Today we had high expectations. While we were going to the town of David, and we were going to go get 3 things done.
1. Get our multi-entry visa from the Immigration Office
2. Get our driver's licenses
3. Find a different medication at the pharmacy
Everything started out pretty good. We stopped at a pharmacy and found out that they did not have the medication we were looking for, but our son realized that they had a great toy store there, so it was still a good first stop on our daily adventure.
INext, we went to a laboratory to get an official document listing our blood type for our driver's licenses. The place was clean, the people were friendly and the wait was short. The cost is $13 each to get this paper and it takes about 1 hour for the document after they draw the blood. The technician that did the blood draw was great, neither of us really felt it and he was very quick. Our next trip was too the Immigration Office to get our multi-entry visa and come back for our results when we were done with Immigration.
We go to the Immigration Office which is in the same outdoor mall as the laboratory and everything seems to be going smoothly. They take our paperwork, they take our money, they take all of the copies of all of the documents, they take our passports....oh no. Yep. They say that it will take a few days to put the stamp in our passports, but not to worry....we will get them back. In the meantime, we cannot easily leave the country anyways, since we do not have the multi-entry stamp. I guess we could leave, coming back would be the issue. We still have our Panama Temporary Residency cards, but I will admit that I am a little nervous not having a passport. We are supposed to come back on Friday and HOPEFULLY if all goes well, they will have our passports with the new multi-entry stamp in them. Crossing my fingers!
We cannot do to the driver's license place without passports, so that will have to wait for now. We did go back and get our Blood Type documents and tried another pharmacy for the medication we are looking for, but it appears we will need a doctor down here to find a different medicine that is available here in Panama.
So, all in all, nothing on our list of 3 items was actually accomplished. :) Maybe on Friday we will have the multi-entry visa and the driver's license.....
Here in Panama it is not uncommon to hire someone with expertise, but that person may not always have the tools or parts.
In the States, if you go to the mechanic, you are expected to buy the parts for your car from that mechanic. Here, at most of the mechanic shops, you are expected to buy the parts and bring them to the mechanic. You pay the mechanic for his expertise and services/labor, not for the merchandise.
Another example is when you have your house painted. You hire the painters and pay them for their service as painters, but you are expected to provide the paint for them to use.
This leads me to today's workshop. Rick was asked to teach a few people how to weld. It is not uncommon for people to have welding machines and hire a welder to come out and use the equipment (there are some shops in town that have equipment, but that assumes that what you need repaired is small enough to transport.) If a person could make small welding repairs by themselves, they would not have to wait on a welder, who may or may not have their own transportation, and they would not have to rely on the welder be familiar with the kind of equipment you have.
In the States, there were many times that I wished that we could do business this way. I knew I could get a better deal on paint, parts or whatever if I was not in a hurry. Here....I am sure it is a good deal too, assuming we knew where to buy the parts. Which most of the time, we do not. So, it takes us 10 times longer to do something that we need now. Eventually, we will know more of the stores in David and will be better at planning, but for now, it is what it is and I am glad that Rick is able to help teach some people how to weld. :)
Our friendly howler monkey was back this week. I did not get a picture of him since there were too many branches in the way and my camera on my phone is not that great. But, I did put a picture of him from last year when he was posing for us. Howler monkeys are the loudest of all the monkeys. His howl sounds like a whooping roar and they like to tell everyone where their territory is. We have had 2 days of his howling in the morning and afternoons. :) But, I do like it when he hangs out at the house. He makes me laugh at his antics and loud noises.
Fruit, Orchids, and Lizards
We found a few more guanabanas that needed bags over them for protection. So our tree received a few more plastic bags on it. It is a very colorful tree now, sporting red and blue bags all over. I might put lights on it for the holidays, since it already has so many things hanging on it already.
I was told that orchids grew all over the trees here, but had never really looked for them. This week, I noticed that almost EVERY tree around the house has some sort of orchid growing on it. I can't wait to see them bloom!
We also have tons of lizards around the property, but this week I found what looks like a baby iguana. Up on the coffee farm we normally do not get iguanas because it is a little too cold for them, so I am not sure how this one got here or if it is actually a different kind of lizard. He was very curious and would have followed me around, but I had to hide him from the puppies, so I put him in a tree. Hopefully, he will stay safe.
