Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I Am Real... Just Like the Velveteen Rabbit!

It happened yesterday, April 27, 2009. I received my Pensionado Visa! Now can live in Panama indefinitely (or at least until politics get weird and I have to move to another country like Ecuador). Normally a Pensionado Visa only takes 4 to 6 months...but immigration laws were changed in late August, throwing a wrench into the works. Lea (my highly paid lawyer) said if I didn't get my Visa before the upcoming elections (May 3) I risked never getting it. So, I had the interesting experience of flying to Panama City where I met Jorge (taxi driver arranged by Lea to take me to the Migrations Office). It only took 2 hours (a record) of standing in circular lines to get my photo taken & placed on the card. I'm in deep dudu if I ever loose the Visa because it will take the Migrations Office 6 months to a year to replace it...better to just leave the country!
If you are wondering about these pictures (and the video) they were taken at the Las Garzas Jazz Night (April 25) that I helped organize. We even made $300 which will go to the lifeguard fund (to build a lifeguard station and hire lifeguards since many people get caught in the rip current along my beach). The first picture is of Dr. Jennifer Daniels & yours truly in front of the huge bonfire (taken by my new artist friend Patricia). The second picture is the Fantasy Jazz Band.
I had some interesting bird experiences today. Maybe it's because we are going from the dry to the wet season (no rain in 5 months) & the birds are getting anxious. Anyway, I was walking along the beach at low tide (heading east) when I spotted a low flying Brown Booby heading directly for me. I had to duck to avoid being hit (at least it "looked" like he might hit me). Weird! As the bird books say, "Brown Boobies rarely come very close to shore". Last year at this time I nearly ran into a Brown Booby sitting on the beach, looking like he was about to die. My evening walk took me to the farm behind the condo. I saw record numbers of birds (Yellow-Crowned and Red-Lored Amazon Parrots, a Lineated Woodpecker, loads of Red-Crowned Woodpeckers) and a new hawk... the Savanna Hawk. Very cool! They are "distinctly scarce in Western Chiriqui" (where I am) so I consider myself extremely lucky.
I'm headed to David tomorrow to get my Panama Driver's License so I can legally drive my truck & pick up my next company, Sherri Ann and Ken (Juice Plus friends).
Enjoy the music!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day and Happy One Year Anniversary

Because it's Earth Day and my one year anniversary of living in Panama, I decided to make this collage of pictures taken by friends who chose to come visit.

I'm also trying to figure out how to add pictures and text at different times, so please forgive me while I play. It's always a learning process! I had a great day getting my truck serviced, walking around David, having lunch with Dr. Jennifer Daniels (author of "Do You Have the Guts to be Beautiful?"), and being introduced to guaba (Google it) as well as sugar cane juice (which is green).

And thank you, dear reader, for keeping up on this Blog which is nearly one year old (as of April 25).

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Darien Plan

This is just a quick blog to link you to www.thedarienplan.com. Before I journeyed back to the States in March, Paul Bakke and I met a wonderful couple named Chris and Kristin at Paradise Gardens (I was their official tour guide). Chris and Kristin have taken a year off from "normal life in a cubical" to experience travelling in their very cool Honda Element Camper from California to the tip of South America. They named their Blog "The Darien Plan" because they had to figure out how to get their vehicle/home around the Darien Gap located in Panama. Their blog is wonderful to read and will make you wish you were 25 years old again.... Just remember, it's never too late!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Back to the Loving Arms of Panama

One of the fun things I did on my visit to the Pacific Northwest was getting together with Nancy O'Gorman (previously known as Nancy Rudolph & on the left in this photo) in Port Angeles. We had a very short visit, and I can only hope that she comes to Panama for a longer visit. Nancy is famous in several places (including Port Angeles) for her work on a calendar (http://www.charitycatcalendars.com/story.html) that featured nude men, women, cats and dogs. She gave me the 2007 calendar (possibly the last one available). I will display it proudly in my condo.
Plus I had a nice visit with Mom in Washington state (Winlock if you are curious), but I must ask, why would anyone live in a place where it rained or snowed 19 out of 21 days & you had to build a fire every morning? Luckily, I left warm clothes at Mom's.
I am euphoric about being back home. Mangoes are heavy on nearby trees, cashew trees are still producing red fruits, the Pacific surf is pounding in my ears when I drift off to sleep, and I am busy planning another Las Olas jazz night for April 25. My first day back, I walked 6 miles and road my bike 16 miles on the beach. Such a joy to have this 16 mile beach all to myself. Today I found three lovely pieces of sea glass (a very rare find on the Playa la Barqueta). I have two kayak trips lined up plus I'm in the process of importing (via a container) several more kayaks for my friends & I.
I worked at Paradise Gardens yesterday and had the unique experience of leading a tour through the aviary only to have Clyde (the toucan featured in this picture taken by Paul Bakke when he visited in March) nipping on my toes. Did he think my toes looked like worms? I thought toucans only ate fruits? OK... Google says, "Along with fruit (95% of their diet), toucans also catch and eat small animals including songbirds, crickets, cicadas, spiders, termites, lizards, toads, frogs, and snakes. They raid eggs and nestlings from other birds' nests. Some species catch bats as they sleep in daytime roosts. Some follow columns of army ants to eat the insects stirred up by the ant swarms". I'll be more careful on next week's tour!