Wednesday, March 16, 2011

CHANGES IN LATITUDE, CHANGES IN ATTITUDE

(With thanks to Jimmy Buffett)

I have now been in Boquete nine weeks.  In that time I have:

  • Not eaten a single hamburger;
  • Not visited McDonald's once (the closest one is an hour away);
  • Eaten French fries only once (and they made me sick all night);
  • Eaten pizza three times (and it also made me sick - are you seeing a pattern?);
  • Learned to cook Panamanian style (chicken, rice, beans/lentils, sweet peppers, tomatoes, and of course the basic staple of Goya Adobo all-purpose seasoning);
  • Eaten fried chicken twice that I can remember (see previous blog on Milquiburger vs. Nelvis);
  • Not watched any television (but then I didn't watch it before, so this one is cheating a bit);
  • Not seen any movies;
  • Not bought any clothes;
  • Been sleeping under two blankets at night at 9° latitude and 3500 feet elevation with the windows wide open for the cool, soothing breeze;
  • Made friends with my Panamanian farmer neighbors, who keep chickens, dogs, and a goose next door;
  • Wave a blessing to everyone I pass in vehicles and on foot, like we used to do in Texas (they wave back, except for Señor Lara who stands silently out front of his house all day with his cane, but I bet he will be waving by the end of next month);
  • Made great progress on re-doing the yard, thanks to my gardener who lives in the extended family compound up the hill;
  • Given thanks each time I drive into town and see the surrounding green mountains that could be straight out of Shangri-La;
  • Volunteered as a planner, photographer, and visiting band host for the Boquete Jazz Festival;
  • Been elected President of Boquete ArtWorks, a new artists group;
  • Planted the seed with the local movers and shakers to develop Boquete into a worldwide destination for the arts (music, visual, literary and culinary);
  • Photographed several of Cora Kent's cooking classes at her beautiful house (www.boquetegourmet.com - see previous posting); 
  • Made countless new friends - ex-pat, Panamanian, and indigenous;
  • Bought a Suzuki Jimny 4-wheel-drive vehicle, which is serving me well on these rocky unpaved roads and paved ones pock-marked with potholes;
  • Published an article in the Chiriqui Times newspaper (http://chiriquitimes.weebly.com/);
  • Resurrected an unfinished moralistic murder mystery novel that had been on the shelf for several years, and which I hope to finish by summer;
  • Seen hundreds and photographed many species of birds in my yard, who will eventually be on the blog, including some that come right up to me;
  • Obtained work for my wonderful gardener with my Chica friends, so he is now employed every workday;
  • Learned to live in two rooms plus a bathroom and not feel crowded;
  • Enjoyed a regular evening cocktail of sugar, fresh lime (from the tree in my yard), and smooth dark Abuelo Añejo Panamanian rum - yum;
  • Bought a fruit picker cage, which attaches to the end of a long stick, so I can easily harvest the sweet oranges and grapefruit (and - you guessed it - more of those limes);
  • Wondered why limes here are orange and oranges are green;
  • Left the numerous bananas for the birds, because I can buy perfectly ripe, super-sweet ones in town at 2 for $.15;
  • Missed my washer and dryer more than you can imagine;
  • Found a wonderful lady named Lourdes to do my laundry in town;
  • Received my first Social Security direct deposit, which is helping immensely;
  • Been covered in no-see-um (chitras) bites from the tiny midges that live on the coffee finca (farm) across the road and slathered down with triple antibiotic and belladonna ointment as well as with Gruber's Jungle Oil, a natural plant extract made by a retired botanist in El Valle and which everyone uses here;
  • Not developed any immunity to the chitras bites so far, but have learned not to scratch them so they don't get so big anymore;
  • Learned to pick fruit flies out of my coffee because my house has no window screens, resuscitating one semi-drowned one today;
  • Killed one snake on my back porch (with a machete), one scorpion in the kitchen, and several spiders. Regret killing the snake after learning that it was harmless and have asked the snake for forgiveness. The large spiders (2-3 inches across in legspan) I have learned to capture and release away from the house. In this manner I have overcome my longstanding fear of spiders.  I suspect the same spiders keep returning, however;
  • Not yet tried the hammock on my back porch;
  • Fed spaghetti with a nice meat sauce to my gardener, along with a man I didn't even know after he had spent all morning clearing the lot next door with a machete so that his horse could have more grass to eat;
  • Experienced one episode of rain that lasted two days straight (more to come);
  • Made much progress in being satisfied with what I have;
  • And in doing so, have found true happiness.
You can too - wherever you are.  But it helps to be in such a beautiful place.

-bjd

1 comment:

  1. Hi Betty, we haven't met yet but I found your site from Boquete Gourmet.

    Just a little advice on those pesky coffee fly bites. They are very small at first, as soon as you notice it itching, find the little red center and squeeze it as hard as you can stand it. Usually a small clear liquid will come out - this is the poison that makes it itch so bad. Once you get this out the itching stops quickly and the bite is gone in a day or two.

    Good luck and welcome to Boquete!

    Fene Cartlidge

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