Cyprus to Panama

Anita’s Diary – Part 4

Introduction by Margaret Sheard….

Continuing Anita and Mal’s adventure, they have had a whale of a time for Christmas and the New Year in Panama and the adventure continues with a forthcoming trip to Nicaragua and I am sure many other exciting places in the future.  Here is Anita’s account of January in Panama, meeting up with old friends and enjoying their new life to the full.Anita and Mal

By Anita Green….

January – a new year, a new car and a new address

It’s been a busy start to 2015. We bought a car, moved, and met up with friends from Canada.

We have some Polish\Canadian friends that we made about 3 years Walking with friendsago, when we were here on holiday. When they found out we had moved here they booked to come back to the Decameron Hotel, where we first met them. We booked in for a couple of nights to spend some time with them. It was great catching up.

We have had problems getting money here with no bank account, but have finally sorted out which ATMs we can access. However, we have a limit of $500 per machine, per day.  Living in Anton the nearest cash point was about a half hour walk away, with no car. Mal started running again and ran to the cash point each day. Finally, we had enough cash to buy a car and our friend Rob, who does car rental and helps with car buying, found a car for us.  The description was a mint condition 2009 Hyundai Tucson. New carHe picked us up and drove us to Panama City to see it. Mint condition here is an interesting notion. Cracked windscreen, broken seatbelt, graffiti on the rear seats and missing interior light covers, is apparently “mint”.  However, it did have the cleanest engine I have ever seen, other than brand new.  It had new tyres, new sparks and new shocks. It had a service history, which is almost unheard of here. It drives really smoothly and fairly quietly, also a novelty here, as most feel and sound like tanks. We did the paperwork and went with the owner to the bank to deposit the cash, then Rob drove us and our car back to where he lives in Coronado, as there is no way we would have found our way out of Panama city, and the traffic is horrendous. He also put us in touch with someone to sort out the insurance. There is obviously a fee involved for this but we thought $250 was worthwhile to find, buy and get the car out of the city.

We got the car just in time to move house. We have moved from Anton to Gorgona. We are now just a 10 minute stroll to the beach. We can also take a scenic country walk to the beach which is a 2 hour round trip. It is quite lovely and passes a lake with the mountains in the background.  During this walk, we passed a building site and was amazed to hear beautiful and restful spa type music coming from it. That’s one of the amazing things about Panama, there always seems to be something totally unexpected.

The timing of the car buying was also good, because it meant we could take our friends at the Decameron out for a day trip to El Valle. We had a wonderful day. Vlad had expressed a wish to see the Arbol Cuadradosquare trees, but no one knew where to find them. With a bit of research I tracked them down in El Valle. So, we took a hike through a woodland and river trail and found his square trees, the only ones on the world. Our guide for this trek was a dog!   He showed us the way and waited for us every time we stopped to look at something. We stopped and had some lunch in a small local restaurant and then strolled through the town, looking at souvenir shops and the church, which was set up ready for a wedding. Coffee then Orchid Centrebecame a priority and we headed to a local café that Mal and I like for the local flan and coffee for the ladies and the most amazing smoothies for the guys. The Panamanian flan is a sort of cross between crème caramel and cheesecake. We then decided to visit the orchid centre. Our guide spoke no English but we understood enough and were amazed by some of the tiniest orchids ever seen, we even needed to use a magnifying glass to see them. Following this we brought them to see our new home and then reluctantly we said goodbye and Mal drove them back to the hotel.

Our new place in Gorgona is a 2 bed 2.5 bath duplex in a small gated community, with a communal pool and views of the mountains. On moving in, our realtor Beth, gave us a really nice bottle of Rioja as a welcome. It is 10 minutes stroll to the beach and about a 5 minute drive to all the shopping malls and restaurants of Coronado. During the week it’s just three of the units occupied and pretty quiet and the beach is fairly empty, but at weekends families leave the city and head for the beach areas and then it’s non-stop noise and parties. I am beginning to think it might be a good idea to head for the city at weekends because it is probably quieter and virtually empty for a change.

We have continued to get mail from the post office in Anton and are now recognised.  Then a few days ago, we had a call from DHL to deliver a package (my new debit card for HSBC Turkey). The address they had was the one in Anton and no one spoke English, however, we managed to tell them we were now in Gorgona and a few minutes later he turned up. I can’t imagine DHL managing to deliver to a different address, with limited language understanding, anywhere else.

Last Friday we met up with the gang from Anton for dinner. They get together every Friday at a different venue. About 20 of us went to El Galleon in Santa Clara. It was good to catch up and unbelievable that we had only left a week before. It seems so much longer.

So January has been busy. In the midst of it all, I had a scare when my mum was taken into critical care in the UK and I had to chase around to find her and to get information and then relay information to family in Italy and the USA. Happily, in the last couple of days she has been returned home, very weak and needing a lot of assistance, but no longer on the danger list. We have also booked our trip to Cartagena in Colombia in May, for keeping our visitor visa (we need to leave for 72 hours every 6 months, but actually every 3 if we want to drive).  We are now looking forward to our trip to Nicaragua to meet up with friends from the USA, which is now just a week away.