Posted by: pennyinparadise | April 26, 2015

What Do You Do There?

People back in the US always ask “What do you do there with all your time”.   Well, by reading this blog you know we do so much we are happy when we just have a day with nothing to do!   Here are some bits and pieces….

First of all, Jim is now the man-slave to a little poodle rescue named Tessa.   Unlike Becky (my Boston Terrier) who will tolerate a hug occasionally, but none of that CUDDLE stuff!!!   Tessa is a real cuddle bunny and she now has Jim wrapped around her little paw.

Miss Contessa (Tessa for short) and her slave man

Miss Contessa (Tessa for short) and her slave man

But don’t let her size fool you….she’s half Becky’s weight, but they play together vigorously and she actually pulls Becky across the floor when they play tug-of-war!

Dogs

We have lots of house guests and Jim’s son, Chip just visited us from Destin, Florida…he spent 10 days and will return soon with his wife and 2 girls.   He loved it!

Chip & Jim make room for Becky & Tessa

Chip & Jim make room for Becky & Tessa

Boquete is in the mountains (we live at 4,200 ft above sea level) exactly halfway between the Pacific and the Caribbean.   It’s a beautiful drive over to Bocas del Toro (on the Caribbean), so we recently spent a weekend over there.

Bocas Breeze!

Jimmy enjoys the Bocas Breeze!

Our big charity organization Bid4Boquete holds an annual wine tasting & live auction.

Our big charity organisation Bid4Boquete has a wine tasting and live auction.   I bought us a week in Bonaire and Jim bought us a weekend in Boca Chica!

I bought us a week in Bonaire and Jim bought us a weekend in Boca Chica!

I’ve got some great “girlfriend groups”…we hang out, play Train or Mahjongg….and we love going to this little resort in Las Lajas!

Girls at the beach...playing Train

Girls at the beach…playing Train

Or sometimes we just hang around, eat, drink and kiss famous guys…like The Beatles!

Linda/John, Judy/George, Penny/Paul and Nairn/Ringo

Linda/John, Judy/George, Penny/Paul and Nairn/Ringo

And then, of course, there’s the play Jim just starred in, which I did the marketing for.  (See the separate post about this)  Jim is now on the Board of Directors for the community theatre, and I’ve agreed to help market a new funding program.

Jim at center stage during his performance in Postcards From Paradise!

Jim at center stage during his performance in Postcards From Paradise!

And, of course, every single day…..we sit on our terrace and look out at the sunset….and here’s the view!

If you come visit, this will be the view from your bedroom too!

If you come visit, this will be the view from your bedroom too!

So, don’t worry about us….we’re making good use of our time!

Posted by: pennyinparadise | April 26, 2015

Jim “plays” on Stage

Our wonderful Boquete Community Players Theater is in it’s 10th year, and I attended the very first play back then.   Since Jim has such a great voice and stage presence, I talked him into taking the lead role in a play written by Mickey & Squirt James (a singer/songwriter couple from Nashville who lived here) called Postcards From Paradise.   To ensure the house was packed every night, I agreed to do the marketing for the event.  A few years ago, when I moved back to Boquete from Ecuador, I was the Marketing Director for BCP for 2 years….so I knew the drill.   It was a lot of work for both Jim and me, but it was great fun.   Yesterday was the final performance, and it was a SMASH HIT!!   We walked into a restaurant after the play and Jim got a standing ovation.

I used a “postcard” theme to market the play, creating postcards every week to be sent out to our mailing list…here are a few of them.  The actual postcards are from Jim’s collection of old Cuban cards.

Slide01 Slide02 Slide07 Slide10

My favorite graphic artist, Fran Hogan, created a wonderful image that we used on banners and posters and fliers all over town.     Panama Red Rum was, of course, a sponsor and the bottle was used in the show and script.

PFP-half-page-flyer4WEB

Jim played a Vietnam Vet who had issues with the war and his wife, that were to be dealt with on a vacation in the Caribbean, by a psychologist owner of a small resort.    Lots of funny and talented characters, but Jim was, of course, the star of the show.  His great voice held up under lots of rehearsals and 4 performances, where he sang 10 songs.  He used a Western North Carolina accent, which he knows well having spent lots of time up there.  He was a hoot….he got standing ovations every performance.  He’s now the “star” of Boquete.

