<div id="myExtraContent1"> </div>
<div id="myExtraContent5"> </div>
Casco Viejo

Work, work, work . . .

Tool sign
My apologies for the lack of posts over the last few weeks - we’ve been spending most of our time working on the apartment and running around getting stuff we need for the new place. Not very exciting to write about, even when I’m not feeling worn out. Jane has also been very busy - chief decorator, painter and most importantly my “board holder” and “gofer.” Wags, of course, has been hanging around and most of the time staying out of the paint. Read more

Thanksgiving in Panama

Thanksgiving invitation español
Although Thanksgiving is not a Panamanian holiday, that didn’t deter a group from hosting the first annual Thanksgiving fiesta in Casco Viejo. Sounded like the perfect opportunity to meet some of our neighbors - so off we went, pretzel salad and pickled mushrooms in hand. What made the evening, and indicates the diversity of the community we’ve joined, were the people. Seniors were well represented (the host’s mother was Panama’s first female doctor), as well as the younger crowd (business owners and professionals). We chatted with people from England, Italy, Spain, Columbia, Germany, Canada, the U.S. and several “citizens of the world” who spend part of each year in Panama. Our host Panamanians (remember this is not their holiday) who were the majority of those attending, enthusiastically embraced the Thanksgiving spirit and welcomed everyone as Casco Antiguo Vecinos. Read more

THE door

Casa Urrutia front door

A while back I did a “note” about the doors of Casco Viejo. Today I want to show you what we think is the most important door in the neighborhood. You might also remember that I had briefly mentioned that Jane and I were busy with a little project and offered that as an excuse for the lack of posts lately. Well, the “project” and today’s door offering are related - Jane is standing in front of the door to our home we just purchased in Casco Viejo. Read more

You never know

National Theater
Last Tuesday I was out with Wags and noticed a long line of people at the National Theater. We’d been told the scheduled concert had been canceled, but obviously, something was going on - I’d never seen a line like this. So, back to apartment for a quick change of clothes and I’m off to see what’s happening. The line was gone, but lots of people were still arriving and I didn’t see any ticket takers (another freebie) so in I go. Turns out the canceled concert was indeed going to happen. Read more

We’ve decided

After a lot of research, and a one month visit in 2006, we decided to make the move to Panama and were pretty confident that our decision was the right one for us at this particular time. What we were less sure of - where in Panama did we want to live? We arrived determined not to rush, to explore our options, talk to people, and gain some first hand experience within the country. We considered everything from Cerro Azul (east) to Cerro Punta (the far west) and lots of places between. Jane ruled out “high rise” living and our island experience left us with no great desire to reside in a beach community (Caribbean or Pacific), other than that we were pretty open. Read more

Night at the symphony

National Theater in Casco Viejo
Last night we spent a very enjoyable evening at the National Theater at a free concert by the Joven Orquesta de Centroamerica (the Youth Orchestra of Central America). Fifty or so young musicians from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Panama put on a stunning performance. They played a wide range of music and had a couple of adult guest soloists, but the youngsters were clearly the “stars”. It was also interesting in that they started the concert with just the brass section on stage, then the string section had their turn, then the entire orchestra. Read more

Friends visit

Buzios Restaurant
C.J. and Richard paid us a visit today for lunch in Casco Viejo and a little tour. They are new friends that we first met a couple of months ago when we were staying at La Cresta de Ore. They have made several trips to Panama working on visa issues and (like us) hunting for their place in Panama. They had just returned from a trip out West to Chiriqu Province and came back with good things to say about the area around Boquete. Jane and I had made a similar trip two years ago and although we liked what we saw it’s become apparent that we prefer the big city experience (Panama City) after our nine years on a 6 by 27 mile long island. Read more

Góngora was jumpin'

Casa Gongora
Stopped by Casa Góngora tonight to see what all the excitement was about. Upstairs a mariachi band had the packed house up and dancing. It was the usual diverse crowd for this place - young and old, smartly dressed and the blue jean set (me). A group of “senior” ladies was burning up the dance floor. Folks from the audience were joining the band to sing, with everyone having a great time.

Mariachi band at Casa Gorgona Mariachi band

It’s things like this that make living in Casco Viejo interesting and a lot of fun. Take care.

Rain Delay

Casco Viejo Map
Our walking tour of Casco Viejo was rained out, but the folks at the Casco Antiguo office offered to give us a special tour on Monday. They only have two English speaking guides and one offered to come in on a day when they don’t normally give tours. We’re both looking forward to learning more about the place.

Odds and Ends: Walked down Avenida Central the other day to shop. On our way back Jane decides to get two bananas. Asks the street vendor how much for two - he says 25¢. Jane leaves with six bananas, the price, still 25¢. Read more

Baseball Playoffs

The Ballpark at high tide

Today on the way to the monthly flea market at the plaza we stopped by to check out the baseball playoffs. No, we didn’t stop at the local sports bar (Casco doesn’t have one), we joined the crowd at the local “ballpark”. If you’re familiar with Casco Viejo you may wonder exactly where the “ballpark” is. Well . . . . Read more

Casco Festival

Casa Gongora
This week the Festival Internacional de la Cancion de Autor (International Festival of Singer Songwriters) had it’s final events. The festival was a series of free concerts - this year featuring the guitar and had performers from Panama, Spain and Mexico.

