May 2, 2021
2 months??!! Where do you even begin when it’s been 2 months since your last blog post?
Let’s see, we were able to move into our new home on March 27th. We had the pickup filled along with Mandi and Joey totally unaware of what adventures were awaiting them.
We were hit with a couple of surprises; perhaps more of learning experiences, once we arrived. We didn’t have any water in the house but we did have outside at the faucets. Hmmm? We got that figured out but did learn that in Las Palmas the water normally shuts off in the afternoon and turns on early morning. We have a water storage tank that fills daily. You can watch Gary’s video for more information about that.
We decided to wait a couple of days before going back to Las Lajas to pick up our last load as we were leaving the dogs here to give us ample room in the truck and wanted the pups to be okay with staying here, their new home. As you can, see only half that plan worked.
We put Mandi and Joey downstairs thinking they’d love that much more than being in the house, we fixed the door so that JD wouldn’t be able to squeeze through and called it good. However we were unaware that Joey is much smaller than he appears and easily walked right through the bars and up the stairs to the kitchen door and got back in the house all by himself! We were very thankful he didn’t do the same and leave the yard trying to find us. We did however find out later that he does go through the bars of our fence to the neighbors and visits them. Sly little doggy!
Gary and I just puttered around for another week until he had to fly out of the country, his 90 days was about up for US driving privileges and he needed to get one more letter notarized for our residency requirement. He went to visit his daughter Ayla and Andrew in D.C.. The Covid 19 testing both directions was a bit nerve wrecking but he figured it out and it went smoothly, we have a lead on a fantastic person to contact in Panama City if you need that done. There was only one hiccup and that was an airline issue and it did require Gary one extra night stay in the City.
While Gary was gone I finished with getting the house in the order. Taking care of the chickens, feeding and they had just started laying so collecting eggs and making sure Gary’s newly planted veggies didn’t wither and die, nothing too drastic and just trying to find my rhythm.
Of course just before Gary left we didn’t have any water, being the dry season the rivers are low and apparently we didn’t have water for sometime before we realized it. Our neighbors were very gracious and filled our tank with water from their pool, which was a life saver! We’ve been told that the water shortage doesn’t happen all that often, maybe once every year or so. We will be alleviating that issue in the near future and will share with you when it happens. For now we are just very conscious of when we have water and how much is in our tank before we are just willy-nilly with our water usage. And the wet season is just about to begin; we got 3 inches in less than 4 hours just the other day. We’ve been told there will be no shortage of water soon.
We found an attorney for our residency that was highly recommended, the last one hadn’t done ANYTHING he said he had done, semi-common for Panama and we are thankful we hadn’t given him any money yet.
Our new attorney in the first week took care of the first phase of our residency process without us even have to go to Panama City, we did spend one day in David last week for the Health Requirement, photos and Power of Attorney so that he can do much of this without us even having to be present. He speaks fluent English and is willing to hold our hands through this whole process. For example, our health requirement (which seems to be different for everyone) was we went to one of the hospitals, got weighed, BP taken and asked if we had any allergies. We then had to wait 30 minutes for a letter with our names and passport numbers on them stating we were in fine health. The 1st letter had our names incomplete, the next letter had my passport number correct but on Gary’s it too had my passport number. The third letter was finally correct! It’s these kinds of things that having a good attorney who speaks English and Spanish is so very helpful and much less stressful for us.
We’ve also have found a contractor whose work we have seen and comes recommended by almost everyone we’ve talked to. The process of getting a Casita and pool built is in the works and we are looking forward to being able to share with not only family and friends but to host Pastors and their families giving them the ability to rejuvenate in a lovely and quiet place. You can read Gary’s post here FUTURE PLANS | Mysite (eightdegreesnorth.com)
Here is a little video we hope you enjoy showing you our little piece of Panama
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Barbara and Gary
February 24, 2021
Wow it’s been almost a month since our last post and so much has happened.
We arrived in Las Lajas on January 13th and started to settle into our new lives living as expats.
In the 1st week upon arriving we bought a new refrigerator to replace the Airbnb little one, a chest freezer and a semi-automatic washing machine. The freezer can be turned into a chest refrigerator also, never heard of such a thing but they exist.
We also purchased our pick-up, a Toyota Helux, very popular here and a wonderful value. We’ve been pretty amazed at what we had accomplished in such a short time.
