Saturday, January 4, 2014

The end of our first full year!

The last days of 2013 proved that the coming year will definitely be an improvement over the last! Chris and I spent 1 and 1/2 days in Panama City gaining our Panamanian drivers licenses with a total cost of over $300 not including hotel and meals. Mine is good for four years, but Chris only has 2 years on his due to his age. As  in Canada, he requires a doctor endorsement when renewing. When mine renews, I will face the same restriction. We retain our Canadian licenses so are in good driving shape for the immediate future. There was a simple hearing and sight test, plus our blood had to be typed. Once more paperwork was too much! We hired Sergio, a Panamanian who assists folks like us and came well recommended by a few friends. Sergio also conducts tours of the City on a daily rate. He is so helpful, and very knowledgable about his country, with the bonus of being bilingual. We paid him $12 per hour for his time and assistance.

I left for a Canadian Christmas on Friday the 13th with no qualms. Three planes to Canada, and reached my final destination at 2 am. I had a marvellous visit, seeing all the family, talking and visiting with old friends (some even from high school days) and even enjoyed a fall of snow (all of about 5 inches!). I was treated very well, made to feel welcomed and the gift exchanges went well. Another set of three planes returned me to Panama on the 31st. The final part of my trip was the bus ride from Panama to Chitre where Chris waited for five hours due to miscommunication between us! The ride was straight from hell - really! The cost was the best part ($9.50),but we were over-crowded, the bus was old with tatty pink drapes and ruffled headings, and Spanish music played loudly all the way! Over four hours of this, and I was almost ready to kill! The saving grace was the little boy who took to me, sitting on his grandpa's lap, and babbling in Spanish, delighting in my lack of understanding. He slept part-way,but I could not be comfortable as squished as I was with my coat and bag on my knees. I will  NOT do that again!

Chris met me and we arrived at the house around 9 pm; our party invite had been cancelled which was a blessing, as I felt absolutely wiped. We spent the next three hours sharing our time apart stories and saw the New Year in together. I know no-one who spent  "good" 2013, and we all expressed hope for a better 2014! As January 1st dawned, we thought back over this first full year in our home, wondered how we had managed sometimes, laughed about the ups and downs and the many frustrations. Would we do it again? We concluded we had the adventure we desired, and more besides, and this second year could be even more interesting.

I bought a soccer autobiography, a new manicure set, apple TV, and Quality Street chocolates for Chris - and he bought me a bicycle! I have talked often of maybe riding to town if I had a bike. Now I have to walk that walk (actually ride the ride). OOPS!?

So the year has ended, and now I intend to summarize some of the main points I need to make for you. I'll include suggestions and references wherever possible...stay tuned.

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