On the Matter of Neighbors

I am not sure if we were destined to be in Ecuador, or living on the coast or for that matter making San Clemente our permanent home. All I know is that I love this country, this little town and our barrio. And, especially, its people.

The past several weeks have found me almost continually under the weather. I will not go into detail here about my issues but if I spoke to you at some point in the past three weeks don’t count on me remembering everything so if I promised you that I would do something for you I would suggest that you remind me of my promise.  I have been in a brain fog. Also, for those visiting, I honestly have not felt well, have not left the house unless going to see a doctor and now for the past three days in walking every morning and some afternoons as prescribed by my doctor and just trying to smile.

During all this, the most amazing thing happened. I found out just how wonderful my neighbors and friends are. Always knew they were great but in times of stress you do see who walks the walk.

First, Eva must be made entirely of heart – compassion, kindness and profound gentleness. She did not hesitate – when I spoke to her about not feeling well – on two separate occasions found doctors, made appointments, arranged transportation and accompanied me like family holding my hand. Through the entire process from translated questions, instructions and reading paperwork, checking blood pressure and blood count, to keeping it real by keeping me calm. She is a strong woman with a gentle heart and I am proud to call her my dear friend.

Thank you Patricia for taking my frantic call in the middle of the night and contacting the local doctor and following through with numerous telephone calls concerned for my well being. It is very special to have someone like you in our community. You have helped many expats when help was needed and there was nowhere else to turn.

Earlier this week, I felt well enough to go outdoors. Almost to a neighbor they came to the gate and gave me “what for”. There was Pilli and Paola, David and Helena, Sonia and Nellie, Erika and Mariuxi ALL caught me over the past two days and made it clear whatever time day or night just come to their door they have cars and trucks and will take us anywhere. Each told me over and over that if I ever needed anything, I was to speak to one of them. They would make arrangements to take me to doctors or hospitals or whatever I needed. Honestly it was done forcefully to make their point but with the most kindness I have witnessed, it was the most beautiful show of acceptance that I have come across.

Moreover, they seemed hurt I had not gone to them first. Our neighbors are not intrusive, they do not show up at your gate without you asking them or making arrangements in advance and they would never get in your business unless you asked. They smile and say hello as they go by. We share food and fruit over the fence. They will stop to chat if you want them to but otherwise respect your space. Yet I know that if I was in need I can just walk across the street and knock on a door, any door, and someone would drop whatever they were doing to help. This is a wondrous concept.  Joe and I have lived in probably a dozen neighborhoods over our 40 years together and have never had neighbors that honestly concerned for our well-being.

I am profoundly grateful for all the wonderful people we have met, appreciate their concern and their genuine compassion for “the new kids on the block”.

Each and every day we are blessed.

37 thoughts on “On the Matter of Neighbors

  1. msg sometimes puts me in a brain fog.. i try to avoid it, but it’s hidden in many foods, and the last time it slammed me down for several days, i realized it was in the kerr tomato juice. it was as if i were drunk – i was confused and had edema and quite ‘drugged.’ the maggi seasonings, breadings and ‘sazon’ products filter into many restaurant foods, and my body starts reacting almost instantly.

    aspartame (nutra sweet) can also do strange things. both of these brain toxins mimic horrible diseases… during several months of mystery double vision — i was tested for MS, myasthenia gravis, aneurysm, brain tumor, et… i was ‘killing’ myself drinking instant tea w/nutrasweet. i also lost my vision for 24 hours, but thankfully it returned.

    you are so right about seeing the beauty in our fellow man when bad things happen to us. i’m glad that they stepped forward from love and concern, and i hope that you get well pronto!

    • Hi Z, my problems seem to stem from high blood pressure…but it honestly caused me to be in a fog…BP normal the past two days after being on meds since the 5th…happy to feel almost normal. N

    • Hi Lyndell, thanks so much for your offer and we know that you and Ken are always there for us. In this case having someone who could translate and knew where to go was the best thing for me. No cardiologist at Clinica San Antonio, Marshall’s Cardiologist was out of town so I really needed someone who could make telephone calls and get me appointments. Eva was the person that made it easy on me. I am blessed that she was able to help. thanks again, Nancy

      • We are meeting with a cardiologist tonight at 6:00 and (she) speaks english. Also meeting with an english speaking nutritionalist at 5:00. Will keep you posted on how we make out.
        Am very glad you have Eva so close by to help you. Guess you have a guardian angel. They say we all have one and I am glad you have found yours. Lyndell

        • Hi Lyndell & Ken, Please let me know what you thought of the doctor. Happy to have nice neighbors it is such a change for our past experience. N

  2. Thinking about you … and worrying … but very glad that your neighbours are such good caring people. It says a lot about them … but also about you.

