Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Taxing Time In The Tropics.....

As time goes on and we live in Panamá longer, my blog posts have become fewer.  Some of the adventure is gone as we've settled in and live our day to day lives here.  And since we make no money from the free information we give out here, I've been concentrating my efforts on writing for money elsewhere. 

People ask us all the time what we do to keep busy and we tell them "plenty."  My days are spent working out, writing and studying Spanish.  In between I manage to find some time for working on my tan, cleaning, shopping and relaxing. Clyde spends much of his time doing little projects around the house, mowing an acre of grass and trimming countless bushes, hedges, shrubs, plants and flowers.  Since this time of year is summer when the rains stop and much of the vegetation goes into hibernation, some of that time will be freed up for now.  When I'm not finding some "honey-do's" for Clyde to do, he's working out and studying Spanish too.  In between all of this we have get-togethers with friends, expat mixers and time spent with visitors at Punta Chame Resort where we use the gym and pool.  Makes me tired just writing about it all.

A few weeks ago after some arm twisting from you know who, Clyde decided it was time to paint the outside of the house.  The old light green color on the house was faded and chipped and probably hadn't been painted in 30 years.  We both agreed that the color should remain green and decided something just a bit brighter would be nice.  The coordinating colors of cream and bright peach would make the colors pop and come alive in this tropical setting.  Within about a week we managed to paint one side and the front of the house using two coats of sealer and two coats of semi-gloss paint.  Of course Clyde had to do the prep work scrapping the old paint off before we could even begin.  With our busy lives we got side-tracked and took a break and now need to finish up the other two sides. 

Our Freshly Painted Front
Same color but a lot brighter! 


This is the side where we started
Because this is our Outdoor Seating space 

Another View of the Side



She forgot to mention that I
redid the cushions in our outdoor chairs
Nothing like upholsetery material on a
 little plastic sewing machine! 
 And the fabric was only $2.99 a yard


After the walls are done we still need to paint the bars on the windows (remember this is Latin America and all homes have bars) and freshen up the paint on the cement floor which is dark red.  And just a word about bars on the windows which I've covered before here, but in case you missed it.  In Latin cultures they feel the way to protect their home is to put steel bars on the windows, steel security doors and barbed wire on top of fencing that encloses the property.  This in no way means the area is unsafe, but merely used as a precaution.  Just like a rich gringo would shell out big bucks for an alarm system to protect his home, bars are a cheaper and simpler solution in Latin cultures. 

Bought this "oat milk" to try it but turns out it was sweetened and flavored with cinnamon.
  Guess they do it to get kids to drink milk.  They offer many flavors in these tiny drink
 boxes that even come with a straw.  All of the "boxed" milk here is ultra-pasturized
 and needs NO refrigeration until after it's open.
 



.

Enjoying the dog days of summer here with no rain and temperatures reaching into the low 90's everyday.  Schools are closed for summer vacation as locals head to the beaches with their families.  The trade winds are blowing hard to keep things a bit cooler, making us feel like we're back in windy south Texas.  Since no amount of hair spray can compete with heavy winds, I'm having to keep my hair up most of the time. When it's so windy that my hair gets messy inside the house while I'm trying to fix it, there's not much left to do except plop it on top of my head or pull it back into a pony tail.

Although we became a bit testy over taxes in the tropics over the last two weeks, things thankfully have tamed down.....along the gringo trail.


We passed this old clunker on the side of the road
Believe it or not, this is the exception not the rule in Panama

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Just A Little Coo Coo For Coco.....

Yesterday we were relaxing in our bohio with two blog followers visiting from Florida thinking of retiring to Panama when our strange dog went a little cooco for coco.  Out of nowhere Venus our Dober-woman picked up a coconut off the ground and hauled it to other side of the bohio.  While bracing it with her paws she began to gnaw and chew at it like a toy.  Since Venus is not a dog that plays with toys we thought maybe she considered it something to chew on like a bone. First she removed the hard outer shell, then ripped off the fibrous layer, shredding it into pieces all over the lawn.  Finally she found the soft spot on the inner shell where they "eyes" of the coconut are and nipped a hole to the inside.  Somehow she managed to tip the thing up enough to suck out the coconut milk and when she was finished she ran by the four of us with white milk dripping from her mouth.  We were surprised as we had never seen her do such a thing.  Our visitors were long time dog lovers and said they had a dog in Florida that did the same.  Here are some photos of what was left of the coconut after Venus tore into it.  Perhaps she was taking out her frustrations after a tasty lizard that she caught got away?  Or maybe just something to do on a hot summers day when she had a craving for coconut milk....along the gringo trail.



Here is what the coconut looks like in it's
"husk" on the right and the finished product on the left


This is the husk material she took off


Close up of the husk matieral


This shows the hole she made in it
to get to the milk

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Is It A Small World After All?


During a recent conversation with some prospective future retirees to Panamá, a subject arose that had never before.  In talking about the future airport being built on the other side of Coronado this visitor said he heard that Disney was looking to open a park here.  It would be called Disney Latin America and tourists could fly to the park from all over the world, directly into the new airport that would open someday in Rio Hato.

