Tuesday, January 31, 2017


Question by the Moody Blues.

Many questions tonight as we participated in Trivia Night. Our team did really well, but lost it all in the final round. What are the names of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse? We know now, but too late. Anyway we had lots of fun and met some nice people. Trivia is every two weeks at the local roller skating rink. About 60 people, mostly American retirees attended. All the entrance fees ($3) go to a local charity. Another dollar for the prize fund for the first two teams.

The day started with a sunny morning and we sat outside and studied our Spanish. Drove to town in time for lunch at a tiny cafe across from school. For $6.75 we had a great meal. I actually had a beef soup with a huge hunk of meat (flanken) in it and a bowl of rice. Jeff had chicken breast, rice, salad and a diet Coke. Quite a deal!

School was fun today and getting hard. Just the two of us in class which is lovely. Working on "this and that" and "these and those." My head is about to explode. Still have to tackle my homework, but it will wait until the morning.

Some photos of us in our classroom and the view from our window.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Today's title is our favorite show and so appropriate since Jeff had a trim and a shave with a straight razor.

We got up early and found a windy day with gusts blowing through the trees. We got, got outta bed, dragged a comb across our heads... Could not resist - sorry!  Anyway we went into Boquete early to walk around and explore a bit before school. We walked by the fire department and the beautiful Central Park. This is a large square in the middle of town with businesses of all types surrounding it. There is lots of seating and the location of many celebrations.

We walked up a side street and found a barber shop. Barber Lasso has an immaculate place and Jeff asked him to give him a trim. After using the translation app on his cell phone, Jeff felt confident that Lasso understood what to do. Jeff sat in his dated chair which had a large crank on the side to raise and lower the height and to lay it back.

A great job was done and Jeff is looking mighty guapo (handsome.) All this for $8.00!

We walked back toward the park passing the farmer's market where we shopped on Saturday.

On this side of the park we saw a large menorah that the Chabad Rabbi installed this past Chanukah.
We found several places to eat that had been recommended and also the Mandarin Supermarket. After almost two weeks we found steel wool pads. They are not Brillo or SOS, but they work and I am thrilled. Small things make me so happy. Still have not found dishwasher detergent, but will continue looking. They did have Tostitos Scoops and I can really enjoy my guacamole now.

For lunch we went to The Orchid which Brian recommended. We sat outside on the shaded porch.

For a whopping $8.00 we each had a lovely plate of food. I had stewed chicken - dark quarter - with rice topped with lentils in broth, and beets with mayonnaise topping. Jeff had pork slices with rice and a small salad -and a diet coke. Quite a deal and really good food.

We walked to school and delighted that our class this week is just the two of us. Tamara is our teacher and we covered so much material in our four hours. The photo below is the small shopping center where our school, Habla Ya, is located.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Only in the Movies

Today's title is from a terrific show, "Kiss of the Spider Woman." We saw it on Broadway with Raul Julia and Chita Rivera.

Another lazy Sunday. I got myself outside to take a walk around the neighborhood. It was pretty windy and we are at the top of a good sized hill. According to my Fitbit, I climbed 15 flights of stairs walking uphill to get home.We sat outside listening to the birds and had lunch.

At 1:00 on Sundays there is a film club at the BCP building. That stands for Boquete Community Theatre and made up by the expat community. The building and grounds are used for the Tuesday market and weekly lecture. In the center there is a lovely coffee shop with sandwiches and snacks. There are comfy sofas, tables and chairs inside and outside. This is where the movie is shown on a  65" flat screen TV. I had a Chai Tea and we shared popcorn. The movie was "Cloud Atlas" and it is weird. Made in 2012 it has a stellar cast including Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and more faces you would recognize. Sort of sci-fi, some good laughs and jumping back and forth between times. I really like it and need to see it again to gain more understanding. A good way to spend 2 1/2 hours. And, it is free, although they did pass a basket for donations.

