Getting High in Panama

Not only is it promoted and encouraged but it is very popular especially in the Beach area. No Panama has not gone the way of Washington State or Colorado. We have entered what is commonly referred to as the High Season, otherwise also known as the Dry Season. This usually spans from mid-December through March. Weather-wise, Panama is quite a diverse country so I will only refer to the immediate area we live in, Coronado, so don’t try and correct me if your area of the country is different.

We were encouraged to come to Panama during the worst part of the year so we would be able to make a decision as to whether we really liked it or not. So we arrived in May in the ‘rainy’ season. Sounds bad doesn’t it, tropical rains? Well I am here to say I will take the rainy season over the dry season any time – the low over the high. I guess it is a lot like Florida (and other warm climates) where the residents cringe when the high season hits – roads are packed, long waits at restaurants, service generally is worse, prices go way up, you have to deal with all these foreigners, in our case mostly Canadians, who rush in, take over, supposedly know everything about what it is like to be here…..

Well what are the real differences in Panama as far as my opinion is concerned? First the weather. The humidity seems to drop about 10 points on average. The wind picks up – a lot! We have a pretty steady strong wind with gusts on top of that. It is possibly a little drier – less rain. During the off-low-wet season we had a good rain about maybe once a month – maybe. When it came it was a welcome change. It generally would stay for a short time and be gone. I think we had maybe 3-4 days across May thru mid-December where the sun was behind clouds and maybe it was wet a larger part of the day. To me this is pretty damn dry! It rains a lot other places but not here. Many days we would be in the roof top pool, watching the dark clouds form in-land and begin to move towards us. A short distance from here, sometimes by a few hundred yards, we would see the rain coming down in buckets but it would go right around us and away. We live in something called a Dry Ark, pretty cool.

So what has the High Season brought us? To me the weather is not better, slightly worse. I welcomed the occasional rain but the wind can be overbearing and actually makes you feel cold in the swimming pools even when it is 80+ degrees. It has brought a lot of people that are now occupying what once seemed like our private space – the roof top, the beach, the pools, the bars…..plus they talk real funny especially those from Canadia – ey.

This is kinda what it is like to be in Coronado, Panama during the High Season BUT as inconvenient as it might seem it is NOT Canadia, or the US midwest, east coast, or Pacific Northwest -no cold, snow, or rain. We still sleep with our windows open, wear flip flops and shorts EVERY day, and drink cold beer. Sooo….I guess I will take High Season for now and just continue to chill. Now pass those brownies!

On a side note, we left Panama in mid-December and returned January 3rd. We spent a lovely Christmas/New Years at Linda and Carls (Denise’s parents) in The Villages, Florida. What made this time extra special other than getting to spend time with the parents is; not just that we were able to make up for some missed shopping; not just that we were able to hit some food choices we just don’t have in Panama; not just that Carl had two big bottles of Makers mark on hand; not just because we were also able to spend time with my mom and also see Aunt Rita and Uncle Danny; not just because we got to meet Jennifer, my brother Rob’s fiancée when they came to visit BUT the greatest reason it was a great time is that Lisa also flew in and spent two weeks with us. We hadn’t seen Lisa in over a year so it was long over due. It was great to see her – did I say that already? We also were able to celebrate her birthday a week or two late!

Lisa, Denise, and I went out to eat, out to drink, played golf, went to the pool, went to the driving range, went shopping, etc… Lisa and Linda (and Denise) baked and baked. With all the cookies I was forced into a sugar coma before we left. We also made a rather large dent in Carl’s vast hords of Ham he has hidden away in his freezer. I think we are good on pork for a while.

When Denise and I went to fly out of Tampa to head back to Panama our flights were all messed up and we ended up getting ‘stuck’ for two days in Fort Lauderdale. We actually had a great time – Guinness in an Irish Pub next to the hotel, watched the Seahawks play sitting in a Tiki bar out by the pool where we had Chinese carryout delivered, we went to the beach, we went to a luxury theater and saw Star Wars in 3-D, etc…an unexpected additional 2 day vacation!

That is it for now, Enjoy the collection of random photos below. Remember all opinions are mine. Feel free to comment back or ask questions.

RB

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Full moon over the bay from our balcony
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Same pics as above but before dark still showing the full moon.
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Denise’s Water Aerobics Noodle Class. 23 folks mostly Canadians from the busy High Season.
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3-D, captain chairs, waiters with food/drink – nice!
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Fort Lauderdale hotel Tiki bar – just off our room, Seahawks and Chinese food good stuff!
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Ft Lauderdale Ramada
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We had to0 many frozen yogurts in Fla. But they were great.
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The others in my golf foursome.
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Giving me lessons.
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Evil Elves!!!
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Christmas morning
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Denise and her mom, Linda, working on a kitchen strategy.
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Beauty runs in the family!!!!!
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FLA holiday tree decorations

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This is from our neighbor’s (Bruce n Judy) balcony just before we left for FLA.
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scenery and shower near the pool on the ground floor at our place.
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Different view of the golfing 3 stooges.
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Good thing I can resist iced cookies – NOT
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Finished Kolach
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Step 1-2-3-4. Step 5, I eat.
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Happy Birthday Lisa, Joker is always wild!
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Doing her pre-baking stretches. 
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Lisa and grand parents.

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Lisa brought 6 bags of these chips for Denise who was able to hand carry one all the way to Panama!
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This is why there is a High Season!
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The living Cookie Monster!
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Me and my mum. Great to see you!
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Lisa heading home – sniff, sniff….
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Christmas morning
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In the Tiki Bar. Hadn’t seen one of these in a long time. Where is the pay phone?
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Ahhhh!
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Bet you didn’t know I was such an artist. They let me off with a misdemeanor.
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Our local mall in Panama before Christmas.
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More cookies, agh!
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We haven’t found good Guinness in Panama – enjoyed this!

Panama – Naughty or Nice

The weather seems crazy everywhere. Well most everywhere. Seems there are monsoons and floods back home in the Pacific Northwest. Many other parts of the States appear to be having very unseasonably warm temps. I have a strong hunch those areas will pay for that warm weather real soon and it may be harsh.

Here in Panama, well, it is pretty much always the same. We have been here officially just over 6 months. We arrived in the ‘Rainy Season’ and now we are in the ‘Dry Season’. Well you could have fooled us. We do not see much of a difference at all. Most always, we have sunny and very warm weather with the occasional overcast day or morning. Once in a big while we will get some welcome rain. The cloudy/overcast and rain are actually a pleasure as they give a break to the daily monotony of the sun/heat. Never thought I would be saying the sun is monotonous! There does seem to be a seasonal difference here if we were to go inland just a little and up in the hills but for us, we want the beach and beautiful sunshine.

Below you will find some pictures of Christmas time in Panama. People do put up trees and decorations, lights, etc…all the traditional type things we are used to. We even saw tins of Fruit Cake in the grocery.

In a few days we are embarking on another trip. We are headed to Florida for Christmas. We will get to see Lisa (it has been over a year) and our parents. We are really looking forward to the trip. Since Katie and Sean left things have been pretty melodramatic while we waited for this next adventure.

So what else is new? Well have you ever seen fish mating? It is not that it was on our bucket list but if it was we could cross it off. As some of you know, we are on the 23rd floor just below the rooftop pool. This is quite a ways up from the beach, people are pretty small down there. Well one day I was looking down and saw what looked like one large fish with another in its mouth about 25 feet from the shore. I noticed them since there seemed to be a lot of white color in the water.

The more I looked the more I realized that these must be pretty damn big fish if I was able to see them from 23 floors up and under water. I grabbed my binoculars and called Denise over to see if she wanted to see a big fish ‘eating’ another. What we found is that these were pretty big sharks. I would estimate they were probably at least 6′ and possibly 12′ foot or more. One shark was turned upside down, thus the white belly showing.

Doing some research I found that the male shark will secure the female by bitting down on a forward fin and then push her into something like a sandy bottom for leverage. Shark mating is actually quite interesting.It seem that this is a very uncommon thing to see with many researches going years before they ever witness such an act. Click this link to see a youtube video. It is pretty much exactly what we saw.

Sharks mating

A shark attack in the waters off Panama seems very rare. No one I have talked with has ever heard of one and I have not read of any either buutttt…..we have not been out in the ocean a whole lot since. The beach and swimming pools seem just fine. Lots of other folks, though, continue to play in the water. When Sean and Katie visited we went paddle boarding. I, ah, kind of waited to tell them about what we saw AFTER we were done in the water.

While here, since we pretty much have happy hour 7 days a week, I have been sampling (ok imbibing) in different types of adult beverages and different brands. I have tried a lot of Rums but there are so many here it is hard to make a dent. I still like Malibu Coconut with Pineapple Juice along with maybe some Mt. Gay mixed in but I still want to try the more local favorites.

I have had the different local beers (Panama, Balboa, Atlas). These cost from .50-.64 cents each at the store. I like Panama Light the best. With the wines, we have found that for our daily use, where quantity is a factor and not just quality, the local box wine called Clos is actually quite good. For everyday use we try not to spend more than $15 for a bottle of wine. Clos costs us $3.40 for a liter box and cheaper for the 2 liter. It is quite a bargain. We like the Cabernet. For white, we still like the Beringer White Zin at about $5.35/bottle. Most all wine is drank chilled here.