Entire Ensemble

Slide2

Posted by: pennyinparadise | April 25, 2015

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun!

It has  been quite some time since I posted to this blog…reason being we’ve been very busy with some big activities….so I’ll try to catch you up.

First of all, my cousin Joy’s daughter Tracy and husband Mike had their first baby in early September….Connor Cassin and he is adorable…donchathink?

Connor Cassin

Connor Cassin

Newborn Connor with Daddy Mike

Newborn Connor with Daddy Mike

Mom Tracy and Connor

Mom Tracy and Connor

Then, my son Paul married his sweet and wonderful love Maria on New Year’s Day.   Jim and I flew up to Orlando for the wedding….Jim gave the bride away because her father was too ill to attend from El Salvador.  Unfortunately, my mom wasn’t well enough to attend either.

The church was beautiful

The church was beautiful

Jim walked her down the aisle...her own father was too ill to attend the wedding

Jim walked her down the aisle

I am so very happy that Paul has found his soulmate...we both have!

I am so very happy that Paul has found his soulmate…we both have!

The wedding party included Maria's daughter, best friend and sister, Paul's childhood friend, a work friend and Maria's son.

The wedding party included Maria’s daughter, best friend and sister, Paul’s childhood friend, a work friend and Maria’s son.

I only wish Paul's dad was still alive to see this beautiful day

I only wish Paul’s dad was still alive to see this beautiful day

The great thing is that these two laugh and laugh all the time...a great way to start a marriage

The great thing is that these two laugh and laugh all the time…a great way to start a marriage

After the wedding we went to a very nice restaurant for the reception dinner

After the wedding we went to a very nice restaurant for the reception dinner

It was a beautiful setting

It was a beautiful setting

Jim and Maria dancing

Jim and Maria dancing

Jim and me cutting a rug

Jim and me cutting a rug

Paul and Maria dancing

Paul and Maria dancing

Their table at the reception

Their table at the reception

I got to dance with my big boy

I got to dance with my big boy

It was a wonderful moment

It was a wonderful moment

I had to say a few words...hope I didn't embarrass him

I had to say a few words…hope I didn’t embarrass him

Then we moved on to the next big project, which was a charity golf tournament Jim and I produced at a beautiful course here in Boquete.   Jim’s rum company was the main sponsor, and we raised over $5,000 for the charity.  It was great fun!

A staff of over 30 volunteers worked hard to staff the tournament

A staff of over 30 volunteers worked hard to staff the tournament..that’s cousin Joy standing in the center

The night before the tournament we had a Checkin Cocktail Party at Mango's Restaurant.

The night before the tournament we had a Checkin Cocktail Party at Mango’s Restaurant.

We had girls selling tickets for Mulligans, Hole In One and Door Prizes

The girls sold tickets for the Hole In One contests and for Mulligans

Players registered and got their starting hole assignments

Players registered and got their starting hole assignments

The big Panama Red bar was serving Panama Red Tea

The big Panama Red bar was serving Panama Red Tea

We had drawings for door prizes

We had drawings for door prizes

We had a nice array of corporate sponsors

We had a nice array of corporate sponsors

Finca Lerida served coffee and cake for players

Finca Lerida served coffee and cake for players the next morning

Last minute announcements were made and then it was off to a shotgun start

Last minute announcements were made and questions answered

The weather was fantastic, and players manned their carts with enthusiasm

The weather was fantastic, and players manned their carts with enthusiasm for the shotgun start

We did foursome photos on one of the holes

We did foursome photos on one of the holes

Volunteers staffed 8 different contest holes

Volunteers staffed 8 different contest holes

My long time friend Wanda flew down from the US to help me out

My long time friend Wanda flew down from the US to help me out

Lucero was the course and the views are breathtaking

Lucero was the course and the views are breathtaking

Jim LOVES playing Lucero

Jim LOVES playing Lucero

After the tournament we had a Burger BBQ lunch for players and staff

After the tournament we had a Burger BBQ lunch for players and staff

Everyone was HUNGRY!

