Saturday, November 29, 2008

First Mañana Madera Coffee Harvest for 2009

Our coffee has begun to ripen. First come the delicate, white, barely fragrant flowers. Next, clusters of green beans form and eventually turn red. Dark red means ripe and time to pick. Some of the beans mature faster than others and recently, the first batch was ready to be plucked. Omar, our gardener did a sweep and gathered the ready reds. We took the sacks full of coffee to our neighborhood coffee beneficio, Cafe Sitton.
Coffee is measured by the "Lata"....see the little blue container? That's a Lata. Our preliminary pass yielded 7 Latas. Prices change and usually increase as the season progresses but this early in the game we got $4.55 for each Lata. We will continue to harvest through February when the season concludes. We are thoroughly enjoying being Coffee Baron and Baroness Pigott and savor a delightful cup of Mañana Madera coffee from our 2007 harvest each morning. Come on down and try it for yourselves!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Mother Nature Twist

Took a trip to Panama City to pick out some furniture essentials for our new home which is supposed to be completed in early December. The shopping experience was quite different than it would have been in the US to say the least but all in all it was a successful, fruitful journey and to put a positive spin on it, a learning experience.

Upon our return, Mother Nature decided to throw a big twist into the mix to keep things exciting and dumped tons of rain in the mountains above Boquete. The rivers began to churn and eventually rage and ultimately flood. We were evacuated from our little river side rent apartment last night by a Bombero (fireman) who told us to GET OUT "Ya" which means RIGHT NOW in Spanish. Now refugees, we've been taken in by our kind friends Thomas and Michelle who fortunately have electricity and water and are being most hospitable indeed.

We checked on our rent apartment today and it thankfully did not flood. It is without electricity/power though and will likely stay that way for at least two weeks. Not exactly sure what the game plan is from here, but we're just feeling thankful that we're okay and that our rent house and future home are survivors too. Check out some of the pics, pretty amazing. The power of water is certainly not to be underestimated:

Sunday, October 26, 2008

NoDik Strikes Again

A blog from a few months back poked fun at the name of a Panamanian over the counter anti-parasite medication that Randy brought home to ease his tummy troubles. "NoDik" would obviously NOT sell in English speaking countries as it suggests a condition in which no one, at least no man, would want to find himself.

Yeah, it's funny until YOU'RE the one who gets a stomach bug and has to swallow NoDik to oust an unwelcome guest. At first, I stuck fast to my "let things run their course and don't take any medications unless you absolutely have to" mantra. But, after researching my symptoms on the Net and reading about how some types of parasites can lay MILLIONS of eggs A DAY inside their host, I ditched that theory and we made a trip to the store STAT. Rand ran in, came back with NiDik in hand and recounted what the pharmacist had said, "NoDik, twice a day, one in the morning, one at night".

For some reason I remember him saying two in the morning, two at night. Gulping down the two flourescent yellow NoDiks, I had unknowingly put myself on the accelerated program. When taken as prescribed, one at a time every 12 hours, NoDik eliminates the intruder. My unwitting double-down begat a hellish night shift and at one point I remarked to my sleepy husband that this must be similar to what I imagined the after effects of chemotherapy to be.

Good news is that I feel better today. This is probably because the parasite(s) are out now, completely anhilated by the 1-2 sucker punch I gave them of NoDik's yellow flourescent horse pills. Rand bought me lemon/lime Gatoraid this morning to replenish my lost electrolytes and the NoDik coming out the other end is the exact same color.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Third Time's A Charm

Recently, random road inspections on some of the main Boquete thoroughfares were conducted by the Police. We called it the Gring-Sting as the cops were checking the Gringos, and other foreigners, for valid visas AND Panamanian drivers licenses. We were stopped in the sting and detained for about 20 minutes because Randy could only produce a US license. They eventually let us go because we were just barely still within the 90 day grace period that is given after receiving a permanent visa.

