Today was a big day. When they delivered the container it was placed in the area we wanted it.... not the spot we wanted. The container is empty right now, but soon the water tanks will be placed on top and about 6000lbs of green coffee beans will be stored inside. This creates a bit of a time crunch since I don't want to move the container with any more weight than necessary, so today was the day.
I only needed to move it about a foot. I also need to raise it up so we can pour concrete pads for it to rest on. Having only a bottle jack and found materials I began. I drove down the road where a tree fell a couple months ago and picked out the roundest branches I could find. I used a long branch to catch the top lip on the container and the jack on the bottom to raise it a few inches at a time. Having some sturdy plywood or cribbing would have been great, but I managed. It is truly remarkable how deep a bottle jack or piece of wood can sink into the ground here. The ground also recovers very well so it doesn't really pack down. Think sponge.
After many small operations I was able to get all four corners off the ground and logs to act as skids and rollers underneath. When I went to the shop to get the chain and come along my neighrbor inquired as to what I was working on. I think his feelings were a little hurt that I didn't invite him and he then asked if he could help. Hector, Andi and I went back to the container and placed our truck in a good location to be an achor. Hector thought this might be a bad idea, but I explained that I have done this numerous times.....usually a fire engine though. Using the come along, a pole and humans pushing we managed to slide it into place. The container weighs just over 5000lbs, so not a great feat but still challenging given the tools available. Although my lifting pole cracked, slipped out 4 times and eventualy broke it gave all it had and we got it done. Now we dig holes, pour concrete, weld supports to the top, put the water tanks up and fill the inside with coffee.
Small addition from Andi: I actually helped push too when I realized the boys could not do it by themselves. :)
I have had pets my entire life and never had a dog with mange. Karma has either mange or something similar. (She has spots of hair missing, but it is not contagious and never spread to her brother.) I grew up thinking it was just something you called a dog that looked unkept. :) The treatment for this....a bar of toxic soap that needs to be lathered on her for a minimum of 5 minutes and then rinsed off so well, that she won't get sick if she licks herself. We are to do this every 8 days for 6 treatments.
Today was treatment #1. She loved the warm water and the massage, but still wished she was not getting a shower.
We picked up my son's books for school. There are a ton of them! 16 books and close to $300 later, I find out that each book now needs to be covered in clear contact paper, along with all of his notebooks. We will be getting the rest of the supplies next week, but I am sure that they will not all fit in a backpack on Day #1.
I remember covering school books with brown paper bags when I was young, but they were owned by the school, so it was to protect them for other kids to use later. These books are a 1 time use. He will write in each of these books and they will be of no use 9 months later. Going to have an interesting year!
I love the farmer's market in Boquete. It is open everyday and their are tons of little shops with nice people, fresh fruits and vegetables and great prices. It is way cheaper than the grocery store!
Today I bought:
Another great deal! $3.00 for a haircut and it was like the old-time shops. My son got the shaving cream and straight razor for the side burns and neck, trimmers and scissors...The whole works!
One of our dogs hurt her front leg and has some type of mange thing going on with her hair. We took her to the vet and not only was she treated for everything, she got her ears all cleaned out too. The vet was really good with the dog and super nice! Plus, you have to like a vet that has their own rescue dog that is named Chewbaca. :) Price: $20.00 (included the anti-inflamitory shot, ear cleaning and presecriptions for after-care)
There is one store that we go to frequently for hardware items and small grocery items. The lady who usually runs the cash register always remembers what we get and gives my son a candy every time we go there. She looks at our purchases for the day and asks if we also needed "whatever it was we normally get but did not get this trip." Which has saved us a few return trips. :) This store is really is good at customer service.
Most of them are very nice and extremely helpful. I get to practice my Spanish when I go there, even though they understand my English and the prices for items that people need are extremely low. Although, any name brands over the counter pills from the U.S. are a little pricey. Also, they sell medicine by the pill, not necessarily by a month supply or by the bottle. Here are a few examples.
Thyroid medicine in the States (cash price): $86.00 for generic - Panama: $9.00 for 30 pills
Advil in the States: $15.00 for 360 pills at Costco - Panama: $288.00 for 360 at the pharmacy (.80 a pill)
However, they have other pain relievers that less expensive.
Just a quick post to show the Creepy Bug of the week!
My husband is also making progress on the outdoor shed. Only 20 or more steps until I have a dishwasher...yay!!!! Finish plumbing, support the location for the water tanks, connect water tanks, move hot water heater, move appliances in the kitchen, holes in cement, move gas line.......Tons to do!
Our son has spoiled the dogs. Not that they were not spoiled before, but now they expect their meals to be delivered to their legs. The dogs will just look at the bowl if it is not delivered to them (especially the boy dog) and wait for you to hand deliver it to them...sheez!
Baby mangoes galore! Also, some sort of bug is eating the leaves of the mango tree. Time to figure out what bug that is.
