Reams of papers! Including (see second picture) every blank page of each of passports in triplicate and I have two passports! I have no idea how our attorney can keep all of the paper straight and carry it all around and be so petite. But, she is a hero. She even carries a stapler and other supplies in her briefcase with her.
We have answered questions like: When was your first trip to Panama? What airline did you take at that time? Why do you want to open a checking account in Panama? (By the way....the answer was not to spend money. Rick tried answering it that way and that was frowned at and the question was repeated.) We submitted FBI background checks that then had to be authenticated, marriage certificates that then were authenticated by the Secretary of State, same with our birth certificates, information on our coffee farm, health certificates, tax documents, letters of good standing from financial institutes and I am sure that I am missing some documents. All of these documents had to be new, fresh documents dated within the last 3 months or 1 month in some cases, or we had to re-do them.
Oh...and my actual card picture looks even worse than the passport picture on that paper!
But....all of that is done. The reams of paper have been officially submitted and we were issued our temporary cards today. Our next hurdle is figuring out the driver's licenses. With the visas, we now have a 90 day clock to get them, or so that is our understanding. We will have to figure that all out tomorrow. Today, we just need to be glad we made it through this first step.
Now, on to more sad news. Our dryer seems to be on the fritz. This is tragic for me for me right now, since it is the rainy season and I could not even line-dry the clothes if I wanted to, not that I want to. My poor husband is trying to fix it after our already long day at the immigration office. So if anyone knows a genie that can just make my dryer start working and wants to help us out.... :)
AKA: Chinese Sucker Fruit, Chomchom (Vietnamese), Litchi chevelu (French), Mamon Chino, Nephelium lappaceum, Shao tzu (Chinese)...and many other names, so I have learned.
Sadly, today was my first day trying this fruit. I am not sure why it has taken me so long to try it, it is like a grape and very delicious. My son and I have decided that we both like it very much.
It is lunch time on a Sunday and chores are not done. Round 1 of dishes are clean (yep...proud owner of NO dishwasher... YET!) Laundry is done, puppies are semi-clean (will only last an hour), Rick has a shelf to build today and he is fixing something having to do with the truck, I think he said it was the front wheel drive-train or something like that. Our neighbor is in the shop with Rick doing his own Sunday projects. There is always something to fix around here.
I got a message asking how the bank and truck repairs went. I totally forgot to give an update on those! We got the truck back and Round 1 is done with no new surprises yet. Yay! We also did get a letter from the bank and now we wait to see if the lawyer tells us if it is detailed enough.
I have put a couple of links and excerpts below where Panama's well-being is mentioned. I think they slipped a little this year on some of the polls, maybe due to the Panama Papers being a huge issue in the press, or someone actually talked to people as they came out of the bank. :)
One of the questions that I get a lot is, "Why move to Panama?" I understand that moving to a different country is not for everyone. Especially for those that are not comfortable with change or going-with-the-flow. I admit that there are times where I get frustrated at not being able to get things done as quickly as I am used to, or not being able to find items that were so easily available in the States. But, in exchange for those frustrating times, I get to:
U.S. Slips In World Well-Being Rankings; Panama Is No. 1"
Latin Americans in particular have higher levels of well-being than any other regional group," the polling firm says. "Residents of many Latin American countries are among the most likely in the world to report daily positive experiences such as smiling and laughing, feeling enjoyment, and feeling treated with respect each day."
Why Panama is the Happiest Country
There are many interpretations for why Panama leads in happiness, or as the study phrases it, well-being, but to put it in simple terms; people enjoy an unprecedented quality of life here. Access to food, affordable housing, housing security, job security, low unemployment, and good healthcare are some of the big reasons. But if you ask a Panamanian, or an expat who lives here, they’ll say Panama leads the world in happiness because of the “no worry” culture. It’s not to say that locals and expats don’t worry, but Panama is well known for a laid-back attitude, and proud low stress culture. With easy access to all of the aforementioned quality of life variables, there’s really very little to get stressed about.
Panama named best place to retire in 2016
Already home to 50,000 US expats, Panama topped the index after raking in top scores across 10 categories including: buying and renting property, visas and residence, cost of living, environment and amenities, health care, infrastructure, and climate.
