Archive for » January, 2014 «

January 2014

All during December (2013), so many people were wishing the year would end and let’s get into 2014. It just had to be better! Social life abounded, it was just a lot of other stuff, I too wanted it to be over, however, on the afternoon of December 31 – something great happened for me……… my car was sold!!!!! Yes, the big Mitsubishi Montero that was so big for me but yet a car I had come to love because I learned how to maneuver around here with it – drove to the city a few times and was never afraid in that huge car. It protected me. But, as most everyone knew here, I was literally climbing up into it and sliding down out of it. Not a good thing. Now, was this wonderful news going to be an omen of a great 2014? I certainly hope so. I had refused to look at or buy any car until the one I had was sold because cars do not sell quickly here unless you are giving it away. I was not giving it away – it was priced fairly and so it did take a few months. Now I was without a car and when I would have another, I did not know. Just said to myself – “self – back to taxis for a while – it will all work out.” And besides – it was New Years Eve – not to worry, but to celebrate! By now the whole world knows I celebrate New Years Eve very quietly and in my own way with my own special delicacies. H0wever, a very good friend of mine here was having a party here at her Beach Home in Coronado that she was starting at 6:30 PM. These Panamanian parties start early and usually go all night long. She was insistent that I come and I told her I would come for 1 hour only and at the beginning. I explained my own ritual and also the fact I did not want to be driving on the roads with the crazy drunk Panamanian drivers! Most of them do not drive well to begin with – they are absolutely crazy and I was not about to risk my life! I did go to this party for the one hour and I have to tell you that the Young Panamanians truly dress for the occasion. Glitz and Glamour is always in here, and although we Americans do dress, we do not have the “glitz” and “pizazz” of the Panamanian! A beautiful contrast.

Phyllis, Garry, Cheryl and Hostess Melcina

Phyllis, Garry, Cheryl and Hostess Melcina

Melcina and Steve getting the Dancing started!

Melcina and Steve getting the Dancing started!

Glitz and Glitter on New Year's Eve

Glitz and Glitter on New Year’s Eve

Food and drink was terrific and the band that welcomed us was truly loud – welcoming us all and bringing in a new year!. They were fun, and our hostess, Melcina started grabbing the men to dance and soon men were getting women on the dance floor and so the party truly began. There was another band that was to play later on. I did leave after my hour and came home – got comfy – and started in with my Champagne. Yes, I was truly going to welcome 2014 in properly – one big problem- by 11 o’clock I obviously fell asleep on the couch and never did see the ball go down in Times Square and what is even worse is that all of the Fireworks going off here (right underneath my nose) – were not even heard by me until 12:10AM – ten minutes after they started. So I missed most of that display and I not only get them from here at Vista Mar on the Beach, but I see a Panorama all around me from my balcony. Missed all of the good stuff and had but about 3-4 minutes left to enjoy a few. They are always spectacular here and so it goes – a welcome to 2014!!! It is now a Happy 2014 and if anyone ever thought things were going to slow down, it has actually gotten worse. The “tourists” are here, and I know all of you Floridians can relate to that. We have high season here (January to April) where many people come for 4-5 months of the year, and there are those folks who come for only 2 months of the year. It doesn’t matter, the population swells and it is more difficult to get around, but for the business people here, it is WONDERFUL as it is good business for them. For those of us living here, like myself, it is wonderful to welcome friends back and be getting together but poof – before you realize it, time is up and they are gone again until next year. Interesting, but you get used to it after a while. This is my second “summer” season here (December thru March is summer here) and I now realize, we do run like crazy. So again, we are caught up in a whirlwind of social activity starting out the New Year! One of the most relaxing places I have found is a little ‘coffee shop” called Café Viana. Allie and Charlie started this about 4 months ago with Cappuccino’s, Latte’s, Teas and all home baked muffins, scones and Quiche (yes, they do all of this themselves).

