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Casco Viejo

Unusual place for an art show

Old Club Union    Club Union Dive

Just down the street from our apartment is the bombed out shell (courtesy of our invasion back in 1989) of Manual Noriega's old Club Union. While it sits waiting for a developer with a lot of money, this roofless structure has played movie set (James Bond), concert venue, party spot, skateboard park and diving platform for the kids - among other things. Read More...

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...

Big Cleanup


Yesterday, Casco Viejo received a major cleaning - courtesy of our new neighborhood organization, AVACA, and several city departments. We had a good turnout and when we had finished several trucks and a big dumpster had been filled with lots of stuff. The adults concentrated on the beaches, while the kids helped out on the streets and plazas. Even had a little parade to publicize our "Keep Casco Clean" theme. It was a very hot couple of hours - but everyone was smiling at the results. Casco was "lookin' good"! Read More...

Unusual Dinner


Friday evening we had another fantastic dinning experience at S'cena, here in Casco. Nathan (that's him standing in the doorway) and the crew took very good care of us. We had four appetizers (between the three of us), some of the best stuffed Grouper I've had, and a caramelized apple thingy for dessert. The food and it's presentation were outstanding.

The most unusual aspect of this night out, however, was how it came about. Read More...

Jane's Hangout

Jane at Frit Arte
A couple of months ago a new restaurant opened just down the street. Frit Arte is a combination restaurant, coffee shop, and gallery. The food is primarily Panamanian with a Columbian twist - it's good and also inexpensive, a great combination. The gallery has a little of everything - glass, crafts made by neighborhood kids, clothing, paintings, wall hangings, plus other "neat stuff" that decorates the space and makes it a great place to just hangout. Read More...

Something's missing

old club
When Manual Noriega was running the show in Panama this building was a Social Club for his top commanders. As you can see it was severely damaged during the U.S. invasion back in 1989. Since then it has been sold several times to private investors and the hope still remains that someday it will become a hotel. More recently, it appeared in the newest James Bond flick, Quantum of Solace, for the evening party scene. It's also used by the kids as a diving platform and skateboard park. Fashion shows, concerts and filming for commercials have also made one night stands since we have been in Casco but it's definitely suffering from neglect.
divers     skateboarders

Wild Wild West


The normal bustle in Casco Viejo was interrupted this morning when we heard a commotion outside our window. We looked and were surprised to see that the Wild Wild West had come to town. Stopping traffic this galloping group was attracting a lot of attention. I even thought I saw Roy Rogers as they disappeared around the corner - probably just my imagination.

Jane (I was eating breakfast) finally caught up with the posse for a couple of pictures at a watering hole over at Plaza Bolivar. Read More...

La Fiesta de la Música

Fiesta de la Musica

Yesterday Casco Viejo played host to the Fiesta de la Música, a festival of music born in France in 1982 and currently celebrated in over 100 countries around the world. In Panama it's primary sponsor is the French government through it's embassy. This was the third year for the festival in Casco Viejo and it was a BIG event. Four outdoors stages. two indoor venues and a total of thirty seven performances. Things started to happen around five p.m. (not bad, considering it was scheduled to start at four o'clock) and it was still going when Wags and I went out for our midnight walk. Read More...

New shop in Casco

Pana Art

Pana Art has just opened in Casco Viejo and was rumored to offer something I might be interested in - so, off I go to check things out. They have a wide range of Panamanian handicrafts, clothing and artwork at what looked like very reasonable prices (of course, the "shopping guru" is still in Kentucky, so this will be subject to confirmation upon her return).
Pana Art inside

Tucked into a corner hey also have a internet café (a very good addition to Casco) with a couple of tables where you can sit and sip your favorite beverage and enjoy a pastry while checking that important email. The whole setup is a great addition to Casco Viejo and run by some very helpful ladies (mother and daughter). Ops, almost forgot, they also have very good . . . Read More...

On the beach

Our beach

About a 150 feet from our front door is this beach. In this first picture we are looking down from the promenade that is across the street from our apartment. All kinds of activities take place on this strip of sand (only available during low tide) - from, soccer and baseball games to weddings. The local kids even swim here and lately i've been using the beach for . . . Read More...

Quick lunch

Quick lunch

When we need a quick lunch, or just happen to be in the plaza at lunchtime we stop by the hotdog cart. I order up a dog "todo" (all, everything) - a BIG dog with slaw, onions, mustard, catsup, mayo and hot-sauce. Jane skips the hot-sauce. We pay a whopping $1.20 (60¢ each) and head for one of the benches to people watch. I usually grab a second - can't pass up a good dog or a bargain.

