Archive for » June, 2012 «

Phyllis, Meet Panama. Panama, Meet Phyllis.

Dearest Family and Friends,

Welcome to the BLOG that I will now be using and all of the wonderful pictures that can be posted. I have to tell you before I begin anything, that my web designer in San Francisco, Kristin Kramer (who after dealing with me for years now has become a good friend) read my first installment and told me I could NOT do this in word if I were to continue. She said she was going to set up a BLOG for me so that I would be up to date and that all of my friends, family, etc could just sign up and when I had something to say, and they could read and see pictures at the same time. For those of you that know me, I am so technology dysfunctional, but am learning slowly. Kristin, I will always be in awe of your talent and your creativity and thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your patience with me . By the way- Kristin is also working on re-designing my website and I know that will be awesome when done.

Party on May 7, on our condo’s roof top in Coronado.

Party on May 7, on our condo’s roof top in Coronado.

I left off in my last newsletter that I was going to a party on a Monday night. Was a great party in my condo building and met a lot of people, young and old and really met one couple, Bunny and Karl, who you will be hearing about as they have become good friends. They live in Vista Mar, another community 10 minutes West of here that is really magnificent, and overlooking the Pacific. Karl has become my guru with computer problems and is also a fabulous cook. Bunny is stunning and a good friend.

My friend Isabel Boyd and I, attending my first Meet and Greet Get together for Ex-Pats in Coronado

My friend Isabel Boyd and I, attending my
first Meet and Greet Get together for Ex-Pats in Coronado

On May 8, I left for Panama City for a few days as I had to file my papers, but I also had to go to the US Embassy to have a paper legalized. Now, mind you, Panama immigration insisted that a paper I had that was already notarized, had to be legalized. This took all of 10 minutes for someone to just make sure it was ok, put a stamp on it, and then tell me to please go to Window # such and such and pay $50.00! I looked at them in disbelief but paid my money and left.. Now I had to be dropped off at the lawyers back in the city (the Embassy is in the Canal Zone as that is where it has always been since the US was here with the Canal for so many years), which was only about 20 minutes away. Isabel had taken me there but was now dropping me off as we knew this was a long process. Please know, I had to do a little more paperwork at the lawyers, and then a lawyer takes me to the Immigration Office so we can file all of the documents!!!!

 Phyllis on a bus going from Coronado into Panama City (1 1/2 hours)


Phyllis on a bus going from Coronado into Panama City (1 1/2 hours)

We arrived at the new Immigration Office, which is on a highway in an industrial neighborhood with NO stores of any kind, not even a stand with drinks or snacks – NOTHING, and there is NOTHING inside of this NEW building to be able to get anything or any kind!!! My lawyer, one of the underlings, and you will understand why in a minute- has to get a number. We proceed to where we have to go- downstairs- and he shows me the number we have – 225 – and I look to see they are on number 90! I look at him in disbelief and he tells me it is about a 4 hour wait!!! It is now not even 11AM and here I am for the day??????????????? I quickly told him if I ever had to return, he is returning alone to get a number and he can call me to tell me approximate time and I will just get myself there when I will be needed!. The system is ridiculous. I can tell them how to run it more efficiently by appointments, etc, but Phyllis is learning that I am in Panama and things are done the way they do them and I am not going to make any changes. I took a deep breath, and proceeded to just watch people from different countries waiting their turns and they, too, were just as upset as I was but could do nothing. Funniest thing was I forgot to bring my bottle of water, and you cannot be in this heat without water. I told my attorney that I needed water and he literally had to go out and find someplace to get me water. He came back an hour later. I never even asked him where he had to go, I was just grateful that I had water to drink otherwise I would have passed out.

We were called at 3 PM and all of the papers were filed, my picture was taken, and now I wait for about 6 months. However, since I will be returning to the states for a short while in September, they will have to get my visa or else get me a temporary one so that I can leave and re-enter without a fine of $2000 since I am already registered. I know this all sounds very complicated. It is, but it really isn’t. You have the attorneys to guide you thru everything and you need to do these things so you can have the benefits but you have to realize that Panama protects itself. There are a lot of immigrants coming in from all over the world and they have to be very careful of WHO is coming into their country. I can’t blame them – I just wish they would, or could re-evaluate their systems as they could really be so much more efficient.

Leaving Immigration was hoot! It was now 4 PM, raining outside and rush hour!. Got the picture? You can’t drive to this new office as there is NO PARKING!!!! So now we have to get a taxi – impossible as no one want to go where we have to go- about a 20 minute ride back into the heart of the city (across from the Marriott) and this is only a $3 ride!!! I called my driver for the city and he was on a call and could not get us, but he would meet me and get me back to my friend Isabels when I got to the city. So much for that help. I gave my umbrella to the lawyer who really tried for almost 30 minutes to get a cab. He finally got one and I asked him how come he found such a nice guy and he told me he offered him $5 instead of the $3 and he was happy to do it!. With that I asked him WHY he hadn’t done that before? I never did get an answer, and I really did not expect one. Needless to say, this was quite a day!!!

