Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Planning and grocery shopping...

Less rain, more sunshine, lots of thunderstorms at night (watering our front garden),more walks, and planning! I bought SmartDraw (about $223.00) and have been planning the back garden. Tomorrow our friendly Floridan garden expert, Matt, will be by to finish some front planting, and we will discuss his providing an estimate for the back, plus I hope he can assist with a 'shed' construction. We have an estimate for the pool construction, and if all goes well, we might be able to start that before Christmas. A good feeling to think we will have a more usable space in the back, a space where we can entertain, if not play croquet and bocce! No kidding.

Crinum Lily in bloom

I think it is a good time to provide more information and my thoughts about living here in the interior of Panama. Grocery shopping was a huge challenge at first arrival as we knew few words in Spanish on fruits, meats, vegetables. It is surprising how reading labels helps. I improved my rusty French by reading the labels in Canada, and the same result is happening with Spanish. Choices of where to shop vary considerably, as do the prices. In our local town, there are three mini-supers: the largest one has been adding a lot of canned goods and produce lately, and is a good source for basic needs. We use it for UHT milk, juice, some meats, and the occasional loaf of bread, always for ice cream (it is closer to us and the ice cream does not melt!). In Las Tablas, we visit the Super Carnes, a supermercado, which is bigger, much more choice and variety of products, but lacking in attractive appearance. We can find most of what we need on a weekly basis there, and as the mailbox drop is nearby, the trip is worthwhile - 40 minutes. Our favourite shopping experience is at El Rey in Chitre which is in the Central Mall, therefore a longer trip with lunch included in our outing. Rey has just about everything we could want, a lot of imported goods included, long meat and cheese counters, a pharmacy, flower stand, small bakery and unfortunately prices a little higher than the supermercados in Chitre and Las Tablas. The trick is to avoid buying the imported items and look for equivalent local items which are often half the price! I avoid the pre-packed meats a la North America and opt to order at the meat counter (in Spanish!). I get a chunk of cheese freshly cut, and if in doubt, ask a local for advice.

Riba Smith and Rosa are other groceries that I have not tried. Riba Smith is expensive and caters to the gringo crowd with their preferred products. PriceSmart (Costco) is in four of the larger cities and again, I haven't had the opportunity to see what is available. Using the veggie truck each week is a great way to stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables. Some towns may not have a veggie truck that persons can use, but there are many covered veggie stands along the highway. Our truck stops here for about half hour every Thursday morning, visiting many small towns and delivering supplies to the mini-supers. Goods are weighed, or sold per item.

At home, Mitzi now weighs in at a whopping 6.2 lbs. She is small-boned and delicate with long legs, tiny paws, and more energy than ten adult cats! Her favourite trick seems to be to lie in wait beneath the bed or furniture, or behind drapes, then leap out at us as we go by. Sometimes I yell out - she can startle me! A furry little creature leaping half-way up my legs in the night is enough to make me wait until morning to use the bathroom! Meawhile Cagney disdains such kittenish behaviour, and calmly demands attention (i.e a brushing) with insistence and much following of Chris and brushing against the legs.

Mitzi with her 'rat' toy

Bougainvillea in a large pot

Razing of the 1920's house on a nearby lot

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