Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Push Button Hotel...Another First In Panamá

As our car turned into the driveway we made our way past thick, lush, flowering hedges festively decorated with Christmas lights.  Once at the end we were faced with a row of garage doors to our right.  Each was topped with the word "suite" and a room number.  Clyde turned the car into one of the dark garages as we noticed the sign on the wall which read "$28 por dos horas."  We stepped out of the car and Clyde pressed the door bell-like button on the wall.  This caused. the garage door to close with us inside, and apparently sounded an  alarm inside letting them know a guest had arrived.  Then he pulled out the cash and inserted it through the slot in the door.

El Romance
open 24 hours!

Christmas time at "El Romance"

The sound of foot steps could be heard on the other side of the door as the money disappeared and we heard the door unlock.  A voice on the other side said "adelante," which means "come in" (go forward) in Spanish.  Clyde pushed open the door and we had to giggle, as we were about to have our first experience in a "Push Button Hotel," cleverly named "El Romance."

High Tech method of

Hotels like this are throughout the country and offer a totally private, anonymous, secret getaway.  With even the car concealed behind closed doors there's no chance to get caught, unless you're seen driving into the place.  An ideal spot for lovers looking for a romantic getaway?  Or maybe Mom and Dad  trying to have some alone time away from the kids?  Possibly even a tired traveler looking for a place to nap?  Or on the sleazier side perhaps a husband or wife sneaking out for an torrid affair?

They must have gone up in price recently

What I expected to find was a sleazy, dirty room with mirrors on the ceiling, a vibrating bed, and tacky furnishings.  But what we found was completely the opposite.

We walked into a sitting room with an old, worn, fake leather couch to our left. Next to it was a small refrigerator with snacks on top and a coffee table in front.  The fridge was stocked with beer, wine, water and sodas just like a cash bar in any hotel. 

The "Sitting Area"

To the side of the living area was a room with a two-person, sapphire blue Jacuzzi and decorative tile around it.  The floor around the tub was tiled with pretty blue and white shiny tiles.  Back in the main room we could see a bathroom to the right with a tiled shower, sink and commode.  A large arch beautifully adorned with blue tile welcomed us into the bedroom.  A king-sized platform bed was simply dressed in pristine white sheets where towels wrapped in a plastic bags sat on top.  Two night stands sat on either side of the bed and the wall to the left was neatly mirrored.  A flat screen television was perched high on the wall in case the guests had spare time to watch a football game after the fun was over.

Actually had HOT water!

Since this was a spur of the moment, spontaneous side trip we had nothing with us to drink and Clyde decided to order room service.  He picked up the phone and asked the woman on the other end for two rum and coke's.  Within minutes we heard a tap on an inside door which meant that our drinks had arrived.  Clyde opened the little window, took out the drinks and put the money in before closing the little door.  This totally anonymous type of room service cost him $5.00 for two drinks.  After spending such big bucks on a two hour room and drinks I assumed he was looking for some romance.

An anonymous way to receive your drinks
you never see anyone

Nice King Sized Bed

To take advantage of all the room had to offer we started with a shower, then slid into the hot tub built for two.  I'll spare you the rest of the details, but when our two hours was up the phone rang a melodic tune.  Clyde picked it up and was told that our time was up.  We showered and dressed quickly before collecting our belongings.  Before leaving the room he called the office on the phone to let them know we were leaving and they could check the room.  Once outside in the closed garage with our car we waited patiently as the staff checked the room and made sure that we paid for anything we'd taken out of the cash bar. Once they were done they opened up the garage door for us and we were free to leave.

Shower for Two

We drove off with a smile knowing that we'd successfully completed yet another first here in Panamá.  Our first experience in a Push Button Hotel felt a bit naughty, but offered some innocent fun for two romantic, crazy gringos....along the gringo trail.

On our way home, we had our way blocked
by these kids never figured out where they
were heading, perhaps Christmas Caroling?


Terry now has a book published
to Amazon for your kindle

Monday, December 24, 2012

Another White Face In The Crowd......

Many of my posts tell about us being the only white face in a crowd of dark skinned Panamanians, but not this time.  On Saturday night it was different since we melted into the crowd of other pale faces in Coronado.  It was time for the CASA (Coronado Area Social Association) Christmas Bash held at a huge ballroom in the Coronado Golf complex.

