Leaderboard


Popular Content

Showing content with the highest reputation since 01/23/2017 in all areas

  1. 6 points
    I was asked to contribute to this discussion having experienced firsthand the difficulty in obtaining justice for crimes against perpetrators under the current Panamanian Legal System. Forgive me, this is a long post. I no longer live in Chiriqui but I do occasionally read CL -- after all, I did live in Potrerillos for 15 years. This post is not meant “to put the frighteners” on expats it is more to enlighten and hopefully to bring about realization of the “the way things are”. It is not written in anger, it is written partially to thank those who saved my life and those who supported me throughout my months in hospital and beyond. Strangely enough I do not harbor hatred against the two teens who assaulted me. If it wasn’t for the attack I would not be living where I am now. I exchanged the mountains for the beach and ocean and for the happiness that living only four minutes’ walk away from your only child can bring. But having said that, it is frightening to think that the two teenagers are now at liberty to commit armed robbery again and next time their victim may not survive. I lived in Panama for 15 years, maybe two or perhaps three years after we moved onto our property and into our home I experienced a robbery. This was when things were still tranquilo in this area, when crimes were only crimes of opportunity and when criminal violence was extremely rare. A very presentable man, with new(ish) bicycle came to my house to ask if I knew where a “gringo called Mike” lived. I told him I did not. Little did I know he had been “scoping out” the house through the windows and seen my wallet and cell phone on the kitchen island. He got back on his bike and that was that – or so I thought as I returned to what I was doing in the family room. Several hours later, searching for my phone, I realized it and my wallet, were missing. The robber had apparently returned, entered the kitchen and quickly taken my wallet and cell phone. My dog did not bark as she had seen me talking to the man outside and I suspect had classified him as “a friend”. I had a photo of the man, he had committed several robberies in the area including the home of one of my neighbors. The man lived in David and the David police knew him well from his criminal history. I spent hours at the Municipio in Dolega giving a denuncia. My gardener and a neighbor were also required to go to the Municipio to give statements. I was summoned to the PTJ in David to look through ancient mug shot albums – even though I had a photo of the felon!! People had seen the man catching the bus from David, Dolega and Potrerillos. They remembered him because his bike had been loaded on to the roofs of the buses at times consistent with the robbery. There was no follow up by the authorities, the man was never charged or prosecuted and I heard nothing more from the police. After my husband passed away, I decided to downsize and put my home on the market. A year before the home invasion I was contacted by “Andy Singer” who said he and his Panamanian wife were planning to return to Panama to open a bed and breakfast and that my property seemed ideal for such a purpose. He asked several questions and I directed him to the website for my home where all of his questions would be answered. “Andy Singer” then told me he would like to view my property and could I give him my phone number so he could call me to set up an appointment. Something in my feeble brain gave out a warning signal. I decided to wait 24 hours before responding. In the meantime I checked further, as far as my limited knowledge of technology would allow, and discovered that though the emails were signed Andy Singer, ploughing through all of the extraneous information of the email source I came upon the writer’s address of “Billinlacarcel@...” or Bill in Prison. Another possible future scam for Wild Bill and his then cell mate Ozzie?? Obviously, with funding from relatives and friends, they are able to buy smart phones/tablets to allow them to check out possible future victims, or perhaps this was their way of “having a little fun”. Prison wardens in Panama jails are not law enforcement officers but are hired from outside the prison system. They are open too bribes. If a prisoner has the cash they can obtain whatever they want. This is a well-known fact. I reported the email to Lt. Castillo, who, at that time was head of the police department for Boquete and Dolega and who I had known for many years. He said he would come to my home to verify the email, take printed copies with him and call his contact at the David jail. He never arrived at my home, neither did he send another police officer. There was no follow-up, nothing was ever done. Lt. Castillo retired from the police force several months later. How long has “Wild Bill” been in prison awaiting trial – four, five years? There has still been no trial and therefore no justice for the families of the victims. In defense of the police of Chiriqui (and in the country as a whole), their hands are somewhat tied by the laws of Panama and their interest in the community somewhat dulled by their frequent repostings. It is extremely difficult to form a relationship -- police with citizens or citizens and police -- when the length of assignment to a location is pitifully short. I had many friends/acquaintances among the police community of the Dolega District, they would frequently come to my home to check on my husband and I, sit and chat, have a soda and cookies but I soon learned that a policeman who you thought would