Allie and Charlie

Allie and Charlie

The Cappuccinos are to die for and their muffins are BIG and delicious. They are a lovely young couple – Charlie being from Miami in the U.S. and Allie is from Uruguay. They speak English and Spanish fluently, have Wi-Fi and Internet available there, and all of a sudden- it became a “hangout” and a melting pot for anyone and everyone to hang out at. You will ALWAYS meet someone you know, and if you don’t – you will know them before you leave!. It is my idea of a Starbuck’s right here in Panama on the beaches. So much fun!. Charlie is a Type AAAAA personality (I am so mild in comparison) and he loves to argue a point. Never, ever a dull moment in that place, but truly, so wonderful and so much fun. I have been urging them to please go into Bagels and Cream Cheese as I, personally would rather do that than a muffin which is so much more fattening. They might do it! If any of you dear friends in the states is planning on visiting me here, the first thing on the Agenda is to go there and make you feel like you did not really leave the U.S. and then get you in the Panama Lifestyle. You will just love it all!!!

Deanna and Kevin at their beautiful Pool after Dinner at their home

Deanna and Kevin at their beautiful Pool after Dinner at their home

Cocktails from my Balcony

Cocktails from my Balcony

Squeezed in a dinner at the beautiful beachfront home of Deanna and Kevin in Gorgona before they left to go back to the U.S. They come every few months for 2-3 weeks at a time. They are from Wyoming and I can’t wait to visit them there at some point in the future. And basically, a dinner here and there or a quick visit – the running just keeps going. Even I got some entertaining in with some friends I wanted to have that I did not get to before the New Year! Also trying to wind down a little as Janet will be coming in on January 12 for a 10 day visit – but so much more to happen before she arrives. By January 8th, I was headed into the city for a few days. A good friend had called a good friend of his that is in the car business. I was to meet with him regarding a car, and I knew that I could really trust this guy. Well, within a few hours I had decided on the Toyota Rav4 (2011) with only 22,000 miles and I just bought it!. I have never, ever had a more pleasant experience or had everything just done for me with me having NOTHING to do. I wrote a check, signed the paper for the title to be put in my name and they told me the car would be delivered to me Saturday morning at my door! The insurance was done by the guy who had done my original policy. All of the information was e-mailed to him and the new policy was written and somehow the insurance guy delivered it to Jose (the Administrator in my building who you all know by now is also a good friend) and I had it on Saturday. I did NOTHING – but nothing and I cannot tell you how great this all was. I sent an e-mail to Ricky (the guy who sold me the car ) telling him I will ALWAYS refer to him and told him I got better service from him than in the U.S. where I was well known at the dealership. !!! True! Amazing, and I LOVE the car. I am back where I belong and feel so comfortable with the Toyota Products. One usually does not buy a NEW car here, especially a single woman. I don’t need anyone wondering anything and I don’t want to scream with the first scratch and dent, and it surely does happen around here. No car escapes it!. So I am truly in my glory – taxis are over with once again and Phyllis is tooling around! Now in the city, I did stay for a few days with Isabel and we celebrated – me buying a few things I needed and then a dear friend who I have known from Japan days, Renee Ritter was coming in for a tour of Panama with a male friend. I had agreed to meet them for dinner one night and I could only do it the first night they arrived, so we managed to get together for dinner. What a treat to see her once again. We figured it had to be 10 years since we last saw each other on one of my trips to New York. Although she says she has changed so much – she has not – I have not. We have aged a bit, but we do look the same and the years have been good to us both (at least I think so)! Wonderful spending an evening together, although too short and just remembering crazy things from the past – as friends always do!. Geez, some of the things we did in those years gone by – but what fun! Wished we could have spent more time or seen each other again, but time just did not permit.

Renee and Phyllis at Beirut

Renee and Phyllis at Beirut

Returned to my home on a Thursday with a zillion things to do before Janet’s arrival on Sunday and a weekend chocked full of social events! Friday found me hitching a ride to Coronado to do a big grocery shopping to make sure I had everything in the house that my daughter could possibly want. Friday night was yet another get together!. Saturday morning my car was delivered and was I ever so happy to have a car back in my parking space to look at. While the old car was a dark blue, this was a white one, and the contrast was truly welcomed! It was raining in the city and although the car was delivered spic and span, it had gotten dirty coming from the city to me!. Did you ever see Phyllis wash a car? NEVER in a zillion years. I grabbed a bucket of water, some rags and got the dirt all wet and then wiped it all down until it was like new all over again. Yes, my arms and shoulders were killing me afterwards as I am not supposed to be doing anything that would harm the shoulders!. BUT- my car had to be new and clean. I needed it to get to where I was going on Saturday night!!!

