One of the things I love about my new life here in Panama is that I get to meet some amazing people! Here, I get to meet people from all over the world. People from small towns and villages to people that live in large cities from all over the globe. (U.S.A., U.K., New Zealand, France, Spain, Argentina, Venezuela, Peru, Panama, Canada, Latvia, Japan, Spain, Australia, Austria, Russia......) Some are professionals like engineers and doctors, while others are still finding themselves....plus everything in between.
I wanted to share a little bit about one of these families that we recently met. The family I am going to talk about today has 4 daughters, each as adorable and sweet as can be. One of the girls has a wonderful talent for making balloon art and she is still so young!
I do not know if you have ever attempted to make a balloon animal, but I have. Sometimes you need more imagination than normal to actually see what I had intended, sometimes it looks like an unfinished animal, but mainly they just pop.
This girl, can make anything and very quickly! She gets this look in her eye as she is envisioning what she is going to make and then off she goes.
Before the family left to continue their adventures at the beach, I was lucky and got a monkey and a ladybug to remember them by. :)
I am going to start at the beginning.
Our family has done small trips to the beach or a day off here and there, but my husband has not been out of the country since we moved to Panama. 2018 was a very busy year for us and we decided to take a 5 day trip to Colombia. We have heard many wonderful things about Colombia and have some friends that have actually moved there. So, we finally made some time to go have some fun and explore. However, there is still a ton of work to do around the farm, so it had to be a short trip.
The first thing we noticed as we got seated in the plane was that the safety instruction sheet has been modified. This made me feel much safer. :)
Next, our hotel room was spacious, clean and came with a hot tub. The bed was very hard and kind of felt like we were sleeping directly on plywood. However, the food at the hotel restaurant was very good.
We then made time to go to the local zoo which was very close to the store where we found vinyl that we needed to buy. The zoo was clean and it was hard to believe it was in the middle of a city with a population of 2.5 million people. We felt like we had left the city and were truly out in the wilderness. We met one of the zoo workers who started giving us a personal tour and even made us some origami animals. :) I think he liked practicing his English on us.
My husband has not been to a real mall or anywhere with serious shopping options in a long time. It was fun to see him at all of the malls, it was even like watching a little kid at times. He loves lighting and at the Home Store, he was so excited that he could turn light switches on and off and they actually worked! Each mall we went to, had some sort of inside park area where people were gathered and hanging out. We had never seen something like that....and we went to ALOT of malls. :)
It was great seeing displays and stores that were completely new to us. :) The Beer Store logo looked like Starbucks from far away....haha.
One of the malls had an amusement park on the top floor. We had to go in there and have some fun too. :) Rick and I vowed to destroy each other on the bumper cars, but before we knew what was happening this teenage boy was ramming each of us.....and hard! Haha. Then it was off to the ferris wheel and other activities.
The city was very, very clean. It was also fun to walk around and see all of the graffiti art. Everywhere we went, there was graffiti art on all of the walls. We saw that they even offered tours for this.
There were exercise parks everywhere! These were free parks with equipment there for people to keep in shape. It must be working, because most people that we saw appeared healthy and seemed active.
The traffic in this city was crazy! There were taxis everywhere and streets with no stop lights, but everyone understood how to navigate it. Hardly any of the cars had dents in them (not like where we live :) and it was fascinating to watch! There were scooters, motorcycles and mopeds everywhere.....they drove between lanes, in lanes...it was insane! There were even bicyclists hanging on to the backs of buses and trucks getting a free ride and no one seemed to care.
While we were away, we get a message from Hector saying that there is a fire on the hill. With it being the dry season, things can burn easily here. Thankfully, after the firefighters found our hill (they did not even know our road existed) and with the help of Melvin and maybe others, the fire was contained.
(Message from Hector: Bomberos are working with mochilas/back pack and Melvin is a volunteer. Don't worry) Eeek!
All in all, we had a great time and it was great to get away for a few days, but we were glad when we were home and sleeping in our bed. It is now time for us to catch-up and get back to work!
One of Rick's best friends since he was a kid is coming to visit us with his wife. We can't wait until they get here! They actually have been here once - it was before we moved down here though.
Those that know me, know I am not a very good cook. It is one of the reasons that I loved having Workawayers here that spoiled us with good food.