My go to drink has become Scotch on the Rocks. I can get almost any bourbon or whiskey I would want but bourbon and some whiskeys are pretty pricey. So far my favorite Scotch is called Passport. I think it is very similar to Jameson – very smooth and easy to sip. I just tried Vat 69 (Band of Brothers fame) and though very drinkable it is not as smooth as Passport. I am wondering if someone can do me a favor and let me know what a bottle of Passport goes for in your area/currency as a comparison. Try it and let me know what you think.

Our trip to Florida is timely as we need new bathing suits, shorts, maybe a couple beach shirts, and some new flip flops. I blew out my flip flops about a week ago. I guess they did pretty good since I wear them every day and they lasted a good 7 months. The sun and chemicals are hard on the elastic on swim suits which we also pretty much wear everyday. I guess we will be doing our own Christmas shopping. We can get the stuff in Panama but it will be good to shop back in the USA in familiar confines.

Enjoy the pictures, let me know if you want to know anything specific about Panama or beach living or not working or daily happy hours or …. Remember all comments and experiences are my own so I can say what I want.

Merry Christmas

RB

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Where are my presents?
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Panama Christmas Ornaments
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Where is my denture cream?
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Blew out my Flip Flops, stepped on  pop top…..
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Odds are good!
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Same everyday – boring….NOT!
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I have been naughty.Can I go to my corner with my sippy cup
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Diehard Lady 12. Go Hawks!
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These were killer Gin-n-Tonics
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our local Fonda (restaurant). $3.50 for lunch

 

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It kills me to watch people use kiddie carts to do their shopping.
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They will fill them to overflow vs using a regular cart, so funny
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peanut butter, strawberry jam, and banana – welcome to the banana republic
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Brain freeze – awesome!

Christmas in Panama

 

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Making a list, checking it twice!

A Visit to the Banana Repubic

Katie and Sean’s visit and lots of pictures.

We had a wonderful, did I say wonderful, visit for just over a week with Katie and Sean. They took the long flight from Seattle to Houston to Panama City. We had a private driver waiting for them at the airport for the 1.5 hour trip to Playa Coronado. They arrived last Friday around 10:30PM.

We had a few welcome beverages and lots of talk and then off to bed. During their stay we tried to introduce them to a few special things but also not crowd the schedule since being here is all about relaxation, well maybe happy hour also. 🙂

Just about every day there was time for walks on the beach, time in the pool, and of course Happy Hour(s) on the rooftop where Sean and Katie got to meet some of our neighbors. The extra special events are attempted to be described a follows.

On Sunday we rented a car for 3 days. First we headed off to a mountain village called El Valle. It seems to be the obligatory tourist stop in this area. There is a pretty sizable farmers market with lots of vegetables and souvenirs/crafts. We saw a Panamanian Indian selling these pretty scary or cool (depending on your perspective) jack knifes. Some had 6-8″ blades that would come out of both ends. I would definitely hurt my self but Denise could increase her efficiency in cutting veggies. Denise ended up buying a small art piece and we headed to lunch. El Valle has a number of restaurants to satisfy the tourists. We ate at a place called Bruschettas, 2nd time there for Denise and I. For a country that doesn’t seem to have too many Italians there are a lot of Italian restaurants in Panama. While in El Valle, where it rains quite often, we did get a bit wet but not enough to put on our ponchos.

The road to El Valle is surprisingly well paved but it is narrow and very winedy as you climb up into the hills. After no driving for over 6 months, I did quite well navigating through the aggressive driving of the local populace. We safely made it back for relaxation time and potent beverages.

Monday morning we all went down the beach to go SUP (Stand Up Paddle Boarding). 1st time for Katie & Sean and they did great. This was my second time and I did much better though I did drink my share of salt water. This was a great time. The water started out very calm but the wind picked up after an hour. For a while there we thought Sean was going to paddle to China. He finally turned around – probably thirsty or hungry, ok, both.

We took a ride out to a local fish market at a place called Rio Hato and stopped by a large roadside souvenir store on the way back. I picked up a nice beach shirt for $20. Yes, we made it back for more beach, pool and happy hour.

We went to a place called  Quesos Chela a-ways down the highway that makes kosher cheese. We are told they even have their own Rabbi on staff. We picked up some curry chicken empanadas for lunch. On the way back we stopped at a local large store called Machetazo. It is like a super Walmart – food, clothes, housewares, etc… We needed to restock some beer, scotch, wine, oh and ya, Denise bought a few groceries.

Twice while here, Katie conducted two different structured wine tastings for a small group of us on the roof. Wow, her classes are paying off, she knows her stuff. We have had a good bit of excellent feedback on these events from those involved. Most of us know -Red, White, Rose. The only tannin I know of is when I was a kid and my folks were tannin my hide. Katie tricked us by also using a box wine as one of the samples. It actually rated pretty high with the participants compared to some of the bottles. 2 Liters is around $6 for what we call CardBourdox – not a bad value.

During the week we went to breakfast and then anther day lunch at the ‘Fonda’ just up the street. These are small roadside ‘restaurants’ usually run out of the front of a local persons house. The menu selection is very limited but the meals, usually consisting of chicken, rice, and beans fixed one way or another, are around $3 each and the food is good, always an experience for a new gringo.

On Wednesday, in the infinity pool, Denise led a water aerobics class choreographed to music and using foam noodles. Both Katie and Sean participated. I was in charge of the music. They had a great time. Denise’s class has become a local hit and is requested often.

We all went to my favorite Tiki Bar called Gaviota. It is a good 10 minute walk down the beach, preferably at low tide. It is a great atmosphere sitting under a thatched patio looking out over palm trees and the ocean. It also doesn’t hurt that beers are $1.50 each.

Thursday night – Thanksgiving, we all went up the road to a place called Picassos for trivia night. It is a local outdoor pizza bar frequented by most Gringos. Denise and I were asked to join on a friends trivia team (what were they thinkin?) so we have started to be regulars. Katie & Sean joined on a team with other friends of ours. They came in 2nd place, we were third. Yes there were more than 3 teams! Lots of fun.

Thanksgiving Dinner was a feast of BBQ ribs and veggies. Denise continues to out do herself. Delicious as usual.

On their last night at the beach we went to a local nicer restaurant called Luna Rosa. Yes Italian again. Great meal, atmosphere, and great time.

On Saturday we took a local buss 1.5 hours into the Albrook Transportation hub and then caught Uber to the Hard Rock Hotel in downtown to check-in and drop our bags. We then headed back to the Canal Zone area to tour the Miraflores Visitor Center and see some ships come through the locks – a must see. We then headed to Casco Viejo – Old Town. My understanding is that Casco Viejo became the new center of town after the old town was sacked by THE ‘Captain Morgan’. I wonder, if he would have lost that battle, if we would have one less brand of Rum to drink?

In Casco Viejo we walked through and by a lot of tourist trinket and doo-dad tables /shops. We saw a lot of beautiful restoration of the French and Spanish architecture. Very New Orlean-ish looking. We saw a number of very very old churches, some restored and some not. We finally headed back to the Hard Rock for our last evening together. After a dip in the fancy pool we went out to a high rated restaurant for dinner. Another Italian but well worth it.

We finished the night on the 62 floor outdoor bar/lounge/observation deck looking out over the city. Very impressive/beautiful.

It was very sad to see Katie and Sean leave Sunday. It was beyond precious to have them here. It had little to do with the beach, the pool, the food, or drinks. Nothing to do with the places we went but it had everything to do with being together, sharing, talking of the future and reminiscing about the past. We each have hopes and desires and all we can do is try to blend these together so we can at times share some of these hopes and desires together. Katie and Sean will never truly know what their visit meant to us but what we all do know is that we can never get back or make more time when we give it away or spend it but we certainly multiply our love when we share it.

As always, opinions are my own and feel free to comment or ask questions.

RB

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Denise, leading her noodle class
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Getting ready for SUP
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OMG, I actually can stand up and paddle!
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Macho man
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Nuf said
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These kids make this look too easy!
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Remake of Gilligans Island?
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Show-off
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No, it is not oil paints
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Sean and I just chilin
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Awwww
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Thanksgiving morning mimosas
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In old town – Casco Viejo
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Old town square
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On the bus heading to Panama City
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Gold Alter saved from Captain Morgan raid
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More old town
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The mad Panama hatter!
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Last night in town
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Lunch across from Hard Rock
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Where did I put my glasses?
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Now this was a Burger!
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Small piece of the city view from the Hard Rock
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This architect obviously played Jenga as a kid.
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Usually people take towels but maybe a pillow case this trip?
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View of Panama City from Casco Viejo (old town)
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Lots of trinket and souvenirs in old town
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Panama City from Casco Viejo
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Empty container ship heading back to China, entering the locks
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One of the infamous Mules that pull the boats
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Ship behind just entering the lock. Front, is dropping to ocean level
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Denise? a Selfie? Getting the hang of this stuff.
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Miraflores Locks – similar to locks in Seattle but a bit bigger but no fish ladder?
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Another pic of ships in the locks
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Our friend and neighbor, Al, gave us a ride to the bus stop
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Had a great time but tremendously missed!

 

The Bitch almost bit me….yes a dog.