Coming up soon
There is more on our list, but these were the next 3 items we will be working on. It should be an exciting couple of weeks.
The rain has slowed down and we had some time to fix our yard. We just need someone to fix Rick's hat now. :)
We have installed a few new cameras in the coffee fields and had time to clean up weeds, mow the lawn, fill in some holes that the puppies have dug and tried fighting off some ant colonies.
We even had time to plant a new pineapple plant. I am hoping that this one grows before the puppies decide to play with it. To plant a new pineapple plant, you can take the top of a pineapple that you have eaten and pull away the leaves on the bottom to expose roots. Who knew there were roots under those leaves??? Then you plant this pineapple topper into the ground and give it a little water. Pineapple plants can grow in planters too! It is one of the easiest things to plant.
The neighbor horse and I have become friends. She comes over to the fence for pets and conversations on how she should stop eating all of the trees along the border....she has decided that she must continue eating the trees though. However, she seems to like hearing me lecture her.
The puppies are officially twice the size they were when we got them. Karma has turned out to be the one that wants to please us and takes her job of guarding the house very seriously. Dante (the one lying down) is a little less concerned about what anyone else wants from him. He can be found sleeping most of the time and he MIGHT get up for pets or food, depending on his mood.
New flowers are blooming in the backyard and there are butterflies everywhere! I did not get a picture of the butterflies, because no matter how sweetly I asked them to stay still for a picture, they seemed not to care.
Truly....how hard can getting a driver's license be?
All we need to do is start with Step 1:
1. Make an appointment with the U.S. Embassy. We are in luck! This week the embassy was coming to Boquete. They make this trip every 3 months or so and lucky for us, it was today!!!! So, I make my reservation online for both my husband and I.
We leave the house with over an hour of extra time to allow issues at the bank. We get there and it is closed. Yep....in a country that is primarily Catholic, our bank is closed for a Jewish holiday. Here in Panama, you can only get certified checks at banks that actually offer the service and only if you have an account there. So....no certified check, no meeting with the embassy here in Boquete. We are now looking at a 5-7 hour bus ride to Panama City, a hotel night, taxi drivers and a 5-7 hour drive back on a day after we can get a certified check.
We now have an hour to waste before we pick up the boy from school, so we go to the farmer's market and as we are walking back towards the school we see a friend, actually the guy that came up with company name, Finca Casanga. After talking to him telling him our problem, he tells us to go to another bank. Yes, it was just our chain of banks that closed, not other banks. He kindly offered to get us the bank checks at his bank. So, Rick waits at the school for our son and I go to another bank with our friend. Yay!!!!
With the checks in hand we look at the map and try to find the hotel. It turns out they have started some of the road construction along the way and we had to double back a few times, but we found the hotel, but we are extremely early. (We had allotted extra time for things...we are getting smarter.) Turns out, all of the chairs are already occupied with people who had also come early. So, I guess we might have been late.....not sure on that one.
Forty (40) minutes later the embassy people show up. What a mess! There were different tables for different services, there was the sign-up when we arrived and there were the tickets everyone should have had if they had made the online reservation, but none of those things helped to organize these 80 or so Americans.
If you put that many Americans in one place, there is bound to be some humor to be found. Such as the person that was there to get a "Proof of Life." I think this form is for people that get social security and have to prove they are still alive, not quite sure since I have never had to get one of these forms yet. However, the person that needed the "Proof of Life" did not show up, but sent a friend in his place. Not quite sure how that works! I did not get to see how that played out..... :)
By the time we left, we had a notary stamp on our photocopies of our driver's licenses. So, we get to go to Step 2. Was a close one today!
Step 2 (to come at a later date): Now have Panama verify that the U.S. Embassy stamp on our copies is authentic. This can only be done in Panama City - the 5-7 hour drive that I mentioned above. However, I hear that we can have an agent or courier do this next part for us. If so, that will be well worth it!!!!
Step 3: Should we actually get the photocopy back from the government building in Panama City with all the right stamps on it, we then go get blood typed and take everything to their DMV. Then we get to take the vision test, hearing test...etc.