For my upcoming birthday, my family sent me an Instapot. I am not one to normally promote a product, everyone has their own favorites...however, this might be the answer to some better meals for us.
I opened up my present yesterday and found a recipe online that ingredients that I actually had in my kitchen. I threw everything in the pot and we had dinner! Okay, there were a few learning curves in there...but the dinner was not burned! So, I am going to make tonight's dinner with it too!!!
Rick was at a store that had household light fixtures clearanced for $5 each. By the way, Rick is addicted to ALL kinds of lighting projects. Since the day I met him, he has been obsessed with improving our lighting needs. Whether it is the color of the bulbs we are using or the fixtures or well...anything lighting related. After many years of working on lighting problems, he has become very quick and efficient at making modifications. That is, until he tried to change 1 in our living room. It turns out that the electrical box was set back about 2 inches from the finished surface of the wall. It appears that a large hammer was used to open the wall to originally access the box. None of the holes lined up and my husband quit his project after an hour to reassess the situation. The next day, he was back at it and we now have a bunch of lights to still do, but only the 1 finished!
Our farm frog is still alive and very interested in hanging out around the coffee. :) I think my husband is playing a new game of "where is the frog today?"
The next 2 pictures are of a very strange red bug and my son's cat that may look innocent, but she is a bug and lizard terrorizer.
We are trying to make coffee tea this year. Not to sell, just to see if we can. Our first batch was a failure. We washed the coffee skins too well and removed all of the sugars. Melvin was kind enough to tell me that the tea tasted like dirt...haha.
So, we are doing a batch of natural processed coffee, so that I can take the dried skins off and try again....I will let you know how it goes!
Our storage issue of all of the dried coffee in the "resting phase" has gotten out of hand. We are building a new storage house, but in the meantime there are bags and bags of coffee that I have to deal with. :)
The last 2 pictures are just a few of the new leased trees for 2019. Part of the fun is making the signs and knowing what each sign is symbolizing. :) Some are romantic, some are funny and some are just reminders of special moments....Emma's sign was designed by a little girl that has a bird and wanted to include our dogs (Karma and Dante) because they fight over sticks and she thinks that is funny....haha.
It has been so windy lately that some of the new, baby mangoes are flying off of the tree like little bullets. :(
We have been busy keeping our coffee travel mugs in stock. We electro-etch each one ourselves and it turns out that most people have never seen it done. So, I am attaching some pictures from our last batch of mugs. By the way, Rick's hand is all healed and he is back to working on everything as if he never burned it in the first place!
I will update more later, but I have coffee to process now and I doubt Rick will wait much longer for me!
Coffee, Coffee and Even More Coffee
This has been our best harvest year since we have owned the farm. Just as we clear the drying house of dried parchment coffee and get it bagged, it is time to load the drying house with fresh soaking, wet coffee. It has been non-stop and a little hard to keep up with. I feel like we are always 1 day behind right now....
People that are not used to driving on back roads or steep roads are starting to have a hard time getting up our hill. To do a "real" fix, we will need to restrict driving up the road, or at least control where they drive while we set some concrete. However, today we ....and yes that means Rick, Melvin, Simone and Hector....implemented a temporary fix. We will have a more permanent solution in place next month. The road is technically a public road, but there is no fix coming anytime soon unless we do it ourselves. We have already scheduled the work in February and are formulating our plan of action now...yay!
A Coffee Tour and a Surprise
One of the great things about our jobs here on the farm is getting to meet new people. This cute couple are now officially engaged....yay! It was a beautiful day!
With the rain gone now, the dogs are outside all day getting filthy. Both dogs were so dirty that we had to take some time off to bathe them and cut out the mats of embedded seeds in Dante's ears. Dante was so not happy!
Rick was going around the farm knocking down the widow-makers (dead branches that could easily fall and hurt someone) and accidently disturbed the wasp nest. It turns out that most of the wasps were actually inside the nest at the time. They were not happy, but no one got stung!
The frog spent the day watching us process coffee. I kept expecting him to move along, but he was pretty sure we could not see him and did not even mind when we accidently spilled water on him.
I get to wake up to views like this each morning. It keeps us going and is a great start to our long days right now. :)