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October 2013

With all of the snowbirds arriving, the social scene is once again upon us. Between trips to the city, and my learning to drive a bit more comfortably, the entertaining back and forth, Spanish Lessons etc, the calendar has become full – in fact, too full. I cannot believe it is already the end of October and November is upon us. Where does the time fly to?

It has been a very interesting month for me. I had decided a while ago that I wanted to obtain a CEDULA, meaning more than a Visa here in Panama. A visa is OK and proves I am living here permanently and entitles me to my discounts etc as a Senior Citizen. However, a Cedula means that I am a permanent resident, like the Panamanians and I am entitled to whatever a Panamanian is entitled to. I no longer have to show my Passport for anything. My ID is the Cedula and eventually can lead to citizenship (in about 4 1/2 more years). I applied, and I was finally notified that I needed to get to the administrative building in Panama City to fill out all of the paperwork and have my picture taken (once again)! I met my Lawyer one morning and Astrid, the assistant, accompanied me to the offices where I needed to go. To tell you that is was raining buckets is no understatement. Getting in and out of taxis and rushing into the building – even with umbrella in hand does not keep one from getting soaked! And the humidity with your hair as a female – WOW- !!! Needless to say, my hair is curly to begin with- naturally – and ever since coming to Panama, when it rains, I become Little Orphan Annie with the curly top, and so it was no different on this day, and my picture does not show a nicely coiffed female – it is more like an older version of Little Orphan Annie!!! And so be it. One week later, I had my Cedula, and felt so great!

Where I picked up my Cedula (Chame, nearer to where I live)

Where I picked up my Cedula (Chame, nearer to where I live)

One does feel a bit of self accomplishment and you start realizing whatever you decided to do in coming to another country, you are truly becoming a part of that country. I can’t tell you that I will be here forever – I have no idea what life has in store for me, but as long as I choose to be here, I will be a part of where I chose to be! I don’t know if that makes sense to you but I strongly believe that if the United States had made certain requirements on people coming into that country all of these years, it would be a better place. The U. S. just lets anyone do as they please. Here, you are monitored, you are watched and this government knows where you are and what you are doing. I once told you that it is extremely difficult to open a bank account here. You are investigated. Who are you? Where are you from? Where is your money coming from? Is it legitimate? It could take anywhere from three to six months to be able to open an account. The banks are VERY careful in opening an account for you and anytime you want to wire transfer funds, you must show where they are coming from and prove that the account you are transferring from really has the money! The banks here for the most part are SOLID and nothing is going to happen to them – as long as you know which ones are the solid ones (and that I do – thanks to Isabel’s son who is in banking)! But we spoke of that earlier on, so I will move on.

On one visit to the city this month, I have wanted to go to The Waldorf Astoria – yes, you read that correctly.

Ever see Toilet Paper "ready for use?" - Only at The Waldorf Astoria

Ever see Toilet Paper “ready for use?” – Only at The Waldorf Astoria

The Waldorf opened in Panama City a few months ago to rave reviews and their restaurants got the same great reviews. Brio is the daytime restaurant, and has a great lunch menu and Isabel and I had decided to go there one day. Well, the room is fabulous to look at, the service and the food is above excellent – it is a triple excellent and the prices????? Well – put yourself at the Waldorf in New York City, and I will say no more.

Carpaccio served at Brio

Carpaccio served at Brio

Hamburger and Fries

Hamburger and Fries

It is a fabulous experience and we were so happy we did it. BUT- the highlight of the lunch was that the USA Soccer Team was staying there and they were coming into the dining room to use that particular elevator to go to their rooms. After a few of the players entered and went up, the next group came in and I just jumped up from my table and went up to them and asked if I could get a picture of them!. Well, they said “of course, as long as you are in it with us!” Well, Isabel heard that and she just jumped up too and so we took a few pictures with them!

USA Soccer Team with Isabel and Phyllis at the Waldorf Astoria

USA Soccer Team with Isabel and Phyllis at the Waldorf Astoria

I wished them good luck that night as they were playing Panama, and Isabel begged them to let Panama win since they (the US) already qualified for the cup playoff and Panama really did need to win. Watched the Soccer game on one channel that night with Isabel as well as the Baseball Playoffs with the Rays on another set. Well, the RAYS lost and the USA Soccer team won. Fascinating to watch Soccer, which I had never done and will now in the future. It is a fast game and so very interesting! And that day was one of the most fun days I have had in a long time.

