Coffee Talk 1
How many coffee cherries does the average American use in a year?
The average Arabica coffee tree produces around 10 lbs. of cherries per year (2 lbs of green, unroasted beans) and the average American would need 16 coffee trees a year to feed their coffee habit.
What coffee trees need to be healthy:
Difference between Arabica and Robusta Coffee
We are working hard to get ready for this year's crop. This week we should have our corporation papers and will be close to opening up our online store. There is still much to do and we are still unpacking, so by the end of each night, we are thoroughly exhausted.
As far as the puppies go, we have only had 2 "accidents" in the last 4 days...yay! They are sleeping well at night in their new dog house/kennel and they have adapted well to living on the farm, but are a little too interested in the fertilizer we use on the coffee trees...sigh.
We have met some new friends here and are going to catch up with some old friends this afternoon.
Feel free to ask me any questions!
Let the unpacking begin!
I am not going to dwell too much on all of the problems we had getting our stuff, but I will give you a few highlights.
1. It was like having a root canal, except there was no numbing you up first or pain medication after.
2. It was hard to watch some of the cabinets (packed full of items) being dropped or unloaded upside down.
3. The final figure on the import taxes came back with adjustments, and no they were not in our favor.
4. We only lost 2 coffee trees and one of the orange trees received a huge trimming, so the container could be lifted into place.
5. The water pipe that broke after the truck accidentally squished it, is now fixed.
6. All of the items were actually shuttled up before we went to bed on Monday, which did include some heavy rain and unloading in the dark.
7. The container was brought up this afternoon after the ground dried up a little from the heavy rain last night and the truck carrying the container only got stuck for a little while driving up the hill.
Now that our stuff is here, we get to start unpacking. I will confess that while my husband started the unpacking today, I took a nap. The cute puppy picture above is the reason that I did not get any sleep last night.
Talking about puppies...one of the puppies is already house-trained, but Dante has not shown any interest in learning. It turns out that he really likes to sleep, eat or beat up on his sister, but anything else requires human work. Such as a person picking him up and actually placing him outside for a potty break, at which point he will then get comfy and try to fall asleep on the grass. Absolutely zero interest!
My husband and neighbor are making a dog house right now (with a door until they are both house-trained at night,) so tonight might be better. Crossing my fingers!
The Good, the Bad and the Aduanas
1. The puppies are adorable. One appears a little smarter than the other, but there is still hope for the boy.
2. We finally were able to fund our checking account. However, there is a cap of transferring US money in the form of a check per month ($3,000.00) and our visa requirements say we need to have $7,500 in the account. If anyone can work around the rules it is us...not knowing the rules all at once seems to be our problem. :)
3. Our health insurance was approved, we are just waiting on our insurance cards.
4. The birds, the monkey and all of the wildlife is still so awesome to listen to all day.
5. We have TV, internet and voip calling working pretty well!
6. We get to borrow our neighbors riding lawn mower...yay!
1. The puppies sleep alot, but only in small spurts. Night one of house-training was exhausting and only 50% successful....haha
2. Okay....not alot bad....unless you count the waiting on the aduanas.
Aduana is the Spanish word for customs. Not that I have ever associated customs with a fun experience, no matter where I was, but oh my! We have been waiting for our container for over a 10 days now. The container arrived in Panama on the 10th. After hearing many different stories on why the container was not in the city of David ready for inspection for a week, we get word on Wednesday that the container and paperwork is ready. We drive to David to meet with a custom's broker and our shipper, answer a few questions and then are told to go home, there is no way that they will process the container that day. We are told to come back the next morning, Friday, and we will get it inspected, quarantined, released and unpacked at our house. Not knowing what customs is going to charge us for import tax, we arrive with money, passports and everything else we can think of. It was released from quarantine and after they unpacked 15 totes/boxes, went through a file cabinet, etc., we were told they had a number in mind for the taxes, but were sending it to the main office in Panama City for approval. (This part was done around 11:30am) As soon as it was approved, we could put the boxes back in the container, go pay the bill and within an hour or so, it would be released and brought to our house. Everyone went to lunch, while we sat there guarding our stuff. Our shipper brought us lunch later and we waited some more. Eventually, it got so late in the day, the Aduana's office closed. We were allowed to put our stuff back in the container before we left. We still have no idea exactly what number they assessed for the import tax. So.....we go back on Monday and hope that Panama City approved the assessment, pay the bill and then an hour after that it will be released to come to the house.