Gary started receiving his Social Security and we were ready to proceed with filing for our Retirement (Pensionado) Visa but one hiccup was that the forwarder that we had chosen while in the States didn’t seem to be working so we had to find another forwarder and we are currently waiting for a papers (FBI Backgrounds, birth certificates, marriage license which were Apostalized in Long Beach) to be forwarded to us, should have them next week if all goes well.
The rental we’re in now and what we had planned to buy soon became apparent that the wife is not interested in selling so this left us with working on a plan B. We started with looking at a house further up the beach that we previously looked at in November when we were here and saw a lot of potential in this property. We made an offer but the sellers are pretty adamant on not wanting to negotiate on their price. We quickly realized that buying a built house here was going to be a “problem”.
Our next step was to look at buying a beach front lot and then build to our specifications. This is not an idea that really appeals to us for a number of reasons, one just being the time involved with such an endeavor, but one we were willing to consider.
We found a lot but before making an offer we decided to look at another part of Panama we had considered (slightly) previously. We really love our beach but we were also beginning to see that compromises may have to be made. And we don’t want to settle, in the long run that would only mean we made a bad choice. God has been in every detail since we started this process 5 years ago and He hasn’t let us down yet.
Gary wants a boat, I want a beach and we both want a garden. Here in Las Lajas, having a boat is not really feasible and gardening on the beach is next to impossible.
So last week we went back to Puerto Armuelles. The town is right next to the Costa Rican boarder; the vibe is pretty cool, the main streets have a “Farmers Markets” feel with locals selling their wares, fruit and vegetables stands and seafood and fish. There are stores galore and is about the same distance to David as Las Lajas is. There is an area, a neighborhood that was built in the 30’s for the Chiquita Banana Plantation there. A lot of history in the area also brings about the feeling of going back in time.
However after looking around we didn’t think the homes were what we were looking for, but to do our due diligence we contacted a realtor who lives in the same neighborhood, someone we felt really knows the area. We drove back Monday to look at the homes we had seen and we took our time asking questions about the homes, the pros and cons and Debbie was very helpful and forthcoming. The 1st house we really loved but someone had put earnest money down to hold it until they could come down in March to see it in person; we could put an offer in and be 2nd in line.
We looked at a couple of more, none of which really said “THIS IS IT”! Debbie had one more house for us to look at and she said “This is going to be your home….And she was right! The house was not even listed on the site yet, the contract was only signed the day before.
The owners were there and we did the walk through of the house and the property and we talked like old friends for a couple of hours. I think Gary and I both knew the moment we saw it, it was going to be ours. AND IT IS! This place is move in ready (turn-key in fact) comes with 2 vehicles, a beautiful landscaped yard with an abundance of all kinds of fruit trees and an ocean view. Along with this, fishing and boat owning for Gary is a true possibility along with gardening for both.
It is amazing that just over a year ago we made our first visit here to Panama; fell in love within 30 minutes just knowing that this was home. God has opened doors and have SLAMED others shut. Every door that we’ve walked through has lead us to this point.
Thank you for all the support and love; and be sure to keep following us on Facebook and Instagram
Gary and Barbara.
January 28, 2021
We’ve seen the question asked about bringing dogs (and cats) into Panama from the USA on many social media sites and would like to share our experience in doing this; we arrived in Panama on January 13, 2021.
The steps look fairly straight forward, get health papers from your family vet, get the health papers endorsed by the USDA Federal Vet in your state, and get the health papers authenticated by the Panama Consulate. All done in a window of no more than ten days prior to your flight date. Simple right?
Starting this process just before Christmas during a Covid pandemic could have accounted for some of the headaches we encountered.
Our original plans looked like this; get our health papers from our local vet two days before our planned drive from North Idaho to Southern California to meet our flight out of LAX to Panama City. Day two drive to Boise to meet with the federal USDA vet for the endorsement. Then spend the next two days driving to Long Beach to the Panamanian Consulate to get papers authenticated. Spend a couple extra days in Southern California and fly out on day seven.
First bump came a week before our appointment with our local vet when the USDA APHIS office in Boise informed us that they where no longer taking in-person appointments and we would need to use the VEHCS system, this is done online to receive electronic signatures for export health papers. I thought this seemed straight forward, save messing around in Boise. Checked with our local vet only to find out they don’t subscribe to VEHCS as they don’t do many export permits. We were able to find a vet in another town nearby that did use VEHCS and with a little name dropping (one of our kids worked there recently) we got an appointment the following Monday. Paperwork was endorsed and we picked it up on our way out of town two days later. It was at this time we found out the Consulate in Long Beach had changed their rules allowing no in-person appointments as well, so we stopped and FedEx the paperwork to Long Beach with a return envelope address to Barbara’s sister in Huntington Beach. The consulate was very attentive and even called me the day they received our FedEx.
