. It's so quiet at the Chame house the only thing we heard were the birds and an occasional private plane fly by.  Hard to believe that living in Panamá, a third world country to some, and we buy a house with a landing strip within walking distance.  Not only do private planes go in and out but we've been told there's also a skydiving operation there too.  Who would have thought anyone in this poor country could afford to skydive?

Excited to be able to decorate the house and give it some Panamanian flair with locally made handicrafts.  Lots of elbow grease and sweat equity are necessary before swaying in the hammock under the mango tree for these gringos.  No more lazy days for a while, just hard work and sweat getting "casa de poco locos" up and running......along the gringo trail.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

We Are Permanent Residents.....

Just got a notice from our lawyer that our Permanent Residency Visas have been approved and we can go pick them up tomorrow.  That means we are allowed to live in Panamá for as long as we choose but will always remain citizens of the U.S.  When we first applied for these pensionado residency Visas in September, our lawyer told us in about six months and we should have them.  And like we tell everyone that asks, we feel that our lawyer is expensive but she's been good about staying on top of things.  We've heard countless stories of people paying much less money for their Visas, but it takes a year or longer before their permanent Visas are approved.  Today is exactly six months to the day that we first applied for them.  I remember this because it was on my birthday September 15th that we first applied and the girls in the Department of Migration wished me a feliz cumpleaños.  Of course this means another trip into Panama City to go to Migration with our lawyer for another picture.  And I will have to remember to wear something that covers my shoulders since they have a rule about not showing shoulders in photos here.  It's ok to show cleavage or anything else, just not shoulders!

While patting our new dog yesterday I noticed  a large lump the size of half a tennis ball on her back.  At first I thought maybe it was muscle, or bone and asked Clyde to check it out.  He also felt it was a lump, probably a lump of fatty tissue called a lipoma.  She had recently seen a Vet in the city with the people that were looking after her, yet nothing was mentioned about this lump.  And we're constantly patting and rubbing her so it's strange that we never noticed it before this.  Even when we bathed her we rubbed down her whole body to clean her and never noticed it. 

To be on the safe side we took her to see a Vet in Coronado today and they agreed that it's a lipoma.  They said it's nothing serious but needs to be removed surgically, and scheduled another appointment for next week.  We discussed her issues with drooling which have improved greatly, but still are not gone totally.  They feel she has gingivitis and needs antibiotics again.  She had just finished a round prior to us adopting her, but will receive more next week.  They suggested a liquid to buy which goes into her drinking water to help remove plaque.  And they also told us that she's overweight, which we are aware of and are working on.  Since Clyde and I are both former fatties, we understand the need to trim the fat to help aging joints stay healthy.  Those of you that don't already know, we have both had weight loss surgery years ago.  Mine was gastric bypass surgery and his was the adjustable gastric band.  We both personally fight the battle of the bulge on a daily basis.

Today we also discovered that our sweet, loving doberWoman likes to lunge at big, dominant type of dogs like herself.  She's been ok walking around the neighborhood encountering other dogs but today tried to attack one at the vets office.  Turns out the dogs owner is a massage therapist we know and used a few months back.  On the way home we stopped to visit a friend and introduced her to his rottweiler, which also didn't go well.  But since she will be a neighbor of ours once we move, we will have them meet again under more calm conditions. 

Headed into La Chorrera to buy some produce from the roadside stands now.  Might just have to splurge on dinner out before heading back home.  Wherever we go, whatever we do.....no matter how mundane it may be..... we'll be sure to tell you all about it here..........along the gringo trail.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What Is Panamanian Style?

When we moved our lives to Panamá six months ago we landed on a Panamanian Style house for rent in Capira for only $300 a month.  Although the cost of living here is much cheaper than the U.S. how much one spends on living expenses depends on how many American luxuries they can't seem to live without.  So just what exactly does Panamanian style mean in terms of housing?