With nearly 200 other gringos in attendance, the room was packed with holiday cheer.  Everyone was dressed to impress in sexy holiday dresses, gowns and even a few tuxedos for the men. The delectable buffet included beef, chicken, fish, cerviche, salads, vegetables and so much more.  After that a dessert buffet was well stocked with five or six choices of sweet treats, which all seemed to disappear from my plate.

To burn off those extra calories we danced the night away to the rock and roll sounds of Poco Loco's.  As always it was great to reconnect with friends we hadn't seen in a while and make many new ones.  Our friend Louise and her staff did an incredible job putting together this fabulous party. One of the few fundraisers that CASA does, the proceeds were used to make holiday baskets for needy families in the area.

Yesterday we spent the afternoon chatting with a Ukrainian couple from Canada, thinking of making Panamá their home someday. We're always fascinated to get to know people from other parts of the world and learn what life is like in their neck of the woods.

Tonight we,re having a get-together at our house for a bunch of friends.  We're baking a ham with au gratin potatoes and dinner rolls.  I already made home made chunky, cinnamon applesauce that will sit warming in a crock pot as guests arrive.  Hoping that this permeates the house with yummy smells of cinnamon and apples, so luscious around the holidays.  And since rum is drank as often as water here in Panamá, I had to make some rum balls and cookies too.  It's a potluck so everyone is bringing something to share too.  Some sangria, ron ponche (the local version of egg nog) and other adult beverages will help everyone to relax and have fun.  A white elephant swap is always a fun way to entertain a crowd and everyone gets to take home some unusual gift too.

The sun is shining brightly, and the birds are chirping as the thermometer screams out 90 degrees.  Let's hope that Santa remembers to bring his speedo and surf board tonight for his midnight run around the globe.  Here in Panamá he'll be treated to rum cake, rum balls and fruit cake instead of the typical fare of cookies and milk.

Perhaps we can head to the beach tomorrow to gather some sand into balls, stack them on top of each other and add some seashells for eyes.  A tropical beachy snowman to be washed away by the warm bath like waters of the Pacific Ocean.   A little sunshine, alot of rum and everyone will have lots of fun....along the gringo trail.

Twas The Night Before Navidad.....

       Twas the Night Before Navidad
(My version:by Terry Coles)

Twas the night before Navidad and all through the land
Not a creature was stirring except my sweat gland

The stockings were hung on the palm tree with care
As the warm balmy breezes blew through my hair

The monkeys were nestled in trees up way up high
And the jungle was quiet, not a creature did fly

Mama in a bikini with a drink in her hand
And Clyde with a fish pole, a catch would be grand

When out in the water we heard such a clatter
I sprang from my chair to see what was the matter

Away from my chair I flew with a splash
Stepped on a shell and tripped over some trash

The sun on the water sparkled with glow
And the break of the surf looked almost like snow

But what to my wondering eyes did appear
But a boat full of gifts and eight tiny reindeer

I noticed the Captain was chubby and thick
And knew at that moment it must be St. Nick

It tousled and joustled to shore it took aim
As I heard the old fart call out some name

"Jump Dasher and Dancer, swim Prancer and Vixen
Quick Comet, go Cupid, paddle Donner and Blitzen!"

To the end of the beach it came with a crawl
Now swim away, swim away, swim away all

As sand from the beach when the wind blows does fly
High up to the treetops and gets in my eye

The boat came a shore and slammed into a tree
And a coconut bounced off and landed on me

And just at that moment I heard on the reef
Santa looking for something and shouted “good grief”

He pulled out a bottle and chugged down a beer
Said now I can take on those children I fear

Dressed up in a speedo and flip flops to boot
He said this is Panama? Oh what a hoot!

He called for a taxi the size of a bus
And filled it with toys with out much of a fuss

Then tied up the reindeer under a tree
And jumped in the cab after taking a pee

We heard him yell loud as they drove out of sight
Feliz Navidad to All..... Along the Gringo Trail tonight.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Carols By Candlelight......

