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Ship's Log: Updated October 2, 2010

Yes, it has been too long between updates. But we have been busy!

Welcome New House Sitters!

The only way for Sharon to be with Tracy when he started his new position in Orlando was to find more house sitters. Patten, Tracy's sister Carole's husband Dick's grandson, (so...he's our grand-nephew, right?), newly graduated from the University of Charleston and an avid surfer, has long wanted to visit us in Panama. Well, great! How about coming down this summer for about six weeks or so?

His good friend Adham, also a surfer, offered to come along. Even better! And Adham has worked in his family's construction business for years...he wants to help with the construction projects? Jackpot! So just hours after Patten got home to South Carolina after leading hiking and kayaking trips in the Pacific Northwest for the first half of the summer, they hopped on a plane to Panama.

They brought with them surfboards, great attitudes, lots of energy, and huge doses of humor. Here, their first afternoon, Adham cutting Patten's backpacking-shaggy hair and beard. Why the mask? No idea.

But it was just too funny!

Michelle, the Peace Corps worker in our nearby village, came to meet them and ended up being the videographer for the event.

I think they all hit it off.

Patten majored in Communications, and their creative streak is evident in the videos they have been making during their stay. Check them out! They show Panama in ways that our still photos just can't capture. And in ways that anyone over 30 just doesn't seem get around to...

WARNING! These links are to videos, so you may not want to click them unless you have high speed internet.

One of the first videos they made was a spoof of the Old Spice deodorant commercial, hilarious!

Panama Daily 1: First hike to the village (and getting lost in the dark on the way home)
Panama Daily 2: A typical day and dinner at the chocolate farm
Panama Daily 3: Watching DVDs
Panama Daily 4: Trip to town, hanging out at the pizza place, walking at the neighbors', skurfing
Panama Daily 5: Lunch in Bocas, dolphin watching, killing the snake, kayaking, dinner with the neighbors
Panama Daily 6: Town trip, taking an injured village child to the hospital, surfing at Wizard's Beach
Panama Daily 7: Village haircuts, playing with the village children, making the ring game at Rana Azul
Panama Daily 8: Cleaning the water tanks, Garden Clubbing, trying the new zipline at Red Frog beach
Panama Daily 9: Picking oranges, licking poison dart frogs, hangin' out, surfing Hurricane Danielle's remains

And then there was the unhappy incident of the rum and coke on the keyboard, and the dailies ended pending computer repair. Darn!

Another 4th of July and Birthday in Panama

Before the guys arrived, the community enjoyed another 4th of July party at Janice and Danny's. The date is also the second anniversary of our getting Indy. Sharon got to go to the party and hang out with the ladies. This is with Judy (thanks for sharing the photo!) and Colleen.

A couple of days later, Honoree and Walt, our May house sitters from heaven but now back on their boat, Will-O'-the-Wisp, invited Sharon over to Red Frog beach for a birthday body surfing and lunch celebration. Colleen joined in on the fun.

We had chicken sandwiches grilled on the beach, and then caught some waves. The waves weren't very big that day, but we still caught a few good rides, and the water was delicious!

From a young Indian child, we bought the right to take a picture of these red frogs. The kids catch the frogs, roll them up in a big leaf, and then walk along the beach, offering to let you take pictures of them, for a small donation. Not sure whether we admire their entrepreneurship or worry that the place has gotten too touristy... They wanted a dollar! (They didn't get it.)

When it started to get crowded, we headed off. (Crowded is a relative term here.)

Hiked over the headland to this deserted beach.

Took a long walk around the Red Frog development, which could be almost anywhere, really.

and then headed back to their boat for fruit and homemade chocolate fondue. Yumm!!!

Sharon hopes they are in Bocas next July 6th. What a great birthday!

Welcome New House Sitters!

On September 12, the changing of the guard. Nick, Peace Corps worker Michelle's brother, and his girlfriend Amber, have arrived from California to take over. Since the changing of the guard was a direct handoff from Patten and Adham, this picture was snagged from Michelle's Facebook album. Thanks, Michelle! I'll bet you just love having them so close by!