 

I grew up on a farm. I had all kinds of animals including dogs. The problem is not dogs but people. Yes I was almost bit last week. Denise and I were on our normal morning beach walk and some woman was sitting on some rocks with 3 dogs running wherever. As we walked by the area one of the dogs, yes it was a bitch, came after me. With quick movement, I only ended up with a scratch from its teeth on my calf. Of course the woman apologized profusely but why the heck, if someone is going to have a pet, can’t they be responsible for it. They were just out in a public area running around where ever they wanted.

This leads me to another disgusting trait of many dog owners. You can be sure this woman was not cleaning up after her 3 dogs. Crap where they want, I guess the tide will take care of things. Forget it that this is a public area that people walk, barefoot at that. This woman is not the only one. We see many people who daily take their dog(s) on the beach and do not pick up after them. We often see 2 people walking 8-12 dogs in the morning. Before anyone cast dispersions on this being Panama and the locals are not as ‘sophisticated’ as others, well most of these people are Gringos – Canadians, USA, etc…We are all a disgusting lot!

Well my last rant about dogs/owners. Why are people so ignorant? There are a number of people here who have these oversized Shetland sized dogs and they live in these 1000 sqft condo’s. They take them to the beach where they get wet and sandy (and crap) and then they traipse them through the building and elevators to their units. I want to stop them and ask them if they are lost since they obviously are looking for the equestrian center (yes Coronado has one about a mile away).

I know these issues with dogs are pretty much universal. I don’t want to give the impression that the beach is littered with doggie mounds. It is far from that but if you have ever mis-stepped somewhere you know where I am coming from. I often wonder who the real animals are!

Ok, now for some GRAND news. In a few days Katie and Sean will visit our tropical wonderland. We have been anxiously waiting to see them. In the short week they will be here, I really hope they can get a flavor for the place and embrace the calm and relaxing flip-flop atmosphere. It is often very hard to adjust as I found out. We come from such a busy fast paced environment and we tend to feel bad or guilty if we are not constantly occupied, moving, and connected. We have some activities planned – noodling in the pool, tiki bars, village market, fish market, lots of shrimp, beach walks. I hope that is not too overwhelming.

A new change from the last time I wrote…we now have a fisherman who comes right to our condo building every Friday morning with Shrimp/Langoustines. Medium are $5/lb and the jumbo are $6/lb – not bad. Denise makes a killer garlic shrimp recipe! We can also request fish like Red Snapper and Sea Bass/Corvina.

In closing, we are told November is the wettest month and it seems to have proven so. In saying that I need to clarify, we get very little rain overall so a few cooler overcast days are quite refreshing. I am including some more pictures, some are more sunsets which when they stand out they really STANDOUT! I hope you enjoy the pics.

Remember, all opinions are my own and any comments are accepted welcome or not!

RB

Getting Crabs in Panama

So one day at band camp….hehe, ok so you had to have seen the movie.

Living at the ocean usually means pescado (fish) of many types are plentiful. We daily see local fisherman out on the water minding their nets. We often also see people standing on shore with a string wound usually around a pice of PVC pipe or soda bottle or even their hand. They fling the string out to sea and are surprisingly somewhat successful with their catch of usually sea bass. Denise and I observe all of this as we take our daily walks far down the beach.

As we walk we often look around for neat shells, sea glass, etc… We also pick up broken glass we find from bottles so no one will get hurt in the surf or sand. Some times we find a few pieces of broken bottle and sometimes we find none.

So one day at… the beach, I was walking near the surf line and I stepped down and thought I felt a piece of glass. I was lucky I felt it before stepping hard. I was able to pull my foot up before there was any damage. I looked down and saw what looked like a piece of broken bottle barely covered in sand. I carefully put my finger under the glass to lift it up so I could safely pick it up and put it in the bag I carried. I put my middle finger in the sand about an inch or two down and then curled it under to lift the broken bottle.

Ouch! Damn! As soon as I had lifted with my finger, two big claws reached up and clamped onto each side of my hand. I am glad no one was around cause they would have laughed seeing some big gringo jumping 3 foot in the air while he waved his arm widely trying to shake this monster off. All in all it was about 3″ in diameter, not even big enough for an appetizer. Good thing I was in my swim suit cause It could have been embarrassing getting my good shorts wet. This was the first time after months at the beach that I ever had any run in or interaction with something like this. When I went back to the condo I told Denise what happened – mistake – as she again had a good laugh at my expense and told all the neighbors.

The next day both Denise and I were out for another walk. I was damned if I was going to stick my hand down there again. Well we were walking in the same general area at the surf line. The sand was a bit soft so we would sink in a little as we walked. Well in mid-stride as I planted my foot, another damn crab clamped onto my toes and didn’t let go until I flung it head long into the surf ahead. Denise heard me shout and looked over and didn’t understand what was happening until she saw the crab in the air before it hit the surf. I don’t know what she found funnier, me jumping up and down, my screams, or the crab leaving my toes and flying through the air.

That was two days in a row, I believe different crabs, and in the same area. It is odd that we have since been over that same area many times as well as other areas and have never had any such event happen again. Everyone here had their share of laughs due to Ron catching crabs at the beach. Well payback is a b…. you know!

I am including some more pictures of stuff from the beach. I hope you find them interesting. As always comments and opinions are my own. Replies are welcome as well as questions or anything else you might like to know about. I have an opinion on most everything.

Hasta Luego,

RB

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Denise’s home made avacado salsa. Avacado’s are plentiful and cheap here but the salsa doesn’t seam to keep for long 🙂
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My camera is full of pictures of sunrise/sunsets. They are amazing just about every single day. Even the occasional storm is wonderful to watch. Lightening storms are a spectacular show almost every night.
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This morning’s sunrise on the anniversary of my Dad’s trip to heaven – 22 Oct.
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Banana tree, the pod is almost read. When harvested the whole banana tree/plant dies and a new one sprouts near its base.
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This is a view from a Tiki Bar down the beach. $1.50 for a beer to just sit and chillax!
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Some items I have been collecting – oh, and some shells.

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Routine….is almost like doing the same thing over and over!

Routines develop no matter what we do. Even doing something different each time is a routine in its own way. Routines are often good but routines can often lead to boredom so ya just need to be aware of how you are occupying your time.

Our activities are somewhat limited some by circumstance and some by choice. We have begun waking up quite early, before sunrise. Something between 5:30 and 6:15 am. It is nice and cool at that time and the sunrise is gorgeous. We generally putzs around on the iPads for a few minutes and then depending on the state of the tide we try to go on a beach walk. We do two types of walks. Usually our morning walk consists of me trying to keep up with Denise down the beach and back for about 50 minutes. We have termed this our exercise walk. The other type of walk, again depending on the tide, is what we call our beach-combing walk. This is a nice calm leisurely beach walk where we look for shells, sea glass, walk in the water, contemplate the meaning of life, etc… Ok back to the routine.

After the exercise walk we come back to our condo and have breakfast and coffee. This is even somewhat of its own routine – oatmeal and/or hardboiled eggs and/or omelets with fruit and of course Panamanian coffee. Panamanian coffee is superb. We generally go up a floor to the roof top pool just after 9AM to ‘noodle’ in the water. A number of women do ad-hoc water aerobics from 9:30-10. Denise participates while I float in a corner of the pool with another of the husbands. Afterwards we generally stay in the pool, usually by ourselves or with another couple, until closer to noon while we just float around and soak up the sun.

Since it is now approaching noon we head back to the condo for lunch, more internet time, etc… Around 2PM we sometimes plan for our beach-combing walk, maybe back up to the pool for more ‘noodling’, maybe sit in the sun and read and listen to music and maybe all three.

Other activities that are sometimes thrown in are some grocery runs, trips to Pricesmart (Costco), and the occasional trip to the mall – you know the usual stuff normal people do.

Our evenings vary a little but also tend to be somewhat routine. Now that football is back on we can pick and watch any games we want to see via the internet. We usually watch the Gamecocks on Saturdays and of course the Seahawks on Sunday/Monday. There is a standing ‘happy hour’ on the roof top every night. It used to be around 5PM but lately time has drifted later to 6-6:30PM. This can be as few as 2-3 people or as many as 10+. I like 2-3-4. We have also begun to catch up on our shows – The Blacklist, The Big Bang Theory, Madam Secretary among others.

Sometimes we walk to a few local bar/restaurants. Gaviota’s is a Tiki type bar a short walk down the beach. They have a decent menu but I tend to get the $4.50 queso hamburguesa (cheese burger) with Papas Fritas (fries) or Pantanos (plantains) and the $1.50 beer. It has a great tiki bar kind of atmosphere. There is also a local bar a few blocks away called Picassos that has a community happy hour on Wednesdays, trivia on Thursdays, 2-1 pizzas on Fridays and usually live music on Saturdays. Many places are closed Sun-Tuesday. We have been hanging around at the condo more lately vs going out to these places. Having a cocktail on the roof, BYOB, is much more convenient.

We did have a great night out a couple days ago with one of our neighbors. They took us to a local Mexican Bar and Restaurant called Cholos. Believe it or not, there is hardly any Mexican style food here. This place is the only one we have found. The motif is more of a surfer bar and we hear it gets quite wild at night. It was fun and next time I go I will get the giant burrito. I would say the majority of restaurants are Italian and/or pizza oriented.

So all in all, most days are somewhat routine but each one a little different. The tide table often influences what we do as does transportation options/opportunities since we choose to not have a car. The beach, the pools, the friends are hard to beat so we are enjoying our routine. Hope you enjoy yours.

