We’re Baaaccckkk…!!!

As some of you know already, we are back in Gorgona, Panama. We arrived November 1st, the start of a long holiday week in Panama. November 3rd is Separation Day, Panama celebrates its separation from Columbia. November 4th is Flag Day and November 5th is Colon Day, Panama’s version of Columbus Day.  And, as we now know, Panamanians LOVE their holidays!!!

EVERYONE to the pool...
EVERYONE to the pool…
Or the beach...
Or the beach…
Even animals celebrate...
Even animals celebrate…

Loud music, eating, drinking are the order of the day.

We grabbed a cab at the airport and took it to the bus terminal and then took the bus out to Gorgona. A friend picked us up at the corner and drove us to Bahia, our home for the next 4 months.

Playa Serena & Bahia Tower 1 & 2
Playa Serena & Bahia Tower 1 & 2…

In May, June and July, we stayed at Playa Serena, the tower on the left. This time, we are staying at Bahia, Tower 1, the tower in the center. We are 8 floors higher and right in the center. Now, before you think that maybe we had to give up something to be in a different place, here’s our view from the balcony…

Our View...
Our View…

And here’s a look out the back door…

Out the back...
Out the back…

Now before you start looking up flights to Panama, we ONLY have a one bedroom this time, so if you come to see us, you’re sleeping on the futon. 🙂 Staying at Bahia is more like staying at a resort as opposed to staying at Playa Serena, which is more like an apartment house.

Once we settled in, maybe our second day here, we were sitting in the living room and heard a loud popping noise. After investigating, we realized that several of the tiles had popped and broke.

Tile popping...
Tile popping…

We had heard of this before but this was out first time experiencing it. The tiles are installed in most places in Panama with very small margins between them so there is no breathing space. Thus….

Popped Tiles...
Popped Tiles…
Popped Tiles...
Popped Tiles…

Our rental agent moved us to another one bedroom unit for a few days while the repairs were done. We have a security key that is interesting…

Key and Pass Card...
Key and Pass Card…

and a card that offers access to the beach, the spa, the exercise room and, oh yeah, the elevator. If you don’t have a card, the elevator doesn’t work. Good security.

Next event was our introduction to the emergency clinic in Coronado. While helping a neighbor load an ATV on a trailer for some repairs

At least it didn't hurt...
At least it didn’t hurt…

I sliced my leg on one of the ramps which called for 14 stitches. The doctor was excellent and very professional despite the fact that I was too tall for the beds in the clinic.

Don't watch...
Don’t watch…

She even spoke a little English!! Worst part of the ordeal was that I couldn’t swim until the stitches were out.

14 stitches total...
14 stitches total…

By now I’m all healed with nothing left but a memory and a scar.

Since we all know NOTHING IS EASY we then got the call from our son in NM tha mail arrived from the FBI. We were waiting for our background checks, the only thing we lacked for our Jubilado Visa applications. My report was fine but Suzi’s fingerprints were rejected so now here we were in Panama having to find out where to go for prints. We found out that the only place we could go was in Panama City so off we went to the Direccion de Investigacion Judicial where we got that internal reminder that we need to learn Spanish. Somehow we muddled through and Suzi’s fingerprints were taken but for reasons only known to the DIJ, we had to come back in three days to retrieve the fingerprints. I guess the ink had to dry?!?!!? Then we were off to the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores in Casco Antiqua to get the signature on the print card apostiled. We must not be the only people who went to that office as they had nice little maps printed up to tell us where the RIGHT office is.

Our map...
Our map…

Another taxi ride to the correct office, take a number and wait our turn, handed in the card and were told to return Monday to pick it up after going downstairs to the bank to pay the $2 fee. We have learned government officials don’t handle money so there is no possibility of bribes. All fees are paid at a bank or cashier window always in a separate location.

In the meantime, we have renewed friendships started last time we were here and made some new friends. Christmas Eve we went to a candlelight service with friends then to a house party followed by a visit to Picasso’s, a favorite local expat hangout. Christmas Day we had dinner with a group of about 15 expats at one of our favorite restaurants nearby, owned by a Swiss chef, El Meson Suizo. Dinner was amazing

Beef tenderloin...
Beef tenderloin…
Red Snapper...
Red Snapper…

and the company was wonderful. It was a great Christmas dinner surrounded by good friends.

We were very grateful to spend Christmas with good friends. It still feels strange to celebrate Christmas in shorts since we are used to being cold but, honest, we are not complaining and love the tropical climate here in Gorgona.  Later Christmas evening, we connected with our boys, their wives and our grandkids via FaceTime which was the icing on the cake.

 

 

 

 

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