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We've got wheels

Honda parked out front
Well, the number of exciting taxi related stories will take a major hit becuse we've purchased a used Honda CRV - I can already hear the moan out there in internet land. On the plus side, our local adventure and exploring tales should jump because of our increased mobility.

We've been in Panama nearly 1½ years now and have relied on taxis (plus an occasional car rental) to get around. In fact, we are fans of the Panama City taxis as they provide a cheap and easy (most of the time) way to get around and we've had a minimum number of bad experiences and lots of interesting stories to tell because of our frequent use. The Honda will let us take short day trips and explore on our own (which we like to do), take Wags along (which he thinks is great), and take some longer trips to explore this interesting country.

I will write about our first "auto related" adventure in a couple of days - getting our Panama drivers license. Stay tuned.

Take care

Walking the Cinta Costera

We took our first walk along the park portion of nearly completed Cinta Costera project this afternoon. Pretty nice, and lots of people were out enjoying this new green space. Hope they install more trash receptacles (could happen, it's not finished) and a fenced doggie park sure would be nice - just wishful thinking. Overall, it's a vast improvement over what was there and will make our walks to the city much more enjoyable.

Our first year

We arrive 6:26:08

One year ago today we arrived in Panama to begin our new adventure and for the most part it's lived up to our expectations. In broad terms it's been both exciting and a challenge, with new customs and the language leading the excitement and challenge categories.

Some highlights:
  • We've made new friends, missed old ones.
  • Are amazed at the similarities between St. Croix and Panama, and how much easier our new life is because of our "island life" experience.
  • We've made the transition to both being retired and so far have survived.
  • The wonderful diversity of this country.
  • Dinning out - at affordable prices.
  • Shopping - remember we moved from a small island.
  • Going to the National Theater.
  • Talking to visitors in Casco Viejo.
  • Watching (and slowly becoming a part of) everyday life in our new neighborhood.
  • Jane's book exchange is a big hit.
  • And lastly, taxi drivers, ice cream and walking at night in Casco.

Folk dancers National Theater Concert

On the practical side:

  • Received our permanent visa, took us nine months - way too long.
  • Opened a local bank account in one day - unheard of.
  • Found "our place" in Panama
  • Still trying to get our crate shipped from St. Croix.
  • Survived without a car.
  • Can (unfortunately) vouch for the quality of the local health care system.
  • Progress on learning Spanish has been painfully slow.

What's not to like:
  • Not much - but trash, liter and noise are areas that Panama definitely needs to work on.
  • Poverty - which, sadly, affects too many Panamanians.

We obviously don't know what the next year will bring, but . . . it's almost certain to be exciting, challenging and fun. Hope you continue to tag along - or, better yet, visit us in Panama for your next adventure. Take care.

"Fast" in Panama

September Cinta Costera
Although the Red Devil and taxi drivers (when not stuck in a traffic jam) do their best to imitate a NASCA or Indy driver with respect to speed, little else in this country can be associated with the word "fast". The "mañana mindset" (nothing is really worth rushing) is Panama personified, especially with anything government related. (Remember our eight month visa saga.) So it's a real shocker when you see a government project moving along at a brisk pace and almost on schedule. That's happening with the Cinta Costera - the expansion of Avenida Balboa in Panama City. This project is BIG (behind only the Panama Canal expansion), complicated and the current administration wanted it done before they leave on July 1 - they almost made it happen. Read More...

Night walk

Casco Viejo at night

When the sun starts to set Casco Viejo several things happen. The government offices close and most of the government workers head for home in other parts of the city, construction projects call it quits for the day, their workers leave and the noise level drops, and those that live in Casco venture out to enjoy the cool evening. Wags and I are normally out 3 or 4 times starting with our after dinner walk (Jane is doing the dishes) and it's not unusual for us to be out on a last walk after midnight. Last night we ventured out around eleven and this is what we encountered . . . Read More...
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