Medical Tourism and Other Adventures

I have been in Panama visiting my mother. It’s a pattern I repeat several times a year. This time, I have been taking care of myself as well. Last few days, visits to the dentist have kept me occupied. As many other countries in the world, Panama has jumped into the medical tourism bandwagon. This is big business, so why not.

In Panama, most medical professionals at least have a post-graduate degree from an American university, or were educated in the States.  English is widely spoken and the facilities are first-class. Costs are about one third of those one would pay in the States. It was a matter of time, until I decided to try one of these services.

So far, I am very pleased. The clinic is state-of-the-art, equipped with the latest technology, the service is impeccable, the doctors are knowledgeable and competent. Everything is discussed with the patient and then the doctor will consult with other professionals before deciding on the best treatment.

This is something I would not have even considered a few years back. Living in Miami, I always thought I could get the best treatment there. Besides it is easier to just go home after a dentist appointment or a medical procedure, isn’t it? Well, even staying at a fine hotel and renting a car, here you can get more for less without sacrificing quality. Another advantage for me is the fact that I travel here so often. It was an easy decision.

After reading about this new global phenomenon, watching documentaries and movies such as The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, this idea sounded like an adventure. Of course, this is not exotic India or casual Cayman Islands, and is not as popular yet. Still I have found it has the potential of becoming a very popular destination for medical tourism.

Feeling better about my decision and pleased with the results, I am going back to my mother’s house for an extra week. Panama City is buzzing with the coming of the VII Summit of the Americas. Presidents from every country in the Americas, their entourages, press representatives and regular citizens with the intention of having their concerns heard have descended on this city. It is not the time to be here.

Traffic, always chaotic and slow, will be impossible. The government, in its infinite wisdom, has given four days off to everyone. People that can afford it are leaving in troves. The main bridge that spans the canal was closed at noon on Friday, making it almost impossible to travel to the rest of the country.

I have welcomed the peace and quiet of the small city where my mother lives. Here I can be absolutely sure of staying out of the way of an event that would yield little. It has never before come up with anything important to make a difference in the lives of the people of this continent. Sad but true,  this has only cost money, deepen differences and promote antagonism and hate. Very sad, reasons why I stay away from politics.

Now, my experiences with this medical tourism that is developing here would stay with me. I am sure to try something else if need be. Life has a way to bring you around…….I never expected to come back here to do anything but visit family and enjoy my friends. Glad I was wrong!!!

Politics, Hats and Brooches…….Oh My!!!

IMG_1518My high school friends have a communal WhatsApp account where we visit, keep in touch and commiserate when necessary. It is a new adventure and so far, so good….until last night! I broke one of my strictest rules: NEVER TALK POLITICS with friends, family or anyone for that matter!! Anyways, the discussion was about the upcoming elections in Panama. With the protests in Venezuela, the political atmosphere in Panama at the moment and the passion people put into these discussions, everyone is very aware of the power of the vote. My friends are encouraging each other to vote. A very good thing, of course. Well, somehow it got to specific politics, who and how, why and why not. I put my two cents worth, was completely misunderstood…serves me right! What was I thinking? Must have been sleepy, groggy or who knows.

Politics is absolutely toxic to friendships and families ties. I think it’s even more taboo than religion!!! We make an effort to refrain from talking about religion not to offend anyone. Mistakenly, we think politics can be an easier topic. To cut the story short,  I ended up on a back and forth with one of my friends on something I thought we agreed on!! What a faux-pas!! Didn’t know what had hit me. Thankfully, another friend told us to change the subject, which I was more than glad to do. Some things need to be remembered at all times, unfortunately, we slip once in a while. It becomes necessary to move on…..So, once again, I reestablished my rule and did just that.IMG_1635IMG_1576

On that note, I decided on a less controversial theme. This morning I browsed through the blogs I follow. One caught my attention:

Style Crone

Judith Boyd is an absolute original. In her early 70s, she has the most amazing collection of hats, to go with her most amazing collection of vintage clothing and accessories. She is hosting a HAT ATTACK on her blog and is inviting her readers to post our creations! Well, I didn’t need another prompting. I love hats and have a good number of them. It is true mine are rather plain compared to hers, but I also collect brooches. Instant fashion idea: mix-and-match both and see what happens. Have to say I am very pleased with some of the results!!!

IMG_1532I started with my favorite Panama hat, yes, it is!!! It is by Panama Line, London. Coupled with different brooches, it became absolutely the thing if I was to wear hats here in Miami….for some lavish affair. Then, my green raffia Italian hat by Capelli,  easy to wear at the beach, but can be dressed-up too! I love it because it can take a lot of abuse and never loses its shape. The color is as vibrant as when I bought it years ago.IMG_1598

Last, but not least my other Panama hat. This is a variation of the typical Panamanian hat, used in the fields by farmers and ranches. This version has a wide brim and it’s fabulous to wear in the hot days of a Panamanian summer. You really need to have some shade while walking around town, attending an outdoor event or simply to look stylish.IMG_1615

The brooches I used are part of a lovingly assembled collection. I seldom wear them anymore, but I keep buying them. Some are from  London’s Portobello Road, acquired when I visited Camille.  Others I bought in vintages stores in New York, Panama or Miami. Bought one at the Alphonse Mucha Museum in Prague, another at a vintage show in New Milford, CT when my son Frank was in prep-school. Camille has given me a couple of stunning ones. My mother and grandmother contributed with gorgeous pieces of their own. I take them out every now and again and look at them and put them back. I think this must change now!!!

It was too much fun just to do it this once. I am wearing more hats, after all, I have decided to completely change my image. My grey hair is still growing out, so why not!!!

More to come………

IMG_1548IMG_1563A most welcome change from politics, don’t you think? I have followed Judith’s blog for a while. Admiring her sense of style and thinking how easy she makes looking glamorous. Now it’s time to see if I can conjure some of my own. Thanks for this idea, hope you find my creations up to your standards or at least interesting!!!!

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