Thursday, February 26, 2009

Home Hiatus

Being back in the states for a week has definitely given me a really good understanding of what my friendships and family relationships mean in my life. After furnishing the condo completely just in the nick of time to catch our flight out last Thursday night, I realized how much I missed and longed to see my friends. While away this past month I kept in contact through skype and facebook to some friends and family and realized how important communication is to keeping up with friendships and relationships. Some people call it work, and it is, because you must be cognizant of it but I couldn’t help missing some people and wanting to chat with the people I love from afar. I’m not really sure where I am going with this but basically I am just acknowledging how great it is to realize how special someone is in your life. It’s a warm feeling and something that I actually love to have while traveling.

I think my one month in Panama was efficient timewise in getting what I wanted to accomplish done. Not only the tasks of furnishing the condo, language school, meeting people, etc, but mostly it was the feeling that I got from it. From traveling the country, meeting the people, getting the vibes that I did from being there, I felt confident that this is right.

When I go back on March 23rd, I plan to live in Panama City as of right now. I was offered to live with my friend’s cousin in Coco del Mar in Panama City. I think I am going to take that offer if it still stands when I hear back from him and live in a really nice two bedroom apartment overlooking the water near where my good friend Jaime lives and a bunch of his friends. If that doesn’t work out I have a few other ideas of places to live but as of right now I like the idea of living with someone who my friend knows well.

Being back in the States, I feel like time is surreal because I’m living this month as a wanderer traveling around from state to state visiting friends and family. I’ve just returned from one week visiting friends in NYC and CT. It was an absolutely amazing trip and I’m pretty much on cloud nine at the moment. : ) I’m in such a good place in my life right now, even though I don’t really know the direction it’s going. I think that sort of excitement; the excitement of the unknown is the most amazing part of it.

I have a Boston Semester at Sea Reunion coming up March 12-16th. This is going to be the one big shebang party that I have before I buckle down in Panama. Other than that, it’s enjoying my last few weeks of winter and family and friends. I most likely won’t be writing many blogs in the next month so this is my sign off. To the end of Winter, I salute you! Ciao for now…Mara.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Rainbows, Horses, and Hotsprings

Wouldn't ya know, it stopped raining, the sun came out, and life couldn't be any better. Boquete has turned into this place of magical beauty. My days here have been somewhat perfect. For example, I wake at 7am, have my coffee and oatmeal in my beautiful grand dining room while checking my e-mail on my notebook pc, go to 4 hours of Spanish class at Habla Ya language school literally a two minute walk from my hostel, have a lunch of fresh fruit for $2, go for a hike through the mountains, see rainbows, discover gardens, horseback ride, or swim in natural volcanic hotsprings. Of course there is homework but it's for the purpose of talking to the locals so I'm all for it. It's a little strange here and I think I am entranced in the beauty of it all but I really feel so content with this place. Everyone has this energy that is so positive and peaceful here. It's almost like living in heaven. Ok, I'm sounding really nutso and thankfully I'm peacing out back to Panama City tomorrow but I am really grateful I got to spend a full week in this place. It's unlike anywhere I've ever been. I'm definitely understanding the language a lot better as well, which was the purpose of coming here and taking language school.
I'm excited about tonight because I get to meet the family where my brother Adrian had a homestay last summer for 2 weeks while he was here. It's pretty funny because my class, which consists of me, my mother, and this guy Micheal are all going to be there. Micheal, who errie enough reminds me of Adrian is staying at that host family's house. The director at Habla Ya said that the parents of that family called their office and said that Micheal reminds them SO MUCH of Adrian. So tonight at 6:30 we're all having dinner at their house. After that it's out to one of the only nightlife places Boquete has to offer with some of the people from Habla Ya. If anyone knows me well they know that I love to go out, party, and dance, but weirdly enough here I've been so content with avoiding all that. I guess tonight I'll go for it but I would be really alright with just hanging out if that were the case.
This coming week is going to be anything but relaxing. My mom and I have a huge job to do in 5 days. We have to furnish the condo in Paitilla to get ready to rent out, meet with some realtors about future property investments, and I have about 3 interviews lined up for me to meet with potential job opportunities. I'm excited yet know it's going to be a little overwhelming coming from this place of tranquility.
My mom and I return to DC very late Thursday night. I'm coming back to Panama on March 23rd and with a tourist visa can only stay 3 months at a time. I've got a few places to live lined up but nothing permenant. I'll update all those boring details later. Everything is good and we've been having an amazing time here. I miss everyone and am interested to know what is going on in the States and with everyone else. Ciao for Now....Mara

