August 4, 2015: Beach Day

I was up around seven thirty this morning.  Dominica was up not long after me.  Liesl had slept in our bed last night because she found an ant in her bed when she was trying to sleep last night and freaked out and needed to sleep with us.

Once the girls were up this morning we got them ready and right out the door, which was about nine thirty, to walk down to the beach and spend the morning in the ocean.  We actually did really well and put in probably two hours down on the beach!  It was pretty awesome.  That was a great way to start the day.  We got some exercise as the walk is pretty far and the girls had an awesome time playing out on the beach.

The tide was going out when we got there so we got to slowly move out with it. The girls had so much fun playing in the sand. Dominica sat on a chair and I spent my time walking the beach.  The girls did a lot of shell collecting.  I found the outlet of the Farollon River and we played in that too.  We discovered tons of crabs living in the rocks there too.  It was very interesting.  The girls got to see their first crabs.

I got a little bit of sun today.  Still don’t really have a tan, though.  I can’t believe how much sun I get and how little tan I pull off from it.

I worked all day standing at the kitchen counter.  I am trying to avoid sitting too much which is so easy to do.  The chairs in these rental places are terrible for trying to actually work.

Liesl managed to do a bit of school today.  Keeping in that habit with all of the moving is very hard.

This evening Dominica and I sat outside.  I had a lot of database documentation work that I needed to do this evening so I was working on that and wrapped it up around midnight.

Bob is coming to pick me up around seven thirty in the morning and we are driving out to Panama City.  I will be staying at the Hilton DoubleTree Panama City all week.  Going to be a long day.

August 3, 2015: Back to Playa Blanca

We got up this morning in El Valle.  I was awake around seven thirty by my Ciana was so sweet and snugly, I stayed in bed for another hour.  Before getting out of bed I accidentally knocked my iPhone 5s off of the top of the bed and it hit the tile floor and the screen shattered.  My first every broken phone.  I knew that all of the tile floors in Panama were going to get me eventually.  It only took a week.

This made for a complicated morning as being in Panama without a working phone would be a disaster.  This has to be fixed right away.  All the more complicated because we do not have a car.

We had breakfast at the house, Bob’s mother in law cooked for us.  Then Paul and I went out for a walk to see if there was anywhere around the village that would be able to deal with the phone for us.  We walked all of the way down to the hostel that we were at last night but did not have any luck.  There was a MoviStar store and they said that no one in town could do it and that we would probably have to go to Panama City to get what we needed, which seems ridiculous that we would have to drive three hours to get a phone fixed.  This might be a rough day.

Paul and I stopped and got a coffee before returning to the house.  Dominica had the car all packed up and the girls ready to go.  We had to be home before noon because the Internet access out in El Valle was just not good enough for me to be able to work effectively.

The drive back was pretty tough on the girls.  All three of them were feeling pretty sick.  We took the detour back to Coronado and thankfully in the first plaza that we went to we found a phone repair place!  Half an hour and a hundred dollars later my phone was fixed (although I no longer have the cool finger print reader that I love so much) and all is well.  While we waited Dominica and the girls went shopping at the dollar store next door and we managed to get colouring books and sand toys so that they can play at the beach which we hope to go to in the morning.

We were back at Playa Blanca at a quarter after eleven.  The exterminators had come this morning while we were gone which was perfect timing.

Dominica and the girls sat outside for an hour or two to let the fumes dissipate in the condo before having the girls play inside again.

After the exciting morning we had a quiet evening and just outside while the girls watched Nick Jr. in Spanish.  We let them watch television more here than back home (which is basically none) because it is in Spanish and we are hoping that they are picking it up to some degree.  We have no idea if that theory works or not, though.  I should try watching it with them.

We spent some time tonight working on our plans for Nicaragua.  We think that we know which house we are going to attempt to rent while we are there.  We found a place that looks really nice, has an indoor pool and is very cost effective.

August 2, 2015: El Valle de Anton

This morning Paul drove out to Playa Blanca around nine this morning to pick up the Miller family and drive us out to El Valle about forty to fifty minutes away to the north.  It was closer to ten when we finally made our way out of Playa Blanca and the drive up to El Valle took nearly an hour.

The mountain drive was beautiful but was way too much of a winding trip for Dominica and the girls, even with their motion sickness medication. We had to stop at an overlook along the way to get a minute outside of the car.  This has already ruled out El Valle as a long term location for us, we just would not be able to handle the driving in and out on a regular basis.

This was our first time off of the PanAmerican highway to get to really see Panamá and what real life is like as opposed to the highway businesses and the resort setups.  It was far more interesting than where we are living this month.

We got to Bob’s mother in law’s place and we were there for probably only about half an hour before we all set out for a walk across town to go out for lunch at an Italian place.  Bob truly underestimated the distance that was involved as it was probably a mile or more in the heat.  There was pretty much no shade the entire way.

About halfway there Bob was in rough shape and sent Paul back to get a car to come back for us.  It was just too far to walk.  So Paul headed back and Bob, Dominica and I continued on with the kids.  We did not go very far before I missed the sidewalk just a little bit and the sandal on my right foot did not hold well enough and the pressure of me slipping cause the sandal to spin on my foot and down I went.