A Panamanian style house typically comes without a hot water heater since the locals use cold water for everything.  That means the house may not be plumbed for hot water even if you decide to put in a hot water heater.  In fact the bathroom sinks may only have a faucet with a single handle since only one level of water is necessary.  Since the weather in Panamá is hot year round, the locals enjoy taking cold showers but will boil water to wash dishes.

Since electricity is expensive here most locals can't afford the luxury of air conditioning, although some do have them in the bedrooms.  Since windows are left open at all times to allow adequate air flow, most homes have bars and screens but no glass in the windows.  They will put glass in the bedroom windows if they choose to put in an air conditioner in that room. For poorer Panamanians windows consist of only cement blocks with decorative holes in them.  With no screens they avoid turning on lights at night to keep bugs out. During the daytime most locals open their front doors to allow maximum air flow.

Panamanian style homes tend to have a small bedroom with a seperate bath and entrance off the kitchen for the maid. This allows the maid to enter and exit the house without disturbing the family, and since she does all of the cooking she's nearby the kitchen.  Kitchens are usually tiny since the maid is the only one that has access leaving the lady of the house free to take care of the family.  Domestic help is cheap here so middle class families feel the need to hire help to do most everything.

Homes here are constructed totally from cement block covered with more cement.  Insides usually have tiled floors and counter tops, which cover cement constructed bases and wood fronted cabinets.  Cement is plentiful and cheap here and used for everything from furniture to fencing. 

Since the locals keep their washers outside, there is typically no hook up inside the house for this.  Clothes dryers are rare among the locals since they like to hang clothes outside, even in the rainy season when clothes take weeks to dry.

And when a house is rented or sold "unfurnished" it means that it comes with no appliances including stove, refrigerator, washer and dryer.

Since Panamanians don't use air conditioning or heat they see no need to seal up homes with insulation, or doors and windows that seal properly.  When the wind blows dirt blows in under and over the doors as well as through the screens in the windows. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Retirement....It's For The Birds....

Since we moved to Panamá six months ago we've discovered many different types of plants, trees and animals that we've never seen before.  Living in the tropics surrounded by lush rain forest we have the opportunity to see over 972 different species of birds alone.  Although I've never been patient enough for birding, just living here we've noticed a colorful array of unique birds while sitting outside. 


Over the past week of walking the dog I spotted a huge tree filled with tube-like nests hanging down.  It almost seems that a flock of birds stole the pantyhose off all the clotheslines, to form their own tube-sock like menagerie.  These jet black birds with bright yellow undercoating, sing an unusual mix of songs like I'd never heard before.  A mixture of fluting notes with cackles, wheezes and mimicry that resonates through the air in a melodious manner.  A colony of these birds can have up to 100 bag shaped nests dangling in the tree, which range from 11 to 17 inches in length and usually contain an active wasps nest for protection of the young.


After a little research I discovered they are called yellow-rumped cacique.  These slim bird has a long tail, blue eyes and a pale yellow pointed bill.  It's plumage is mainly black except for it's bright yellow rump, tail base, lower belly and wing epaulets. 


In Peruvian folklore this species is referred to as "paucar" which means "jaundiced ones" due to their vibrant yellow feathers.  According to an old folk tale, this creature began as a rumor spreading boy who always wore black pants and a yellow jacket. One day he pissed off an old women when he spread a rumor about her.  Unbeknownst to him, the women was a fairy in disguise who soon turned him into a noisy wandering bird adorned in black and yellow.  Since these birds are said to bring good news they are a welcomed neighbor.

Tonight Clyde ran out to take some pictures of the birds, who were not too cooperative but he still managed to snap a few photos.  It's nice to have time to stop and listen to the bird sounds, appreciate the sounds of nature, and enjoy ourselves......along the gringo trail. 

Here's a link to hear the bird sounds.  Go to the chart and count down five lines to the post by Allen T. Cratier, Canopy Tower, Panama

http://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Cacicus-cela

Monday, March 12, 2012

It's A Small World.......