    • Hi Barbara, thanks so much for your kind words. I hope we can be the best neighbors to repay these folks for their kindness and acceptance of us. We hope not to ever take their kindness for granted because we have been places where this was not the norm, we could not ask for better folks to live with, Nancy

  3. I am so sorry you are not feeling well. Hopefully that will change soon. Yes, you are fortunate to have such good friends and neighbours, that is why we love Ecuador. We will be in San Clemente November 27/28th, staying for 3 months . Wishing you well and a speedy recovery.
    Love Colleen (your supplier of fish sauce)

  4. We are Blessed and my prayers are with you Nancy. You are truly a great woman with a kind heart and you get what you sow and you only sow love and goodness. So that is what you get back. Smile, be happy and never change.

    • Joe, you are so sweet thanks for your kind words. So have you made your trip to Salinas yet? If so, how did it go? I want the full story. Be well my dear friend, hope to see you soon, Nancy

  5. Nancy–I am so sorry to know you have not been well for a while- I have not been reading your E-mails as I have been busy with a visiting toddler grand baby for last 3 weeks-Please keep well ,and my best wishes are always with you and Joe–Hoping to meet you guys next winter—Yusuf

  6. Nancy no need to post this reply rather I understand the need to have a network of friends and neighbors to rely on in an emergency. In fact for several years I facilitated a Public Safety and Neighborhood Watch Program in Potrerillos posting many of my reports on Chiriqui Chatter.

    With the public safety component I developed and distributed a document I called “Emergency Contact Information” which contained a detailed list of vital emergency phone numbers and locations of hospitals and other useful public information. I always recommended that recipients post this list of emergency numbers in a location so it would be available for quick reverence in an emergency and also recommended to keep a copy in their vehicles.
    I have attached a copy (although out dated) of the “contact numbers” that correspond to our area so you can see how it is structured. If interested you can use it as a template to design a similar document in your area for distribution to your expat network or post it on your blog for public access.


    Dolega Police Department: 776-0160

    Potrerillos Police Sub Station: 6088-8893

    Potrerillos Ambulance: 6899-8689

    Dolega Fire Department: 776-0020

    Dolega Ambulance: 776-0020

    Boquete Help Hot Line: 6477-6662

    National Transito Police: 776-8125

    National Civil Protection System (SINAPROC) in Chiriqui: 774-7325
    http://www.sinaproc.gob.pa (*335cell phone)

    Nation Wide “911” EMS Emergency Services: “911”

    Potrerillos Police Sub Station: 6141-6808
    Located at the Potrerillos Central Park. (GPS: 8* 38’ 57.80” N and 82* 28’ 02.60” W)

    Dolega Police Department: 776-0160 or call #104 Police Only
    (equivalent to 911 in USA). (GPS: 8* 33’ 47.41” N and 82* 24’ 52.53” W)

    Dolega Police Station Commander: Lieutenant Castillo, 6141-6808 (cell) Residence in Algarrobos.

    1st Sgt. Serrano, Patrol Officer: 6966-6719 (cell) Residence in Potrerillos Abajo

    Sgt. Rodriguez, Patrol Officer: 6135-0414, 6889-6553 (cell) Residence in Algarrobos

    The Dolega Police Department is located past the National Municipal Palace Building, 3-3/4 blocks South on the left side across the street from the local park in Dolega. All individual are available 24/7. Residents are encouraged to contact them with any criminal or emergency issues or observations no matter how small or trivial.

    Dolega Fire Department: 776-0020 Zone-3
    (GPS: 8* 33’ 49.31” N and 82* 24’ 53.40” W)

    Dolega “911” EMS Ambulance Service Dispatch Office: 776-0200 or 776-1445 or “911”

    Dolega Dispatch Office: 776-0020 or 776-1445 or call #103 Fire Only
    (equivalent to 911 in USA).

    The Dolega Fire Department is located past the National Palace Municipal Building, 3-1/2 blocks South on the left side.
    Dolega Fire Station Commander, Martin Madrid: 6212-8143 (cell) Residence in Dolega

    David Central Fire Station #1: 775-4211 or 775-4212
    Zone-3 (GPS: 8* 25’ 44.72” N and 82* 25’ 45.59” W)

    David EMS “911” Ambulances Services: 775-4211 or 775-7019
    Zone- 3 (GPS: 8* 25’ 44.72” N and 82* 25’ 45.59” W)

    David Fire Station #3: 744-4562 located next to Pizza Hut on the North
    (right) side of the road. Zone-3 (GPS: 8* 26’ 45.52” N and 82* 25’ 23.19” W)

    David Fire Dispatch Office: 775-4211 or 775-4212 or call #103 Fire Only (equivalent to 911 in USA) Most employees at the call center have Basic English capabilities.