Got back to Isabel’s and I told her we were going out to that nice Restaurant, La Vitoria for some wine, good food and their music every night is fabulous and most soothing. We went and had a wonderful time. The next morning she drove me back to my condo at Coronado and she was staying at her house in Coronado for a few days. I was never so happy to be back where I felt so comfortable.

This is one of the 4 shopping Centers in Coronado - and it is the oldest, but still has 3 stories of shops, etc .

This is one of the 4 shopping Centers in Coronado –
and it is the oldest, but still has 3 stories of shops, etc .

By the way, Coronado has some very good restaurants. I have been to Cholo’s, where Mexican food is done. The owner is Panamanian, although born in the US and raised there He speaks English fluently, as do his Panamanian servers, cooks, etc so you as an ex-pat really do feel comfortable. He even gave me my Pensionado discount of 25% first time I was there as he said he knows I have applied and wanted to welcome me. We have other places that serve excellent food, and I have found the chicken to be the best- anywhere. So is meat. When questioning it, I found out that all Chickens are “free range” and the local beef in Panama gets no hormones of any kind. The meat is so tender and so good. So eating here is great. The Corvina in extremely popular – it is the “sea bass” of Panama, and although different than our sea bass at home, if done in a good restaurant, it is to die for. The fruits and vegetables at the market are great- sometimes more expensive than the US- sometimes less, depending. Pineapples which are grown right here in Panama, I buy for about $1.35 each and they are sweeter than anything you have had stateside. We can get almost anything here that you would want. Shopping is almost the same as the US – the brands etc. So I truly have what I want, and am not in need of anything food-wise!

 Janet and Phyllis in Cholo's Mexican Restaurant


Janet and Phyllis in Cholo’s Mexican Restaurant

My favorite restaurant is La Terraza in the Vista Mar Complex. Chef Pasquel is French and runs that restaurant as all French cuisine. It is excellent, and I mean EXCELLENT. I have been there several times and love the food and the Chef himself. Have no fears friends – he has already divorced two wives, lives with a girlfriend now and is the typical Frenchman – flirting with all, but he is a doll to be able to talk to. And I do have some ideas I may cultivate one of these days when I settle in.

May 11 was a Friday and brought Janet here from the states for a 2 ½ week visit. She had wanted to be here for Mother’s Day so we had timed it that way. We really had a lot of fun and during that time, she also took a trip to Bocas del Toro, which she absolutely loved and would go back in a heartbeat. That is not for me, so there is no way I want to do that trip. Although, some of the older generation do go- it is more for the younger generation and the backpackers. It is beautiful from everyone I have heard from, but I am still happier in my territory. The time Janet and I had together was great, and it was fun having her here. And during all of this, my son , Jeff and his family have re-located in Cincinnati now as he heads up the DEA office there for the next 5 years. It is nice to have him back in the states again- especially since the Mother has now left the states!!!!!! But it is much closer and in the same time zone so calls are great back and forth.

View of the harbor in Amador from a restaurant down below at the sea level- overcast, but note city skyline in background

View of the harbor in Amador from a restaurant down below at the sea level-
overcast, but note city skyline in background

Janet left on May 29th, and Phyllis is getting ready to move to Amador for the month of June. Amador is on the Causeway at the beginning of the Canal Zone. The views are magnificent, and I am high up overlooking the water and lots of smaller boats and yachts. I will have a beautiful view of the Bridge of the Americas where all of the ships, including cruise ships go under as they come and go thru the Panama Canal. Altho I have one picture we will try to post, it was taken on a cloudy day, so you may not see the city background as well. The condo is a 2 bedroom, 2 bath, large and very spacious with a wrap around balcony. Altho a little pricey, this is my splurge as I really wanted to be here for 1 month. It is only 10 minutes away from the city itself and it will give me the opportunity to see if I really want city life versus the beach life. Both have tremendous advantages, so I will just have to weigh the plusses and minus’s until I decide what it is that I really want and where I want to be. I will also now be getting in touch with all of the people I know here in the city and in the Canal Zone. That will also be a help to me.

View from my apartment in Amador- high up - overcast day.

View from my apartment in Amador- high up – overcast day.

I move to Amador on Friday, June 1st for the month and now look forward to that episode of my adventures in Panama. I have to tell you that I love your e-mails and welcome your comments and questions. My phone number here is 727-302=1801 and is a local call for those of you in the Tampa Bay area and a stateside call for you otherwise. Most people have a phone with unlimited calls anywhere in the states which mean you can call me. Best times are in the AM or evenings. Otherwise, you can leave a message and I will get back to you. There are a few friends that do call and it is so nice hearing a familiar voice and talking as if we were just around the corner.

As always, you are invited to visit at anytime that I will be around and available. This is a fabulous country, although hot. Boquete, which is truly beautiful as in my last post, and you will now see pictures, is just a little far, so I am thinking, but- the weather is fabulous. No heat, no air needed. It is the perfect climate all year round. So perhaps I will not rule that out. Besides, I am always reminding myself that I am RENTING for at least a year to make sure of where I want to be. I would love to be able to unpack everything I have here, but I don’t. I am living out of 1 large and 1 small suitcase so I don’t drive myself nuts. Everything else is stored for me.

My love and best to all of you for now. I will keep the news coming, I promise.

Phyllis

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