For months now I've been posting about this gym we use that's connected to a resort with a beautiful outside swimming pool, that's owned by a Canadian couple.  Today we took our friends Phil and Sharon to the pool for a relaxing day of fun in the sun.  We introduced our friends to the owner and his wife and the four of them got to talking about where each was from in Canada. Turns out that Phil grew up in the same neighborhood as the resort owner, and they knew many of the same people.  With a country as colossal as Canada, it was quite the coincidence that paths should cross all the way across the ocean in the Panamá.

Back in October when Clyde and I attended a Halloween Party in Coronado he got to chatting with two women sitting at another table.  They were both from San Antonio, TX and he actually went to school with one of them, although she was a few years younger.  The other lived in a tiny town in Texas unfamiliar to most, but Clyde actually used to live nearby and delivered chips there as a Frito Lay Route Salesman.

It's these tiny little coincidences in life that make us realize just what a small world it really is after all.  Perhaps this will make us think differently, and treat all of those that cross our paths as acquaintances that we may see again.

On Saturday our car chugged it's way up Campana Mountain for a friendly luncheon at La Joya de Chicá Mountain Lodge.  Soon after we arrived in Panamá back in September, Linda and Fred from Chapala were one of the first expat couples that we met.  This week they have friends visiting from California that had been following this blog.  They wanted to meet us along with seeing the town of Chicá. Phil and Sharon welcomed everyone into their home with open arms for an afternoon barbecue. We spent the afternoon making new friends, and spending time with old friends while filling our bellies with food and drink.

Another trip into Panama City today to sign the final documents to buy the house.  Then the lawyer submits all documents to the Public Registry and in a week or two we should be able to close on the house finally.  Meeting the owner at the house one of these days to see what furniture we want to buy from him before he sells the rest.  And it will be nice to see the house again since it's been several months already since we last set eyes on the inside.

So here's to good friends and those little coincidence in life that make us stop and think just maybe they're not coincidences at all.  Maybe it's something greater than ourselves putting people in our paths for just a moment or a lifetime.  Until then we'll keep exploring new horizons and meeting new people here in Panamá.....along the gringo trail.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Panamanian Men And Dogs.....

Panamanian men are just like men every where when they see a woman walk by.  They practically break their necks trying to check her out, or crash vehicles when they look away from the road.  And you guys know it's true so don't try and deny it.
 
My first experience with Panamanian male rudeness happened a few months back, when I unknowingly walked around a hotel's roof top pool in a bikini, in the middle of the afternoon.  The men from a nearby high-rise construction site started yelling and whistling and practically falling off the building.  Most were probably young enough to be my son, but with my blond hair up in a pony tail and sun glasses covering the crows feet, they didn't realize that.  And since everyone knows men think not with the big head on top of their shoulders, but instead with the little head down yonder, they easily get in trouble.

And whenever I wear something that shows a bit of cleavage, all eyes go directly down when I walk by men.  I really don't know why us ladies bother to do our hair or wear makeup since men would rather just stare at our chests.  When we were going through Spanish school hell in the city a few months back, we walked to and from school everyday from the hotel.  Even walking with Clyde local men would stare at my chest as we walked by as if he didn't even exist.
 
Since I started walking the dog into downtown Capira we have to walk by a construction site.  Right along the Pan American Highway, it's noisy and I just thought they were coming out for a break or to check out my mean looking dog. It's hard to hear what they're saying with the noisy traffic and since my focus is keeping the dog in line and away from people walking by, I really don't pay the men much attention.  I didn't expect to be noticed being blond and fair skinned, as I just blend into the crowd.
 
But today on my way back home there must have been eight or nine men that stopped working, and walked to the street to watch us go by.  So I egged them on when I looked them in the face, smiled and said "buenos dias."  As I walked off I heard the whistles and comments like "muy bonita," just as the dog pulled on the leash and I gave it a tug to correct her.  Showed those guys that a strong dog needs a strong woman to keep her in line.  After all I've had plenty of practice keeping my husband in line, and when he's a good boy he even gets a treat.