be “first on the scene” if something happened to you, would soon be posted to a different town or city. Captain Roberto Espinoza, as Bud himself said “He could retire later this year, but no firm decision has been made at this juncture.” So, he may hold the position of Boquete Police Captain for a year or even less?? Not enough time to build relationships or form a sound knowledge of the community and the people who live in it. The local people are the ones who can help the most with leads and “inside information” which leads to an arrest. To give praise where praise is deserved, the police did catch two of the teenagers who attacked me. I don’t know how long it took, (I was aware of very little at the time), I think they were apprehended very quickly – but – the younger teenager, the one who stabbed me, was 14 years old and because the laws of Panama dictate that a person has to be 18 years old before they can be prosecuted, he received a slap on the hand and was released. Last I heard before I left Chiriqui, he was living with his father in the Boquete area. The second of my attackers, the one who shot me twice, I was told was 17. He was held for several months and the grapevine said that the police were hoping to keep him until his 18th birthday when he could be prosecuted. Now this is all “hearsay”, gleaned from police, translators, interviews, friends – I cannot swear that this is the truth. I have been told subsequent to my departure, that this young man has also been released. So to potential murderers are now back on the streets and living in the community. If these teenagers had tied me up and asked me where my wallet was, where the computer was, where my jewelry was – I would have readily told them but they broke into my house at 2:30 am, immediately stabbed and shot me without uttering one word and only questioned me while I was laying on the floor in a large pool of my own blood. They laughed as they walked down the driveway with their “haul”. They had stolen my cell phone so I couldn’t call for help, but fortunately that laughter I heard as they left made me angry, very angry and the adrenaline started flowing which enabled me to drive to a neighbor’s house, squeeze through a small space by the side of their gate and crawl up the driveway. My neighbor (a Panamanian so no language barrier) called the police and an ambulance. She called other neighbors who arrived in seconds -- the police responded quickly but my neighbors decided the ambulance was taking too long and loaded me into their truck to drive me to Mae Lewis. I owe my life to the Le Borgne’s, the Ferguson’s and the Kolm’s, it goes without saying to Dr. Cattan who performed the surgery and the care of Don Ray and Lilliam Williams after my release from hospital. Several weeks later, my doctor told me that the police had wanted to interview me while I was in Intensive Care when I was semi-comatose and with tubes inserted in every orifice – obviously I didn’t have enough orifices as the doctors had to create even more entry points for tubes. The police insisted on seeing me only to realize I was unable to hear or respond. However, as soon as I was able I was asked to give a statement -- two police detectives and a translator arrived by my bedside. I was released, after being in hospital for ten plus weeks and except for the last few days, with nursing care 24 hours per day. In early January I was required to attend an appointment with the government psychologist – I can only guess she was tasked with ascertaining if I was lying about the attack. Obviously, given the fragility of my appearance, the fact that walking was extremely difficult even with a walker, plus the surgical scar from breast bone to pubic bone, she determined that I had been the victim of a crime. Astute Lady!!??!! As JohnF13 said I was questioned two or three months prior to leaving Panama, I was also questions two other times, once more in the hospital and once while staying with Don Ray and Lilliam Williams. Each time was an ordeal for me, I had to relive the incident. Each time I felt as if I was the one under scrutiny and that there was doubt about the veracity of my story. I also received an “official document” requiring me to see a government doctor who would verify my medical condition. The letter received, which indicated I was to submit to an examination at a date and time to be notified, was dated incorrectly, December 2016 rather than December 2015. Apparently this caused a major malfunction in the machinery that drives the government offices involved in this case. Calls were made on my behalf several times and we made appearances at the appropriate offices twice to ask about the appointment for the examination. Each time we were told “you will be contacted when the doctor can schedule you”. I remained in the country until July 18th, 2016 over nine months after the attack. At no time was I nor the Williams contacted with a date and time for me to appear to be examined by the government doctor. My point is, that I was subjected to interviews and interrogations and psychological examinations at a time when my life and mental wellbeing hung in the balance – all for naught. The investigation team of the DJI was led by another officer I had known previously and who is also from Potrerillos, he had returned to the area after being posted to La Joya and Panama City for several years. He too had been to my home many times. The perpetrators were known, one was in custody, I presume there was evidence from fingerprints and leads on where they had disposed of my possessions (my computer was actually seen to be on-line) and yet I was never asked to identify the suspects either visually or from their voices. Visually I could not have done so, the violence happened too quickly and in the dark, I was then in pain and wallowing in my own blood, but I could have given a definite identification from their voices. I still hear those voices at 2:30 in the morning when I wake up in a cold sweat “¿Dónde está el dinero? Queremos más dinero, ¿dónde está?”