* Visiting to the U.S.- a Wee bit of Culture/Sticker Shock*

“I’m in a hurry to get things done, I work and work until life’s no fun

All I really gotta do is live and die but I’m in a hurry and don’t know why”      From the album American Pride “I’m in a Hurry” the American band Alabama 1992-

From Wikipedia: The song is an up-tempo, in which the narrator discusses the rather fast pace of the current society. He states that he is always in a hurry, but has no explanation as to why he is rushing.

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(Kris and I DO rush a bit here in Panama, I think it’s a work ethic thing but we’re trying to get over it!)

As Ma and I walked toward the customs area in Miami hoards of people walked past us. We were not going very fast but not super slow either. It seemed like all the people REALLY needed to get somewhere IMMEDIATELY. Maybe they had connections to make or just wanted to get home, I don’t know. All I know is here in Panama I’m not sure that anyone not involved in a sport moves that quickly! Everything here seems to be done at a more leisurely pace. Ma and I looked at each other, she said “I’m experiencing culture shock!” I had to agree.Welcome to the jungle.

Thankfully, Portland, Maine is more similar to David, Panama. The pace there us more relaxed overall but the wait staff in the restaurants do hustle, the service was great at Gilbert’s Chowder House (Ma had fish chowder and I had fish and chips, FABULOUS!) And 75 State Street has a nice feel, no one rushing (duh, the folks there aren’t spring chickens!) and the staff is calm and cheery.

Now about the food prices….Well, I drove to get some food and had two distinct experiences. The first was at a discount grocery store where you put your purchases in boxes that littered the floor. The temperature outside was near freezing, I stood behind a woman bundled in a floor length black coat and stocking cap. She didn’t appear to be American, maybe a Somali  since many came to Maine to escape the violence of Somalia.  She produced a card for her purchase, a single jar of peanut butter.  She may not have had enough money to afford anything more, it remains a mystery to me. The prices were higher than in Panama but much better than in the next store I went to.M2840001Above is yesterdays haul from the local legumbreria. Weight-49lbs, cost $21.35 which breaks down to about 44 cents a pound. Yum, yum, yummy!

The second food price experience was at the Whole Foods store, If you are not familiar, WF is a high-end organic food chain. The food looks very nice and there is a good variety but the prices were nothing like here in Panama. I can get rib eye steak (granted not as tasty) for $4 lb, I saw rib eye for $29 lb. An apple sized chayote squash was $1.15 (large ones are 4/$1 in Panama). Watermelon was .99 lb vs .20 here. It was obvious that buying fresh fruit/veggies would be out of the range of many people’s budget. Our daughter in Santa Rosa calls Whole Foods “Whole Paycheck”!

Bottom line: Eating good, fresh food is MUCH cheaper in Panama.

These are just a few of the examples of the many differences I noticed. Maine does look like a nice place to live if one can afford it, it’s beautiful, safe, and the people are nice. It should work well for Ma and Panama should work for us.

Later,

j

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*All’s well in Portland and I’m home in Panama*

My trip to Portland is now history. I was quite sure that 75 State Street would be a nice place and it turned out better than we expected. I hustled and got Ma’s one bedroom apartment furnished with all that she needed in record time. M2810004The Maine Mall was mere minutes away, Best Buy and Walmart had most of what she needed, kitchen appliances, plates, containers, etc.M2810001The furniture came from Hub Furniture which was in a 100 year old warehouse with little heat. Couch, desk, recliner, end tables, drop leaf kitchen table with two chairs were qujickly picked out at 11 o’clock and they delivered and set it all up at 2. We were amazed at their delivery speed and happy with the overall quality and look of the rooms when furnished.M2810007 M2810002Portland has quite a long history and 20% of Maine’s population lives there. The roads are great, they have a good hospital (actually two), there are PLENTY of restaurants and folks are always out and about even in cold weather. Spring and summer will bring nice weather and the folks at 75 State who can get out WILL get out in the gardens and beyond. Ma is looking forward to riding the ferry and seeing old friends and relatives.M2810011Ma has a kitchen and usually takes the dinner (noon) meal downstairs in the dining hall which is bright and lovely! I ate there twice and the food is great as is the service. The staff and residents we met were wonderful and helpful. I felt that Kris and I had done the best we could in finding a good, safe place that would provide what we could not here in Panama. She now has friends of her generation and should she need assistance at any time she needs only to press the button on her medical alert device. Ma will be able to communicate with nearly everyone there and that alone is HUGE!

Ma had a fall in the hotel room when I was there and went today to have 6 stitches removed. It looked bad when it happened but at the ER nothing major was detected, and she healed up quickly as usual. It was a wake up call of how fast bad things can happen and it’s good to have help available. 022We will stay in touch via email and Skype, Ma’s been internet savvy for over 15 years and it’s a blessing!!!

