The C Word

I have been gone a while- not updating my blogs or anything like that. I don’t like to dwell on negative things, so I will just zip through this information; I have cancer. I am in chemotherapy. I am getting good care in Panama. I have support from friends and family. I am coping.

On to better things…

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I think I’ve figured out why…

I have always felt weird. Out of place. Like I don’t belong. This is likely a product of the fact that I am bipolar and prone to depression episodes… blah blah blah, but the result doesn’t change. I always feel that disconnect. It is slightly Asperger-y. When I am around people my age, my ethnicity, my nationality, I find that everyone is going in a vastly different path than me. Not better or worse, just different. I have a very unorthodox life – I am child free by choice, an atheist, a nerd, a writer, an expat and my political views are my own and suit no party I know of. This usually limits coffee time chat to surface topics of movies, music and books. If I had one of the things listed there, it would make being social difficult. With the entire list… well, I make friends as easily as the cast of Lost made ice.

So, that weird disconnect pushes even further with me. I don’t understand most “normal” rituals. I grew up in a weird way and spent years in group homes. I look at rituals like weddings and have no idea why or how. I had a wedding with the dress and Hawaii and the pictures on the beach. It was lovely, but it didn’t change anything. We did it for the experience. It was worth it for that, but why do people go through so much trouble… basically. I don’t understand buying diamonds, or wearing white or having babies or 2 for 1 drink night at Applebee’s. I don’t understand why people water their lawns when water is so scarce. Why do people even have lawns? Aren’t there better things to do than tend to a non-productive patch of grass that no one walks on? And why $50,000 cars? Why baggy jeans? Why student loans that put you in debt for the rest of your life? Why bacon sundaes at Denny’s?

(Note: I wrote this draft, a friend read it and gave me a Denny’s Bacon Sundae. I am now a believer!)

On the other hand, I understand vacations and traveling and collecting mostly useless things like art and antiques. I get those things because they inspire and enrich the mind, in my opinion, instead of ONLY being expensive or simply a misguided idea. Of course, this is all my myopic opinion and means very little in the grand scheme of things. Maybe a wedding inspires someone…. no, it doesn’t. It is something people were told they have to have in order to be “official” about love. I’m being negative and don’t mean to be. Back to disconnect…

So, I am a weirdo. Bonafide.

Enter- moving to Panama. Suddenly all my weirdness, my awkwardness, my issues with communication, my day dreamy habits, my DISCONNECT all have a reason. I’m a foreigner. People kind of expect it. They expect me to fumble over words, to not know how a certain everyday thing works, to not understand the rituals, to have a terrible sense of direction, to be overly polite to the point of embarrassing to make up for it because I feel guilty for not understanding. They expect it. They treat it with kindness and give me a little more time to figure it all out. They explain it to me with compassion rather than scowl at me with a “How can you not know that?” look. On one hand, I can memorize entire Shakespearian plays, solve equations, ramble on about physics and nerd crap till the end of time, but I didn’t know what flannel was until this morning. (See, in Panama I don’t need to know what flannel is because ANYONE WEARING IT IS A PSYCHOPATH.)

I think I’ve figured out why expat life feels comfortable for me. It’s this. The thing. The vaina. (Pana-Spanish for “The thing”)

So, maybe I should start to embrace my weirdness and start to connect a little.

Yeah, good idea.

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Shameless Self Promotion Time (Sorry): My apartment is for rent!

I have a 2 bedroom, 3 bath apartment for rent on Via Argentina, a very hip and lively street with lots of restaurants and things to do. It is across the street from Farmacia Arrocha and you can walk to most of the things you need. Taxis are plentiful in the area too. The apartment is being upgraded with new air conditioners, new cabinets and lots of good things. Apartment comes unfurnished but we can furnish it and negotiate a cost. The apartment is very comfortable and is in a one of the most desirable neighborhoods in the city. A very short walk takes you to a nice little park and there are plenty of spaces to walk your dog. Well behaved dogs are welcome (one only please) and the apartment is strictly no smoking inside the apartment. If you are coming in from outside the country and are not familiar with Panama, I would be glad to help you also. We are happy to help with whatever you might need.

If interested, email me at

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Images Of Panama Cultural Fesitivals

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Things Ex-Pats Should Consider: Volume 1

I have done a “Favorite Things” ongoing volumes of my favorite things about living in Panama, so I would like to do a least favorite things list too. It seems only fair. It is a list of things you should probably consider before committing to living here. If you are pretty laid back, these things will not bother you so much. But if you expect Panama to be the same as a pristine suburb in the US, you may be very disappointed. These things apply to Panama City:

1. Garbage. There is an ineffective garbage pick up service in Panama City. Trash piles up fast and sits a while. You will see piles of it on street sidewalks, often feeding feral cats.