. At no time was I requested by any member of the Policia Nacional nor the DJI if I would testify. At no time was it even suggested that the perpetrators would actually come to trial and that my testimony would be paramount in obtaining a conviction. At no time was I told I would be required to testify. At no time was I asked not to leave the country as my testimony would be necessary for the prosecution. In short, yes, the police appreciate brownies, I baked frequently for the police in Dolega and for the police who stopped by my house but, oatmeal cookies, butterscotch pie and brownies will only result in a happy smile from the recipients. The police are understaffed, underpaid and underfinanced. This leads to a lack of motivation to track down criminals or to put their lives at risk when they know full well that the laws of Panama negate any efforts they make to apprehend perpetrators of crime, however heinous the crime might be. The chance that criminals will see any prison time is slim to none. It’s fine to protect yourself, take all the precautions you can but the criminals are becoming smart. Do you have an automatic entry gate?? If not, perhaps you need one. Remember a couple of years ago there were one or two robberies when people were ambushed as they exited their cars to manually open their entry gates. They were then forced to open their homes and allow the robbers free rein. What is really sad is that the one person who could possibly have made a difference and fought for a change in the law and who initially headed protests and meetings, Diputada Athena Athanasiadis, diverted her interest to other, I can only assume, more deserving causes. Initially her anger was stirred and she became involved, I suspect, primarily because I lived only a two minute walk from her parents’ house, the home she was raised in. Her parents are definitely not “on a budget” and can pay for 24/7 security guards – I and most other retirees can not. Unless the law changes, violent crimes will continue to be committed and will escalate with little or no hope of retribution from the authorities on the perpetrators.
  2. 4 points
    I invite you all to take a look at this link from Best Places in the World to Retire: https://bestplacesintheworldtoretire.com/stories?view=entry&id=328 This is a come-on article, advertising that health insurance for tourists is free. This hasn't been true for over two and a half years. Only at the end of the article is there an "editor's note" that this insurance is no longer available. If you were honestly trying to disseminate information helpful to persons thinking about visiting or retiring to Panama, as all these sites represent, why would you publish an article with out-of-date facts? Of what possible good, I ask, is this information inasmuch as it no longer applies? I've said it before, and I'll say it again: what these folks do to make a buck is unconscionable.
  3. 4 points
    As far as the invasion of Marion's home goes and her subsequent attempted murder, I do not think anyone has been prosecured for it even though the police caught at least two of the perps. Just prior to Marion leaving the Country she was called back in by DIJ for a further "interview" and she did mention that she was uncomfortable with the way it was conducted. I would suspect, that since she has gone to Mexico, that nothing further will be done. This was my first (and so far only) introduction to Panamanian detectiving and as a retired police officer I was not terribly impressed. It seemed to me that everything was about "process" and not much about investigation. Lots and lots of police officers on scene, many at the hospital, numerous long interviews done where the preamble to the interview ( both verbal and written) seemed to take much longer than the interview itself. I couldn'd help getting the impression that everything was being done for show. Given that experience, I would not trust the Panamanian police to investigate and prosecute expat crimes. Yes, there are a ton of people in the David jail, but for what, exactly? Seems to me most of them must be on remands waiting for trial, heck if Wild Bill hasn't been tried yet after admitting murders it does not bode well for a contested prosecution. I guess all of the above can be distilled down to "you are responsible for your own safety". Indeed, this isn't Kansas, or Canada, or Britain. Look after youselves and take care.
  4. 3 points
    We put the entire house on a 3 minute timer delay. When power comes back on...it's 3 minutes before we gets ours. That minimizes ( or possibly eliminates) the surge destruction. .I know you can get plug in lights that will go on immediately when the power is out. They stay in your wall sockets. Kind of a cool idea. I have these glow in the dark led flashlights all over the house. Another thing we found that is totally cool is a multiple bank led lamp. It will light up the entire living room and stay on for hours on one charge. We bought those for trips to the coast so we can read when power's out. I still haven't found a battery operated fan for those trips. Man the heat is brutal. When power's out on the coast, you go outside for a night breeze to sleep in the hammock?...you get Dengue there.
