May 31, 2011

Because you asked....

I've received several inquiries lately about what Boquete is like. A picture is worth a thousand words. 

May 24, 2011

Coincidence ? Not !

I've been sadder than ever expected about the loss of Bonita.  Who would have thought I could get so broken up over an animal that had only been with me for a year?  I was devastated.  Bonita was truly special. 

Two days ago my friend Carole, bless her heart, convinced me to foster this rescued kitten I've since named Callie.  The personalities are quite different, but Callie is also charming and sweet.  Quite a physical resemblence wouldn't you say?

My Neighborhood---Found!

Found some of the neighborhood photos.   Things still look the same.

My house has changed, though.  Still a long way to go, but making slow headway...

This is the way it looked in 2006

And I snapped these photos yesterday.

The paint job isn't permanent.   In fact many things are provisional until I can do a major renovation, which is in my plans, but unfortunately not my budget,  until another year or so....

My Neighborhood Revisited

I posted photos of my Panamanian neighborhood on a previous blog, and really wanted to transfer that post over.  But I didn't save the photos, and trying to add a copy of the photos from a copy of the post isn't working for some odd reason.  One of these days I'll do another walk about and update my prior post with new photos.  Some of the houses I photographed six months ago have undergone new ownership and significant changes in appearance, anyway. 

I did want to mention a neighbor just 2-3 doors down, however.  He's in the house next to the guitar player, and is busy sculpting away at some stones recently dumped on the roadside near the edge of his yard.  Here are some of the projects he's working on...

The house itself is a virtual shack, but it's made so much more picturesque by the art pieces just sitting around for passers by to enjoy.   It's been a lot of fun watching these figures evolve out of  the raw stones originally placed there.  I've spoken to him a few times about selling the pieces.  He may eventually do so, but isn't so motivated at the present time.  Their market value is out of my price range, in any event.   Probably still a bargain by stateside prices... Ah well, for now,  I can enjoy them for free as they just sit out there unfenced, unguarded, unprotected and unassuming. 

May 21, 2011

Day Trip to Volcan

Took a drive to a tiny town just outside Volcan, to attend the 2nd annual Fine Arts Festival of the Highlands,  situated in the Casa Grade Resort in Bambito.  Missed an earlier art festival in Boquete a few weeks ago because I was still in California.    From photos I've seen of the Boquete event, it appeared to have primarily expat participant artists, whereas the Bambito event had only one expat participant, who specializes in digital photography, as opposed to painting.  I went to be inspired, and did come back with the motivation to break out my oils and get back into the struggle I always have with blank canvas.  

Other than the digital photography cards, for $ 2.00 each,  the prices on all artwork seemed exceedingly high.  And I didn't encounter much that seemed fresh, new, different, or sufficiently original in presentation to warrant the asking prices.  I did enjoy the show nonetheless, and I went for inspiration, not specifically to purchase.  I may have bought had I found anything that moved me.....There was one artist there,  (spoke excellent English), who used feathers as her canvas and painted minute, very detailed animals on bird feathers. I was in awe of her skill and patience.  But I couldn't really think of any place where a framed birdfeather with a painting of a jaguar on it would fit  in my house.   

It was a nice drive and escape, in any case.  The resort location was beautiful and tranquil.  Apparently the resort offers rock climbing, trout fishing, horseback riding, canopy treks and tubing on the river.  There's also an eco-spa and restaurant on the premises.  Lodging includes 20 suites with Zen bathrooms and private terraces.  Rates range from $ 69 per night to $ 152 per night in the off season, and from $ 127 per night to $ 186 per night in the high season. The resort also boasts a swimming pool,  a 200 capacity ballroom and a corporate event center.

I was most impressed, however, by the tree in the parking lot.  Reminded me of  northern California redwood country, but this tree was tropical, and not a redwood.  I never learned what type of tree it was, but plan to explore that again at a later date.

I also snapped a few photos of the surroundings into which the individual suites were situated.

May 19, 2011

Fruit Harvest

Arrived home to find several members of my garden in full fecundity, and am thrilled at the thought of  harvest.   Even my neighbor's mango tree was generous in it's contribution, having  thrown a stray limb over the fence for my pleasure. 