On the way home we stopped at this statue on the road going out of town. It recognizes those who died in wars and men and women who farmed, labored and were pioneers and founders of Boquete.

Back home we lazed around some more and watched my beloved CNN. The political news does not make me happy, but good to stay informed. After dinner more TV and I am about to study my Spanish in preparation for our lesson tomorrow.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Lemon Tree

Another spectacular day. We slept late and sat outside watching the birds and enjoying the sunshine. We now have a water dish and the birds come to our balcony wall to drink and eat pieces of banana and apple that Jeff cuts up for them. I took a quick ride down to the bakery to pick up a chocolate bobka that I had ordered. Had a slice warmed up with a little butter and it was beyond delicious.

We had a plan for lunch today to drive out to Lucero Golf Course and eat at their gourmet restaurant. The drive was fun, about 12 miles of country road with canyons and mountain views. So many colorful flowers line the road. A few one lane bridges and lots of turns and twists. This horse was on top of a huge hill and just standing there with no fencing.

 We arrived at the gated entrance to this posh community with manicured gardens and had to sign a waiver to be let inside. Saw some fabulous houses with terrific views.
The golf course is supposed to be a good one and certainly pretty. We parked and walked through a trellised area with orchids, greenery and a tree that looked like it was growing daisies. Then up steps to the restaurant level with an infinity pool and sitting area.

We entered the restaurant and decided to sit outside on the shaded terrace.

We got to meet Chef Craig Jacobs from NY who creates amazing dishes. He told us he has lived in many places around the world and brings those experiences to his food creations.

We enjoyed a leisurely lunch with dishes suggested by the chef. Jeff had a large portion of fish and chips with big, thick pieces of fish in a tempura batter along with fries and cole slaw. I had panko planked salmon and it was delicious. Had salsa on top and a smear of mustard on the side. Pureed potatoes and a vegetable with a Thai twist. Broccoli rabe with sesame seeds, carmelized onion and a brown sauce. So yummy! I will have half of the salmon for dinner tonight.

We sat there a while enjoying the scenery and doing Spanish flash cards on Jeff's cell phone. Every time the waiter passed by he would tell us the translation for the word on the screen. Very funny!

Rode home and decided to take another road. After a half mile or so the road turned to gravel and warned that only 4 x 4 vehicles should enter. We turned around and went back the way we came.

Now we headed into town to pick up a few grocery items. The local supermarket is called Romero and they have lots of items needed by the large "gringo" community here. We got some meat and chicken at the butcher counter where the helpful clerk spoke English. Found whole wheat crackers and a nice soft camembert cheese. Next we went across the street where there was a fruit stand in a two story building. Turns out this is a farmer's market and open every day. There are at least 12 separate stalls with such beautiful produce. I bought two juicy lemons for $.10 and two large zucchinis for $.50. This will be our new hangout.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Shabbat Shalom

Friday and the end of a busy and wonderful week. We slept late and I drove down to the bakery for some fresh rye bread, bagels and a slice of blueberry cheesecake. We made a light lunch of tuna sandwiches, avocado and cheese. Then we drove to school and signed up to take a second week of classes.

This week we had two teachers Mitzila and Tamara each doing two hours of instruction. Today was Tamara's birthday and we sang "Feliz Compleanos" to her and she was delighted. Each profesora took a photo of our class.

This is Jeff, Judy, Mitzila, Ute and Candise.

Tamara with our class.

Tamara looked outside and saw Bajareque which is best described as a mist rather than a drizzle. It actually looked like snowflurries, but it is just moisture. Afterwards we saw this rainbow outside the window.

We said goodbye to our classmates who are leaving Boquete this weekend and went home to get ready for dinner. Our new friend, Barbara owns the Jewish bakery near our condo. She was kind enough to tell the Chabad Rabbi about us and we are invited to Shabbat dinner tonight.

