As I spiral down into the abyss of depression, questioning my decision to come to Panama and reflecting on all that has gone so terribly wrong over the past year, I think of all the things I miss about my life in Canada.

There are so many things we take for granted living in Canada, things you don’t give a second thought to until they are gone. Everything from a decent steak to going to the movies.

But my life in Canada, particularly the past fifteen years living in the Okanagan, was all about the people in my life and it was filled with so many wonderful memories.

Boating on Okanagan Lake and learning to slalom ski; our “adventure boating”, camping on the far side of the lake across from Summerland with about twenty friends; going out to the middle of the lake late at night, shutting the engine off and just marveling at the night sky; counting all the satellites as they streaked across; making love and sleeping in the raw on a deserted beach.

Hiking in the mountains around Kelowna. I ran a hiking club and we went out somewhere different every Sunday, all year round. To climb to the summit of McDougall Ridge and view the panorama of the valley was truly breath-taking.

Biking the Kettle Valley railroad. I feel so lucky to have biked the old railway trestles before most of them were destroyed in the disastrous fire of 2003. In my mind the KVR was the eighth wonder of the world. It was estimated that, before the fire, as many as 50,000 people enjoyed hiking and biking the KVR.

Skiing at Big White and Silver Star mountains. Before it got too expensive, a day on either hill was exhilarating. After I finally got my shaped skis, long since gone, I managed to get pretty good, tackling many of the blue runs that had previously terrified me. To bask in the sunshine, enjoying lunch at Snowshoe Sam’s, after a morning of zipping down all the runs, was truly a thrill.

Snowmobiling around Kelowna and especially Revelstoke. So many days travelling miles through the Greystokes and Boulder and Frisbee mountains in Revelstoke. Of all the countless days we went sledding, the one of remember most was going up Boulder with my brother-in-law, Ron. We reached the summit early in the day and discovered a whole hillside of fresh powder with no tracks. Whipping around that hill, buried in fresh powder was the thrill of a lifetime. We stopped at the top, peeled off our helmets and suits and sipped our coffee and Bailey’s. It was so clear that we both got sunburned faces.

One of my life passions has always been dancing. When I first started going to the OK Corral, back when I first arrived in BC in 1993, I did little more than hang out at the stand-up bar, watching all the talented dancers, longing to be out there on the dance floor. After taking some lessons from the wonderful Tom and Deb, my confidence level was high enough to hit the floor. Over the many years of dancing I was fortunate enough that I never had to ask a girl to dance. I would barely get off the floor before someone else would ask me to dance. I was never without a partner.

Although I could pretty well dance with anyone, a few partners stand out from the rest. Jackie, who I dated for three years, was a wild one who would try just about anything. We instinctively came up with several of our own unique moves over the years and her favorite was doing spins. It became a challenge to see how many she could handle without losing it. One night we managed thirteen turns in quick succession and were thrilled at the applause we got from people watching us. Jackie moved to Alberta for a time and we lost touch, but when she came back we hit the dance floor and never missed a beat.

Another favorite was Heather, who I also dated briefly. She was light as a feather on her feet and we had that amazing connection where I did not need to lead her as forcefully as many others. She was also about the only girl I ever danced slow with. She had a sensuality about her and our slow dancing was more like making love on the dance floor. We literally tingled with anticipation, as if we were all alone on the dance floor. She disappeared from the Corral suddenly and there were rumors that she had serious health problems. I left a couple of messages for her, but she never returned my calls.

Despite how horribly it all ended my undisputed favorite was Crystal. I had seen her dance with other guys and desperately wanted to dance with her, but I could not get up the courage to ask her. One fateful night, full of just enough liquor to embolden me, I finally approached her and asked her to dance. It was the beginning of a love affair, on the dance floor at least. We were simply amazing together. There were so many nights that we got admiring looks from people watching us and applause when we did something really well. Crystal was always approached in the washroom by girls asking how long we had been married; how many years we had been dancing together or where we competed. She always professed to be embarrassed by these comments, but I know she actually enjoyed the adulation. Who wouldn’t? Dancing with her was unquestionably the highpoint of my dancing career and I miss dancing with her beyond words.






My fav photo - me, my brother, Kevin, my Dad and my son, Chris

My Dad

Of all my wonderful experiences of life in the Okanagan, none are more memorable that dirt-biking with my Dad. I could fill a book with all the incredible experiences we shared over the years together. We covered hundreds of miles throughout the Okanagan and in Revelstoke over the years together, every one of them filled with sheer joy. Of all the people we went biking with no one was gutsier than my Dad. I remember all of us sitting on the edge of what looked like a swamp in the mountains above Revelstoke, wondering if we could make it across. As we sat there waiting to see who had the guts or was stupid enough to go, along comes Dad who, without a moment’s hesitation, ripped right across the swamp, bouncing wildly and then going right up the bank on the other side. Talk about intimidating! We had no choice but to follow him or we would never have heard the end of it. Even at close to eighty years old, Dad was unquestionably the gutsiest rider I ever knew.


Another memorable biking experience happened before I move to BC. In hindsight this was beyond insane, but I picked my son Chris up from workin Mississauga on a Thursday and we drove straight though to Revelstoke, arriving late Saturday, despite nearly ending up in jail in Sweetgrass, Montana. Another story.

Dad had arranged to rent bikes for us and we headed off into the mountains first thing Sunday morning. I don’t remember exactly what time of year it was, but I think it was some time in May of 1989.

After we had gone up the trail to the old gold mine and zipped around the mountains and streams, we stopped by the Columbia River for lunch and a beer. It was a typically gorgeous day without a cloud in the sky. As we sipped our frothy beer Chris looked at me and said, “Dad, it doesn’t get any better than this!” He was oh so right. That moment has lived on in my memory ever since, even though the trip ended in disaster when we hit a deer in Jackson, Michigan, nearly totaling my van and killing us. Chris was asleep in the back of the van and the police said if I had instinctively swerved when she jumped in front of me the van would have flipped over on its fiberglass roof and we would both have been killed. We survived only because I braced and hit her straight on, which I compare to hitting a four foot high brick wall at sixty miles an hour. I will never forget that impact moment or the sound.

Now that Dad is gone my all-consuming regret is that I let him down so badly by not having the time to go biking with him anymore after I got involved with Tracy and the kids. I ended up selling my beloved Honda and left Dad going out on his own, something he hated and he eventually ended up selling his bike too. The incredible guilt has never left me. It was a matter of priorities and mine were unquestionably misplaced. I never realized what a terrible mistake I had made until Dad was gone and it was all too late.

There are countless other wonderful memories of life in the Okanagan. Sitting around the fire on the beach at Mum and Dad’s, with Mum playing her accordion and Dad singing songs like April Showers by the late, great Al Jolson. So many amazing times with family and friends, boating and swimming and steaks on the barbie and partying into the night. My friends were always welcome at Mum and Dad’s and my parents were the best party people ever. Oh how I long to relive those days.