My own mango tree was not to be outdone, despite a rather vigorous shearing by the gardener several months ago.

There are three banana trees laden with fruit---one so heavy it had to set it's burden down...The other two are leaning in the same direction. 

And the surpise of all surprises.  After  planting three half-gallon sized citrus plants in 2008 that cost $ 1.50 each,  I'm learning their true identities !  The one on the left is a grapefruit, the one near the porch is a persian lime, and the one on the right is the orange.  They're all fruit bearing now,  and in another month or two I'll be reaping their rewards.   Life's good!

Back in Boquete

Jet-lagged and just plain stressed,  it's soooooooo great to be back!  Plan to post more once I  rehab and regress to my usual [sweet ?] self.    Suffice it to say I'm satisfied!

May 1, 2011

Sunday in San Leandro

Today is a warm, bright, sunshiny day in the SF Bay Area.   Snapped this photo heading into San Leandro from downtown Castro Valley, after returning from church in Livermore.   Towns all run together here.   But with the bay as a backdrop, does it really matter?

The Sunday service in Livermore was not your parents' worship service, I can assure you.  And it wasn't like any I had previously attended, either (other than Easter Sunday, which I spent in the same place).  

My son belongs to Jubilee Tri-Valley Church, a non-denominational Christian church that is definitely planted in the present.   After visiting the colonial churches of  Panama, and being raised Lutheran, it's an adjustment.   But I love the energy and receptivity of the congregants.   The young pastor, Todd Hendricks,  is adept at putting a modern spin on traditional values and time-told topics.  Aaron Grijalva, the associate pastor photographed below, is singer, song leader, and prayer master.  

Technology  is everyone's friend, and sermons can be seen and downloaded off the internet as well.  Funny how that works....if you can't make it to church anymore on Sundays, you can always log onto iTunes and get your scripture that way.  What a fascinating time we live in!  Think I'll be tuning in from Panama in the future.

Culture Shock in California ?

Well, after a full year in Boquete,  I came back two and a half weeks ago.    I feel sort of in limbo, a bit confused about where I want to be...  Things seem so different and yet the same.   I'm going through all the motions of daily living here, as if I'd never left---shopping at the same Mexican market, or at Trader Joe's, getting the car serviced at the dealership, undergoing routine health exams before seeing my doctor for an annual physicial, and reconnecting with a few friends & family.  Next week I'll be traveling to Solano county for a work seminar.   And I'll be taking some nursing courses because my license is up for renewal.   It's all so routine and mundane.  As if I awoke from a dream and hadn't actually been in Boquete at all.   

I love all the technology at our disposal these days.  Can't even imagine what it used to be like without the internet. But with the internet, and VOIP, and teleconferencing, and Skype and webcams,--- boundaries and borders get really blurred and I sometimes get the feeling I'm on a holodeck. 

Culture shock refers to an emotional discomfort suffered when a person relocates to another country or a place different from one's origin.  There's an anxiety component that develops when one encounters differences in socially accepted norms of behavior and daily living.   So, I guess what I'm feeling isn't actually culture shock.  There were no surprises or conflicts for me here.  After a year of driving a  rustic 20 yr old jeep at 30-40 mph on the near-isolated roads of Chiriqui province,  I hopped into my late model compact in California and zipped down the freeway at 70 mph without second thoughts.  Like shifting gears, I just keep going. 

But something is different.  Can't say I feel disoriented, exactly, because I function adequately, I react appropriately, and I communicate normally in my environment.  As if I were a universal game piece,  interchangeable from one board to the next, but sentient and without a clear opinion regarding which game is preferable.    It's another reality.  I think it's helping me grasp the surrealism of a particular movie genre my son loves.  Have no idea what the genre is called.  But I'd categorize movies such as The Matrix, and more recently, Inception, and the Book of Eli as belonging to it. 

I snapped a few photos today of main street in our little town.  It's undergoing some kind of upgrade since I last saw it.  Viewing these pics reminds me of the aforementioned movie landscapes.  Maybe this has something to do with feeling ungrounded.   I thought the highway expansion in Boquete was unsettling....