We'll be hearing more about them and their stay in next update!

Into the Heart of...Texas??!!

As unlikely as it sounds, we are now in San Antonio. Seventh largest city in the United States. Lovely city, rich with history. Quick: who knows what famous historic site this is, right in the middle of downtown?

Does this view of it help?

The Riverwalk is touristy and overpriced, true, but if you ignore all that, it is actually pretty charming.


Long story short, after giving it 90 days, Tracy realized his new job in Orlando was not a good fit, and another opportunity presented itself. So we loaded up the truck with a few essentials and drove two days from Cocoa Beach to San Antonio. As of August 30th, Tracy was back working in his niche as a turn-around guy in the corrugated industry. He's the General Manager of a large manufacturing plant. In Panama the guys all called him "Jefe" and once again, he is!

He has his work cut out for him, to be sure. This is what occupied his attention the first day it rained. Yikes!

As for living here, prices are high and the market is tight. But after lots (and lots) of research and visits to properties, Sharon found a perfect little 2-bedroom, 2-story, 2-car garage townhouse to rent, in a quiet, sparsely populated neighborhood.

It has vaulted ceilings and a big open kitchen,

and the view is of trees and light. Tracy sees deer in the neighborhood almost every single day on his way to or from work. Too bad it isn't hunting season yet, he says. Hmmm...

There is an executive 18-hole golf course (also called a goat track) just down the street, $7 a round with a discount card. Adjacent to that is a paved bicycle trail that goes along a creek for miles, and there's a wildlife sanctuary and park just up the street. When there is time to play, it's all right here!

Since we are leaving the Cocoa Beach condo intact, we have mostly all rental furniture, though we bought a few pieces we will keep (the dining set, in this photo).

So. Here we are. For now.

Back in Panama, House Construction Continues

Last update, the framing for the guest bedroom and bathroom was well underway. It's now finished, and looks very cool! Looking head-on, toward the back of the house.

North side (the window opens for the breezes and light ).

And south side (door to the bathroom). This layout preserves the traffic and air flow to all three sliding glass doors.

The railings on the deck and staircase are finished.

Looks like a real house!

The view from the kitchen over the sink almost makes you want to do the dishes!

So What's Happening With Cocoa Beach?

This thoughtful addition to Sharon's bedside table was waiting for her when she arrived. Does Tracy know his wife?

And this Great Blue Heron has become a regular visitor to the backyard.

We bought the condo for its low maintenance, among other things. Unfortunately, some kitchen remodeling work Tracy and brother George were doing ended up creating a flood! A saw blade cut into the upstairs units' laundry room drain line. Discovered a week after the occurrence, when we spotted a waterfall behind the microwave oven. Guess someone finally did a load of laundry. Here's Tracy, finger in the dike (not working!). But do you like the new covers for the fluorescent light?

So...out came the plumber. On a Saturday. $$$OUCH!! But that ought to hold it.

Put back together, you'd never know anything happened.

Aren't the new cabinets beautiful? Remember how ugly those old cabinets were? They had to go! The new ones just need a coat of time we're there. For now, the counter tops are ash wood. We'll replace them with granite when we get back there.

Cerro Velero Critters

This gorgeous beetle dropped by. Then dropped dead. Who knows why?

It's not hard to surmise what these two were doing. Clearly, they are not built like us...

Since we're not living on Landfall, some of the stuff has to start coming off (long overdue chore, actually). One load's worth. Including...

Jasmine's birdy-bedtime bear! On Landfall, she would snuggle underneath the bear, which was on the shelf by her cage, to sleep. You could only tell she was there by her tail sticking out.

Sunsets and Rainbows

Panama sunsets to drool over, again.

And a rainbow. With all the rain we get, you'd expect them, wouldn't you?

House Sitting in Paradise, Anyone?

We are lining up folks to stay for two or more months at a time in Panama so Sharon and Tracy can be together in the states. At the moment we have folks through October, but we will need to keep lining people up until Tracy decides to "retire" again. If you are interested, let us know!

And yes, that is the Alamo in those two pictures. :-)

Stay tuned...

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