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Nov 2009

Thanksgiving in Casco

Thanksgiving is not a holiday in Panama but that didn't stop our group of Casco Viejo residents and friends from throwing a pretty darn impressive feast. Turkey and way more than "all the fixins."

Organized by Clara and hosted by the
Canal House everyone seemed to have a great night - eating too much, meeting new people and talking about all the hot topics of the day. This was the second edition and like last year we had a wide range of nationalities (eight countries that I'm aware of) and ages (my best guess, 10 to 70), with long-time residents welcoming both newcomers and visitors. Read More...


Extra Logo
Living in Panama has lots of pluses, but also a few minus. On the minus side, especially if you are a news junkie, is the difficultly in keeping up with what's going in the world. English language broadcasts (TV or radio) are pretty rare and the English print media even rarer in Panama. The result is that we get a lot of our news and information on the internet - all the big (traditional) outlets have a web presence, as well as smaller web only "publications". We follow what's happening in such diverse places as St. Croix (The Saint Croix Source) and Bardstown Kentucky (Kentucky Standard) along with our old hometown's Charlotte Observer.

Getting your news and information on the internet usually means a free site that's trying to pay their bills by selling ads - sometimes a LOT of ads. Can't really fault the sites, somebody has to foot the bill, but it certainly doesn't make for a great reading experience. When you read as much internet content as I do, having a TIVO like option for avoiding the clutter sure would be nice. Well . . . I may have found some help.

Getting our Panama Drivers License

Panama DL

One thing that needed to change when we bought the car - we couldn't continue to play loose with the law, we needed a Panama driver's license. I had been using my Virgin Islands driver's license when we rented a car and just played the dumb tourist if we got stopped at a police checkpoint, those days were over. So I needed a license and Jane decided that she might want to drive, so the two of us ventured forth into the bureaucratic web that one encounters when getting something official done in a foreign county.

First, lets put this adventure in context. A few months ago I decided to get a Michigan drivers license - with help from my sister, it took about an hour, I was impressed. Seven years ago when I got my Virgin Islands DL, it took a couple of weeks, half a dozen trips to DMV and a lot of aggravation. I was hoping that Panama would come a lot closer to my Michigan experience than the Virgin Island nightmare.

We've got wheels

Honda parked out front
Well, the number of exciting taxi related stories will take a major hit becuse we've purchased a used Honda CRV - I can already hear the moan out there in internet land. On the plus side, our local adventure and exploring tales should jump because of our increased mobility.

We've been in Panama nearly 1½ years now and have relied on taxis (plus an occasional car rental) to get around. In fact, we are fans of the Panama City taxis as they provide a cheap and easy (most of the time) way to get around and we've had a minimum number of bad experiences and lots of interesting stories to tell because of our frequent use. The Honda will let us take short day trips and explore on our own (which we like to do), take Wags along (which he thinks is great), and take some longer trips to explore this interesting country.

I will write about our first "auto related" adventure in a couple of days - getting our Panama drivers license. Stay tuned.

Take care

Parade Pictures

A few pictures from the big parades this week.

Don't forget - click to see a larger version.

Saint Mary's    Flags

Celebration Time!

Panama Flag
Panamanians like to celebrate. In November there are a series of important holidays. Just about everything shuts down on these days, with big parades, music, and plenty of fireworks. This year the major parades will be returning to Casco Viejo (their traditional home) so we expect a lot to be going on in our little section of the City. We will get out on foot to check things out, but no traveling as we expect "del tráfico en tiempo grandesl" (big time traffic) in and around Casco.

  • November 3, is "Separation Day" to celebrate Panama's separation from Colombia in 1903 with the writing of the “Acta de Independencia del Istmo,” declaring what was then a province of Colombia to be an independent and sovereign nation called The Republic of Panama.
  • November 4 is "Flag Day" - The flags designers had worked on the flag while plans to become a nation were still secret.
  • November 5 is "Colon Day" - Independence celebrations continue on this day because it was on November 5 that Panamanian officials persuaded (bribed) Colombian forces stationed in Colon not to fight Panama's separation from Colombia.
  • November 10 commemorates the “Primer Grito de Independencia de Panama de España” (The First Cry for Independence from Spain) from the Los Santos Province - the hotbed of Panama's independence movement.
  • November 28 is Independence Day to celebrate the country's independence from Spain in 1821.

In case the above is a little confusing, just remember, Panama gained its "independence" from Spain in 1821 and "separated" itself from Colombia in 1903.

Take care.
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