Time Marches on… Getting You Up to Speed

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Time Marches on… Getting You Up to Speed

That’s right, folks – time marches on. Time always marches on.

And it’s been a while since I’ve updated you on where we’re at and what we’ve been doing. Things are changing quickly for us and it’s tough to stay on top of all our upcoming plans.

We have so much going on and time seems to be flying by incredibly fast.

It’s crazy to think that we just went to the States for a month-long visit and came back to Boquete where we moved into our new condo. In just four months, we’ll be traveling to Mexico and then heading back to the U.S. before leaving again for a huge road trip.

It’s exciting… and a little stressful. We have so much cool stuff going on, but it’s important to get all our ducks in a row to make everything come together seamlessly (or close to it!).

But time marches on and we love taking in the adventure.

Now it’s time to tell you what we’ve been up to and what we’re planning next…

Traveling to the U.S… with a stumble along the way

Double COVID tests

Traveling back and forth between Panama and Ohio is always a bit of a project and takes some good planning. Throw in the constantly-changing COVID travel requirements in the different countries and it’s even more fun.

Two days before heading back to the U.S. in November, we went and got our COVID tests. The antigen test from Biomedica here in Boquete runs $40/each and we get the results in about an hour.

After this last test, Faith commented that she doesn’t mind the test… kids are weird!

We got our results back and I worked on uploading them, along with our vaccine cards, through United’s Travel-Ready Center as we’d done a couple of times previously. This time, however, Faith’s test results weren’t accepted.

After spending way too much time on this issue, I called United. After they got supervisors involved, they finally said that the rules changed and any unvaccinated persons needed to get their test taken within 24 hours of arriving in the States, not 72. Yes, I understand that, but kids, too? They haven’t been able to get vaccinated until just now. Tough noogies.

Crap. Faith, remember how you said that you don’t mind the antigen test? Well, you get to do it again tomorrow.

The hard part was that we were going to be in Panama City for the day before flying out the next morning. The Crowne Plaza Panama Airport we were staying at offered tests but they were just silly. The antigen test would be $60 with results in 16 hours! A PCR express test would only take 6 hours but that would cost $120!

As I was complaining to our wonderful neighbor, she had a solution. She gave us an extra travel test kit she had (Abbott’s BinaxNOW™ COVID-19 Ag At-Home Test Kit) that could be performed anywhere in the world. I told you she’s wonderful!

When we got to the hotel, our room wasn’t ready and we had some fun planned for the day. I asked if I could use a conference room for a few minutes and got denied. Fine. So I set up shop right in the hotel lobby with Faith, contacted the proctor, and performed her test right then and there.

Time Marches on… Getting You Up to Speed - Faith waiting for the results of her test...
Faith waiting for the results of her test at our makeshift COVID testing lab…

It worked well and took us probably about 25 minutes from start to finish and we immediately had the negative results that I uploaded successfully to United.

The Panama Canal

When you tell people that you live in Panama, the one question seems to always be, “Did you see the Canal?”

This wasn’t high on our list but we figured we should knock it out at some point before we move back to the States in the spring. So we took advantage of being in Panama City for the day to take an Uber and check it out.

The visitors’ center visit was completely rushed by the guide (I’m assuming because of COVID concerns). And when I say rushed, our group was pushed through all three floors of museum-like fun in probably 10 minutes. Needless to say, we were disappointed and got about zero out of that.

But once we got to the top, we were able to watch a small boat and a large freighter go through the Canal… that was cool to see.

That was it. We headed back to the hotel and flew back to the U.S. the next morning.

Faith gets vaccinated!

Not much to this one, but we had our fingers crossed and our timing was spot on. We were able to line up Faith’s first COVID-19 vaccine to be a few days after we got into Ohio in November – they had just started rolling them out for kids. And then we were able to get her second shot right before we headed back to Panama.

We have a lot we want to do in Panama before we leave in April so there’s some feeling of comfort knowing we’re all vaxxed now. Time marches on and we don’t want to waste it… onto ramping up the fun!