Yes, Panama City has a lot to offer as far as theatre, shopping and all of the things you get in a large city. BUT- I would not trade living on the beaches for anything. I love the quieter life style and serenity. I can go to the city whenever – to accomplish what I need to in one or two days, and so I do. Still will not drive IN the city. The Panamanians are crazy drivers and with all of the construction due to the Metro System being put in, there are so many detours, that you really need to know where you are going – not easy. I am glad I know how to go over one bridge to PriceSmart and am happy I am now driving to the big Mall which is 45 minutes away. That is enough for me right now. Slowly, but surely, things will evolve and I will do more and more. I am already a brave soul for what I do!

Two business women here in this area felt there was a need for a “Business” Gathering of people so that we could all meet one another, network, and see if this were really something that would be worth while. One of the women, Jeannine, owns Mail Boxes Etc, where we all get our mail, and the other, Jemuna, owns Playa Community, a weekly newspaper about the Beaches, etc and is quite a paper for all of us here.

Jeannine, Phyllis and Jamuna

Jeannine, Phyllis and Jamuna

Well, they were so successful, that they wound up with two meetings of 80 people each and we all felt grateful to them for the foresight of putting so many of us together.

Michele, Chef Pascal Finet, Phyllis at our Business Dinner

Michele, Chef Pascal Finet, Phyllis at our Business Dinner

I found a lot of people I could work with in “party planning” and am excited to be able to network with these people. YES- I am going to get involved on a very small scale. I want to do something part time and this is really what I want to do, along with my online website for gifts!. In fact, through a friend, I had an interview in Panama City this past week and I will be doing a function the middle of December. Small, but unique and different and I am so looking forward to this. It will be a challenge, there is no doubt about it. When you start getting your feet wet, you are learning, and now I am learning all over again. I need the contacts and the people here, so my shoe leather is about to start wearing thin once again. But I love the challenge and will meet it head on!

Rhonda, Gary and Phyllis

Rhonda, Gary and Phyllis

Cocktails out on deck at our Beach Club (Pacific Ocean in background)

Cocktails out on deck at our Beach Club (Pacific Ocean in background)

Spent a lovely evening beach-side with Rhonda and Gary, friends from Altos del Maria, (a mountain area about 45 minutes from me) recently at our Restaurant here, Les Terrazas. We do have the “premier” restaurant here on our property with Chef Pascal, who is from France originally and is known throughout Panama for his many years in this country, first in Panama City and then here on the beaches. He is truly a fantastic chef and human being and I love to kid him and “challenge” him once in a while for something “different.” He never disappoints.

We are about to start all of the holidays in Panama again this weekend, and so, very little work gets done in this country as there is more partying than anything else. I have a lot of projects I want to complete before month’s end (November) so I am concentrating on getting those things done. December is still full of holidays here in Panama, but the DRY SEASON begins (Summer) and we will have 5 months of nice weather with NO rain. Can’t wait for that. No more curly top head for me, and if the weather is a little hotter, so be it- I would rather that than all of the rain and the higher humidity. Don’t get me wrong – it will still be hot, but the humidity will be a little less!!!! And a great time from visitors to come and see this beautiful country and all it has to offer.

Sorry Baseball Season is over and no, my RAYS did not win, but they did get to the playoffs and I am proud of what they have accomplished this past year. Now wait until next year!!!!! I watched the Cardinals and the Red Sox during the World Series, and all I can say is that the better team did win. If that is what Boston needed to get their city back to normalcy and have a great feeling, then good, they deserve to have that glory! St. Louis, you just fell apart from what I saw – sorry! Can’t wait for next year. And by the way, next Spring, Panama will honor their own Manny Riviera – bless him. He is truly one in a million that I think the world loves and admires. That is a REAL gentleman and so very humble.

Have enjoyed all of your e-mails this past month, and I think we have all had enough of the political ones – it is like beating the horse to death. I am forwarding the funny ones, the beautiful ones and the uplifting ones now. I just am tired of being dragged down. Love talking to so many of you from time to time and hope we will all keep in touch. As of November 3rd, I am now on the same time as you on the East Coast (EST) – so no worries anymore about the 1 hour difference.

Wishing you all a good month and keep those emails coming. Love hearing from you and what you are doing!

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