Saturday, October 17, 2009

Stay Positive, especially when you are tired!

Positive things…

1. Panama Lens

2. Being in love with my amazing boyfriend

3. Having a supportive and loving family

4. Living in Casco Viejo

5. Living in a country full of expats & entrepreneurs

6. Living in a beautiful country

7. Feeling a sense of accomplishment at 23…. : )

Tomorrow I am headed to Bocas Del Toro with my parents, brother, and Justin. This month has been thus far Panama Len’s most busy and successful. Though we haven’t seen it through monetary ways, the future is looking great. We’ve taken on some larger projects that are very interesting, and much more difficult in terms of time, and knowledge.

Justin has turned on his computer learning skills full fledge teaching himself new google earth map tricks, animated 3D logo techniques, as well as mastered the steadicam to become a lot more artistic with filming.

I have really enjoyed researching the details for all the new projects and writing out the scripts. I’ve also been tested in working on my voice for different types of videos (the Royal Casino Poker Room Video), and have gotten better at losing some of those nerves I get when others besides Justin are in the room when I am doing my on camera. With each video we produce we evolve a little more. I’m getting better with memorizing my lines, being on camera in front of a crowd, and Justin is definitely becoming an artistic video director, editor, producer, and photographer.

These next three days in Bocas will hopefully be a chance to take a much needed break from working. When you start a business there seems that there is always something to do. It’s amazing how little free time we have. Thank god we have eachother and can goof around from time to time because if not we’d go insane. With the little accomplished we have day to day, the work and time pays off. We’re hoping that all this work we’ve been putting into these larger video projects will pay off in monetary terms and possibly create for us a wonderful, more comfortable living…until then, we’re keeping it classy in the simple life. : )

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Random Thoughts…

It’s been two and a half months since we’ve moved into Casco and started Panama Lens.  Things are good, no they are great, but I’m not going to bore you with another blog about success, luck, love, etc….Evan's Party 010

   Last week there was a shooting about 3 blocks from our apartment.  A restaurant worker and a French tourist were shot by a 16 and 17 year old on Friday evening at 9:30.  The kids were part of a gang, one of the many that exist in the Santa Ana and Chorrillo neighborhoods that are close by Casco Viejo. 

   One thing that is the consensus between the Casco residents is that the gang members were targeting the restaurant worker and the French tourist got in the line of fire while reacting to the gunshots not aimed at him.  Justin and I walk by the restaurant most evenings and the worker who we presume was the one that was shot is there usually chatting with the sketchy looking gang members of the neighborhood.  This guy is a bit arrogant and pushy when we walk by to get in the restaurant since it’s new.  As I am a firm believer in promoting a place and trying to drive in traffic, there’s a line that one shouldn’t cross and standing in the way of people passing by is not a way to pleasantly bring people in.  That worker has always rubbed me the wrong way.  Other Casco residents agree with me that he probably was targeted by this gang.  One thing that Casco residents know is that yes, there are some dangers with living here but for the most part, any violence that occurs is usually between the street gangs and not towards tourists or gringos.  Where I am going with this is that after reading Panama-Guide and other newspapers, they changed the story to “2 French Tourists shot in Casco Viejo!”  These newspaper articles are twisting the story around to make people believe that two tourists were targeted at a restaurant in the nice part of Casco.  Fear is not something that we should bring among the people who are Casco skeptics.  What I’ve learned from living in NYC or ANYWHERE is to always be aware of your surroundings, if you feel the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and feel like something bad is going to happen, get out or exit the situation, and live your life not in fear, but with caution.  The important thing is not to dwell because some things are out of your hands.  I’m not trying to ramble, I’m just enforcing my belief to live your life  not in fear. 

     Panama is changing day to day for the better.  People are amazing here.  It’s a wonderful place and we’re so happy to be making our mark in this small country.  With that said, there’s everyday annoyances, language and culture barriers, and obstacles to deal with.  Life isn’t perfect but it’s very close and I can’t say that I could be any happier doing ANYTHING ELSE ANYWHERE ELSE….Ok, there’s my thoughts for tonight.  Hasta Luego!


Love, Mara

Thursday, September 10, 2009

“It seems the harder I work, the luckier I get.”


     In the third grade I had to choose a quote that meant something to me.  Picking out quotes in the third grade is a bit of a challenge since much of life has yet to be lived.  My mother helped me choose this quote because she truly believed in it, “It seems the harder I work, the luckier I get.”  This quote is by Abraham Lincoln and at the time of being in the third grade, I think that I had already experienced how hard work can lead to accomplishing great things.  I’ve never been the quickest learner, but hard working I am which has led me to many wonderful accomplishments as being top in the class, winning dance competitions, getting an academic college scholarship, and now, starting up a business doing something I love!

     I’m currently reading the book, “Outliers” by Malcom Gladwell.  It’s all about people in this world, past and present, who have succeeded, and why they succeeded. It also explains why a lot of the reason pertains to luck, but luck can only take you so far.  Luck is something like being born in January if you play hockey because you most likely are more athletically ready than your younger peers born in the same year.  Or, luck is an instance of culture, like in China, the Chinese learn to count to higher numbers at an earlier age because of their language numeral system being less confusing than in English.  Therefore more Chinese people are good a mathematics because less of them struggled at an earlier age.  Luck is the time period you are born in, sometimes within a 5 year span you can be born in the precise boom for a new technology.  Luck is also related to those people who were surrounded by people and instances that helped them along the way. 

     He explains the importance of luck, but also emphases practice and hard work as a key ingredient to success.  10,000 seems to be the magic number.  For musicians, computer engineers, hockey players, etc., he states that combined with 10,000 hours of hard work and the presence of luck, a person will be a successful “outlier” surpassing the competition.

     I’m not saying in any way that I feel like I’m an outlier, but I do feel very fortunate about my life.  I feel fortunate for my family, my friends, and my education.  I also feel that I work really hard for what I do and can’t be here today, doing what I’m doing without that combination.  So far Justin and I have put in many hours into our business, Panama Lens, but there is a lot more to practice, learn, and achieve through it.  Optimism, luck, hard work, and practice is all important, and the harder I do work, the luckier I seem to get.  : )  So to this day I think about that quote and take it to heart as I did back then when I struggled with reading.  It’s amazing how much a little extra hard work can change everything…


<3, Mara

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Time goes by…


I haven’t been very good with posting new blogs since we’ve been working on our business.  It’s not because life has been lacking interesting encounters or beautiful scenery, we’ve had our share of both, but it’s because time has changed from day to day.  Time was once that part of our lives that was abundant and plenty and now, we get up every morning at 6am and find ourselves at midnight still working on something wondering where all that precious valuable time went. 

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With each day, we become one step further in setting up our business.  Our website is up,, our website video is completed, as well as our first video.  The HDR photography that Justin has taken of the property is absolutely stunning and we currently have two properties on deck this coming week to complete.  Within one month we’ve set all this up and have taken off to what hopefully will be a successful HD Real Estate Video Tour Company for Panama.  At 23 years old and Justin at 24 this is something we are very proud of.  I’m not going to lie, it scares the bejesus out of me but the confidence I have in the both of us as a team to do this and do it well is incredible. 

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Reality Begins

We made it here to the apartment in one peace.  I’m not saying  not with out a little bit of a hassle of course.  We e-mailed back and forth to Ricardo, our landlord who promised us a smooth transition into our new apartment at 2 in the morning when we got into Panama.   The people who were supposed to do their job of getting the key to the right person (the night watch reception at the hostel) and have that ready for our arrival didn’t quite do their job so Justin and I, at 2am in Casco Viejo stood outside the hostel arguing with the reception girl who had no clue about anything.  She seemed to be in a dream state and Justin and I were slightly freaked out not knowing what to do at that time of night  in the middle of Casco.  Finally I asked to at least let us in the lobby of the hostel so we can wait until the morning when the right person with the key was to arrive.  There’s a bit more to that story but to shorten things up we ended up in apartment number 20, the apartment we requested by the next day. 

    It’s 6 stories up, we’re on the top floor in the biggest unit in the building.  We were told that it was only a one bedroom but to our surprise it’s a two bedroom, great size kitchen with a bar counter, and huge balcony over looking the streets of Casco.  We are extremely pleased and for $400 a month we feel that we pretty much have one of the best deals in all of Panama City.  With that said, it’s not perfect but for our budget, we don’t think that we could afford anything better! 

    Since we’ve moved in it’s been non-stop settling in, getting the apartment a little more organized, working on the website, getting used to our new video camera, and of course, networking with our new Panama friends.  So far we’ve got a really cool friend base..  Let the shout outs begin!

1. Blayne- Super Gourmet owner who is down to hang, party, shop, cook, whatever!  He’s got an awesome pup named Vegas who we get to play with as well as an insanely large group of friends who he loves to introduce us to.

2. Kent- Our realtor friend who seems to be everywhere and know everyone.  He’s loads of fun, very knowledgeable, and loves Panama!

3. Dave- Luna’s Castle Owner.  He was our first boss here in Panama.  He was over in Bocas del Toro when we were there promoting for his hostel/bar Mondo Taitu.  Now he’s based in Casco a few blocks from us at his other hostel called Luna’s Castle. He is now the proud owner of the next hottest bar in Panama called Relic.  He’s a super chill guy with an awesome outlook on life. 

4. Ozzy- I befriended her a few months ago.  She met my brother Adrian last year when he was traveling throughout Panama.  She’s a Panamanian chick that gives me some laid back girl time but she can also party with the boys! 


We’ve also met some people the last time and this week that we’ve been hanging out with a few times.  Maybe they will make my next shout out list.  People here are helpful, fun, extroverted, and have a great outlook on life.  I’m excited for more networking as we progress in our Panama Lens business.

   Things have been going well getting started and we are about ready to produce our first video.  We start this week!  : )


Wish us luck! 



Monday, July 13, 2009

I guess we're In it for the long haul

Coming home to see my whole family all at once was very special to me. It’s been over a year and a half since we had all been in one place/country. Adrian has been studying in London, at the London Business School since September, Evan had been in South Korea, teaching English since last April, and I have sort of been all over the place but to choose one I’d say Panama. My parents were thrilled to have a full house once again and enjoy the company of the kids. We were happy to be home with them as well as some good home cookin’.

It was incredibly special to get dressed up and all go to Victor and Gloria’s wedding on June 27th. We had an awesome time hanging out with Adrian’s old friends from college that we’ve known for about 6 years now. Lots of drinking, dancing, and laughing occurred, as expected and we left the hotel we stayed in the next morning feeling exhausted from partying.

Adrian and Andrea didn’t get to stay much longer after the wedding because they had to return back to England and get back to reality. It was a short and sweet visit with lots of fun playing tennis, soccer, basketball, eating, dancing, and partying.

After they left I packed my bags (what else is new? lol) and headed up north to visit some friends in NYC as well as my cousin Jenny who recently moved there. Justin met me there and we had a wonderful time hanging out, walking around, buying equipment for our business, as well as tons of eating! : ) I had pizza every single day I was in NYC. I swear since I’ve been back in the States it’s been a non stop eating fest! From NYC I hopped on the bus to CT and Justin picked me up for the 4th of July weekend with his family. Where he’s from in Connecticut is absolutely stunning and in the early summer time, when it’s not too hot out, the breeze is perfect, the towns are charming, and the people are super friendly. Not to mention that his family was very warm and welcoming to me giving me such a great impression of where he grew up and how he was raised. After a few days of being up there with them I found myself not wanting to leave. The only driving force for me to get my butt out of there was the fact that my parents who love me very much would be devastated if I spent more time with his family than mine. Hehe, but I did love my time up there. Returning home was nice. I find myself being a homebody when I’m actually here (which really isn’t much these days). I like hanging out in my room, going through old pictures from my past, and dancing around my bedroom like I’m a teenager again. It’s weird how much I revert back to being 16 when I’m home again. That’s how I know I need to find my own way and place in this world away from where I grew up.
Now I’m all packed up and ready to move into our apartment in Casco Viejo on Wednesday evening. To be honest I’m very excited to start this out. I’m 23 and ready to start this adventure they call the “Real World.” So far life has been beautiful for the most part and hopefully Justin and I can continue whatever lucky streak I’ve had thus far…

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

5 months of being 23…Yikes!


       Today is June 22nd, 2009 and I am sitting on the plane back to Maryland for three weeks to see my family and friends.  Since I started this blog so much has happened.  I’ve moved to Panama, fell in love, developed an idea for a business in a foreign country and with that person I love am turning that idea into a reality.  It’s been almost 5 months since I’ve turned 23.  I think this year might be one of the most amazing years of my life because of these risks that I have taken to try something different.  I have been so fortunate to do this with the support of my family and friends.