Sunday, February 8, 2009

More Rain, change of Scenery

You know that question people sometimes ask you, "the beaches or the mountains?" Well, I can definitely tell ya I'd answer the beaches. But, I do have to say I love the beauty of the mountains as well as the hiking and nature opportunities that surround me here in Boquete. My mom and I arrived safe and sound and actually quite comfortably being chauffeured by a very sweet British woman who was staying at the Cocomo hotel in Bocas with us. We took her offer to drive us from Almirante to Boquete (obviously) and put our lives in her hands....I'm here to tell about it so that means no mudslides or having her car fall down the mountain from the rains. It was a little scary at times with the roads caved in at some places but with the combination of closing my eyes and listening to Keane on my ipod I was pretty ok.
Our hotel is more of a hostel in Boquete but a beautiful one for sure. The name of it is called Hostol Refugio del Rio and it's literally right next to the river. My mom and I have our own bedroom with two beds and our own bathroom. The room is large and pretty simple but quaint with wood floors, high ceilings and lots of closets to put our stuff in. All in all I'm pretty happy with this place. The drive, once we got through the scary parts was absolutely mindblowingly beautiful and I have to say it was a sight to see. The mountains of Panama look so exotic and different than the rest of the country. It's incredible how small Panama is yet has so many different climates. It really is chilly here and pretty rainy. It seems we can't get rid of that damn damp feeling of being wet all the time since Bocas. All our clothes are cold and wet and it doesn't help that our hotel doesn't have heat or anything. Oh well, I'm not prissy and it's just so beautiful that complaining about luxuries almost feels like a sin sometimes.
There are a lot of Americans here. Mostly old retirees and that's a little weird personally. I don't know, I guess I like a mix of people that blend a little better but walking around the streets here it's just so obvious who people are. There's either or.....either you have white hair and are an American or you are a very short native that looks very Indian. With that said, it's probably one of the nicest towns I've ever been in in my life with every single person stopping to say hello to you on the street. Today my mom and I took about a 5 hour hike with two stops for coffee. We went about 12 miles through the mountains and along the river. We got rained on, hmmmmm........most the way and it was pretty cold. But, even though we were cold and wet, we really enjoyed ourselves. I think being cooped up for so long in Bocas and not having any exercise got to us so we set out and took advantage nature's gym. The hike was absolutely beautiful at times and felt so good to by climbing and hiking through magnificent mountains and gardens with views of the river and rainbows. Almost didn't feel real so it was pretty awesome. Needless to say, I'm pretty exhausted from today and ready for bed with some stiff legs.
My mom and I start our language school tomorrow morning at 8am for 4 hours! Yikes, ok, well, I definitely could write a lot more but it's really not all that interesting and just more of me saying I love Panama blah blah blah...haha, anyway, I'll spare ya. I hope everyone is keeping warm at home! Miss you and love you! Mwah

