I have had numerous discussions with my husband about his attempted "new" look since moving to Panama. He is very sure that there is a good hat out there made just for him in his new career. In the meantime, we have to suffer through his hat choices. So....I am going to ask everyone reading this to fill out the survey below. The boy and I are sure that they should all be burned, but I am giving him this one opportunity to get people on his side. To be fair, I made him wear the same shirt and all of the pictures were taken in the same location with the same lighting.
Poll was closed due to my husband cheating. :)
Now, assuming that you did the survey before you got to this paragraph.....if not, go back and do the survey before continuing. It is completely anonymous, but if I get 100 answers back saying he should keep them all, I will know my husband was busy filling out the survey all day. :)
I do not want to influence anyone, but here are just a few stories on hat #9.
1. We were on a Caribbean island and he was wearing that hat. We went into one of the stores on the main strip and the clerk started giggling. When we went over to talk to her, she said she would like to keep the hat. Rick objected to selling it to her and gosh forbid he give it to her for free! The lady did not want to re-sell the hat, she just thought it would be funny to have in her store.
2. He wore that same once again when we went to the Pacific-side beach. We were camping at Nelly's Beach Bar and 2 Swedish girls were sitting next to us in the restaurant. The 2 girls wanted Rick to give them his hat. When we asked why, they explained that there is a show in Sweden where a guy named Bobo goes and does dumb things. Some examples were: Bobo getting sick on TV eating one of the world's hottest peppers, Bobo riding a bike and getting hit by a car or bus.....things like that. They said if we gave them the hat, they would send it to Bobo, so he could wear it in another episode. They were laughing so hard that tears were streaming down their faces as they made their case for Rick to give up the hat. As you can see, we still have the hat.
I personally think that hat 3 and 4 make him look like Pinocchio. :)
Alex and Ashley
We had 2 wonderful Workawayers stay with us for a week. They even made a little herb garden for us! They continued the trend of being great in the kitchen and making lunches for us all. They were very busy with projects on the farm and with their own online business, I am not sure how they did it all! These 2 California surfers were fun to have around and we hope we hear how their adventures on the rest of their trip goes.
We have our fuzzy caterpillar, our interesting moth and a beetle that really wants to be a ladybug on the first row. The second row starts out with what happens when someone leaves food on the floor for 1 day. Our guest house had been invaded with ants and I could not get rid of them fast enough! I finally found some ant bait and within minutes they swarmed the 2 drops of bait! The ants here all bite, so watching this was both a little frightening and fascinating. I could just imagine what it would feel like if they swarmed me like they did the bait....yikes!
The last two pictures are of a moth or butterfly. I cannot always tell which is which here. The black, red and white picture is what it looks like on top and the blue and black is what it looks like underneath. These must have just hatched because there are many of them floating around.
Chocolate and Coffee
We had a customer who wanted coffee and chocolate shipped to him. Sounds easy enough...right? The Citizens of Chocolate company sent their chocolate to me from Bocas, Panama, which took 2 couriers. I roasted the coffee and we packaged the chocolate and coffee together. My husband went to the post office to find out what the shipping cost would be, but that day the post office was pretty sure that the country we were shipping to did not really exist. They could not find the country name in their old book of places and therefore, the country is not there....sigh.
A few days later, my husband takes the package with him and paperwork showing that we have shipped to that country before. The package is now off to be delivered, but it took over 50 postage stickers and multiple forms all over the package. But first, he had to finish gluing the brown paper to the box after they inspected the contents.....shipping is so not easy here!!!!
There are not many pictures of the work that I do around here and there are a few reasons for that.
I am also not one of those graceful people. If I fall, it is not poetry in motion, it is more like a train wreck coming right towards you. When I cook, there is normally smoke and ingredients plastered all over, these are just a few examples. :)
However, I am posting this one where Rick took a picture. You cannot see the green paint all over my legs and feet and my work area still looks fairly clean. :)
We had 2 wooden pallet benches made by a friend in Panama City that he overnighted to us here in Boquete. Since the bugs and humidity here ruin wood quickly, I had to treat the benches and then paint them really well to help preserve the wood. Job done and now the benches live in our coffee tour area. :)
Rick is one of the hardest working people that I know. Unlike me, he never looks like a mess while he is working, he just looks goofy in his hats. This week he pressured-washed the outside of the house for me. I am not sure what was laying eggs all over the house, but the walls were covered with these small little cocoons. I could just picture myself coming home one day and a million tiny spiders hatching all over the house. Thankfully, he did a great job and the walls are clean again! *very happy wife*
My husband is also very funny, not just his hats. He had to make our son food one night while I was busy working with the roaster. Here is his version of how a dinner sandwich plate should be made. :)
With that, I am going back to work now, but will update everyone again soon!