Below are a few pictures. If you didn’t know, you should be able to click or tap on them to enlarge the pic. As always any comments are welcome as well as questions or suggestions on a topic you may be curious about.

Btw – I have been using the Duolingo language app for some time and the other day it said I was now 26% fluent in Spanish. I think that is quite a stretch but I will take the pat on the back while I can get it.

Adios, hasta mañana.

RB

Ou with friends (Bruce n Judy) out for a Mexican dinner at Cholos
Out with friends (Bruce n Judy) out for a Mexican dinner at Cholos
After dinner entertainment at Cholos. Hole!
After dinner entertainment at Cholos. Hole!
inside of the Mexican restaurant, Cholos
inside of the Mexican restaurant, Cholos
Sitting ocean front under the palms on the patio.
Sitting ocean front under the palms on the patio.
Reading or watching the waves?
Reading or watching the waves?
Now how do I get the coconuts in to my rum?
Now how do I get the coconuts in to my rum?
This last week has been a little more cloudy and wet than normal.
This last week has been a little more cloudy and wet than normal.
just another place down the beach.
just another place down the beach.
yep, a 'routine' breakfast always with hot sauce!
yep, a ‘routine’ breakfast always with hot sauce!
I am so spoiled!
I am so spoiled!
Dinner at Buzz's condo. The filet here is delic as was all the rest of the food and friends
Dinner at Buzz’s condo. The filet here is delic as was all the rest of the food and friends
A stranded Mermaid. Ain't she a beaut!
A stranded Mermaid. Ain’t she a beaut!
No, we can't take the driftwood home!
No, we can’t take the driftwood home!
OK, maybe time for a new suit - no longer in Hawaii.
OK, maybe time for a new suit – no longer in Hawaii.
Jason and Ann, our next door neighbors invited us over to celebrate Sukkot.
Jason and Ann, our next door neighbors invited us over to celebrate Sukkot.

A Wild and Dangerous Trip – Medellin, Colombia

Dudes/Dudettes,

We have all heard stories about this mysterious place called Medellin in the mountains of Colombia. This name alone conjures up all kinds of frightful possibilities – Harrison Ford Movies; Pablo Escobar; FARC Rebels; secret CIA camps, …I could go on.

Well after speaking to people who personally went to Colombia and specifically Medellin we decided to give it a try. Flights were somewhat cheap and the dollar very strong to the Colombian Peso. With further research we found that general hostilities in the country subsided generally between 2000-2005. Yah, there are still places travelers should not go but that can be said for Miami, D.C., or many other areas of the USA.

Medellin is a very large city, 2.77M folks. It is known as the Milan of South America. It has a reputation for fashion and medical tourism. It is huge for plastic surgery drawing people worldwide due to the quality and price. No, that is not why we went! I am not sure where to start in describing Medellin except maybe to say we were very very impressed. It was nothing like what we expected. We of course didn’t go to the areas comparable to the ‘south side of Chicago’ and pretty much just roamed the one district, Poblado, but – wow.

We stayed in a boutique hotel in a neighborhood called La Florida. The neighborhood reminded us a lot of Belltown in Seattle but nicer/cleaner. There were a number of residences that were being transitioned to restaurants, bars, cafes, shops, and hostels. This area had and was in transition from a neighborhood to a more upscale mixed-use area.

Cafe seating for the coffee shop across the street from where we stayed.
Cafe seating for the coffee shop across the street from where we stayed.
Evening picture of the street we stayed on
Evening picture of the street we stayed on
Our daily Latte, Cafe, and street.
Our daily Latte, Cafe, and street.
No these are not real. Do no try this at home! The implants really stick out in a crowd - pun intended.
No these are not real. Do no try this at home! The implants really stick out in a crowd – pun intended.
Couldn't pass up the chance to 'butt' in again :).
Couldn’t pass up the chance to ‘butt’ in again :).

Ok, enough background, what did we do and see? We flew on Viva Colombia which is the only airline that flies in/out of the old Howard Air Force Base. At the terminal we had to pay a $15/person Colombian tax – cash only. From there security and immigration was easy. It was there, in line, that I photographed the woman with the butt implant (see pic). Part of the famous plastic surgery in Medellin is a tremendous amount of breast and butt implants. Apparently Colombian, and possibly other Latin societies find large butts desirable, aka Kim Kardashian style.

Viva Colombia - with an O not a U!
Viva Colombia – with an O not a U!
Leavin on a jet plane, .....
Leavin on a jet plane, …..

The plane was a modern Airbus A320. No, not a twin engine Coke runner. To board the plane everyone gets an assigned group and walks out on the tarmac to the stairs. Some groups board from the front and some from the rear and there are no assigned seats. Maybe that helps balance the load. Approaching the terminal and taxi-ing the runway allowed us a view as to what things may have looked like during the USA Airforce days. The flight was great and we landed early evening in Medellin. We purchased some Colombian Pesos – 3 COP to the $1. The 45 minute cab ride was 60,000 pesos to town (around $21). We checked in to the hotel and then went to find dinner. I must comment here that people drive like bats-out-of-hell as they do in Panama but the cars mostly seem nice and well maintained and not all dented. Roads were very good and even the small streets seemed to have signs. A big difference from Panama.

Donde Juan sidewalk cafe
Donde Juan sidewalk cafe
Donde Juan at night. That is Denise and Buzz to the left.
Donde Juan at night. That is Denise and Buzz to the left.

Just outside the hotel door were some plastic patio tables and chairs and about 10 folks sitting having cocktails. It was a little café / garage / storage unit that operated as ‘Donde Juan’ – pic shown. Our travel companion, Buzz, struck up conversation as some spoke English. We ended up sitting for a while for cocktails and met some fun folks. This place became our evening neighborhood-gathering place each day.

We walked up the street looking for food and I engaged a nice man who invited us into his very nice, classy restaurant, Sal e Brasa. He said it was a Brazilian type steak house. We sat on a second level patio overlooking the sidewalk, very pleasant. A picture on the menu caught our eye so we asked about it and then ordered it – Bife Chorizo. Buzz and I ordered ‘glazed mushrooms’ and Denise ordered Yucca Fritas (Yucca Fries) as our sides. All 3 of us have had a lot of steak in our lives but we all agreed that this meal was near the top of the list of all steaks. It was an excellent cut, aged on site, and cooked just right. The glazed mushrooms were also to die for. The service was impeccable. Our meals ended up being just under $7 each plus a few bucks for drinks. WOW! This place set the standard we would compare to all others. It was so good that we went back on our 3rd night.

During the day(s) we either walked around or took cabs for $2-3. We went to some shopping malls and to Hard Rock Café. At Hard Rock we bought some souvenirs and had lunch and drinks. Buzz had Hurricanes and Denise and I had some ‘Sex on the Beach’. Drinks! I said drinks! Geesh. Later, I got a haircut at a salon ($4). It was a nice place and a good cut. Denise and I stopped for Gelato. We also stopped for some micro-brews at the Bogata Brewing Company that had an excellent Porter. Medellin is known for its microbreweries. In general we just had a relaxing good time. More to follow below these pictures.

The 12th Man is everywhere
The 12th Man is everywhere
Sex on the Beach was really good. Not to sweet, not to sour. Just right.
Sex on the Beach was really good. Not to sweet, not to sour. Just right.
Porter was great, had to have 2 with our burger and chips.
Porter was great, had to have 2 with our burger and chips.
The Porter. I would have brought a glass home but would have broken it.
The Porter. I would have brought a glass home but would have broken it.

Dinner on night 2 was right next door to our hotel. It was called Mu Fukin Good Ribs. How can you not try a place like that! It was only open Thursday-Saturday and lines formed early and if you were late they could run out. If you wanted something other than ribs they said to leave – only ribs and drinks are served. They were large meaty pork ribs and were excellent. Full meals for the 3 of us came to about $18. Thumbs up!

Big and meaty ribs - very good.
Big and meaty ribs – very good.
Don't be late, there will be lines to get in.
Don’t be late, there will be lines to get in.

In the evenings we ended up at our neighborhood sidewalk café for a nightcap. Lots of people were out and about walking into the evening. We felt safer than walking around Seattle in the evening. On our last afternoon Denise and I came across this multi-block area that was a park with the surrounding streets full of restaurants, bars, and nice shops. Some of the streets were pedestrian only. Wish we knew this was there sooner! We stopped into Partick’s Irish Pub for a pint and spent at least an hour with Patrick himself. There was also a Hooters though we didn’t get a chance to go in, just for comparison sake. This area looked like the nightlife place to be.

Lots of Blarney in Medellin!
Lots of Blarney in Medellin!
They were out of Guinness but they had other Irish Porter.
They were out of Guinness but they had other Irish Porter.

Comparing to Panama, one thing we found in Panama is that the city is quite metropolitan and where we stay in Coronado is quite nice but the area along the highway and to/from the airports can look pretty poor, dirty, sketchy. What was so impressive about Colombia was that even the 45 minute ride to/from the airport, over the hills and down to the valley, was clean, neat, and did not appear poor with a run down poverty look. In a lot a ways it really showed up Panama, much more mature and sophisticated. The only thing Medellin is missing is the wonderful beach that we live on J. Maybe a trip to Cartagena on the Caribbean is due?