This list of happiest countries of the World 2016 prove that happiness isn't about money.
Rapidly raising standard of living, booming economy, and emerging tourist destination are all working together to make Panama one of the happiest places in the world even though it is one of the poorest countries in the world. Panama has a culture of celebration and dance for every occasion. Sometimes, they don’t even need an occasion to dance and celebrate – in my view, their key to happiness and becoming the 5th happiest country in the World. People who visit Panama almost always return to spend time in the happy land.
We had one of those days where nothing seemed to go right. We started at the bank and thought it would be pretty easy. That was our first mistake. We wanted to get a couple of certified checks and a bank letter that says our account has enough in it to get our Visas. Turns out that they would only write a letter saying some generic thing that would not work. We know it would not work, since we paid the bank to write the letter last time and our attorney told us to go back to the bank and get a new letter. Ugh! We did get the certified checks after over 45 minutes though. We will go back to the bank tomorrow and if all goes well, we might get the letter. If there is anything here that I dread more than the Aduanas, Customs Officers, it is the bank. I hate...no maybe loathe going to the bank. If I could think of a stronger word, it would be that.
Next was the mechanic. We bought our truck knowing that it would need some repairs pretty soon. It turns out there were more repairs than we thought.
1. The hubs were welded in the locked position
2. The transmission mount was broken
3. The universal joints in the front drive shaft were broken
4. The rear drums would not even come off, so they are dropping the rear axle to get the drums off
5. Every bushing needed replacing
6. In case you read down this far, there is no way that I even know what the first 5 line items actually are and that means that there is no way I could remember the rest of them!
This is only round ONE with mechanic.
So, Rick takes the truck to the mechanic, mechanic tells him what parts to go buy, Rick proceeds to 2 different stores and gets the parts that he could (some will need to be ordered,) brings the parts to the mechanic, mechanic gives him another list of parts......
The good news is that we should have the majority of the stuff fixed by tomorrow and will be able to get the truck back for a few days while we wait on the other parts. This of course is assuming that there is not another list of parts we will need. So...tomorrow we will find out what round TWO looks like.
As we have learned here, it takes 3 times for us to get stuff accomplished. So, I am convinced that there will be more.
The good news for the day is that the first round of coffee we shipped out has arrived undamaged and quicker than 3 weeks.
We are also working on appointments for the puppies to be spayed and neutered. Thankfully, they cannot read and are still happy with no clue of their upcoming appointment. They are so going to hate us!
I just got back from visiting the States and experienced some major hot weather near one of the military bases while visiting with my son and his wife. It was a great visit, but I am glad to be home now and am back to organizing all of our own stuff.
The flowers around our yard are beautiful and thankfully do not take too much care. I know this, because I have totally neglected them since I got here. I think they might actually appreciate the fact that I have not disturbed them, since I do not have luck with flowers.
While I was away, I did NOT miss the beasts. This picture does not do justice to how many biting ants actually live in this mound, since you cannot see the tiny creatures in a photo without using a super zoom. These ants are very small and black, but they bite like the Fire Ants in the States. I do not know how many times one of us has stood too close to one of these mounds and have done the "biting ant dance" trying to escape the armada of ants crawling up our legs. The good news is that they seem to be moving farther away from the house now that we are living here full-time.
We had to cut down a large part of the guanabana tree that was rotten. A ton of little beasts were under the bark eating the branch away. Rick finished just in time for the rain to start...yay. I was super helpful and watched him do the work!
There will be a few "official" signings, and today we signed a few of those documents. The picture above is right before I was about to "officially" smack my husband. We were assigning shares to the corporation and he was threatening to not sign over the shares that belong to me. :) No respect for my higher rank in the company....sigh.
He will get his payback though. I will be returning to the US for quick trip and he will have to handle the puppies, the farm, the legal stuff, and hopefully he will do laundry and the dishes too!
I forgot to mention a few items about bananas.
1. There should not be more than 3 stalks to a tree. Additional stalks or shoots should be removed.
2. We cut down the stalk that we took the bananas from, because that stalk will not produce bananas again. However, another shoot will come up and it will be fertile and be able to produce more bananas. This is one of the problems in this area. There are groups of people that will harvest the bananas, but do not cut down the stalks. This makes the tree have to support a non-producing stalk, which takes away from good bananas on other possible stalks.