Article on The Polleras

Article on The Polleras

Saturday night, January 11 (also the date of the “MIL POLLERAS PARADE” – the parade that celebrates the national costume in Panama – the Pollera -) a group of us were at The Coronado Golf and Country Club once again for the Seafood Extravaganza and a special show of dancing and The Polleras, in honor of the day. Our group was having a special treat that evening and we had to be there earlier than the rest of the crowd. No one, except for me knew what the treat was and I was just hoping everyone would enjoy!. Our “special” was a visit from Senor Roberto Eisenmann of Coronado, who is very well known throughout Panama – built the Coronado Golf and Country Club, the Hotel on that Property, started La Prensa, the main newspaper of Panama and is so very involved in all of Panama’s activities – culturally and politically. For a very busy man, it was indeed an honor to have him talk to us for 30 minutes. To know him, is to truly adore him. Very soft spoken, friendly and interested in YOU, the person. Senor Roberto spoke to us first of his personal life, being a 5th generation Panamanian , his education here and in the United States (Harvard) and his involvement in the Political Arena here in Panama and gave us insights as to what and why things happen here. We also got first hand knowledge of the trials and tribulations of the Panama Canal and why the completion date is now being held up. To me, personally, it is always wonderful to get the perspective of WHY things happen and just to know first hand what is really happening in the country you are now living. I am in awe of this man and what he has accomplished, but the fact that we were so privileged to have him spend the time with us was worth everything!!!! What a wonderful man. Those of you who read my blog from Panama understand who this man is and can appreciate what I have said.

Cheryl, Phyllis, Roberto Eisenmann, Starr, Steve, Melcina, Scott, Rose

Cheryl, Phyllis, Roberto Eisenmann, Starr, Steve, Melcina, Scott, Rose

The rest of the evening was truly wonderful as well. As always, the food was outstanding (sorry, no menu or pictures of food this month as this Blog is already too long and I have so much more to tell you about) the Show of Dancers was dynamic and so well timed for the day. And before and after the show, was a fabulous piano player with nice soft music to dine with. This was truly a wonderful evening for everyone there at the club that night, but particularly for our group! Thank you once again to Chef Ivin and to F&B Director, William, who always oversees everything so well! You both have our deep gratitude!

The Beautiful Pollera

The Beautiful Pollera

The Dancers Entertaining Us

The Dancers Entertaining Us

On Sunday, January 12, Janet arrived at noon and I had arranged to have her picked up at the Airport and brought here. Even if I drove to the Airport, it is a good 1 1/2 hours and just not worth time and gas and wear and tear on a car. So I waited and was so very happy to welcome her. She really wanted to visit, go no where in particular, but just have quality time together and so I promised her that is what we would do. I did however, do a luncheon for her in the condo so she could see some of the ladies she knew from before and some of the other closer friends I have that she had not met. There was no way I could have invited all and everyone I knew, so I had to limit it and I did. It was truly a lovely afternoon with just 14 of us and Janet had a wonderful time and so did I!

Quiche from Cafe Viana (this was THE BEST)

Quiche from Cafe Viana (this was THE BEST)

Susan, Melcina, Janet and Starr

Susan, Melcina, Janet and Starr

During Janet’s visit, we really just hung out. I did take her to a lot of my favorite places in Coronado to browse and dine and we wound up spending a lot of time at our Beach Club here, just lolling around quietly, relaxing and taking in the beautiful scene (not like she doesn’t live on the water at home and have a pool) – but life is always different while away. On the Saturday night of her visit, Coronado Golf and Country Club was once again doing something- having a FULL MOON Dinner on the Beach and Donna had arranged for about 25 of us to go. As always, a fun evening with superb food wonderful piano music and a truly relaxing atmosphere.