The coffee trees are getting ready to really bloom and the they are all recuperating from the last harvest.
Can you see what is wrong in the next picture?
If you look at the wire on the right side of the picture, you will notice that it is just hanging there. The tree that is in the middle of the road fell and broke the line. This is the 2nd tree to break the power line (different spots) on our road in the last 40 days. So, we did not have power from the electric company for 3 days. Thankfully, my husband had finished enough of the work on the back-up generator that we had our own power to the house the entire time.
Now comes the finishing work and plumbing outside. Once all of the plumbing is done, we can re-arrange the kitchen and install our dishwasher! We have been so busy that we lost track of what day of the week it was. It seems like our to-do list never gets smaller, but the days keep flying by.
School is about to start in a few weeks, which means that summer break here is almost over. We managed to order our son's uniforms, books and might have him enrolled correctly. We found out that our smooth rolling MEDUCA visit might not have been so smooth. The paperwork we received from MEDUCA to take to the school accidentally has him marked down for the wrong grade. The school is trying to straighten that out and we have all of the right papers, so I have faith it will get fixed by next week.
I have mentioned before how banking here is not my favorite thing. This week, I went to the bank to see about getting a visa debit card. The cost is $32 a year and $6.50 a month, just to have one. I could not do it, paying $250 a year to have the bank account was too much for me to stomach, but paying another $100 a year for a debit card.....I think that I can do without it for now. I do miss banking in the States and did not even realize how different that part would be down here.
I also had to go to the bank that our son's school uses to pay for his books and uniform. Here, most government offices and schools do not accept money in their offices. They give you a bill, then you go to their bank and make the payment. In some cases, you then have to take the receipt from the bank back to the government office to show that it was paid. Luckily, the school only required an email with a picture of the receipt.
No bug pictures this week. We have been burning wood that we are cleaning up from around the property all week and the smoke from the fire has seemed to keep most of the bugs away and I have no interest in looking for them if they feel they should go elsewhere. :)
Many of my posts mention my neighbor. Meet Hector. He is one of the funniest, happiest and most generous people that I know. Someday I might actually write a book called, "Hector Says..." I have learned from him that more people die from getting hit by a coconut than bit by a snake. When discussing that we did not know anyone that had been hurt badly by either a coconut or a snake, he casually mentions that he only knows 2 people that have died from snake bites. Yikes!
When discussing with him how disturbing it was that every time we would come back for vacation there were always more nests of bees, he explained how bees are harmless if you leave them alone. Then one day when Rick and Hector were talking, Hector asks Rick how he handles killer bees. He goes on to explain that the fire department down here is tasked with spraying foam on them and that one of his horses died at the other farm from killer bees. Yikes!
Hector has seen and done it all! He has won judo championship titles, met some incredible people, traveled all over, and keeps up with current events from all over the world. Not only does he own a coffee farm, sheep farm, white-water rafting company and hostel, he always has time for his friends.
When I try to describe Hector, I always think of Mr. Miyagi. Each lesson from Hector comes with a story and some of them are funny and some of them take me awhile to fully understand. I can't tell you how much we have learned from him, but it is a lot.
I think we are a source of amusement for Hector. I think we make him laugh almost as much as he makes us laugh. Just for different reasons though. Hector makes us laugh because of his good humor. We make Hector laugh because we are bumbling our way through Panama and it amuses him. Such as the time where we put gas in the diesel truck, or the time Rick went on a hiking trail and was afraid of bugs that he almost ran the whole trail while trying to keep his feet from touching the ground, or the time that ... well, I could go on with a ton of stories that have made him laugh.
Rick and Hector are a lot alike. They both are constantly looking for ways to improve things and are both busy from sun-up to sun-down. The two of them have worked together in the wood-shop making lamps, a bed, gates, fixing welds ,,, always something. They both are happiest when they have accomplished some sort of fix or improvement. One of them might be working on a project and have to leave to do other life-related things and the other will come in and know exactly what the first person was doing. Then they will do the next step of the project or make an improvement to it....it is like they have one mind at times.
Hector and his wife are more family than neighbors. They watch out for us and make sure we are on the right path and I help out when I can with computer related stuff. Hector gave up his computer a while ago, so I help with his website and presentations stuff he might need to do.
It is an honor to have him and his family in our lives. (Picture was taken last night when he stopped by to check on us.)
I thought that the packaging on our paper towels was funny, so I am adding it here. This could be the new diet trend, it absorbs calories. :) My Spanish is a little bit better, but most packaging takes me a while to understand what it says. This one...I got it!!!
My husband saw his first coatimundi driving up our hill the other day. He did not get a picture, but it was the first sign that they are actually around our house. They look like a ferret (face), raccoon, bear mix. Their paws are a cross between a bear and a raccoon. In the wild they live about 7-8 years, but in sanctuaries they live closer to 15. They eat spiders, lizards, eggs and fruit. In captivity they can be really tame, buy my neighbor says that they can use their claws on the dogs if they are threatened and it does a ton of damage. Here is hoping that my 2 dogs are smart enough to not get too close!