Everyone was HUNGRY!

 

Players waiting for winner announcement

Players waiting for winner announcement

Jim calculated the scores....40 people walked away with awards

Jim calculated the scores….40 people walked away with awards

Crystal Trophies and Panama Red Rum were awarded

Crystal Trophies and Panama Red Rum were awarded

First place winners got Panamonte Reserva Preciosa XXV Rum

First place winners got Panamonte Reserva Preciosa XXV Rum

Trophy

My cousin Joy was in the 3rd place winning foursome

My cousin Joy was in the 3rd place winning foursome

Trophy2

Robyn Cole won the Longest Drive Women

Robyn Cole won the Longest Drive Women

Panama Red Rum was the main sponsor, providing a perpetual trophy for the winners

Panama Red Rum was the main sponsor, providing a perpetual trophy for the winners

And Jim and I gave each other a new golf cart for our Christmas present to each other.  We love it!

Hot golf couple

Another exciting event has to do with travel to/from Boquete (that is, David…our nearest airport).   First news is that COPA is now flying from the US to David, with a connection in Panama City.   This means no more traveling from Tocumen International across the city (at rush hour) to Albrook Domestic Airport and often an overnight stay in the city.  Expensive and time consuming.  Now, you can clear customs/immigration in Tocumen and stay in that airport for a connecting flight to David.   In addition, the new terminal at Tocumen is almost completed…the MOST modern airport in the Western Hemisphere.

The new COPA counter at David Airport

The new COPA counter at David Airport

The new terminal at Tocumen Airport in Panama City is almost completed

The new terminal at Tocumen Airport in Panama City is almost completed

It’s summer here now, which brings the bajareque (mist) to relieve the dry season and bring the rainbows.

It's summer here now, which brings the Bajareque (mist) to relieve the dry season, and bring the rainbows.  This is the back side of our house under one.

This is the back side of our house under a rainbow

Jim’s son, Chip, came for his first visit….we had a ball!   We went to the Wine Tasting & Live Auction to benefit the charity Bid4Boquete.

Wine Tasting3

 

Posted by: pennyinparadise | April 25, 2015

Panama in 5 Minutes

For those of you who haven’t yet visited us in Panama, here’s a less-than-five-minute look at what to expect.

Click Here for:  A Taste Of Panama

Posted by: pennyinparadise | October 18, 2014

Mini Trips

We have finally settled into the house and projects are under control.   We’ve had the chance to go on mini trips around Panama with friends.

First we went with Peter and Pam from Vero Beach, down to El Valle and the Azuero Peninsula.

Fabulous Vanero Beach in the Azuaro Peninsula where our room had a terrace and hammock

Fabulous Vanero Beach in the Azuaro Peninsula where our room had a terrace and hammock

Horseback riding is a beautiful thing on the beach

Horseback riding is a beautiful thing on the beach

In Playita the resort was covered with ceramics made by the owner, who is a winning jockey on the American race circuit

In Playita the resort was covered with ceramics made by the owner, who is a winning jockey on the American race circuit

In El Valle we stayed at Los Mandarinos and had a fabulous meal at Casa de Lourdes

In El Valle we stayed at Los Mandarinos and had a fabulous meal at Casa de Lourdes

Dining poolside with Pam and Peter

Dining poolside with Pam and Peter

Good for those aching bones..hot tub in El Valle

Good for those aching bones..hot tub in El Valle

Rooms at Playita were created from things found on the beach

Then to Seagull Cove Lodge in Boca Chica

Then to Seagull Cove Lodge in Boca Chica

 

Another trip was to nearby Las Lajas Beach with Nairn, Larry, Pascale, Lenny, Judy, Brenda, Lolli, Becky, Abbey, Jim and me.

We're babysitting a Maltese named Lolli for her person, who has gone on vacation to next-door Colombia

We’re babysitting a Maltese named Lolli for her person, who has gone on vacation to next-door Colombia…she loves Jim.   That’s Larry in the foreground.

