Posted by: pennyinparadise | September 1, 2018

I’m Making Movies!!

WOW…I’ve learned how to make iMovies on my computer.    Here are my 2 first efforts.

Our home in Boquete

Our rental villa in Boquete


Posted by: pennyinparadise | September 1, 2018

Life in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

I cannot find words to express our joy in being here in SMA (San Miguel de Allende, Mexico).   It is totally different from Panama in many ways.   First of all, it is desert, not rainforest.   Second of all it is higher elevation (6,600 ft compared to 4,500 ft).   And it is charming, charming, charming…with tons of cultural activities, art, music and Mexico is filled with different and exciting places to visit.

I know….I know.   You are all saying MEXICO!!!   How can you live in Mexico where all the cartels and crime are?   Well, we’re not in the drug business so we aren’t part of the crime of cartels.   We exercise the same caution we used when living in Panama and in the 9 months since moving here, we have had no experience with crime.   On the contrary, we feel very safe and know the people here to be kind, courteous and easy going.   As a matter of fact, I feel much more unsafe when I visit the USA than I do in Latin America.  It was the same in Panama and Ecuador when I lived there.  Every time I tune in to American TV news (which I avoid whenever possible) I am appalled at the shootings in schools, parks and buildings there.   So when people ask “Are you safe there?” I just have to laugh.

I’ve also learned a new technology called iMovie, which will provide a more convenient way for you to see our photos….so here goes….

I haven’t had a chance to capture photos of all the art galleries, music concerts and restaurants here..I’ll do that soon so stay tuned!


Posted by: pennyinparadise | April 2, 2018

Hospital Visit in Mexico

One of the first thing people have asked me when I moved to Panama, Ecuador and now Mexico, is….”Are you SAFE there?”.   My answer is always the same….”Are you SAFE there?“.

The second thing people ask is “What is the medical care like” and in Panama and Ecuador I could easily answer….”well, it’s adequate but not great”.    Now, in Mexico, I can actually say “It’s EXCELLENT”.    I  have now spent 5 days in the new (opened in August 2017) hospital MAC in San Miguel, just 4 blocks from my house.  Seems my colon has developed some lesions and this caused me to be admitted into the emergency room.   Luckily, I was able to get health insurance just 12 days before I turned 75, when I would no longer be eligible.  And, luckily, the doctor I’ve found here just happens to be the Medical Director of this new hospital.

Clean, modern, efficient….and excellent.  I had the full monte….xrays, CT Scan, Endoscopy and Colonoscopy.   All excellent.  The ambulance is operated by Cruz Rojo (Red Cross) Mexico and is FREE!!   The doctors and nurses were wonderful.   I am really, really happy to have had this experience.

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Fun things are always happening.  A huge 2 week flower show in one of the parks offers lots of plants.   Music shows abound….of all types.   And people here love their dogs…’s a little guy riding on his owner’s motor bike.

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I’ve joined the country club and was just beginning to play with some women when I ended up in the hospital.  I’ll get back on the course this coming week.

Golf Friends

I’m having Mani/Pedi appointments and this little lady sat next to me this week.  She was very experienced in this and picked out a beautiful pink polish.

This little girl was very, very accustomed to having her nails done

Posted by: pennyinparadise | March 10, 2018

We’re Moving to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

After we vacationed in several Mexico places, we fell in love with San Miguel de Allende, Mexico which is 4 hours north of Mexico City in the high central desert of the Sierra Madre mountains, 6,600 feet above sea level.   It’s dry, which is a big change from the rain forest of Panama.

As you may know, every 5 years or so I get the urge to move to a new place.   In 2008 it was to Cuenca, Ecuador.  18 months later I returned to Boquete.   So, I’ve rented a house here in San Miguel de Allende (SMA for short).   I’ve had to construct a fireplace and 2 split heat/air units to handle the cold in winter and heat of summer.  I’ve also added water treatment, electric garage doors, gardener bodega, washer/dryer and done lots and lots of fixes to plumbing and electrical.   I know that’s not a good idea, but I can’t help but make myself comfortable.

Jim is working on some finishes in our Boquete house, preparing it for sale.  He joined me here in late February for his birthday, then on to the US for business, and back to Panama to continue work on our house.   When he is finished the project he will return to San Miguel, where we will stay through November.  We will have had a full  year’s experience by then, and will decide whether to split our time 1/2 Panama and 1/2 Mexico, or choose one or the other full time.

Becky the Boston Terrier came with me…we survived the cold weather and are now (in mid-March) enjoying the warm.

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A few days after I arrived I celebrated my 75th birthday.   As someone said “If I’d known I would live this long I’d taken better care of myself”.   But this special day was full of surprises.