A funny thing about men whistling at women with the typical "wolf whistle" as Clyde calls it.  The birds here mimic the same sound and we hear it frequently coming from the trees.  We even heard birds making the sound of squeaky toys, after the dog was playing with one outside.  We do have wild parrots, parakeets, toucans and more that could pick up people sounds and mimic them.  So perhaps when Clyde hears me say something derogatory to him, I can just blame it on the birds!

A few days ago while pulling out of a parking space in La Chorrera, traffic was heavy and Clyde backed into a taxi just slightly tapping his car. Clyde didn't even realize he hit the guy until I mentioned it.  The taxi driver got out of the car so Clyde got out and walked to the back of our car.  Two cops on the same motorcycle sat by watching as the taxi driver pointed to a slight scratch on his already dented vehicle.  Clyde said to the taxi driver "veinte dólars?" to which he shook his head yes.  I saw Clyde pull out his wallet, give the man a $20 dollar bill and off he went. The police watched the whole thing and then drove off, probably happy that they didn't need to get involved. Nothing like paying someone off right in front of the police, but this is Panamá!

These signs are found wherever
there is a high incidence of accidents

There are lots of them!
We should just get one for our car.....

Clyde has been checking our local bank account online to see if they took out the balance of the money for the house we're buying.  Today he realized that they did and sent a text message to our lawyer for her to follow up on the situation.  So we got the call around 11:30 today to be at the bank by 2pm today, so off we went.

Apparently I misunderstood what it was we were to pick up at the bank.  What we received was a letter stating that the money was in the account, and that we authorize the bank to give it to the seller after the final documents are ready.  After picking up the letter we were supposed to meet with the sellers again, along with our lawyer in front of a notary to sign the paperwork.  However since the seller was not available today, but will be available on Monday, we will make yet another trip into the city to meet with him and the lawyer to have the documents notarized. After this the lawyer will take the documents to the Department of Public Records for them to finalize all documents.  This last step should take about 2 weeks, at which time we will all meet again to sign the final documents.  At this time the seller will receive the full amount for the property and we will receive the keys to our new home. 

So it's been another exhausting day of running to the city just to pick up one document. All this for another half of the next step to the house buying process, the other half to be continued on Monday, when we venture out again for more grid lock traffic.............along the gringo trail.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Into Week Three......

This is week three now of waiting for the bank to write a certified check of our money, to give to the seller's of the house we're buying.  Every week they had a different excuse and now they're saying the person that has to sign the check is out of the office until Thursday.  We tried to stay on our lawyers case, since that is what we're paying her for, to get the bank to do this already. It's frustrating since we Americans can't understand why it would take so long to buy a house with CASH.  But we've talked to others living here who have similar stories to tell, so we just have to keep waiting!  The sellers do understand that it's out of our hands and that we've done all that we could. 

Another busy day yesterday as I took the dog for a morning walk toward the town of Capira.  She got a bit nervous around traffic and people, so I didn't push it for too long since she's still also getting used to me too.  Then Clyde and I took off for the gym, after which I did some laps in the pool before taking it easy in the sun for a bit.  Did a little shopping in Coronado before heading home for the day.  Had to buy a few things for the dog of course, along with some groceries. 

Back home around 4pm to find Venus waiting  patiently at the front gate, very excited to see us.  A good sign that our new friend has bonded with us, and couldn't wait for us to get back home.  A bit later we gave her a bath outside with the hose and some nice smelling doggy shampoo.  She stood nicely for the bath and didn't complain one bit.  After drying off she ran off with one of the towels frockling with it in the grass.  Clyde engaged her in a game of fetch the ball and when she'd had enough she ran off with the ball putting it in her special hiding place.  We walked her again to try out the new leash and collar we bought.

Just got an email from the lawyer that she has information from the bank.  So we are on standby to see if we need to go into the city today.  Our whole life has been on standby lately over the paperwork on this house. And the daughter of the man who owns the house has retired from the banking industry and since she's Panamanian we even tried to get her involved.  Even she can't understand the way they're doing things. 