A partial view of Medellin from higher up. The place is huge - 2.7M people.
A partial view of Medellin from higher up. The place is huge – 2.7M people.

The trip back was non-eventful and it is nice to get back to the beach where we saw the lunar eclipse, which was spectacular. We would go back to Medellin in a heartbeat BUT we have other places we want to also see. It was great paying so little for so much. It was nice to finally get a break for being from the USA.

Below are a bunch of misc pictures from our adventures. I hope you enjoy them. Comments are welcome. These blogs actually take quite a bit of time to put together. So let me know if they are stupid and I will stop or let me know if there is anything you would like to know about.

RB

Another shot of Medellin down into the valley.
Another shot of Medellin down into the valley.
One of the every day beers in Medellin. It was very good - both Roja and Amber.
One of the every day beers in Medellin. It was very good – both Roja and Amber.
The Coco Bamboo Hostel and Deck Bar. Just down our street. Lots of very nice looking hostels.
The Coco Bamboo Hostel and Deck Bar. Just down our street. Lots of very nice looking hostels.
He stopped by the sidewalk cafe. Denise couldn't resist fresh strawberries.
He stopped by the sidewalk cafe. Denise couldn’t resist fresh strawberries.
This is a row of fence posts in Panama. They say it is so fertile here anything will grow. Even the fence posts eventually sprout and grow.
This is a row of fence posts in Panama. They say it is so fertile here anything will grow. Even the fence posts eventually sprout and grow.
Dog Burger - Don't even want to ask about this.
Dog Burger – Don’t even want to ask about this.
Possibly the worlds largest Gum-Ball machine!
Possibly the worlds largest Gum-Ball machine!
A Roja pint at the BBC
A Roja pint at the BBC
It has been quite some time since our last Hazelnut Latte!
It has been quite some time since our last Hazelnut Latte!
Normal breakfast - Eggs, Chorizo, Rice n beans.
Normal breakfast – Eggs, Chorizo, Rice n beans.

Panama Medical Insurance and other stuff with 32 Pictures

One big area of research we conducted before we choose to take off somewhere was Quality of medical care. Panama rated very high with well trained doctors, most speaking english and trained in the USA, and good hospitals especially near the larger cities. Think Oklahoma, If you are out in the boonies you may see a veterinarian but in Oklahoma City you will find good hospitals and doctors. So we knew we had good medical care in the area we were settling.  There is a pretty new medical center about 1.5 miles away with direct affiliation to a top notch hospital in Panama CIty.

Big big differences though are in cost. Cost of medical care in Panama is ridiculously cheap compared to the USA. One large reason is that Panama limits the ability to file frivolous suits. A doctor visit can cost as much as a co-pay in the US – $15/$25 and maybe $35/50 for a specialist.

We are very conditioned to have medical insurance so we finally investigated our options. Since medical care is so cheap the real protection we wanted was more catastrophic. Checking around it seemed there were 3 options. 1) USA type insurance that would cover us in Panama or a Panama based US plan from someone like Blue Cross/Shield. This was quite expensive. 2) An international insurance plan. This is mostly for people traveling and living in various countries. The coverage was good and the cost wasn’t bad that is unless you included the USA in the plan. In that case the cost went quite high. Again the litigation issue. 3) Local Panama base insurance. This had pretty good coverage and was recommended by a number of other ex-pats here.

So we went with MS-Panama Plan. It is actually provided by a US based company. To apply we needed to have tests done and we needed to pay for them up front. All this was done at our local clinic. We had full blood test, Urinalysis test, chest x-rays, EKG and then a review with a doctor of the results – basically a full physical.

At the clinic they took booth of us in within minutes. Within 1.5 hours we not only had all tests complete but the x-rays and EKG results were handed to us. In a couple days the other test results were emailed to us. Within a week we were at the local doctor – Dr. Levy for review. We had heard many good things about Dr. Levy. He is a young guy with great English. We were told to show up sometime after 3PM, no appointment. We were in with the doctor within 15 minutes. He not only went over the test results, which were all quite good, but he also took all the time we wanted to answer all and any questions we might have had about other health concerns.

Well not only did we pass with flying colors but the total cost for a full physical for 2 people– not just deductible – was just over $300. This includes clinic costs EKG, x-ray, lab results, and doctors time. Our monthly cost for full medical coverage for 2 people is $133 per month. Now full disclosure, this does not cover cancer. There is a $100/year rider for any cancer. It also does not include Chiro or acupuncture but if you want these you can pay the $10-15 per visit out of your pocket. Over all this was a pretty good experience. Left us impressed. Well we hope we never need to use it. We feel quite good here. We have lost some weight possibly because of the daily beach walks, floating in the pool, and eating foods not laced with GMO and round-up.

In summary, this is our experience base on real events and our own research. Questions are welcome and enjoy the random pictures below.

Here is a list of random things that bug me about being here:

  1. Whenever I need to wear shoes which is rare. We are barefootin and flip-flopin.
  2. To much litter. Remember the USA before the crying Indian commercials. Ya it was pretty bad and I think it is a little worse here.
  3. Some people.
  4. Boredom, yes you do get bored living like you are on vacation everyday but I will get over it.
  5. When the sand gets so hot you think your feet burned.
  6. Near impossible to get replacement parts for appliances.
  7. Not enough Tiki Bars in this area. It ain’t St. Pete’s.
  8. Can’t find Double Stuffed Oreos, not that I really ate them before I got here either.
  9. No Corona Light beer. Lots of regular but not Light.
  10. Need patio umbrella’s for the roof top pool area and beach chairs and beach umbrellas for the sand.

RB

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Next beach community over – Gorgona
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Rain moving in from Gorogona
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Afternoon rain moving in
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This should lower the UV levels
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Baby bananas. Harvest coming soon.
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Yes my pretty
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Gaviota’s Beach bar and Hotel – just down the beach, great Tiki Bar
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Grounds at Gaviota’s, faces the Ocean. Nice place for weddings or events.
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Gaviota’s main Tiki bar/restuarant
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Denise and I having lunch at Tiki bar
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More Gaviota’s Tiki Bar
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Like dandelions here, they are all over
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Really low tide today
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Low tide is great for a walk and finding shells
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Sunset view from our rooftop lounge area
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Night of our supermoon
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Up on the roof
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Lightening storm off in the distance
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Lightening Storm
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Lightening storm
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OK, last lightening picture
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White lightening!
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It is the rainy season
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The rain is often welome
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Sunrise from our deck
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BBQ pork chop with mango salsa – scrumptious. The pork and chicken especially is really good here.
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Panama City, quite the metropolis
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Sunrise from our condo, almost a daily view.
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Another sunrise
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Another day another sunrise, ho-hum….
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Beautiful moon light
I can see Japan from my porch.
I can see Japan from my porch.

Comings and Goings – Playa Coronado, Panama

Well the Ocean seems to have been a bit more active lately but Denise and I did get out the other day with our foam floaty tubes and floated in the salt water for a good hour. I don’t have pictures since my camera is not water proof. We saw some ‘flying fish’ near by. It was neat. Floating out there on calm waters is really relaxing that is unless something bumps your feet.

Last week I finally was able to check off one of the items on my list of things to do but it was just a start. I went SUP (Stand Up Paddle) boarding. There is a group that meets weekly now and the leader has boards he rents for the 2 hour block. The water was a good bit more choppy than I was comfortable with so much so that there were people surfing just about 100 yards away. I spent most of the time on my knees paddling but did manage to get up on my feet 2x for very short times. I do admit, the choppiness made me fearful since I am not a strong swimmer at all. I plan to go back but i needed to take a break as I was very sore. It is a great workout. My thighs, abs, shoulders, and back were barking at me for days. The pictures aren’t great but Denise could only get so close. Oh and we saw ‘Camp David’. I wondered where they put it. It is a very high end place right the beach. See the pics.

Success - on his feet!
Success – on his feet!
Is that a wave coming????
Is that a wave coming????
Ah, maybe Ron is standing on the other side of the board?
Ah, maybe Ron is standing on the other side of the board?
Pretty choppy for a newbie.
Pretty choppy for a newbie.
It was fun riding the waves rom my knees.
It was fun riding the waves from my knees.
So this is where the politicians go. Pretty digs.
So this is where the politicians go. Pretty digs.

Just about every day we see the local fisherman go up and down the coast casting their nets. It is very interesting to watch and we really like going to the local fish market to get fresh giant prawns, red snapper, and corvina. Oh and it is real inexpensive getting it right from the fisherman.

Tonight we are watching the Seahawks game. We are set up to watch most any game we want via the internet but tonight it is also on regular cable.

There was a couple earthquakes about a week ago that some say they felt. They were in the area of the Panama/Columbia border a good distance from here. They were about 6.1 on the scale. Talking about scales…Denise and I had not been on a scale for a few months We had been eating more carbs than before and drinking (ok I was doing the drinking) a lot more than before. We were kind of wondering and maybe worried about where we might be. A neighbor of ours allowed us to borrow an extra one they had. It was non-digital and each of us had to get down on the floor for the other to read the numbers. It was pretty funny, until we saw the numbers. It appeared we both put on 10-15lbs since we left Seattle – OUCH! I cut out the alcohol and we were more careful with what we were eating. Well about a week later, on our anniversary, we went to spend a few days in Panama City. The 4 star hotel had a digital scale in the room. We were afraid to go near it but Denise finally tried it out and found that it said she actually lost a few pounds compared to where she was when we arrived here. I tried and had the same results. Now we were confused. We had hoped our daily beach walks, pool time, and floating in the ocean time was keeping things in check even with our additional food and alcohol bad habits. When we got back to our condo Denise bought a new digital scale. We needed a third opinion to validate which scale was right. We were relived to find our numbers were very positive. I had never previously spent time at the beach and not lost weight so now it makes sense. Now I can attend daily happy hours with much less guilt especially those that include pizza!