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My cousin Joy, who moved to Panama 6 years ago, came with me when I moved.  She fell in love with SMA too, and bought a cute condo on a beautiful garden with a river at the bottom.   After trips to see her family in SFO and a trip to Spain with her best friend from childhood, Donna, she will return to SMA to close on and occupy her new condo.  We had a big BOOM the other day, and the whole house shook…turns out a condo under construction across the river from Joy’s condo, had a gas explosion.

Gas explosion across the river from Joy’s new condo in San Miguel

Our wonderful driver Roman is a fabulous guy.  He’s a professional baseball player in northern Mexico, and returns to San Miguel (SMA for short) in off season.  He helped me renovate the house by handling all the subcontractors for me, he took me to buy my car, get my driver’s license, etc. etc. etc.   In return, Jim gave him golf lessons.   Here are some Roman shots:

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There are many things I love about SMA, not the least of which is the FOOD!!  There’s a nearby fabulous upscale mall with great restaurants in it, including PF Chang’s.

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Not only is the food (and ambiance and service) in restaurants a joy here, but there’s music everywhere all the time.

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So….we look forward to posting lots of news in the future, as life develops here in SMA!

Posted by: pennyinparadise | January 21, 2018

Mexico – San Miguel de Allende & Dolores Hidalgo

San Miguel de Allende was the frosting on the cake!!!   We fell in love with it.  Culture galore!   Great restaurants, art galleries, museums, theaters, music….really great.   We had a great Airbnb condo.

Our Airbnb in San Miguel

Map of San Miguel Centro

Entrance to our Airbnb

Some street scenes, churches and buildings in Centro, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are in the gallery below:

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The homes in San Miguel are mostly behind walls with courtyards and beautiful interiors.  Here are a few photos of some homes.

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There are various hot mineral baths in the area….our favorite is La Gruta (the grotto).  Acres of beautiful lawns and gardens, restaurants and pools.   The pools run from medium to warm to hot.   You can spend the entire day there…it’s a fabulous experience.

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One of the highlights of our visit to SMA was the huge variety of restaurants and the wonderful food and courteous and prompt service.

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Of course, no vacation is complete with golf, so we played a couple of times in San Miguel.   My favorite course is Ventanas (Windows), which is a Nick Faldo designed course.   One hole had 12 sand traps in front of the green!!

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Besides great food and art, there is great music everywhere.   And, an occasional horse.

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About an hour away from SMA is Dolores Hidalgo….birthplace of Mexican National Independence and where they make the colorful Talavera pottery.  En route is Los Laboradores development, which is lovely and unusual.

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Posted by: pennyinparadise | January 21, 2018

Mexico – Guadalajara, Tequila, Talaquapaque, Tonala & Ajijic

After leaving Puerto Vallerta we flew to Guadalajara, where we stayed in a lovely condo in a great part of the city.  Beautiful homes, restaurants and the US Embassy.

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There are 2 private trains that take you to the town of Tequilla (yes, with 2 ll’s) where the liquor was invented hundreds of years ago by indigenous peoples when they discovered the Blue Agave, when burned in the fire and left to ferment, created a mood altering beverage which they named after their town.   Now there are hundreds of thousands of acres of Blue Agave grown in this area.   The 2 trains are Jose Cuervo (means Crow in Spanish) and Herradura (means horseshoe in Spanish).

We boarded the train in a big, modern terminal and had a ball en route to the Herradura factory, which has been in business for over 100 years.  The brand was bought by Brown Foreman, but the family still lives on property in the big mansion.   The trip included lots of different tequila drink recipes on the way there and back.  We got a very comprehensive tour, followed by a lunch and show by a huge troupe of Mariachi musicians and costumed dancers.   GREAT fun.

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Another day we drive to Tolana, a small town of crafts and arts, near Guadalajara.  Another day we visited Talaqapaque where artists abound.  Our driver, Miguel, was entertaining and educational.  Like Chicago had COWS, Toronto had MOOSE, New Orleans has FISH and Ocala has HORSES…..Talaqapaque has PIGS….and Jim kissed them all!

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Not far from the Guadalajara Airport is a HUGE lake called Lake Chapala with several small towns around it.   We visited Ajijic, which is a charming little town on the lake, which is 65 miles long and 30 miles wide.

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Posted by: pennyinparadise | January 21, 2018

Mexico – Puerto Vallarta & Bucerias

This year our vacation trip was to Mexico.   First, to Puerto Vallerta, or more accurately to Bucerias (a coastal village 10 miles north of PV).   We stayed in an ocean front condo with a lovely swimming pool, which was greatly appreciated.   Even in October PV is hotter than hell and you either have to spend mid-day inside in A/C or in the pool or ocean.