Spending time in Ohio

Two Christmases with one to go and some cool Magic of Lights

We go back to the U.S. two or three times a year. There are two reasons for that:

  1. We don’t have residency in Panama so it’s required that we get out at least every 6 months. We’re essentially perpetual tourists.
  2. We want to see family and friends. That helps quite a bit on the homesickness side of things.

Reason #2 works well in Faith’s favor. She wanted to spend Christmas and New Year’s in Panama for our last year here instead of in Ohio. Because of that, we did an early Christmas with Lisa’s side of the family and an early Christmas with my side (both were great).

But we’re not even done. Now that we’re back in Boquete, we just got the Christmas tree up and everything decorated. We’ll be doing Christmas #3 this weekend!

Think this kid can handle a third Christmas?! ?

Another bit of seasonal fun we had was going to a drive-through holiday light show with my parents at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds called the Magic of Lights. Now, you might not think that would be that entertaining, but it was well-done and covered a massive amount of the fairgrounds.

We really enjoyed it and the price wasn’t too bad – $26 for a carload. It runs through January 2 if you live in the vicinity and want to check it out.

Seeing friends… and some we didn’t get to!

I used to always wonder why everything felt rushed when my brother would visit us in Ohio from out-of-state. He had an agenda of people to see and was always running around.

Then we moved out of the country and I get it now. Everyone wants to get together when we’re in town. It’s a heckuva lot of fun but, oh boy, it’s tiring! And we’re in town for month-long visits still feeling like there’s not enough time!

Time Marches on… Getting You Up to Speed - At the Wing Warehouse with Friends
Hanging with friends who have reluctantly allowed me to use this photo in today’s post…

This time around, we didn’t get a chance to see everyone, but we also couldn’t see two groups of close friends on different occasions. Right before getting together, we found out they had COVID so we bailed.

It sucked not seeing them, but what are the chances that happened twice? Maybe they just didn’t want to hang out and pretending you have COVID is the new excuse to get out of getting together! 😉

Nah, they were legit and they’re all doing better now. We’ll just have to wait until we get back at the end of April to see them again.

Rock climbing, anyone?

Another fun activity we got to do was go rock climbing with my cousin, his fiancé, and his daughter (a year younger than Faith). This was my cousin’s idea and we met up at the Kendall Cliffs Climbing Gym.

This was a lot of fun… and maybe a little competitive between me and my cousin. They had a bunch of different walls of various skill levels so it kept us busy and wore us all out.

We’ll definitely be doing this again once we’re back!

Faith was on a roll with her YouTube channel

Faith is learning that time marches on in her life as well. If you don’t pay attention, life can pass you by.

Her YouTube channel, Fun with Faith, was something I helped her get started with and taught her to edit videos, but I left it to her to run with it. Like a lot of bloggers realize, if you don’t do it routinely, it starts to fade away. The same goes for vloggers.

My brother likes to tease her that she doesn’t put up enough new content. Well, she got back on things and did a fantastic job while we were in Ohio. You can check out her “Vlogmas” videos and her other videos on her Fun with Faith channel.

If you find it interesting, it would make her day if you click the “Subscribe” button. That just adds it to your subscriptions on YouTube. You won’t be notified of new content unless you also click the bell symbol next to it.

Preparing and training for my volcano hike

You might remember that I randomly decided that I want to hike up Volcán Barú, an active volcano near where we live. I’m excited about that and will likely make it happen in the next month or so.

While in Ohio, I took advantage of the shopping conveniences and got a hydration backpack and bladder from Amazon…

But then I needed to figure out the rest of the “ensemble.” If you know me, you know I don’t care anything about fashion and I hate shopping for clothes… plus I’m cheap with what I do buy to wear.

This isn’t about fashion though. I needed to find some clothes that would wick sweat (unlike all the cotton t-shirts I have) and something other than jeans. With the weather likely to be around 65° F at the base of the volcano and maybe around 45° F and windy at the top, that adds a little bit of excitement, too.