The pictures say it all! Except for the part about the tree sap from all of that cutting will ruin your clothes. :)
This is what it looks like sometimes when the mist climbs up the canyon after a rainstorm. The mist gets really thick and at times the forest/jungle gets very quiet and it feels like we are in a different realm. It only lasts a few hours when it happens, but it has a very mystic feeling.
Today, the thunder sounded like a shotgun going off in my front yard. Then the rain poured for over an hour and 2 hours after the rain stopped the mist appeared. The picture does not do it justice.
My puppies love these caterpillars, but I think they are really creepy. They move together in a little crawling swarm and I understand that they turn into butterflies and turn beautiful ...but YUCK!
I also have a correction from yesterday. I tried a batch of the good coffee this morning and yep....there is a BIG difference. When I grind the bad beans, they look just like the regular good coffee, but there is definitely a difference between a batch of the good stuff and drinking the bad bean stuff! Maybe I will just feed my husband the bad beans and add extra creamer in his coffee...haha
This is the amount of coffee beans that are removed and discarded from 2 lbs. of roasted coffee before it gets bagged and shipped. I have been stuck on sorting duty for the last few days. The good news is that I have been grinding the bad beans and drinking it myself and it is not bad! Then we take the used grounds and put them in the compost. Nothing goes to waste here....
The puppies are helping Rick with the trench. He is trying to bury the the conduit before it rains, still not sure if it will rain tonight or not. The thunder here seems to last forever and it can be a precursor to a rain storm. However, there are many micro-climates here and you never know if it is just going to rain in the city or actually make it to our yard too.
The orange tree in the front yard has a ton of oranges. I added some into the crockpot with tonight's dinner. We only have a few orange trees, which is enough for us and some extra to share with the orphanage down the street. We do not have enough to actually harvest and in the rainy season, they mold fast if you do not use them right away. I am also going to have to talk to the birds that keep putting holes in some of them to attract bugs. Which they later come back and eat the bugs, but I have no interest in them using all of the oranges as bird feeders.
I had to put a large picture here so that you could see the amount of "cherries" on the coffee tree. They are full all the way from the very top to the very bottom of the tree. I am so excited about this year's crop, the plants are doing amazing! The cherries will start turning red soon (a couple cherries have already started, but the majority of them will be ripe starting around the end of October through December.
Other things going in our lives
Just so you know, as awesome as it is living here, there are still some bumps in the road. I am trying to keep this blog to not only let people back home know how we are doing, but to help other people that might be starting a similar journey.
Today, we met with administrators for a school and started the paperwork to enroll our child. As you might have noticed, I said "started" and not that we just finished enrollment. Like most things here, there is a process and it might change daily, I am not quite sure. I thought I knew what documents they would need, and the brochure when we arrived mentioned some of those documents and some new ones. However, it turns out that they ended up crossing 4 items off of the brochure checklist and told us that those were not important anymore and they gave us new items that I had never heard of. It will be like a treasure hunt to find the buildings and people we need to accomplish the new list. :)
We met with the bank today to get an official letter, which is supposed to be part of the visa package. It turns out that when we went in on Monday to request and pay for the letter to be drafted and they told us it would be ready in 2 days...what they really meant was, "We do not want to type up the letter now, come back another day." We gave them an extra day, not wanting to push our luck that it would actually be ready yesterday. So, today when we went in, they had us sit down and then they wrote the letter while we were sitting there....sigh. Hopefully it is the correct letter and we can mark that as done now. :)
The contract printer for the coffee labels is out of ink. We had been told to check back this week, but it appears he is still out. In the meantime, we are printing the labels off of our inkjet, which just smears on the shiny labels, so we then laminate the labels so they hold up. Crossing my fingers that the printer calls us soon telling us that his ink shipment came in! For those that have already ordered coffee....know that it took 30 minutes to make 8 labels! We even went to a few stores to buy a commercial printer, but so far have not found one, so it looks like we just wait for our guy to get his ink shipment.
We have not finished unpacking, but I think we have most of the important items found. Now that our new particle board furniture is unpacked and put together, we actually have places to put items. I think we are down to 7 totes left to sort through.
Still excited about the Coca Cola in a bottle down here! :)