To get into the Christmas spirit, Mikkel and I, along with our friends LaVon & Bob, traveled by bus to Panama City to attend “Carols by Candlelight” (Luces de Navidad) performance on December 2nd. Mikkel had heard about this program and wanted to go ever since we moved here, but we were unable until this year. It was created by CanadaPlus Foundation and proceeds benefit the Children’s Hospital (El Hospital del Niño). We all booked a hotel in Casco Viejo overnight; ate an early dinner at a nearby restaurant, and then walked along Cinta Costera, a parkway along the bay, to the Mirador del Pacifico amphitheater. Although it heavily rained while traveling to Panama City earlier that day, it turned out to be a beautiful evening with a full moon shining down. To our surprise, our preordered tickets (which were battery powered candles) brought us to front center seats. We enjoyed the music sung by school children choirs, church worship teams, a professional opera singer, and other musical groups and bands.
The following weekend we brought out the Christmas decorations and tree, most of which stay on the front veranda. In the past Christmases here, Mikkel would get on the ladder to string up lights along the edge of the roof in front and all the front windows would also be lit up. This year we decided to keep it simpler; the tree was decorated with ornaments and lights and only one window. Actually, most of the Christmas lights from last year were not functioning well. Because I didn’t feel like buying more, “keeping it simple” with what we had was the best solution. Less stress while Mikkel is at the top of the ladder trying to reach the eaves to tie the lights with the wire.
Although most of our Christmas shopping is done through Amazon for gifts sent to our grandchildren, December was still a busy month. “Free Spirits” had a “Goodbye” party for one of our long-time residents of Pedasí who was returning to Canada. She will surely be missed. Animal Advocates held another BINGO event at Smiley’s; this time with Christmas music. And the “WWW-Women, Wine, and Whatever” group met to make Christmas centerpieces with a wine bottle and 2 wine glasses. Along with delicious food and wine, here are some of the masterpieces.
Animal Advocates of Pedasí held their annual “Mercado” (Patio Sale) this month at the Municipal Basketball Court again. It is one of the biggest fundraiser events for the group; all proceeds go toward sterilization of cats and dogs. Throughout the past year, we have been collecting many gently used and functioning items no longer needed or wanted by mostly expats who have moved here or have moved away. It has all been stored in our garage; we sort and price a few days before. The local residents look forward to this, asking when the next one will be. That morning, as in the past, they slowly congregated at the gate, ready to be one of the first to find their wanted treasures. I opened the gate and was almost knocked down as the crowd pushed through. (Memories of “Black Friday” come to mind.) And again the 4-hour event was very successful, thanks to all the wonderful volunteers that helped price, sort, set-up, re-folded, worked the “caja” (pay table), bagged purchases, cleaned up, etc.
After the “Mercado”, I only had a few hours to put up my feet before heading back over to the Townsquare for the Christmas Bazaar. Animal Advocates shared a table with Expat Imports and our friend Lupe. The 3 of us manned the table to sell our different products: Lupe had cakes, cinnamon rolls, and various breads; Animal Advocates had Pedasi license plates and koozies to sell (an ongoing fundraiser) and educational brochures to hand out; and Mikkel was selling Panama maps and Rainforest Guides. Around the park were several different tables and booths with various products for sale and information of different local organizations and individuals. Along with the Bazaar, was the lighting of the Municipal Christmas tree, Christmas music, fireworks, etc., all sponsored by the Municipio de Pedasi.
December 23rd was the Christmas parade in town. People and groups light up their cars, bicycles, ATVs; they build floats on flatbed trailers pulled by tractors; march in bands; blast Christmas music from speakers in the back of their vehicles; throw candy to the crowd, and dance down the street dressed up as Micky Mouse or Santa Claus. It is a fun parade for everyone and topped off by music and fireworks in the park.
On Christmas Eve, I led Christmas songs at Smileys.
Christmas Day arrived with an overcast sky. Very odd for dry season which started a couple of weeks ago. Made the day a little cooler though and didn’t stop us from celebrating with many other expats who gathered at our friend Bev’s home for a potluck Christmas dinner.
After a delicious meal and a great time with friends, new and old, Mikkel and I went home and settled down on the sofa to watch “White Christmas” (the original with Bing Crosby & Danny Kaye). Suddenly the sound of rain beating down on our roof and the street outside drowned out the TV. It never has rained after the dry season has arrived, so I guessed the wet season still had a little more precipitation left. That night it only poured for about 10 minutes, but we welcomed it and it was enough to water the plants. Of course, I had started up the irrigation system a few days before. Well our plants can always use a good soaking, especially when I don’t have to turn on the system and water some areas with the hose for a few more days.
The next day, the dry season returned to its normal blue skies, a few white fluffy clouds passing by, and the bright hot sun with a nice ocean breeze. The clothes I hung out in the patio would only take a couple of hours to dry instead of the usual day or two during the wet season. And a couple of days later, I watered the plants again. Well, I spoke and moved too soon because the night of December 29th, it started raining again, this time for most of the night and off & on and throughout the next morning into the early afternoon. Our landlord had come over to repair the few leaks I had previously discovered in the irrigation system that afternoon. Having lived in Panama for about 10 years, I asked him if it had ever rained in Pedasí this late in December or after the dry season apparently started. He said it never had; that this weather is really strange. Sure enough the sun came out again that afternoon. But God has a way of surprising us and late that night it poured heavily non-stop until late morning the next day. Our garden was once again a lake as it had been during downpours in the wet season before. During the day the sun peaked out once in awhile from the gray clouds pending over our town. The blessing is that it is a little cooler; not such a blessing are the insects that hatch out after the rain. Mikkel and I prefer the wet season because everything remains green. We’ll just enjoy it while it lasts.
So it’s New Year’s Eve. In the afternoon when the rain stopped, the noise level started to go up including children visiting grandparents playing in the streets with shrieks of laughter, loud music coming from homes in front and behind our home as well as the cantina from around the corner, and firecrackers randomly shooting off causing the neighborhood dogs (including our Bella) to bark. This continues throughout the rest of day and night as we approached midnight and beyond, welcoming 2018. In the evening, we first walked over to ilGrapola, an small Italian restaurant we enjoy, for dinner, joining some friends and meeting some new ones including a couple from Austria who have been coming every year to Pedasi area since 2008.
Then off to Smileys’ to bring in the New Year with dessert, drinks, and dancing.
We had a countdown to midnight. kisses, hugs, and new year wishes, and then fireworks which could be viewed in every direction from Smiley’s – to the right, to the left, in front, behind, from the town square, and from the beach as we walked home.
That wraps up December and 2017. Wishing everyone !Feliz Año Nuevo! Happy New Year! I look forward to sharing new adventures in 2018 for our “third life” in Pedasí and beyond. God bless you. I am off to watch the Rose Bowl parade Live on Amazon Prime TV (Amazing what technology can do even here in Pedasi in 2018.