A sprinkling of rain reflected in the stage lights and appeared almost like snow, as my mind took a negative turn.  The thought of sitting in the rain to sing Christmas carols didn't appeal to me, but why would it be any different if this was snow? After all caroling in the snow is accepted, and almost preferred to ensure the perfect Christmas setting. But thankfully moments later the rain ceased and the clouds started to scatter as a few lonely stars shined down on us.

The girls in the red were dancing

Imagine sitting in the middle of historic old town Panama City singing Christmas carols with thousands of gringos by candlelight?  That was us Saturday night as we taxied on over to Plaza de Francia in Casco Viejo.  The second annual Carols by Candlelight sponsored by the Canada Plus Club is a fundraiser that offers local talent a place to show off while raising money for local charities.  For a small donation we were provided with battery operated candles and a song book to sing along with locals groups as they led the carols.

Singers from the Panama Opera

Carols by Candlelight began over 70 years ago by an Australian radio personality as a way for communities to join together in song while raising money for the less fortunate. This worldwide event made its way to the Republic of Panamá just two years ago. This year the money raised will go to Hogar Malambo, Santo Tomas Hospital and Casa Brown.

Ten groups volunteered their time and talent to sing, dance or play instruments helping to spread a little holiday cheer.  And who would think that a tiny, third world country like Panama would have a National Ballet Company, an Opera Company, Choral Group and a Youth Symphony Orchestra full of incredible talent. 

Each of the groups performed a variety of holiday music in several languages and the audience was encouraged to sing along by candlelight.  The opera company amazed the audience as they performed their selections in German, Spanish and English.  Two members of the National Ballet company delighted us with excerpts from the Nutcracker ballet.  The choral group sang a medley of songs in several languages and the cast of Godspell belted out some songs.  Local school groups looked adorable as they sang in both Spanish and English too. 

One of the great singing groups

We spotted Rudolph!

Santa and his sexy little helpers were nearby allowing the kiddos a chance to meet with him.  My dear husband along with many other men in the crowd were more interested in nuzzling up with his young helpers dressed in red mini dresses and heels. 

Santa's Little Helper
(who cares about the guy to the right?)

OK, here's Santa and his
two helpers

Our taxi ride back to the hotel was spirited and fast paced sort of like a roller coaster ride.  The driver cranked up the Latin music and sang along without a care in the world.  He put his  pedal to the metal and drove full speed ahead blasting the horn whenever someone got in his way.  As the car whipped around corners it seemed to be on two wheels and ran over anything that didn't move fast enough. But we made it back to our hotel unharmed ready to crash for the night.  This by the way was the first time we'd ever used a taxi since we've been in Panamá.  Clyde thought with so many people expected at this concert we'd never find parking and a cab would be easier.

Country Inn and Suites

Table in the Hotel

Art in the Hotel

HOTTIE at the hotel

Hotel Pool area

Our weekend in the city included a stay at a nice hotel on the Amador Causeway that overlooked the canal.  His plan was to try out the nearby Zona de Rumba on Friday night for some dancing.  This complex includes as assortment of clubs and bars all included in the $2.00 entry fee and sounded like a great idea.  But since the clubs are all centered around an outdoor common area, some heavy rain put a damper on our festivities.  This girl was not a happy camper walking around in heels and a tiny black dress hovered under an umbrella.  With just a few clubs open for business the place wasn't much fun and we quickly headed out.  Next door was the Balboa Yacht Club which featured easy listening live music in English.  Taking cover from the rain we cozied up under the thatched roof, had a drink and a snack while enjoying the musical medley.

A view of the Bridge of the Americas
from our Hotel Room

Saturday during the day I insisted on a trip to several malls just to walk around and look at the Christmas decorations. Malls were packed to the ceiling with shoppers and we quickly tired of fighting our way through the crowds. 

Santa Land at Allbrook Mall

Terry found a tall friend
A different huge animal stands at each entrance to Albrook Mall
helping shoppers to remember which door they came in.  There are 15 or more
 of them since this mall is so huge, and they've recently expanded it.  Shopping here is exhausting!

Swarovski Crystal Christmas Tree
$500,00 of Crystal Ornaments
on this 15 meters tall tree

This tree is decorated with over
6000 crystals at the
Multiplaza Mall

Back at the hotel we walked to a nearby TGIFridays Restaurant that overlooked the canal.  In the short time we sat there having dinner we saw four ships pass through the canal, two from either direction. 