Toes at the Beach

Toes at the Beach

Pascale popping the cork!!  She is French and made the most delicious Indian feast one night.

Pascale popping the cork!! She is French and made the most delicious Indian feast one night.

Sand dollar collected in just a couple of hours walking the beach

Sand dollar collected in just a couple of hours walking the beach

Beachcombers

The house we rented was big, beautiful and right on the beach….the dogs Lolli, Becky and Abbey had a ball…so did Nairn (foreground with Becky)

Here’s a video clip of what I’m talking about!!  CLICK ON PHOTO BELOW TO START VIDEO

Brenda & Abbey with Becky at their heels!

Brenda & Abbey with Becky at their heels!

But, at the end of the day, snoozin' is the BEST!

But, at the end of the day, snoozin’ is the BEST!

Local festivals are found everywhere

En route, local festivals are found everywhere

Sunsets over the Pacific are mind-blowing....and different every day

Sunsets over the Pacific are mind-blowing….and different every day

But as fun as it is to travel, it’s always good to return to the cool climate of our little mountain village, Boquete.

But it's always good to return to our beautiful little mountain village, Boquete

Boquete from Jaramillo

Back to the mountains and our favorite sport.

And…back to our favorite sport

Our Trivia Team...called Brain Freeze!

And, back to our Trivia Team…called Brain Freeze!

Here are some video clips of what’s in our face EVERY DAY here in the mountains!!  CLICK ON PHOTOS BELOW TO START VIDEOS

Sunset2

Sunset from our living room

From our terrace one morning

From our terrace one morning

Los Molinos...a favourite breakfast place...Becky in the sun.

Los Molinos…a favourite breakfast place…Becky in the sun.

Venao Beach in the Azuaro Peninsula

Venao Beach in the Azuaro Peninsula

Our next trip will be to the US for Christmas with Chip and family (Jim’s son), and New Year’s with my mom and Paul for his and Maria’s big wedding on New Years Day!!   Stay tuned.

Posted by: pennyinparadise | May 19, 2014

House is Complete

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then a video speaks volumes.   It’s been 10 months of very intense building, finishing and furnishing….but it’s finally done.   Here is a video of the house when we bought it (seller began a modest renovation)…and a video taken in May when the project was almost complete……..it’s fun to watch the progress.

The Way It Was….the day we bought it (July 15, 2013)

 

The Way It Is….the finished house (May 15, 2014)

There is no shortage of project potential here, but the house itself is a finished dream…..if you come visit you’ll not want to leave!  So come on down.

 

 

 

 

Posted by: pennyinparadise | May 5, 2014

Settling In

It’s been a busy couple of months getting the house finished and the move from Florida and my condo completed.   I am happy to say that the house is finished (except for a bit of electrical) and we are ready to welcome visitors to our new home.   We are LOVING it!

The only big problem was a terrace that we added that connects to our bedroom sitting room and the living room.   Huge footers were  dug deep into the ground and lots of cement and steel put in to support it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

More cement and gravel for the terrace

Footers were dug deep to support the terrace

Footers were dug deep to support the terrace

Support walls below terrace

Support walls below terrace

Our amazement at how low-tech the Panamanian way of building is…..the 700 pound steel beams were managed by manpower and simple pulleys.

700 pound beams and support steel hoisted by one guy and his pulley

700 pound beams and support steel hoisted by one guy and his pulley

And how did they bring hundreds of pounds of cement to a second story terrace WITHOUT going through our living room?   Just put together a collection of concrete blocks, wood planks, an old railing and some scaffolding.

This ran from the driveway along the side of the house to the terrace in back

This ran from the driveway along the side of the house to the terrace in back

And a look at it from afar….