After all of this, I decide we should eat dinner in town. I had not set out anything to cook and I was ready to eat. We drive by the one restaurant we know of that takes plastic. Most restaurants are cash only. We would have had money, cash, if our bank had been open, but since it was not, we barely had enough cash to give to our friend for the bank checks. However, the restaurant we planned on going to has a sign out front saying they are closed for cleaning today. I really do not think they were cleaning, since no one was there, I think it was just a day-off. :)
We go to our back-up restaurant, they have an open sign in the window. Yay! But the doors are locked and it is very clearly closed. So, we give up and go home for quick frozen burritos. Halfway through cooking the first burrito in the microwave, the power goes out....ugh! We make a sandwich for the boy and a little while later the power returns and my wonderful husband finishes making dinner.
Then my husband tells me he wants me to fix his pants. I remind him that with a statement like that, it is going on the blog...haha.
He has been so busy here, he has actually lost weight! That is not to say that his pants ever fit...but now they are 8 sizes too big! Now, even he recognizes that the belt does not do a good job of holding them up without looking goofy. I will not mention here that I had bought him a pair in his own size before we left the States and that he won't wear them, because he says they are for special occasions only.
So, he is threatening to do some magical sewing to make them stay up himself if I don't fix them! Yikes...it is worse than the boots with the shorts. Thankfully I do not know enough Spanish yet to understand if anyone makes fun of him walking down the street....haha.
The picture does not do justice to the clown pants....but if I was 8 sizes smaller than my pants, I would be wearing new pants!
I am going to start at the beginning, especially for those of you that do not know what a BedJet is.
Before we started packing to move to Panama, we had many discussions on what would actually make it into our shipping container. We had limited space and we were only going to take things that were hard to find in Panama or would not be cost effective to replace. However, when it came to our mattress, my wonderful husband declared we were going to bring our Tempurpedic king size mattress. I was not happy about this for a few reasons.
I then started researching gel cooling pads, bed fans and everything else I could find that would make it so we were both happy. Each item that I showed him, he would find fault with it or tell me how it was a gimmick. Eventually, I found the BedJet. It was more expensive than the other options, but cheaper than a new mattress, (like a cooling Tempurpedic.) I think he was getting nervous that I might actually cost him more money in the long run if he did not give in at some point.
So, I found a new BedJet on Ebay in Canada and had it sent to us a few weeks before we left for our journey to Panama. The temperature was in the upper 90s in Salem right before we left and the BedJet came at a perfect time to see how well it works. My husband, expecting it not to work, was glad that it came in time for us to send it back and get a refund. (He made sure that the one I ordered had a 30 day no questions asked guaranty.)
The BedJet we got, came with 2 heating/cooling units. One unit for each person with their own remote, but the only way to keep the air separate is to have the "optional" sheet which apparently is sold separately. The sheet actually directs the air into chambers between 2 sheets. So, we decided to try it out as if it was the single unit, shared by both people. The first night, my husband turned the unit to a high setting and went to bed.
The machine is basically a bed fan or heater, with fancy controls. Your phone or the remote can control it, it can be programmed to change temperatures during the night..etc. It blows air under your sheets by your feet and keeps you either cool or warm all night. I stayed up that night reading all of the information that came with the unit. When I read that a "good" starting setting is 30% and saw that my husband had it at 90%, I started to adjust it down. I was met with a growl from my very hot, sleepy husband. I think he even barked at me to turn it back up. So I did. :)
Moving forward to 3am. My VERY cold husband was curled up in a fetal position shivering. I think he might have even been in pain from how cold he was. (It still makes me laugh.)
Later that morning, instead of being grumpy, okay...maybe he was a little grumpy, but mainly he was excited about the bed fan actually working. It had dropped the temperature in the bed we were staying in by over 20 degrees.
Hurdle 1 was done. Husband was no longer trying to find ways to convince me to send it back.
On to hurdle 2. How do we each get to use our own controls and not freeze out the other person, without paying the ridiculous price for the "optional" sheet. Which by the way, was $160.00.
How we did it:
Rick and I found it harder and harder to find good gifts for our friends and families as we started getting older. It seemed like we were always exchanging gift cards and we dreaded putting in the quick gift card into the even quicker Hallmark card, even though we knew it was to a store or place that they would like. It just seemed impersonal. Months before we moved here, we came up with the idea, (probably because there were like 4 family birthdays coming up,) that if we could get a camera system up in time for the harvest season, we would offer people another option this year for people that like coffee.
