Posted by: pennyinparadise | January 22, 2016

Vacation Adventure #2 – Napa Valley

NAPA VALLEY:  After leaving Marin County, we traveled north to Napa Valley.   This amazing area is full of vineyards and one winery after another.   We stayed in a great resort with delicious food and ponds with swans and mallard ducks.   Every day we ventured forth to visit wineries and the only problem we had was figuring out how to get back to Panama with all the wine we couldn’t resist buying.   Jim had never been to Napa before and we was gobsmacked by the place.  Interesting fact is that, despite the miles and miles of vines, Napa only grows 4% of the total wine output of the state of California.  It’s just the best marketed of all the areas.

Here is our photo gallery…just mouse-over the picture and the slides will progress automatically.   There will be 2 more chapters to our vacation adventures, after this one.

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Posted by: pennyinparadise | January 22, 2016

Vacation Adventure #1 – San Francisco and Marin County

SAN FRANCISCO & SAUSALITO:  After 2 years of total focus on getting our new house completed and furnished and working on Jim’s Panama Red Rum business, we finally found time for a “real” vacation (not just to Florida for family).  We decided to center our vacation around a visit to my cousin Joy’s new grandson, Connor Cassin.  He just turned 1 and he is sooo cute!   They live in San Anselmo (Marin County), California and since I have lived in both San Francisco city and Monterey/Carmel, I wanted Jim to enjoy the beauty and bounty of the Northern California circuit.   There are so many photos that we are dividing this trip into 4 different sections, starting out with Vacation Adventure #1 of San Francisco City and Marin County.  Enjoy! (Photos are organized into GALLERIES which rotate automatically.  Read the captions at the bottom of each photo for descriptives.)

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We then rented a car and drove over the GGB into Marin County, where we stayed in Sausalito, overlooking the Bay, at the  magnificent Casa Madrona, which has a very interesting history.  We were treated to a Classic Car Show right across the street, where both Jim and I visited cars from our past.   One day we visited the incredible giant redwoods of Muir Woods.

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Next we traveled the short distance north to spend the afternoon with my new Grand Nephew, Connor Cassin, who just celebrated his 1st birthday.  His mom Tracy is my cousin Joy’s only child and her husband Mike is a GREAT guy!   They are both nurses in San Francisco, and visiting with them and Mike’s folks was a delight.

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OK…that’s all the photo galleries this post will hold.   Move on to Vacation Adventures #2.

Posted by: pennyinparadise | November 26, 2015

2015 Rolls Along

It’s been a busy year here in Boquete.   The house is complete and now the work is going on in the gardens.   Jim has had stone walls built out front, he has created a tee box to hit golfballs from, I’ve planted rose gardens with 80 rose bushes that give us constant flowers in the house.

Look for Jim way at the bottom of these huge Century plants that are in bloom.

Look for Jim standing way at the bottom of these huge Century plants that are in bloom in our yard.

Roses from my garden

Roses from my garden are always in bloom

Jim sings his now-famous MAGIC MAN at a the 10th anniversary of the Boquete Community Theater.

Jim sings his now-famous MAGIC MAN at a the 10th anniversary of the Boquete Community Players Theater

The celebration included a dinner dance...we look pretty good for 2 old codgers in their 70's! We danced the night away.

The celebration included a dinner dance…we look pretty good for 2 old codgers in their 70’s! We danced the night away.

Jim's granddaughter Lizzy (4th from right) with her dance troupe...she tells me she's going to be Rocket one day...I believe her!

Jim’s granddaughter Lizzy (4th from right) with her dance troupe…she tells me she’s going to be Rockette one day…I believe her!

Even after 10 years, I still love seeing the horses and cows on the roads in town.

Even after 10 years, I still love seeing the horses and cows on the roads in town.

Our Thursday ladies golf group is growing

Our Thursday ladies golf group is growing..that’s me 3rd from the left

Two more different dogs you cannot find. Becky & Tessa are great friends and playing partners.

Two more different dogs you cannot find. Becky & Tessa are great friends and playing partners.

Stay tuned for photos of our fabulous Northern California vacation!

 

 

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!!

 

 

 

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