Anyone wanna place bets on how this goes? :)
The End of the Weekend
Tons to write about today!
We went to Boquete for dinner and had Panamanian food. I had glazed pork chops, coleslaw and rice, and Rick had chicken and rice. The hot sauce was great and VERY spicy! Everyone keeps asking me what Panama food is, so I thought I would include it this time. The food itself is never spicy, but the sauce you can add is.
We do not pay for sewer (we have a septic tank), water is something like $50 a year and the trash trucks do not come up our hill, so there is no fee for trash. However, we have to get rid of our trash, so we have a few options. One, we could take it to the dump...or two, on Sunday nights the trash trucks are placed in front of the fire station in Boquete for people who do not have trash delivery. So on Sundays, we try to go into town, have dinner somewhere and throw our trash into the trash trucks. It makes for a nice end of the weekend. As you can see in the picture the road is all torn up. They have punched holes in the street and are about to redo the road. I am not sure how quickly they plan to do it, but I hope I can find the trash trucks when the road is closed for construction! I also included a picture of the new fire engine for all of the firefighters out there. :)
After dinner and trash dumping, we went by the farmer's market. To our surprise, it has been completely remodeled. A few of the stalls were still open and we bought a few bananas (3 for 25 cents), a pineapple for a dollar and a papaya for 40 cents. Our neighbor is cutting down a banana tree tomorrow, but the bananas will not be ready to eat for a week or so. I have not looked to see how close our trees are to cutting down yet, guess I should put that on the list.
The other picture is the town square. We can always find vendors and people hanging out here. Sometimes there are entertainers as well. Rick and I had a nice walk around this evening and even though we have been busy, it still feels like it always does when we are vacationing here. Our stress level is lower than it has been all year, even with the language barriers and our lack of how things work, like banking and car registrations. Which leads me to my last picture for the night.
For those that do not know my husband...he can be a little OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) at times. He is a perfectionist and neat freak with some things. The picture above is just a few of the parts of our truck. He keeps handing them to me to clean in the kitchen sink! The truck is used and has some flaws, it will need to go to a mechanic for some items, but I believe my husband intends to do most of the work himself. He spends the evenings reading manuals and then during the day, he takes sections of the truck apart to clean and inspects each piece, taking inventory on everything he will need to fix. But, even he is more relaxed than he has been all year....we are very happy to be here on this new journey.
Big Week Ahead
We registered the truck! Notice that the new plate is the same number as the old plate. We were confused on why we had to drive into a city that was further away to register the truck, but now we get it! The plates are stamped each year and held in the cities that the vehicle was first licensed in. So even if you sell a car, that car will forever have to go back to the original city each year and get a new plate. We also learned that if you go close to lunch hour, they get you in and out fast!
There are many homeless dogs and cats here. There are a few organizations that donate time toward spaying/neutering, finding new homes etc. for these animals. Animals are one of my passions. As a child, I thought I would be a vet. But then I realized that I would have to deal with blood and that ended that notion. I did work at a pet store for awhile to help families learn how to take care of animals and then later became a dog trainer. The money was not good and I had to eventually move on to careers that paid more, but I do intend to help the organizations out here after we get more established. In the meantime....meet Karma. She will be coming to live with us in a week or so. She was part of an abandoned litter that was starving, but is now thriving with one of the organizations that is fostering close to 30 dogs.
Meet Dante...this is Karma's brother. He will also be joining us. :) The family that is housing the 30 dogs is from Peru and has only been here a few months and they just can't turn down helping a helpless dog. They give the dogs and puppies all of the medicine and food to get them all back on their feet and only ask for small donations of food and $15 when someone adopts a dog for all of the expenses. Amazing!
So...this week is full of stuff.
1. We should have internet installed on Tuesday. It is expensive here and not the quality we were used to in the States, but we are hoping that we get something resembling stable up here on the coffee farm. To give you an idea of internet pricing here, it is $180+ a month for 3 Mbs., which is the highest speed plan offered. Crossing our fingers and toes that we get close to the 3 Mbs for that price!
