I’d like to say I’ve been insanely busy or travelling to exotic places or abducted by aliens who took me on an intergalactic adventure but mostly I’ve been lazy! I can’t tell you how many hours are spent merely staring across the street at the pool. I manage to get two work-outs a day in and actually make reasonably healthy meals every day. I make my bed, wipe down the counters, walk to the convenience store for diet Pepsi, spend an inordinate amount of my day avoiding my Spanish lessons and this blog. In other words, doing the exact same thing I did in Minnesota except in 90+ degree, 90% humidity, incredibly beautiful Panama. I pinch myself every day, especially since my friends and family are suffering through -15 temps!
Now that my excuse-making is out of the way…
First the reasonably good news. We have received our FBI clearance (for the second time)! Our US immigration attorneys have sent off all the pertinent information to the immigration authorities here in Panama City. We meet with the attorney on Tuesday where we have to hand off 17 (yes, 17) passport-size photos, a statement of personal accountability, proof of residency, proof of Panamanian health and life insurance. Evidently a statement of good health is also required. I assumed that meant we had to get a physical. Nope – the attorney can assess our health and sign off for us. Not to digress, but in order to get a drivers’ license here in Panama we will need to give blood for blood typing and a glucose check. Seems they don’t want the already crazy Panama drivers to have a diabetic episode while driving – seriously! Anyway…we are finally making progress on the visa-front. Which is a good thing because we officially cannot leave the country now until the visa is granted or the process is invalidated. Craig has a trip back to the States slated for early February so our fingers are crossed we can finally put this administrative nightmare to rest!
While we await the visa clearance I’ve been doing some travel research. Sometime before we come home in April I plan on visiting Curacao. Right now that is the only place we absolutely will get to but I hope to get to Brazil, Costa Rica and Cuba before much longer! Ideally, we plan on spending one weekend a month somewhere in Panama and a “big” trip every month or so. Now that we’ve settled in it is a little easier to think bigger picture. Money does talk though…but it’s hard not to take advantage of being in Central America!
Speaking of weekend trips….we are heading to the Gamboa rainforest this weekend. Plan on doing some hiking, monkey-stalking, pool sitting and hammock residing. Since I haven’t posted Bocas del Toro pictures yet I won’t make any promises, but rest assured at some point there will be pictures – lots of them!!
Last weekend we explored Casco Viejo which is the “old town”. It is undergoing significant renovation so lots of construction and confusion but it is going to be amazing. It feels kind of like New Orleans with the style of buildings, street size and people watching. Easy to get lost so I’m glad that Craig is not as directionally-challenged as I am. We had a nice lunch on one of the plazas before walking back to Panama City. We stopped at Mercado de Pescado which is the local fish market. AMAZING! The fish couldn’t be fresher since the market is steps away from the Atlantic. Jumbo shrimp was $1.50/kg (for those wanting to do the math one kg is 2.2 pounds, i.e., cheap)! I can’t wait to take Michael and Jeremy for a visit. It was featured on one of Anthony Bourdain’s shows if you want to pull it up.
I made a promise that I am going to devote time every day to my Spanish. I have three hours of one-on-one Spanish instruction a week and I must say I’m pretty good at conjugating verbs and simple sentence structure (and I’m a master at spelling)! Unfortunately, my listening skills are TERRIBLE! I also tend to stumble over my own tongue when I do attempt to speak. I hope to devote a few hours every day (outside in the courtyard with a Diet Pepsi) so I start seeing some forward progress. I am picking up more and more words but until everyone in Panama starts speaking v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y and at a third grade level I best take control and focus my own energies on mastering the language.
On that note….hasta luega!