A Travellerspoint blog

The Art of Buying Groceries

Spending time in town

sunny 85 °F

Tuesday, 11/9/10-Wednesday, 11/10/10. I have designated Wednesday as my grocery shopping day. It gives me a chance, midweek, to take the bus into town and gives a change to my daily routine. Today I had several things on my agenda to do so I started out semi early. When I arrived in town, I went first to the Mailbox Etc. store to see about getting some things printed out. They were closed. The sign on the door said they were closed because of the Holiday. I don’t know what the Holiday was and all the other stores were opened. Oh, well. Then I went across the street to the other mall to check out the food court I had read about. I had been to this mall several times and did not know they had a food court. I didn’t miss much. All they had was a Chinese food, a Sushi place and a Dominos Pizza. Once all the spaces are filled, it will look just like the food courts in all the US malls.

My next stop was for lunch. I wanted to check out the restaurant where the expat meetings are held. I ordered langostinas which are large shrimp that are supposed to taste like lobster. They still tasted like shrimp to me and the lunch was expensive. Get this: regular tea is .65, iced tea is $1.25. I guess ice is expensive in Panama.

Next, I did my grocery shopping and as I have done so much on this journey, I learned another lesson. I should never buy more than about 10 items at a time because otherwise carrying the bags is too cumbersome. I had three bags and not only was it inconvenient on the bus but I had to schlep them the ½ mile down the road to home. Must have been all that stuff I bought to make tacos. Ymmmm!

I did notice that I am in better shape as I was hardly winded when I got home.

Posted by Jan Foster 15:31 Archived in Panama Comments (0)

Mysteries of Sound and Fruit

Sunshine Finally!

sunny 84 °F

Sunday, 11/7/10-Monday, 11/8/10. I was awakened early Sunday morning by a loud noise that sounded like someone throwing stones at the windows and roof. I got up to investigate. There was no one or nothing near the house but as soon as I was up, it stopped. This morning I was up early anyway and all of a sudden the same noise started up again. I looked out the window and it was two large birds, looking similar to Toucans, pecking at the windows and roof. Mystery solved.

Yesterday afternoon my neighbor, the caretaker from next door, came over and presented me with an unfamiliar looking piece of fruit. I did not have the presence of mind to ask him what it was but I was certain I could find out so I went on the internet and did some research. The closest thing I could come to was that it was a strange variety of mango. I even showed it to my cousin Karen who lives in California (we were Skyping last night) and she couldn’t identify it either.
Johnny the Caretaker and Neighbor

Johnny the Caretaker and Neighbor

This morning he comes over again with two large greenish, yellow things and I did ask what these were and he said aguacates (avocados). I had never seen them this large! I think he told me they grew in the back yard and that he doesn’t like them. I asked him what he had given me yesterday and he told me it was a papaya. Another mystery solved!

The sun finally came out today after 7 solid days of rain. I washed my sheets and am headed to the beach to take some pictures. Hope you all have a nice day!
Laundry the Panamanian Way

Laundry the Panamanian Way

Beach Shelters

Beach Shelters

Posted by Jan Foster 08:32 Archived in Panama Comments (1)

Daily chores and other tidbits

Rain, rain and more rain

rain 78 °F

Monday-11/1/10-Saturday-11/6/10. I have been offline for only 6 days but it seems like a lifetime. I am amazed at how dependant I have become on my laptop. It is truly my lifeline to the outside world.
Then again, there hasn’t been much to blog about. I am in this cute little house a block away from the Pacific Ocean and ½ mile the other way to the highway/buses. My landlord suggested I get a cheap phone with a few minutes just for emergencies. I saw the value in that, so Monday I rode the bus to Coronado (28km) and bought one. I asked the salesperson if this phone would be good in all the countries I was going to visit and he said yes, all I would have to do is take it to a phone repair store and get it unlocked. Ooookayyy. I’m not sure about that but will do as he says. In the meantime, I am covered here in Panama.
I am learning to get along with less and less.
Laundry: In Ecuador, I always had someone who would do my laundry for me. Here I am on my own. Good thing I grew up in the 60’s! I hand wash all my clothes and hang them on the clothesline (remember clothespins?). If they get rained on its ok, it just rinses the soap out better. There is a shower here every day usually in the late afternoon.
Cooking: I have no measuring spoons, a small 2 oz measuring cup, no microwave, no oven and no dishwasher. I have an electric burner and two gas burners, a toaster oven and an outdoor grill (no charcoal). I also have a refrigerator, a sink with running cold water and plenty of dishes, bowls, silverware and pots and pans. I make do. Today I plan to make a pot of spaghetti. Last night I made popcorn in a covered frying pan on top of the burner. Remember those days? Next time I go to the grocery store, I’m going to look for a pan of JiffyPop.
AC: I have a window unit in the bedroom. My landlord said if I run it for 3 hours before bedtime, I will be able to turn it off and run the ceiling fan all night. I don’t think so! I turn the AC on low cool and it stays on all night. I hate being hot when I’m trying to sleep.
Language: I don’t speak Spanish well at all. I try, but I cannot carry on a conversation and can only pick out a word here or there. I study every day, but it’s not coming very fast. The caretaker came over last night and tried to ask me something. I could tell he wasn’t very patient with my inability to understand him, so I got out my Spanish-English Dictionary (really big book that I got at Half-Price Books for $1) and handed it to him. What I finally understood was that he was asking if any cars came to his gate while he was gone. I was able to tell him, without the book that Cable & Wireless had been there. He seemed happy about that and went on his way. I’m a snob and I think everyone should speak English but then I wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn Spanish, would I?
It has rained for three days straight, so I have been stuck in the house. My laundry is on the line getting rinsed off good and if the sun comes out today, they will be dry in a couple hours.
My landlord is coming by today with his brother, who is supposed to provide internet service for me, so hopefully, I will get to post this and be one with the world once more. Yippeee! (Yes, he came but we had to go into town and buy a new sim card but at least it worked and I am back in the world.)