Another part of this process is to make a reservation with COPA cargo for the dogs on the same flight as ours 7-10 days prior to departure. Emails went unanswered and phone calls were not returned. After a few days and getting close to the seven day deadline I emailed COPA cargo in Panama City to see if they could help, I received an email back within an hour copied to the person at LAX asking them to help us out, in other words do their job! LAX COPA then asked for a lot more paperwork then was listed on the website, copies of health papers, the dogs’ actual rabies certificates, patient records from our vet in Bonners Ferry, photos of the dogs in their crates, standing beside their crates, and my passport. She also sent me forms to fill out along with a form for method of payment. This all was done with only one day before our flight. The day of our flight I still had not received confirmation of my payment of the shipping cost, something required as I was to take the dogs to Mercury Cargo, the freight forwarder COPA uses at LAX. Finally at 3 pm, 3 hours before I was required to have the dogs to the airport I received an email with the payment receipt. The process at Mercury was pretty straight forward, people where helpful but it is time consuming, easily an hour.
Now off to drop off the U Haul we drove down and Uber to LAX to met up with Barbara and our four crates. After a six hour flight, the whole time wondering if the pups where on board when we arrived at Tocumen airport in Panama City. After clearing the “Covid policia” and Immigrations we arrived at baggage claim to find our four crates and the puppies. A very nice airport employee took the dogs over to the import vets office, which is to the left as you stand in baggage claim facing customs. We cleared customs with our stuff, Barbara hung out with our crates and I went over to clear the dogs. It took a long time, maybe two hours. There were a couple of others in line that where having some kind of issue with their pets so maybe that was why. I forgot to mention three days before arriving you need to email a home quarantine request to both offices (MIDA and MINSA) at the airport that deal with pets. With copies of that request and the email I received confirming receipt of said request along with originals of all the other aforementioned paperwork it went off with no problems, paid the money (remember to bring cash and the exact amount) and we’re done. Easy Peasy.
November 27, 2020
You may have heard that we have a new home here in Panama; this is true with some caveats.
As you know, we came away having looked at a number of homes and where slightly disappointed in what we saw, not many options that we felt would meet our particular needs.
We are staying in the same place we did in February and where we fell in love with Las Lajas and her beautiful beach, the owner is not ready to sell quite yet but maybe in the next few months or possibly a year, hard to give up such a beautiful place. That would leave us having to rent, probably in an area far from the beach, so we are going to rent (6 months to start) with the possibility of buying. In the meantime we have our “dream home” and plenty of room for guests with an extra casita.Win-Win for both parties.
Some ideas of what we’d like to do to build this into our own little piece of paradise will have to put on hold for the time being but that’s okay, all things in their time.
We certainly hope everyone had a wonderful thanksgiving; we are off to sign our new lease!
Gary and Barbara
November 23 2020
Well let’s see…we arrived in Panama on the 18th and it has been rainy and gray most of the time with the sun peaking out here and there, mostly at sunset. Today, the 23rd we did have a beautiful sunrise as we walked the beach, It is still the most beautiful place ever.
We flew from Spokane to Denver onto Miami, where we spent the night at the hotel in the airport…it’s bigger than it looks and had quite the walk from United to the hotel. It’s a bit pricey we paid around $100.00 for the night but as we had to leave so early the next morning, it was worth it. Don’t expect anything nice for that price though. We had I think around 5 viewable channels, no dresser, microwave or fridge but it did have a coffee maker and was passably clean. (We will have a “Procedure Blog” coming soon with all the details we’ve found that works for us so far and will update them as required)
There is a restaurant on the 7th floor, that is very expensive based from the quick peruse that Gary did before going to our room; we weren’t going to eat there anyways.
It may be Florida in general or maybe just the times but everything seemed expensive or perhaps we’re just tightwads…We chose to visit South Beach and have a bite there, the uber was $20.00 each way which is the most we’ve ever spent on transportation but hey, you only live once. Dinner at cj’s crab shack was another hefty bill for a spilt fish sandwich and 1 crab cake. All in all, South Beach is a lot my hype than the price is worth.