Ships waiting to enter the canal
view from TGIFridays
next to our hotel

A ship leaving the canal area
view from TGIFridays

Our hotel offered VIP taxi service and even had a list of prices posted at the front desk.  The short trip from the Amador Causeway to Casco Viejo for the caroling event was $10.00.  The bellhop suggested that we walk down the street and pick up a yellow cab for less money.  Since taxi rates here are set by zone, before entering the cab the driver can offer a price.  But like everything here they will try to "gringo" any foreigners and get more money out of them.  So Clyde asked the driver "how much" and he said," $8.00."  Clyde said "no" and the driver asked in English, "so how much you want to pay?"  Clyde said "$5.00," and the driver said "I'll do it for $6.00," to which Clyde agreed.

Spotted this "Rumba Bus"
"Rumba" means "party" in Spanish

On Sunday our plans included a holiday party sponsored by Bob from Retirement Wave, an informational website for those considering retirement to Panamá.  But with a holiday parade in the city at the same time, streets were closed and traffic was re-routed.  With all roads leading to Bob's place closed, our only option was to park somewhere and walk the rest of the way.  Dressed in a nice outfit with heels that I'd never worn before, my plan was to stand around and look pretty, not to walk the streets.

We found a closed off street and Clyde parked on the sidewalk since there was no parking on the road.  Quickly a Panamanian security guard ran over to us telling us we couldn't park there.  Clyde asked where we could park, and the man asked if we were going to the parade?  Clyde told him we had a party at a friends house and he pointed to a vacant parking lot.  The man ran in front of us and moved the neon orange cone blocking the entrance and guided us into the parking lot.  As soon as we left he car another security guard from across the street came over yelling that we couldn't park there either.  Then the two men began yelling at each other about the whole situation.  Apparently one man was guarding the street and the other was guarding the parking lot.  Finally the first man agreed to let us park on his street and instructed us to park where we were in the first place, on the sidewalk.  We thanked him and walked off hoping that the car would be there when we got back from the party.

As we walked it began to rain and even though we had an umbrella, I was walking through puddles and my hair was starting to frizz.  By the time we made our way to the party I was a mess in my own mind.  However, the party was great and we mingled with some old friends and made lots of new ones.  Bob provided tons of great food and drinks to alter my mood a bit along with the great conversation.

A view of the city from Bob's balcony

After three hours at the party the parade was just starting and traffic was even worse that it was earlier in the day.  We made our way back to the car only to notice that the rest of the closed off street was now being used for parade parking.  Clyde had no idea how he'd be able to turn the car around to get out of the street, or if that was possible at all.  The nice security guard that allowed us to park there came over to help.  He pointed out the direction for Clyde to turn and then ran to the end of the street to remove the barricade that closed it off.  This man went way out of his way to help us out and we were so impressed by his act of kindness!!!  As we passed him on the end of the street I opened the window and handed him a few bucks for his kindness thanking him profusely.  I told him to have a good day as we pulled away with a smile, amazed once again at the wonderful local people we've met here in Panamá.

Panama is a Cosmopolitan City

Before heading home we stopped at Price Smart for some essentials.  Once we crossed the bridge and made our way out of the city we breathed a sigh of relief.  Stopped for arepas and meat for dinner at our favorite little place in Capira, where we bumped into friends.  We made it home tired and worn out from our weekend of fun, ready to get back to our quiet life.  But not sure if that's possible with Christmas fast approaching and more parties to attend.  At least we're full of holiday cheer in more ways than one....along the gringo trail.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Lady In The Mens Room......

During a trip to Westland Mall yesterday when nature called, Clyde stopped to use the men's room.  After he came out he mentioned that there was a young woman in there mopping the floor as the men were standing at the urinals.  He explained that she carefully mopped in between the men, behind them and all around not paying any attention to what they were doing, or the fact that they were exposing themselves. 