My experiences weren’t limited to the Okanagan. There were all those crazy years going to the Merritt Mountain Music Festival, which was always a blast. Sitting in the river, drinks in hand, cooling off with thousands of other people. Being the “beer Gods” by handing out free beer to everyone. Riding the trailer pulled by “Speedy”, Wade’s converted lawn mower with the horns mounted on the front. Hundreds of memories, among my favorites, a very inebriated Wade, after we snuck into the reserved seating area to watch Johnny Cash, saying, over and over, “Hey, that’s Johnny Cash!” It was hilarious.

White water rafting all over BC, from Litton to the Kicking Horse pass. One fantastic week-end, arranged by my buddy, Lenny, when a whole crew of us from the Courtplex went rafting for the week-end. It was the best $99 I ever spent.

All the many hours playing racquetball at the Courtplex and the many friends I met there, first and foremost, my wonderful friend Laura, who was the very first person I met when I got to the Okanagan. I was never in better shape in my entire life, playing about three times a week. I remember, back when there was a bar in the club, how I would play for hours and then as soon as I hit the bar I would light up a smoke. Everyone would wonder how I ever managed that without losing a lung in the process. Not something to be proud of, I know.

Biking and blading in Stanley park in Vancouver. Hiking Lynn Canyon. Watching the amazing fireworks at English Bay. The IMAX theatre. Granville Island. The Science Centre.

Listening and dancing to my favorite band, the Salmon Armenians, with the lovely Sabrina Weeks. I miss all the bands I saw at the Blue Gator downtown, plus all the concerts in City Park. Setting up our lawn chairs on Friday nights and listening to the free concerts put on by Parks Alive.

Two other passions were roller-blading and cross country skiing. After I first learned to blade and got my excellent Rollerblade ones with the automatic brake, one of the last ever manufactured, I would go for miles around Kelowna and Peachland. It was the best exercise ever and free. Working up a sweat blading the Recreation Corridor downtown, then removing my blades and going for swim at City Park was awesome!

Brian Wall introduced me to cross-country skiing, nearly killing me in the process. I was running a very high fever, but I was so looking forward to going that I just couldn’t cancel on him. He ended up taking me on the very challenging Olympic trail for nineteen kilometers my first time out. Despite the exhaustion I fell in love with the sport and enjoyed it for many years. On one of the runs at Telemark in particular, a run that took me over two hours to do the first time, I eventually did it in forty-five minutes, much to the amazement of the folks who ran the place. Between racquetball and cross-country skiing I was in the best shape of my entire life. I remember going out one time with Darlene and Norma, both of whom were in excellent shape. I reached the crest of the first hill, which was quite an arduous climb. I peeled off my coat to enjoy the sunshine and a smoke and waited about half an hour before Darlene and Norma came huffing and puffing up the hill, cursing me for not waiting for them, especially when they saw me smoking.

Another passion was playing pool. I played in the Kelowna 8 ball league for about nine years and then played in the new Breakers league. I regret so much that my team fell apart after I left Canada.

It’s said that people come into your life for a reason. For me, I have never been a “loner”. Every single memory I have is about the people who shared my experiences with me. Without question this is what I miss the most.

Back in my boating days I had bought about thirty baseball hats, all in fluorescent colours, with Bones Crew written on them. The deal was if you crewed on my boat you got a hat. I have one wonderful picture of all my friends wearing their hats at Lenny’s parents place in Blind Bay. Truly special.

As I contemplate the end of my life I have to acknowledge the people who have helped to make a difference by creating all those memories. Hopefully I don’t forget anyone, but you know who you are. In no particular order –

Well, high up on the list has to be the only true love of my life, Tracy. Until I met her I believed I had been in love before, not the least of which was with my wife of twenty-three years, Janice. But Tracy showed me what true love is all about. If you have ever been lucky enough to have experienced that incredible, overwhelming, all-consuming sense of sheer joy and fulfillment, knowing that this person means more to you than your own life, then you know how being in love with Tracy felt.


To this day thoughts of not going more than fifteen minutes without kissing; playing “downtown” with the kids; roller-blading, pushing Braydon and Madison in the stroller (We’re all gonna crash!); making sweet love, talking for hours every night; working together renovating her house; Survivor parties, Sunday mornings when the kids would crawl into bed with us to play and all the hours of laughing and sheer joy of life were all the best moments of my life.

Under the “best friends” category there are many people, but top of the list has to be Bianca. She has stood by me through thick and thin over the years. When my Dad died suddenly Bianca jumped on a plane and came to help me. There are no words to describe how she helped me to get through this most difficult time. My family were useless, never lifting a finger to help, not even speaking at my Dad’s service. There were so many things to do and Bianca jumped right in to help in any way she could. Most amazingly she took all my parents’ photos and made a collage of my Dad’s life. I remember the tears of emotion when I first saw what she had done. No one other than Bianca could have captured my Dad’s spirit the way she did.

Throughout the many trials and tribulations of my life here in Panama Bianca has been my rock. She has listened patiently to all my woes, offering her support and encouragement. She jumped in to help me financially when no one else would and she is the reason I am still alive today, be that good or bad. Like a true friend, she has chastised me for my mistakes, giving me the often brutal, but necessary, truth, good or bad. I have suffered unbelievable pangs of loneliness here but Bianca has kept me going in more ways than one. She is a kindred spirit and a truly genuine person.

On my buddy list, of course, at the top of the list has to be Wade. We have shared amazing times over the fifteen years we’ve known each other and he is a part of almost every memory I have. What he did to help me through the total disaster of the reno in Westbank is beyond belief and I can never repay him or thank him enough. The reno turned out to be the biggest mistake of my life, but without his incredible help my life would have been over long ago. He helped to make the best of a very bad situation. When all hell broke loose because my so-called friend, Ric, failed to look after the place as he had promised, paying the bills and taking care of the place, Wade not only jumped in to take care of everything, but he kept it all from me, knowing how the stress would kill me. Despite all the odds against it he managed to put a very creative deal together to sell the place, a deal which saved me from starvation long ago. He put up with a lot of grief from people who wanted a piece of me and he bore the brunt of their anger. None of what happened was his fault in any way, but he came to my rescue when I so desperately needed help.


There are so many other people who helped to shape my life, like Lenny (Linda), who once called me all the way from Turkey just to wish me a happy birthday. I will never forget when she and Dave surprised me when they showed up to do the zip lines with me in Puerto Vallarta.

The lovely Laura, the first person I met in Kelowna. She was working the bar at the Courtplex and we became instant friends. We shared many a laugh over the years, from getting all loopy on New Year’s Eve, to sharing a Valentine’s Day dinner together because neither of us were seeing anyone at the time. We were upstairs at a table by the window at Earl’s when it started gently snowing. As we sipped our wine I said, “oh, this is so romantic. It’s too bad it’s wasted on us.” That brought a tear to her eye and I felt bad. It obviously didn’t come out right.


My "Wifey" Karla

My pretend wife, Karla. I say pretend because we were acting out the part of husband and wife at a murder mystery hosted by Laura and Karla’s sister, Stephanie. Karla had no idea how much I wished we weren’t just pretending. I still remember ripping along the lake with Karla trying to take a sip of her drink. She hollered at me to “slow down to drinking speed”. Many of our friends at the time figured we would end up together, particularly when I saw her through her pregnancy, but it was not to be. My last memory of Karla was going to an Okanagan Sun football game and the tailgate party with her and Les. Good times for sure.

