Friday, August 9th, we are finally going to Pedasi. Luis was right on time, no surprise. He first drove us to the driver’s license bureau, located in the Canal Zone, where Luis walked us through to finish getting our Panamanian driver’s license. Well, at least I got mine. Mikkel is over 70, and must have a Panamanian doctor’s letter stating he is fit to drive. We forgot about that, and Luis did not know about Mikkel’s age. Oh well; he still has 81 more days to drive in Panama on his CA license, so he will apply later. I went ahead and after turning in all the required paperwork & blood test results, waited to be called, answered several questions about my residence and phone number with Luis’ translation help and had picture taken, waited to be called, took eye examination with my glasses on, waited to be called, took a hearing test, paid for the license, waited to be called, and finally received my license with picture after signing some papers. There was no behind-the-wheel test, just a lot of steps in the process.
So onto our next stop. Luis had agreed to take us to Decameron Resort, about 90 miles from the city, just outside the town of El Palmar. There we ha made arrangements to pick up the car we had purchased previously via the Internet through Keith “the Car Guy”, a reputable expat who helped find and purchase cars for others. Together we had purchased a 1998 Honda CRV 4×4 from another expat who was going to be at the resort that weekend for his wedding anniversary. On the trip down, Mikkel and Luis discussed arranging in helping us pickup our things that are being shipped in the crate. Luis also shared about his Christian faith. I sat behind and just listened to the conversation. We arrived at Decameron and found Russ, the seller, exactly where he said he would be with the car, exchanged paperwork & money, then loaded the car up with our luggage. We said our goodbyes and hugged Luis, knowing we would meet him again when the crate came. Such a sweet friend we had made; he actually called us later to see if we arrived safely; a week later he emailed that he considered us his family and offered his home to stay when we ever came to Panama City.
Now we were really on our way. The car was pretty much what we had been told. It is older, but in good shape and runs well. The price was right. We had an uneventful trip the rest of the way, staying within the speed limits so not to attract any police standing on the side of the highway with their radar gun & motorcycle. Arrived in Pedasi about 3 hours later, stopping briefly at a McDonald’s for lunch. We had previously arranged to rent a 1-bedroom apartment temporarily until Oct. when the home we had put a deposit on when we were in Pedasi last January would be available. So we drove up to Tortuga Lodge and Restaurant where we were greeted by the owner Steph. He took us to the rear and showed us the apartment which was exactly like the pictures we had seen. After giving us the keys, we moved in.
It is a basic little apartment with simple amenities: combo living/dining/kitchen supplied with refrigerator, stove, coffee maker, toaster, dishes, pots & pans, table and chairs, and sofa. The bedroom is large with a good size storage closet. The bathroom rather small with the famous “suicide” shower head (water heater at the source with electrical wires running along side to the wall)-typical shower we have experienced before. There is a nice patio looking out to a green field as well. There is air-conditioning (wall unit), but it is very loud and we only use it at night. Most of the time we just have the fans going. The only hot water (warm) is in the shower, so we have to heat water for washing dishes. I am used to camping, so it will do for now.
The next day we knew we needed to buy food and some basic necessities.we decided to drive back to Chitre (about 45 minutes away)where there was a Do-it Center (a cross between Home Depot & Target without the clothes, lumber, and food); and then across the road to Super 99 market to buy food. Pedasi has a medium-sized market that opened up within the last year in addition to a few “mini-supers”, but for a bigger selection, we will go to Chitre or Las Tablas (about 25 minutes away). They are building a strip mall outside of town which is supposed to have a large market. Besides the food, we bought a few essentials that we felt we could use in the other house: basically some shelving to store dry food in the kitchen, our clothes, and personal items, since there was none to speak of in the apartment. Oh yes, we also bought a small table-top BBQ since Mikkel likes to grill.
The next few days we spent settling in, going to the beach ( just down the street a mile), driving & walking around town, sleeping in and relaxing. Went to Las Tablas a few days ago to buy a few more groceries, and pay my iPhone data bill ($10 a month). We rented a “e-box” from Mailbox Etc., so now we can have some things mailed to us from the states. Still using my daughter in California as our forwarding address. She scans and emails us the important letters, and throws out the rest. She can now mail us small packages when we ask.
Yesterday we went back to Chitre and checked out their new mall. It is 3-stories, small but adequate, and many empty stores still. But I guess I might go there once a month to get my ” shopping fix”.
We are getting used to the weather little by little. The temperature averages between 70 & 90 degrees day or night, all year. It is the wet season now, so it rains almost every day, but usually clear up. When it rains, there’s thunder & lightening usually accompanying buckets of rain, measured in feet, not inches. But then it dries up fast.
Also trying to get used to the limited Internet connections in our apartment. Sometimes it connects, but is still very slow; sometimes we get nothing. Somehow my iPad usually will connect, but Mikkel’s PC rarely does. We have tried using our MagicJack & phone as well, but since it is connected to a PC, we don’t usually get a connection to make a free call to family and friends in the states. When we do, it is only for a short time, and the voice breaks up often. Luckily, Luis helped me acquire a data plan on my iPhone, so I can make calls to the US for $1 per each 30 minutes of calls(or $2 for 60) within a 48hr. period. And I can get Internet as well on the phone.
So I have pretty much caught up now and will be changing this blog to writing about my daily thoughts and activities for now on. It may not be every day, but then I might be busy at the beach or walking around town making new friends. I am certainly learning how to live out of my comfort zone (I haven’t watched TV for over 2 weeks!). God is teaching me a lot about myself and Him. I don’t regret our decision for our “Third Life” and hope to share this adventure with anyone who would like to follow this blog.