An amazing array of whatever was laying around to create a ramp over which many, many wheelbarrows of cement were brought in

An amazing array of whatever was laying around to create a ramp over which many, many wheelbarrows of cement were brought in

Here’s another precarious set of scaffolding was created to paint up high…

The theme here is "whatever works".  No, there is no OSHA here in Panama

The theme here is “whatever works”. No, there is no OSHA here in Panama

So….after lots of steel and sheets of zinc, the floor was poured

Hundreds of pounds of cement over sheets of zinc over a lot of steel

Hundreds of pounds of cement over sheets of zinc over a lot of steel

Once the cement was dry and the roof went on, it was discovered that the slope was toward the house, not away from it.   So…..the first solution was to tear out the cement that was just put in…

2 guys worked 8 hours a day for 3 days to chip out the cement that had just been poured

2 guys worked 8 hours a day for 3 days to chip out the cement that had just been poured

Concrete dust, noise and lots of crossed fingers that this would work.  But it didn't.

Concrete dust, noise and lots of crossed fingers that this would work. But it didn’t.

The final solution was to build up the floor at the point it joined the house and slope it down.   We now have a little curb to step up when going onto the terrace, but even with this drawback, we’re loving it!

Small curb raised floor for proper slope

Small curb raised floor for proper slope

The perfect place to enjoy breakfast overlooking our fantastic view of the volcano and valley

The perfect place to enjoy breakfast overlooking our fantastic view of the volcano and valley

 

Panama life continues to be interesting, especially since we have the election for a new government (president, mayor, congress, etc. happens every 5 years and the entire government changes).   Here’s one way a candidate gets his message out!

Speakers broadcast the candidate's message while young man pedals along

Speakers broadcast the candidate’s message while young man pedals along

The election was held yesterday, and today it was announced that Juan Carlos Varela has won.  This was a big SURPRISE!   Ricardo Martinelli could not run again but his candidate of choice had announced that Mrs. Martinelli would be his Vice President.   Martinelli won in 2009 which was also a surprise.   The party called PRD had ruled Panama for decades and Martinelli was a real change in the politics of Panama.   He has done much to build things in the country, but had plunged the country into debt doing so.    Varela owns Abielo Rum, which is the most popular liquor here.   He is a business man too, and a change from the politics of old.   It will be an interesting 5 years to come.

Varela with his family

Varela with his family

Panama's new President... Juan Carlos Varela

Panama’s new President… Juan Carlos Varela

On to more personal matters….the road to our house is curvy and full of surprises….I came around a curve and here was a guy walking his pig up the road!

pig on the road

A friend and neighbour, Lee Zeltzer, who publishes http://www.boqueteguide.com gave us permission to show what he encountered coming around a curve on our road.

Cow lazing on the warm pavement while her friends look on.

Cow lazing on the warm pavement while her friends look on.

Jim is busy working on his golf green…he’ll have a few tee boxes that he can chip balls from.  We’re calling it La Rosa Country Club.

Jimmy raking weeds and stones to prepare his golf green

Jimmy raking weeds and stones to prepare his golf green

But he’s also taken up Cuban cooking and I’m loving having a man in the kitchen!!

Jimmy cooking Cuban style!

Jimmy cooking Cuban style!

Soon I’ll be posting some videos, but right now I am in bed (well, supposed to be but bored to death just laying around) recovering from surgery I had a week ago.   Can’t drive for a month.   We had to cancel our trip back to the US to pick up my mom, until I fully recover.  All is well….but not yet able to walk around too much and shoot videos.   For now, we’re just happy to have the house finished and be able to enjoy what we’ve created.

Happy and Smiling!!

Happy and Smiling!!

 

 

 

Posted by: pennyinparadise | February 21, 2014

The BIG Move

The day came in late January for Jim to move permanently to Boquete.   We had hoped the container contents would arrive after the house was completed, but that didn’t happen.   It took 5 weeks from the day it left the house to the day it arrived in Boquete.

First, we had to pack up and wrap everything and load it into a 40′ container

Container begins loading

Container begins loading

They pack it tight so it doesn't move

They pack it tight so it doesn’t move

The container was then taken to the loading yard and put aboard a ship that took it from Miami to Panama City.

Container on the High Seas

Container on the High Seas

No, this isn’t our ship….but it does happen.   We bought insurance, just in case.