The first picture below is where I left off from my last post. Since then, Rick and I (mainly Rick) added the plastic roof, lights, light switches, electricity, doors, latches (fabricated by Rick) and some other little touches. We have started testing the drying house on a small scale with the cherries picked by a couple people on coffee tours. It is working beautifully!
International Living Magazine
We were interviewed by the magazine International Living. So, if anyone has a subscription you can read about us in the July 2018 edition.
Besides the regular caterpillars and butterflies right now, we are seeing some very small bugs. The first 2 pictures are of the same bug. It would fit on the tip of a toothpick. The 3rd picture is a spotted bug that would not sit still long enough for me to take a good picture....sigh. The last is just a picture of one of the many butterflies that floats around all day.
1. This is how the girl dog tries to make me jealous at night. She lays her head on my husband's leg and stares at me. She thinks this will make me so jealous that she is with him and I will then beg her to cuddle on my lap. :) Okay, I do let her cuddle most nights.
2. We had to make a new batch of coffee rub for grilling meat. This is what coffee, sugar, chili, paprika, oregano and some other spices look like all mixed together.
3. We have cleaned the outdoor kitchen area up and it is all ready for the next people to come and stay in the Coffee Can. The inside is clean too, but I only had a picture of the outside for this post. :)
Most of the big projects that we wanted to accomplish before this next harvest, are now done. However, there is still a little time to improve things.
1. We have a new, larger de-pulping machine and will be modifying our de-pulping station to accommodate it.
2. There are still a few areas that could use some landscaping fixes.
3. We have decided to relocate our water pump, so it is easier to prime and less noisy.
4. We would still like to make a cabinet under the sink area in the Coffee Can, but we are waiting for inspiration on what we should do....so it might be awhile.
The fun never ends......
Fireplace is done! We will add a fire guard soon, but everything is done and the mosaic tiling job done by James and Maddy makes it even better.
Testing of the New Fireplace
We had to test the fireplace out a few times. Once for some marshmallows, once for our last night together "Hobo Dinner" and then for s'mores.
Hobo Dinner and S'mores
We asked the volunteers to prepare for an American camping tradition, The Hobo Dinner. Throw some food in foil packs, put it in the fire and we would eat hours later. The problem with this is telling a Brit who is an amazing chef to put together a simple meal is like herding cats....can't be done! He outdid himself and put together an amazing dinner, with just a little cheating. :) We had baked potatoes, seasoned peppers, seasoned eggplant, short-ribs and was topped off with wine in a box. :)
None of the volunteers had ever experienced a s'more, so this was new to them. I found Hershey chocolate and white marshmallows, but could not find graham crackers. We had to substitute a honey bran cracker instead. The crackers were a little smaller, but very yummy. James ended the night with a three layer s'more and yes, he could open his mouth big enough to eat it!
(sorry some of the pictures are dark, I realized later that my flash on my phone was turned off)
Solar Drying House
The drying house is not finished, but we have made progress. The fans took 2 weeks before they arrived at the store and we decided the shelves needed more reinforcements. However, the fans are up and we have the material to reinforce the shelves. Maybe it will be finished by the end of the week. Things will slow down now that it is just Rick and I again.
The volunteers found time to have a little fun. They watched the World Cup, played in the workshop, did some jumping and enjoyed some walks.
The birds have made nests all over the property. Many of the nests are hidden and we can hear baby birds chirping all around. Below is a picture of a nest on top of one of the coffee trees. I guess this bird gave up on finding a spot with shelter that was still vacant. :)
We have 2 new "volunteers" that are here on the Workaway program. They are from the U.K. and they are both very creative. Each group has had different skills and we have enjoyed each group more than we anticipated.
Maddie and James are on their 2nd week with us and have done incredible things around the farm. Maddie has actually resurrected the instagram account and is very good at remembering to update it each day. I guess I am going to have to continue her great work after she leaves. I will miss her for many reasons when she leaves, this is just one of them.