One of the greatest guys I ever met, Mike, alias “Sparky”. Mike was just one of those genuinely nice guys that everybody liked. In all our years together I don’t remember him ever getting angry and losing his cool. He was a genuine friend and so darned likeable.


Brian and Donna


One of my first real buddies in town, Brian Wall. From introducing me to cross-country skiing, hanging out at the Corral, to going sledding in the Greystokes, Brian was always fun to be around. Although we kind of lost touch in the end it was funny when one of his daughters, who was a Realtor, showed my place in Westbank. We knew that we knew each other and finally made the connection. She was all grown up now and as gorgeous as ever. It was a time when I realized just how old I was getting.

One of the best, Greg McCarthy. My two most vivid memories of Greg were adventure boating at Summerland. We had left our camp on the far side of the lake to head down to Penticton. On the trip down Wade and I had all the girls split between us. A wicked storm came up late at night and we didn’t know if we would even make it off the dock, let alone make our way back to the camp. Wade had his 21-foot Summer Thunder boat, and I had what can best be described as a “cork”. All the girls immediately piled into Wade’s boat, of course, leaving me alone. Greg immediately jumped in with me, telling me he would not let me go down alone. It was a wild and scary trip back in the darkness and huge swells and I will never forget Greg volunteering to risk his life with me.

My other memory of Greg was running into him at the Corral. He had moved to Victoria and we hadn’t seen each other for quite a while. I was there with Crystal on our first real arranged date and she didn’t know me that well. Given that Greg is a husky, muscle-bound, tattoo covered guy, it came as quite a shock to Crystal when Greg gave me a big bear hug and kissed me on the cheek. I had to do some fast talking to explain to her that Greg and I were both real men who liked women.

The always corny and comical, well, at least in his drinking days, Don. No one had more one liners or tired jokes than Don. As happens to many people, when he got married and quit drinking he changed a lot, but he was always a fun guy.

Can’t forget Darlene. Besides being the best knee-boarder ever, she was the one who introduced me to Glacier Berry, which I drank for years; our little thing was that I always told her that her happiness was my first concern. When I first met Dar she was living with Norma, the Okanagan’s very own Marilyn Monroe. Norma was every man’s dream – blonde, gorgeous and with a body to die for. Although she was very smart and a wonderful girl, she was the object of much jealousy from all the other girls. Norma was simply one of those girls who was so gorgeous that guys were intimidated to approach her, but she proved to be very approachable once you got to know her. In all the years I knew her she never had a steady boyfriend and I suspect she was actually very lonely. The last time I saw her she had given up being a stewardess, had been married for three years and was working at Household Finance. She was still as lovely as ever.

Who could ever forget Darlene’s eventual husband, Larry. He was the definition of the good-looking, tanned, buff, beach party guy, who, until he married Darlene, many suspected was gay. Until he married Darlene, and they were just friends for many years, Larry never really ever had anyone special. He was always surrounded by gorgeous women, but they were always just friends.

Another favorite person who I met through Darlene was Suzy. The quintessential blonde, Suzy was just one of those people who seemed to genuinely enjoy life. She was a real party girl who was always fun to be around. When she left ICBC I lost track of her. I remember something about her marrying a German soldier boy and I never saw her again.

Part of my life in the Okanagan involved Karen Falloon. Although we lived together for over a year it was admittedly a relationship of convenience for me. Although we enjoyed many things together I never once told her that I loved her, which was a mistake on my part and unfair to her. She got the best of it though because I busted my ass renovating her whole place. What ended it for me was when, jokingly, after I had spent weeks reclaiming a large part of her lot for her, I asked her what half was mine and she freaked on me, telling me it would never be mine and it was her house and on and on. When a friend at a party started telling me how Karen had planned our retirement years together I knew it was time to move on.

While I was with Karen I met the only woman I have truly lusted after, Wendy. She was very flirtatious and suggestive and we had many a moment of playful flirting. She was married and of course I was with Karen, so nothing ever happened. Years later I ran into her at the Corral, with a young hunk on her arm. When I confessed to her how much I had lusted after her earlier and said it was a good thing she was married, she informed me that she wasn’t married anymore and gave me her number. I called and left messages a couple of times, but I guess it was the drink talking at the Corral.

Another good friend over the years was Julia, a friend of Laura’s. I stayed at her place in Vancouver a couple of times and we shared some great times in Merritt. It was her birthday and we made our own dance floor in the middle of the dirt and danced our buns off to the Mavericks, one of my favorite country bands.

Julia was also a part of the only real clandestine, if that is the word, affairs I ever had.

One night at the Corral Wade introduced me to his sister, Tawny. For me it was love at first sight. She was gorgeous, intelligent, funny and, in a way, a challenge. This girl was no pushover, that was obvious. I begged her for hours to dance with me, but she professed not to dance. Finally she gave in and we danced our butts off for hours. As closing time approached Wade asked me if Tawny could crash at my place for the night. Knowing how I felt about her and that she was Wade’s sister, and not to mention she was engaged, all I could smell was danger here, but I agreed. I would be good. Yeah, right.

When we got back to my place I put the music on, poured her a drink and asked her to dance. When she resisted I leaned down and kissed her oh so gently. At first she pulled back, but then, to my considerable surprise, returned the kiss. We slow danced, stroking each other affectionately, not in a sexual way, although I will admit that is where my mind was going rapidly. Knowing, I guess, where this could lead, she said she had better get to bed. I asked, jokingly, “alone” and she said “yes”.

I gave her my bedroom and crashed on the couch, but something told me there was more here, so I knocked on her door and asked if she wanted company. My heart skipped a beat when she whispered “yes”. Without going into details let’s just say we did everything but make love. She was incredible, but also smart enough to realize that she was engaged and if we crossed that line she could never go back.

The next morning over breakfast she surprised me by telling me that the kiss and slow dancing had been the most romantic thing that had ever happened to her. I could not believe that her and Peter had been together for five years and that they had not had more romantic moments. It became more and more obvious that the relationship was more one of convenience and a business partnership. It didn’t sound like there was a lot of love involved.

She returned home and over the next few weeks we talked on the phone for hours. I started sending her romantic poems, which she had to read and delete right away because she said Peter had access to her email account. It was all so juvenile, but exiting and dangerous at the same time.

To my considerable shock, a few weeks later she called off the wedding. She went off to university in the States and we kind of lost touch.

She emailed me to share that she had passed a milestone in her courses. I managed to track down where she was and sent her flowers anonymously to congratulate her. She called immediately, saying she knew they were from me. She told me she had to be in Vancouver in a couple of weeks, so we arranged to meet. This is where Julia came in because that was the ruse as to why I was going down to Vancouver, to spend the week-end with Julia.

One of those cute little things between people is that, whenever I asked Tawny about the marriage thing she would respond with “don’t go there.” Before we went to pick her up at the airport I got a T-shirt with the words, Don’t Go There printed on it. When we picked her up and I gave her the T-shirt she laughed.