Hey, just realized it's lunch time. I'm off to the plaza. Take care.

Another surprise

Casco Antiguo
Surprising things happen in Casco Viejo. Not the numerous things that are just "different" (because virtually everything is, for us) but something so unlikely that you begin to understand that anything is possible. Until now, our benchmark for the improbable in Casco has been Opera at the National Theater - who would have thought! Over the weekend Opera may have fallen to . . . Read More...

Our Casa Angel

Casa Angel

A couple of months ago, while wandering the streets of Casco Viejo, a piece of artwork caught our eye at one of the galleries. This large wooden angel (made of driftwood by a Panamanian artist) was so big the gallery had it hanging on the outside of the building. Several days later, Jane finally asked if it might be for sale - it was. Our problem, we had nowhere to hang it (this was back during those great remodeling days) but that was quickly solved when the gallery owner said they would keep it for us until the apartment was ready. Read More...

Sunday Flea Market

Casco Flea Market

The Sunday flea market in Casco Viejo usually means that Jane and I walk the three blocks to Plaza Independencia to check things out - maybe get a snow cone or grab something to eat. Jane might find a book or two, a craft item or a plant for the apartment. We people watch for a while then head home.

Occasionally something special is going on - like today . . . Read More...

View from the roof

While helping with the installation of our new wireless internet I snapped a few pictures from the roof of our building. Enjoy.

Bay of Panama Little Park
Ministerio de Justicia Convento de Santo Domingo

Our entry door on the right

Just a little additional information on the picture of the Convento de Santo Domingo. Remember those old walls we have in our apartment foyer, those belonged to the convent's stable - back in the 1700's.

Take care.

Survived another move

Our Casco Apartment
The move from the rental to our new place was our eighth move since we arrived in Panama last June. We only had a couple of hundred feet between new and old but that was overshadowed by all the "stuff" we had managed to accumulate since our arrival. At any rate, we survived and are happy it's done. Even Wags seems relieved that all the excitement is over.

Plenty still to do at the new place, but we can cook (range was installed), wash the dishes (sink drain working), watch TV, and use our new (fast) internet service. Went out yesterday and bought dishes, dinning room table and chairs and some other necessities but still lacking pots and pans. (Gee, too bad, I can't cook! This from Jane). We are basically "happy campers" and maybe by the end of the week will be able to have our first "sit down" meal to celebrate.

Take care.

A visitor, música and night work

Bonnie and Jane at Gongora
Had another Panama Notes reader stop by for a visit and she traveled a looong way to reach Panama. Bonnie is a English language teacher living in Japan and is checking out Panama and Mexico (her next stop) as a possible place to retire. Jane and I needed to do some shopping at Albrook Mall so Bonnie decided to tag along and check things out - she was impressed. Even checked out the theater and decided she would return to catch a couple of flicks - ticket $4.00 versus the $15 it costs in Japan. We had a good lunch and got some stuff we needed for the apartment, then back to Casco. Read More...

Night walk

Casco Viejo at night

When the sun starts to set Casco Viejo several things happen. The government offices close and most of the government workers head for home in other parts of the city, construction projects call it quits for the day, their workers leave and the noise level drops, and those that live in Casco venture out to enjoy the cool evening. Wags and I are normally out 3 or 4 times starting with our after dinner walk (Jane is doing the dishes) and it's not unusual for us to be out on a last walk after midnight. Last night we ventured out around eleven and this is what we encountered . . . Read More...

The wall

Casa Urrutia front

"They don't build them like this anymore" aptly describes these old buildings in Casco Viejo. Sometime that's good, sometime not so good. Our apartment is quite typical in that it has exterior walls that are at least two FEET thick and a lot can be happening inside those walls. Damp, sometimes wet, walls are one of those bad things and we had a couple problem areas. We had considered a couple of different solutions and decided to . . . Read More...

Nuts and bolts

Do It Center

Work on the new apartment is back on track (I hope) - our goal is to move before the month ends. Rumor has it that the kitchen cabinets are here (in customs) but we continue with the small stuff while we wait. Jane is doing painting, window treatments and her usual great job as my gofer. I'm back in the swing of things, trying to get the kitchen prep work done for the cabinets and appliances. We're making progress. Read More...
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