The eagle has landed.....

Trip Start Jan 07, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Palmira Springs Hotel

Flag of Panama  ,
Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Dios Mio!

What a trip. I officially passed the one year mark of travel OUTSIDE the United States on January 7th. It is very difficult to wrap my brain around that on so many different levels. How fortunate I am to have had such an amazing experience.

I am a little over two months back in Boquete, after my first return visit to the US (Miami) in over a year. I spent three weeks, mostly in the Miami area because I needed to get a serious friend fix, and to goose up my supplies before venturing back to the wilds of Panama and Team Jodi did not disappoint. Danny and Michal (relocated from Atlanta to Miami about six months ago) have been incredibly welcoming and I feel fortunate to have their friendship. We have eaten and laughed quite a bit (exactly what I needed) and I am enjoying my time with their three fabulous dogs as well. Pets are not a huge part of the Central American experience, and as many of you know, I like me a good dose of dog and cat every now and then. The weather has been perfect and the beach is within walking distance from the house. It has been 25 years since I have been in Miami, and I am enjoying my stay here tremendously. Danny and Michal's generosity and love got me through a few really tough days, as re-entry has not been as easy as you might think. I couldn't have done it without them.

I also got a quick three day visit in with Barbara Jean who came down from Boston to her family's condo on Jupiter Island. As many of you know, shopping is not one of my favorite activities, but Barbara a "professional shopper" was tremendous helping me locate all the things I needed to acquire while stateside. You saved my ass big time Babs....thanks.

And Bill Hartman in Vegas pulled through by sending my laptop along to me. It has been resting comfortably in a closet in his lovely home since I left the states. What an enormous relief THAT is. Plus, my iPod was in the computer bag with the laptop. Big mistake not taking that with me! What the hell was I thinking there? Reunion with that tiny little piece of machinery brought on a full out dance party with the youngest Miami dog, Teddy, in the living room on 95th Street. Hey, a girl has got to do what a girl has got to do.

The Christmas and New Year holidays were spent with the Donoso family at Palmira Springs Hotel, my home away from home in Panama. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the family and their extended group of friends. The food was spectacular, the company terrific and the laughs plentiful. I at the best turkey of my life on Christmas day, prepared by our resident Peruvian, Tito. Four months later I am still talking about it. What more could a girl ask for....oh ya....the weather was fabulous too.

Summer has hit full stride in Boquete. The weather is perfect, a little windy which I am told is "normal," but quite lovely. Before leaving for the States I had been spending quite a bit of time with Katarina perfecting recipes for her little take out restaurant and we have had not only lots of fun, but great success as well. I am so grateful for her time and friendship now, and look forward to us collaborating on some things in the future.

Recovery of the shoulder is going well. It is, after all, the reason I came back here after my 10 day stint in Panama rest and recover. I am doing everything possible to keep that moving in a positive direction. Not perfect yet, but substantially better. I am working with an awesome physio-thereapist here named Rene Estribi and I am getting stronger every day.

So, I have been trying to figure out what next for me. Boquete has captured my attention in ways I never expected and it looks like this is where I will be staying indefinitely. One thing is for sure, it is time for me to stop moving around so much and for me to start thinking about getting settled in somewhere for a bit. While travel is fabulous, I need to have some stability for a while. Besides, as many of you know I am a bit of a worker bee. After almost two years without work, I am itching to get my hands busy.

I am currently back at The Hotel with Cesar's sister, Ellie: her husband, Tito, and Osbaldo. I must admit, it felt good to return to a place with welcoming friends. I am very comfortable here. Business is slow mostly because the place is new, and I am going to enjoy the quiet and familiarity of being around folks I like. None of the folks speak English so I am back in that mode again too. Got to handle up on that a bit more quickly. When the summer season winds down and the snow birds start heading North again, I am going to look for a house sitting situation to carry me through to the next season. As I try and make a decision about where in Boquete I want to live (believe it or not, depending on your altitude things change in this little town rapidly) living in houses in a few different spots will be a great way to figure it all out.

Since my return to the hotel (and a kitchen THANK YOU JESUS) I am amidst a cooking extravaganza. I spent 5 weeks on a raw food cleanse and dropped 15 "rice and beans" pounds quickly. Gawd, that feels good. I am also enjoying the abundance of amazing fresh fruits and vegetables available. Boquete is in Chiriqui Province, the bread basket of Panama, and I am LOVIN' the prominity of amazing cooking ingredients. I have found a few local organic farmers and am rapidly expanding my connections there. I also have a new friend with an unbelievable hydroponic operation where I buy my fresh lettuces and herbs. When I bitched about not being able to get kale anywhere, she said, "I've got seed. I'll grow it if you buy it." She has no idea how much I love kale. She won't be able to keep up with my demand but I told her to go ahead and get to growin' it. Okay, okay, okay....I know....I on the food topic again. I'll stop. But I feel so incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by such fabulous stuff.

Okay, one more food thing....just one..... Zarzamora..... I had no idea what it was and while up in Volcan with Cesar and Olivia we stopped at a little local restaurant for breakfast. Cesar was excited that they had this "juice" and I jumped in too. Why not? Oh MY GAWD. Y'all.... fresh blackberry juice. No lie. Then they took me to this little roadside stand that they sold what they referred to as "strawberries and cream". (By the way, this altitude is conducive to year round berry production...strawberry, raspberry and blackberry). What it was was a mixture of berries in sugar placed in the bottom of the cup. What was put on top is what they call "natilla" here. The best way to describe it is it was like a cheesecake flavored fresh homemade pudding. HOLY CRAP WAS IT DELICIOUS. I'll make the 4 hour round trip drive for that again in a heartbeat.

I have a few ideas I am working on to generate some money and busy work for me. Having the laptop makes organizing these things so much easier. Thank you again Bill Hartman. On day 5 of being back I was out networking, shaking hands and trying to make some new connections outside of the ones I already have. It was nice to be happily welcomed back by the shop owners where I buy my stuff, and for the first time in along time I am somewhere I feel really good and comfortable and familiar The fit, as far off as it is from where I was expecting my life to be, just feels right. So I stay and see what I can make happen for myself here. It is nice to have the flexibility to be open to the suggestion of something other than what I was looking for. I feel incredibly fortunate.

It is not likely I will continue this blog in the format I have been pursuing. I will probably make quarterly updates with photos so everyone outside of my physical world can keep track of my activities. I have so enjoyed the notes and comments I have received during this past year. How fortunate I am to have so many great people not only rooting for me, but willing to be a compassionate ear when I hit a rough spot or two. I hereby extend an open invitation to anyone willing to make the trek to Panama. I promise I will make it worth your while....promise, promise, promise..... Thanks again for all your interest and support in my crazy little world. You have all contributed in many ways to the success I am now enjoying in my life. Mil gracias amigos.

I'm lovin' you from here!!!
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