Tuesday, January 12, 2010

DECISIONS, DECISIONS

Today it is raining again, though not as much as yesterday.  I had planned to go to the Tuesday get-together for gringos.  This is a local institution that gives newcomers a place to meet each other and to learn about living here. 

Yesterday the Fair was rained out, so I figured I would go to it today after the gringos.  They are right across the street from each other, across the bridge from town.  At this point I don't know if the bridge is under water or not.  I know it was closed to traffic for the fair, so I'd planned on walking to both.  Without an umbrella, which was left at home.  In the wind and rain.  After all, this is the dry season.

Should I go or not?

One thing I learned from living in the U.K.:  if you plan your life around the weather, you will miss out on a lot of things, including life.

So off I go...more later.
................................

(Later in the day):

As it turned out, my host offered to give me a ride with another friend to the gringos' get-together.  We were able to drive across the bridge and park close by.  It was still raining and windy.

The Tuesday gringos meeting has been going weekly for about six years.  Its main purpose is to give newcomers critical information on what they need to know to live here, such as real estate and construction.  They emphasize cultural sensitivity.  For example, the moderator told us today not to get intense and angry when we get upset because Panamanians don't do that.

Another thing I learned is that Chiriquí (the state where Boquete is) is pronounced like "Cherokee", of which I am one-sixteenth.  Another sign!

Before and during the meeting there is a gringos market, mostly of homemade baked goods and used books.  The proceeds from the book sales go to four local charities.

The meeting takes place in the new local playhouse, which is also a community center.  The facilities are first-rate.

Here is a view of the market:


Gringos' Market

And here is a view of the meeting, which takes place in the theater.  Today the speaker was the marketing director of the Chiriquí Hospital health plan, which is an independently operated health plan system that covers 70% of your medical expenses including hospital for $60 a month for people in my (high) age group:



Gringos' Talk - and Gringos Talk

I was surprised at the number of young gringos here, some with infants and young children.  A new International School will be opening in Boquete this year, undoubtedly because of the demand for such education for these gringo children.  The new school will not be just for gringos, as I understand it.

One thing that impressed me about the gringos was all the hugging and kissing going on.  They are a close-knit group.  In fact, everyone knows what everyone else is doing, like in any small town.  There are few secrets here.

I decided to forgo the Feria today because of the rain.  There were only a few people there.  The weather is supposed to clear tomorrow.  Hopefully I'll be able to see it, along with Mi Jardin Es Su Jardin, all in the same day.

The time for my visit is running out.  Only one and a half more days left in Boquete before I head to Santiago, the half-way point to Panama City, to spend the last night in another hotel.  This is just in case it takes longer than planned to make it to the airport.

I wouldn't want to get stuck here ....... or would I?

-bjd

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