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Down and Out

Our Mac Mini is fine but I’ve come down with a bug (cold?). Hope to be back in service in a few days which is about the time we are due to move. Might be next week before you see a new post.

Tuesday Night Football

Free Kick for Tauro
Tonight we ventured out for a real football game (soccer to those of you in the U.S.), a Liga de Campeones (Champions League) match between Chivas U.S.A and Tauro F.C. at Estadio Rod Carew. This was the first time I have been able to see a MLS (Major League Soccer) team in person and anticipated a pretty good game because they were facing one of the better local teams. It was a good game, although Chivas had several serious defensive lapses - guess that’s why they lost 2-0. Read more

Sunday Afternoon Football

Varsity League Football
Looking around for something to do after church I found a little blurb on a “Varsity League Football” game in Balboa. Tried to find a little more information to no avail (was it soccer, rugby, “American football”) as the “Varsity League” had me a little stumped. But, what the heck - let’s just go and see. Turned out to be “American football” (if you’re wondering why I use quotes - it’s because in the rest of the world “football” is really soccer). It was the leagues opening day and
and the crowd roars
we saw the Jaguars vs the Falcons plus two other teams we never got the names of. The format, (don’t know if the do this at all their “games”) two teams play a quarter. Then the other two play a quarter and then they start rotating opponents. Lots of cheering (no cheerleaders), music, Spanish announcer with a little English. Had fun, and the football, although not the NFL, was entertaining. Read more

Just a couple of pictures

MultiPlaza MultiPlaza Train

Went on one of our little walks today - ended up at MultiPlaza Mall. Jane’s pedometer said we did almost two miles total. Nothing exciting happened so I thought I’d just post a couple of pictures and then watch a soccer game on TV.

Red Devil and Ice Cream

Take care.

What's Happening?

Little Dancers
One of my major complaints when we lived on St. Croix was the lack of information on upcoming events. There was always plenty to do - but unfortunately we often found out about a particular event too late, often after it had occurred. Living in Panama City has only magnified the problem where a LOT is going on, but learning about what’s happening is a real challenge - especially for those of us not yet tied into the local “network” and still working on our Spanish language skills. Read more


Irving Saladino
I suspect that a lot of you are watching non-stop coverage of the Olympics and cheering the efforts of the your home countries team. Our Olympic TV coverage here in Panama is nothing to rave about - language is not the problem, it’s the amount of coverage (not a lot) and trying to find it on the local channels. For those of you paying close attention who might have looked WAY down the medal standings list to those countries who have a single medal to their credit you would have seen Panama and maybe thought “that’s neat” or even “that must be a big deal” down in Panama where Steve and Jane are. Read more

We're back in business

Mac Store
Our Mac Mini returned from the shop today, fixed - sort of. For you techies out there our problem was no sound, but unlike most computers, the Mini has no sound card but a chip that is part of the “motherboard”. Short story version - No sound, replace the motherboard. The Mac Store ordered a new board, it arrived on time, they estimated three days and I could get it back - three days later I’m back in business. Read more

Out of touch

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My Mac Mini has been acting a little strange lately (lost all my audio capabilities) so I stopped by the “Mac Store” before we went to Cerro Azul to see if they could diagnose the problem. Bad news - they found the problem. Good news - I had done something I NEVER do, I had purchased Apple’s Extended Care service policy and magically the Mini was still under warranty. They had to order the part and when we returned from the mountains it had arrived - so no computer for a couple of days while it is in the shop. Hopefully I will have a positive story to tell upon it’s return. Till then, take care.

Dracula in the Highlands

Jane at Finca Dracula
Today has been one of those rainy, lazy days - sort of a Dracula type day, and I started thinking. Not about the Count from Transylvania but a finca (farm) in the Chiriqui highlands just outside Cerro Punta. Finca Dracula is a 22 acre farm whose focus is growing orchids, it’s namesake is the Dracula Orchid - and they have 124 species of Dracula alone. The greenhouses and surrounding gardens have over 2300 species of orchards in total - the place is one of the hidden wonders of Panama. During our visit we took these picture - hope you enjoy Read more

Back in the City

Puente de las Américas (Bridge of the Americas)
We returned to PC yesterday. It’s a little warm (Jane says, hot) after our week in the mountains and will take a couple of days to readapt. Because our apartment wouldn’t be ready until late in the day we decided to tour a small development just West of Panama City, so we cross the canal on the Puente de las Américas (Bridge of the Americas) and head for the town of Arraijan, about a thirty minute drive. Closer to the city than Cerro Azul, a small development in Arraijan had all new construction - so we thought it might be worth looking at. The location was pretty good but the construction quality just wasn’t what I thought it should be, so it won’t be on our list for future consideration. Nice trip though - gave us a look at an area we had not previously visited. Read more