The city of David is 40 minutes south of Boquete. It is a very hot city that we try to avoid but in order to get your Panamanian license, you have to go to David. The first time we made the attempt was last Thursday and the systems in the drivers license office were down. The second time we went, all the "appointments" for the actual driving portion of the test were full. With a little fussing, Randy did manage to get his license that day but I was still out of luck meaning we would have to return a THIRD time with no guarantee that I would emerge with Pan license in hand.
Thankfully, the third trip to David did prove productive. Now, not only can we both drive hassle free in Panama, we can also use our new licenses to drive with complete impunity when we visit the States. SWEET!

Monday, September 1, 2008

First Fire

The first time Randy and I saw our land, now called Mañana Madera, was a year ago today, September 1st 2007. We celebrated by giving our chimney, now complete with fire bricks, a first flames christening.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Birthday Mac Cracked

For my-Congratulations on Your New Job/Happy Birthday-present, my ever thoughtful Randy placed an order to procure me my very own MacBook laptop. I was overjoyed with such an exciting, functional gift. He placed the order back in June. I couldn't wait to finally have it in hand! The plan was that during his visit to the US to see family, he would pick up the Mac and hand-carry it back down to Panama. Rand carefully packed the sparkling, new machine in his backpack and boarded the first of several planes that would transport him back to Boquete.

He arrived safe and sound. We're not sure where or how it happened, but unfortunately, the computer did not arrive in the same, splendid shape as the husband. When I opened it, it looked like the screen had some bunched up, protective film on it. I booted it up and saw that it was not protective film at all. It was actually several mammoth cracks in the LCD screen. I had to talk myself down in order to not start crying....months of anticipation were met with a shocking and crushing discovery. The screen was so badly shattered that it was completely unusable. Logistics. It's not like there is a neighborhood Mac store around the corner here in Boquete.....

We think the story will have a happy ending though. The 3rd party supplier from whom we purchased the computer had pity on us and is replacing it at no cost (except the $350 to get the cracked system back to the US and the new one back here to Panama). We will certainly take it though. At least we're not out the cost of a whole new machine. We are holding our breath that Macbook Numero Dos one will make it to us unscathed. Keep your fingers crossed for us, Chums!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Reverend Machismo

Across the street and up a few houses from our little rental apartment lives.....The Reverend. The Reverend is in his late 70's and wears glasses and almost always a hat. Often times his hat is red to match his truck. His truck is a little red two door ride that can really make a statement when pushed.

After renting here for 6 months, we've learned The Reverend's morning ritual, yet it still makes us wonder, "what the hey?" He is not called The Reverend because he is a pious man but rather because he is a revvv-er. Each and every morning, without fail, he is up at 5:30 and gets into his little red ride, starts it and then revvs the gas. LOUD. Obnoxiously and ridiculously LOUDLY and for 15 to 20 seconds. Not 15-20 seconds and then he is done, 15-20 seconds per rev. He revs over and over. With the cost of gas being so high, we just don't know how he can afford it. The strange thing is that he only sometimes goes somewhere after all that revving. Other times he just sits inside the red ride, revs and stays right there in front of his casa. Guess he just wants the whole neighborhood to know that he is still very much alive and kicking and...revving. With each break-of-dawn growl of the little truck, you can almost hear his Machismo roar.
Ah Reverend, long may your revv reign supreme.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Mondongo & Boxing Match Box In

In Panama there is a house building tradition in which we recently took part. When the roof on your house goes up, your construction crew erect a bandera roja (red flag) and won't take it down until you throw them a Mondongo party to celebrate the milestone of being under roof. The fiesta gets its name from the meal traditionally served at the party. Mondongo is tripe, ie. cow stomach. Needless to say when the mondongo part of the celebration ended up not materializing, I wasn't exactly crushed.