There were only 2 things that we must do on this trip, look at homes and visit with an attorney. The later happens when we arrive in Panama City. The home looking we did on Friday and Saturday. We were hoping to have a larger range of wonderful prospects, we have two. One in Las Olas and one in Las Lajas, however there is a third one here on Las Lajas that has not been listed yet and we are hoping to talk more in depth with the owner in the next couple of days. I feel for our realtor as we don’t have a set theme on what we are looking for, we only know, that we will know, when we know. Sometimes it is what you don’t see, but can imagine that is the most important. We have a lot of thought and praying to do before we make this decision.
The rest of our time here in Las Lajas will be to relax, explore and get some more useful information from our host, Rudy.
Oh, I almost forgot. We have closed on our house in Naples this past Friday! The timing couldn’t have been any better.
Thank you for joining us and being part of our adventure. Keep following us on Facebook and Instagram
Gary & Barbara
November 5, 2020
As you might have seen in the previous blog we have been steadily working on our house and we are still under contract just waiting for their money to come in so we can close. We wanted to share that we’ve not only been working like busy bees but have been able to take a few days here and there to rejuvenate.
The 1st week of September we went to the Oregon coast for a deep fishing trip. This was not my idea of total relaxation but I must admit I did have fun if not being somewhat horrified at times. Keeps the blood moving I suppose. We are able to catch our limit on Halibut, crab and we also caught rock cod on days 1 and 2. Gary was able to experience Sushi for the 1st time and he enjoyed it so much that we had it for lunch one day and dinner another. I also had some beautiful picture moments.
A week later we took another 4 day trip to Huntington Beach, California to deliver to my nephew one of our trucks that he bought. This is a farm truck but it being a Duramax, Morgan felt it was too good to pass up.
As you can see he's really done a great job!
We also were able to visit one of my sisters. It was very nice to spend some time with her, we just don’t see each other very often. We had Sushi on the beach the night before we flew back home. It was a beautiful time
Gary’s been busy not only on the house but taking care of all the little things for our upcoming trip to Panama, PCR testing at the local hospital, car rental, trying to contact an attorney to see while we’re there and I contacted a realtor to look at a number homes the 1st Friday and Saturday.
The rest of the trip will be relaxing and perhaps some sightseeing. Panama is being affected to some degree by hurricane/tropical storm Eta so it’s very wet there right now, we will have to see when we arrive.
Check out our FB page Eight Degrees North and our instagram @eightdegreesnorth
Thank you for joining our adventure
Gary and Barbara
October 19, 2020
So much has happened and in ways we never dreamed of.
We are in the process of remodeling the house we’ve been in for the past 20 years, raising 6 children, running a number of businesses out of and was very dated. We’ve been doing this in abundance the past few months and had almost finished the upstairs and were starting work on the downstairs, so we decided to post pictures and “put it out there” on Facebook, we had 3 individuals in the first 48 hours looking and was “Under Contract” in less than a week.
Panama finally opened October 12th and we have been waiting for the prices on flights to come down but the biggest issue has been the flights themselves. First, to come into Panama we must have a Certificate of Swab tests / PCR or negative antigen done within 48 hours when we land and there are currently no direct flights into Panama. Gary spent most of yesterday working out a schedule that’ll get us there within that window AND at a cost that doesn’t break the bank. Most flights out of Spokane are starting at $755.00 roundtrip per person and taking 2 days to arrive. What Gary found will get us there will plenty of time to spare and at a cost of $460.00 roundtrip per person, SCORE!
This will be the final visit before the “Big Move” in January 2021. We will be meeting with an Attorney to start the process for our Pensionado Visa (Retirement Visa) and a Realtor to look at some homes in both Las Olas and Las Lajas.
Both these areas are very appealing to us for different reasons. Las Lajas is the beach we absolutely fell in love with on our first visit in February of 2020 however there doesn't seem to be many home options here at least that we see on the internet, we know that there could be more than what is being advertised. Also this is a beautiful swimming beach, with light swells and you can walk out a ways and still only be waist deep.
Las Olas is a gated community with many beautiful homes available for purchase, closer to David and also seems to have a beautiful beach. Through our research however we are finding that the beach there seems to be much more appealing to surfers as the ocean has more swells and a propensity for potential riptides. We have yet to visit this beach so we will take a look see, to be sure what we are reading is correct, we’d hate to pass on a lovely affordable home based on mis-information.
Of course this will not be all work, we will be doing some much needed down time. Gary will be practicing relaxation exercises which will consist of drinking Panamanian coffee as the sun rises, walking the beach each morning and honing his surf fishing skills. I will be doing the same, only instead of fishing I will be working on my photography skills.
Thank you for joining us,
Gary and Barbara
Deep Sea Fishing Newport, Oregon September 2020