Although I had no clue where this was leading I did hope that we would get a chance to talk and rekindle some of the feelings we shared in Kelowna. I had made arrangements for a hotel room, but when we got there she said she was tired and said goodnight. It was all confusing for me and I was glad Julia was there to lean on. Julia suggested that maybe this was all moving too fast for Tawny and she just wanted some breathing room to think things out a bit. I agreed to back-off and Tawny and I spent a wonderful week-end together, blading in Stanley Park and doing Granville Island. There was no real affection or romance though. When I left her at the airport she just said she didn’t know what she was doing or how she really felt and she just needed some time to think. Nothing ever came of it and today we only exchange the occasional email.

The funny part, if there is one, of this whole saga is that it burned a hole in me not telling Wade all this. We never had secrets between us and it killed me not being able to confess everything to him. I was so worried that Tawny might blurt something out to him and then he would be pissed at me that I had not told him about it.

As luck would have it, the night of my Dad’s service, when the weight of all that had to be done was finally lifted off my shoulders, Wade and I were sitting on the beach late that night. I had way too much to drink and finally, in a moment of slobbering weakness, blurted it all out to him. As is so typical of Wade, he said he knew something would happen if Tawny spent the night at my place. I got the feeling that he didn’t much care for Peter and felt that Tawny was making a big mistake marrying him. He saw how much fun Tawny was having with me I, I guess, figured that I might stir something in her to make her question what she was doing. He said that when she called off the wedding he figured I had something to do with her decision. Most importantly, he wasn’t upset with me at all. I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

Countless others, like Sheila, Sid’s ex, who I always had a thing for. Celia, Mike’s ex, who played on my pool team and the only twenty something I ever lusted after. Darla, another great dance partner, who ended up moving to the States to be with her daughter. Brian, alias Aquaman, and his fiery red-headed wife, Linda. Two of my favorite people in the world, Ron and Suzanne. Merle at the Corral. Deb, the receptionist at the Courtplex and the first girl I ever asked out in the Okanagan and also the first one to turn me down. Francine, the little French bombshell, who I spent a night of incredible passion with camping just outside Vernon one week-end. My other Frenchie, Sylvie Sanson, one of the most passionate women I ever met in my life.

John Grant, a good buddy over the years and a great dancer. All the people who I met through the ski club, Kelly, Krista, Teresa, Rob, Cathy, Donna, DJ, and so many more. Darlene Garnier, another great dance partner and a woman I always fantasized over ending up with. She was a very successful lady and as close as I ever got was planting a bunch of bushes for her at her house in Westbank. If I were ever to be a kept man, Darlene would be my choice. Doris Bonn. Carolyn and Craig on my pool team.

Trish Major, another one of those girls you only dream about. Ask Trish about the secret music tape I made for her, the one that nearly ended up with me charged for stalking over. Tom and Norm, the only openly gay guys I ever knew in my life and who threw the best Christmas parties. Jean, another one of my favorite dance partners with whom we invented a little hop step that was uniquely ours. The lovely Waneeta, Greg’s ex, my favorite Budweiser girl. Gloria, the oldest woman I ever had sex with in my life. I knew I was in trouble when she took her teeth out, although this did have some benefits later. My lasting memory of Gloria was the night she told me Wade got all drunked up and told her that I was a womanizer and cruel to women, including Tracy, who, in fact, had asked me to move out, not the other way around. I remember being devastated that someone I thought was my best friend would say these things about me, but I never spoke to him about it.

Good or bad, I also met a lot of people through my various jobs in BC, which is the reason I have almost four thousand contacts in my Outlook program. From busting my ass working on the line at Western Star, unquestionably the worst job I ever had in my life, through computer consulting, part of that with Northern Computer, to Shaw Fiberlink, my all-time favorite job, to selling cell phones with Pacific Cellular and Sunwest Cellular, to travelling the south Okanagan selling tax programs for FBC, to briefly working the Okanagan for Business Thompson Okanagan newspapers and, finally, my fateful renovation in Westbank, I came into contact with hundreds of fellow employees, bosses and clients. Although no one position stands out, Shaw Fiberlink shutting down suddenly, costing me some eighty thousand dollars in lost commissions is certainly memorable for all the wrong reasons.

When you think about it, it is truly amazing all of the people who pass through your life. What I have dealt with here are only those people who made a difference in my life during my fifteen years in the Okanagan. Others, long forgotten, are part of my forty-three years on the planet before I moved to the Okanagan.

No doubt I am but a distant memory in their lives as well, but for the purpose of this record of my life, just some people that come to mind are Zak and Joyce Marshall, truly close friends. Zak and I played in a band for over ten years together. Others in the band were Nolan Yearwood, who was the Commissioner of Finance for the City of Toronto, and Alan McQuillan, the forever child of the sixties in our band. I wonder where they all are now?

My very first band was at the tender age of only fifteen. We were the Tempests and included Dave Kirk, Don Thurston, and Chris Hayes. Surprised I even remember that far back.

Tons of friends made from high school in Streetsville and from my years in Brampton. Ontario. Roxanne Rollings, my first sweetie. Doug Church. Brian and Lynn Jamieson. Glen and Dale Ellis. Gary Ellis, who my ex ended up marrying. Greg Smith, my Realtor. Jim Webb, who I was in business with for a time at GlassVision Solariums. Gerry Waterhouse, my one time boss and eventual business partner. Jim and Trudy Fox. Bill and Gerri Peters. Steve and Rosemary Vass. I worked with Steve at the TD Bank. Bobbi and Dave Rogers. Keith and Rhonda Graham, my next door neighbors at our only new home. Too many names to ever remember.

The people I miss the most of course are my kids and grandkids. Forever the loves of my life, no regret of my life is larger than losing contact with them and their five kids. Had I known when they encouraged me to move to the Okanagan to find happiness that it would mean losing all of them in the process, my life would have taken a completely different course, one that certainly would have been better than where I find myself today. Leaving this earthly world without ever connecting with them again is my regret for all eternity.

Trouble even with a Panama girl

Is it alright to say “awoke” when you really never slept? Last night was one of the worst nights of my life and I awoke only to find we have no power, yet again. Can’t make coffee. No internet. My precious food in the freezers is in jeopardy. Certainly not what I need this morning!

So why the horrible night? Well, as I have spiraled down into my current depression, consumed by the thoughts of it all being over soon, the one glimmer of joy in my life was Magaly. Her affection, warmth, cuddling, making love and telling me she loved me kept me going each day, or least trying to hang in there.

It started Saturday, when she did not respond to my text messages about maybe taking her kids to the parade at night. It was my first Christmas in Panama and, although I certainly have no spirit of the season, even knowing that it was probably my last made me want to make the best of it and experience what Christmas was like in Panama.

She finally sent me a message saying that her kids were in David and that she had to work until six o’clock, so I replied, suggesting that we meet for pizza and then go to the parade. I had told her previously that I needed to have her take some pictures of the parade with her phone for my websites.

No response. Instead she just showed up at the house after work, and obviously in a very bad mood. When I asked why she hadn’t responded to my message, she said she had been using her sister’s phone and she had left the store, so Magaly didn’t get any message. When I asked where her phone was, she said her daughter had it in David. I reminded her how important I had said it was that I got pictures of the parade with her phone.

Now we had nothing to eat and she didn’t want to go to the parade. I asked her where the bread was that I had asked her to bring, but she had forgotten, so I couldn’t even have a sandwich. She said she didn’t want anything to eat and was just miserable. I asked her to please tell me what was wrong, but she insisted there was nothing wrong. We spent the evening in silence watching a movie, listening to all the music and singing coming from downtown. I really regretted not being there to enjoy it.

At eight o’clock she showered and went to bed without even a good night. When I crawled into bed she wanted nothing to do with our normal cuddling in each other’s arms, so I spent the night by myself, full of regret at missing the parade and still so utterly confused about why she was being so miserable to me.

I was up at seven the next morning and spent the next three hours puttering around the house, just trying to be quiet to let her sleep. I made pancakes for us, but she was still asleep, or pretending to be, so I ate alone. She finally got up at ten and headed into the shower. Not even a “good morning”. When I went into the bathroom to ask if she was ready for me to cook pancakes for her, she babbled something at me in Spanish, which I did not understand. She got all frustrated at me for not knowing what she said and all I got was a frustrated “oh, Gary!”.

We’ve managed to fumble along with the language pretty good all these months, and this was the first sign of any frustration that I didn’t understand her. I knew this was not a good sign.

When she sat down to eat I again asked her what was wrong and got the same answer – nothing. Although, yes, my language skills are lacking, I said I knew there was SOMETHING wrong and asked her to please tell me what was going on. Nothing she insisted and I could feel the anger welling up in me that she was being so obstinate.

The next few hours were spent with me working around the house and her cleaning my apartment. Not a word between us. We were to go to Stone and Barbie’s place at two o’clock for a Christmas party and, although I was not in any party mood I was hopeful she would brighten up and we could sort things out. I was happy to see her getting dressed and putting on her makeup. At least she was going to make an attempt.

As I put together our drinks to take and got ready to leave she informs me that she’s going to her house. Obviously upset I asked why? She just said she had to go. I explained how important it was for us to go and how awkward it would be for me when everyone asked where she was. Adrian was also bringing his new lady who spoke little English and I said it was important for Magaly to be there to talk with her. Nothing.

Now I got really upset and said I wouldn’t go without her as it would simply be too awkward and uncomfortable. She just said good-bye and left. It was a very low moment for me, realizing this was yet another thing she had spoiled for me.

I guess in defiance I decided I wasn’t going to regret one more thing, so I went. It was awkward, as I expected, because Barbie and everyone else at the party wanted to know where Magaly was. I made some lame excuse that she a function to attend with her family, but also said I suspected she wasn’t comfortable around so many English people. No one believed me, I’m sure.

My phone rang and it was Magaly asking me to let her back into the apartment, as she could not get a taxi. I asked her to come over to Stone and Barbie’s, but she refused, so I went back to open the door for her. I sort of lost it on her, angry that she was making such a mess of this. After some pleading she agreed to come over for a little while, I think mostly to help the other Panamanian girl out and not for me.

When we came back, again all I got was the silent treatment. She showered and went to bed without a word. I ended up on the couch, tossing and turning, fighting back tears, tossing and turning all night, overwhelmed with dark thoughts of how miserable I was. I fought to fall asleep and failed. I just wanted all this misery to end. My one tiny glimmer of hope had been dashed. It was over.

She woke me to say good-bye and I resisted the temptation to tell her to take all her clothes with her. Six in the morning is not a good time to start an argument. At this point I don’t know what to do. Her family is going to Panama City for Christmas and she can’t get the time off work, so we had planned to spend Christmas together, such as it is. Now it looks like I will be all alone, which is the last thing I need right now, but being alone is better than sitting in silence with someone you love and being treated like crap. Alone is the lesser of two evils.

Diary of the darkness

Diary of the Darkness

This is so utterly insane. I am writing this by flashlight, which is dumb enough, but I am doing this to avoid going completely insane.

The water went out early in the morning. The power went out early afternoon.

The wind is still howling and the rain is pelting down. On top of everything else I am very worried about the state of the huge trees towering over the house. Five straight days of these gale force winds has to be weakening those giant limbs. If they come down I can only hope they fall away from the house.

Second straight day with no power. The food in our fridges is no doubt spoiled by now, along with my very expensive insulin. No internet. No TV. Nothing to do. I texted a friend earlier today asking her to call the power company, but she said they have no idea when power might be restored. It will obviously be sometime tomorrow at best. Even our cell phones aren’t working for some unknown reason. They just show “emergency calls only.” Even text messages need to be sent over and over before they go through.

It’s obvious that the infrastructure here is crumbling. Boquete is Broken should be the new slogan. Already suffering from the meltdown in the US economy, Boquete cannot afford a reputation of not being able to provide the most basic of services. People coming from Europe or the States expect a certain level of basics, like water and power, and Boquete is fast proving to be completely unreliable in providing them.

Even the much talked about takeover of Direct TV by the mighty SKY TV has proven to be a disaster. Calls to their service department that our service was out, long before the power went out, were answered with it might be anywhere from one to three days before they could come out. It’s been two days now and no response. Not much point when there’s no power anyway.

Third straight day with no power. My flashlight gave out around 9:30 last night and my two remaining candles also died, so there was little left to do but go to bed. I slept fitfully, not knowing what tomorrow would bring.

Other than my flashlight and candles, my one saving grace was that I had propane to heat water and to cook. When I put my water on for coffee this morning the flames were orange, which is usually a sign that the propane is about to run out. I have no phone to call for more and can only pray that the power is restored so I can charge my phone. I also only have a couple of dollars left on the phone so I have to choose who I call very carefully. My dimming phone still shows “emergency calls only” so I don’t know if I will even be able to make a call anyway.

Tomorrow being Saturday, who knows if anyone will be working on either restoring power or SKY TV. It’s all so very third-world and unbelievably frustrating.

The winds, although still brisk, have finally died down a little. The sun is still not out and the valley is shrouded in mist, obscuring any view of Boquete. With the wind and rain it was hard to tell, but last night it looked like the only power on was those businesses who had generators. If that’s true no doubt they will be the priority when it comes to restoring power. The needs of our little neighborhood will mean nothing.

It’s getting dark and still no power. I talked to my tenant who said I was right about last night. He was told that something major had happened to the main transmission line from David and that it should be fixed sometime today, but it’s Panama, so that means nothing. There’s never a sense of urgency about anything here so who knows if anyone is even working on the problem.

David did bring me some desperately needed candles plus a couple of bags of ice. I wrapped my insulin in a bag with some ice, so hopefully it will survive a little longer. No sign of my Magaly who was supposed to be bringing me some food and more phone minutes yesterday, but never showed up. My phone is dead now so she might have texted me. I’m a little disappointed that no one has shown up to check whether I am alive or dead, but this no power thing is a challenge for everyone, I guess.

Just when I thought I was truly alone in the world and no one cared, Amilkar showed up. His father’s house has power so he emptied out my fridges and took whatever food has not already spoiled to put in his father’s fridge, plus he took my dead phone and flashlight to charge.

He explained that the winds had apparently taken out six transmission towers on the main line. Power was restored only to the downtown area at 3:00 in the morning last night, but most of the surrounding areas still had no power. Apparently a tree took out a transformer at the end of our street and that is why we don’t have power. He spoke to an engineer from the power company who said crews were going crazy trying to get the power back on everywhere. He said we could still be without power for days.

We are truly living in the dark ages here. You don’t realize how critical electricity is until you don’t have it for days on end. No refrigeration. No TV. No lights. No appliances. No internet. No computer (mine died days ago). Absolutely nothing to do. I finished a 231 page book, start to finish, yesterday. I got all my paperwork sorted and filed. All that’s left to do is sit for hours, listening to the wind howl and praying for power. It is an incredibly helpless feeling when there’s not a damned thing you can do about it.

At least some people can jump in their cars and find a restaurant that’s still open to eat or a bar to watch TV to keep them occupied. I have no car, no money and can’t leave the house because of my situation with my Visa. I am a virtual prisoner in my own house. Oh how I long for the civilization of Canada.

Magaly did finally show up and brought me a much needed loaf of bread and more phone minutes. She managed to take $20 out of the bank for me, but that’s probably all that was there. If and when the power is back I need to go online and see if I am completely broke.

Sixth straight day with no power. Dangerously low on food now. Obviously everything that was in the fridge is suspect. The ice protecting my insulin melted and I don’t know whether or not to chance taking it. This blackout could well end up killing me.

Amilkar learned that this was all caused when the gale force winds brought trees down on six steel transmission towers, snapping them like twigs. Some ninety homes in David have been damaged by falling trees. Even on his own finca a three foot around tree was brought down. Despite everything it makes me feel a bit better that the huge trees above the house are still standing.

Not only has this ongoing blackout been a nightmare for residents, but it has also driven out the only tourists we were lucky enough to have. Between howling winds, no power and how unbelievably cold it’s been, who can blame them for leaving? Tourism was already off drastically and this at the normally high time of the year. This is the last thing Boquete needed right now. It will unquestionably force many companies who depended on normally high season to go out of business, not to mention all those Expats who will rethink their decision to have second homes here or retire here. The scope of this disaster, coming on the heels of the massive flooding last November, may well spell disaster for the future of Boquete.

Regardless of how unusual the weather has been for this time of year, the failure of Union Fenosa to act swiftly to restore power is a clear sign that the infrastructure here cannot cope with the demands. Their response to the thousands of phone calls was not to put more people on the lines; no, they just stopped answering the phones. What people are suffering through is bad enough. To not be able to even question when power might be restored, so that you can plan accordingly, is extremely callous on the part of Union Fenosa. It clearly shows how little they were prepared for this to happen and how little they care for their customers. The joys of being a monopoly.

It is beyond chaotic today. I am now out of one of my meds and my insulin is questionable so I had no choice but to go to Boquete for food, meds and more ice. After a quick shave and shower in the dark, downing the last of my bread and coffee, I started trying to call a taxi. For over two hours all I got was “limited service” or that the calls could not be completed. Still recovering from my surgery I cannot handle walking up the road to try to get a taxi on the main road. I also have a grand total of a dollar in change that I managed to scrounge up so I don’t even have enough to pay them. This is beyond third-world and more than words can describe what it’s like to live through all of this.

As if all of this has not been a living hell, while I was in town I overheard someone saying that the reason we had no electricity is that the contractor who works for Union Fenosa basically went on strike, demanding more money to continue working. I prayed this was not true, but on the way back I asked my taxi driver, a fellow very much in the know about things and he said it was true.

Low and behold when I got back to the house the power was on! None of the lines on our street ever went down. They estimate it was about a ten minute repair to fix the damaged part. Six days with no power for a ten minute repair. Only in Panama!

The Reasons for this Website

There are many reasons for this website. It serves as a digital record of my life, with three specific purposes.

During the time I cared for my mother, who had Alzheimer's, I watched the gradual deterioration in her memory. I suggested that she start a diary to record the memories she still had of her life, the goal of which was to have her be able to read the diary as her memory got worse and her frustration grew. I bought a writing book and some pens and placed them in front of her on the coffee table where she did her puzzles. Every day, usually several times a day, she would ask me what the book was for and every time I explained it she would say that was a great idea.

Days passed and the book remained blank. I didn't want to push her about it because she could blow up on a minute's notice, but I did feel that it was something that would be good for her as her memories faded. Every few months Mum was tested to determine what level her Alzheimer's was at. At what was to be her last assessment it was a real shock to hear her answers to some of the questions. She had no idea what year it was, what month it was, what season it was, how long she had been married or even why I was there.

When I discussed the journal with her assessor she agreed that it was a great idea; however, she then asked if I knew that Mum had forgotten how to write? She couldn't sign her own name anymore. This was the reason that she had not written anything in the journal. Sad.

So, seeing as how Alzheimer's is hereditary, I thought I would get a jump start on recording my own memories, just in case that day comes when I can't remember anything, including how to use a computer.

The second reason is for my kids. If you know me personally and know the story of what happened with my kids, you know that I have been estranged from them for more than seventeen years now. Several of the posts on this site deal with the why, but it has unquestionably been the regret of my life. They not only cut me out of their lives after I moved West, but they cut out my whole side of the family, which never made any sense to me. So this site is just in case they ever want to know about their Dad and what he's been up to these last seventeen years.

The last purpose is for business. Just like everyone got their email addresses with their name, which are unique in the whole world, my project now is to have people realize the value in registering their names for all the popular domains. Once you have your name registered you are the only person in the world who will own that domain. This was never practical when both domain registration and hosting was expensive, but now you can register your name for the most popular domains for only a few dollars and hosting is also really inexpensive now. Unlike Facebook, Google+ or any other public site, having your own personal website means you control everything, including access to private information. Anyone who has had Facebook take down their page knows how frustrating this can be. That can never happen when you have your own site.


Her name is Verushka; she’s quite the girl

The first day I met set my heart in a whirl

With a smile that instantly lights up any place

Gorgeous eyes, pouty lips, her delicate face


Long silky black hair down to her waist

Lips, luscious and full, you yearn to taste

A cute little body, perfect in every way

To be with her you can only pray


She is so much more than eye candy though

There are so many things you really must know

Her beauty is matched by so much more

She’s the kind of girl that makes your heart soar


A sparkling personality, wit and charm

The kind of girl you want on your arm

She’s wise beyond her years and so mature

She stirs a hunger in you you cannot endure


Her beauty is equaled only by her intelligence

Beyond simply smart she has that good sense

She can handle herself with grace and poise

Whether dressed up or just “one of the boys”


She instantly connects with new people so well

You know in a second and can easily tell

She’s one of those rare people, when they ask “how’s your day?”

Really means it and actually cares what you say


To her I want to be someone special, much more than a friend

But if I don’t accept the way it is for her, our friendship might end

She’s so sweet as to be sorry there’s not more she can offer to me

I’m left to only dream of what a great love she could be


I lay down at night, dreams of her in my arms

Nights filled with passion, enjoying her charms

At first light of day she’s the first thing on my mind

I know a better woman I never will find


We laugh; we talk, we share our lives in every way

I never want to live without her, not one single day

Someday she will meet a man, about him she’ll learn

He’s a man whose worthy of her she can love in return

Jealous of him will I be?

Them together will be hard to see

He will have every minute with her

Time that I would much prefer


No one like her will I meet again, I fear

I’m left only empty, to shed a tear

But it’s not to be, she’s made that clear

I will still love her and hold her so dear


Oh, what might have been, if not for her age

But it’s time to give up, and turn the page

Accept how things are and not make it worse

That we will never have more is truly a curse


God has brought this wonderful Angel into my life

Every second of every day I long to make her my wife

To her that’s no secret, she knows how I feel

If nothing else she knows that’s it’s real


Where my life takes me from here I don’t know

But I hope that these few lines will truly show

How much she means to me and how much I care

And how special it is that our lives we do share


You might think me crazy for feeling this way

But you can’t choose who you love, you have no say

It all happens naturally with someone who’s so right

Your brain knows it’s wrong, but your heart you can’t fight


To connect with someone in all those special ways

A person who brings you so many incredible days

Is just someone for whom you will always care

Even though to do more you don’t dare


You are left with your dreams of how it might be

You know in your heart how it is and can see

That only your dreams will you ever have now

You still yearn for much more but can’t see how


That doesn’t make it wrong to show that you care

And you can still find a way for your lives to share

Your dreams may never come true

But never be afraid to say “I love you”.



Just another bad day in Boquete

Ever have one of those days you wished you had just not gotten out of bed?

My “not so great” day started mid day yesterday when the power went out. In Boquete, where we are used to intermittent power outages, it is no big deal. Usually it is back on in a few minutes, so I kept working away on my computer’s battery power, which, with my Dell, is usually several hours.

Well, I lost track of time, or my trusty Dell picked today to let me down, regardless, I was at the point where I would normally upload all of my several hours work to my server in Arizona, right when my computer decided to “hibernate” and shut down, as it was out of juice. A moment of panic as I thought I had just lost all of my hard work.

Accepting that, well, this is Boquete, so you are never quite sure when the power will come back on, I decided to jump in the shower while I still had some daylight left. With no power and no computer I figured I might as well head to Amigos for my Friday night pool, albeit a little earlier than normal. I wondered if the power was off all over town, like it was with the water outage last week, and maybe Amigos might be in the dark as well. Then I remembered that they keep some of the beer in a large cooler with ice, and they cook with gas, like everybody, so at least I could eat and have a cold beer.

When I got to Amigos I started asking everyone and anyone if they had lost their power. Not a soul! This should have been my first clue, but with the “interesting” way the power grid is setup here, there are often very specific local outages. All I could do was pray that it would be back on when I got home. I began to think about all the food in my fridge, and, of course, my very expensive insulin, which must stay chilled or it’s useless.

To my considerable dismay, when I got home just after midnight I was greeted with total darkness. Naturally none of my neighbors were without power. That’s when I dawned on me about the “discussion” I had with my landlord about the hydro bill. When I first made arrangements to rent the place, when I was still back in Canada, we had clearly agreed on $300 total, excluding cable and phone. I was also told that the place was “fully furnished”, and my contact person was going to make a “list” of all the household stuff that was there, like dishes and pots and pans. I never got any list.

When I arrived at the house, not only did I not have a single spoon, but I also had no hot water or a fridge, both of which came as a real shock. I explained that there was just no way that I could live without hot water and a fridge was critical, especially because of my insulin.

This was my first sign of trouble, because I quickly learned that the last tenant had installed her instant hot water heater, which she had promptly removed and sold when she left. So the very first things I had to do was spend $300 on a hot water heater and $380 on a fridge, plus several hundred dollars more on all the household necessities, like dishes and pots and pans and cleaning stuff – all money I did not have and did not plan to spend.

There’s been a host of problems with the place, from bugs to broken pipes, which flooded the place. Now to have them shut the power off on me was just too much.

About three months after I moved in to the much less than billed casa they present me with the hydro bill to pay. First, my neighbor had already told me the previous tenant was paying $225, and about the water heater fiasco. He had also shared with me that after she had only been there a short while the power got shut off on her. She soon discovered that, not only was she to pay hydro on top of her rent, but she was expected to pay for the last few months that had not been paid either. This was most of the reason she finally moved out again. So, not only was I not going to pay for something I had not agreed to, but I also knew the same thing would happen to me and they would expect me to pay for the time since the previo9us tenant left. Not a chance!

I somehow managed to fumble around in the darkness and get myself to bed. It was not one of my better nights of sleep, with all the stress and the thought of losing everything in my fridge, including my insulin.

In the morning at the ungodly hour of 6:00 when I woke up, of course I had no coffee, which I have become all to accustom to with the great tasting Panamanian coffee. I figured I would wait to call Karinthya at 8:00 or so, but when I went to call my phone was dead, naturally.

Oaky, be calm. Take your phone charger to dance class and charge up the phone and call Karinthya.

After the lesson my phone is now charged and I go to call Karinthya, and get a message that my phone is out of minutes. Off I go to the Mandarin to buy more minutes. When I get home I scratch the card to get the PIN and somehow manage to obliterate the numbers in the process. It takes me several tries with different guesses on the PIN to get it finally working. When I did call her, all I got a message in Spanish that I could not understand. I tried calling all the numbers I had for my landlord and got nowhere. Finally I called Karinthya’s father, Roberto, who has helped me out before. He informs that Karinthya’s cell phone had been stolen and that was what the message was about. He said he would do his best to contact them to get the power back on. That was the last I heard from anyone.

Just when I was at my wit’s end, Lizanne called to say that Jim Thompson, the guy from Kelowna that had bought the Volcancito house was in town and wanted to meet with me. Off I went to Volcancito and spent a few hours with Jim talking about his plans for the house and how we might work together. Over the course of many hours over the next two days we hammered out a deal for me to move in. He hasn’t yet closed on the deal, so he was trying to get a hold of the current owner just to check that it was okay with him for me to move in now. Jim was leaving Boquete Sunday night so all we could do was wait for an answer.

He called me early Monday morning to tell me he had spoken to the previous owner and he was fine with everything, so I spent the next few hours packing everything up getting ready to move. I managed to move everything in one taxi truck and I am now ensconced in the “penthouse” suite. The plan is for me to renovate the two suites downstairs, then move into one of them and rent the other out. Jim is giving me subsidized rent, plus a commission on the rentals, plus he’s interested in some of the other things I have on the go. After spending about nine hours with me on Sunday he has handed me a land development to market and sell. Might turn out to be very interesting.

My First Day in Boquete

Friday, December 28, 2007

My first full day in Boquete. Bit of a crazy one. Sonia had helped me shop yesterday. I bought a coffee maker ($7), cream, sweetener, and coffee. Went to brew coffee this morning and what I didn't buy was filters. So much for my morning Java fix. I was starving so I headed off to the Panama House – the one that was closed yesterday.

As I came out my gate Harland was standing in front of his place, on his cell phone. I said a quick Buenos Dias and kept walking. He called me back and asked where I was heading. When I said coffee he asked if I minded if he and his son and his son’s girlfriend joined me. Obviously no.