Rum from Cuba. Maybe you can get this in the states soon.
Rum from Cuba. Maybe you can get this in the states soon.

Last week we bought a large Papaya from the roadside farmer. We never had one yet. You cut it and clean it somewhat like a cantaloupe. OMG was it delicious and they are very inexpensive especially directly from the farmer. Some use them in morning fruit shakes.

Another new item for us are Liche Nuts. These are very funny looking fruits/nuts. They look like a red walnut with hair. They grow in bunches from trees. The way you eat them is by squeezing one end and they split open and expose the fruit and nut. Squeeze and grab with your teeth. Very refreshing.

Hairy Nuts - Weird to look at and touch but it has a very nice taste.
Hairy Nuts – OK, quit snickering, this is a family blog. Weird to look at and touch but it has a very nice taste.

007 – Bond, James Bond. There is someone here on the beach that has a 4 wheeler/boat. When they drive into the water the wheels fold up and they then function like speed boat. They can then steer toward the beach, put the wheels down and drive onto the sand. Who said Panama is 3rd world? One thing that is a bit aggravating on the weekends is the few folks who do have 4 wheelers and dirt bikes and race them up and down the beach. They are very loud and seem to be accidents waiting to happen. At least it is almost always just on the weekends, weekdays we pretty much have the beach to ourselves.

This 4-wheeler runs on Ethanol and can reach two horse power.
This 4-wheeler runs on Ethanol and can reach two horse power.

Oh and finally a reminder, On Aug 27th about 12:30AM, in the night sky, you are able to see the Moon and Mars very close together. This will not happen again until the year 2287and no one alive today has ever seen it. Look it up and yes there is an App for that.

IMG_1883
Coronado in da Moonlight – not to be confused with Escanaba (movie reference). Watch for Mars coming soon.
If ya miss Mars hopefully you at least can enjoy something like this every  morning.
If ya miss Mars hopefully you at least can enjoy something like this every morning.

Well enough for now. As always pass any questions back. All opinions are my own.

RB

Don’t be a Dead Ringer – Saw it on Facebook so it must be true.

Remember back before you were born?

They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot & then once a day it was taken & Sold to the tannery…….if you had to do this to survive you were “Piss Poor”

But worse than that were the really poor folk who couldn’t even afford to buy a pot……they “didn’t have a pot to piss in” & were the lowest of the low

The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water temperature isn’t just how you like it, think about how things used to be. Here are some facts about the 1500s:

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and they still smelled pretty good by June.. However, since they were starting to smell . …… . Brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor. Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting Married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it.. Hence the saying, “Don’t throw the baby out with the Bath water!”

Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof… Hence the saying “It’s raining cats and dogs.”

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That’s how canopy beds came into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying, “Dirt poor.” The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance-way. Hence: a thresh hold.

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire.. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme: Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old. Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could, “bring home the bacon.” They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and chew the fat.

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the upper crust.

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would Sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial.. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of holding a wake.

England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive… So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift.) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be, saved by the bell or was considered a dead ringer.

We enjoyed this, hope you did to.

RB

30th Aniversario Adventure

Anytime someone makes it through another year with me they should get a medal. When I was a kid I thought folks that were married (to the same person) for even 20-25 years – well that was a long time. I never imagined, at that time, that I would surpass that milestone. I tried to get out of all the anniversary hoopla by saying that we know live on the beach, in the tropics so lets just go floating at high tide. Well needless to say ‘we’ decided to celebrate a little more special. After 2+ months in Panama we have not spent time in the capital city so we decided to go in town for 2 days and see/do a few things.

While in Panama we have chosen to live without a car. The driving is quite hazardous to your health, so we take the bus or taxi’s everywhere. Using public transport the city is about 1:45-2 hours away. First we take a small bus/van from our neighborhood up to the highway (Pan-American Hwy). At the Hwy you can get on another small bus generally called a Coaster or wait for the big bus. Going towards town to the central terminal at Albrook we chose to take the big bus. These are big modern buses that are usually on their way from one of the other major cities in the country heading to Panama City (Albrook Central Terminal). Both the Coaster and big buses usually have air-conditioning. The big buses are mostly quite comfy and some even have ‘el bano’ on board. They all have LOUD music. The big buses most always have a fairly large TV screen with either a movie or some kind of music video. I repeat, it is played loudly. Below is a picture of the front of our large KIA bus on this trip.

Some of these bus videos push the old PG13 limits.
Some of these bus videos push the old PG limits.

We made a few stops on the way to the city to pick up some other passengers. Sometimes at these stops someone will get on the bus and try to shake down the passengers to get them to buy or donate to something. ‘No comprende’ comes in handy sometime. This trip we had a girl come on board and ask if anyone wanted to buy some Churros. She was on and off in a matter of a minute or so as the stops are extremely short.

We have taken the bus to Albrook before but have not gone into the city. When we arrived at Albrook we were told to take the Metro or a taxi to the city. The taxi should have been $5 since we only needed to go a few miles but if they see you are a Gringo it goes higher and you either have to bargain them down or walk away. They said $10 we said $5. Another said $12 we said good-bye. It was a busy time of the day so they could easily wait for the next Gringo to make their money. Next we looked for the Metro. We saw big city buses that said Metro-Bus but we couldn’t tell which bus from which zone, etc..to take. It was hot and we were getting tired. We tried asking some people and they would point back into the terminal while rattling off some Spanish. We went to a ticket window and they pointed to an area where we would catch the buses back to where we just came so we knew that was wrong. Patience, patience, patience…we finally found what looked to be an information center with a girl who spoke ‘muy poco’ English but enough to make sense of things. She looked up our destination on her smart phone and then also pointed, like the others, towards the return buses, except she also said Metro-Train. We questioned, Train? She again pointed and said ‘Si, Train, Metro’. Ah ha!! To the side of this bus area was an escalator that led to a bridge we needed to cross to get to the Metro-Train-Subway. Whatever you want to call it. It is all three, as it is Panama’s 1st subway called ‘The Metro’ not to be confused with the Metro-Bus, which we did. The girl even told us which stop, #4 Inglesia de Carmen. From there it was easy-breezy-lemon-squeezy.

We made it on/off the subway and knew our hotel was within walking distance of the station – The BlueBay City, a 4 star hotel. No I did’t spring for the Trump Towers even if he might be our next president. Our Metro stop was called Inglesia de Carmen probably because there was a beautiful church called Our Lady of Mt Carmel at the major intersection – pictures below. There are many old and beautiful churches with stations, stops, major roads, etc…named after them. More on the churches to come. I finally mapped the hotel on google and walked to it from there. It was a nice place with an Asian theme including the Shushi restaurant/bar on the main floor. The folks there were real helpful and some spoke pretty good English. One thing we found ‘unique’ was that the bathroom had a giant shower the full width of the bathroom and was separated from the rest of the room by a glass wall and no door. It was a good 1/3 of the whole room. A whole family could have fit in that shower. I did hear the Asians are family oriented and multigenerational but I think that was stretching the whole Feng Shui thing a bit much.

Our Lady of Mt Carmel
Our Lady of Mt Carmel
Alter area of Our Lady of Mt Carmel
Alter area of Our Lady of Mt Carmel
Back window  of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.
Back window of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.

On our first evening we had hired a driver to take us to one of the malls where they have a ‘Cinepolis VIP’ theater. A few words on Panama City. It is a very large, very sophisticated, and very modern city. It has more buildings over 21 floors than NYC. This mall would rival anything found in the USA except it was newer and maybe cleaner. Everything glittered and shined. We wish we would have gone earlier in the day as there was a Tony Roma’s and a nice good old fashioned plate of ribs sounded great. When we walked up to the ticket desks for the theater we said we wanted the VIP showing. They pointed behind us and smiled. We turned and saw special elevators marked as VIP to take us to another floor. Once at the right place we bought our tickets for the recently released Mission Impossible movie. Seats are assigned. We entered our specific theater and there were rows of very large ‘lazy boy’ type seats that go almost all the way back. Very very cushy. There was a little switch where, once flipped, a waiter comes to you and takes your food/drink order from the menus by your chair. They take your order on their iPad as well as run your payment. They then bring your food as the movie is proceeding. For us, who do not go to movies often, this was pretty fun.

Nice to be a VIP!
Nice to be a VIP!

The next morning, after our complementry breakfast – Denise choose the Mexican plate – we went for a walk around the area.

Sunny side up with salsa and a side of chips and refried beans, a fruit plate, croissants, Juice and coffee.
Sunny side up with salsa and a side of chips and refried beans, a fruit plate, croissants, Juice and coffee.