    Fire Marshal Dr. Manuel Delacruz, Commander for all Fire Services for Chiriqui Provence: 775-4211 Office and Residence in David

    Fire Services in David have Basic English capabilities. The Fire Departments provide limited emergency medical, ambulance and fire services and assist in the removal of poisonous snakes, bee hives and electrical hazards.

    Potrerillos Ambulance Service: 6899-8689
    Potrerillos Arriba (GPS: 8* 40’ 59.38” N and 82* 29’ 25.10” W)
    Driver/responder is Juan Hernandez and operates the ambulance service located at the Central Salude Clinic located just below the center of the town on the left side of the main road of Potrerillos Arriba. The driver is stationed at the front entrance and on duty Monday through Friday from 7-AM to 4-PM then takes the Ambulance home to his nearby residence where he remains on call at all times 24/7. Driver Juan Hernandez speaks very little English.

    Hospitals in David

    Hospital Mae Lewis: 775-4616

    Hospital Cooperativo: 775-6666

    Hospital Chiriqui: 774-0128

    Hospital José Domingo de Obaldía: 775-4223

    Hospital Regional Raefael Hernandez: 775-2162

    Policlinica Dr. Gustavo a Ros: 775-3231

    Dolega Municipal Building: 6969-0049 http://WWW.ENDOLEGA.COM
    (GPS: 8* 34’ 01.18” and 82* 24’ 59.67” W)

    Panama National Police http://www.presidencia.gob.pa/policia

    Potrerillos Neighborhood Watch & Public Safety Program

    There is a Nationally Recognized Neighborhood Watch and Public Safety Program established in our area whose mission is to communicate critical emergency information and help to reduce crime while promoting positive relations between the community and Local Law Enforcement Agencies. The program is dependent on the community’s cooperation to network together thus empowering the residents as a seamless cohesive entity. There are several dedicated individuals who are working tirelessly to make our community safer for all. Feel free to contact them with your concerns or observations relating to public safety or crimes in our area.
    Your primary NWP Facilitators are:

    1. Mr. Roman Salinas, Panamanian Residente, El Banco: 6512-9398

    2. Mr. Greg Meyer, American Residente, Potrerillos Abajo: 6388-8774
    rosa.meyer@juno.com (Basic EMT, AED on site)

    Potrerillos Taxi Cabs
    1. Mr. Aristide: 6660-9029
    2. Mr. Domal: 6555-0855
    3. Mr. Saldano: 6919-7425
    4. Mr. Franklin: 6721-8118 (24/7 Emergency Transport Available)

    U S Embassy Wardens Program

    Wardens Appointed in the greater Chiriqui area including David, Boquete, Volcan, Potrerillos and Bocas Del Toro. There are many other Wardens in locations thought Panama who can provide additional assistance. You may contact any of the Wardens listed on this page for assistance and information for locations of Wardens in other areas. All Wardens are Spanish speaking and are here to assist you. Please advise the Embassy if you were satisfies with their help.

    Don Ray Williams, Warden, City of David

    Jim Gaffery, Warden, Potrerillos, District of Dolega

    Price Peterson, Warden, Boquete

    Marjorie Tilley Lee, Warden, Volcan

    Larry Shane, Warden, Bocas Del Toro

    United States Embassy in Panama: (507) 207-7030
    Emergency After Hour’s Phone Number: 207-7000 or 207-7200

    The American Citizens Services Unit of the U.S. Embassy. Panama-ACS@state.gov.
    The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy is located on the former Clayton Army Base near the back gate area, Building 783, Clayton, Panama City, Panama. The Consular Section fax is: (507) 207-7030. The Embassy web site is http://panama.usembassy.gov/
    (GPS: 8* 59’ 57.75” N and 79* 33’ 43.12” W)


    This attached document may have lost its original format with larger highlighted phone numbers when I attached it witch is important so as to make it easy to read and find emergency numbers quickly. If you are interested in developing this emergency contact list for your areas and want a better one feel free to send me a blank e mail and I will forward you a PDF copy that you can manipulate.

    Good luck, Greg

  7. I want to agree with playamart: MSG is in so many seasonings here, it can play havoc with your blood pressure, too. It does to me, makes me feel headachy and puffy and swollen and I can’t sleep. We went to a highly recommended place for a barbecue dinner here in Cuenca and I felt horrible for 2 days. I’m sure it was the MSG in the seasonings. Here, it’s used in all the caldos and seasonings for meat and chicken and just about anything here, with some exceptions. I truly hope you have figured out what bothered you and I also hope you are much better. This country is too wonderful to have to stay inside and be sick! and you are on the beach! Get better soon! your neighbors sound lovely.