All’s well that ends well and this turned out better than any of us ever imagined!

Later,

j

*Flying Back Home*

I’m in the Philly airport soon to be on the plane to DC and then a straight shot (5 hrs) on COPA to PC. Kris will meet me there then off to the Hotel Avila for the night. We’ll visit Albrook Mall and then board the bus back to David. I had good success in Portland and will post more on all the excitement soon. Ma is in good hands and loves the place, I’m happy. 

I’ll get back to more Panama specific posts soon. Thanks for all the comments and encouragement!!!

Later,

j

*What’s on my Malibu?*

Snow. Lots of it. Thought I’d never have to remove snow from a car again-wrong. I did okay, only my scraping hand got cold. Go ahead and laugh, soon I’ll be cooking in 90+ Panama heat! Check out these photos….I’m the sheik of Araby015ImageImage

Now I see the rear door handle…ImageImageThat looks erieImageHalfImage Panama this is not

You get the general picture- cold,slippery, windy, “don’t go out if you don’t need to” kind of weather. We never left the hotel, coffee, hot chocolate and whatever was in/on the fridge got us by. We are the Champions! Not. But there is always tomorrow… Good night, sweet dreams!

Later,

j

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*Snowed In today, but it’s all good…*

“It’s almost 10 o’clock”, Ma said to her sleeping son. So, up I got after staying up late writing last night’s post. I was writing the word “later” when Skype came on with a call from Kris. She called to let me know that she had made it to David and all was well. It was great to hear that she was back in Panama, we agreed to talk later after we had some rest.plotWhile I was dressing Ma looked out our 2nd story window to the street below and exclaimed, “Oh, it snowed!” Gone were the blue skies and dry roads!001

I took a look out and saw the white stuff everywhere and more coming down. I haven’t driven in snow for 17 years and didn’t want to do it again. The roads should be clear tomorrow, we used today to write down all the things needed for Ma’s new place, so it was really not bad to get snowed in.

Yesterday we bought a TV and earphones, we tried Skype with the earphones in the iPad and Ma loves them. Unfortunately, I’ll need to buy a small headphone amplifier to enable the TV to be heard through the phones since there’s no headphone jack on the TV. Gotta add that to my list I’ve got quite a list going but should have enough time to get it all done.

Below’s a shot of our cluttered home away from home in La Quinta.003

This trip was not in the plans but it’s nice to know that even when living in David you can get back to Maine in two days or less. We experienced some Culture Shock but I’ll save that for another post. I try to keep my posts short so I’ll sign off now and just say bye for now and rest up for tomorrow.

Later,

j

*75 State Street here we come!*

Wow, I mean WOW! &% State Street is nice, even nicer than I had hoped for, it’s clean and attractively decorated and the staff seem very happy to work there. We met the director, Lori Maxwell and could not have met a nicer person with a great personality who is full of life  and obviously enjoys her work (17 years on the job). She sat us down, got to know Ma’s background and then explained the basics/services offered at the Independent Living section of the 75 State. We then took a tour of the buildings, all 3 are attractive and well laid out. I took some pictures of Ma’s place, we think it should work nicely for her. Below is the kitchen/living room.Imagethe bedroomImageview of the dormant garden

ImageThe shower has a seatImageGrab bars in the toilet area!ImageStacked washer/dryerImageWell lit vanityImage much storagesImageanother closet

We bought a 32″ TV, we’ll put it on a desk and run her ipad into it,for easy viewing. Tomorrow I’ll get cable/internet hooked up and kitchen and bath items. All what we are now doing reminds me of what Kris went through setting the house up in Panama. It takes time and we only have so much time before I return to Panama. Off to sleep I go to ready myself for tomorrows activities. It’s looking real good and I’m up for the game! I HATE my tiny keyboard, I’m, done for now.

Later,

j

*We’re here in beautiful Portland, Maine*

The traveling is done for now, we made it to our destination. We are in a La Quinta Inn and it’s quite nice with a microwave/fridge combo and continental breakfast. We took today to rest and relax and it paid off, we both feel great. We will get up and start shopping, we made a list and will get the small stuff first, things for the kitchen and bath. At 2:30 we’ll go to 75 State Street to meet with Lori Maxwell who will show us the unit Ma put a deposit on. If everyone is in agreement papers will be signed, payment will be made and, hopefully, keys will be handed over. We drove by and loved the area. I didn’t take photos so I’m gong to make this post brief and post again when I have more photos and solid info.  Wish us luck!

Later,

j