  5. 3 points
    Everyone's points are valid. But we pay for electricity (some of us more dearly than others), and it is simply factual that we have come to rely on electricity. I have multiple flashlights within easy reach all over the house, but there are still times when I have to grope about in the absolute dark. This is dangerous, particularly for those of us who are elderly and for whom a fall could be devastating. This danger is multiplied when the lights go out repeatedly. When I arrived home from David about 7:00 last night, the electricity went out just as I was approaching my front door. Were it not for the light in my iPhone, I would not have been able to see to put the key in the lock as there are no streetlights here. Add to this the wear and tear on electrical appliances and light fixtures. Before I got my expensive LED light bulbs, which must be more resistant to surges, I was replacing two or three light bulbs a week during times of electricity unreliability. And, like Bud and Marcelyn, I suspect the recent death of my washing machine to be attributable to surges. I keep my new one unplugged when not in use, as a repairman recommended. I remain of the view that we have a right to expect better service. I intend to file a complaint, and I hope others will too. Panamanians will not because, as some have pointed, they have come to expect poor service.
  6. 3 points
    I know all of us here in Boquete who were living here when the two gals form Holland went missing are saddened and dumbstruck at the same time that a tragedy such as happened to this young woman could yet again happen here. I say this because so much was publicized of the dangers of hiking alone. She was young bright and no doubt saw no danger in a jungle trail off in the middle of nowhere. She most likely may have trusted a person she should not have. I was like that when I was her age. All I can say is I'm sad...period. This is such a shame. My heart goes out to all those who mourn for her .
  7. 3 points
    I also got some private messages validating what I said, but I saw how I could have misinterpreted the comments. That's why I posted the story about the woman who worked at Home Depot, to acknowledge that things aren't always as they appear. I'm glad you cleared that up Bud, because you aren't the kind of person who would blame the victim, so I was puzzled when I read that. That and a couple of similar comments bothered me so much, I finally had to say something, because I was thinking, "Please people, don't go there!". Sorry I misunderstood you.
  8. 3 points
    Bonnie, This was a very interesting report which focused on US funding the effort to reduce narco trafficking and crime associated largely with gun/narco trafficking and gangs in Central American Countries. What I found interesting was a somewhat weak evaluation of the effectiveness of the effort to shower money and assets this way to reduce these problems. Bottom line seemed to be this: Unless each individual country takes initiative to improve the underlying conditions that lend to crime ( improved education, rehabilitation efforts) crime will persist. That report substantiated that. I know there has been an effort in Panama to provide more Juvenile detention and rebab facilities and increase the capacity of jails; but this effort strikes me as weak and limp in view of what we are observing in the last several years. Unless the judicial system in Panama becomes more efficient, the jail overcrowding reduced, the juvenile detention centers with rehab capability increased ....problems will continue. Education and opportunity for underprivileged youth has to be addressed. Foreigners who elect to choose to become permanent residents of any one of these countries, should take a sober look at this situation. If they decide it's their cup of tea, then personal security should be way high on their list of priorities. Crime has gone from stealing a rake you left outside to entering your bedroom at 2:30 am to stab and shoot you in order to garnor a few bucks and your available stuff.
  9. 3 points
    Nine year old kids shooting people are not prosecuted in a large number of Countries. In Canada, the age of responsibility is 12, meaning that a 9 year old cannot be held responsible for anything. Between 12 and 18 youths are treated differently in court than adults, ofter garnering very light sentences for major crimes. Same here, although it is a bit more extreme. Of course crime has gone up from 2000 to now, it very rarely goes down ( people get frustrated and just stop reporting, but that's another story). Any crime is upsetting, but if you expect to live in a Crime free place, then perhaps Panama is not your best choice - but neither is the U.S., Canada, England, Australia, heck, you get the point. There is nowhere in the World you can avoid crime, it is just a fact of life. Quoting individual crimes only serves to induce fear and panic. Yes, they are tragic and should not happen, but in almost all of your quoted cases you will find that a major causative factor was lack of security on the part of the victim. That isn't victim blaming, merely stating facts. The police here are less effective than most, that has to do with several factors including low pay, lousy morale and lack of direction from upper management to name a few factors. Government is doing very little to address these problems, and when the average police officer sees the scale of things such as Odebretcht it is no wonder they get discouraged. We can debate for hours about what "should" happen, but it's not going to. So, two choices, accept that it is what it is and take suitable precautions, or head off for supposedly safer places.
