Buenos dias & como estas? Things are going good here in Panama. We are all healthy and adjusting well...for the most part. There are definitely some struggles and challenges, but we knew to expect these and we are working through them. I wanted to share a bit about what we've been up to this second and third month. Read on if you're interested!
My new favorite thing to do at the beach is hunt for clams! The beach we live closest to is Playa Las Lajas; there are some special spots that if you dig around enough, you can find an abundance of clams. We take them home and cook them up in butter and garlic for an appetizer. The boys love helping find them and cook them and then eat them. It's such a fun way to bring home food we've "harvested" ourselves. I really miss that part of our farm- working hard to grow/raise your food really makes it taste that much better and you appreciate it that much more.
We've been continuing our Sunday ritual of going on an adventure somewhere nearby. We like to keep the drive under an hour and a half. Last Sunday we went back to a beach we had visited last month, because we love it so much. It is a protected little bay with very calm water and many beautiful rocks and shells. We also found a section of the beach that was literally covered in clams, they were babies though and too small to harvest. Maybe next time we go back, they'll be bigger! We've visited waterfalls, driven out loooong bumpy deserted roads, found ourselves in the middle of palm oil orchards, found delicious tiny, local restaurants, and swam in ocean water so hot it was miserable. I love our "Google maps Sundays," as Eddie calls them.
Jude is enjoying school, although it has been a bit inconsistent lately. They closed for a few days last month because there was an issue with the water supply in town. Then two weeks later they closed because there was tree trimming scheduled....then this week all of a sudden there was a whole week vacation. I'm not sure what for. The school year ends in November, so there's not much left of his first grade year. He is adjusting and learning some Spanish and enjoying being around kids and making new friends without speaking their language. It is also a good time for us to get quality time with Jesse and get some stuff done around the house and on the computer.
I finally decided to set up and outdoor kitchen area for us. Cooking inside our house has become miserable at times for me, and I don't like that. I do love cooking, but the environment makes such a difference, at least for me. In our old kitchen I had windows to see outside, a lot of natural light, more space and air movement. This kitchen is dark with no windows or fans, no air flow and not much space. I probably sound ungrateful, but I'm not. I am grateful to have a working kitchen with running water and electricity and gas. But I really love the feel of kitchens that incorporate the outside too. I would rather just cook outside here. So we got a big folding table, a small gas stove top, and we'll just sort of move stuff around to prepare our bigger meals outside. I cannot wait to design and build our outdoor kitchen at our new home. It's going to be amazing.
Bug bites....we are all still constantly getting mosquito bites and other bug bites- ants and "no-see-'ems". My homemade bug spray works but I get too lazy to spray it on all the time. We've heard that if you just suffer through this for the first year or so, you become immune to the itchiness. Maybe we'll get lucky and it won't take a year!
We're in the process of opening a Panamanian bank account. We have actually been working on it for over a month now. Without going into too much detail, it's just been an annoying process. We finally are working with someone who is pushing the paperwork through, but now this "vacation week" is stretching out the process even longer. We had to provide a lot of documents, which makes sense because we are not citizens here, or even residents yet. We provided things like a bank reference letter from back home, tax returns, recommendation from our lawyers here, two forms of ID, etc. Things just move along at a much slower pace and there is not much we can do to move it faster. We're hoping next week we'll officially have it completed, and that will be a big burden off our back.
The weather here is great and annoying and beautiful and confusing all at the same time. Some mornings it's semi-cool and breezy, some mornings it's stifling humid and hot, the rain POURS down most afternoons, there's the loudest thunder I've ever heard in my life (clapping and shaking the house), the lightning is unbelievable and amazing in the dark night sky. I'm seeing and hearing my Turlock/California friends and family talk about the changing of the seasons and I am missing that, but also excited to see what the "fall" months bring here weather wise. We are supposed to get even bigger storms and more rain in October and November and then December starts the dry season.
Our property purchase should be closing within the month. Our bank account is necessary for that, so that is another reason why we really need to get that finished up. Our goal is to start building by December, but there are multiple other important things we will have to do before we begin building the house, like: create a road through the property, dig a well, more fencing, set up electricity, etc. Once we have finished the final paperwork and the property is our's, I will share all about it! We're excited and impatient and a bit overwhelmed. But mostly we're so grateful to the Lord for bringing this land to us. We can't wait to find out what He has in store for us.
Thanks so much for reading. We miss our friends and family.
If you are interested in visiting us to help during the building process, please reach out to me via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or text (if you have my number, it is still the same). We can provide accommodations and food if you'd like to come stay and help us build or dig trenches or plant trees or put up fencing. Plus it will be a lot of fun!