Friday, February 6, 2009

Sloshing on Through

I say, if it's raining, go puddle jumping! Here in Bocas del Toro, it's been raining most the time torrential down pours. It's kind of ridiculous how one second it's a patch of blue skies and the next it's raining so hard you can't see much in front of you. Pretty much everyone here that is visiting, which is most the town is pretty bummed about this because with these conditions it makes it pretty difficult to take the water taxis to island hop. Red frog beach, starfish island, snorkeling, and some other tourist attractions that are famous in Bocas del Toro are pretty much impossible at the moment and have been apparently all week. BUT, for me, eh, I am really enjoying this hippy town as well as this charming little hotel right on the water. I wake up every morning about 7am to my room shaking due to the crashing of the waves against it. It's interesting the kind of vivid dreams I've been having during the night (all involve a tsunami wave in some way or another, lol). I get up, walk out my room, have an amazing breakfast that is provided free at the hotel (fresh watermelon, pinapple, bananas, as well as a choice of eggs, pancakes, french toast, cereal, yogurt, etc.). I enjoy these lazy mornings on the water. It's not a bad lifestyle, really, it isn't! hehe.....
Anyway, it's Friday and my mom and I have been here since Wednesday enduring the rain and all. It's really bearable yet a little dissappointing because I was looking forward to a little bit more sun before I head to Boquete tomorrow....(weather provided?). Apparently a bunch of roads are washed out in the Chiriqui province which is where we have to pass through to get to Boquete. During breakfast this morning two women that actually live in Boquete drove here to Bocas yesterday and said that it is drivable and actually offered my mom and I a ride tomorrow in their car so we shall see if we make it.
I've had a great time bumming around this town, jumping in puddles, buying some hippy bracelets, and eating some amazingly fresh fish on the water. All in all it's pretty great. I've met some cool people in the bars as well. Last night we went bar hopping to La Iguana, Mondo Taitu, and a few others. I met some New York chefs, some dudes from Minnieapolis, some girls from Austrailia and Europe, and a cool couple from Canada. I'm guessing, looking out on the porch today might be a repeat of yesterday which means try to do everything you can around this town, go in every shop, walk as far as you can, and see as many interesting shacks that you can. Then, after that all gets incredibly repeatative......Start the drinkin. lol, honestly, being muddy, torrential rain, live music you can hear in the streets, and being a little tipsy makes for one FUN evening! : )
So hopefully we can make it to Boquete tomorrow so I can have more interesting things to talk about! haha, but for now, i'm chillin. We have no tv or newspapers here so it's a little weird how I know nothing about what is going on at home. I guess in my absense the world goes on right? Well, I'm off to jump in some puddles....Ciao : )

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


We left Panama City February 2nd...I don't think there are any groundhogs in Panama but summer is definitely here! I'm at the beach now and will be for the next week. Playa Blanca right now on the Pacific Coast and come Wednesday my father leaves back for DC and my mom and I continue our adventures to Bocas Del Toro on the Carribbean coast, then Boquete in the mountains for some language school, white water rafting, and possibly some horse back riding.
I love Panama City, and I'm such a city girl at heart but I think I have some spiritual calling for the beach. The beaches here on the Pacific are unbelievably gorgeous and actually a very close drive to Panama City. While hanging with our Panamanian developer friend John Moses the other day we toured through Coronado beach. Apparently there are a ton of Americans, Canadians, and Europeans that live in that part and there is a TON of opportunities for starting your own business. That's what I've seen as well in these beach towns that are already populated yet, don't have the simple ammentities that people want and need for spending relaxing times at their getaway comfortably. Right now ideas are running through my brain like wildfire and I have come up with one that I am particularly excited about doing and trying out. In the next week weeks here I am going to investigate some more of course, but with me, if I get excited about something and think I have the means to accomplish it, I'll make it happen. It's not my style to just kind of not follow through. With that said, I already have a name for my business thanks to my wonderful mother. Of course I would like my name to be in it and in espanol the word Maravilloso means wonderful/magnificant. Couldn't be better eh? : ) I can't explain how happy I've been here...It's like, whatever rut I was in for the past few months/years has somehow diminished and I've turned into this positive person, the one I remember I used to be.
Sooo, I'm going to take a risk with this I think...I've only been in Panama a little over a week but I think it will be great! Their way of doing things down here is definitely slow paced but that's just the Latin mentality. I think I can use my type A mentality to achieve and get ahead business wise but I think the slower pace will calm me down and help me enjoy life, which is NOT hard to do here (Check out some of the pictures I've posted on facebook to see). Anyhow, internet here at Playa Blanca kind of sucks in the sense that you have to pay for it so I am TRYING to limit myself but I somehow keep wanting to connect with the world. I will try to make rounds to call people on skype if I can but you know, "IT'S PANAMA!" lol, as they all say when things take way longer than they should or don't work out. Ciao