Later on in one of the stores Clyde found a few short sleeved, sport shirts that he liked and I suggested that he try them on, right there in public over the shirt he was wearing.  After all this is something we'd do in the states all the time whenever something didn't involve taking clothes off.  The sales lady quickly came over to him and in Spanish nicely told him that this wasn't allowed and showed him to the "vestidores" or fitting room.  Once inside the clerk carefully took the shirts off the hangers one at a time and handed them to Clyde.

Last time I tried blouses on in a store they were all white and the clerk told me in Spanish to make sure that I didn't get them dirty.  So I carefully tried them on being sure not to get makeup on any of them.  After deciding which one I wanted to buy as I left the fitting room I hung the unwanted ones on the rack with the others and left quickly.  I certainly didn't want the fitting room Nazi to inspect them and tell me that I'd made them dirty in any way.  Many years ago when I worked as a ladies department manager for Wal-Mart the things that came out of the fitting room were disgusting at times and had to be marked down or discarded.  So I can understand them being careful here even though the clothes are so cheap.

And in case your wondering about Clyde's shirts, he bought two that were $1.99 each and two that were $5.99 each being the big spender that he is.  And to think that he'd taken me out for Mothers Day which was celebrated here in Panamá yesterday so I could buy some shoes.  Although I did manage to find some shoes too and had to stop myself from liking too many.  I ended up with two pair of flips flops for .99 cents each, another pair for $2.99 and then two pair of wedge sandals for $12.99 each.

We thought since yesterday was a family holiday that the malls would be empty if everyone was home bonding with mama.  But instead it looked like everyone in Panamá went to the mall with mama, grandma and the rest of the family too.  The mall was packed with Christmas shoppers that even lined up to have their purchases gift wrapped too. 

As we went from one store to the next we had to check in our packages at the "paqueteria" for them to hold.  Every store seems to have these things that are like locker rooms for bags.  Once our bag was placed into the square cubby the clerk handed us a number attached to a rubber band.  This can be worn around the arm or placed into a pocket and acts as a claim ticket to pick up the packages later on.  We didn't like the idea or hassle of checking in bags of purchases before, but it's easier than carrying everything and not an option here anyway.

Scenes like the one described above about the men's room just reminds us that we live in a different world here.  While shopping for groceries earlier today we had to maneuver the cart around a large, floor cleaner going by.  These things are done while the business is open and not at night like in the U.S. We've sat in medical and dental offices with a cleaning lady sweeping and mopping around us too.  It's just the way things are done here making them a little different.  I could see if Clyde had pulled down his pants to try on another while standing in the middle of the store, but a shirt over a shirt....really now!

And in most of the grocery stores here the shopping cart doesn't fit through the aisle in between the cash registers.  The cart is pushed up to the conveyor, unloaded onto the belt and the cart is then pushed back for someone to collect.  After the items are scanned the cashier passes them through to the bagger making sure that she never gets off of the chair she's sitting on.  The young male baggers pack up the purchases and place them into a different type of cart that they use to push out to the customers car.  They unload the basket and put the groceries into the car for the consumer, expecting a tip in return.  The cashiers here really do go to great lengths to not get out of their chairs and sometimes it's funny to watch. 

Westland Mall was all decked out for the holidays with "ofertas" or sales everywhere.  Huge Christmas trees decorated with large ornaments were everywhere. Santas village was set up at one end while a life-sized nativity scene filled the other.  It's obvious that Christmas is in the air even though it's 90 degrees outside.  Time to pick up some "Ron Ponche" or rum punch, sing a chorus of "Feliz Navidad" and relax to the warm, tropical breezes....along the gringo trail.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Happy Mothers Day....In Panamá