We were there in two minutes and he knew the owner well. We sat outside to smoke, but his son and girlfriend sat at a different table. My first thought was how gorgeously warm it was and I harkened back to standing in Westbank waiting for the bus. Quite the contrast now. Harland and I started yacking. He has been here four years and he is a fountain of information about relocating to Panama. It was excellent for me because he covered all the ins and outs of what is really the truth here – who you know and who you pay what to to get things done. He will no doubt prove to be a valuable resource for me.

I was really struggling with the no hot water issue, and I got my first, expensive lesson in dealing with the Panamanians. I was talking to Karinthya online and told her I could simply not live without hot water, so I would be moving and hoped her Mum would treat me fairly on the rent and my deposit. She called her Mum and a few minutes later told me her Mum had agreed to “fix” the hot water. Knowing things are all too easily “lost in translation” I said I wanted to be perfectly clear on what exactly “fix” meant. She asked what I thought it meant, and I replied that replacing the water heater that they removed was my idea of “fixing” it. She agreed, and told me Sonia would meet me at the house.

When Sonia got there she proceeded to turn on the infamous "suicide" heater in the shower to show me that it worked, as though somehow this is what I wanted. When I said, no, I wanted hot water to the whole house they started making calls to find out the cost. Garcia was totaling up some numbers on a piece of paper and wrote what looked like $760.00, which came as a shock to me. When I reacted Sonia showed him his “1” looked like a “7” and we laughed. But they were obviously waiting for some indication from me that I was going to pay the $160. At this point it was either pay or find another place, possibly losing my deposit in the process. Harland had said there were nicer places, but they were not in town, and they were around five hundred a month – more than my limited funds would allow. It also looks less and less like I am going to be able to afford a vehicle, at least not until the house sells, so moving out of town is not an option at this point.

Garcia agreed to drive us to David to get the water heater at the Do-It Center and we would install it tomorrow. Still not sure what “fix” meant to Sonia, but at least I will finally have hot water. They are also going to replace my broken taps.

On the way out we stopped at their house, which was very nice. I met one of their daughters, Deanna and her daughter, Michelle. I had mentioned to Garcia that I was mucho humbre (hungry) and hoped we could stop in David when we got there. Before I knew it Garcia and Sonia were cooking away. They made the best spaghetti I think I've ever had, along with fried bananas and fresh pineapple juice. We sat outside on their patio and enjoyed a great meal. Deanna lives in Costa Rica and her English is better than Sonia’s or Garcia’s, which isn't saying much, but it was nice to be able to have more than broken word conversations.

Off we headed to David – one guy who hardly spoke English and one guy who hardly spoke Spanish. It was an interesting drive, but somehow we managed to talk all the way there and back. At least I know my numbers in Spanish now, well, up to ten anyway. I got a big kick when, if there was a moment of silence, he’d start with “uno” and we went up to ten.

We got the water heater, a better coffee maker and a toaster, of course both of which I have at home. I hate spending money like this, especially when I don’t have it, but I have to live. And the way things are going I certainly cannot afford to eat out, despite the lower prices. The money has to last or I’m in bigger trouble than I was. It would have been incredible to have sold the house and everything I owned and came here with the money to be able to do what I wanted to do. Maybe it’s just not my destiny to be “stress free”.

I was writing this at Roxane’s, The Grill House, salivating over trying my first steak. The place was packed and there was a line-up outside. I asked a waiter if I could sit at a table outside to smoke and got a “si, senior”. I was going to try my first beer, but no one came to serve me. The window behind my table was open so I asked a waiter to come. Again, “si senior”. Fifteen minutes later, still no one. Two girls who had sat down only a few minutes earlier got service from a guy I assumed was the owner within minutes. I was not impressed.

Then through the window I hear a group of about ten Americans place a very large order, so I knew even if I did get served it would be an hour before I saw food. I got up and left.

Sonia and I had eaten at a very nice place, the Rendezvous, yesterday, so I thought I’d see if it was still open, which thankfully it was. The owner greeted me, but spoke zero English, so I was struggling to order from the all Spanish menu. Just when I thought we had got it straight, he comes back babbling away in Spanish. I thought maybe he was asking me what kind of steak I wanted. After my “no comprende” he went in and came back with the girl who served us yesterday. She broke out in a big smile, obviously recognizing me from yesterday, which was nice. I told her about my horrible experience at Roxane’s and she said they were all family here at this place, and she would take good care of me. She’s cute and had no idea what I thought take me of me meant to me. What he was trying to say was to ask me how I wanted it done. Language is always an adventure.

Karinthya is a big fan of what happens does so for a reason. Not only did I have a fantastic steak but I met two wonderful people – Paolo and Samuel. She was from the Bahamas and he was from Switzerland. They spoke Spanish but more often French, so I got to dust off my grade 10 French. After dinner I invited them to walk back to the house, which they did and we had many drinks and laughs and good conversation. I wish they lived here in Boquete as I think we would have become great friends. Paolo gave me her email address and asked me to let her know how I was doing. Now if I could only meet someone my own age that is as nice as her.

Tomorrow we install the water heater and I can hopefully have a shower, one without zapping myself. I am supposed to take Karinthya, Hossman, Garcia and Sonia out for dinner tomorrow night to thank them for all the help they have provided. With not having a car I would have been lost without them. Karinthya and I did speak about me going with them to Bocos del Tora for New Year’s, which would have been a blast, but the way I’m spending money I didn't count on, I can’t afford to go anywhere.

Panama or Bust

My trip to Panama

The original plan didn't quite work, but what happened might have been a blessing in disguise. I had sold my truck and bought the car, intending to drive to Boquete, a trip I figured would take about ten days or so, apparently in my total ignorance. When I was turned back at the border and had to make some last minute plans to fly, I was a bit panicky considering it was Christmas Eve and all. Not only would it be very difficult to even book flights, but everything closed up early for Christmas Eve. On my trip back I doubted BCAA would still be open by the time I made it there.

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Hike - McDougall Ridge

Almost felt guilty about not telling the ski club about this one. Naw, I don't, not after zero turnout last week. We were a little later heading out than we usually are (yes, my fault), but reached the highpoint around three or so. As you can see by the pics, the views are just awesome! It was another gorgeous Okanagan day and we made the most of it. From the starting point it's only three kilometres to this spot, but it's about ninety-five percent uphill, so quite the challenging and enjoyable hike. We were going to go go-karting when we got down, but it was too late, so we'll save that for another day. Had a nice steak dinner and watched Tristen & Isolde. Great day!

Joy and Sorrow About My Daughter.

The combination of my birthday and nearly losing it because of my diabetes has given me cause for some reflections on life, particularly about my kids. As you know I reconnected, thanks to Facebook, with my son, Chris, last July. Although it hasn't exactly gone as I hoped (I've had almost no contact with him) it is a delight to hear from one of my granddaughters, Danielle, once in a while. The last time I saw her was when I held in her on my arms as a baby. My son has two other daughters I've never met. Despite the bumps it is my "joy" that we have found each other again after so many years, and that at least they know I'm still alive.

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