Posted by Jan Foster 16:43 Archived in Panama Comments (1)

I´ve found Paradise

House by the Beach

sunny 82 °F

Monday, 11/1/10. Yesterday my landlord, Carlos, his wife, daughter and baby boy and me came to my new residence. We got the house ready for me and Carlos cooked ribs and chicken on the BBQ. They left around 6 and I was exhausted. This house has AC in the bedroom, so I spend a comfortable night sleeping in the cool air. I took a cold water shower this morning. It wasn´t too bad. It is like jumping into a cool pool, you soon get used to it. I did some hand laundry and hung it on the line. It reminded me of doing it as a teenager. Then I ate breakfast, got dressed, put on some sunscreen, grabbed my purse and umbrella and walked 1/2 mile to the highway to catch a bus into Coronado $1. The umbrella was suggested to me as a way to stay cooler in the sun and it sure worked. It´s also a good idea to carry one as you never know when a rainstorm is going to kick up here. I bought a cheap phone and bought a phone card since I am out in the boonies with no phone and no internet. I should have internet by the end of the week, so today I am using the internet cafe. When I get home this afternoon, after lunch at McDonalds, I am putting on my bathing suit and heading for the beach. Then I´ll have a quiet dinner and veg.

I don´t know when I will be able to post again as this week is holiday week for Panama and I am told that even though I will get a bus into town I probably won´t get one going back because they will be filled coming out of Panama City and will just pass me by. So I am stuck at the beach for the rest of the week. Rough life, huh?

Posted by Jan Foster 09:25 Archived in Panama Comments (1)

Moving Out to the Country

Spending time with myself for a change

semi-overcast 81 °F

Saturday, 10/30/10. I wanted to get this posting finished before I move into my little house in the country as I don’t know yet what the internet situation will be. I have located an internet café in a nearby town so I will be able to check email and post entries to my blog periodically. But until I get wireless internet service, contact will be sporadic at best.
I am spending a quiet day by the computer, catching up on my phone calls and emails. I also downloaded some free ebooks from Amazon so I’ll have something to read while out there. And finally, and most important, I am feverously downloading my favorite TV shows. I’ll download as many as I can today. There are two TV’s at the house, but not cable, so I don’t know what the selection for shows will be like.
Talked to my son Andy today and hoping to talk to my grandson before I head out.
There are two large grocery stores in the nearby town that we will be stopping at before reaching the house, so I am excited to see if I can get my complete list of items. Most importantly is my decaf coffee. I actually found a restaurant this morning where I ate breakfast that serves it. It is the first one I have run across in my Latin American experience.
Carlos, the homeowner who showed me all around yesterday, took me to a nearby restaurant where I will be and introduced me to the Chicago native owner, Sheila. The hamburger we had for lunch was wonderful, but these people don’t cook the French fries enough. I think it’s the kind of potato they use, but I usually tell them to fry them extra crispy.
There are a ton of restaurants around that I can go to, but in the interest of saving money, I will be doing a lot of cooking this month and staying home. I'm dying for a big pot of spaghetti! This is also going to be my contemplation month where I plan to write, pray and meditate a lot. Just want to spend some time with myself and God.
I want everyone who I know who is reading this blog that I miss you and can’t wait to see you again when this adventure completed. Hope you miss me too!

Posted by Jan Foster 11:18 Archived in Panama Comments (1)

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