Exactly two weeks from today, we’re hopping that red-eye flight to our new life in Panama. We just know you’re on the edge of your seats, wondering what we’re up to – so here’s a little status report!
In typical intuitive doggy fashion, Maggie and Rosie know something big is afoot – although I don’t think they have a clue how much their lives are about to be turned upside down. We’ve gotten them re-acclimated to their crates, which wasn’t too difficult since they were crate-trained as puppies. Funny story: the other day a visitor came to the front door, and when we gave them the “crate” command they both ran into the big crate together! Good thing they’re buddies . . .
The other day we took a trip to the Copa Airlines cargo office at LAX and spoke to Jaime the ops manager. Jaime is a very nice and helpful young man who put us completely at ease about the process of getting dogs, crates, and paperwork dropped off prior to our flight. We took one of the crates to show him and got his blessing, and we were pleased to find out we don’t have to replace the connecting hardware or provide labels, ties, etc. (as we had been told before). We just provide water bottles and a little food, and Copa does the rest. It’s clear that they’ve flown many, many animals and know exactly what they’re doing, which is an enormous relief to us.
John has also been lining up all the ducks for the necessary paperwork to keep the girls out of quarantine when we arrive in Panama City. We have appointments with the vet to update their shots and complete the health certificate, with the LA office of the USDA to sign and stamp the form, and with the Panamanian consulate here in Long Beach to “apostile” (a type of notarization) and bless everything. None of these things can be done prior to 10 days before the travel date, so we’ll be scrambling around a bit after next Monday. It’s a huge advantage to live near a major city like LA because we have all of these resources close at hand (or at least within driving distance).
On the other end, we’ve hired an agent, Jose Saenz, to meet our flight and manage the dog paperwork with the Panamanian officials. We could probably handle it ourselves but we’ll be exhausted from the all-night flight and don’t want to leave ANYTHING to chance concerning our girls. Jose and his pet relocation service, Rana Dorada, are well-known and highly recommended by Panamanian expats. He’ll also drive us, the girls, and our stuff across the country to Boquete the next day.
I’m pleased to report that John had catheter ablation for his atrial fibrillation (a highly treatable and non-life-threatening heart condition) a week ago and he’s recovered wonderfully. His doctor says the procedure was a great success and he has an excellent (at least 80 percent) chance of being completely cured of a-fib. Both of us have been getting busy getting final health appointments done, getting our medical records from various doctors to take down with us, and laying in supplies of our prescription meds.
MAIL, CAR, AND A PLACE TO HANG OUR HATS
Meanwhile, everything is falling into place for our arrival in Boquete on May 1. For the first two months, we’ll be renting a small apartment in Casa Valhalla, a lovely and dog-friendly property across from the Rio Caldera in Boquete.
We’re asked almost daily about our new address and how we’ll receive mail down in Panama. The short answer is that we won’t have a Boquete street address but John has signed us up for a mail forwarding service, eShop Boquete. Here’s how it will work: we can have items shipped to eShop Boquete’s Miami address, and they’ll be forwarded to the Boquete shop. The catch here is that it’s on the pricey side, so we’re trying to stop all paper deliveries of things like bank statements (and that’s turning out to be quite a challenge).
For wheels, we’re working with Keith Wolford, another highly recommended resource that the Boquete expats swear by. For a set fee, Keith will find and purchase a car for us on our behalf, take care of registration and other paperwork, and have it delivered to Boquete.
Notice I’ve put this last, since – really – it’s the least important item on the list. Since my last post on this topic, we’ve re-thought our stuff strategy. We’re no longer shipping anything down to Panama. We’re only taking what we can pack into checked luggage on the 29th, plus some items we won’t need right away that we’re shipping to my parents in Texas. When I go there for a visit in June, I’ll bring the rest back down with me. We’ve sold one car and the other is now advertised. We just have a couple of large furniture pieces and a few household items to liquidate — and we’re staging our final garage sale this Saturday to make that happen.