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Notes of November, 2013

Another “fast ” month rushes by……..but chocked full of fun and much excitement! I was recommended by a friend to a large Advertising Firm in the city that wanted to do a small party for its employees during the holiday season. Small, picnic – American Style, but it was also to be done in the middle of the holiday season. I met with these wonderful people and then went on to get bids, learn the ropes here in Panama and do my “due diligence.” As it turns out, they decided not to go thru with this as it was really taking money away from a project they were doing with and for kids at Christmas time. I fully understood and I do know there will be something down the road. It was a great learning experience for me as I really did have to find out who does what, what charges are made here for catering, etc. All of you , my catering friends can understand what I am saying. Although a lot of hours and work went into this, I came out so much richer from the experience and met so many wonderful people in the business that I know I will eventually work with and have for references when I will need them.

Went into the city within the first few days of the month for my hair appointment and stayed over at Isabel’s since she was coming back the next day. We always have so much fun with the shopping and then wine and some really good cheeses and meats to go with it in the evening. I left my car in Coronado as I always do and she dropped me off – DEAD BATTERY!!!! Fortunately for me, I do not panic with this problem as I always park underground and right next to Casa Batteria (House of Battery). So I calmly walked in and they checked it out and in about 10 minutes, I walked away with a new battery – done and finished!!!! It was so nice to realize that although I am in a foreign country and speak a little Spanish – I for once, did not panic, did not get anxious – but just realized I had to do what I had to do and calmly. I did it and what a great feeling to finally realize I truly can get along in an emergency situation!. Guess I am becoming accustomed to the country and the people and the way things are done here.

A few days later, I entertained friends for dinner. Funny , as this invite was sent to Bill and Gerry (of course the wives were included) as a thank you for always being there to help me out with all of my technological problems. I truly did want to say “thank you” and so I did with dinner. Most all of you from back home know how much I always loved to entertain, so I do continue the pattern here. I have finally learned that my kitchen here is no bigger than it was at home and I am also finally learning where I have put things here so that I can find things. Still can’t find some recipes, but that too shall pass and one day they will appear. You would laugh at me and my refrigerator. I have a huge French-door with freezer on bottom, and still not enough space for anything!!!! The bottom freezers are not great for people that like to cook and freeze, because you really have to figure things out – I still have not done that as it seems the freezer is always so full I cannot maneuver around all that is in there. As for the refrigerator, I just ordered an extra shelf from the states (much less expensive to buy it there than here). You will be amazed, but all vitamins have to be refrigerated as well as all of your spices. The heat and humidity here dry everything out and certain things MUST go into the refrigerator. That takes up a lot of room and remember, I get large orders of vitamins or Janet brings to me when she comes to save on shipping and the charges on this end. So I usually have a 6 month supply. At any rate, you are learning little by little some of the inconveniences of Panama living, especially in this area. The mountains, which are cooler naturally, do not have these problems. BUT – I would not trade the lifestyle and the people for anything. I love it.

Menu for Argentinean Dinner 11/4/13

Menu for Argentinean Dinner 11/4/13

The week after my little dinner, the Coronado Golf and Country Club had an Argentinean Dinner and Tango Night. There was a 6 course dinner of various Argentinean Meats, plus a show with Tango Dancers. I cannot begin to tell you what a fabulous evening this was – food was fantastic, dancers were superb and the 11 of us that attended gave it a 6 star rating out of 5 stars! We also celebrated Linda and Lloyd Sherman’s Anniversary of 13 years as well as Debby and Eric’s 2nd Anniversary of being in Panama.

Beef Carpaccio (the best I have had here in Panama)

Beef Carpaccio (the best I have had here in Panama)

Another Beef Dish

Another Beef Dish

Eric, Exec Chef Ivin, Phyllis, F&B Dir. William, Rhonda, Leslie and Debby

Eric, Exec Chef Ivin, Phyllis, F&B Dir. William, Rhonda, Leslie and Debby

Linda and Lloyd are returning to the U.S. and we will be very, very sad to not have them here, but wish them the BEST of everything in their new home in Texas!

Farewell to Linda & Lloyd Sherman (who will truly be missed)

Farewell to Linda & Lloyd Sherman (who will truly be missed)

Back to our Tango evening… I met several people that evening, one lady in particular who is a dynamite. She invited a few of us single gals to her home on the beach the next day for a private Tango lesson since the dancers were staying at her home. Turns out she has a home in Coronado on the beach, a home in Panama City, a home in France and a home in New York City as well as her art gallery in New York City. Yes, she is an artist and if you want to visit her website. go to: www.melcinarosas.com. I cannot wait to visit her and the gallery in May when I will be in New York.

