Seeing Stars!

Yesterday was weird.  It rained most of the day, like living in Seattle.  Yes, we are in the rainy season which at this time of the year should mean spectacular, clear and sunny mornings with clouds building up around noon and rain from mid-afternoon until early evening, sometimes quite heavy.  It’s part of what makes the coffee so good, the landscape so lush, and the flowers so abundant.  Well yesterday was a lot like the end of September and October when it sometimes feels like we get too much rain.  Yesterday it rained on and off all day.

But this morning . . . !  I woke up about 3:45 am, rolled over and looked out of my bedroom window.  No moon.  Clear skies.  And stars like you wouldn’t believe!  It was like the rains had washed the atmosphere.   The stars in Panama are something else.  I never knew that stars could look like this.  I remember as a kid seeing the Milky Way . . . and it’s still there!

So I’ve been back home in Panama for three weeks . . . and to give those of you thinking and dreaming about joining us in paradise a sense of what life is like . . .

View from Seagull Cove Lodge - basically the same view we have from next door

I’m munching Mango Bread that Nikki made yesterday.  We’d bought a bunch of mangos from a guy along the Pan American Highway driving back from the little property we have in Boca Chica.  $1 for a bag of about 10 medium-size mangos.  And since they all ripened at once, Nikki thought she’d try substituting mangos in her banana bread recipe.  Fantastic!  Funny too since when you look at a slice of mango bread it looks like it has all these little hairs in it which are just mango fibre.

Went to see a opthamologist at Chiriqui Hospital in David.  For past six years or so it has been just optometrists, and I figured it was time to get checked out by an MD eye doctor.  Good guy.  Speaks English.  Works with Lions Clubs.  Lives in Panama City and comes  up to David on Saturdays.  Aside from aging everything is fine.  Appointment cost $12 – reduced 50% because of the insurance scheme we  have with Chiriqui Hospital.  Chiriqui Hospital is one of four hospitals in David which is 45 minutes from our house.  Chiriqui Hospital and Mae Lewis are private hospitals used by most Panamanians who can afford private care and by expats.

Years ago we bought this little property down by the beach in Boca Chica that’s about 1.75 hours from Boquete.  It sits smack in the middle of two little resorts that have developed, Gone Fishing Panama and Seagull Cove Lodge.  Go ahead, check out their Web sites: I’m sure my neighbors would appreciate it and would welcome you as guests.  What with finishing  up stuff in Palmira and working on ships, I haven’t had much time for Boca Chica.

Gone Fishing Panama is on the right - the wooded area to the left is our place

So I’ve been trying to get some things done at Boca Chica.  We had a bunch of huge wine palms that were on my property hanging over Seagull Cove Lodge.  They are messy trees with giant spines that can piece a flip-flop.  They drop piles and piles of worthless fruit that either has to be cleaned up or sprouts into thousands of little trees.  So I had the wine palms cut.  It was a delicate operation with us using trucks to pull the palms as they were cut so they didn’t crash into the lodge.  But it was successful.  They are called wine palms because when they are cut you extract a juice from the center of the tree which is sweet at first and then after a few days becomes a potent “wine”.  Well the guys gave me a bottle.  It bubbled and fermented on our kitchen counter and . . .  lets just say it is very much an acquired taste!

So since I know you are asking, "Do they really catch fish at Gone Fishing?" Now you know!

One of the great things about living in Boquete is the way different community-based organizations have sprung up to meet various needs.  Animales runs a monthly spay and neuter clinic that services about 70 animals at every clinic. The BCP theater group has developed a beautiful BCP Event Center for Boquete with a 100 seat theater where they perform as well as another acting group that has sprung up. There are musical concerts there, community events, meetings, and a Tuesday Morning Market. A Hospice group has also been started. Last week for most of the week Nikki was involved in the Hospice training. There are now about 30 people who have completed the training program. So Boquete is very much a community. All of these activities involve both expats and Panamanians. One of the things you want to look at if you are thinking of moving abroad and adopting an expat lifestyle is if such a community exists, or if you believe that once you are there, such a community can develop.

Here's the little beach in front of our property looking over at Boca Brava island

Rainy season means an invasion of creatures who usually live happily under the leaves in the jungle . . . things like roaches (not the dreaded North American style roaches) and scorpions (not the deadly kind).  Pests.  So we had the  exterminator come.  So you can compare $30.  He uses stuff that doesn’t hurt the dogs . . . or us.

Plus this week I start a roofing project to get roofs over a little drying area for our coffee and a work and storage area for the farm. Lest I have too much “vacation” time on my hands I’m also working on my books and developing lectures for the cruises this fall to the Black Sea, Egypt and the Holy Land. The Black Sea one is challenging since there are lots of ports and I have one sea day before we hit 5 ports! Yikes!

Here’s one last parting shot of sunset in Boca Chica taken from the restaurant at Seagull Cove Lodge next door . . . which by the way has a very good restaurant that is open to the public.  My brother and I were there the other day and both had huge, US-style hamburgers and fries, with a total bill of $22 including tax, tip and Pensionado discount.  [Yes, they do give the Pensionado discount!]  Balboa beer I think was $1.75 a bottle . . . vs about $6 on the ship!

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