  10. 3 points
    JimandNena, Security is, indeed, the responsibility of the owner/resident. However, I think that your assessment is a little bleak. Yes, any security measure can be defeated but the all take time. The more difficult you make it to get into your premises, the more likely the maleante will go somewhere else. Unfortunately some people have a Polyanna attitude, i.e. It won't happen to me. Others either don't want to, or cannot afford to spend the money to add security systems. In my area the two houses that were invaded had little or no security and, most likely, the bad guys knew that and chose the softest target. Happens all the time with thieves, they are notoriously lazy and will always pick the low hanging fruit. You talk about the level of security as an "unknown", that is not really correct. Stage your house in circles, outer fence, dogs trained not to accept food from strangers (yes, it can be done) inner electric fence, yard alarms, lights, sirens and finally, an interior alarm, although I am not a big fan of those, too little, too late. Then on to personal security, whatever you can handle. Guns, knives, stun guns, high intensity flaslights and safe rooms. Again, yes, all of these can be defeated, but at the cost of negating the surprise factor. Do not rely on police response, they are merely after the fact report takers. Having said all of that, this place is relatively safe but, people being people, they will want what you have. A thief is merely a worker doing a different kind of work. Make it difficult for him and he will look elsewhere.
  11. 3 points
    Reading Marian's post (thank you Marion for taking the time to write and for including so much detail), it makes me wonder if it is safe to sell one's house "by owner". Wouldn't that be a great opportunity for someone to come and rob you, or worse? She said "Andy Singer" wanted to look at her property for sale, and it turns out he might have been Wild Bill, who might have partners in crime on the outside staking out houses for sale in order to rob the owners who are showing it. This is a nightmare tale, and Marian is a mighty brave lady. The criminal "justice" system here is disgraceful.
  12. 3 points
    I received an email from Marion yesterday after she saw this thread. Among other things, she wrote: " In my case the youngest of the intruders (14) who stabbed me was given a slap on the hand and released. The older teenager who shot me twice, I think was 17. He was held for some time but eventually released before he went to trial -- or so I have been told." Further, she wrote: "Perhaps if I felt that "justice would be done" and the perpetrators of the stabbing and shooting would be imprisoned to protect other people, I might still be in Chiriqui. As it was, with one of the intruders released immediately, I felt, after 15 years, that I had to leave. I am now in Mexico, living in Playacar with guard houses at all entrances to this beautiful residential area, renting an apartment in a complex with gates and 24/7 guards -- I never ever wanted to live in a guarded community -- but finally I feel safe." It is the feeling of many, based on experience, that crimes against gringos by Panamanians are not vigorously investigated or prosecuted. Again, no one has come forth with even one example to the contrary even though, over the ten years I have lived here, there have been numerous instances of these crimes. Other crimes appear to be successfully prosecuted and the perpetrators incarcerated, as evidenced by the high number of inmates in the jails here. What kind of message does this send to the criminal element?
  13. 3 points
    People can draw whatever message they like from this experience. I drew three things. One, when you report a crime, be prepared for a long, time-consuming process with which you are unlikely to be satisfied. Secondly, if the Panamanian security forces really want better crime reporting, they need to look at their own procedures first so as to encourage rather than discourage people from filing. Finally, as has been said many times by security-minded persons and organizations here, you are your own best provider of security. I have no reason to believe that Captain Espinoza is not a well-meaning, dedicated law enforcement official. But the system itself is not supportive of his declared aims.
  14. 3 points
    I understand your intentions, S.S., but I think Keith is probably right. Your experience with how to approach politicians is American. It's different here. A good Panamanian friend warned me long ago never to raise "official" issues (jokingly or not) in a social setting as, in Panamanian etiquette, it is considered rude. A friendly visit to the Mayor's office--without a lawyer and media--would be the correct move. And it would be made easier since you already know the Mayor and have found success with this approach.
  15. 2 points
    If I am ever driven away from this "Paradise Found" it will be for the appalling service of Union Fenosa. There is absolutely no wind outside so why would the power in Volcancito this evening be so intermittent? It's amazing that 100+ years after the opening of the Panama Canal this country can still not provide reliable electric power. Anybody who believes Panama has moved away from "3rd World" hasn't experienced Fenosa's lame delivery system in Chiriqui. Can there really be a valid reason for this poor level of service?
  16. 2 points
    Ok, so we moved to Spain 3 months ago today, and I have to say we have not been without electricity or internet for 1 minute. Yes, our electricity bill is about 75% more than what we paid in Panama, and we do need heat in the winter and probably a/c in July & August. The entire house is electric and we do have a small pool. But I guess you get what you pay for. Our internet is the same as we paid in Panama. Fuel (gas/diesel) is a bit more, but household goods, vehicles and groceries are less. The choices are unlimited. No surge protectors needed!