James and Maddie both contributed to the new Coffee Can sign on the wall. I think they both might still have a little paint on their hands. :)
Both James and Maddie are amazing in the kitchen. However, James gets stuck with more of the meal preparation. I should have been taking pictures of the incredible food we have been eating for months now, but below is James in the outdoor kitchen and a couple of the lunches we have had.
Other projects that have been completed in the 10 days:
This week we are working on an outdoor fireplace for the Coffee Can. We were lucky to have 2 guys from Canada come and help for a day too. Hopefully, I will have a pictures of it completed by the next time I update this page.
Maddie and James spent the evening with me at our large batch coffee roaster's house. Below, Maddie is frantically trying to sweep out the roasted coffee beans before the next batch drops down. I think they had some fun.
They have been doing small batch roasting on the farm and experimenting with different roasts and different ways to brew the coffee. They have been drinking iced coffee, cold brewed, espressos, auto-drip....
I had never seen a a guanabana bloom before. It is my understanding that it only blooms in the morning, but we finally saw this one in our backyard. We are hoping to have a few good guanabanas this year.
We tested our water with some petrifilm. On the right is the water that comes into our water tanks from the supplier. Pink dots are not really good. It shows how many coliforms, or possible contamination colonies that are present. Blue dots would show E.coli that was present. Thankfully, we only have lots of coliforms coming in. Our system then has water filters and even a U.V. filter before it reaches the house. As you can see in the 2nd test, the filters are doing their job!!! The water is 100% clean according to the this week's test. I had never heard of petrifilm until this year, it is kinda neat. Little petri dishes built in slides.
Bug of the week
I have shown caterpillars before, but unfortunately this kind of caterpillar attached himself to Maddie's leg while she was working in the coffee field. Her leg started getting hot with a large blister looking rash. The rash was in the shape of Panama, which was interesting, but I do not think Maddie thought it was cool at the time. After a shot from the doc and some strong antihistamines she is back to herself, but we are all a little more cautious right now when we go through the coffee trees.
Last but not least, after living here for almost 2 years, we finally bought our own lawnmower. It is not as fancy as Hector's riding lawn mower, but we did splurge on the self-propelled and push-button start. Rick actually can mow the lawn in the about the same amount of time and he can get into the smaller areas now. The downsides:s not as cool as the riding lawn mower, you can drink a beer while mowing the lawn and it takes more energy now.
Our 2nd group of Workawayers just ended. We have enjoyed getting to know them and learning from each other. Having a french cook here for awhile was not bad either! I have been spoiled for weeks now with both groups having an awesome cook/chef, I am not sure how I can go back to eating my own meals. The Workaway Program has been very good for us, not only are we eating well, we are getting a ton of stuff done on the farm and having fun while doing it.
Bugs and Creepy Crawlies
Lots of caterpillars this month!
Our next group begins on Tuesday. We still have a lot to do before the harvest, but I think we are still on schedule. Tonight we are going to have a family movie night and enjoy some popcorn before we start a new week of work.
I thought the rain was bad here in Panama! I was in Oklahoma for the week and one of the days that I was there, the phone kept beeping with messages. Flash floods in the area and warnings to avoid those areas. Not quite sure what the actual flood areas are, but I stayed in that day. :) The 2nd picture was posted by one of the news channels. I guess they were pretty serious about the floods. Some people ditched their cars in the middle of streets to wade through the water to safer areas....
I came home and was surprised at how much the coffee cherries grew in just the 10 days that I was gone. I am starting to get excited for harvest time, but still a little nervous. We have so much more work to finish before we are ready for the harvest this year.
Work that was done
While I was gone, my husband and Melvin got some more work done. As you can see from the picture below, the dog was not helpful. We have many more gravel areas this year, we have learned from the past rainy seasons, that the ground gets very muddy this time of year. Hopefully, the new pathways and covered areas will make it more pleasant.
When Dad makes Lunch
This is what happens when I leave Rick to make our son's lunch. Sandwich, Doritos and a banana....
Bug of the Week
No clue what bug this is, but it has a cool pattern to him.
We tried the workaway program and we met some great people!!!! Braden, Martin and Flor were awesome. Our to-do list is now half the size it was. :) Not only were these people very helpful, they were fun and great in the kitchen! We not only ate good food with them, but we even have food in our freezer for later now......I am so going to miss them.