    • 2texasgals, Joe and I really don’t eat out that often maybe once a week for a seafood dish..I will need to find out if MSG is used, they do sell it like they sell salt in good sized packages so I am sure someone is using it. The only thing I use that has glutamato monosodico is a half of one of those seasoning cubes to boost the flavor of a stew or soup…so I will need to figure out something natural to use in its place. I uses very little prepackaged or canned items because there is so little on the shelf. Coconut milk is one exception as I just have not gotten around to making my own…thanks for your good thoughts accepting an spare prayers as well, just hate feeling so tired and not my self. Be well, Nancy

      • I am beginning to worry about you, Nan. It has been a while since you last posted. Are you feeling any better? You are in my thoughts. Coconut milk is easy, by the way. Just cut up the coconut meat and cover with the coconut water and enough water to cover it well … about the same as nut milks . Blend and strain through a cheese cloth or jelly bag and squeeze till the remains are crumby. Pour the fluid into a clean jar and refrigerate. Bake the crumbs with a little sweetener if you like till golden. Voila! Coconut milk and toasted coconut!

  8. Nan,
    Sorry to hear you aren’t feeling well but glad to hear you have such great neighbors. It’s been a long time since I’ve had neighbors that cared that much. Last time I remember was back in the 1960’s.
    As far as Brain fog it can be related to systemic yeast infection as well.

    Cinnamon is a natural way to lower your blood pressure. I put a lot (maybe a teaspoon) on my oatmeal along with some honey and it helps.

    Be Well,

    • Hi Tim, I made a mixture of cinnamon and Eva’s fresh honey and try to take a teaspoon each day, I do fall short but adding it to oatmeal or better yet a “not so great” granola would really spark it up. Thanks for the info. Have a great day. N

  9. Hi Nan,
    So glad to hear you are better, I thought something was up, good to know what it is and that it can be treated. Well we finally booked our flight and will be there for the entire month of March, staying at the place behind the Palmazul hotel. I cant wait to meet you and share a meal at Vivianas (sp?) that is if you are up to it. We are looking at a guide book that says the bus trip from Bahia to Manta is 3 hrs but in looking up the distance online it shows 1hr 15 min. Are the buses really that slow?

    • Hi Christina, I am not sure about getting a direct bus from Manta to Bahia. Most of what I have seen goes to Portoviejo first that is why it take so long. Have you thought about a taxi or driver to take you to Manta? Someone on the Yahoo boards or Facebook who lives in Bahia should be able to tell you how much and probably has a driver that they like. Unless you really want the experience of going by bus…San Clemente has no yellow taxi’s we have drivers and a few moto taxies for around town. Here you mostly need to walk to the bus pick up point down by the church going out of town. Bahia has a very nice new bus treminal but that also is outside of town and if staying in Bahia you would need to take a taxi to the terminal. Better quality buses, air conditioned with a movie are Raina del Camino and Cuatur (sp) and they make much less stops if you take Touristico it stops for everyone and anyone…FYI

  10. Nancy,
    Glad to hear you are getting the high blood pressure under control. What lovely, supportive neighbors and friends you have! A true testament to the kindness and compassion of your community as well as to you and Joe. Deborah

  11. heyfrom mindo
    you’ve been on my mind, and i am in town today to shop and for another fast wifi before returning to the property. with no new posts, i’m thinking that you must still be working on restoring your health. i hope that you’re mending and feeling better…

    i should be in jama in another week, and if you’re not doing better, then i think i’ll get that magic carpet out of the bodega and land on your roof and see what we might be able to do to get you on the mend!

    miss you!


    • Hola Z, finally getting back to the blog. Hope to have a few posts this week, so many pictures to share. Feeling better working on a healthy 2014. Be well dear friend, Nancy

    • Gracias Tom, for the video, sad to say my computer (which is pretty new) is fighting me on installing the new Flash Player and will not allow me to view the video. I will go to Joe’s computer this afternoon and take a look. Thanks for sharing with the blog readers, so sad to see you with so much snow. I was born and raised in Northeaster Pennsylvania so I do remember those days, bless you for sharing with us. Nancy

      PS it is beautiful today the high should be around 80 with a bit of sun and the water is still warm enought to swim…..

  12. Hello Nancy! Glad to see you back on the blog- I have been to India for past 6 weeks and just got back-I am sorry to hear you had some health issues but glad that with the help of good friends and doctors you are getting better-Hope to see you recover 100% and wishing you & Joe a very healthy &happy coming new year—Yusuf

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