Sunday, May 11, 2008

Inquiring Minds Want to Know

Happy Mother's Day to all you mothers out there. As it turns out, Mother's Day is the most celebrated holiday in Panama (they all love and respect their mothers dearly). However, they celebrate Mother's Day on December 8. Another big holiday for Panamanians is All Souls Day (November 2) probably similar to All Saints Day (celebrated November 1 in the US). I am particularly fond of All Saints Day because it is my birthday.

I just returned from my morning beach walk where I filled my pockets with Sea Hearts, Sea Purses and Sea Hamburger Buns. I'm getting totally addicted to finding Sea Beans (see I'm filling many of my art-pottery with sea beans. Yesterday when I was walking on the beach (around 6:30 a.m. mind you), the local tri-athlete Panamanian ran up behind me. He was carrying a bag of mangoes (that he had just picked?) with him as he ran barefoot down the beach. He stopped, gave me 2 beautiful mangoes and continued on. I ate the mangoes this morning (along with some Hawaiian papayas)... Yummm! Now I am sipping on my daily smoothie (1T Flax seeds, 1 t green barley powder, 1 t beet powder, 1/2 C pineapple juice, handful of almonds, 1 frozen banana, some frozen papaya, ice cubes, 1 C fresh papaya & pineapple). Yummm again!

Today I received an e-mail from a close friend who had some penetrating questions about how it is to live in Panama. She suggested that I answer via my Blog, so here it goes. I"ll list her question followed by my answer (in italics): I am curious about how you are adapting to life in David and how it compares to the States. Actually, I live in Playa Barqueta, about 24 km south of David. I wouldn't want to live in David as it is very hot & muggy compared to living at the beach. What is shopping like? I shop roughly twice a week. There are 4 huge grocery stores I've shopped at so far. Rey's and Super Baru's were built for and cater specifically to the US & Canadian shopper. They have most everything (except for short grain brown rice), including many international brands I've never heard of (including fava beans from Egypt which I love). I get most of my produce from local fruit stands where people are very friendly & food is cheap, i.e. 75 cents for pineapple, 5 cents each for banana, 1 dollar for a huge papaya. Local chayote squash is 10 cents each, huge carrots from Cerro Punta are 25 cents/pound, beets are 50 cents/pound and baby seedless cucumber are 50 cents/pound. Can you get good toilet paper? Yes, I get my toilet paper in quantity from Price Mart (very much like Costco) & it's pretty similar to US toilet paper. A side note about toilet paper... Costa Rica has very poor plumbing systems so most toilet paper is deposited in the waste basket and not in the toilet... another good reason to retire in Panama as most plumbing can handle toilet paper. How about laundry soap. Do you go to a little tienda or do they have bigger stores? Laundry soap is easy to find & much like US laundry. However, if you have a front loading (high efficiency) washing machine (I have a stackable set) it's harder to find Tide HE soap. I've heard there is a very high-end store in Panama City where they will order whatever you want from the US... for a price of course). If you wore make-up would you find it there? I happen to use Cor mineral makeup ( which is based in Anchorage, Alaska. When I need more, I'll just order online. What about hair and nails? I'm about to get my hair trimmed by Gladys (my friend Karen goes to her salon located just out of David on the way to Boquete). Gladys charges $2.00 & I"ll probably give her a $1.00 tip! I haven't had my nails done, but I imagine prices are very reasonable for that service as well. I'll ask my Chica girlfriends for a recommendation on nails when I decide to have them done. Is there consumer culture shock? I know the local business is probably very interesting but do you miss some of the conveniences that we have here? Not at all. Everything is so much cheaper & very easy to get. If you have any prescriptions from the US, you just go to the local farmicia, show them your prescription & they replace it for pennies on the US dollar. How about gas? How much do you pay? We are right with you on gas. Your gas goes up & so does ours. Right now we are paying $4.00/gallon. I'm just glad my Kia gets 35 mpg.

That's all for now. I have a big week coming up. Monday I'll see my lawyer (Lea) & go to the migrations office to get my Provisional Visa (that will allow me to stay in Panama until I get my Pensionado Visa -- probably in November). On Tuesday, my entertainment center will be delivered (since the first one had a defect). Wednesday, I'll meet Don & his family (I danced with his brother Dave in Anchorage Dancing Bears). Thursday I'll meet Penny (member of the Boquete Chicas) and go to dinner & the play "Social Security" with a group of the Chicas. On May 22, I'm going to an art class in the town of Caldera in the mountains near Boquete. Never a dull moment! P.S. If you are considering a trip down here (& I encourage you to do just that), check out Spirit Airlines. They have flights that go from Florida to Panama City for as low as $9 each way (although the more typical price is $69 each way from FL to Panama).

1 comment:

Elena said...

This is Elaine leaving her own comment, testing the comment section.