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Dizzy December, 2013

So many comings and going during this very busy month of December and I thought November was bad. Just so many holidays, so many parties going on – small, large and in-between that one starts almost hating and wishing the month of December was over……………… Never met so many people, including Panamanians who feel that Christmas has become so commercialized and so much is going on that one loses the spirit of Christmas totally. And being that Chanukah and Christmas were so far apart this year, there was nothing to even celebrate together. So – many will be happy 2013 is over and onward to the New Year.

We started out with the first Holiday on December 8th – Mother’s Day here in Panama. It is always celebrated as a National Holiday and then on Monday, Banks, and many businesses are closed. Another holiday for Panama and I am now convinced they have more holidays in the months of November and December than the U. S. has in a whole year!!!!! And I also understand why nothing can get done during the last two months of the year with workers. Everyone is busy celebrating and bonuses are given right after Thanksgiving and now everyone has enough money for the Christmas shopping in the malls!!!! A sight to behold and sometimes I just don’t have the camera with me, but I have found some fabulous things in the past few weeks that have clicked and I will take pictures for next month. You will not believe some of the things.

OK – on to the festivities of December. I have been in and out of Panama City several times, always staying with dear friend Isabel so that I don’t have to rush back the same day and make that trip home. YES, I still go in and come back by bus unless I get a ride from a friend coming or going. I don’t want to drive when I can use the public transportation for $2.50 and then take a taxi for $3.00 to where I need to go. No wear and tear on me, the car, or gas to pay. AND I RELAX – sometimes talk to some of the people, sometimes not. My Spanish is coming along slowly, and I can relate to someone in a store, or the bank, certainly a restaurant, but cannot speak in fluent sentences yet. We call it Spanglish!!

One of the very first parties I attended was at the beginning of the month in the city. It was an “all girls” night at a friends home and 16 of us were invited for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, followed by dinner. What a fabulous, fun evening that was and of course, I did know most of the people and met a few new ones who are absolutely delightful – one having a place at Buenaventura, so I might even be seeing more of her when she is out this way. This party was on a Sunday, and I was going into the city by bus. Jose, the administrator of the building and one of the workers saw me leaving and thought I was a little overdressed for the bus!. I was wearing a pantsuit with heels, and looked no different than many of the bus-riders that go to work in the city and are dressed nicely. However, this was a SUNDAY, and I did not think of that – the “dregs’ of the earth going to the city for shopping or a day out- they do not dress. That afternoon I got a call from Jose to find out if I made it!. They were all worried. I have to tell you that I do not think about crime here, although I am aware it does exist. I just feel that in a bus of 30 people, a driver and the money taker that work for the transit authority, someone is going to watch out for me!. And when I get to the main terminal to get a taxi- again, with all of the people – someone will save me!. Who in the world would even want me?????? But I love the bus, and coming back two days later, I would not have missed that ride for anything. School is out January and February because it is now summer here. Well, with all of the people travelling back to wherever at the end of the day (the bus does make a lot of stops along the way to drop off and pick up) – at one point – now just visualize this – most people are not dressed – jeans, a shirt, and the men are fairly sloppy, on the bus comes 8 young men and women, all dressed in formal attire. They were going to their PROM!!!! The men had suits and ties on and the girls were in LONG dresses and their high heel silver shoes – absolutely beautiful!. I ask you, where in the world would you find this??????? How would you even know it existed without taking public transportation??? I love it!!!! And if I had been on that particular bus stop, I would have offered them 2 taxis and gladly paid for it to have given them the experience of riding in a cab. Obviously they could not afford it and taxis for them is VERY CHEAP. They pay nothing compared to what the “foreigners ” pay. OK- that started the Party Merry-go Round for me!

Unfortunately, I did not have time to visit my hairdresser, Victor during the month and needed a TRIM desperately, so decided to go to this Canadian ex-pat who has an outdoor salon here and a lot of the people go to him rather than the Panamanian hairdressers (who do have a salon like in the states, but they are Panamanian and do not understand what we really want). I wanted a TRIM, and since he has no visible mirrors that I could watch – I got a hair CUT, much too short for me, but I will survive as it will grow back. I am just back to the curly top of Little Orphan Annie again. When it is short, it curls up like crazy in this weather and I hate it. So I learned that I will go to Victor and not worry about another trip into the city!!!!

Open Air Beauty Salon run by a Canadian now living here

Open Air Beauty Salon run by a Canadian now living here

By mid December, things started to roar as parties are concerned and the fun now begins!. Starr and Steve hosted a GROUP TANGO Lesson and Evening at their home. What a fun evening that turned out to be – only I had to leave early to get to another party but I heard that one went until 5AM (yes, when you have Panamanians – they will party all night) Pictures here for you to see what we did and the fun we had.