Argentinean Dancers

Argentinean Dancers

Tango Dancers with Phyllis and Food and Beverage Director William

Tango Dancers with Phyllis and Food and Beverage Director William

As for the Tango Lesson, Starr and I did go to her home the next day. What a hoot to see me try to learn to Tango in my heels. Altho I do wear much lower heels today than I did when I was “younger” – still – we do not wear heels that often here and to try and balance yourself – well – it is just funny to see! But after a while, I did get the hang of it and all started falling into place. All I can say is that it is a most romantic dance and so beautiful to watch – especially the feet kicks as the Argentineans do it!. I may learn a little (yes, there is a special get together here on December 7th for a big group lesson, you are all invited to come – especially the men) and yes, you guys from the U. S. – you would love it!!!!! Great exercise as well.

Phyllis, Melcina, Starr

Phyllis, Melcina, Starr

Are we all having fun yet? You do realize, that I am and loving every single minute of it. BUT- fun aside, I decided I needed to have a sale once and for all and get rid of the STUFF I had brought from the states that I had no room for, no use for, and the GIFTS? I forgot to sell them off before I left and so wound up with them here. Thanks to Deb and Eric who helped me shlepp, unpack, price and get set up – we had my sale on November 23 (a Saturday morning) from 9-12. In true “Phyllis Fashion,” I served Bloody Mary’s and Mimosa’s and Eric baked me a Coconut Cake to serve as well. Eric is a professional baker and he does sell his cakes in the Coronado area to many restaurants. The cakes are well known as FLETCH CAKES. Anyway- always fun and surprises with me. I sold almost everything I really wanted to and it was a very successful sale.

THE BAR at the Sale

THE BAR at the Sale

Part of my Sale

Part of my Sale

I do need to thank Jose (our administrator and property manager here in my building) for his help and his guidance and allowing me to do it downstairs in the social area of our building. Certainly made it easier for everyone and this way, no one had to be in my condo. So friends, now everything is out of the bathrooms and I have a condo back in order for the first time with the room I am supposed to have!. Hallelujah – another huge weight off of my head. I am determined to be FINSIHED with all of my projects by the end of the year so I can truly start a new year with things I want to do for me and will share that with you next month.

Las Terrazas (Restaurant here at Vista Mar Fernando(Manager),Malinka, Orphir, Phyllis and Sa-ul (the BEST Waiter in all of Panama)

Las Terrazas (Restaurant here at Vista Mar Fernando(Manager),Malinka, Orphir, Phyllis and Sa-ul (the BEST Waiter in all of Panama)

One of the people I had met at the Rabbi’s house for Passover Seder, Orphir, has moved from New York State to Panama recently. He is originally from Israel, and as an Architect in New York (up state) was now looking in Panama for a better way as he felt he could do more here. At any rate, he came out here after my sale to say hello and it was great catching up with him once again. His family is back in New York which I know is very difficult for him, but I am hoping he will make it here. He also met a gal that came up with him to keep him company and Malinka and I hit it off immediately. She is a lovely young girl from the “interior” as we call it here (the interior part of the country)and happened to be spending some time in the city. She speaks a perfect English which does help, and she lives on the border of Costa Rica. She reminds me of a much younger “me” – full of energy, a great spirit and full of enthusiasm. I know we will be good friends, altho so far apart (about a 4 hour drive). Yes, you folks in the states think nothing of that. Although the highways are good here, they are not like the states – 4 – 6 lane, etc. We have decent 2 lane highways and sometimes one is lucky enough to have 2 lanes in each direction, not true for the interior sections, so not an easy drive all the time. BUT friends, I will do it as I would love to go over the border and into Costa Rica (yes, part of my list for 2014)!!

Debbie, Eric, Phyllis Orphir and Malinka (restaurant overlooking Pacific)

Debbie, Eric, Phyllis Orphir and Malinka (restaurant overlooking Pacific)

And in between all of these goings on, My Doctor here, Dr. Victor Levy, opened his own practice out of the San Fernando Clinic and had an open house one evening. Grabbed Leslie, and we went on over and then went to La Teca for the Happy Hour there. La Teca is becoming more and more popular here in Coronado as it has new ownership and this guy is making some really good changes and most of us are liking it more and more. There was a monthly “mixer” for ex-pats recently and did not want to go for dinner, but went over with Cheryl after coming back from the city (let’s just keep going and keep it really hectic) for a drink and to say hello.