Thinking of heading to the beach today, although it's partly cloudy.  Not sure where we'll end up as usual, but it will certainly be an adventure, since this is Panamá.  Just two gringos just living life in paradise........along the gringo trail. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

New Member Of The Family......

Meet Venus an eight year old Panamanian Doberman who came to live with us today.  We know for sure that she's a Panamanian dog since fireworks don't even make her flinch.  Dogs brought to Panamá from other countries are skittish around them, but since they're so common here local dogs are used to the loud noise.  Clyde had wanted to get a guard dog after we moved into the house in Chame, but things happened sooner than expected.  Our friends kept telling us about this doberman that was left behind when it's owners had to move back to the states, and they thought we might be interested.  We saw photos, read her biography and felt it she was a good match for us.  Although she looks tough and intimidating, she's really sweet and well behaved. 

This is Venus

Clyde has had dogs for many years but not the case for me.  Having grown up with a mother that didn't like animals, she never allowed us kids to have any.  And many times even as grown ups, we follow in the same footsteps as our parents and live the way we did with them.  But since Clyde has come into my life, I've become a different person and thought bonding with a dog would be a wonderful experience.  And since our babies are grown up and far away, Venus will become our new "retirement" baby.

After we let Venus get comfortable being around us, we tried taking her for a walk.  As soon as she saw the leash she was excited, but we had her calm down before putting the lease on.  To my amazement she walked by my side, and ignored the other dogs, cars and people we passed by.  The short walk went so well that I took her out alone later that evening, and Clyde snapped a few photos on our way back. 

Out for a walk

Venus is so well behaved that she sits, lays down, and offers a paw to shake with little to no effort.  She's surrounded by four neighborhood dogs in adjoining back yards that she can interact with.  When Clyde and I sat down for dinner she did try to get her nose in the food, but we didn't allow it and had her sit near by to continue bonding. 

If she's doing this well on the first day with us I'm sure the three of us will have many happy, healthy years ahead to enjoy each other.  So now it's two gringos plus one......along the gringo trail.

Old School Buses Never Die......

Old school buses never die, instead they're shipped to Panamá and become "diablos rojos."  Translated as "red devils," these colorful old school buses are a dying breed.  During our first visit to Panamá the red devils peaked our interest with their colorful and outlandish displays.  Since the buses are independently owned, each driver has the freedom to design his bus the way he wants.  Graphics on the buses can depict religious beliefs, favorite cartoon characters, celebrities he'd like to meet, or the woman of his dreams.  Unfortunately I haven't seem my likeness on any of the buses yet, and since they're being phased out it's unlikely that will ever happen.

Although fun to look at, they drive like maniacs and pack in passengers like sardines.  It's not uncommon to see someone hanging out the door.  The diablos rojos are being replaced by government regulated Metro buses.  The new buses are air conditioned, handicapped accessible, and better equipped to accommodate the elderly.  Buses will be equipped with special computer software to regulate schedules and fares will be paid with rechargeable electronic cards. The new metro buses will offer qualified bus drivers a monthly salary, and will make them eligible for social security upon retirement.

The old "diablos rojos" will be sold to the Department of Education and turned back into school buses to transport children.  As it stands now, only the private schools here seem to bus the children. The kids that attend public school use public transportation or walk to and from school.

Panamá City is also in the process of putting in a Metro Subway system.  Once complete, however long it may take. it will hopefully decrease the amount of gridlock traffic in the city.

Just like old school buses, old Americans never die..... instead they move to Panamá to begin a whole new life.  In many ways we're just like the old buses, with a fresh coat of paint and a new outlook on life.  A fresh start, a new beginning, a willingness to venture into the unknown we roll on down the highway of life discovering new things.......along the gringo trail. 


No air conditioning and it's not uncommon to see people hanging out the door

Notice the woman in yellow, a street vendor

Large chrome exhaust pipes so they can be heard

Showing his faith

Picture of an indigenous woman

His woman perhaps?

Row of buses on a typical, congested street in the city