In addition to the food and beer (they specifically requested Budweiser and Tecate) we gave the guys tickets to the 2nd Annual Panama Regional Boxing tournament that night. Randy used to box back in the day and I had never been to a boxing match live so we decided to splurge and get a Super VIP ringside table for $15/person. Before the bouts began, we got to hear the Panamanian anthem for the first time. Suitable timing as we recently became official card carrying Panamanian residents. YEAH! Though the fights were entertaining, by 10:30ish, I was ready to head home. We thought Rand would run me to the house and return to see a few more fights. But that was not to be. As we neared our vehicle in the parking lot we saw to our dismay that were securely boxed in by another car. Yes, boxed in at a boxing match.
Rand sent me home in a taxi and remained until the evening concluded at 2:30am when the offending boxer-inner came slowly sauntering out of the gym. Obviously, he hadn't heard the several announcements made over the loudspeaker about his license number asking him to move his ride. The very tired Randy was certainly glad to be finally free.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Don't Eliminate the Wrong Thing

Randy came home with this medicine for eliminating intestinal parasites.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Volcán Barú Ascension

The Volcán Barú is the tallest mountain/volcano in Panama peaking at 11,400 feet. Our town, Boquete is on the eastern side of it. It is possible to climb to the top and, on a clear day or at sunrise before the clouds move in, both the Pacific and the Caribbean coasts can be seen from the zenith. When our friends Gordon & Richelle said they were making the hike, I decided to join them (sans Rand since the only thing that would have motivated him to do the long, uphill climb would be a trout stream waiting for him at the top with tons of fish and that wasn't the case, alas).

We-there were 5 of us total-started walking at 1:15am with our headlamps on to guide us through the quiet dark. We thought it would take us 5 hours to get to the top. We'd arrive right around sunrise. ended up taking us 8 hours to reach our goal. The climb was very steep and very long. I'd even use the word grueling.

Upon reaching the summit we saw the Pacific coast for about 5 minutes. Then it was gone, claimed by the clouds as the Caribbean coast was even before we arrived at the top. We did some picture taking, some resting and some concurring about how sore we already were. As a group, we lamented about now having to go DOWN. The rains started to fall as we began our descent and accompanied us all the way back. The steep path going up was the same one we had to negotiate down and the rain made it extra slick. I was thankful for the coffee tree walking stick Rand made for me for the trip (he even sanded the handle) as it saved me from a twisted ankle several times.

We walked a total of 17 miles and it took us 13 hours. During the adventure, I swore I would NEVER do it again. It was TOUGH. Definitely the most physically demanding thing I've ever done. As time passes though, I think I'm in for another go 'round. How quickly the pain is forgotten!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Dead Rooster Bucks and Wrong Wedding Clothes Woes

Randy went to his first Panamanian cock fight and bet some bucks on the bladed birds. He ended up winning $40! He wants to take me with him next time, but it sounds pretty brutal to me. If he ever does manage to convince me to accompany him to a rooster brawl to the death you can be sure there'll be a blog update recounting it.

Also we received an invitation to attend [our first] Panamanian wedding. We were thrilled to be invited and looked forward to this special event. When we talked to Juan, the groom (our first mistake but we didn't know his bride to pose the question to her) we asked him what type of duds we should wear as the invitation did not give us any indication as to the appropriate attire. To our question he replied, "It's a free country, wear what you want."

Since it was a wedding, we got all spiffed up. We were looking good for our first Panamanian ceremony, or so we thought. When we got there though we realized that what Juan should have said was that the dress was "Black Tie". ALL the other guests were in full length sequin ball gowns and their most expensive suits. I mean dressed to the HILT. We felt very uncomfortable and obviously stood out as "the Gringos" who didn't get the memo.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Deposito Completo

A smiling Don Randy in front of his new deposito. Until today we have not had a place to house our tools. Our machetes, rake, wheelbarrow, weed eater etc. were all being stored under a bright blue tarp. However with the addition of a deposito door today our tools now have a roof over their heads and a locking door behind which to rest at night.