Tambi....you already got your insect this week, so you get a mammal today. :)
We have been hearing all sorts of horror stories about how hard registering a child with the Department of Education (MEDUCA) would be and what other people went through. These stories came from expats like us as well as native Panamanians. Well, today was the day we finally went to the building expecting the worst, but hoping for some progress of some sort. My wonderful husband had no faith that we would get anywhere and opted to drop my son and I off, while he did the rest of our errands.
Yes...nobody in the office that we had to deal with spoke English. Slight problem, but easily fixed. I had my wonderful neighbor who had offered to translate over the phone if I needed him. So, yeah...4 phone calls of translations throughout the process....not sure he had volunteered for that many. Maybe next time he will be more specific on how many times I can call him...haha
But, it is done! The first time we went there, we actually accomplished it! There is a little cheating on that number though....I had the same wonderful neighbor drop by a week or so ago and ask them what I would need to bring with me. Luckily, we had everything on the list, so 1 visit by the neighbor and 1 visit by us. Normally, things take 3 tries with us, so this was a HUGE win!!!
After all of our errands were done for the day, my son and I made limeade. Actually, we make it all the time and always have fresh limeade available. Limes are plentiful around here and my son will go pick some of them every few days. Notice that they are orange inside and green on the outside. They look a little different than the ones we were used to in the States, but they taste the same. It was my son's favorite drink until we realized that if you do 1/2 limeade and 1/2 7-Up, it is even better!
Since Tambi complained about no bug of the week last time I posted.....Here is a Whip Spider from a few weeks ago. I have only seen 1 since we moved here, but we would see them on vacations when we would come down here. At first, we flipped when we saw them. They are large! They also look like some cross between a scorpion and an alien, now they are just cool to see.
Here is the information from Wikipedia:
Amblypygi is an ancient order of arachnid chelicerate arthropods also known as whip spiders and tailless whip scorpions (not to be confused with whip scorpions and vinegaroons that belong to the related order Thelyphonida). The name "amblypygid" means "blunt rump", a reference to a lack of the flagellum ("tail") that is otherwise seen in whip scorpions. They are harmless to humans. Amblypygids possess no silk glands or venomous fangs. They rarely bite if threatened, but can grab fingers with their pedipalps, resulting in thorn-like puncture injuries.
The pictures underneath mine are from the web, to show you a better view and how big they are. Tourists have been known to put them on their faces and get their pictures taken.
Tambi, still wanna see the bugs each week??? haha
Our water heater, generator, propane and pump are all housed outside and are an unsightly mess. We are relocating them and building a shelter.
1. This will keep the wind from blowing out the pilot light on the water heater,
2. protect it from the sun (see my next section for why this is important),
3. remove the noise the generator makes away from the house,
4. clean up the unsightly mess....I am sure there is a 5 and 6 too.
My husband has made huge progress, but it will look even better when it is stuccoed and finished. The structure that he is putting it by was the old showers/bathroom stalls used by the coffee pickers. This will be getting a make-over soon too. The building has not been used for quite a while, so it is time to fix it up. I know it will look great in the end, but right now it is still pretty ugly and messy out there.
The cap to the hot water heater was so brittle and sun-damaged that it broke a few years back. We have been using pliers every time the wind blows out the pilot light. Imagine how much my husband likes going out there with his flashlight, pliers and lighter at night when we realize there is no hot water while doing dinner dishes or trying to take a shower at night, because the wind blew out the pilot light sometime during the day. Thankfully, we have access to a 3d printer and now have a new knob. Until the shelter is finished, he now only needs his flashlight and lighter! (The new knob is not pretty, but it will not be seen, nor needed much in the new shelter.)
Now, on to the fun stuff. We had fun making a sales video for someone we know. They are selling some beautiful land near Caldera. Rick was able to use the drone to get some great pictures and I had fun playing with the video software. Here is a link to the video. https://youtu.be/VMC9Kc3nrCE
Unfortunately, the drone crashed the other day and we will soon see if our repairs worked. It took some plastic melting, epoxy, some new screws......okay, so I nodded off after he explained all the things he repaired. It looks like new again, just hoping there was only external damage!
Tomorrow, we get to try and finalize a different kind of mess. We have some property paperwork that needs to be registered, but they need paperwork from us. The odd thing about this, is that they want a letter from the water department in David saying that we do not have any outstanding water bills. The problem with this, is that IDAAN, the water department, does not service our area and has no idea who we are. So of course we do not owe them money. That is like buying property in California and having them say that we need a letter from New York saying we are in good-standing with a utility bill. The hoops we sometimes have to go through....haha.