We were in the business district. There was a lot of old plaza shops, a grocery, casinos, banks, more hotels and oh, more churchs. At 3PM we had a hired car take us to Old Town – Casco Antiguo. This is in the area where the presidential palace is except the president doesn’t live there, the red-tape of the government takes place there. The area in this district had gotten very very bad, gangs, poor, etc….There has been an ongoing effort to revitalize the area. We saw may buildings that had been stripped out and were being refurbished. The architecture is quite beautiful, very French. It has a very New Orleans look and feel to it. There were many tourist shops selling much the same items from shop to shop just like any other tourist area you might have been to. The area seamed quite peaceful and beautiful. It is all located on the waterfront across the bay from the now current modern city. Some pics are below. An item of note is the church of San Jose that has a historic all gold alter – yes solid gold. It is said that during the pilfering of Panama during the pirate days of Captain Morgan that a priest had the alter covered in tar to disguise the gold from the pirates – or something like that – what am I Wikipedia?

A look across the bay from Casca Antiqua.
A look across the bay to the city from Casco Antiguo.
Architecture of Casco Antiquo
New Orleans type of architecture of Casco Antiguo
Panama City Scape from old town
Panama City Scape from old town.
Casco Viejo monument
Monument with old city wall behind it on a point of the bay.
Arts, crafts, trinkets in an outdoor walkway along the water.
Arts, crafts, trinkets in an outdoor walk way along the water.
Ron, Shopping????
Ron, Shopping????
12th Man in Panama!
12th Man in Panama!
Solid Golden alter at St. Jose
Solid Golden alter at St. Jose. Yes the whole thing.
A side alter at a church
A side alter at a church
A side alter a a church
A side alter at a church
Another beautiful alter in another beautiful church
Another beautiful alter in another beautiful church

We also found a very comfortable outdoor bar that had swinging chairs. We spent a bit of time there before heading to dinner at a small Italian restaurant for the special of the night, spaghetti, and we added a pitcher of wonderful Sangria.

Our Selfie at a nice bar
Our Selfie at a nice bar

No I am not a swinger.

Cool hanging chairs around the bar.
Cool hanging chairs around the bar.
Not sure if this was a restaurant or some where that sold silverware. Saw it as we were leaving the city.
Not sure if this was a restaurant or some where that sold silverware. Saw it as we were leaving the city.

Next morning we headed back to Albrook. Albrook was an old US military base from what I understand. There you will find the central Subway station, the central bus station AND a giant mall The Albrook mall is giant and we are told it is larger than the Mall of the Americas in MN. They have large animals at the main entrances so you know where you came in/out so you don’t get lost. Obviously we were at the dinosaur entrance.

Dino and Ron
Dino and Ron

A unique thing I saw at the mall, and am kicking myself for not getting a picture, is the bathroom. Let me explain, in the mall if you want to use the bathroom you better have .25. There are people whose livelihood is to stand there and make sure you put a quarter in the turnstile to get into the bathrooms. I suppose they also are responsible for keeping it somewhat clean. So skipping forward, I am in the bathroom mending my mascara and I go to wash my hands. There were about 6 sinks across a counter – pretty typical right? BUT each faucet had a 6 inch LCD screen as part of the faucet mount. These screens played advertisements. Bizarre I thought, until I found that a survey taken by RONMADETHISSURVEYUP.COM showed that those that wash their hands after going to the bathroom spend more money then those that don’t. Ah, now that makes sense. Talk about targeted advertising.

We finally got a Coaster bus ride back to Playa Coronado – 1.5 hours from the station. After quickly getting a few groceries we made it back to the condo and within 30 minutes we were on the rooftop and in the pool. It was nice to get away for a few days but very nice to get back home. We finished our 2 day celebration with dinner at the local watering hole called Picasso’s with a few friends. Denise says it was fitting that we spent our 25th anniversary in Maui and our 30th in Panama City. Not sure how we top that for #35 and 40???? All in all we both had a great anniversary.

As always, with these postings, your comments are welcome. All thoughts are my own except for those attained through hearsay or gossip. Do not feel a need to correct me on any factual items because where I did not know for sure I may have just as well made something up. If there is something you want to know about our experiences or Panama just ask and I will do my best.

RB

Boredom at the Beach

Well it happened. Today was a boring day. Of course there is a good reason though. Today is the first day since we have been in Panama where it has stormed most of the day. We were shopping and looked out the window about noon time and it was coming down in buckets. It stopped for a short while so we could finish our stops and soon after getting in a taxi it came down again and then again. So we are hold up in the condo watching the storm as well as Netflix. Good thing the Internet is still up – fingers crossed.

Ominous start of the day on our morning walk.
Ominous start of the day on our morning walk. Clouds were pretty dark.

You may have been wondering – or maybe you haven’t – what have we been doing lately. Well it took a while to get settled in the new condo. We needed to take numerous trips to the stores for some items that were not ‘furnished’. We have been pretty busy. We are normally up in the morning to see the sunrise from our place. There are great views with both the mountains/land and ocean.

Part of the view from our new Condo.
Part of the view from our new Condo. The beach is very long and smooth with some very black sand.
Morning sunrise from our balcony.
Morning sunrise from our balcony.

We normally take a brisk hour walk on the beach each day then come in for coffee and breakfast. Sometimes after that we will head to the pool. We enjoy the roof top pool and usually have it to our selves prior to lunch. After lunch, depending on the tides, we sometimes go back to the beach and take a casual walk ‘beach combing’ for shells, sea glass, colored tile that has washed up, sand dollars, etc… I did have a slight accident the other day and broke my toe. For such a little thing it hurt like hell. I slammed it into a rock on the beach.

The rooftop pool.
The rooftop pool.
Anybody kiss my boo-boo?
Anybody kiss my boo-boo? It is the middle and now crooked one.

We at times hit the stores for groceries and some household items. Denise just picked up an air popcorn popper. She has been having withdrawals in the evenings. Other than a small local 7-eleven type of shop the stores are 2 miles away at the Pan-American Highway. Since we don’t have a car we either get a small local van (.35 each), a taxi ($3), or often someone stops and asks if we want a ride up to the shopping area. These shopping trips have been a real source of frustration for us as we struggle to find things, can’t read the labels, have had to carry a lot as we were getting our initial ‘stock’ of things we needed. But today we seemed to quickly and easily get on the bus (van), get to the store, get our stuff at a couple places, have lunch,  and grab a taxi back and we were done in just a couple hours vs an all day event. WooHoo, we are starting to get the hang of this, I hope. No we didn’t find everything we wanted but it did seem way less stressful.

Today's lunch - I had fried chicken with rice and beans. Denise had a slice of pork (kind of like a real big and thick piece of bacon) and salad. We each had a coke and it only came to $6.36.
Today’s lunch – I had fried chicken with rice and beans. Denise had a slice of pork (kind of like a real big and thick piece of bacon) and salad. We each had a coke and it only came to $6.36.

Other things that occupy our time are church on Sunday. A short walk away is a Catholic church that has a bilingual service at 11:30. There is a small group in attendance but they say in the busy season it quadruples. Many Wednesday evenings we walk to a nearby bar/restaurant called Picasos. Wednesday is basically a happy hour for expats but all are welcome. Sometimes we find ourselves back their Friday evening for 2 for 1 pizza and even some Saturday nights for live music.

This last week we started ‘noodling’ in the ocean. We go out at high tide with our noodles and 2-3 other couples and float and bob for 1.5 hours. It is really relaxing as well as good exercise. We get pretty far out at times but no one has yet floated over to Asia.

We attended a birthday party at a Tiki Bar on the beach at the next community over. This was lots of fun and again allowed us to meet more folks. We were in the local hardware store and I saw some guy wearing a Seahawks hat. Long story short, we now have new friends that have just moved down from Seattle as caretakers for a property with some villas that are rented out. We had them over to our place the other day and had a nice party on the roof with other friends.

Denise does the Cuban Shuffle!
Denise does the Cuban Shuffle!
Ron does the...well we are still trying to decide what Ron does!
Ron does the…well we are still trying to decide what Ron does!

Our fall back activity which happens 4-5 times a week is meeting with others from our building ‘up on the roof’ in the evening for a BYOB happy hour. We have had a few pot lucks where up to 30 some people have appeared. I like it the best though when there are just 4-6 of us sitting into the evening under the stars with a wonderful breeze.

Well that is what has been keeping us busy for now. We are planning a few excursions later this week and next and I am still trying to find a source to borrow/rent a stand-up paddle board so I can try it out before investing. So don’t feel sorry for today’s boredom as I assure you the sun will shine and we will soon see you again ‘up on the roof’!

As always feel free to reply with comments. You can also follow me on Twitter @rbillock

Time slows way down on a warm sunny beach! – RB

How much do I need to save so I can retire?

I have been asked a couple of times now, ‘what does it take to ‘retire’? Well I am not a retirement guru but I do have a few thoughts about this topic now that I am living through it. BTW – I prefer the term of being ‘on recess’ vs retired.

Most folks seem to be looking for some magical minimum $ number they need to have to step away from work life. Hello, there is none! Retiring is largely not about money. I suggest that before you get any ‘older’ you should be asking yourself some questions. What do you want from life? What do you want from retirement? What, Where, How, with whom…. These are big picture questions that you can then drill down to more specifics. If you don’t know what you want or where you are going, before you know it you end up at the wrong place and at the wrong time.