       It will be a full three weeks back in the States.  Justin and I return to Panama July 15th with much optimism and excitement to start out our business venture.  We have already purchased some of our equipment and are anxious to do our first project.  Since being in Panama City we met with several realtors and owners of real estate companies that are interested in hiring us to do HD quality video tours for their properties.  For those who are unaware, I worked in Maryland with my father at ReMax selling real estate and am a licensed realtor there.  Though I did like the area and the job, I knew it wasn’t my passion.  Going to school for 4 years in New York City, studying communications, journalism, the arts, and having two internships in the television industry, I wanted to incorporate my other skills into a job that I would enjoy.  That is how I came up with the idea of starting up a video tour business, specializing in Panamanian real estate that features not only that individual property, but also gives a look into the surrounding area’s unique neighborhood and amenities.  I’m not going to go into too much more but what Justin and I have put together as a business plan and have set up so far is extraordinary and something that we are so proud to create together.

    When we return to the States we have some equipment to invest in (electrics are insanely expensive in Panama) as well as spend some quality time with friends and family.  We know that when we return we plan to be workaholics with this project of ours as well as continue our studies in the Spanish language. 



      We found a place to live in Panama City for a really good deal.  The area is called Casco Viejo and it’s the older part of town surrounded by the ocean.  IMG_9538 Some of the buildings are restored and beautiful while others are falling apart but it’s a different feel than the high rise monstrosities of what most other neighborhoods in Panama City entail.  We love it.  The community feel in this area is unlike anywhere else in Panama City with cafes, bars, restaurants, and parks.  The cobblestone streets and city skyline views are remarkable.  What Panama is doing day to day to attract tourism is amazing and we are so excited to be a part of the neighborhood of Casco Viejo.


      Since we have found an apartment to live in when we return we feel a lot more settled in than we did almost three months ago when we first entered Panama together April 7th.  We spent one month in Bocas del Toro, on the Caribbean coast near Costa Rica, almost two weeks in Boquete, the beautiful highlands of Panama, and about a month in total in Panama City.  The beaches, mountains, and the city were all very beautiful and interesting in their own unique way.  Though I did LOVE living in Bocas and hiking in the mountains of Boquete, the city provides the most opportunity to be successful in our business.  I’m looking forward to our friends and family coming down to visit because that will give us an excuse to explore more of Panama as well as return to the beautiful towns of Bocas del Toro and Boquete.  So now is the time to start figuring out your schedule and planning your next vacation down to visit us.  Surely you know Justin and I will be more than excited to play tour guides to our friends and family!  : )

    My schedule for the next three weeks are June 23rd-29th in Maryland, June 30th-July 3rd in New York City, July 3rd-6th in Massachusetts with Justin visiting his family, July 7th-10th back to Maryland, July 11th-12th Pennsylvania to visit my cousins, July 12th-14th back in Maryland, and then July 15th-? Panama!

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  I really look forward to seeing everyone back in the States!  : )



Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sendero Los Quetzales

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            Long story short, Boquete was wonderful…my brother met up with us the last weekend we were there.  We stayed at a really interesting hostel called Pension Topas which is owned by a German couple.  Being a few blocks from the park, it made it super convenient and incredibly cheap ($12 a night for a private room).  Also, this hostel has a pool, which was an awesome way to cool off after our long mountain hikes.


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   Monday, the 8th of June Justin, Evan and I went on the Sendero Los Quetzales.  We started the hike from a town called Cerro Punta.  To get there we took the bus from Boquete to David, then, out of our own stupidity and lack of fully being conscious from getting up at 5am we ended up taking another bus that went to the Costa Rican boarder missing our stop by about 45 minutes.  Evan, not having his passport or even a copy on him lead for a very scary feeling that we might not be going on our hike and possibly spend the day detained in some Costa Rican jail for stupid travelers….But, luckily, the bus that we hopped on to head back in the other direction was a local bus which I don’t think boarder control stops very often.  The Tica bus (mostly foreigners) in front of us got stopped and we sped right through.  It was a glorious feeling.