2. We go to the customs yard tomorrow to get our container and see what they valued all of our stuff at and pay the customs fee. Crossing our fingers it is something affordable! Then the shipping company will bring the container to the bottom of the hill and shuttle everything up and drop it into the wood shop so that they can safely bring the empty container up the hill. Then the container gets dropped (hopefully) in the area that we had a worker prep and level. Then we start unpacking our boxes and totes...fun, fun
3. We should hear if we are approved for a bank account this week. We were told 5 days...so we are hoping by Tuesday or Wednesday at the latest. Due to the Panama Papers and bad press...all Americans have to pay $250 a year for a checking account to pay for the paperwork and administration that now has to be done between Panama and the US. I can't believe we are paying for a checking account!
4. We should also hear if we are approved for health insurance by Monday or Tuesday. Insurance here is cheaper than in the States. Since we will be travelling to the States we applied for probably the most expensive insurance that they offer here, but it covers anyone in our family while travelling in the States for up to 3 months a year. The other insurances did not offer that. On Friday they had a few clarifying questions regarding a few surgeries that I had in the past, but there were no questions on my husband or our child. One thing that is different here is how the pharmacies work. I have to take a daily medicine. In the states, I needed a prescription on file and it was expensive. Here....we went to the farmacia and asked for the medicine and it was $10 for 30 pills...no questions asked. Very relieved that it was easy and I can actually get more than a month at a time if I want, since it is something that I have to have to live. Doctor visits are cheaper too. A visit to a doctor that speaks English is $12, after hours is $15 and I think for them to come to your house it is around $20. The clinic we use in Boquete has all English speaking doctors and we have never had to wait more than a couple of minutes and they are open 24 hours a day. They are also known as the expensive clinic, but for the few extra dollars that they charge over other doctors, it is worth it in my mind. No waiting, no communication barrier and always open.
Wait, Wait and Wait
Insurance: We went and applied for insurance on the truck. We were told to come back the next day and see if we are approved for a policy. Today, we were approved for the auto insurance, but need to wait a few days now to see if we are approved for the health insurance. Crossing our fingers that it goes smoothly.
Shipping Container: We have been getting ready all week for the container to be here on Friday. We arranged with our shipper to meet him at 8am to go to the customs office and claim the container. Then at dinner we get a call and it will be more convenient for somebody if we go claim it on Monday. So…3 more days until I get my stuff. Not a horrible thing, but we are anxious to get this container moving done with and start arranging the house with our stuff.
Tomorrow we meet with the surveyor to get the blueprints and then go get the vehicle inspected, so we can register it now that we have the insurance. However, it is not called registration, it is….oh I don’t remember, but we get corrected every time we call it registration. J However, just a few minutes ago, we found out that we have an appointment with the internet people. So, if something has to wait….it will have to be the registration.
The lesson my wonderful husband learned the other day, was not to talk about taking his pants off to people in casual conversation. One of the days that he has to wear long pants (requirement when in official building) and wait around at the Municipio Building for paperwork on the truck, he was casually speaking to a woman who was also waiting around with us. He tried to explain that his convertible pants would soon become shorts after this transaction was done because it was quite hot. He tried to explain that the pants have a zipper that makes the legs come off. It did not take long for him to realize that she interpreted his comments to something like this: It is hot, I want to take my pants off after this. The woman immediately blushed and looked a little uncomfortable. So…if anyone goes to a country where there are language barriers, don’t discuss taking off your pants!
My friend that is doing me the huge favor in the U.S. called tonight! She received my package and appears to be on board with helping me…yay!!! She did not even complain a little…I am sure there will be paybacks later when I go visit her next month.
Busy, Busy and Real Busy
We met with a great attorney to start all of our paperwork and begin the official corporation. Who knew coming up with a name would be so hard?! We must have tossed around over 50 names before going back to one that might have started out as a joke. Assuming the name goes through, I will write more on how that came about.
One of the requirements for our corporation to be formed, is to open a local bank account. It turns out they needed a few items. First: A letter of good standing from a current bank, check...we got this! Unfortunately, ours was dated at the beginning of July and did not count. We needed one that was less than 30 days old. Second: A personal recommendation from someone that has an account at that bank. This one we had. We choose this bank because we did know someone that currently banks there. Third: Two forms of I.D. Turns out that I was not prepared for that part. I only brought my passport. Forth: Last year's tax returns. We also did not have this. It was packed in our shipping container which might be here at the end of the week. Fifth: Write a small essay about why we want an account and a little about ourselves. Can you believe my husband would not let me see his! He thought I would cheat and copy from him. Sixth: Okay....well, you get the point. We did not get the account today, but we THINK we now have the rest of the documents we need with a few international calls and a couple of emails to some wonderful people. So we will attempt to finish the paper work tomorrow and then wait the 5 days for approval to actually open the account. Did I mention that we have to dress up to go to the bank, we are not acclimated enough to want to put on long pants yet . Luckily, my husband has convertible pants that can turn into shorts....I am stuck with my limited clothing options until the container arrives with the rest of my clothes. :(
Next was the health certificates. That turned out to be the easiest thing we did all week. Twenty minutes at the doctor's office and we were on our way.