Cerro Azul - Our Observations

Altos de Cerro Azul

We are packing for our return to Panama City from Los Altos de Cerro Azul after our nine day stay and have a few observations to share. First, we are very happy that we changed our plans and made this trip. It was worthwhile and we learned a lot about Cerro Azul and the surrounding area. Is Cerro Azul where we want to live in Panama? Maybe, maybe not - it’s too early in our search to tell. We can tell you that Cerro Azul has moved from a place we where curious about, to one that is now on our list of possibilities. Our observations: Read more

The "Enigmo" Got Me

Why driving is so much fun in Panama

Jane and I went for a drive into the “city” today. Nothing special in mind - primarily it was OJT on how to survive while driving in Panama City plus navigation 101. Nothing really exciting happened, we ended up at Los Pueblos (think VERY big strip shopping center), walked around and then had lunch at TGIFridays. Heading back to Cerro Azul we stopped at El Machetazo (the Panama version of a Super Walmart) for groceries and dessert, a DQ Blizzard. Then back to the apartment where Wags was, not so patiently, waiting. Read more


Cerro Azul - The Tiny House

That was the sound of me hard at work today. Hey, us retired folk need a day of rest every now and then. Jane and Wags made it to the park for their walk - they both like that, and we did a little drive thru of a section of Cerro Azul we had not yet seen. But, for a goodly part of the day I made sure the couch did not move around on it’s own.

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A Sunday drive to Cañita

Church just outside Cerro Azul
After church I (notice that singular, Jane was a reluctant passenger on this expedition) decided it would be interesting to drive East into the province of Darién. The Darién has historically been seen as a foreboding, dangerous place, a wilderness into which explorers venture, never to return. I was quite certain we could pull off the “return” thing, as we were only going as far as the small town of Cañita - as long as we didn’t get another flat tire. The province in HUGE and contains Parque Nacional Darién, that alone covers over one million acres of wilderness that sprawl across the isthmus near the Colombian border. All I wanted to do was drive out to Lake Bayano, take a picture or two, grab lunch, and then return to Cerro Azul. A pretty modest undertaking compared to the explorers that had preceded us. Read more

Odds and Ends

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Nothing really exciting today - sun shined and it rained. But we . . . . (everyone knows to hit that pesky little “read more” link to see the rest of this insightful “extras note”, right?)

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Cerro Azul - Just Looking

Altos de Cerro Azul
Rained most of this morning, just another Rainy Season day - sun peaked out a couple of times, then the clouds rolled in. Quite amazing how fast the conditions change: rain, sun, clouds in the valley, clouds on a neighboring ridge and sometimes we are actually IN THE CLOUDS.

The sun pops out and we decide to explore parts of Cerro Azul a little farther off the “yellow brick road”. Away we go. If my earlier pictures gave the impression that all the houses are small, modest affairs - check these out.
Cerro Azul very nice house
Cerro Azul white house

and these.
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Cerro Azul - Wanderings

Cerro Azul - cloudy day
Got up this morning to clouds and rain showers (at least I did). Jane, who is the early riser, saw a little sun before the clouds rolled in and enjoyed a chilly 64° for her early morning walk with Wags. After breakfast I worked on a pot of black bean soup for later in the day (great soup weather here in Cerro Azul) and then went out for a short walk and got invited to a neighbors house to get a resident’s take on the area. Smitty and Rachelle have been living full-time in Cerro Azul for about a year and a half, have a great house, two Australian Shepherds and enjoy their new lifestyle. We talked about everything and certainly came away with a better understanding of what it’s like to live in Cerro Azul. Our visit with them also highlighted the obvious - you ALWAYS receive the best information if you can take your time, look around, make connections (planned or otherwise) and actually sit down with people that have already done what you are thinking about doing. No amount of reading (this blog or any other), research, or “experts” telling you what is best, can provide the kind of information you get when talking directly with everyday people, like you and me. Read more