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  After three hours of being on the road, we made it to the start of the Quetzal Trail.  The beginning was mostly uphill, being very steep.  After about an hour and a half we stopped for our first snack (Justin and I packed a few apples, some granola bars, and some cereal while Evan was solely adamant about his meat and cheese).  While stopped we saw the only other people of the day that did the trail starting on the Boquete side ending in Cerro Punta.  They were on such a hiking high it almost scared me.  They were giggling like little girls and all jumpy about the trail.  They warned us about how some of the path got destroyed by the rains in November and that it’s quite difficult in parts and pretty dangerous.  They didn’t scare me too much but I did get a little concerned, with reason.


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    For the most part the path was “mild” according to Justin.  It was definitely pretty hard for me with my clumsiness and lack of sneakers with proper grip.  I ate it a few times and found myself having mud in places there shouldn’t be.  But, it was very fun falling, sliding, slipping and climbing.  The best fall goes to Justin who flew off a hill bounced off a tree on his butt and jumped into the air almost flying off a huge cliff….it was amazing.  I saw the whole thing thinking this was the end!  I don’t think it fazed him too much but I saw the whole thing and it scared the bejesus out of me….  he laughed afterwards…I laughed nervously with him.  Boquete June 2009 100 Evan had a bunch of nice slides but never managed to get in a good spill.  It was a great team, the three of us helped eachother out at all different parts of the trail.  Actual hiking was about 8.5 hours but the day spent between the three of us was about 12 hours which was fun, thrilling, scary, and exciting.  I’m a little disappointed we didn’t see any of the famous Quetzals but I think the day couldn’t have been any better.  It was beautiful, we didn’t get any rain, and we had amazing company.  Plus, I felt like a million bucks making it through that long hike alive.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Breath of Fresh Air


Spanish by the River, Homestay, Gardens, Mountains, Coffee, Los Amigos (almuerzo del dia), Hiking, Canadian Bakery Pastries, Gringofest, Pollo/Arroz/Frijoles, Batidos, Fresas….

Welcome to Boquete!

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         As I explained the last time I was here in Boquete, Panama, there is something about being here that gets me all weirdly happy and giddy inside.  People always ask that question, “Mountains or Beaches?”  Without a doubt beaches I answer but coming here my second time I don’t know.  I love them both and having them both to come to in such a short amount of time and being easily accessible from Panama City ($12.50 by bus) makes it such a cheap easy get away from the hustle and heat of the city.

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        One thing I really wanted to do while here on this leg of the trip was a homestay while taking Spanish language in Boquete.  My brother Adrian did it last year while spending the summer in Panama and Costa Rica and LOVED it.  I went through Spanish by the River, the sister school of Spanish by the Sea in Bocas del Toro.  Being only $15 a night including breakfast, dinner and laundry, the deal was a little too difficult to pass up for Justin as well.  Plus, since he had to take a break from taking actual classes it made him practice what we’ve learned thus far a lot more than a hostel situation would.  The homestay wasn’t as ideal as I wanted it to be.  With that said, the older couple were very nice and warm to both Justin and I.  They were in their early 70’s in age and have been housing travelers for a little while now.  Their family is all grown and it’s only them two in a good size house for Panamanian standards.  Also, the house was literally right across the street from Spanish by the River.  We stayed at the homestay for a few nights really enjoying our downtime chatting with the couple about mostly food, family, and pets.  The food was typical Panamanian (meat of either chicken or beef, rice and beans, and some sort of vegetable).  There wasn’t a whole lot of variety or change within the dinners but for the most part we were very satisfied and appreciative.  Melba and David are the names of our host couple.  It was really nice to see them giggle with eachother and flirt that late in life.  The love that they share for eachother was really cute and reassuring that there is hope out there!  : )    Lastly, they just got a 4 month old puppy named Manchita.  She was super cute and Justin was very much her best friend everytime he went out to play with her (she got so excited she peed on him a little a few times haha).

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        Other than the homestay, I continued with my classes this week at Spanish by the River.  As much as I’m against the private lessons (I hate all the attention on me!) there aren’t many people in the school on my level to make a class so I had to give in and take the private lessons.  I got through it with frustrations along the way but feeling like I learned a lot and am way more comfortable with some of the things I was unsure about before.  Melina, my teacher all week is very nice and incredibly smart.  For being 28 years old she speaks 6 languages and has a masters degree in communications with a focus on languages.  When I meet people like her it really makes me feel like I’ve done NOTHING with my life.  haha, but I had a great time learning with her and chatting about our lives in Spanish.