Getting the title to the truck. This was a very long process. We met the sellers on Monday at the Municipio Building which we luckily found in the town of David after driving around for awhile. However, they did not have the original title with them. We sat and waited as the seller went to different teller windows and did who knows what. After an hour he informed us that we just needed to go upstairs with him and get the title printed out. Actually, we had no idea what we were waiting to get at that window, but we understood that the system was down and we would need to return again the next day. Today....we successfully have a title to the truck! Yay!
We had a roofer and a surveyor also working on the property. Thankfully, our neighbor handled most of that and we just had to answer a few questions and listen to what they had to say. Oh yeah...I forgot about the guy that was working on making a level spot for the container before it comes this week.
Cell phone: Yay...my data is fixed. That involved going into the cell phone store and taking a number and then waiting...waiting...waiting and then finally when our number came up, we find out that my phone did not have the internet provider numbers programmed correctly. All is good now....sigh.
We had to figure out how to send some documents for our residency visas to a friend in the USA fast. Needless to say, that took two trips, since we did not have everything necessary to mail it the first time. Then, I had sweet talk to my friend into accepting the package when it arrives and doing the legwork for me, so she can turn around and send it back before the deadline. Okay, so maybe I did not sweet talk her, maybe it was begging....unless she reads this, I will just go with sweet talking.
We did manage to fit in a hike. Neither of us are sure if we live next to a jungle or a cloud forest though. Whatever it is, it has monkeys, toucans, parrots, small porcupines...and who knows what else! It is very pretty though and we love to hear the birds all day long.
We Made It!
What a trip! We checked our luggage bags all the way through to David, Panama. However, in Panama City we were required to go through customs and immigration. So, we stood by the luggage conveyor belt and there were no bags to be found. Confused and slightly anxious about the items possibly being lost, we found someone to ask about what the procedure was. We had never taken this route before, normally we get into Panama City too late to make a connection to David and end up taking an express bus for the rest of our trip. The man at the counter explained that if we did not find our bags, they probably were put on our next connection already. Crossing our fingers, we proceeded through customs without our bags. The good news is that we did find them at our final destination, but we were too tired to care at that point (since it had been 25 hours of travelling at this point.)
After negotiating the car rental and getting home we were greeted by the very healthy looking coffee trees and two new toucans. I have never seen a toucan in the wild before and wished that I had a camera close by. Hopefully I will get to take their pictures soon!
The next day we go down to the cell phone store and activate my phone and data plan. Unfortunately, it is the weekend and I think something went wrong. I have no data! :( So, I keep running up to my neighbor's house (friend and mentor) to use his wifi to send emails. He has been wonderful in helping us with our transition. If it were not for him, we would still be in a rental car that made my husband's SMART car almost look big. So now it is day 3 and we are the proud owners of truck. It even has a snorkel on it....not that we would use that, but it makes finding the truck in a parking lot easy to identify.
The people that we bought the truck from could not have been nicer! The office where we need to go and transfer the title is not open on the weekend, but they gave us the truck and told us to meet them at the office on Monday. We went to their house and met what looked like the whole extended family. They gave us extra parts, like new brake pads and other things that I had no idea what they were. They even handed us money back at the end to have something repaired, which they did not have to do, since we were buying the truck knowing that the part would need replacing at some point. They practiced their English and tried teaching us some Spanish. It was fun.
With the new truck in hand, we stopped by PriceSmart on the way home. PriceSmart is Costco, they even sell Kirkland brand items. We loaded up on supplies and are now working out the logistics of selling the coffee in U.S. Hopefully, I will be able to give more information on that later. All in all, we have been very busy! This week we have a roofer to talk to, car registration to figure out, lawyers and insurance agents to meet with....the list does not seem to get smaller. Oh yeah....and we REALLY need to work on our Spanish!