List of projects we could mark off of the list after 1 week:
I just had to show a before and after picture together. The before picture is the area where we had old roofing material and other stuff. We now know where the dump is and we have organized all of the stuff that we still might be able to use later. But more importantly, we have a clear area for the solar drying house to process all of the coffee in the next harvest.
Rick and I had given up on getting our cedulas. We have resident cards and the cedula cards are just another form of identification. The process to get them seemed daunting and the only benefit of having them is that they are an official form of identification and would allow us to not carry our passports and resident cards all of the time. However, to get them, it was more bureaucratic paperwork, more money and a day in Panama City (7 hour car drive to get there.) Our attorney had never provided us with the paperwork to actually get the cedulas and there is a time-frame of 1 year from the date of your resident card.
So, Rick and I decided we just would not get them. Then, 2 weeks before the deadline to get the cedulas, we magically got the paperwork from a friend of our old attorney. We then hired a person in Panama City that provides a service of getting everything together and making the cedula process quick. Deciding to get it done quick and painless, we flew up and back to Panama City in 1 day....It turns out that the service we paid for was worth it. We flew in and 45 minutes later everything was done. However, our plane back to our side of the country was still 7 hours away. So, Rick and I spent the day at the mall. :)
We spent a little time in the casino at the mall. Just enough time for Rick to see his 1st vending machine that holds beer and for me to see that they tax you on all money put into the slot machines. Not on just the money you win, but also on the money you put into the machine. My $20 in the machine, even after the tax at least paid for a sushi lunch. :)
It is now semester break for kids in school. My son and I flew to Oklahoma for the week and left my husband to keep working on the farm. I was excited to have some good bar-b-que ribs last night and pick up some online shopping orders. This week is going to go fast, so trying to fit everything in. :)
After such a long dry season, I was glad to see some rain. However, the last 4 days have been too much rain!
The first 2 pictures are the ditches that we cleaned out by our house to let the rain flow under our driveway. We got them ready just in time!
The next 3 pictures are of the road to our house. 5 months ago we had road work done, but there were a few sections without any gravel. They started working on putting the gravel down 2 days ago, but ran out of gravel and were going to start again today. I do not think they did anything today though. What a mess!!!!
The last picture is how much rain they are getting off of the hill and in some places it is going over the roads. The rain storm has lasted 2 hours now and it appears to be getting a little better now.
I sent these 2 bug pictures to Sarah, who really likes bugs, and here is what she said:
"Cutest little beetle! And a colorful stink bug"
"If you boil them in water the stink bug water will protect you from mosquitos!"
"....and then you can eat the leftover carcasses"
Ummm...I am not going to be eating stink bugs, don't worry!
Starting with the creepy crawlies first today.
The first 2 pictures are of the same bug. It was a cool color, most of them are just brown. These are the ones that keep bumping into the walls and windows until they die.
The 3rd picture is of one of the top 5 most dangerous/poisonous items in Panama. It is the white caterpillar that sends people to the hospital for days.
The last is another random bug on the wall outside.
Some sort of gooey mushroom looking stuff growing just in one area.
Here is what you get for $12 at the fruit/veggie stand. Tomatoes, watermelon, pineapple, apples, bananas, passion fruit, onions, cucumbers, zucchini, leeks and bell peppers. I am set for the week. :)
Widow-Maker Retrieval Day
Each year we and by we, I mean Rick, goes through the field and tries to get all of the dead broken branches that are stuck in the trees. These limbs would seriously hurt somebody if one of them fell on someone as they were walking through the field. This includes people that were taking a tour, the pickers at harvest time, a puppy playing around or just someone walking through to get to one of the fruit trees.
Rick says it took about 20 tries to get 1 widow-maker. He retrieved all 4 that we found.
Below is what his attempts looked like. :)
After the Retrieval
Next, he broke them up to burn them. There is not enough time today to burn them all. They were all pretty big. While breaking one of them up, a ton of very large ants came out. As far as I know, there are no Panama ants that do not hurt when they bite you. These are larger than the ones we normally see, so I am just guessing that their bites are worse....
Everything is turning really green. The trees are very happy about the few days of rain each week. :) Oh yeah, we also got 6 more items crossed off the to-do list!