Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday at the Panamanian Spay/Neuter Clinic

aMy Mom helps take care of a 21-year old handicapped girl down here (she has cerebral palsy and her family won't/can't really help her out).

So yesterday, we picked up the little dog--Estrellita "Little Star" to take her to the low cost spay/neuter clinic run by a local volunteer group.

The clinic started 5 years ago and has fixed about 5,000 dogs. They have 2 vets, a Costa Rican and an American, who volunteer their services. When they first started, it was only foreigners bringing dogs (either stray or their Panamanian friend's dogs) but today it's about half Panamanians bringing in dogs. Which is a nice thing because it shows their attitudes towards pets is changing and they realize it's not so nice having packs of wild dogs running the streets.

My husband grew up in Puerto Rico in the 70's and he's told me some horror stories about all the street dogs and how horrible their life was.

Today, the group did about 70 dogs, including Estrellita.

I know this is going to sound terrible, but I really want to tell the handicapped girl the dog died on the operating table and smuggle the dog back to the States.

Now I know there's a special circle of Hell for people who steal dogs from handicapped people, but this girl has a history of not taking care of animals.

She got a kitten and she almost starved it to death. My Mom had to take it away.

She got a rabbit and let the neighborhood dogs kill it.

She can't look after herself without assistance, so I don't know why she thinks she can look after a dog.

My mom figures the dog has only eaten rice it's whole life and it had ticks on it when we picked it up.

If you still want to condemn me, just take a look at her picture.

She's too, too cute!

I know there's no way I can keep her, but I made Mom promise to check up on her every week.

I would hate myself if something happened to this cutie.

Friday, August 27, 2010

2 airplane rides, one 8- hour layover and a 6-hour bus ride later...

After a grueling 24-hours of travel to get to Boquete, Panama I arrived yesterday morning around 6 a.m.

The trip involved a 6 a.m. flight from Detroit (forcing us to get up at 3 a.m. to be there by 4 a.m.), an 8-hour layover in Atlanta, a 30-minute taxi ride from the Panama City airport to the bus terminal; a 2-hour wait until the midnight bus to David (Panama's 3rd biggest city) and then a 6-hour bus ride through the Panamanian countryside and up into the mountains. Crazy! But I made it.

I thought the humidity in Toledo was bad, but in Panama City it's ungodly. You step outside and there is literally sweat dripping off your face within 2 minutes (and down your back which is especially icky).

I thought I could wait in the bus terminal's waiting room, but it was like an Indian sweat lodge in there. Although, I seemed to be the only one bothered as everyone else was taking it in stride. I guess people can get used to anything.

5 minutes later (and 3 pounds of water weight lighter) I had had enough. I remembered I saw a bar in the terminal that had it's doors closed (which meant A/C).

Stumbling over with 3 bags in tow, I was greeted by the 2 bouncers.

Remember, this is a bar in a bus terminal so I don't really see the need for bouncers, but whatever. Apparently, it's quite the destination nightclub in that part of town.

It was pretty crowded in there (also remember this is 11 p.m. on a Wednesday night). The bouncers told me they don't normally allow luggage in the bar, but this time they would make an exception.

Silly me. I hadn't realized I'd stepped into such an exclusive place. I guess it all depends on your perception. But it was nice to finally get cool.

One bus ride later, Mom picked me up and we went out for breakfast and bought some groceries.

Then for the 30-minute ride to Boquete.

I managed to survive 2 airplane flights and a long bus ride, only to almost be smeared on the side of a Panamanian country road by my mother.

Deciding she wanted to pass the truck in front of her, she pulled out into the other lane.

However, she didn't accelerate enough and then tries to downshift into 3rd gear, but missed and almost put it in 1st gear. By this time we have no acceleration and the guy coming at us at 50 mph isn't slowing down.

Seeing my life flash before my eyes, she finally swerved into the ditch, narrowly missing the guy that almost creamed us. And he never slowed down. Nice.

I think I'm going to suggest (read insist) that I should drive from now on.

One thing my mom had neglected to mention is that we're currently in the rainy season. Which means it gets dark at 1 or 2 p.m. and then rains the rest of the day. Not the nicest time to visit.

They had a pretty bad flood here last week because of all the rain. It washed out a couple bridges and ruined quite a few businesses in town.

My mom had 8 inches of mud in her driveway and a couple inches in her house.

This is what Boquete looks like when it's back to normal.

I also signed up for 4-hours a day of Spanish lessons, so hopefully I'll finally be able to understand direct objects and indirect objects.