We arrived at the condo of Rabbi Yakov and his wife Hana at 6:45 and returned home just before 11:00. We had an interesting evening and a delicious dinner. There were two families visiting from Panama City who we enjoyed meeting and also a young man from Chicago who was born and raised in Russia. Another couple from David were there and he was born and raised in Israel where he served in the army before moving to Panama. Yakov is originally from Venezuela and Hana from Brazil. They both speak several languages and so friendly and special hosts.

Jeff and the men davened while the rebbetzin finished preparing dinner. Then long tables were set in the living area and we all ritually washed our hands. A traditional meal was served with challah, wine, baked salmon, couscous, quinoa, tehina, baba ghanoush, two kinds of pasta and salad. Then chicken and rice was served and finally dessert. In between we sang songs and benched after the meal.

The best part of all was another couple that came. They had been on our hike and we got along great and so glad to see them. Turns out she is a Russian Jew and thought we were Jewish, but afraid to ask when we met. He grew up in Levittown and we had been amazed to meet in Boquete when we lived so near to each other. We had so much fun talking during dinner. Alina is from Moscow and she and I grew up eating many of the same foods and same kinds of family experiences. Again we are reminded of what a small world it is. Greg is not Jewish and had never experienced anything like this Shabbat meal. Jeff was able to explain things to him and we hope to see them again to spend some time. They are here for six months and then moving to a coastal area for another six months. They moved here from Charlotte, NC.

So it was a wonderful day and night and now we are looking forward to the weekend.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Coffee (In A Cardboard Cup)

Today's title is a song from "70, Girls, 70" which is a show produced in Sun City a few years ago.

A busy day starting with a tour of a small coffee farm. Panama is a world leader in producing superior coffee. Much of it is grown on farms in the hills surrounding Boquete. We met our guide Felix in Boquete and we all took a taxi to the farm.This place we visited is certified for agroturistica and the word for a small farm is finca. La Milagrosa means miracle.

This finca is owned by a man named Tito and he has named the farm for his father Don Alfredo. This is a very special place with specialty coffees that are only sold on the farm or exported to other countries. The premier brand is called "Geisha" and they also grow Arabica.

We walked to the fields and saw the coffee trees. Different varieties of coffee are planted near each other so they can cross pollinate providing interesting blends. The trees range from one year to 70 years and the finca is aout 12 acres with 40,000 trees. Sun and shady areas support the trees. The coffee beans are ripening this time of year and they can be green ranging to bright red.

Blossoms and tiny beans starting to grow. A native family was picking beans. The children are on their summer vacation from school so helping their parents make more money as they are paid by the pound for what they pick.

We tasted the coffee beans by smashing the bean and removing the outer skin. Some companies make tea out of the skin. The beans are covered in a slimy layer and tasted sweet. The next step is to put the beans in a machine that removes the outer layer and then the beans are put in bins to dry.

The beans are then sorted by hand and bad or bruised beans are put in a compost pile.

Looking up we saw this huge wasp nest in a distant pine tree. Now we moved inside to see how they silk screen their own bags to hold the coffee.

The beans are put in these bins and then washed. The light ones are not suitable for roasting and they float down and are discarded.

Mr. Tito has made many of his own machines out of parts from cars and other machines.The roaster is made from a headlight and really clever. We watched as the beans were roasted and learned that different types of coffee comes from how long the beans are roasted. Light, then more roasting gives you medium or French Roast and the most roasted beans are Dark or Italian Roast. Interesting fact is the light roast has the most caffeine!

At this point we were served a cup of medium roast coffee. Jeff and I tasted it and after adding sugar I drank my entire cup.

We sat around and learned about the history of coffee with Felix and Ute, a German friend who is in our Spanish class.

On the way home we had this beautiful view of Boquete. Below is a view of Volcan Baru, a dormant volcano which is the highest peak in Panama.

 Purple Bananas

Back in town we went for lunch at a local cafe. Jeff and I had the same plate with chicken, rice and beans, and cole slaw for $3.50 with no tax!

School this afternoon and the topic was verb conjugation.