My Summer Vacation

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After babying a bad knee for several years, I decided to bite the bullet and get it replaced this summer. While there is a very good bone doctor nearby in David, the hospital in David does not have the greatest record regarding infections, and, importantly US Medicare does not pay for things done outside the US.

For us blocking out 3 months for the surgery and recovery, and planning for a month recovery in Seattle was a challenge. My daughter lives in Seattle, but in a spit-level home which wouldn’t work for my immediate recovery after surgery.

So … the deed is done and we are encamped in an apartment in Seattle, in Alki with a beautiful view of the Sound. The sunsets are absolutely amazing, and we’ve been able to schedule my rehab appointments at Virginia Mason Medical Center in downtown Seattle mostly to avoid rush hour traffic. Our friend Todd Crow is taking care of our house and dogs in Panama.

They keep reminding me that replacing a knee is major surgery and I have to be patient and follow the program. They tell me that the first couple of weeks are the most painful and I hope they are right. I’m backing off some of the drugs, walking around with a walker, and now with my cane. We’ve got a few weeks before we fly back to Panama on Copa. And then I’ve blocked out two months R&R before going back to work.

Nikki has been wonderful as care giver/nurse/wife and I couldn’t have managed this without her help and encouragement.

The Puget Sound area is beautiful, but unfortunately this isn’t the time for me to ride around in the car and explore new areas. It’s nice being close to our daughter and my terrific grandsons … water polo games today … although Seattle has been colder than usual. We miss the daily Panamanian sunshine, and yes, even in July in can be gloomy in Seattle. It’s great having the resources of a big hospital like Virginia Mason, having Trader Joe’s, and next-day Amazon delivery, but there are some things about the States that I don’t miss. Things like the traffic, the buy-buy-buy! consumer mentality, and the great political divide, and all the craziness of Washington.

And of course getting to see my boys … almost worth going through the surgery alone. Alki with boys

Todd sent us a couple videos of our dogs chasing each other through the coffee trees and the thing that stood out in the videos was the cacophony of the birds. Birds singing is the constant background of life on our little finca.

One of the things the hospital gave us prior to my surgery was a list of common questions, things like “When can I drive?” etc. One of the questions was “Can I play golf?” And the answer was “Yes!” So although I’ve never played golf before, I’m looking forward to being able to play golf with my new titanium leg.

What do you talk about?

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Folks often ask what I do on board ship.  When I tell them I am a Destination Lecturer, almost always the immediate follow-up is, “What do you talk about?”

Dah.  The destinations?

Richard Detrich onboardTo help people get the most out of the destinaions we visit, my job is to provide them with information and backgound about the ports.  Some folks do all the research before they come on a cruise.  They literally arrive with backgound books they have put together, and others arrive without a clue.  I love doing Panama Canal cruises because the reason why people come on the cruise IS the Panama Canal. So I have standing room only and people sitting in the aisles of the big theater.  I joined the line of people filing out after one such lecture and up ahead were two women, both in the upper 60s. and the one said to the other, “I didn’t know the Panama Canal was man-made.”  I’ve had to send people back to their cabins to get changed before leaving the ship explaining patiently why wearing your gold Presidential Rolex watch wasn’t a particularly good idea when walking around Manaus at night.  Or the lady getting off in Morocco dressed in what she might wear to a beach on the Riviera.

There’s so much to talk about: the culture and traditions, the history, religion, art and architecture, food, “must see” tourist sites and places to avoid, not-to-miss cultural experiences, do’s and don’ts and how to stay safe.  Usually,if I’m luxky, I find a couple of off-the-beaten-path, kooky,  but fascinating “rabbit holes” to wander down.

I spent four fantastic months on one of what used to be “the small ships of Princess,” ships that held only 700 people, going back and forth between Fort Lauderdale and Manaus.  Not only were the ports fascinating but we were able to experience the rise of the Amazon from it’s “normal” size through the peak of the flood season.  So I got to talk about the Amazon basin and the vital role it plays in our world basically as an “air conditioner” for the rest of the planet.