Leslie at Dr. Victor Levy's Open House

Leslie at Dr. Victor Levy’s Open House

M, the Bartender, Cheryl, Phyllis and Juan, General Mgr. of LaTeca

M, the Bartender, Cheryl, Phyllis and Juan, General Mgr. of LaTeca

I did manage to drive to PriceSmart again this month and it is truly amazing that when you start to relax you start paying attention to other things around you and some of the scenery. That could be good, or it could be bad!. I will let you decide – as I was driving, I noticed a car stopped on the side of the road and I slowed down a bit and then I noticed two men standing there and started saying “WHAT” is….. and YES – they were both PEEING right there. Not even the brain power to have opened the car door that would have blocked part of them so you would not actually see what was happening. Just standing there as if they were both using a urinal – right into the ditch on the side of the road. By now, you are all hysterical, but to me, I do realize that this is part of third world country, yes, and 50 miles away in the big city, that is “world class” and can compare and does, to some of the largest cities in the states!. They are slowly learning here. Recycling is starting and a few of the larger companies and stores are having big bins outside to teach people to bring things to them for recycling. It is a beginning. I remember well when trash was all over the countryside in the U. S. and slowly but surely, that got taken care of and then recycling. It does take time, but I have heard that Panama is far ahead of any other Central or Latin American country and I do believe that from what I do hear and people I speak to from those other parts of South America. Remember, too, this is all an adventure for me and I am learning new things all of the time. Some great – others not, but I have chosen to be here and I love the pace of life and the challenges at times.

Had to go into the city just before Thanksgiving on business, and could not believe the Lobby of The Tower Bank!.

The Lobby of Tower Bank

The Lobby of Tower Bank

So modern and up to the minute. Most of the employees do speak English and that makes it easier. Also, want water, Cappuccino, Coffee? It is all for the asking. Notice the sign above the picture (MONEY BAR). Equipped with computers to do any online banking right there while you have a drink, ask for help or whatever. Unfortunately, that is one of my banks but no outlet in Coronado, so I must go to the city. BUT- with a bank looking like that, who minds?? Did other chores as well before coming back the next day and the meals you eat in the city are always to die for. Restaurants abound and one is better than the next. The mall restaurants are 5 star with food that is absolutely out of this world!. Think I may be gaining a few pounds???

All of the Panamanian Holidays are here and it seems as if every weekend in November, and then in December, it is another holiday with store and bank closings, etc. And with the American holidays, there is plenty of celebrations going on for everyone. I tend to hole up as I was never one to get out into all of the hoopla. Lots of my friends went out for Thanksgiving, and I chose to celebrate as I always do and did in the states. I love the Macy’s Day Parade and that is when I start baking for the holidays, so I glued myself to the TV from the kitchen and started in with the baking and will continue. Chanukah falls with Thanksgiving this year, and that will not happen for another 70,000 years (wonder what I will come back as by then), so that is a special celebration this year. To the many, many friends who sent “Thanksgivikkuh” greetings, thank you all. I think this was a very special year for so many of us and we truly shared in the spirit of the holidays.

As this month draws to a close, we are about to enter SUMMER here, that is the dry season where it is less humid and no rain for the next 5 months. I so look forward to that as the weather is truly beautiful, you don’t have to carry an umbrella wherever you go, you can clean your car and know it will stay clean except for the dust on a dirt road and just smile in the wonderful sunshine. If you go to the beach, you will not be caught in a sudden rain shower, you do not have to make sure your windows and doors are closed before leaving the house for fear of a sudden downpour or thundershower. It is a lovely time of the year for visitors to come and see this beautiful country, and so, with that in mind, I wish you all a fabulous next month with all of the holiday traditions for many of you and I will be back with more exciting news of what goes on here in Panama.

Our Newly Decorated Beach Club

Our Newly Decorated Beach Club

I would also, at this time, like to welcome the many new readers I know that are now going on to read the blog, many of my friends here in Panama (of course, you are looking for your picture and if you made the current blog) and I also know that many of my friends in the states are now sharing with their friends as well. Thank you all for taking the time to read and hope you are enjoying. You can always leave a comment and remember, if you subscribe to the newsletter, you will receive it automatically when it is published – usually with- in the first few days of the month. One of these days you will get to read the BOOK edition of the blog – and that will surely be a spicy thing that I cannot do nor will I do on a blog. Love you all……………………

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