Well, it’s going. And needless to say since we sold our home in Panama it has been a hectic, at times confusing, exhausting and frustrating zoo. When we finally got all the Panama paperwork, officially rubber stamped and filed, and the new owners arrived from Germany the moving madness officially began. The family that bought our home turned out when we finally met them to be really neat folks, the kind of folks we would like to have been friends with were we staying in Panama. The feedback we get is that they love the place and are busy making it their own. Wisely, given the impact of global warming on growing coffee at that altitude, they have wisely pulled out the coffee and turned the front into a corral and pasture for their daughter’s horses.
We sold the house without knowing exactly where we were moving to in Washington. We needed proceeds from the sale of our home in Panama to buy a place in Washington. And it turned out to be the worst possible time to buy a house in Washington. There was virtually no inventory and folks were bidding up paying offering sometimes multiple thousands of dolllars above asking price just to have the sellers “consider” their offer.
Before we left we had to pack up all our belongings, without a clue of the size of the house we would end up with in Washington, watch them being trucked down our hill and loaded into a 40 foot container, It was impossible to get the container up the narrow road and into our driveway. We thought we had “downsized” and gave away a lot of stuff. We’d had collected whatever boxes and packing materials we could find and did a lot of the packing ourselves. Jackie Lange had heard good reports about Mexico Moving Company (not that they are Mexicans but they had specialized first in moving people from the States to Mexico and they added in Panama. It was tough finding boxes and packing materials. Mexican Movers kept promising they’d get us some stuff, but that never materialized. A few of the major items that required special packing and handling we left for the movers, things like my wife’s baby grand piano, my dad’s glass bookcase (already an antique when I was a kid), and a beautiful antique German wall clock — those things we left for the “professionals.” So our stuff was all packed up and shipped out. There is a lot more to this story, and as soon as we figure out the damages and what items have been lost along the way, I’ll write a review of Mexico Moving Company.
I have a daughter who teaches in Seattle and lives in Normandy Park, a nice suburb just South of Seattle and my other daughter had just taken a new job as Executive Director of a really cool environmental education outfit called North Cascades Institute. One of our reasons for moving back was to be near to family, hence Washington, my fears about going back to four seasons after almost 40 years living in warmer climates (Southern California and Panama) notwithstanding, I love water and mountains and the area. I spent some time last summer working for American Cruise Lines doing the Puget Sound and San Juan Islands cruise and had fallen love with Fidalgo Island and Anacortes. And we’ve ended up in Anacortes in a cute little house one third the size of our house in Panama. My son-in-law calls it “Pottery Barn cute.” So we end up with a garage full of furniture we don’t have room for and so much artwork we need to develop a rotating schedule.
Yes, it’s rainy, but not as rainy as some places in Puget Sound or as rainy as Palmira. But it is green and beautiful. We’ve got lots of evergreens and even a resident eagle in one of the trees across from the front of the house. Ten minutes down the road is Deception Pass and State Park which will give you an idea of the beauty of this place. The famous bridge links our Fidalgo Island with Whidbey Island.
Although Fidalgo is an island it is connect at one end to Whidbey and at the other to Burlington. Anacortes is a fascinating town purchased originally for $1,000 by a promoter/speculator who thought it would be the Western terminus for the transcontinental railroad. He laid out the streets like Boston and promoted the island as the “new New York” but the railroad never came. Because it has a good port it became at times a fishery center with canneries lining the shores, and international shipping traffic. Today it is a big resort town in the summer with huge marinas filled with boats of all sizes and still has some fishing, boat repair, and one cannery for crab. Back in the day it was visited by ships from New England and transplanted New Englanders were active in the fishing industry as well as logging on this and the other islands.
So we purchased our home. I stayed in Washington to await our occupancy and Nikki flew back to Panama to close out and transfer our home in Palmira and bring the dogs. Meanwhile, the backload of containers and ships waiting to unload up and down the West Coast meant that our container would have to go instead to Houston with out stuff unloaded at the dock and trucked up to Anacortes. Bottom line it took about a month less than we had expected, so everything had to be unloaded into Public Storage in Mount Vernon until we had occupancy of our new house. As our stuff was being trucked up from Houston the Pacific Northwest was drenched far more than usual by a storm, the I5 (the principal N-S route through the West was closed because of flooding in Mount Vernon. So we had to have everything moved to Seattle and then when we finally got occupancy of our house it was moved again to Anacortes.l
Getting the three dogs here turned out to be another nightmare. I’ll tell you more later but with Covid and reduced air schedules the first option from the global pet experts was truly global. They could fly our three pups from Panama to Amsterdam, to Frankfurt, to Costa Rica, to Miami to Seattle. Not willing to send three dogs on a world tour trapped in the holds of planes, we chose to fly them and Nikki to LA on Copa. Once in LA it was a FUBAR situation! I drove the Toyota Tacoma pick-up i’d purchased from Anacortes to LAX to pick up Nikki and the dogs and we ended up running around Copa’s cargo people to customs, fighting amidst semis and delivery trucks to the spot by the tarmac where the dogs were being held, and one getting loose with me having visions of my dog chasing a 737 down the runway . . . but we made it! Turned out the dogs loved traveling in the truck, and Motel 6 is pretty dog friendly so the dogs loved checking into motels … and we made it.
Unfortunately with Covid (the universal excuse for everything!) it has been tough getting someone to fence in our backyard for the dogs, so we have three dogs who are used to running on a farm in Panama all cooped up in the house and we have to get up at night and walk them outside. The guy who is doing the fence was off in Ecuador, where he used to live as an expat, on vacation, but hopefully …. please! … will be starting our fence this week.
Of course there are surprises when you move like stuff that has gone missing, or is broken, or just when every piece of wood furniture is scraped or dented, but one big surprise was that the seller although including the washer and dryer in the sale, ended up taking it. I can’t believe the seller’s agent was unaware of that, or that damaged screens just disappeared. Fortunately OUR agent pressured the seller and worked with her so they paid for us to get new washer and dryer. Which probably worked out to our benefit.
My book ESCAPE TO PARADISE: OUR EXPERIENCE MOVING AND LIVING IN PANAMA is still available on Amazon. I’ve at least got an outline for the sequel: ESCAPE FROM PANAMA: RETURNING HOME. We’ll see. I’ll also let you know in a future post how some of the costs compare. Yes, a lot is more expensive, but not everything! There are people from Panama, Panamanians and expats, we dearly miss and we miss the warmth, sunshine and tropical gardens of Panama. In our first few weeks here Anacortes had a rare 8 inches of snow. But it didn’t last long, and in a few weeks the daffodil and tulip fields of Skagit Valley will start bursting into bloom.
Covid and Canada permitting, unfortunately I’ll miss some of the best weather in Anacortes, but will gladly be back at work on PEARL MIST doing New England, the St Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes.