Friday • December 25 • 12:20 AM •
Monday • December 21 • 08:53 PM •
Last night we drove over to the Balboa Yacht Club for a concert by Shorty and Slim. Ordered up some munchies and settled in for a fun evening. They play "fun to listen to" music - most of which has something to do with growing up in the old Canal Zone with an occasional reference to present day life in Panama. Song titles like, Kakaroach, Life on Mango Street, Cyats and Rats, I Don't Like Snow, Ocean Breeze, Patio Sale, Chiva Bus, What You Dad Do?, The Higher the Monkey Climb - are done to calypso, rock, reggae, oldies and folk music rhythms, resulting in a toe-taping, hand clapping, dancin' good time. Read More...
Monday • December 14 • 07:45 PM •
Jane and Maria (Frit Arte) hosted a little Christmas party at Maria's restaurant a couple of days ago for some of the neighborhood kids, kids of Frit Arte workers, and kids of some of the police who eat at Frit Arte. Santa greeted them at the door and welcomed all the kids because they are on Santa's "Good" list. The game, "Pin the Nose on Santa" was a big hit. There was all the gourmet food kids are interested in (chicken nuggets and pizza) and cupcakes for dessert. The bottle of bubbles in the gift bags were fun. There were bubbles all over the restaurant with everyone popping them. Kids of all ages danced. Six boys and girls from a choir entertained with Christmas songs. It was a great time and everyone left happy and in the Christmas spirit. Read More...
Wednesday • December 02 • 11:59 PM •
Panama City's Fire Department celebrated their 122nd birthday last week with a BIG parade that according to reports was a great parade that also created a massive traffic jam. We stayed home and last night were rewarded with our own mini Bomberos (firefighters) Torch Parade. Read More...
Saturday • November 14 • 11:32 PM •
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. Read More...
Tuesday • November 10 • 09:26 PM •
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.
Friday • November 06 • 08:31 PM •
A few pictures from the big parades this week.
Sunday • November 01 • 07:45 PM •
- 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.
Saturday • October 17 • 04:56 PM •
Around 7:30 we left Casco Viejo for the concert at the convention center on the Amador Causeway. I managed not to get lost (driving Maria's car), finding a parking spot was relatively easy and we were in our seats on time. Read More...
Wednesday • October 14 • 11:05 PM •
Rose and Joel (friends from our St. Croix days) left today after two busy weeks in Panama. They spent a couple of days with us, but most of the time they were on the road (nearly 2000 kilometers - 1250 miles) seeing the sights - it was wearing me out reading about their travels. Visiting Panama City, El Valle, Boquete, Bocas, Santa Clara, Colon and many small towns in between, they had mostly positive things to report - good food (especially the lasagna), beer, great scenery and friendly people. Read More...
Saturday • October 10 • 08:42 PM •
Saturday • October 03 • 11:42 PM •
Pretty quiet in Casco Viejo. Jane is in Kentucky until the end of the week. Wags and I are just hangin' out - last night we went out for tacos - I eat, Wags watches. We did have overnight visitors - Rose and Joel from St. Croix, they rented a car and are now out exploring and I'm sure they will have some stories to tell when they get back to the City.
Some miscellaneous stuff you might (might not) find interesting. Read More...
Saturday • September 19 • 05:19 PM •
Our guide was one of those interesting people that you tend to meet in unusual places, like Panama. Anne is a U.S. citizen, with a 20 year career as a animal trainer in film and TV. She meet her husband while working on a film in the jungles of Panama, and is now married to a member of the village we visited.
A little history. The Embera are one of the seven recognized tribes of indigenous people in Panama. They first migrated from Columbia to Panama’s Darien region. Then, over the last quarter-century, a few of these families pushed further west, establishing small villages on the Chagres River. Today, they live much as their ancestors did - except that they welcome tourists.
So, take a little trip with us as we visit Embera' Puru. Read More...
Friday • July 31 • 12:49 AM •
Ricardo Martinelli, Panama's newly elected president, has been very busy during his first three weeks in office. Most people seem to like what he's doing and just hope he can keep it up. So far:
- He's announced he will not accept his presidential salary, but will have it sent directly to several non-profits for their use in improving education and health care for the poor. Not a move you'd normally expect from a Central or South American president.
- He gave the police a 25% raise. Now the base pay for a police officer in Panama is a whopping $6000 a YEAR! At least it's a start.
- He's taken back a couple of government owned properties where developers had failed to pay the required government fees for use of the land. This was a very BIG DEAL because it gives some hope that the business as usual practice (either not paying concession fees or pay someone under the table) employed by the well connected in Panama may at least slow down.
- The electrical rates have been reduced by 10%
- Instituted a new program to pay a $100 monthly check to any Panamanian who is both over 70 years of age and who is not receiving any other kind of monthly pension or payment. Yep, that's $100 a MONTH - suddenly "fixed income" has a new reality.
Tuesday • July 21 • 07:57 PM •
Since we've been in Panama Jane has been very picky about the quality of veterinary care available to Wags. She even hired a taxi for a day for an "inspection tour" of the various options available in the city, after being less than thrilled with our original vet. Based on some recommendations and her "search" results she settled on Dr. Sandra at "Cats and Dogs" and she has been pleased. It even turned out that Dr. Sandra makes house calls!
Saturday • July 18 • 11:49 PM •
Sunday • July 12 • 07:38 PM •
Don returned to Virginia yesterday after a good round of touring that kept us busy since his arrival last Monday. We enjoyed his visit and had a fun week doing the "tourist" thing. Earlier in the week we hit the canal, Panama Viejo, the causeway and the Smithsonian's Nature Center.
Then . . . . . . . . Read More...
Wednesday • July 08 • 09:00 PM •
Saturday • July 04 • 12:42 PM •
Much more exciting - the afternoon shower (downpour) and wind (thought we were back in St. Croix during a tropical storm) that had us scurrying around the apartment trying to keep the water out and cleaning up the mess.
Thursday • July 02 • 10:27 PM •
We took our first walk along the park portion of nearly completed Cinta Costera project this afternoon. Pretty nice, and lots of people were out enjoying this new green space. Hope they install more trash receptacles (could happen, it's not finished) and a fenced doggie park sure would be nice - just wishful thinking. Overall, it's a vast improvement over what was there and will make our walks to the city much more enjoyable.
Friday • June 26 • 09:04 PM •
One year ago today we arrived in Panama to begin our new adventure and for the most part it's lived up to our expectations. In broad terms it's been both exciting and a challenge, with new customs and the language leading the excitement and challenge categories.
- We've made new friends, missed old ones.
- Are amazed at the similarities between St. Croix and Panama, and how much easier our new life is because of our "island life" experience.
- We've made the transition to both being retired and so far have survived.
- The wonderful diversity of this country.
- Dinning out - at affordable prices.
- Shopping - remember we moved from a small island.
- Going to the National Theater.
- Talking to visitors in Casco Viejo.
- Watching (and slowly becoming a part of) everyday life in our new neighborhood.
- Jane's book exchange is a big hit.
- And lastly, taxi drivers, ice cream and walking at night in Casco.
On the practical side:
- Received our permanent visa, took us nine months - way too long.
- Opened a local bank account in one day - unheard of.
- Found "our place" in Panama
- Still trying to get our crate shipped from St. Croix.
- Survived without a car.
- Can (unfortunately) vouch for the quality of the local health care system.
- Progress on learning Spanish has been painfully slow.
What's not to like:
- Not much - but trash, liter and noise are areas that Panama definitely needs to work on.
- Poverty - which, sadly, affects too many Panamanians.
We obviously don't know what the next year will bring, but . . . it's almost certain to be exciting, challenging and fun. Hope you continue to tag along - or, better yet, visit us in Panama for your next adventure. Take care.
