1. Waking up to new bird songs I’ve never heard before coming from our verdant arboreal surroundings
2. Facing the daily decision upon getting up in the morning – do I log on or pick up my latest book? (That’s kind of a retirement thing, but we’re in Panama, so it counts.)
3. The fruit vendor in his compact pickup truck, la camioneta, comes by every Tuesday and Thursday. I always buy something, so now he drives by my place slowly to give me a chance to get my shoes on and grab my wallet. He used to say, “Que quieres?” Now he says, “Hola, amigo! Como estás?” Then he holds up samples of what he remembers I have purchased in the past to encourage me to buy. He appreciates that we do the whole thing en español, and I appreciate that he doesn’t laugh at my gringo Spanish… and that his prices are really good!
4. The weather – mornings are clear and clouds move in around noon. We get rain at least every other day, and sometimes we get a lot! (see previous post – So you think you know rain) But it’s still warm enough to wear short sleeves.
5. Old reruns of House, Law and Order, and CSI – I enjoy the English language shows with the Spanish subtitles. Sometimes the interpretations are funny. Example – the actor said, “Liar, liar, pants on fire,” and the Spanish subtitle said, “Just like Pinocchio.” It’s just a reminder that you can’t translate everything literally, or if you did, it wouldn’t make sense. (Note – NFL Football is televised in English. You don’t get that in South America without satellite TV.)
6. The fish and seafood truck – just like the fruit vendor, only once per week. (see #3)
7. Going in to town – We live four miles from town. We don’t own a car because we don’t need one. The bus or taxi costs 75 cents each way, a little more if they pull right up in front of our gate, which is about 100 yards from the highway. Going to town usually means a shopping trip, and that typically includes fresh baked goods. (Note to self – Don’t let the boxboy pack the baked goods bag with the donuts hidden among the empanadas under the fruit.) There are still a bunch of restaurants we have yet to try, too.
8. Sightseeing – so far we have visited Finca Lérida – a coffee plantation, the Caldera hot springs, Los Cangilones de Gualaca (a beautiful swimming hole on the Rio Estí), Playa Las Obas – a local beach, a rustic sugar cane processing operation near Dolega, and Davíd, the second largest city in Panama, with more restaurants than we’ll ever get a chance to try. (Note – My wife is of Sicilian ancestry, and we just learned a Sicilian gentleman operates a Sicilian style restaurant, La Pianista, just outside of Boquete. We are both eager to try it.)
9. The food – we were shown by our landlord’s lovely wife the proper method for preparing platanos (plantains) and yucca. We are always on the lookout for the perfect empañadas. Lots of people make them. Not many make them well. You need a local connection. We’re working on it.
10. Affordable living – rent, health care, public transportation and dining out are all relatively inexpensive. I save about one-third of my SS check every month.
There are more things to like about Panama, most notably the people. Anywhere you travel, if you treat people with kindness and grace, they reciprocate in kind.