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   Everyday Justin and I try to make the most of the day and the beauty around us.  On Wednesday, the weather was gorgeous so we decided to do a hike called the Bajo Mono loop.  It’s a 20 kilometer hike with a ton of uphill inclines.  The sun was strong and I think my neck and shoulders got the best burn I’ve ever gotten (obviously not something to be proud of).  We’ve done a bunch of other walks as well and even a run thrown in there (absolute torture going uphill).  Boquete is such a great place to rejuvenate the body.  My Spanish language classes stimulate my mind, the natural beauty and mountains stimulate my body, and Justin being here with me makes it all really fun to share that with. 

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     As for the coffee mention, I’ve become pretty much obsessed with the coffee here.  You can get a cup for 40 cents in the stores here that literally tastes like the best coffee I’ve ever had…and I’ve had expensive coffee. 

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     Los Amigos Almuerzo del Dia is the restaurant Los Amigos daily lunch special of $2.89.  That comes with an awesome soup and a big plate of chicken, rice, beans, plantains, and veggies.  Yum Yum!


I’m going to continue the Boquete experience on the next post….



Monday, May 25, 2009


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             One thing I really like about Panama is its uniqueness.  It's such a small country with variety of all sorts.  There is a variety in people, land, wealth, fashion, food, etc.  In the city you can see the variety everywhere you go.  For example, the huge high rise penthouses literally next to a slummy neighborhood existing today.  It's a wonder when those poorer hoods are going to be bought up by some rich companies to build the next tallest skyscraper in Latin America.  Or with the look of the would never really say to someone, oh, you look Panamanian because that look could be White, Black, Moreno, Chinese, anything really.  Or wealth here in Panama....Justin and I are staying in Paitilla, one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in all of Panama and we literally walk around and feel like the poor folk getting passed by Porsches, Jags, and for the most part Range Rovers that speed by in Punta Pacifica.  Fashion, ah, this is a fun one....Justin and I like to notice the women here, mostly the common women, not really the wealthy ones like to wear clothes that look like that have to literally squeeze their enormous butt and waist into pants about 4 times too small.  I don't know, obviously aesthetically it looks ridiculous but comfort wise???  OMG, I'd die.  I think the term camel toe might possibly have been invented, ok, I am being incredibly harsh.  Some women, especially walking around Paitilla and Multiplaza mall have amazing taste in fashion and style but I really think they probably fly on their private jet to Italy and New York every few months for shopping trips.  Yea, it's like that!  LOL


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                     Another thing we noticed, now that we are in Panama City of course is the variety in food.  We've been having a field day here cooking so we haven't been out too much checking out the restaurants but there is definitely an International flair here and it's fun to check out all the options we have at our fingertips.  One thing I appreciate is the amount of Japanese places they have.  Sushi Express and Sushi Itto are all around town.  Though this is a chain, being able to escape to a place that has wasabi and curry flavors is amazing.  We even splurged at a nice Japanese Sushi Restaurant for Justin's 24th Birthday called Matsuei.  Other than that there are a lot of options to always keep it interesting here.

                               This past weekend was full of social networking and party events.  It's like our social May Panama 218calendar went from empty to way too much to do in one night to be able to handle.  I'd say we tired ourselves out Friday and Saturday nights leaving our Sunday pretty tired/hungover.  It's a small world down here in Panama especially with expat events and parties.  They all seem to know eachother here and really like to drink.  Saturday night at the Super Gourmet in Casco Viejo there was a party and it was pretty tame until one of the guys, a friend of the owner brought out two bottles of Jose Cuervo and was feeding shots to everyone from an 80 year old Scottish woman to some Panamanian Cougar women.  They were freak dancing in the corner and having what seemed to be a very fun drunken dance party. May Panama 222 As surprised as you may be, I did not partake in either the tequila shots or the dancing....I know, I know, this isn't the Mara you might think you know but I really don't think that getting that drunk in a foreign country in an area with some iffy streets still is a really good idea.  I'm not saying I didn't rock out later in the night but then was not the time nor the place.  Anyway, enough explanation, I turned into my super bitch mode/motherly character and told the guy to STOP with the tequila shots, and that what he was doing was irresponsible because those women were obviously blacked out and over served.  He apologized and took care of it.  I saw them later get into a car with a DD and it was a happy ending as far as I know.