2. Sidewalks, or the lack of them. Sidewalks in PTY are more like an obstacle course. On one block in my neighborhood, which is San Francisco, an upscale community, there are three two foot deep holes, four rusty pipes sticking up from the broken concrete, several mud slicks, three sections of broken tiles, many splits in the concrete where tree roots have pushed up the concrete, two long patches where there is no sidewalk at all and the curb is a full foot long step down. My husband and I are gamers and like to think of it as gaining experience points while walking; “OK, that was 5 XP getting over that hole, 2XP for avoiding the pipe, 10 XP for not getting hit by the oncoming cars and 50 XP if we get across Via Porras alive… it’s like human Frogger.” The guards at the bank across the street cheer when I make it across the street and I break into a victory dance.

3. Traffic. The traffic scares the hell out of me. The only relief from fear I have is the notion that the majority of this chaos is gridlock in the city in which goes slowly and is unlikely to be fatal if you are in a crash.

4. Car horns. AAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH! This is the worst! Panamanians honk their fucking horns at EVERYTHING. All the time. All day, all night. No consideration for other people at all. No courtesy, no common sense. The traffic could be backed up because of construction and everyone is honking, as if the car in front of them can magically take flight and move forward at their whim. I think all car horns in Panama should be forcibly removed. It is a huge detriment to the city, a black eye on what is otherwise an awesome place, despite the negatives.

5. The heat. The humidity. This should probably be #1 but this list is random. The heat and humidity here is fierce. It is brutal. You go outside and you are sticky and hot. For those like my husband who professes to be “a lizard” this might be just fine. If you are one of those alien creatures that professes to be cold in 90 degree weather… eat a sandwich, and the heat might be fine for you. For the rest of us, it is uncomfortable and we must make ways to cope with it easier. I carry misting water bottle and fan with me. I walk with an umbrella to keep the sun off of me. I am pale and I don’t tan. I burst into flames like a phoenix.

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Panama City Dusk


© Triocean – Dreamstime – Panama City Photo

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These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things: Volume 2

El Valle de Anton –

There is something almost mystical about “El Valle”. As you round winding roads, white knuckling turns and come upon this open valley, it feels like a hidden paradise. The market on Sunday Mornings is my favorite time to go. I love hiking up to the painted rock and dipping into the waterfall on the way down.

Because… ceviche! Nothing is better than that on a hot day, which is almost every day here.

Thunder & Lightning
Panama puts on spectacular thunder and lightning shows during rain season. If I am quiet and don’t multi-task, it is meditative.

La Praline Chocolatier
On Via Porras there is a new boutique chocolate shop. It is amaaaaaaazing.

 I have professed my love for Theater Guild of Ancon before and here it is again in the favorites list. This is where I met most of my friends and established a new life.

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Panama thrives and is among the happiest nations, according to Gallup poll

Gallup and Healthways produced the annual “State of Global Well-Being Index,” which this year analyzed 135 world countries in five elements, including financial stability, social relationships, community safety, physical well-being, and sense of purpose (i.e. contributing to society). The results might surprise you. Often, people think of happiness in terms of Polynesian islands and a lot of mai tai drinking in a hammock. But Panama came in number one by a landslide. Panama is growing, changing and moving with a rapid speed that is sometimes breathtaking. In a constantly changing country like this, it is easy to find a way to be part of that change directly, and with that, you feel like you are changing the world because in some little way, you are. According to the Gallup poll, 63% of people in Panama are thriving in at least three of those elements.

Here are the 10 happiest countries, with the percentage of people who are “thriving” in three or more of the elements of well-being:

  • Panama: 61 percent
  • Costa Rica: 44
  • Denmark: 40
  • Austria: 39
  • Brazil: 39
  • El Salvador: 37
  • Uruguay: 37
  • Sweden: 36
  • Canada: 34
  • Guatemala: 34

Gallup Poll at Business Insider with a map

A numbered chart

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5 Gadgets & Apps To Make Expat Life Easier: Volume 1


Whats App – What’s App is a phone messenger service that lets you text internationally for free. Super easy.




Google Translate – Voice to text and back again, Google Translate is extremely useful when trying to communicate in those beginning (and middle) stages when language is a serious barrier. 




Kindle – Oh dear, Kindle! Download books wherever, whenever. Make sure to get the one with the international download capability. 




Rosetta Stone – Simplified language learning. For romance languages like Spanish and French, you would be surprised by how much you already know but did not realize you know. Rosetta Stone is pricey but easy. Conjugate those verbs!




Uber – Find a taxi quick. This tends to be set up more for the first world countries but it is a great service.





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