  17. 2 points
    Pat, I use a high powered animal fence. If it keeps cows in, I am sure I will hear the squeal of a maleante as he climbs over it. It is unobtrusive, so you dont really know it is there. Won't kill anyone, so no need for insurance. Total cost, including battery backup is less than $1000, and that's my estimate for covering over 3 acres. Bonnie, look at a motion activated light backed with a small UPS at your entry door. It will come on as you approach and stay on for whatever time you set. They have a second purpose too - if it doesn't come on it is time to be suspicious and call a friend without getting out of your car. For those a bit unsteady on their feet, the plug in lights that come on when the power goes out (Do-It, around $25 or less) will give plenty of light and security. In a power outage of less than 4-5 hours there is no reason why you should have to fumble around in the dark.
  18. 2 points
    Dottie, I don't disagree with you. But there are special cases. Two life-changing events of which I'm aware are returning to live with family one or more member of which is allergic to dogs/cats, and relocating to an assisted living facility that doesn't accept pets. Sometimes heart-wrenching decisions have to be made.
  19. 2 points
    Please find a PDF format of a PowerPoint presentation on the Trees and Plants of Boquete. Watch for announcements on News Boquete. Note: this 100 page PDF document is quite large (~20MB) and so it may take a while to download. This PDF version has been optimized for web access from its original ~198MB PowerPoint file size, but with essentially no loss in fidelity of the images. Trees and Plants of Boquete - Feb. 2017 - optimized.pdf
  20. 2 points
    In an earlier forum on the subject of electrical service, I joined Bud and Marcelyn in complaining about the cost of electricity. My utility bills started out being in the $125 to $140per month range. Being used to electricity bills in the States, and having plenty of other things to attend to associated with settling in, it took me a while to realize that this was much higher than that of others. Over the years I sought the services of three different electricians, none of whom offered suggestions that solved the problem. Then, about a year ago, my bill went to between $160 and $180 dollars a month. Exasperated but determined to get to the bottom of this, I asked Juan Arauz for help. He came and recommended five things: change to LED light bulbs; replace my fish pond pump with a more efficient one; put a timer on my one electric hot water heate;, do some rewiring in the electric box; and replace my refrigerator/freezer with a more energy efficient model. At significant expense, I did all of this with the exception of replacing the refrigerator (having just had to replace my washer and dryer, which was an expensive and unpleasant experience in and of itself). I sat back and waited for my next utility bill. It had gone up to $190!!! I went to Juan's office with the bill, and he concluded that something had to be wrong on Fenosa's end. He came to the house once again and, in ways I don't understand, measured the electricity coming from the pole to my house compared to actual usage. It was a job that took a couple of hours. He recorded his findings and found that there was a problem with Fenosa's transformer outside my house. He told me he had encountered the same issue with another client and successfully had Fenosa rectify it and reimburse the client for past overcharges, although it took several months. So, armed with his findings, he went directly to Fenosa. Miraculously, they met him here that very afternoon and, after some testing of their own, agreed with his findings and made some repairs/changes. The bill I received about three weeks ago was $16.74! I assume a substantial portion of that is reimbursement, but I finally have hope that I've gotten to the bottom of the problem, although it will take me a long time to recover what I've paid over the years.
  21. 2 points
    I would think the 23-25 million dollars Varlea gave to Boquete for the upgrade of the water system and "new sewer system" will cover the entire project. We were told yesterday that the street repairs and piping would be done in six months for the sewer system. I will NOT BANK on that. PVC, glue and fittings are not that expensive, labor is not high hear, equipment is relatively high, engineering that I've seen so far Can Not be that expensive, management of the project will be a serious cost over run if you have watched them dig up streets two times correcting mistakes. The biggest problem I see after completion will be the junction boxes (possibly collapse). I have seen some of them hand made from blocks. I don't understand why they didn't use a manufactured concrete junction boxes (maybe they are now). I'm afraid the 6 inch feeder lines will be problematic down the road, If it is a forced main which I doubt it will be----then it would be okay. It appears the lines have been engineered for down hill gravity flow all the way to South Bajo Boquete. I haven't seen a construction manager anywhere on the job. A forced main will require back pressure valves and grinder pumps at every entry point to the main lines. If grinder pumps are not used the main 6 inch line will be clogged all of the time. I haven't seen one installed yet. If this is a build as you go project (which it appears to be) there are major problems ahead. On a good note, everyone will have a backup Septic Tank.(hopefully)I watched a small city such as Boquete do a entire city upgrade on the sewer. It was actually a new install. Everything was changed. But, they did it in sections in a logical order. Then they would move onto another section. The engineers on the Boquete project or the construction managers missed the boat on planning the construction. The city's businesses were never thought about or they would have managed the project accordingly. Just an observation. I can live with what ever they do. The only complaint I have is the damage to cars undersides and mechanical issues caused by the wacos. Gravel works wonders for holes. They have teased the public with a little gravel but I have YET to see a waco filled and leveled. Such is life in Boquete.