On Wednesday, Jane and I walked two blocks (stopped for ice cream on the way) to Casa Góngora for a small indoor event. Casa Góngora in a partially restored building that is the home to the Casco Antiguo Cultural Center. Read more

Birthday Bash

Definition: “Birthday Bash” for us = quiet night out together.

Jane and I have birthday’s exactly two weeks apart and for more than a few years we have forgone the usual “give each other a gift” thing and have opted for a quiet evening at a good restaurant. So, Monday night we went around the corner to Indigo, described as a “oriental-mediterranean fusion” restaurant - whatever that is. After settling in a a corner table in the bar (because it’s in a restored building the restaurant is comprised of several small rooms and a patio) I ordered a Mojito (mainly because I’d never had one - think I will stick with plain old rum and coke) and we picked up the menu. Soon thereafter, one of the owners stopped by and chatted with us about the various dishes - many of which seemed to have a Moroccan connection. We ended up having Shrimp Couscous and a cold Duck Salad (unusual and very good) as appetizers. Green Curry and Moroccan Chicken for the main courses and dessert. Bottom line - best restaurant meal I’ve had in looooong time.
Inside Indigo

If you’re ever in Casco Viejo, Indigo is located next to the Tourism Police on Avenida Central.

Postscript: No people in the pictures because I returned the next day before they opened for business to take these.

Behind closed doors

Casco Viejo Hello

Imagine what lies behind Casco Viejo’s many doors. Historically important events took place behind many. Others are vivid reminders that Panama almost lost a national treasure. They are guardians of the past and portals to the future. Side by side they tell us of the hard times, a rebirth and the joyfulness of Casco Viejo and it’s people. They make us smile and almost cry, protect the rich, provide sanctuary for the poor and always remind us that Casco Viejo is real. Walk with us and wonder.

Big Wooden Needs a door Fancy Door
Red and Blue Rainbow doors Sophisticated

Just another day, until . . .

Art class in the plaza
On any given day you can see just about anything in Casco Viejo. School kids on a tour. Art classes in the plaza. Police on their morning run. Vendors and craft sellers. Tourists. Last week our neighbors plunked a tent down in the middle of the street (albeit a side street) and two soccer goals for the kids - somebody’s birthday party. It was an all day festivity ending in the required fireworks. Read more

The Old Fashioned Way

Snow Cone The Old Fashioned Way

As you walk around Casco Viejo chances are you will eventually see one of these guys, usually under a shade tree in one of the plazas. They make snow cones the old fashioned way - from a big (but getting smaller) block of ice they purchased at the start of the day. We normally get cherry (rojo) with the “works”. Read more

Another look

With our hardhats in hand we made the short walk back to La Posada, a restoration project we looked at last week. As you can tell from the pictures, they have a little work to do. The agent says it will be ready by November. In a lot of ways Panama is just like the islands - when someone asks a question the answer is always meant to please - not be accurate. In the islands it’s the “don’t worry be happy” attitude, in Panama it’s "juego vivo" - live without hassle, that rules the day. Hey - “whatever works” does it for me. Read more

Budget Buster

Casco Viejo View

Because we are both now retired and on the infamous “fixed income” we try and watch our spending - we actually have a budget and a surprisingly (for us) effective way of tracking our money (will tell you about the “system” someday). But, as with all well laid plans certain things occasionally popup that were not planned for. In our case it’s . . . . Read more

Concert at Teatro Nacional

Teatro Nacional
Tonight we attended a jazz concert at the National Theater. One in a series of events in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the theater. The concert was free - a gift from Alliance Francaise (a French cultural exchange organization) to the people of Panama.
Concert at National Theater
The theater is a great concert venue, very good acoustics and ornate almost beyond description - they don’t build halls like this any more! Looks like it could accommodate about 600 if they packed the place, and you wouldn’t be more than 75 feet from the stage in the worst seat. Read more

Sunday in Casco Viejo

Iglesia de la Merced
After church at Iglesia de la Merced we walked around the corner and past the Presidential Palace. The guards allowed us to walk right past the front door - didn’t see the boss.

Presidential Palace Flag in front of Palacio de las Garzas

Read more

Looking at Casco Viejo

The plan when we moved to Panama was to rent and “test drive” the various living options available. Location (city, country, mountains) and the type (high-rise, low-rise, condo, single family home) - we saw no advantage in rushing and wanted to give ourselves a reasonable shot at finding something (somewhere) that meet most of our criteria. The only thing that has happened so far is that we’ve pretty much ruled out a high-rise - just not our thing. Read more

A walk around Casco Viejo

Tonight you get to tag-along on one of our late afternoon walks. We usually just wander around, get a snow cone from a street vendor, and explore.

Panama City from Casco Viejo Park
Out the door we go, turn left, and head towards this little park, with a nice view of the city.

Rubén Blades' house in Casco Viejo
Then it’s past Rubén Blades’ house (Panama’s Minister of Tourism). If you are a film buff or into Latin music you may recognize the name. Read more

Casco Viejo, a short history

Casco Viejo Park
Casco Viejo (also know as Casco Antiguo or San Filipe) is the old quarter of Panama City, founded in 1673 after the original Pacific settlement (Panama Viejo) was sacked by the pirate Henry Morgan. It is the oldest city on the Pacific Coast of the Americas and remained the center of Panamanian life for nearly 300 years, until the 1930s, when, like many old quarters in Latin America, Casco Antiguo declined as Panama's upper crust moved to the suburbs. Read more
<div id="myExtraContent7"> </div>
<div id="myExtraContent8"> </div>