Our Tango Teachers for the evening

Our Tango Teachers for the evening

Steve, Starr, and our fabulous instructors

Steve, Starr, and our fabulous instructors

Phyllis and Steve trying to follow the instructors

Phyllis and Steve trying to follow the instructors

Melcina, Raul (master Instructor in Tango in Argentina), and Starr

Melcina, Raul (master Instructor in Tango in Argentina), and Starr

As for Tango- it truly is a most romantic and wonderful dance and if I were 25 years younger, I think I would want a Latin Lover and just tango away – sexy and beautiful, but if you don’t keep it up, and I am not in the city where I can go for a lesson once or twice a week. Those days are gone but I love to watch the young do this. You can truly lose a lot of weight with the movements and steps. Next time you get to see or watch a Tango – just watch the intricacy of it all. The steps and movements are fascinating and the Argentinean Tango with the foot movements are the best of the best!.

I have been doing my fair share of entertaining with cocktails and I cannot begin to tell you the parties that do go on here that I have been fortunate enough to be invited to and able to attend. I find that meeting new people is always wonderful and a breath of fresh air. It does, however seem like a never ending merry-go-round, but a lot of fun nevertheless! I think many of us are ready for the New Year and a little time to slow down, breathe and then move forward once again!

Phyllis attending a Cocktail Party in Coronado prior to the House Party

Phyllis attending a Cocktail Party in Coronado prior to the House Party

More friends (too many to name) at House Party!

More friends (too many to name) at House Party!

Diana, Tamara, and Quique at a house party on the beach!

Diana, Tamara, and Quique at a house party on the beach!

Musician Ricardo Cortez, the BEST, where is his smile???????

Musician Ricardo Cortez, the BEST, where is his smile???????

And along the highways from Chame to San Carlos, which is a stretch of about 40 miles, we find JUDAS DOLLS, handmade and life size that are very meaningful at this time of the year and they are burned on December 31. Please read the inserted article here – very interesting about this custom here in Panama. They are truly fascinating to see.

Judas Dolls along the highway near me

Judas Dolls along the highway near me

More Judas Dolls (all lifesize)

More Judas Dolls (all lifesize)

About the Judas Dolls

About the Judas Dolls

Other than feeling tired and a bit worn out, doing very well. Am suffering from an allergy of sorts, and it seems like a lot of people here have developed bad colds, these allergies or whatever is going around. I had to go and see my doctor and he told me the season that started a month ago has been very different this year – lots of sickness but I have the allergies and nothing else so he put me on antihistamines for 2 weeks to see if that will help. Today was the first day, so far, so good – I am feeling much better with no sniffles and the dry cough is already GONE!!!! Please note that the beautiful roses came to me as a gift from the staff here where I live and I literally cried when I read the card and saw the flowers. What a boost!!!

A “thank you” to me from the staff here at my building (I cried)

A “thank you” to me from the staff here at my building (I cried)

Well friends, and dear family, all of the paperwork on my desk did not get finished for 2013, and so I guess the New Year will truly start with finishing up on 2013 and hopefully moving into 2014 very quickly with paperwork. And I do want to tell you about one of the nicest things happening to me in the past few weeks. I finally got around to unpacking my Bose Radio with CD player that I bought shortly before coming to Panama. Well, I could not get decent reception and for some reason did not have the radio antenna that did come with it. I schlepped that radio around from electronic store to electronic store to try and find something to make it work. NADA!!!! I finally gave up and got the brilliant idea (sometimes the light bulb does go on folks) to call Bose. I decide to call the Bose Store at International Plaza in Tampa rather than main headquarters, and got this wonderful guy by the name of Peter. He heard my problem and said “no problem” and he told me he would be sending me the wire I needed to connect it with the radio and I would be all set. I told him I would give him my credit card and he said “no” – I am sending it to you!!!!! I told him I was giving him, as well as the Bose Store in Tampa, a plug in my next blog, and here it is. I could not get over how nice and accommodating he was. Goes to show there are businesses and people still out there that really care. Thank you Peter and thank you Bose for that fabulous service. It arrived today, and hopefully I will get to it with some help as we close out the New Year.

Thank you for all of your wonderful e-mails this past month, the phone calls and the personal greetings in the mail. They are always so welcome. I think of you all, whether in the states, Germany, scattered all over now as we get more and more subscribers and I sincerely wish we could get together for a huge reunion, but one of these days. In the meantime, my love to you all and I wish you only the very best for the coming year with lots of love, laughter and living!!!! But on top of that, please know we must have GOOD HEALTH. My love to you all for a WONDERFUL 2014!!!

Good-Bye to old and in with the NEW

Good-Bye to old and in with the NEW

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