Sunday • June 21 • 11:07 PM •
Sunday • June 14 • 06:46 PM •
Saturday • June 13 • 09:42 PM •
In Panama we have two seasons, dry and rainy, for some reason are also called winter and summer - which to confuse things further are the opposite of the seasons in North America. What this all really means is that it rains more during certain months of the year, less during others. Supposedly rainy season starts in May - it really starts about when it wants and ends about the same way - when it stops. So, one of the first things you realize after being here awhile is don't try and make plans around what Mother Nature might do. Read More...
Saturday • June 06 • 12:00 PM •
Not to be confused with twitting on Twitter, I'm not into that, or the humorous children's book written by Roald Dahl - but rather a quick video about our past week in Panama. Read More...
Wednesday • June 03 • 02:31 PM •
Tuesday • May 26 • 05:09 PM •
Penn Glee Club was founded 147 years ago and has performed in 37 countries on 5 continents - pretty amazing. Sounded interesting so . . . Read More...
Monday • May 25 • 10:54 PM •
Wednesday • May 13 • 10:30 PM •
We just returned from the National Theater where we enjoyed a concert by the Panama Symphony with guest performers the BDB Duo. This was the first time we had heard the full symphony - they were very good. The Spanish Embassy sponsored the evening and although you needed an invitation, it was free - just had to e-mail the Embassy and then stop by to pick up our invite. This was probably the sixth concert we have attended at the National Theater and they have all been free, amazing!
Lest you think we have joined the "high society" set in Panama with all these theater outings. Read More...
Tuesday • May 05 • 08:03 PM •
Time has another article on Panama - Panama's New President - if you are interested.
Saturday • May 02 • 02:43 PM •
I've done a couple posts on Panama's famous (infamous) Red Devils but Time Magazine just published this article - Panama City Tries to Exorcise its Red Devils. You might find the article interesting, but I think they came up a little short with the accompanying picture so I've included this short video.
Sunday • April 05 • 09:47 PM •
Last Thursday Jane and I attended a charitable auction sponsored by the American Society of Panama. The society is a non-profit that supports educational programs in Panama City - their primary project is a school in Casco Viejo. Membership is open to anyone, so in addition to those of us from the U.S.A. we meet Canadians, a couple from Australia, several Brits and Panamanians, the majority in attendance. Read More...
Thursday • March 19 • 10:44 PM •
The Bramson's plan on building in Altos Del Maria - trading in the big city life of Atlanta for the more laid back lifestyle in a mountain community. It's always interesting when we visit with others that plan on moving to Panama (or already have) to hear the why's and process used in selecting a particular place within the country. Everyone has their own criteria and the attractiveness of Panama is that it has something for everyone.
Every visit we have from a "Notes" reader has turned a name into a friend. Thanks for stopping by guys - hope we see you again!
Saturday • February 14 • 09:51 PM •
Busy week, we made some real progress. We've finally "turned the corner" and the apartment is looking less like a construction zone and more like our new home. End of the month move in looks like it might actually happen. During the week we had painters, carpenters, the guys working on the walls and most importantly the new kitchen cabinets arrived and are now installed. Still to come, countertops and appliances. Read More...
Thursday • January 29 • 10:05 PM •
Sure didn't plan to have a "up close and personal" experience with Panama's health care system but over the last two weeks I've seen the inside of two hospitals, dealt with five doctors and loads of other health care professionals and, of course, our insurance company. My experience was mostly very positive and I'm confident that if we need health care services in the future, we can get quality care in Panama. Read More...
Sunday • January 11 • 07:16 PM •
This week is a good week if you are a jazz fan living in or visiting Panama as the 6th Panama Jazz Festival takes place from the 12th through the 17th. The big, all day, free final concert will take place here in Casco Viejo. Read More...
Sunday • January 04 • 02:33 PM •
Thursday • January 01 • 12:01 AM •
Hope to post later today with a little look back at our first six months (already) in Panama. Take care.