So, I’m going with layers and not anything too much because I don’t want to have to haul it up (and down) with me. Here’s what I ended up with:

Base layer wicking shirtBALEAF Men’s Long Sleeve Fishing Shirts UPF 50+ UV Lightweight Quick-Dry Shirt for Hiking Running

Long-sleeve Henley shirt – This was one I had in the storage unit. Lighter than a sweatshirt, but thick enough to give me a little extra warmth if needed. It might look weird over my base layer if I need it, but I’m not in a fashion show! Maybe since it’s dark blue it won’t be that weird anyway. It looks a lot like this Wrangler Authentics Men’s Long Sleeve Waffle Henley.

Puffer vest – I got this at a thrift store near Lisa’s parents’ house where we were staying. It’s in great condition, has four pockets, it’s made by Lands’ End (I’m told that’s a good brand!), and it was only $15. It looks similar to this Amazon Essentials puffer vest.

Hat / Light gloves – I grabbed my light Cleveland Browns hat I already owned and took some light gloves I got for Christmas from the dollar store. These fit in my puffer jacket and don’t really add any weight.

Time Marches on… Getting You Up to Speed - Cleveland Browns hat and gloves

Convertible hiking pants – Are they pants? Are they shorts? Yes and yes. Lightweight, waterproof, and quick-dry? Yup. Better than wearing jeans? 100%. Gash Hao Men’s Hiking Convertible Pants Outdoor Waterproof Quick Dry Zip Off Lightweight Fishing Pants

Dry and cool/warm socks – Just like the rest of your inner layer, cotton socks… not a good idea. Merino wool is good at keeping your feet dry. It’s also supposedly better to keep the temperature of your feet regulated in both warm and cold weather. You can go crazy on the price of socks, but I went with the innotree 3 Pack Men’s Merino Wool Hiking Socks for about $20.

Shoes – I picked up some trail running shoes at Kohl’s for about $45. They’re FILA Travail 2 Men’s Trail Running Shoes and should be good enough to take me through this hike.

Overkill with all this? Maybe. But I anticipate being sweaty on the way up and then cold at the top of the volcano. I hope my outdoorsy mentor, Dave from Accidental FIRE, approves!

In addition to my regular workouts, I spent a lot of afternoons walking up and down the stairs to the basement at my in-laws’ house with 10 pounds of weight in my backpack. Slowly but surely I’m getting ready for this hike!

Moving into our new place!

We moved out of our condo in Valle Escondido in Boquete when we left in November. We left our remaining possessions at our neighbor’s place until we got back.

When we arrived in Boquete last week, we moved right into our new condo in Valle del Rio (about 500 feet from our old place!).

Time Marches on… Getting You Up to Speed - View from Valle del Rio Balcony
Look, we can see our old place from our balcony!

To give you an idea of how much less stuff we own anymore, we moved all the possessions from our former neighbor’s condo to our new place in just two trips in an SUV. And that includes big items such as five patio chairs, three ottomans, and a bookshelf.

The funny thing is that a lot of this stuff is going to disappear soon, too. For instance, our Christmas tree and decorations will go bye-bye in just a couple of weeks! And those bigger items will be sold before we move.

Speaking of Christmas, the tree is up, the condo is decorated, and lights are strung on the balcony outside.

Time Marches on…
Getting You Up to Speed - Christmas tree up at Valle del Rio condo

C’mon, Santa… we’re ready for you!

We’ll be here in this condo until we leave in mid-April. They usually rent these out as Airbnbs and that’s how it’s presented to us as in equipped and with everything covered (except we didn’t go through Airbnb). For $1,200/month, we have a fully-furnished 3-bedroom, 3-bathroom condo in beautiful Boquete.

All utilities (including internet) are included though we’ll have to cover electric bill amounts over $25/month. Our electric bill was stupid in Valle Escondido and usually amounted to just under $100/month. That’s expensive considering we don’t have heat or A/C (or need it) but I’m told that’s because of how they were zoned. I don’t anticipate the bills in this new place being even close to that.