Today is Dia de la Madre, or mother's day here in Panamá.  Unlike the U.S. where it seems to be one of those days created by the greeting card companies just to sell more cards, here it's a National Holiday.  Some businesses will be closed today giving employees the day off to honor their Moms.
Panamá began honoring its Moms some 86 years ago on May 11, 1924.  Initiated by the Rotary Club who contacted authorities suggesting the day be turned into a holiday in honor of Mothers.  Officials approved the holiday and it was originally celebrated on May 11th until December 8,1930.   On that day a bunch of society ladies sent a letter to the first lady of President Harmodio Arosemena suggesting that December 8th be declared a National Holiday in honor of the Immaculate Conception. 
It was because of this suggestion that members of the National Assembly of Panamá passed Law 69, declaring December 8th a national holiday.  This special day honors the Immaculate Conception along with Mothers Day until 6pm this evening.  Celebrated with masses, parties and other events, Mom's are lavished with gifts and hopefully given some time to relax.
Handmade signs are in stores everywhere pointing out special gifts for "Dia de la Madre."  Even our local dollar store called "Toda a Dolár" featured gifts for Mom.  A front end cap displayed baskets made in the stores and filled with nail polish, soaps and other gifty items.  Slippers, perfumes and other girly items were nearby too enticing shoppers to pick up a little something for that special lady.
I had to smile when I read that May 11th was the original date of Mother's Day here because it was also a type of mothers day to me.  It was the day that my one and only daughter Desireé was born way back in 1981. Sometimes her birthday falls on Mother's Day in the states and we'd get to celebrate a special day together.  But since we live in Panamá now perhaps I should be honored on both the Panamanian Mothers Day and the American holiday too? 
As for us we'll spend a quiet day at home today enveloped in the warmth of the tropical breezes in whatever we do....along the gringo trail.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Taking Candy From Strangers......

As we walked along the country road enjoying the solitude of the morning, approaching us from the other direction was a young boy.  With a dark tanned complexion he was dressed in shorts, flip flops and a tee shirt.  A small pouch like bag hung around his neck and across his chest, not uncommon for young men here. Just as usual we said "buenos dias" as he made his way closer.  To our surprise he walked toward us and said "yo tengo un regalo para tu," which translates to "I have a gift for you."  He handed Clyde two individually wrapped pieces of candy to which we said "gracias" with a smile and walked away.  The candies were soft, chewy, mints sort of like Mentos in the states.  We delighted at his sweet gesture that warmed our hearts and made our day.

On any given day on these morning walks we always pass by locals walking to the bus, or school or to the store.  Some dressed in business attire, others casual or carrying babies.  The children donned in school uniforms with dark blue pants or skirts and crisp white or blue dress shirts with black shoes. People are always friendly and say "buenas" some even ask "como esta?" how are you?  Others make comments about us getting exercise, something that comes natural to them since they walk everywhere. One women even waved from afar as she walked by on the passing street, almost like she didn't want to miss her chance to greet us.  The locals are nice, sweet, simple people just trying to live their lives.  Although they don't have much in the way of material possessions they're insanely happy.  Many homes don't even have internet and at night we see local kids sitting on the curb or on a rock catching the free WI-FI near the police and fire stations.

People ask us all the time through this blog, emails or in person, one question over and over again.  Is it safe to live in Panamá?  In the 15 months that we've been here we feel perfectly safe and have never in any way felt threatened by the locals.  In crowds at Carnival, parades and fairs we've mingled among the locals like a bright light being the only white faces, yet felt quite comfortable. Perhaps it's because we act like we belong here because we do.  This is our home now and wherever we go we expect to be treated like one of the locals, because we are.  With our heads held high we face each person that we come in contact with, give them a big smile and say "buenas." A smile goes a long way and translates well into any language.

A while back while sitting at a friends restaurant this subject came up.  Seated among eight or nine other expats from the U.S. and Canada we threw out this question.  Has anyone here ever been a victim of theft back in their native country?  Everyone at the table said "yes."  Whether it's home invasions, car theft, purse snatching, or other crimes we've all experienced it in one way, shape or form.  So does that mean the U.S and Canada are not safe places to live?  My point here is that crime happens everywhere.  There are good and bad people all over the world therefore crime happens everywhere.

Here in Panamá just like back in the states we take precautions just because it's the right thing to do.  We lock our doors, don't leave valuables unattended, and don't flash money in public.  Our home here is totally fenced with a locking gate, that came with the property.  Our windows have steel bars on them, which is a common preventative measure in Latin cultures.  We have a home owners insurance policy against theft and fire, and we have a mean looking guard dog.