So, for a set price, you can give someone (or yourself) a present of being a "Tree-Holder" for the season (Now through February 2017). What it includes:
We only have a few cameras available so we are offering this to people that read our blog before we put it on our website. Some trees obviously can be seen better than others and we are only offering this package on those trees that can be seen with a name sign. We have limited areas where we can put cameras that do not just show the tops of a bunch of coffee trees and nothing else. (Such as room to see your name sign, the workers, the weather...etc.) :)
If you are interested, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
My Husband's Long Day
My husband went to the mechanic this morning for Round #2. I get a message many hours later, saying he is at the gas station stuck, after he put gas in the car. It did not occur to me that he actually meant that he put "gas" and not diesel in the truck. I thought he was telling me that he was done with the mechanic, went to the gas station, put fuel in the truck and the truck would not start back up. So, here is the story of my husband's 7 hour day....
He drove 40 minutes into David to the mechanic's shop. The mechanic was not there and after a phone call, it was determined that he was drunk, but said he would be there in awhile. So Rick went with our neighbor and proceeded to go to 4 stores to find all of the parts that they thought they might need. The mechanic was supposed to go with them, but since he was not there, they went ahead and guessed at what might be needed. It appears now that most of the parts are not the right ones....but I get ahead of myself.
After going to the 4 stores, they go back to the mechanic's shop and he is still not there. This is now two hours later. They call the mechanic and get no answer this time. So they decide to call it a day and go home, each in their own separate trucks. Rick decides to stop and get fuel on the way home. The place he normally stops has a fueling truck blocking his path, so he keeps going and turns into a different gas station.
He gets out of the truck and is immediately bombarded by a hitchhiker trying to get a ride. This is not a normal occurrence for us, I am sure it happens here alot, since many people do not have personal vehicles and rely on public transportation and rides from friends. Rick is trying to politely tell the stranger that he is not going to give the guy a ride, but the guy will not leave him alone. In the meantime, he grabs the green fueling handle and puts fuel in the truck. after 27 liters he realizes that he has just put gas in the diesel truck. In Panama, green handles are premium gas and blue handles are diesel. The hitchhiker is still talking to him as he realizes this, which does not help matters.
After paying for the gas, moving the truck out of the way and calling our neighbor, the plan is hatched. It turns out that our neighbor knew of someone that had something like this happen to them too. There was a mechanic close that could fix the problem, all they had to do was:
Panama does not get hurricanes, but when there are hurricanes nearby, we do get unusually wet days. Right now we are in our wet season and rain is expected in the afternoons. When I say rain, it is not the rain like in Oregon where it will drizzle and threaten to be miserable for hours. It is more like an event. Where in Greek mythology it is like a demonstration of the Gods bowling in the skies and each time they get a strike, there is thunder and lightning, and since they are Gods, they never miss...so it is constant. The rain is the sky falling apart from all of the shattering....like I said, an event. This last few days though....it has been more. Less thunder and lightning and more rain. One person I know that lives not too far from us said that her rain gauge filled up 5 inches in the afternoon and when they finally emptied it, it filled up another 1.5 inches. That is in 1 afternoon.
Today the morning is bright and sunny and hopefully we go back to just the regular Greek Mythology rainy season weather. :) I know my grass will appreciate it. It might take a few weeks for the grass to repair itself thought. The new tires on the truck were hard on the soaked grass.
For all of you Firefighter Fashionistas out there....this is what not to wear! When the rain did die down enough at one point, this is what I found my husband wearing doing some outdoor projects. Somehow the biting ants were still active outside, so he was wearing his boots with his shorts.
A couple of updates:
1. Thank you to whoever sent us the magical genie to fix the dryer! 15 minutes after I updated the blog, Rick found the issue and fixed the dryer. So yay!
2. We started Spanish lessons. We are 2 days into our lessons with a wonderful muchacha.
3. The truck is at the mechanic today for Round 2. Crossing my fingers that it goes well.
4. Things are much slower this week now that the visa mad-dash is out of the way, but we only a small window of down time before harvest time is here for this year's coffee.
5. Hopefully, I will get my phone back this week. I left it in the States on my visit and it is in the mail on the way to me. I think this has been the longest that I have gone without a phone in years! I miss using the camera part the most.