The Rainy Season Cometh

Because we originally arrived in Boquete in late July of 2007, we missed the beginning of the rainy season for last year. From what we understand, the rainy season usually begins between mid April and mid May. Sure enough, May 1st brought with it an obvious change in the weather. The afternoon rains seem to have begun, slowly now, but gradually as the months progress the rain volume will continually increase and the hour at which it begins to fall will gradually creep from 5pm to 12pm by October. For the sake of our house construction, we hope that the rains will stay away for the most part until we get under roof at Casa de Pigott. Our little garden and plantings however are smiling we're sure at the gift from above.
Here you can see our view of the volcano totally obscured by rain clouds.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Wee Mule

With two suitcases full of surprises for her Panamanian pair, Mom Clem hopped a flight to visit us here in Boquete. It was a veritable Christmas morning opening her bags full of our special requests from "The States". This included Randy's oldie-but-goodie electric orange juicer (the oranges bordering our property are sensational but the juicers they have here are crap), our fly fishing wading boots (since we've now found the rivers in which to use them) and Hormel chili with Fritos. I miss Sonic Frito Chili Pies SO BADLY! Here is a picture of Mom and me enjoying a delicious chili pie together...

We affectionately called Mom our little mule. She hauled our goodies down to us and then after a wonderfully memorable visit, lugged 21 bags filled with coffee from our very own Mañana Madera (very exciting!) back to the US for friends and relatives to enjoy. Thanks for a wonderful visit Mom-we love you!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Dirt under our fingernails

Our terraza is completed at last! We are busy adding colorful plants and flowers around it to distract from the purple floor. We've planted and transplanted and gathered this and that from various tiendas and from the tropical plant laden roadsides. We've got a whole new little garden going for less than thirty bucks. One thing we learned though is not to start planting things during the dry season. The rainy season starts in May so hopefully we can soon rely on Mother Nature to quench our pequino jardin's thirst.

Monday, March 31, 2008

The Fish Find

Although the gorgeous and crystal clear Boquete rivers look like perfect trout streams, unfortunately they don't house fish. This is because of pesticides in the water that kill the bugs that the fish eat. However, the Rio Chiriqui Viejo, just an hour and a half road trip away turned out to be a different story.

During our excursion we (Randy) caught not one but TWO (very small) trout! The even better news is that though he didn't hook one THAT time he did see trout in the Rio as big as ten inches! Ah, the perfect appetite wetting adventure and reason to return and fish another day. Being able to catch fish on his fly rod regularly is a big contributor to Rand's happiness so needless to say, we are both thrilled about the fish find.

We'd planned our fish quest on the same day we were scheduled to pick up some new furniture we'd had built. The drive home took us past the wood workshop where two Adirondack rockers, one chair and small table made out of teak were supposedly built and waiting for us. Well, wonder of wonders, the local guy from whom we'd commissioned them actually had them ready ON TIME (such a rarity here in Panama). All we had to do was load up The Gopher with our new goodies. Hopefully our still unfinished terraza will be done someday so that we can actually put our new furniture to good use.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


The David Fair is underway. We'd heard that the fair brought vendors from all over Central and South America, so we drove the 35 minutes to see what we could see. It was better than we had expected and we spent several hours browsing the grounds.

We feel like we got a pretty keen deal on a pair of hammocks from Ecuador. The pair cost us just $25. They are the perfect addition to our still unfinished yet already extremely enjoyable terraza. More photos in the Gallery under 'Boquete 2008'.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Casa de Pigott First Steps

We've signed on with a builder, Heriberto or "Toto" for short. Toto sent a retro (back hoe) up to our property to remove the coffee trees and a couple of dead trees from the areas where our home and road will be. We are staking out the property tomorrow and Toto will hopefully break ground on the future Pigott Casa this week.
And so it begins......we couldn't be more excited and READY!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Serene Scene

The fellow who is building our terraza told us that it would take him less than a week to complete the entire project. He said "By Saturday the terraza will be finished". We are 3 and a half weeks in currently and counting. Maybe we'll have a finished product THIS coming Saturday, a week from today. Hey, he said "Saturday", right? He just didn't say WHICH Saturday.....

The stained concrete floor was supposed to be chocolate colored but turned out kinda purple. They had little bags of red and black tint and kept throwing more red down because they were quickly running out of the black. We kept saying "Menos rojo, mas negro!" They ran out of stain with only a third of the deck concreted so now there is a pronounced line where they "joined" (scary since concrete doesn't bond to concrete) the previous day's dry side with the next day's application.