Yes, it CAN happen

Yes, it CAN happen

When it got to Panama City, it was taken off the ship, and then the Customs officials had to examine the contents and approve its entry into the country.   Because Jim has a Pensionado Visa here, he is allowed one 40′ container with his household goods, tax free.

At the port, it's unloaded

At the port, it’s unloaded

Next, the container is loaded onto an 18 wheeler and brought from PC to Boquete, where it is parked at the bottom of the mountain.

It's parked at the bottom of the mountain

It’s parked at the bottom of the mountain

The next day 6 guys arrived with a smaller truck, and everything was offloaded into the smaller truck.  It took 4 trips to unload the container, and then they had to come to my condo to load up my stuff.

Then it is unloaded into smaller truck

Then it is unloaded into smaller truck

Finally, everything arrived at the house…4,200 feet above sea level where it started from.

Here comes the truck....it took 4 trips to empty the container

Here comes the truck….it took 4 trips to empty the container

Friends Carrie and Ian helped us inventory every piece as it left the truck….each piece was numbered and had to be recorded on the inventory sheet.  I don’t know what we would have done without them.  6 guys unloading quickly and we had to keep up with all the numbers and direct them as to where to put each item.

Each numbered box had to be checked off

Each numbered box had to be checked off

If the house was complete, we could have unwrapped everything….but it wasn’t.   There were no windows on the back side and many other things are left to be done.   So, we have left everything wrapped (it’s the dry, windy season and dust covers everything) until the windows come in…hopefully the end of this week.   Our gardener Denis has to stay in the house at night to make sure nothing is taken….hopefully we will move in over the weekend.

Everything moved inside

Everything moved inside

Stay tuned for more….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: pennyinparadise | February 20, 2014

2014 Begins With A Bang

WOW…who would have thought, last year this time, that my life would be turned upside down with changes on many fronts.   As my previous post explained, I’m now in permanent partnership with a wonderful man named Jim Wasson and happy as a clam.

On Christmas Eve 2013 I returned to the US to spend Christmas Day with Jim and my mom and son.   My son Paul fixed us a fabulous Christmas dinner including the BEST collard greens I’ve ever tasted.  I was soooo surprised.   It was great spending Christmas with my little family…AND, my son announced his intention to propose to his sweetheart on New Years Eve.  I couldn’t be happier…she is a wonderful woman and beautiful to boot.

Xmas Day...Jim and me with Paul and mom

Xmas Day…Jim and me with Paul and mom

There’s a fabulous country cooking restaurant near Paul’s house where we couldn’t resist their really fattening stuff for breakfast. But we were blown away when the menu one day announced Chicken Fried Bacon with Sausage Gravy Dipping Sauce.   Can you believe this photo????  We loved it!

2013 ChickenFriedBacon

Chicken Fried Bacon with Sausage Gravy

I’m always amazed when I return to the US, by the difference in life there and life in Panama.   I couldn’t help but think of Mazlow’s Hierarchy of Needs when I saw this young man at the work in the photo below.   Publix Supermarkets pays him to blow dry the shopping carts after it rains.   Only in America!  In Panama you’re lucky if you get a shopping cart that works, wet or dry!

Blow Drying a Shopping Cart!!!

Blow Drying a Shopping Cart!!!

For New Years we drove up to High Springs for a big party at the horse barn of my best friend Judi and her husband Mike, which was a big surprise to all my friends.  Mike collects and restores vintage cars, and here we are a couple of them.

2013 Car2

2013 Car1

From there we drove up to Destin, Florida to visit Jim’s son and his family.  It was the first time I’d met them and I was overwhelmed by their generous and warm welcome.   I truly feel part of Jim’s family.   Now we both know each other’s families (we both have one son…just one of the many things we have in common).  Here’s Jim’s son Chip.

father son wasson

Chip & Jim

Then, we drove back to Sorrento to continue the task of packing for the move.  The container got off with no problems, other than one new rug not getting in.  Since the container is sealed and not to be opened until it is in Panama, they had to break the seal and put the rug in…then reseal it with us there and signing for the process.