Cerro Azul - Up and Down

Altos de Cerro Azul
Our first full day at Cerro Azul started with a quick tour by Paul. Just wanted to get our bearings so we could wander on our own without getting big time lost. No straight roads in this place, lots of dead ends, curves and hills - driving is interesting. One of the useful things (for us novices) the developer has done is use yellow paint for the dashed centerline on the Main Road and a white dashed centerline leading to the clubhouse/restaurant and pool.
Typical road in Cerro Azul
So .... you can follow the “yellow brick road” until you end up at the front gate or use the white line to the clubhouse - either place you can get directions to where you really wanted to go (maybe). By the way, the remaining roads in Cerro Azul have NO centerline marked - probably not a big issue, except for those of us that have spent the last nine years (or maybe a lifetime) driving on the left. “You’re on the wrong side again” is a frequent reminder I hear from my navigator. Read more

Nice and cool

Cerro Azul on a cloudy day
We’re in the mountains and a couple of things are strikingly different from the city - it’s cool and quiet! About twenty minutes after leaving Panama City we started the climb to Cerro Azul and arrived at our new (temporary) digs about forty minutes later. The changes during the hour long drive (total) were quiet amazing. - We left the city on the modern multi-lane toll-road (Corredor Sur) and finished on a winding two-lane country road that could use a little work. The high-rise towers of the city were replaced by towering pine trees. Paved streets by chicken farms. Honking horns by singing birds. Best of all, I can look out the window while typing this and see the lights of Panama City - it’s that close. Read more

Going to the mountains

Just to let everyone know - we are going to the mountains for the next nine days and may be out of touch. Internet service is available, we’re just not sure until we get there if we can connect. So, you may (or may not) see Notes posted until we return to the city on the August 14th.

We will be staying at a rental in Cerro Azul (it’s a Melo development, like Altos del Maria) out Northeast of the city. Should have some nice pictures and information - stay tuned.

Chocolate Overdose!

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After a day of hard walking we headed over to MultiPlaza Mall and decided we needed to reward ourselves. So . . . .

We stopped by Showcolate. Now, if you have something like this where you live, excuse my enthusiasm - we certainly didn’t on St. Croix. Fresh fruit with way too much chocolate and it sure was good.

Showcolate at the MultiPlaza Mall Chocolate at Showcolate

Will you need a Panama bank account?


Well . . . it depends. We have decided NOT to open an account with a local bank, partially due to the “hassle factor” but mostly because our “system” works just fine so far. Things may change, as we get more settled (have more local bills to pay) and become aware of the advantages of banking local - will wait and see. For now, we use a stateside bank, Panama ATM’s, cash and credit cards. Read more


It’s been two weeks since this site has gone “live” and in that time we’ve had over 400 individual visitors from 22 countries. While those numbers can’t even be described as a “speck” in the internet universe, it nevertheless is a surprise to us (especially Jane) that so many people find their way to Panama Notes. Some of you came by way of Chiriquí Chatter - Don Ray’s great blog about life out West in David, Panama - thanks Don. Others are friends, family or strangers stopping in for a visit - THANKS TO ALL!

Comments: Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to leave a comment - we read every one.

Guestbook: Please take a minute and sign the Panama Notes Guestbook.

Email us if you have a question, or a suggestion for a “Note”. Use any of the addresses on the “Say Hi” page or send it to that “admin” guy (that’s still me) whose link is at the bottom of most pages.



Things happen to us all the time in Panama that are interesting, confusing, laughable, or unique - some might even be of interest to you, the reader. The problem is, although we (Jane and I) notice or comment to each other, there is nothing of real import that makes me run to the computer and whip up an “Note” for your perusal. If I do, make it to the computer, I then want to “tell a story” that maybe doesn’t really need to be told. So . . . . . today I introduce you to “Extras”. When you see this logo what you will get is a very short “Note” about? Something! It may be useful or funny (maybe both), but it won’t take much of your time. Read more

First Time Visitors - Read This First

This blog is not an example of an advanced creative writer hard at work, nor will it be a grammar and punctuation tutorial. You will need to deal with sixty years of bad writing habits, unique sentence structure and punctuation. The use of the minus (-) sign as punctuation being the most aggresses. Nevertheless, I hope most posts are readable, informative and occasionally make you smile.

Opinions will dot the landscape - remember, my opinions are only slightly more valuable than the average, but still are worth about what you are paying to read them. If you disagree, feel free to add a comment - just keep it civil.

We won’t be selling anything, nor accepting any fees when we recommend a product or service. We simply thought the business or individual deserved mention and that others may find our experience helpful.

Important: This blog is now in it’s second month. If you want to read earlier “Notes” go to the “Archives” section in the sidebar.

Jane, Wags and I hope you are frequent visitors as our adventure gets underway.

Tiene un gran día!
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