A Group of us at the Full Moon Dinner on the Beach

A Group of us at the Full Moon Dinner on the Beach

Many of us let it be known we truly enjoyed this and so they said they would do this once a month now during the “dry” season. Fun walking on the beach with no shoes, just chilling out and enjoying the beach at night. AND- Happy Birthday to Chef Ivin, who turned 36 (OMG- so young) that night and we got a chance to sing Happy Birthday to a guy who ALWAYS has a big smile on his face.

Happy Birthday Chef Ivin

Happy Birthday Chef Ivin

The following week, I drove to El Valle to take Janet to the market and then we went to Lourdes for lunch. Those living here, once again, you are all familiar with Lourdes – for those who are not here, it is written up in the guidebooks as a place not to miss. I have been there a lot in the past – it is ALWAYS wonderful and their food is absolutely the best.

My Lagostino Dish at Lourdes

My Lagostino Dish at Lourdes

You “dine” there – even in the afternoon . I have written about it before and I even have pictures in a blog way back, so did not repeat it here. Suffice to say, it was a beautiful afternoon in the mountains, sitting outside with the cool breezes blowing and we just enjoyed every moment we had there. Janet had cancelled some other things she had planned on doing. It just became too much as she did want to spend some time not running, so we chose to spend some time just relaxing without all of the running. Before I knew it, her time to leave was here and there she went. A most wonderful time and I truly look forward to her return. I am not so sure that she doesn’t come to just check up on me to see how I am and what I am doing. Whatever, it is always great to see her and have her here for a visit whether short or long!. The next few days found me really recuperating from just the company and then the cleaning up. I don’t care who comes to visit or how much you relax, when you are not used to it, your mind and body have to get re-accustomed to your way of life once again. And so it was with me as well. Made up my mind that before this month ended I was going to get all of my papers in order with my tax information done. I cannot stand thinking about it and do not want it hanging over my head. So I diligently worked for almost 5 days to get it done and hooray for me- I DID IT!!!! Everything is done and ready to go back to my accountant in the states and all I am waiting on is the paperwork you get from SS, banks, etc that has to go with it. And if worse comes to worse, I can always scan and e-mail those whenever. BUT I am finished and done. What a great relief for me. For those of you who just love to procrastinate – I cannot begin to tell you how great a feeling of relief . Yes, this is the first time I have ever been so early and I have vowed to do whatever it takes, but I set up a system for 2014 and will be doing this on a monthly basis – taking me no more than 10 minutes, but I know it will keep me up to date and done monthly so when December rolls around, I will be finished. What a good feeling!!!!

This just in – NEWS Bulletin!!! If you have been following Justin Bieber’s antics over the past week or so, I would like you to know that he was right here on the beaches this past weekend. He was at a place called Punta Chame, down a ways from me and then in to the beach and the water. It is about a 45 minute drive from me. A good friend of mine has a big beautiful home right there on the beach and said one of the largest and most beautiful yachts was parked right there in the water. Yes, people did see him and he was only here over the weekend (January 25, 26) and then had to return for a “court date” in Miami!. I guess Panama was a close escape for a beautiful weekend and some sailing?????

As the month of January winds down for me, I am trying to find time to organize clothing for my upcoming cruise at the beginning of February. Cousin Frederica and I share the same birthday and for the past few years we have not celebrated together as we did in the past. So we decided to get back on schedule and we are going on a cruise and going to have ourselves one heck of a good time and really celebrate this year. It is not every year that I celebrate another 39th!!!!!! Guess the next Blog will be full of wonderful and different things!

And as I close this Blog for the month of January, I will end on a very somber note. I lost two dear friends in January – Sharon O’Gradney Krkljus from O’Bistro and long time friend and neighbor Joan Esrick Fyvolent. I remember so many wonderful things about each of these women and also realize that all too soon things do happen and we are no longer there! With that in mind, I encourage you all to enjoy every single day and minute we are given. Life has a way of creeping up quickly whether we want it to or not. I am living life to the fullest here in Panama and I make each and every day a “new” adventure. I am meeting people from all over the world and realize I could never have done this from where I was. I wanted something new, something different and so I am enjoying and practice what I preach.

Love to you all and here’s to an exciting and fun-filled February.

Category: Dispatches  Comments off