Loading the container

Loading the container

We returned to Panama together on January 14, in time for my birthday on the 20th.   Somehow it doesn’t seem like 71 is so old…I feel like a teenager experiencing the excitement of a new love.   Jim took me to a new resort at the beach for a luxury overnight…we had our own cabana with a private patio and hot tub.   Friends from the island in the photo below came over and joined us for dinner.  We lazed in the pool and had a great time, and started our year off together with a bang!

Boca Del mar

Our private hideaway on the Pacific

SuperBowl Sunday was fun….we watched the game at a dinner party with our friends and ate way too much.  But it was fun.  Jim rooted for the Broncos and I supported the SeaHawks because a friend here is from Seattle.

Jim and his son Chip

Super Bowl Sunday

That’s it for this post…..next you’ll be seeing more of the house and our stuff arriving on the container.   Stay tuned and have a terrific 2014!

Posted by: pennyinparadise | November 30, 2013

Me, My Man & Our Mountain

Some of you have complained that you haven’t heard from me in a while…no new blog postings. That’s because I’ve been very, very busy falling in love. YES, it’s true. After almost 30 years of single life, during which time (as you can see by the previous contents of this blog) I’ve been VERY happy being independent and carefree..making my own decisions, doing just what I want to when I want to. Those who know me probably saw me as the least likely woman to partner up! Well, I agreed with them until recently. Now I’m a happy half of a pair, and want to stay that way for the rest of my life. I’ve truly found the man God(ess) made for me. His name is Jim Wasson, and like me, he and I both turned 70 earlier in 2013, and we both love music, reading, cooking, being creative and in Panama and want to live in Boquete forever. To that end, Jim bought a fabulous piece of land on Jaramillo Mountain overlooking Volcan Baru volcano, the village below, all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

So you don’t stay in suspense over what we look like as a pair, here we are! And, as you can see Boston Becky loves him too.

Jim owns Panama Red Rum here in Panama, but lives in Florida.  We met when he sponsored Boquete Jazz & Blues Festival 2012 where I was handling the marketing.  He's a GREAT dancer, creative and fun.

Jim owns Panama Red Rum here in Panama, but lives in Florida. We met when he sponsored Boquete Jazz & Blues Festival 2012 where I was handling the marketing. He’s a GREAT dancer, creative and fun.

We spent weeks together during the festival, and got to know each other better.  The rest is history.

We spent weeks together during the festival, and got to know each other better. The rest is history.

Don't you think we make a great looking couple?

Don’t you think we make a great looking couple?

Jim was born in this town, Vero Beach, Florida.  What fun to visit his home town.

Jim was born in this town, Vero Beach, Florida. What fun to visit his home town.

Jim is Boston Becky's "boy toy" because they enjoy the same hobby….nap time!

Jim is Boston Becky’s “boy toy” because they enjoy the same hobby….nap time!

Actually, Boston Becky thinks Jim is her "lap dog".

Actually, Boston Becky thinks Jim is her “lap dog”.

The house Jim bought was a small house with a million dollar view, 4,200 feet above sea level on a mountain called Alto Jaramillo, on about 5 acres of land.    It’s nestled in a little valley, and the 5 acres next to it (all jungle) was also for sale, so I figured if Jim was “all in”, I should be too.   So I’ve sold my condo (yes…the one I just finished a major renovation and moved into 2 years ago), and bought the piece next door.   Now we have a full 10 acres of our own private valley on the mountain…our piece of paradise.

The seller had just begun renovation that was very basic, enlarging the kitchen a bit, adding a concrete deck (terrace) out back and enlarging the space to include the old outdoor terrace inside.   It looked simple enough to complete, and so we took it on.   Now, those of you who know me will say “oh, Penny has a new renovation project….she can do that”.   But now I have a partner…one who has BIG vision and wants MORE…BETTER.   So, at this point in time (Thanksgiving of 2013) we have basically doubled the size of the house, completely rewired and plumbed it, torn out all the walls, made new walls and made that concrete deck a wonderful, glassed-in living room…which is no small feat in an earthquake zone, cantilevered out over a hillside and strong enough to hold up an antique spanish tile roof that gains 40% weight in the rain.  Suffice it to say, it has been a challenge.   OH YES, and I need to mention that the contractor doing the renovation died of a heart attack in the driveway 6 weeks after we bought the house.