  22. 2 points
    Major General Albert Stubblebine died a few days ago. For several years he and his wife Dr. Rima Laibow were controversial residents of Volcan. They were both extreme conspiracy theorists and felt they were hiding out in the mountains of Panama but in reality they were developing a commune or cult like development on the outskirts of Volcan. General Stubblebine was known for his work in the intelligence division of the army and was in charge of conducting psychic experiments, the most famous of which was training soldiers to stare at goats until their heads exploded. A character ("General Hopgood") in the 2009 film The Men Who Stare at Goats is loosely based on General Stubblebine as head of the project to walk through walls. TRU TV once did a show with Jesse Ventura (ex governor of Minnesota and ex professional wrestler) interviewing Dr. Laibow. The theme was she flew in from her secret hideout in the mountains of Panama to a small undisclosed landing strip in the U.S. where Jesse interviewed her about her plans to develop a utopian community of followers in Panama. The truth is that the residents of Volcan gave the group so much grief they eventually picked up and moved to Peru.
  23. 2 points
    A couple of days ago, everywhere I turned, the road was blocked. I kept going different directions, trying to fine a route out of town. There was none. I felt like I was in Groundhog Day or an episode of The Twilight Zone. Finally a road worker directed me to turn around and go the wrong way on a one-way street to make my escape. Go downtown at your peril. Three more years of this? Ouch!
  24. 2 points
    I don't know about you, but I really would like to see a name associated with this type of announcement/ad. I always like to know with whom I'm dealing before making contact. And, yes, I went to the noted website and, after a few clicks, learned who the founder is. But I don't think the customer should be required to do research. (In case you're wondering, I have no personal interest whatsoever in this.)
  25. 2 points
    People All what we are doing here is SPECULATE. We are not conducting the investigations, we are not part of the investigation so all our opinions here are only that... opinions and speculations. I suggest to wait for what the investigations will reveal. Speculating like all here do, I would say that I found very interesting the comments done by Uncle Dog. Strangulation is a very personal way of killing a person. It is something done close to the victim until it is dead. Usually the robbers or maleantes in Panama do not kill their victims unless the robbery turns bad. They do not take additional care of killing a person and dumping the body somewhere else. They usually leave the body where the robbery occurs and run away from the scene. If it is proved that the poor girl was killed in other place and the body was left on that trail then It is more the kind of crime that the person who commited it would like to hide it as much as possible until he/she dissapear without suspect. It is trying to hide the crime. Could be a person close to the victim in the last 24 hours before was killed. Panamanians serial killers are very rare in this country. In my 57 years in this country I have only heard about two cases. I knew one of them because one uncle I did have was the state assigned attorney of the criminal. A sexual crime? It could be possible a Rape that went bad. What if the criminal was not a local person but another expat? Foreign people tend to not trust a 100% on locals but open too much to other tourist and trust on people of their same country. As I said we have to wait for the investigations results. I do really hope this case be solved quickly and sending the criminals to prison.
  26. 2 points
    OK, point taken. First Grade Drawing - PRICELESS! A first grade girl handed in the drawing below for her homework assignment. The teacher graded it and the child took it home. She returned to school the next day with the following note: Dear Ms. Davis, I want to be perfectly clear on my child's homework illustration. It is NOT of me on a dance pole on a stage in a strip joint surrounded by male customers with money. I work at Home Depot and had commented to my daughter how much money we made in the recent snowstorm. This drawing is of me selling a shovel. Sincerely, Mrs. Harrington
  27. 2 points
    Dr Dru gave me laser treatment to a fractured knuckle I got surfing with my kayak. I was back out in 5 weeks. OK here's the knuckle fracture(s). And the pic of me surfing 5 weeks later. Hand is now 100% normal.
  28. 2 points
    I found very interesting the report's conclusion that countries experiencing high crime rates must take responsibility to improve education, employment, opportunity, and rehabilitation. When we or our friends or neighbors become victims of crime, our understandable reaction is some form of "lock 'em up and throw away the key." This report suggests that Panama needs to do more than that, and I agree. Crime needs to be attacked at its roots: poverty and lack of education/opportunity. In the meantime, the government needs to make concerted efforts to get dangerous criminals off the street while the population at large is saddled with the responsibility to take extraordinary security measures.