I now believe that anyone/everyone can ‘retire’. Yes that is an overly general statement but if you really want to you CAN retire on just Social Security (SS), maybe not just where and how you want. I know of people who retired and are living on SS with a decent standard of living and as good or even better healthcare than they had before. These folks may not be living in Miami but are living in places like Mexico, Costa Rica, Ecuador, etc… Wonderful places but maybe not just what you may have had in mind. Maybe you need to broaden your view of life?

Being in a position to retire really comes down to deciding what you realistically want and working towards it. There are many options for living well and affordably all over the USA as well as many other places in the world. How much money you need to retire comes into play only after you decide what you want and then you put in a plan to reach those desires. Yes you need to be realistic but it doesn’t hurt to push your dreams. Do you know what it cost to fund that lifestyle you decided on? Are you willing to do what you need to do or go where you need to go to attain and afford your desired lifestyle? Sure $5M in IRAs/Pension will set you up in a nice condo in Miami but this is not realistic for many and also may not be what you want. If the beach is what you want, a condo on the beach in Mexico can be had for much less. Some folks want to golf 365 days/yr. Yes that will take a much larger nest egg and generally a lot more work to attain. Some want a small cabin in Arkansas or Pennsylvania or villa in Ecuador. These can be had for a much smaller pot of gold. What is important to you? You need to know what retirement means to you and adjust your plans accordingly.

How soon do you want to retire? I will tell anyone that they should save all and any they can. Save until it hurts and then save more. The sooner you can finance your dreams and desires the sooner you will reach your goal but first you need to know what those dream and desires are. Also remember, more $$ isn’t always better if in the process of getting more money you trade your health, family, etc…you lost, not gained

Maybe if I walk through my own personal thought process you can see better what I mean. Over the years I have found that I really love a warm sunny beach. We had our best vacation times at beaches. I have always wanted to live at/on a very warm sunny beach. Walking on the beach has always refreshed my spirit, renewed my drive, strengthened my faith, and made me feel healthier and happier. So living at or near a warm sunny beach was high on the list.

We had many friends migrating to Arizona, Palm Desert, Eastern Washington but none of those places fit the three keys of Beach (a real one-not a lake or pond), tons of sun, and never cold. Those other places were just not on our radar. We both also want to do some traveling.

Another thing I looked at over the years was work-life. Though I have had a number of great experiences, leadership/management in the Information Technology world, like some other fields, beats the hell out of ya. Lots of hours and some tremendous stress, believe me it takes its toll. As time went on this influenced one of my other goals. I wanted to stop working as early as possible as long as I was able to meet my other objectives. I wanted to still have time to enjoy life while still having my health and sanity to enjoy it. I know way to many people who worked, worked, worked only to die a year or three after retiring or retiring because they now needed hip and knee replacements or the stress possibly impacted an even more severe illness. I myself never understood those that said they ‘love’ their work and want to do it as long as they can. I am not saying they are not genuine but I myself never knew or felt that. In general, I wasn’t having fun working and I wanted to have time to have years of adventures while still able to enjoy them.

Summary of dreams/desires:

Live on/near a sunny and warm beach.

Reach the point of not having to work as early as possible.

Travel and have some fun

Do all this while still healthy and sane.

So where did that bring me? Through a lot of planning, sacrifice, and time we believed we were on track to meet these goals by the retirement age of 60-62-ish. This was our magic age. Most of our finances were locked up in IRA’s, Social Security, and even later some pension that we couldn’t begin tapping until then. Well at age 56 I found myself in a transition from one job and looking to find another. I had some great prospects and possibly the easiest thing would have been to continue with the ‘devil that I knew’ – a job. As we looked at the doors that just closed and those possibly opening we considered our goals and desires that we had been discussing and said we can and will do what we need to do to make retirement happen now vs 4-5 years later. What allowed us to make a change sooner was a number of years of extra savings over and above the regular ’stuff’. We built up a cash savings of first emergency funds and then grew that to a larger safety net. I know some cannot do that and you may need to rely on just a normal retirement age and your 401K/IRA/SS but that is OK. Just maximize your contributions all you can. Have a plan and work it.

With the buffer of our extra savings we were able to leave the job market sooner than planned. These were our goals/dreams. You need to know your goals/dreams. So far our ‘recess’ has brought us to living on a tropical beach where it is sunny and hot 365 days/yr. It truly is an adventure, some exciting and some frustrating. Long term we plan on living in Southern Florida but we also have more travels on our horizon.

Timing of events in your life is important. If I had to I would have stayed with our original plan and worked 3-5 more years but things came together nicely for us the last couple of years. Not only did we find ourselves faced with an opportunity for change but also both our children became established and independent. We decided on a travel adventure starting with Panama. How long will we be here? Well we think probably from a year to 3 but as one of our friends here says “every week I sit on my balcony overlooking the ocean and ask myself where do I want to be. For the life of me, at this time, there is nowhere else I can think I would rather be. When there is, then I will go”.

Long story short – just about anyone can ‘retire’ it just depends on what you want. You need to know and own what you want in your life, at least the big picture, and then do all you can to get there while you navigate the bumps, bruises, and adventures of life. Once you know that picture you will figure out what you need and when you can retire including the finances.

We make no bones about it, we have been truly blessed as well as having some good luck but luck is 99% preparation and it took some sacrifice and hard work. But you can make your dreams come true also if you just know what they are.

As always, comments are welcome

RB

Home for the next year – mostly pics

As of July 1st we move into our new condo. It is on what they call the Penthouse Level. It is the top floor (23rd) just below the rooftop pool, fitness center, helipad, and the social area that we have our 5-6PM happy hour pretty much each day. All this is a stairway away :). From our Condo the view is great. We see directly down a long stretch of beach that runs west to east, we can see south out to the ocean, and also northeast to the mountains. The north of Panama borders the Caribbean, but no we can not see that from here.

Most people don’t realize that Panama stretches East to West and not North to South. Most think, WAH! how can that be? You have N. America and S. America and Panama connects them so it must be North to South. Well, North America is actually a good bit further West then South America.

Panama does stretch between them to connect but it is ‘left to right’ for the connection and not ‘up and down’. Panama City is almost directly south of Buffalo, NY which shows how far East the country really is. Panama is about the land mass size of S. Carolina. Many of us have thought that if you went directly south from the USA and through Mexico and kept going due south you would run into South America. Actually due south of Mexico is Ocean and then next stop Antartica. Also Brazil and Argentina are further East then the east coast of the USA.

OK, Geography lesson is over. It is still a little weird getting our head around the directions but we will learn. For now I thought I would share some pictures of the humble abode.

A little detail
A little detail
Main floor pool that looks out to the Ocean
Main floor pool that looks out to the Ocean.
Way down yonder is our building.
Way down yonder is our building.
Pool side and ocean front social area. Covered area is called a bahia.
Pool side and ocean front social area. Covered area is called a bahia.
Roof top pool.
Roof top pool in the late afternoon sky.
Main pool looking out to Ocean
Main pool looking out to Pacific Ocean
Where are my floaties?
Where are my floaties?
A kiddie type pool below the main pool
A kiddie type pool below the main pool
Our Bahia
Our Bahia
Our place is way way up at the top.
Our place is way way up at the top.
Denise says "Time to cool off"!
Denise says “Time to cool off”!
Another roof top pool shot - different angle
Another roof top pool shot – different angle
Part of the view from our new Condo.
Part of the view from our new Condo.

As always comments are welcome and I will choose or not to publish them. Let me know if there is any topic you would like to hear about regarding our adventure. Well time to get ready for Happy Hour. It takes lots of time and energy to relax!

Adios

RB

Nude Beach in Panama

Well we found our home for the next year. We sign the lease this week. Details on the new digs will be in the next story but the big news is that our place sits right on a nude beach. I think I may need to purchase some binoculars just to verify. It seems that in this area of Panama the times our beach is nude varies. Generally it is nude Monday through Thursday especially during the off-season. Enjoy the censored pictures below but for now read on.

OK a little clarification…. when I say nude I mean devoid of not clothes but people – empty – nada. It has been pretty amazing being here. For the most part we have had the beach all to ourselves and I mean a couple miles of beach in both directions. Monday-Thursday no one is around. Friday a few people start showing up for the weekend. Saturday and Sunday generally bring out more people including families from the city.

Most mornings, preferably low tide, Denise and I hit the beach for our walk. We first decide if we go right or left and then we walk for at least 30 minutes out and back. Anyone who has ever walked with Denise knows that it is a brisk stride. In that hour plus of time we may see anywhere from 2-8 folks out. The water feels nice and warm on the feet and an occasional wave will get us a little wet. Denise has gotten real good at spotting the sea glass and special shells. Though a brisk pace, the walk is also relaxing and meditative. After the walk we generally take a dip in one of the pools and do some aqua exercises and then lay out to dry off.

Everyday is different. Each tide changes the beach. The only constants seem to be the ever rolling waves and the ultra soft sand. The local fishermen are usually out by the time of our walk and we can see them moving about. Yes it is morning and the world is just waking up but for the most part the beach is empty like this all day long. We have been told that during the dry season (Dec-April) there are more folks out and about but for now we enjoy our own private ‘nude’ beach just steps outside of our new home. If you do show up you will want to be sure to wear your suit and lots of SPF as you can be sure you don’t want to get a burn where the sun don’t normally shine!

Everyday on our beach!
Everyday on our beach!
Our morning walk
Our morning walk

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