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MAD – Mad- Mad March 2014

As we ended a fun-filled and fantastic February, March roared in like the Lion and started with a bang……… CARNIVALE.

It is impossible to get anywhere and if you do attempt to drive it will take you hours (literally) to get around with roadblocks everywhere along the highway and if you need to turn around or go to the left – you might be driving for miles before you actually get to the direction you want to be. I call this Panama Pandemonium at its very best.

Witness to this was Ken and Diane Carroll of St. Pete, who were here to scout out a bit of Panama. They wanted to be here for Carnivale and were witness to some of the parades in the city. Then they wanted to come out to the beaches to say hello to me and spend an afternoon and it was truly madness. We did not get too far, but did manage for them to see a lot of the development West of where I am , along with the new Airport at Rio Hato. It was fun for the short time, and of course, I have not seen them for over 20 years, so it was truly a nice visit and caught up on a few things back there in St. Pete.

Diane and Ken Carroll with Phyllis

Diane and Ken Carroll with Phyllis

Speaking of visitors, Cheryl Ciccarello (from Tampa) told me her brother Joe and his wife Cindy were coming to scout out Panama and visit and was putting him in touch with me. I did manage to get to the city to sit down with Joe and talk for about an hour or so on my perspective of Panama and things he and Cindy should be looking at. Unfortunately Cindy had taken ill, and so I never did have a chance to meet her.

The parties and get togethers here have been non-stop this month. Seems that there is something going on every single night. Some of the snowbirds, as we call them, have already left – back to the U. S. or to Canada and the rest are getting ready to leave in the next month. I think the people living here full time are truly going to be happy for a while to just settle back, relax and smell some private time once again. I know I will be delighted. It is not that you don’t like these people – it is just that it becomes so much that you literally don’t get a chance to wind down as you are always in a spin.

Some of the highlights on parties this month include: Cheryl and Garry’s Sunday Bar-B- Que that Garry did not realize was a surprise Birthday Party for him before he had to leave and go back to India for a month. We do have many guys here that come and go because of their work in some foreign place. Many of these guys are home (here) for a month, back to work and then back here. And when I don’t give you last names all of the time, please know, these people are married and a lot of the women have chosen to keep their own names. It becomes very complicated and I don’t want to send out the wrong messages, so I just don’t give two last names. Glad that is as clear as a glass!!!!

Cheryl presenting the Cake to Garry (SURPRISE!!!)

Cheryl presenting the Cake to Garry (SURPRISE!!!)

By the way, this cake was the best ever! When I spoke to Matt, who is the great baker here in these parts he told me yes, it was definitely “infused” and I will also tell you that this Chocolate Cake had cherries all over it that were definitely “soaked” in something for DAYS! Fabulous, fabulous cake. Wish I had the cake first!

On to the next party was a Big Birthday Bash for Charlie McFadden’s 85th Birthday! What a wonderful guy he is and what a fabulous party Bev threw for him.

Bev & Charlie McFadden with Phyllis

Bev & Charlie McFadden with Phyllis

Bev, Didi, Starr, Jackie, Jackie, Phyllis Front Row: Penny and Clemencia

Bev, Didi, Starr, Jackie, Jackie, Phyllis Front Row: Penny and Clemencia

Unfortunately, my back went out totally and I had to leave earlier than I wanted to as I knew I needed to get home and just lie down with the feet elevated to relieve the back pain. Everyone was asked to bring a story to tell about Charlie (fact or fiction) and I had a real doozie ready to go. Unfortunately I never got to tell it but one day at another party, I will tell Charlie all about it. Lots of fun times, and lots of people we do have fun with.

And after this party, we were off on another weekend night to Didi and Mark’s for a fabulous party catered by many of our vendors in the Coronado area. We all had a marvelous time of eating and drinking and for the first time, Phyllis forgot to bring the camera! How was this possible, I do not know, but obviously – I am tired!!!!! The funny thing is that here where we are, parties start around 5:30 or 6:00, depending on the night. This particular party started at 6:00 and was over by 9PM. Many of the guests were leaving by 8:45 and I am still on stateside party mode and all Panamanians party all night long – regardless. So, I too had to leave and I must tell you all, I will never understand the logic of people having to go to bed by 9 or 9:30 because they get up so early. No one has to go to work! Why cant they party for a while. I know that if I put myself out to plan for a dinner or a party, I worked hard – now I want to party and I really do not want my guests to leave so early. Some may have to or truly want to, but for the “party people” – where are you going?? Someday when I am older, maybe I will understand!

The next get together was the Full Moon Party at the Coronado Country Club Beach, where once again Chef Ivin put out one of his fantastic meals. It is always beautiful at the beach by the waters edge on a full moon night. Just something about the beach and the full moon that is always beautiful.