Bucerias is a quaint little village with good restaurants and shops…we had a great time.

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A couple of highlights to this first leg of our trip were:

TERI & DON MURRAY…..years ago when I first moved to Panama, I enjoyed the friendship of this couple who were world wide adventurers.   After leaving Boquete they moved to Brazil for a while and then to Orcas Island.   We lost touch in the last few years.  So Jim and I are walking down the street in Bucerias and I hear my name….and there are Don & Teri Murray just pulling away from the curb from the restaurant where they had breakfast.  YES….after all these years, on the street of a small town in Mexico, we run into each other.   I forgot they had lived here years ago and started a bakery called Pie In The Sky, which they sold to people who now have 5 stores.  If you want a fun read about some of their adventures, you can get their book PIE IN THE SKY ADVENTURES from Amazon.

Teri and Don Murray at the Marina in Bucerias

Jim and Don at favorite ExPat hangout

One day we treated ourselves to a luxury game of golf and overnight at the Four Seasons Resort and Golf at Punta Mita.   It was SO HOT that a guy came around every 3 holes with ice water neck scarfs and bottled water.   This course was designed by Jack Nicklaus and is only available to guests of the hotel or residents.   It has the ONLY naturally occurring island green on earth.

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Posted by: pennyinparadise | December 24, 2017

Boquete’s Flower & Coffee Faire 2018

For years Boquete has created a Flower & Coffee Fair.

Posted by: pennyinparadise | December 24, 2017

Boquete’s Cabalgata

Horse Parade on the streets of downtown Boquete

Posted by: pennyinparadise | September 19, 2017

Cuban Adventure #1

This year I wanted to give Jim something very special for his birthday (besides his big party seen on my last post), and I decided a trip to Cuba was it.   Jim’s grandfather, Booker, was a real character who made frequent trips to Cuba in the 50’s before Castro took over in 1960 when it was shut down travel for Americans.  One can travel to Cuba (where the whole rest of the world vacations) from Panama, but at the time we went, Americans were everywhere.   The travel ban is lifted for certain reasons and things will change very rapidly…they already are….when the Americans hit the island.

However, recent news is that several airlines are not moving forward on plans to fly from the US.   Disappointment by early visitors from the US is caused by the difficulty getting internet service, no cell service, no American credit cards accepted, expensive hotels and food.   Our group stayed in a large 4 bedroom/4 bath condo that was very modern and not expensive.  We didn’t have any problems but never got on the internet (which was a blessing in disguise).   We felt very safe at all times….however we were always in the tourist areas.

At the party I gave Jim his REAL present….a trip to Cuba!!

So the party was great…I had a TaylorMade golf ball birthday cake and we had 40+ people for the party and golf shoot out in our back yard driving range.  At the cake cutting I gave Jim his “present” which was the invitation below.

Here’s Jim’s birthday card

We went with 8 other people, and had a blast.   We took lots of photos….so many photos that we’ve had to split them into several galleries and 6 posts.

The airport was pretty modern, but we were told not to check our luggage (only carry on) because it would take hours for it to come on the carousel.  Lots of tour groups arriving, including Americans.   The trip into Old Havana where tourists stay offered a display of many billboards praising Fidel and many praising Che and Cienfuegos.

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In the heart of Old Havana (Habana Vieja) there sits the Capitol building.   Designed and built by an American company in the 1920’s/30’s, it is currently undergoing a huge renovation projecct.   The tour guide told me that “it is 2 meters longer than the one in Washington”.   This was a familiar theme in Cuba…..such as the tower in Revolution Plaza being “2 meters taller than the Washington Monument”…and when asked if they have ever been to the US they say “No…of course not!”, and when asked how they know these things they say “Because Fidel told us so”.   Very sweet but very sad.

The National Theater (sometimes called Teatro Gran) is the magnificent building you see the corner of in the first photo below.   Further in the gallery will be closer views of this magnificent building.   We were fortunate to see a Flamenco Show there one night.  It was exactly like being in Carnegie Hall in New York.   Amazing.

Other buildings are shown below, including the iron portraits of Che Guavara and Camilo Cienfuegos displayed on two modern buildings on the opposite side of the Revolution Plaza, across from the Revolution Tower and statue of Jose Marti’ (the man who fought for freedom from Spain….Cuba’s version of Simon Bolivar who feed South and Central America from Spain.

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Everyone knows that Cuba has an amazing amount of 50’s cars…we were surprised by the sheer numbers of them and the incredible condition most of them were in.   And not just in Havana…we understand the entire country has them.  There were thousands in Havana…so many that I’ve had to create more than one gallery just to show you a small portion.

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