Our Mean Guard Dog

Statistically, Panama is safer than the U.S. and the crimes committed here are petty crimes like theft and burglary.  There is a extremely strong police presence here, much more than we ever saw in the U.S.  There are cops positioned every few miles along the highway with radar detectors, so we actually drive the speed limit here.  There are police everywhere we look here, just because Panamanians like it that way. Walk into any grocery store and there's a cop standing at the front with a rifle pointed up.  And where there's no police there's armed, uniformed, security guards.  Walk into any bank or government office and a guard with a metal detector is standing at the door.  They scan everyone and look into women's purses. Just about every business here has a security guard on the premises.  At big events like Carnival that we went to last year, we were searched and patted down before entering.  And a word about guns here is that from what we've heard they're very difficult to buy here and not common at all.

Wait, where's the male police officer?

I found him!

And if you ask my opinion on the strong police presence here perhaps there should be more of them.  Perhaps a few handsome, hunky, armed, young officers standing guard around our property.  After all they look so sexy and intimidating in their green uniforms, black bullet proof vests, black boots and large weapons pointing up.  They'd look rather nice planted outside my door, sort of like a human lawn ornaments with perks.  And then when I'm a naughty girl they could....OK it's time to snap out of this fantasy and get back to my dreamy fireman, the love of my life, who stole my heart and shares my adventures....along the gringo trail.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Deckin' The Doors.....

As I placed the fluffy, white, fake cotton snow carefully around the miniature village under the tree, a bead of summer sweat ran down my face.  The sound of "Navidad Rock" in the background with signs of "Feliz Navidad" everywhere can mean only one thing.  Christmastime in Panamá marks the beginning of summer.  Schools close for summer vacation and local families head to the beaches to catch a wave in the warm, bath like ocean waters.  Still others drive up into the majestic mountains to pitch a tent and roast marshmallows oven an open campfire.

Our Dobie-Reindeer

Our Formal Dining Area

The stores are full of Christmas cheer, glittery ornaments, nativity scenes, fruitcake, and bargains galore. Paint prices come down at hardware stores since locals like to spruce up the outside of their homes with fresh paint this time of year, just in time for holiday visitors. Perhaps we should take advantage of the bargains since one of the projects on our to-do-list is to paint the outside of this old house.

The "Hole in the Wall"
has been decorated!

Top of the Hutch

Clyde breathed a sigh of relief today as he hung the last of the four outside, wooden doors that he made.  The last one was one of the larger two, a huge four foot wide door to keep the rain and wind out of our back hallway.  It went up with a fight but we managed to wrangle it into place and make it fit into the hole.

Forty Seven Inches Wide!

Yesterday the morning was spent decking the house with Christmas ornaments after putting up the tree.  Although the 90 degree temperatures outside don't make it fell like Christmas, the inflatable snowmen and Santa's in the store tell us it is.  Hard to believe that this is already our second Christmas on the isthmus of Panamá.

Our Setee all decorated

The snow village lit up

For the past few days I've noticed what looks like coffee granules in the kitchen sink even after I've cleaned it.  Being a women I naturally blamed it on Clyde in my head but didn't say anything and instead just cleaned it up.  Later on they'd appear again and I'd clean them up again and again wondering what was going on.  Finally today while pulling a glass down from our open upper cabinets, I noticed a pile of sawdust on the edge.  Ah-ha....I found the culprit....termites!  Sure enough without even a termite trail, some of those little buggers had penetrated into the very corner of the cabinet.  A tiny seam opened up and lacked paint allowing the critters to burrow their way in, causing a mess of sawdust.  We cleaned up the mess, sprayed the area and washed the glasses and cups just in case they'd been infected.  I also checked the rest of the cabinets and drawers but no sign of termites anywhere else. We thought these cabinets were safe since they've been there for 30 years in a vacation home that was inhabited much of the time.  Just goes to show us that no wood is safe here whether it's old or new.

Our Panama Christmas Tree

Sounds like a party here on Mango Street today since our neighbors have music blasting loud.  Fortunately though, these neighbors don't get in the party mood too often and always seem to turn it off when it gets dark.  Perhaps it's because they have toddlers that go to bed early?  Whatever the reason is that they turn it down when they do, we're certainly thankful for as we enjoy the quiet...along the gringo trail.

Life In Portugal....At A Snails Pace....

Yesterday was just another day in Portugal when my dear husband Clyde said he was going to run to the pharmacy for a few things. Time passed...