“Happiness comes from…some curious adjustment to life.” Sir Hugh Walpole
¡Hola mis amigos! It’s been quite a few days since I’ve posted anything. Arriving and settling in Panama has been a huge adjustment, really many little adjustments all piled up at one time. We are finally starting to feel settled in and I hope to be posting several new entries within the next week.
But first I would like to correct an error. Thank you to Guy’s Wordfeud friend, msjesse, for letting me know that I had a misspelling. Columbia, though correct for many things in the USA, is incorrect for the country. The correct spelling is Colombia, with 2 Os and no Us. I’m not even sure I’ve seen any Columbias with a U down here anywhere.
Secondly, I wish to thank everyone who has commented on the blog site and on Facebook. I apologize for my infrequent replies. I hope to spend more time on my blog in the future and, therefore, be able to chat more frequently. I love hearing from people. It’s always nice to know people read what I write and I love the comments people have made.
By the time we set foot in Panama, Guy & I had been preparing for almost a year and a half. Our research was accomplished through much reading of blogs, books and newsletters. Most of it was online. I think that we were as prepared as we could have been. But as many of you who have traveled anywhere may know, you really cannot prepare for everything. The sights, sounds, smells…..these things have to be experienced firsthand.
Because of all the new experiences, I had information overload. I felt quite overwhelmed. It was a bit discouraging to sometimes feel that perhaps we had made a mistake in coming. But then every time I would walk around the town, meet someone new or taste amazing food, I knew that we were right to make the jump. So I decided to take a step back and give myself some time to work through all the new input.
So after a couple of weeks of no posting, relaxing, reading several books, napping and trying not to overthink everything, I am starting to find my stride here in Panama. And I find that I love it here.
One thing that I think really helped is starting Spanish lessons. With even a few words, I can attempt to speak with people around the town, enabling me to feel a bit more confident on my own. We signed up for lessons at Habla Ya, a Spanish school and ecotourism business, here in Boquete. Our teacher is Irasema. She doesn’t speak a ton of English, but enough that we can ask questions and get answers. During class we spend time on her prepared lessons, but a great part of the time we talk about whatever comes up. Every time we come up on a new word, she writes it on the board and gives us the translation. I write them down in my notebook and create flashcards at home. I wasn’t sure how structured the classes would be, but I feel like I am learning so much this way. By the time we get to visit the States, I’m hoping it will be fairly easy to converse with people in Espanol.
Another thing that aided our adjusting was to rent a car. I don’t think I’ve ever been without a car since high school. I was beginning to feel confined and stuck in the apartment, which, unfortunately, doesn’t have a balcony or anywhere on the premises to sit outside. Renting a car was a bit like breathing fresh air (sort of). We weren’t dependent upon a taxi or limited by the distance we could walk. We rented the car from an American guy, Cowboy Dave, who lives 6 km down the road from us. We rented a little Suzuki for a week for $200. With the car we were able to drive to the coast for a day and explore around the volcano and various districts around Boquete.
One of the biggest things to improve my mindset was finding out how to communicate with folks back in the States. We’ve been able to FaceTime with the kids and grandkids, which is awesome. I love seeing their faces, especially Mikayla and Jayce when they’re being silly. It’s a crack up and lifts my spirit every time. And it was huge to find out that we can have the ability to text with everyone. People here have introduced us to WhatsApp. It’s a cell phone app that enables us to text with anyone, anywhere in the world for free. We can send photos and even audio recordings. It was such an awesome surprise to hear my BFF, Lizzy, one morning, just saying hi. Even though the distance is great, being able to text the boys about packages we sent or give birthday greetings to a friend has brought you all closer to us. And that has helped me feel a lot more at home here.
And, of course, time helps. We’ve now been in Boquete in our apartment for 3 weeks. The passage of time has allowed us to find our “Panama legs”, so to speak, and begin to find a comfort zone. I can’t say that I feel like I’m home yet. But I don’t feel that I’m just on vacation either. Now my sense of adventure has returned and I am looking forward to all that is ahead of us.
Here are some pics that I’ve taken since coming to Boquete. This first gallery is flora & fauna. I can hardly wait to take a hike in the mountains around here. Hopefully we can see a quetzal, a very exotic but shy bird.
Apparently scorpions are common up by the coffee farms.
Our first “pet”, the house gecko. This guy’s a tiny one 🙂
These butterflies were always everywhere for the first couple of weeks here in Panama.
Horses are frequently seen tied in folks’ front yards, often right at the edge of the road.
Chickens are EVERYWHERE, including the park.
Stray dogs are everywhere, including in the town proper. They don’t seem to be a problem for anyone.
Pretty bird on a coffee plant.
A very striking moth.
Here are a few shots of the area:
$5 Bloody Mary at Mike’s Global Grill.
The volcano Barú as we look out of our apartment window.
Pic #1 of a sunset. Our window is facing west.
Pic #2 of the same sunset. It was gorgeous.
Lunch at a German restaurant just south of our place. Cost was less than $15, including beer, a latte and a cup of tea!
The main road in Boquete.
Downtown Boquete. If you look closely at the white van you can see the names Boquete and Palmira, which are the 2 towns the van services.
The town of Boquete
Waterfalls, rivers, streams….tons of water everywhere!
No Starbucks, but we found a pretty mocaccino (as spelled by Kotowa Coffee.)
This is a picture of the Pacific Ocean. The clouds seem to be interspersed with the water. The parts of land are not really islands, it’s more of a delta area.
There is advertising everywhere. This overpass promotes Mas Movil, one of the 2 cellular providers in Panama.
This is one of Panama’s colorful buses. They are converted American school buses. The small white one behind is typical of the vans that are also part of the bussing system. The names of the cities that the vehicle services are on the top of the windshield
I took this while we were driving down the highway. These 2 kids were hanging out on the center divide. Speed limit is probably 60 kph, about 37 mph (or faster!) It’s funny but people wait all along the road for the bus and cross anywhere they want, even without an overpass.