Four more fun months of Panama and then…

And that’s it, folks! We’ll be in our new place in Boquete until mid-April. Our plan though is to get out and enjoy Panama to the fullest before we leave. Some of the things on our agenda:

  • We already know I’m climbing the volcano, but that’s just for little old me.
  • Three or four nights at the Show Pony Beach Resort we enjoyed so much this past May
  • Rambala Jungle Lodge in Bocas del Toro – an all-inclusive hike-in and stay in a jungle lodge.
  • Horseback riding (I’ve never done that before)
  • Zip-lining through the canopy (we’ve done that a couple of times here now… amazing!)
  • Los Cangilones de Gualaca – cliff diving
  • Hikes – we need more hikes! Love the hiking here!
  • Hit up the restaurants we’ve been wanting to try and make sure to revisit our current favorites

Not sure if we’ll nail them all, but at least we’ll be keeping busy having fun!

After that, we’ll head to Mexico for a week and a half and then fly on back to the U.S. We’ll only be back in Ohio for a few weeks though before we move along onto our next big month (or longer) road trip.

I’m keeping the future plans brief because I’ll talk more about these plans soon. I’m sure things will change and be more defined as we get closer.

Until then, remember that life is short my friends, and the idea that time marches on is not fiction. If you’re not living the life you want, take control, and make it happen!

I hope the holidays are wonderful for you!

Plan well, take action, and live your best life!

Thanks for reading!!

— Jim

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6 thoughts on “Time Marches on… Getting You Up to Speed”

  1. That’s a lot of clothing for 45 deg F. You’ll be stripped down to just the fishing shirt with the sleeves rolled up before you are halfway up I bet, but better to have extra just in case. Plus you have the pack to carry it in and if you did twist a knee or something you would need it to stay warm until help arrived. One thing we bought that we never hike without is a satellite emergency beacon. We are often in remote areas with no other people on the trail or bushwhack and it is supposed to bring a helicopter in a hurry if someone takes a bad fall. I think it cost maybe $150 and there is an annual subscription. Same technology that is built into airplanes. I don’t know if those work in other countries or not. We tell our kids the general area we are in and I’m sure if they didn’t hear from us in a couple of months they’d maybe try to find us but I’m not counting on it.

    1. Appreciate the insight, my friend! I’m not so worried about waiting if I get an injury along the way since it’s pretty well-traveled – included 4×4 jeeps that take tour groups up and down. And the 45° wouldn’t normally bother me too much (I’ve lived in Ohio most of my life), but it’s already extremely windy up there and I’ll be going up during the windy season here. I would bet that would bring the wind chill down quite a bit.

      But I’ve never done something like this before and, you’re probably right – I’ll likely be pulling up my sleeves and not needing much else. I’m sure when I get done with this, I’ll be going, “I shouldn’t have taken…”

      Those emergency beacons are pretty awesome. That’s a smart move bringing them with you into the middle of nowhere. Since they’ll be traffic along this path, I’m not too concerned about that in this case. If I love this and start doing it more often in remote areas, I’ll put one of those on my list to get.

      Thanks for the advice and I hope your holidays are great!

  2. Wow, so much fun! Life is short, but it’s great if you’re open-minded.
    I got one week of access to the local rock climbing gym through GroupOn. It’s a lot of fun. My son did quite well. I tried bouldering, but it’s really hard. I really need more than one week so I can improve. The membership is pretty pricy, though. I think about $90/month per person and kids can’t do the bouldering until they’re 13. We’ll probably wait until our son is 13 to try again.

    I’m heading off to Thailand in a couple of weeks and I have to do 3 PCR tests. One before I board, then 2 after I’m in Thailand. Omicron is making travel difficult again. They are changing the rules to try to minimize new Omicron cases.
    Have fun traveling and Happy New Year!

    1. I had to look up bouldering – I never heard that term before. They had that in the rock-climbing gym we were at as well and I just assumed that the short height meant it was for younger kids to mess around on (until I tried it!). That does seem pretty expensive unless you were into it and did it quite a bit.

      I’m sure those PCR tests and the actual traveling are something you’re not looking forward to, but I hope you have a great trip in Thailand once you’re there!

      Have a great New Year!!

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