Sunday, September 29, 2013

Still moving forward with our build and improvements

Good news all round! The Scotiabank fiasco is almost over as we await the reference letter requested on our behalf by Berta, and then we can open an account at another bank closer to us. We plan on having both chequing and savings which will improve our banking practices. In Canada, we will open a US account which Debbie, our personal banking advisor in Mission, had suggested as a possibility. With the simplified mortgage situation also, our finances can finally come under control again! I certainly advise those contemplating moving out-of-country to avoid a mortgage with a bank anywhere, and to seek a private loan if financing is required. Networking and just simply asking others may reap benefits of which you didn't dream!

Meanwhile, we have paid our 10% deposit on the pool construction, and hope for a start around October 7th. Steve Japp is a character, black patched eye and all! He and son Curtis are great people to deal with, straightforward and open, friendly and both have a sense of humour I can appreciate. Their company presently has three crews out building pools and various projects around Panama. This company has lots of experience with pool construction, and I plan to document the progress with photos as well as description. Right now, four stakes delineate the eventual confines of the water!

With the pool completed, we will turn to more landscaping, especially of the pool area and the back garden which is a lovely shade of green at present - mixed grass and weeds. Our casita/shed/"outhouse" should come next as this is an absolute necessity for Chris' various tools and the new lawnmower. We have now decided to ask landscaper Matt to proceed with this construction. With lighting and a water outlet, maybe I'll think of making the outhouse his little domain? Our back garden is a good size, with room for veggie growing as well as fruit trees and flowering shrubs. Luckily we are retired!

The house is holding up well so far. There are a few small items to fix, which are under warranty from the builder; by the way, the builders here generally only  provide a ONE YEAR warranty on their work! With a dearth of certified workers, plumbing and electrical issues are not easy to repair. I think we need Mike Holmes to come from Canada and sort out the certification problem, and maybe show some of these sweet people with no clue, how to build with pride. The folks want to please, but who shows them what to do? Our landscaper and pool builder are American, but as they must hire Panamanian, there is a lot of initial teaching to accomplish before the fellows perform to the standard set by the Americans. Maintenance is another issue I have a problem understanding here. Little is done to preserve anything, and with the coastal climate in much of Panama being so destructive, untended buildings almost disintegrate before your eyes! There are measures to ensure limited rusting, termite prevention etc. and the materials used can obviate many future problems. Advice? If you wish to build, be aware of all the ramifications, hire a known and referred builder, and be here to supervise and inspect!

The cats thrive. Mitzi is taller and longer, though definitely not fatter. Her liveliness is enough to wear one out from watching her antics.Cagney sleeps a lot, fluffs around when he desires, and purrs like a well-tuned engine when happy. The last few days we offered them some minced sardines from a can ($.50 each) and they thought they were dining in a gourmet restaurarant! Much lip smacking and grooming activity occurred after those meals.

Inside the house, we got an estimate for laundry cupboards and to improve our bedroom closets which irk us no end! I am hoping to have a delightful little artisan fix things in the New Year. The fellows who work with hard woods here can make beautiful cabinetry and draw their own plans after taking measurements and calculating costs. The best way to find these talented folks is to ask locals...Mauricio, a local gardener here in the development, referred the little fellow to us.

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