A big plus of this itinerary was that we also got to visit French Guiana, home to the notorious French Penal Colony, stopping in the Salvation Islands, and viewing Devil’s Island popularized by the novel “Papillon” and the movie staring a young Dustin Hoffman.

Understand that on board, in the entertainment hierarchy, although the lectures are very important to the guests, they are near the bottom of the barrel in terms of production.  The folks who do the staging are much more focused on the big production shows than mere lectures.  On most ships the lectures are recorded, #1 for broadcast on cabin TV, where except for the guests they have very low priority, and #2 for review by the home office who will determine if you are invited back.  I’ll share with you two talks from my YouTubeChannel so you can get an idea.  Unfortunately, the production sucks, but you”ll get the idea. [ Click on image to open presentation.]

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Welcome everyone!

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LIVING IN PANAMA

dsc_0481Fifteen years ago when we moved to Boquete, Panama, there really wasn’t a whole lot of information available online, and blogging was somewhat new, so I began blogging about the joys and challenges of living in Panama. Then lots of folks started blogs, so now I only write occasional pieces about living in Panama. But not to fear … there is a whole repository of interesting blogs about life in Panama right here.

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WORKING THE HIGH SEAS

It is a tough job, but someone has got to do it. My first cruise ship gig was back in the 60s on the cruise staff of a student ship to Europe. Eventually I started working my vacations as a chaplain on cruise ships, that led to us owning travel agencies in Southern California, and then after retiring early and moving to Panama, and then 12 years ago I began lecturing on cruise ships. Now, after countless cruises, two trips around the world, and lecturing on over 300 different ports, I’m still enjoying being at sea on luxury cruise ships. It is a better retirement job than being a greeter at Walmart, not that there is anything wrong with being a greeter at Walmart. So, come along and share the adventure!

Dr Richard Detrich

OUR HOME IN PANAMA

We have a beautiful Tuscan-style estate home just outside of Boquete with 4 acres of tropical landscape with coffee, banana, avocado, and citrus trees. We also have a spot right on and overlooking the water in Boca Chica. And, I’m still working on ships 4 to 6 months a year … so eventually we are going to want to downsize. So, if someone comes along who wants a beautiful tropical estate …

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It’s an exciting life, so Explore. Experience. Enrich. Enjoy! 

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Ten Reasons to Retire in Panama

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Garden 20I’ve had the pleasure to lunch with Bob Adams several times in Panama City along with the Panama Relocation Tour. Bob loves his life in the hustle and bustle of Panama City. He writes a great blog called Retirement Wave. Adams says, Call it the “Baby Boom” or a “demographic explosion”, every day a wave of tens of millions of Americans and Europeans move one day closer to retirement. Retirement should be a stress-free period in our lives, but it has become stress-ridden. We worry that we won’t have enough money to take care of ourselves. We worry that we will be a burden on others in our society if there is not enough money to support our government’s social programs for retirees. We worry that if the social programs fail, we will be a burden to our children. We worry about being old in a world of terrorism, unable to protect ourselves. These are all fears that weigh heavily on us as we plan for retirement. Worse yet, they are fears we know we will continue to face once we are actually retired. This is much too negative for what should be a positive period in our lives. It could be positive if only there was a practical way to protect ourselves, avoid being a burden to others, and perhaps even make a small contribution to reducing global tensions. There is.

Bob, I, and many others have found a way to do that by retiring in Panama. Here’s Bob Adams “10 Reasons to Retire in Panama” . .

Magical!

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156Because of the orientation of our mountain home in Boquete, every morning we can sit on the front porch, or terrace as it is called in Panama, and facing due east enjoy our coffee while watching a spectacular sun rise. Beautiful!  But because the back terrace, and the openness of the house onto the back terrace, when the sun starts going down behind Volcan Baru it is just magical! More magic!

Retirement 2.0

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Those of you who’ve followed my blog know that we are in the process of “retiring from retiring” … well, actually moving from Retirement.1.9 to Retirement.2.0 … a little more relaxed and with less responsibility. So, we’re selling our home just outside of Boquete, described by many as “the most beautiful home in Boquete.” So here’s a little backstory and a little behind the scenes of what it costs to live in Panama.