                     Anyway, from there we had an awesome night meeting up with Dave, Dan, Meredith, and Jacob at May Panama 231Luna's Castle.  Luna's Castle Hostel is opening up most likely next weekend a bar downstairs in what looks like to be a Cavern Pub.  It's really nice with a huge bar and dark lit lighting.   We hung out there for a bit and then rocked out later on Calle UraMay Panama 239guay in a few clubs.  Lots of dancing, drinking and laughter.

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      As I said, Sunday we were pretty spent so we didn't get all too much done but are currently working on a Business card (Justin and I realize how essential that is when you are out meeting people...DUH!  LOL), as well as setting up more meetings with some realtors and future business prospects.  Things are going really well so that's positive news.  Time is getting down to the wire and of course we are nervous about getting things started but we have a lot of faith and our enthusiasm and excitement are being recognized by everyone that we meet.  That positive reinforcement is helping out immensely.  We have classes here in Panama City until Thursday of this week then plan to head to Boquete for two weeks.  We are going to live the mountain life after having a month at the beaches in Bocas and two and a half weeks here in the City.  I hope all is well back home!  Besos a todos! 

Amor, Mara

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


May Panama 143 It's weird how quickly a lifestyle can change.  At this moment I'm dancing around a gorgeous luxury two bedroom apartment on the 12th floor overlooking Bahia Panama in Panama City.  Just three days ago Justin and I were in Bocas del Toro completely content with our lives day to day in our tiny apartment on Calle Sexto y Avenida D.  We were right by the airport, a 3 minutes walk to the main street, a 20 minute walk to the beach, a 7 minute walk to Spanish by the Sea Language School, and a 5 minute walk to Mondo Taitu (our part time promoting job for a hostel bar).  Being in Bocas for a month was like living in Paradise.  One thing I do know though is that it's hard to be really successful in a place like that where water, internet and phones work "sometimes."  Inconsistency is what people living and working there deal with often.  I'm sort of a patient person but near the end of our month stay I was really looking forward to coming back into civilization.  We met some amazing people that I am able to call my friends there and will surely be back but I don't think that is a place to set up shop to become successful in the business ventures that Justin and I are looking to get into.
    We've put on our thinking caps here in Panama City and I can tell already Justin and I have transitioned into "GO MODE."  We now have secure fast speed internet and are getting a lot more done with our business idea in the real estate service industry. We are able to focus and do research toward our idea in an air conditioned apartment with a wonderful kitchen to cook in and a beautiful terrace overlooking the ocean to escape to for some inspiration.  Staying in my parents condo is nice not only because we don't have to pay rent at the moment but also it's a good feeling to stay here and fix all the little problems that the condo has contracted after only two months of being occupied by tenants.  Helping them out with these little things I think gives them a better feeling like the work that needs to be done will be done right and with me to give an honest opinion of the process for them to breath easier being so far away.
    Today we checked out a language school that we are going to attend for two weeks.  We took a taxi to Spanish Panama, located near the Einstein Head off Via Argentina (they don't have addresses here so that's why a landmark is always necessary in Panama).  The school is in a brand new building in a really cool part of the city.  We are pumped to take classes together again.  It’s such a fun way to learn where we can poke fun at each other and make learning a lot more entertaining.  Thankfully with Justin’s inquiry skills we achieved an amazing deal for semi-private classes of just him and I.  So we’re going to do two weeks of intensive Spanish together here in the city. 

     After that we plan on heading to Boquete for a few weeks and possibly connecting with my brother Evan and his girlfriend Tiffany to go on some hikes in the mountains in between our continued Spanish study.