Under a Tiki Hut on the Beach - Phyllis Marlene, Renee and Cheryl

Under a Tiki Hut on the Beach – Phyllis Marlene, Renee and Cheryl

One of the most outstanding and beautiful evenings I had this month was being in Panama City for the dedication of the new Synagogue Beth El. It was a fund raiser – tickets for dinner from $125 to $500 per person and they had 650 people attend. Now when I tell you that this is the most enormous Synagogue I have ever seen, you can understand.

Synagogue Beth El

Synagogue Beth El

Cocktail hour was in one of the Social Halls on the second level, and then we moved to the third level where the ballroom is. Six hundred and fifty were easily fitted in that room and then I nosed around and found behind one of the curtains, there was a huge additional space, so I would imagine- easily 1000 if they should need it. Now I will tell you that not only was the food out of this world, – remember everything is GLATT Kosher here as this is a Chabad Synagogue – the flowers were outstanding and tablecloths like I have never seen.

Table at Cocktail Hour

Table at Cocktail Hour

You all know that I had access to any type of table cloth possible at any price. NOTHING to compare to what they have here and used. Perhaps I have a little better understanding now when I hear that people here (especially among the Jewish people) spend a fortune on weddings). The speeches were wonderful and the keynote speaker was Rabbi Lau (the past head Rabbi) from Israel. It is a night for me that will not soon be forgotten as it was most inspiring to see this and above all to listen to Rabbi Lau, and he did speak entirely in English (I don’t think he knows Spanish). All the Rabbi’s in Latin and South America were there, and that in itself is quite a tribute to help dedicate a new Synagogue.

Dining Table for Dinner

Dining Table for Dinner

After being at that Synagogue Dedication, it took me a while to come down from the Clouds. It was just so inspiring an evening for me and I did meet a lot of wonderful people – all of course living in Panama City. Everyone here at the beaches is expecting me to move to the City as I am there so much, but NO – I love living here and this is where I belong.

I have made a few trips into the city with my friend Debby, and YES, I have started driving the car in. I have a GPS all set up now so it guides me along. It is not always accurate, but good enough and since I know when I can not listen, I do my thing, but it does help and I am getting used to getting from here to there – one place only – at a time. Remember- I am FEMALE – not as easy for me to navigate and I do not want to get lost. My Spanish is limited and this is a foreign country. A lot different here with very few lights and the Panamanians drive like “nuts.” Truly they do.

Ending this month was another beautiful dinner at the Coronado Golf and Country Club – this time it was a Peruvian Dinner, and I am putting the menu in for you to see.

Menu from Peruvian Dinner

Menu from Peruvian Dinner

Food is absolutely outstanding, and yes, we seem to devour it all. One of the nicest things about the dinner is the music . Silvard, the pianist is always there on the weekends, and his music is divine. We finally found out after so many months that he does sell his CD’s, so our friend Eric who sings as well as plays base, is an outgoing guy and he got up to announce to the entire dining room that Silvard does indeed have 11 CD’s and he sells them. Needless to say, several of us started buying right there on the spot. The guy is great and so very personable as well. He hails from Holland and is truly a delightful person.

Phyllis, George Grondin and Piano Player, Silvard

Phyllis, George Grondin and Piano Player, Silvard

Other than a few small get togethers in-between all of the big events and parties, I think one of the other nice things done for us by CASA (Coronado Area Socia Association) was the trip planned for us to go to the Riba Smith Nursery near here in Chame. It was a delightful tour f how things are planted from seeds or seedlings and how they grow and sell things. They supply all of the 5 stores they have, and I can attest to the fact that their plants are absolutely stunning and of very high quality. I have some from previous jaunts to the nursery there and bought more on my visit. The Nursery is run by Javier Riba (junior) who is the son of one of the owners and educated in the United States. What a cutie and such a nice person. Not only did we get the tour, we had refreshments (finger sandwiches, pasta salad and cold waters) which was so nice of them. A beautiful nursery we are lucky to have here as well as the store RIBA SMITH, which is the specialty store that carries so many of the U.S. products that I buy. They are dedicated to service and that they truly do!

Javier Riba at Riba Smith Nursery in Chame

Javier Riba at Riba Smith Nursery in Chame

And on my final note for the Mad Month of March, many still ask me why Panama and why did I move and do I still love it. For those of you who ask and for everyone else, I am attaching a recent letter to International Living from a couple who I agree with 100% and I believe that this expresses exactly how I feel.

SIX REASONS WHY....

SIX REASONS WHY….

And so my dear family and friends, I end this month with a Big Hug to all. I so enjoy your e-mails and I have spoken to so many of you this past month. I look forward to April and all of the wonderful things it will bring to us all. Wishing to all Happy Easter, Happy Pesach and all that your heart wishes for you and yours. Until next month……………………

P.S.: Many of you let me know you did not receive a Blog in February. So I know many did not get it thru e-mail. I do not know what happened, but hopefully this will go thru to all. Just know that I publish either on the very last day of the month or the first of the following month. So – if you don’t receive it automatically as you should (if you are signed up), then go to the site https://panama-phylliseig.com and you will find it. Also check to make sure you are on as a subscriber. So sorry.

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