Bob said that I can down so hard on the pavement that I bounced a little.  My left knee or very high shin hit quite hard but mostly I caught myself with my hands.  Nothing tragic but I hit hard enough that there was quite a scrape and a bit of blood going on.

We walked on a little ways and found a shady spot to sit and wait for Paul to arrive with the car.  It was a good thing that we had waited for him, it turned out to be rather a long ways yet to go at that point to get to the restaurant, DaVinci’s, which was way out to the east of town by the Rey’s grocery store.

Lunch turned out to be really amazing.  It was a very fancy Italian bistro with an extremely high end menu.  I got a smoked salmon in vodka sauce pasta dish which was amazing.  Both girls tried it to and they really liked it as well.  They would have eaten my entire meal had I let them.  Liesl got a really awesome mushroom soup but she declined to eat it.  Everything was awesome there.

We drove partway back and stopped at a little ice cream place halfway back so that the girls could get ice cream.  Bob and I both got rum & raisin ice cream.  Dominica actually got a grape nut ice cream which was really odd, but pretty good.  Luciana got strawberry, of course.  Liesl got vanilla with sprinkles.

We went back to the house and spent the afternoon there.  Such a peaceful location.  We got a lot done.  Before dinner Paul and I took a walk through the area north of the house which was neat to get to see the backroads and what was out there.

Dinner was amazing.  A Panamanian fish in a cream sauce.  So good.

Dominica and Bob both went to bed early.  Paul and I went out to explore down and find a bar.  We started first going to a hostel on the east side of town and ended up going out with four of the people who were staying there.

We just went to the Balboa bar right across the street.  This was my first time in a Central American bar but it was pretty much exactly as I had imagined it.  Big, dark and mostly empty.  Nothing like what you would find in the US.  It was basically a converted barn.

We had a really good time, bought a few rounds for the house and got a party started.  We didn’t stay late, maybe ten thirty at the latest.  Sampled some local beer like Balboa and Atlas.

We went back to the house where Bob was awake.  We had a few more beers there and were up probably until about one in the morning.

Luciana got into a lot of trouble tonight.  Dominica had fallen asleep around eight thirty, which is surprisingly easy to do in a place that gets dark around seven, and at some point after she was asleep Luciana attempted to sneak a box of cereal in the dark and spilled it all over.

We slept in a cottage near the main house.  No air conditioning but the evening air was not too bad here in the valley.


August 1, 2015: Bob and Paul Arrive

We had a nice, relaxing morning today.  This is our first real weekend here in Panamá and so we got to sleep in and do almost nothing all morning.  We did a little cleaning but mostly did nothing.  We have been doing a little bit of research about where we are going to be going in the fall and Dominica and I have decided that we are going to hold off on our next trip to Europe because our next travel window is a relatively small one and the cost and effort of a trip over the pond will be too much for too little time there.  So instead we are planning to go to Nicaragua.

We have a few properties in Nicaragua that we are interested in. Mostly we are looking around the small city of Granada, which is also the oldest European city in the new world.

Bob and Paul drove out from Panama City this morning and went first to El Valle to have lunch.  So it was late afternoon, by the time that they had fought traffic all morning, had lunch and then did the drive down to Playa Blanca, by the time that they had gotten here.  They have a white, rented Toyota Yaris hatchback that, other than being a hatchback, was identical to the one that we had rented last weekend.

We spent a few hours out on the balcony talking and enjoying the ocean breeze.  Then they drove me out to Coronado to go to the Rey grocery store there as our food situation was getting pretty tough here at the condo.  We ended up shopping for an hour and buying nearly four hundred dollars in additional groceries – much of it in frozen food that will hopefully last us for a while.

It was a big shopping trip but I got a lot of really necessary stuff.  We are in much better shape to be “trapped” in our home in Playa Blanca now.  Tons of frozen fish and veggies.  Overall we are going to be eating very healthy this month because we truly have no other choices!

After getting back to the condo the guys dropped me off and then set out to drive back to El Valle.  We will see them again tomorrow morning when Paul comes back by himself to pick us all up so that we can spend the weekend up in the mountains.

July 31, 2015: End of Our First Week in Panama

This year is flying by, no question.  Already the end of July and the end of our first week out of our five that we are spending here in Panama!  How did we get to our seventh day so quickly.  It feels like we just got here, but we really did arrive on Saturday and it is already Friday.  That is just crazy.

We had had a slower day today.  Paul and Bob are going to El Valle today and we will see them tomorrow, we think.  Today is just a normal work day for us with nothing going on. In the morning Dominica took the girls down to the pool and they went swimming for a while, but it was pretty hot and the girls did not want to swim for all that long.

Liesl and Dominica worked on school today.  I had plenty of work to do so was focused on that.

This evening Dominica and I watched some Love Boat and kicked around the idea of ordering in some pizza but the effort to do so was enough to keep us from actually attempting to do it.