I don't think I even understand those in English...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

T Minus 2 Days Till Panama!

As you may remember, my "reward" for having to quit my job and move to Toledo, Ohio for 4 years was a 2 month trip to visit my Mom in Panama and brush up on my Spanish.

Well, I leave in 2 days and should I be packing?


What am I doing?
Juicing. That's right juicing.
Our "bought on an impulse, used once and threw in the cupboard never to be seen again/housewarming present" from my Dad was a juicer.

Which I love although it is a bitch to clean. I wavered about buying a juicer a.)because they're so expensive and b.) because it takes away all the fiber.

But I rationalized the second point by realizing I wasn't eating enough veggies anyway, so I might as well be getting at least the minerals and vitamins from them if not the fiber.

This is what they want you to think the juice looks like.

It actually looks a lot more like this.

But depending on what you put in it, it really does taste good. I tried raw garlic once and don't think I'll be doing that again.

Fennel is good, as well as apples to sweeten it a bit. A handful of parsley's always nice and celery and carrots are pretty tasty.

I'm also writing little notes to Leo on how to work everything around the house. I once caught him trying to turn on the burner and it wasn't cute.

However, the big news is that I got a job with the federal government!

This is what I've wanted for about 5 years now because I'm oh-so-over having to move to a new city, research employers in that city, put together your resume, apply, interview and get used to a new job again.

As soon as you say you're a military spouse to a civilian employer, it's like you've just said you've got leprosy since they know you'll likely be leaving in a few years.

I just have to pass this massive background check, which I'm sure I will and I'm good to go.

Luckily for me the background check takes a long time, since I really didn't want to cancel this trip. It's been the only thing keeping me sane for the last few months!

Next time you hear from me, I'll be in Panama--hanging with Mom and her crew of senior citizens. Where we'll talk about how cheap everything is, how Panama is like the US was in the 1950's and start Happy Hour everyday at 4 p.m.

(Not kidding about the Happy Hour thing--those oldies can really knock it back).

Friday, August 13, 2010

Road Trippin' USA

So we left San Diego on the last Friday in July and began our week-long cross country move. I had wanted to take the more northerly route so I could hit some of the states I haven't been to yet (one of my goals is to see all 50). This route would have taken us through Nevada, Utah (never seen), Colorado (never seen), Kansas (never see), Nebraska (never seen), Illinois, Indiana and on to Ohio.

However, since we were caravaning and Leo had to tow a huge enclosed trailer, we (read he) decided to take a less mountainous route through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and then Ohio.

The only new state I got to see was Missouri and we had a fight right before we got to St. Louis, so we didn't even stop to look around. I did get to see the famous arch though, which was pretty but I wouldn't go out of my way (although it really was huge). Apparently you can go all the way to the top but if you suffer from a fear of heights like me, this is something you definitely won't want to do.

I did get to see a few interesting things though. Like Cadillac Ranch, a public art installation/roadside attraction in Amarillo, Texas.

Amarillo also boasts the largest cross in the western hemisphere. I don't know if this is true, but all the signs along the highway claim it's the largest.

I also learned that the panhandle of Texas is apparently the only place where 90's Swedish rockers Ace of Bass are still popular since they played their two Top-10 Hits ad nauseum on every radio station.

I also found out that Cheap Trick's "I Want You to Want Me" is way more popular than I ever realized. I heard it about 10 times through 6 different states. Interesting.

I learned that Gallup, New Mexico was about the most depressing town I've ever seen. Everyone there looked super glum. Places like that you can see how people become meth heads. I don't think there's anything else to do.

A couple "historic" things happened in the states we were in. We were in Arizona when the controversial new immigration law "took effect". I'm still confused on the status of this thing. I know some parts of it were overturned by a federal judge. We were also in Arizona when 3 inmates escaped from prison. To date, one of them is still on the loose (with his fiance and cousin who helped them escape--gotta love that incest).

We were in Missouri when voters there (symbolically) voted to reject the Obama health care law.

Then, we make it to Michigan (we stayed with my parents for 2 nights since our furniture hadn't arrived) and there's a serial stabber on the loose.

Apparently, he had stabbed 15 people and 4 of them died. His MO was that he would go up to men late at night, on the street, ask them for directions or help with his car and then just stab them repeatedly. Weird.

They actually just caught this guy yesterday in Atlanta (he was boarding a plane for Israel, where he's from) and they're extraditing him back to Michigan.

Now, we're just setting up the house and enduring a Great Lakes region summer full of humidity and little breeze. Ugh. I had forgotten about the humidity here.