    Sorry for the lack of creativity in the blog.  It’s not that I’m uninspired, I’m just tired.  This is more of a boring diary entry of the past few days.  Anyway, it’s an acknowledgement in a way of the excitement that I’ve had all day for the next two weeks here in the city to not only stay in this nice apartment, but also to study Spanish and work on Justin and my business plan.  We will be busy busy!  : ) 

Monday, May 11, 2009

Justifying Leaving

      It’s the little things that I will miss the most about Bocas del Toro and our island life.  But there are a few things that I won’t miss that I can laugh about when remembering our day to day life on Isle Colon….Numero Uno, “Weed, weed, weed, Coke!”   Ok, this definitely needs an explanation.  I did not smoke weed or do coke while here but there is one dude on the main street that rides around on his bike bombarding tourists or gringos saying loudly in his island accent “weed, weed, weed, coke.”  Justin and I would laugh every time actually quite annoyed at how many repeat offers we would get from the same guy.  I mean really if we don’t want it the first time we probably don’t want it the hundredth time.  He never got the picture.  We never bought weed or coke.

      The lack of stable water in our apartment was another thing that I won’t miss terribly.  We lived on the bottom floor of a new complex of four apartments being built.  Near the end of our months stay in the apartment the water situation turned from being on about 70% of the time in the beginning to being off about 70% of the time.  We got used to having a nice little island stench all the time…. But not being able to clean the dishes after a big meal or flush the toilets kind of created a nasty little bug problem…

     Ok, and for the sake of not bitching in too long of a rampant, I’ll just list a few of the other things that I will not miss too much about island life

3. Taxi cabs who seem to be on a mission to run people over on the streets

4. The rock gang of little kids by the airport who like to throw rocks at people walking by

5. The stench of sewer smell that permeates the air after a rainstorm

6. The scary little girl that worked at the Chino near our school (She freaked Justin out every time lol)

7. And last but not least the constant refusal of boat tours every single day.  We’ve already been on one and don’t need to go again!     

          Other than these little things, I’d say Bocas del Toro is going to be a place I’m going to miss incredibly.  I have to bitch just because near the end it’s these little things that made it bearable to leave our paradise.  It really was a fabulous month.  We had beauty at our fingeMay Panama 007rtips, a wonderful little home (even if it wasn’t perfect), a part time job for an awesome place with awesome people, a language school that turned into our second home, and each other to laugh with, cook together, and experience the culture of Bocas with. 

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1. Mondo Taitu sign

2.Me, Justin, and Dave (Mondo Owner)

3. Me and Ronan (my Spanish Classmate at our BBQ)

4. Reike and her friend at Mondo


      We just arrived in Panama City after a long night bus ride.  I’m currently sitting at the pub table at my parents condo in Paitilla.  Air Conditioning, nice sheets, a nice kitchen, two bathrooms, a balcony, etc….Basically we’re getting a taste of luxury for a few days.  It should be nice. 

    After a day of recovery it’s back to the grind.  I’ll be continuing my language study as well as working on a business idea that Justin and I have been conjuring up.  Things are great!  I’m happy, we’re happy : )   I hope all is beautiful at home…Love, Mara

Friday, May 1, 2009

A Few Little Memories

This blog post is to mostly just put up a few pictures that I stole from Justin and Elisa when I didn’t have a camera…

Spanish by the Sea BBQ

DSC05798 Our first week here in Bocas del Toro we had an awesome BBQ, gorging ourselves on delicious grilled meats and salads.  There are about 20 or so students at ours school from all over the world.





Adrian, one of the teachers at Spanish by the Sea on grill duty.  Bacon wrapped sausage, burgers, kabobs, hot dogs, baked potatoes…

Basically a heart attack waiting to happen!




Koos, Elisa, Me, and Justin…3 hrs a day for 5 days



Chili Cook Off at Wari Wari


Wizard Beach Trip/Bastimentos/Old Bank Town

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Earth Day Beach Clean Up help by the Smithsonian Institute




Great turn out early Sunday morning (8am) for the local beach clean up.  Tons of trash and recycling we picked up.  It was a really good time sweating for the beauty of the land as well as the beach that is in walking distance to town.






The people we’ve met and the little things we’ve been doing each day to keep busy have been really special.  Helping out the community for the beach clean up was something Justin and I really enjoyed doing and actually wish there were more organized activities in town to get involved in.  If we planned on staying longer we’d definitely consider organizing something but we’re in talks of leaving in a little over a week.  I’m already getting a little sad thinking about it because it’s amazing to think of all that we’ve done here so far in such a short amount of time.  It’s off to new places, people, and adventures!  Who knows, we may end up staying or coming back to Bocas…it’s really a pleasant little town to settle for a bit.