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.