However, the view is so beautiful that we scarcely notice the botched floor. Yesterday afternoon was our first time to sit together on the terraza in our folding chairs and take it all in. WOW, what a serene scene!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Our First Building Project

We are building ourselves a terraza so that we will have a spot to sit and enjoy the shade, or as the case might be, take shelter from the rain while our house is being constructed over the next 8 months. The terraza has been in the process of being built for the past 10 days and during that time, the work has moved along at a slow but steady pace. However, today a lot happened including the cementing in of the four wood posts. Randy gets all the credit for how good these posts look. He picked them out himself - NICE JOB! For more pics of the terraza's construction, see our photo gallery.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Canine Survivor/Lord and Lady of the Land

Great news! The little rot pup survived his poison jerky ordeal. He and his brother and sister are as spry as ever and happily lope along with us each day while we are up hanging out and working on our property. We spend our days there using our new, gleaming machettes cutting and trimming this and that. Here is Rand posing with his. We've also bought gardening shears and gloves and will soon invest in a rake to get Mañana Madera (our name for our property) all cleaned and pruned. It already is proving to be a big job to get it all in shape but we do it con gusto (with pleasure) because after 2 years of being "on the road" without a permanent home, we now finally have some land to call OURS.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Veneno (Poison)

A dead brown dog appeared on our property followed by a dead black one. Hours later that same day, we were walking around our property accompanied by our neighbor's three CUTE Rottweiler puppies. One of the pups ate something off the ground and broke into convulsions a few seconds later. The puppy gobbled down a piece of what proved to be a poisoned piece of beef jerky. A traumatic scene for sure. Desperate to save the rot, Randy and our friend Thomas force fed the little guy cooking oil to prompt it to purge, which he did, but the jerky itself never came back up and out.

We alerted the dog's owner and the pup was taken to the vet. Unfortunately, we fear it may have been too late and the insecticide laced jerky (which a local friend of ours suggests was likely used to douse the meat) may have claimed him. We haven't seen that rot, OR either of the other 2 (shown in the picture) on our property since.

Brings about a new awareness for us of how careful we'll need to be with our future pooch.....

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Our New Chariot - "The Gopher"

A four wheel drive vehicle is a good thing to have here in Boquete. While the majority of the roads are paved and generally good, there are areas on some of the mountain trails that are rocky and muddy, especially during the rainy season. For our peace of mind, Rand and I decided to find a 4 wheel drive to provide that little extra uumpfh if and when we should need it.

That being said, obtaining a used vehicle in Panama can be a scary undertaking since a lot of folks are very rough on their rides and don't put in enough, if any, maintenance and TLC along the way. Not to make a negative blanket statement, but most won't tell you that the transmission is hanging on by the hair of its chinny-chin-chin prior to you forking over the dough to buy it. However, we are optimistic that our new purchase which we affectionately call "The Gopher" will serve us well for a few years.
Here it is, posing in all its glory next to the Cascada del San Ramon-The San Ramon Waterfalls. Isn't it cute?

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Baby Clem Arrives!

HEAVEN MUST BE MISSING AN ANGEL - Cameron William Clem made his debut on January 30th, 2008 making my sister Kelly and me officially AUNTS, my brother Kevin and his wife Tracey officially PARENTS and mine and Tracey's parents officially GRANDPARENTS. Needless to say, all of our lives have been amazingly changed forever.

There was some excitement prior to the little Nugget's big entrance, however. Baby Cam somehow managed to sling his ambilical cord around his shoulder. He decidedly protested the impending exit of his comfy womb room by holding on to his cord for dear life. His little stunt made his heart rate drop and it quickly became clear that an emergency C-section was in order - STAT. The docs rapidly put Tracey under and hoisted Cameron (kicking and screaming I am sure) out of his 9+ month residence.

I would wager that now that he has given life "on the outside" a try he likely finds that it suits him...and how could it not with as much love and attention as he has been enjoying since he graced us with his red headed, blue eyed (just like his Daddy) presence? I find myself so overwhelmed by him that I am moved to tears when he is in my arms. Cam Cutie, thank you for bringing a new, delightful dimension to our world.
All my love, AJ (Aunt Jamie)