But….little by little (poco a poco as we say here) it is getting done, and we’re hoping to be in by February 1st.  Here are some photos of the way the house looked when we bought it.   Pretty simple just to finish it, huh????

Original front door

Original front door

Original front pop-out on master side of front of house.

Original front pop-out on master side of front of house.

Original pop out kitchen extension with little roof.

Original pop out kitchen extension with little roof.

Inside original kitchen extension

Inside original kitchen extension

Original new concrete deck terrace overlooking mountain.

Original new concrete deck terrace overlooking mountain.

About 1/3 of the day view (I don't have a wide angle lens)

About 1/3 of the day view (I don’t have a wide angle lens)

Typical sunset view off the concrete deck terrace (soon to be our living room…well, not SOON, but someday).

Typical sunset view off the concrete deck terrace (soon to be our living room…well, not SOON, but someday).

Well, not so simple, as it turns out.   Here is some of the interim work….just to make you appreciate what is soon to be the finished house.  There’s no way to capture what’s going on under the house which, thankfully, has a full walk around for plumbing and wiring work.  This is because the house is sitting out over a hillside.   Since the entire house had to be rewired including conduit, panel boxes, etc. and all plumbing pipes replaced, this walk around was very important.

The casita needed serious drainage help.

The casita needed serious drainage help.

Boston Becky needs to be contained…10 jungle acres are just too much for her to have free reign of.

Boston Becky needs to be contained…10 jungle acres are just too much for her to have free reign of.

Water management on a mountain in a tropical rain forest requires good drainage…we put in plenty!

Water management on a mountain in a tropical rain forest requires good drainage…we put in plenty!

We built in the rainiest months….sometimes the workers created their own big umbrella so they could keep working.

We built in the rainiest months….sometimes the workers created their own big umbrella so they could keep working.

Master sitting room view.

Master sitting room view.

New bathrooms & closet makes its mark

New bathrooms & closet makes its mark

Concrete wall being poured for new master bathroom and closet.

Concrete wall being poured for new master bathroom and closet.

Our office has a great view

Our office has a great view

One day I walked into the master bedroom and through the closet, and there was NO exterior wall in there!

One day I walked into the master bedroom and through the closet, and there was NO exterior wall in there!

Part of old terrace will be our sitting room.  See guys building living room out the window wall?

Part of old terrace will be our sitting room. See guys building living room out the window wall?

Old has become the gallery.  Other side of that wall is our master sitting room.

Old terrace has become the gallery. Other side of that wall is our master sitting room.

CenterColumn

Big beams tied together with concrete walls under new living room

Big beams tied together with concrete walls under new living room

Old roof OFF to tie in new roof

Old roof OFF to tie in new roof

Earthquake+Mountain=Big holes filled with rebar and concrete!

Earthquake+Mountain=Big holes filled with rebar and concrete!

EVERYTHING about the guest side had to be redesigned (read that as torn down and rebuilt)!

EVERYTHING about the guest side had to be redesigned (read that as torn down and rebuilt)!

Terrace becomes a living room

Terrace becomes a living room

Walls Go Up

Walls Go Up

Walls Go Down

Walls Go Down

Terrace becomes a living room

Terrace becomes a living room

So you see, I’ve been a bit too busy to post on the blog.   But thought I’d better catch up or else fall so far behind I never would try.  The house should be finished by February 1.   We will fly back to Florida on Christmas Eve for the holiday with my family, and then pack up the container at Jim’s house full of furniture of his we’re bringing along with new things we’ve bought for our new home.   A 40′ container will roll out of his driveway around January 10, we’ll fly home to Panama on January 14.  Hopefully windows, cabinets and floors will be in place and we can just busy ourselves with painting and cleaning in preparation for the big day when the container arrives.   

Stay tuned for future updates…..and we’ll be ready to host visitors in the beautiful new guest suite around April.  In the meantime, keep in touch with me at my email or by phone.  I’ve got a new US local number which is 321-215-7678.

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