An expensive Disney park here in Panamá?  A country of this size could never support such an endeavor.  Anyone that's every visited one of their parks knows that a one day pass is around $100 per person.  In a country where the average earnings are around $400 or so per month, an average family of four would have nothing left to live on after one visit to the park.  Although I've enjoyed many a day in Disney parks in Florida I certainly don't want to live near one!


Outraged by the thought I did some research and here's what I found out.  An article that referenced this $658 million dollar project, said that Disney bought the land back in 2001 to build a 350 acre theme park near the entrance to Coronado, a high-end beach community.  As part of the deal Disney with the cooperation from the local government, would change the names of nearby towns to cutesy cartoon like names.  For instance the beach town of Gorgona would become "Agrabah" after the Arabian town in Aladdin.  Gorgona would also become an extra parking lot for the park where guests would board a train and be taken to the main entrance of the park. 

As I continued to read the article I became enraged, since our house is just five minutes down the road from Gorgona.  I didn't sign on for this.  Had I wanted to live outside of a tacky, Disney theme park I would have retired to Florida.  But as I continued to read the article it said that the project was to be completed by November 2012....last year?  Well below is the full article for you to see for yourself.  Be sure to click on the link at the end for the full whammy...along the gringo trail.

     
By Rodrigo Campos, Associated Press Writer Ciudad de Panama

Panama officials confirmed today that the government of Panama has issued The Walt Disney Company the required permits to begin construction on a $658 million theme park near the Pacific Coast. The first phase of the project, which will be named Disneylandia, is set to be completed in November 2012 and will include a theme park, hotels, airport, and production studio. Located on the Pan-American Highway near the entrance to the resort town of Coronado, the 350 acre park is expected to significantly increase the number of tourists entering the Central American country annually. Disney officials cited many reasons for choosing Panama as the new location of Disney, including a dollarized economy, strong democratic government, and the need to give Latin American residents who find it difficult to get an American Visa the opportunity to visit the home of Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Disney purchased the land in 2001, and plans to purchase more land in the future for expansion. (more)

As part of a deal struck with Panamanian officials to bring the theme park to the tiny country, the names of nearby coastal areas will be changed to reflect Disney inspired themes. This has drawn the ire of local residents, who claim that the government never met with them to discuss the changes.

"The government has sold out our beautiful community without telling us anything," says Ernesto Arosemena of Gorgona, which will soon be named Agrabah, after the Arabian town in Aladdin. The area at the entrance to Gorgona is slated to become a satellite parking lot, and officials plan to build a train from there to the main entrance of the park.

Disney officials are assuring locals that they will hardly notice the construction, officially set to break ground on December 28th. Although the park plans to have construction 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, they tell residents that they should only expect traffic delays Mondays through Saturdays. For more information, please visit

Article found courtesy of Don Winners, Panama Guide
    http://www.panama-guide.com/article.php/20090401154924637

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Making Kids Feel Like Kings......

Today in Panamá is the Feast of Three Kings, a day to remember the three wise men that brought gifts for baby Jesus.  But instead of kings we gringos took over the roles of kings and handed out gifts to local handicapped children.



The Food Baskets are ready

Our Special "Elf"

Terry ready to give out more crowns

Louise and a special friend

Terry handing out a food basket



This annual event was organized by CASA (Coronado Area Social Association) as a way to give something back to the community.  Louise and her staff at CASA raised money though a spaghetti dinner, craft fair and Christmas party. A local branch of Mailboxes Etc. donated bags to hold the food items.  Other businesses and individuals joined forces to donate goods.  Together they filled 75 bags with well needed food items for families with handicapped children and adults.  Clyde and I along with a handful of other expats had the honor of handing out these bags to deserving families.




A local activist named Maribel hosted the event at her home.  She invited needy families and those with handicapped kids to join in the festivities.  With the help of a local church group, she provided lunch to the crowd along with ice cream. The children received donated candy and toys before presenting them with the food bags, fresh fruit and a wrapped gift.  Louise and a few of her crafty friends designed crowns out of construction paper, and adorned them glitter, stars, stickers, jewels, and gems.  The crowns made the kids feel like kings and queens while they lived a life of luxury for just a short time.

Some Very Special Kids!! 


Thank You to our special "Elf"

Louise took lots of photos at last years event and presented some of the kids with their own picture today.  What a joy to see their faces light up as they saw their own likeness in  the photo.  These kids are too poor to have Internet or cameras and probably don't get to see themselves in print too often.

We were rewarded with big smiles, hugs and many thank yous for the simple gifts we provided.  How delightful to be part of something so special and be able to give back just a little.  Perhaps this opened our eyes to the opportunities around us and the need for volunteers willing to get involved.

Those of us from North American are so fortunate to have been blessed with so much that surely we can spare just a little to help out those in need. And just maybe it will make Panamanians  think differently of us foreigners invading their country.  Regardless of color, race, or nationality we all come together in this melting pot called Panamá....along the gringo trail.