  29. 2 points
    Hi BlueBird, Adequate security is relative. Certainly if one lived in a solid steel box that might be adequate, if not practical. Your parents should be safe if they have the money budgeted for several layers of security as was listed in this discussion. Those layers won't help once they leave the house or if they are attacked as they arrive home. The point of the discussion is that if an attack occurs, you will not have 911 response even if they subscribe to one of the expat provided hotlines for help. The police are underfunded, rarely have a functional means of transportation, and the follow up investigation is tedious and most often unproductive. The thugs are under aged kids who by Panamanian law can not be jailed with adults. They are released to a parent or guardian or god father and free to commit another crime. There is a non-current web site of crimes and locations for the Chiriqui area: https://chiriqui.crowdmap.com/main It never got much airtime as it pointed out the actual picture of the activities in Chiriqui and made for bad press with the expat run tourist and retirement activities.
  30. 2 points
    JohnF13, Bleak? Here's a partial list of the crimes committed during 2015. Caldera murder and home invasion – August 2014 Food Box robbery – Volcancito 9 year old kid around Super 99 road in David shooting the shop owner Recent robbery in David at the Do It center Home invasion and attempted murder in Potrerillos Home invasion and injuries by pistol in Potrerillos Robbery in Brisas about a month ago (stole electronic stuff) Robbery in Skateworld about a month ago Robbery of people we know in Gualaca a week ago Attempted break in in Palmira Robbery in Potrerillos – $1000 tools taken from a friend’s house – September Robbery at Handicap Center – September A couple robbed of household belongings and 2 dogs, Boquete Armed robbery of the owners of the Fish House in Jaramillo Centro A couple robbed at gunpoint in Santa Lucia An indigenous guy in Jaramillo – sister in law returning from her job in Boquete and was attacked near Romeros (she later died) Beverly Hills Garden – Los Algarrobos – October – robbery of $1500 from staff and clients Los Algarrobos, Panamanian family theft of jewelry and 2 laptop computers – no one home Add the murder of Joe Petrobenko in 2015 and the attempted murder of Richard Moore just over a year ago. It does not seem like a relatively safe place compared to before the start of 2000. With the removal of Noriega, thugs with guns became commonplace and juveniles are exempt from procecution. Add a population of people with a guaranteed income to an area where the locals might make half that amount per month, factor in the little to no response from the police then adjust for the fact that the criminal investigation system is not effective ("as a retired police officer I was not terribly impressed") and what term would be proper to describe what has happened? A key factor in all these crimes is the mistake that the victims have no real way of determining what the thugs THINK they are going to obtain for loot. Bochinche would have all the gringos owning guns, having safes full of cash, the latest hi tech electronics, expensive jewelry, etc. There is some conjecture that the information gained from some victims' phones has lead the thugs to other victims. Text messaging is a great communication feature but it also makes great reading for the bad guys. Even this forum is good intel for anyone wishing to know when all the gringo houses will be vacant while the owners are attending the latest social event in the area. I can change bleak to mildly disturbing but kids with guns killing people without worrying about consequences is serious.
  31. 2 points
    While we are discussing home invasions and unprovoked attacks, let's not forget about Richard Moore, who was shot without warning by three teenagers in his home in Volcancito. So far as I know, no arrests have been made. There also was a second home invasion robbery in Potrerillos during which the gringo resident was severely injured. If Marcelyn was unfamiliar with this history of violence, as she wrote in response to Penny's post, I feel certain that there are many other people who are similarly "in the dark." These issues need to be kept alive for the benefit of newcomers and to remind all of us of the possibility of such home invasions and the inadequate police response which, as Marion suggests, is likely perpetuate them.
  32. 2 points
    Ladies: did you hear about the woman who put her purse on the back of her chair while eating at a local restaurant? A bad guy stole her purse which contained money, credit cards, and identification papers. Tip #1: in a public place keep your purse in sight at all times. Tip #2: And never leave your purse in your car when you dash into a store for a couple of items. You never know who is watching what you are doing. Tip #3: If you are renting the facility where you are living here in Boquete, did you change the door and window locks? Should have. Tip #4: Watch the closing of your automatic gate to make certain no one is "sneaking" onto your property after your vehicle has entered. Good idea to not exit your car until after the gate is closed. No security program is 100%. We are responsible for our own safety. These are some of my ideas on how to keep safe. Other suggestions?
  33. 2 points
    Bob, welcome to 2017. those two Black guys those two big guys those two strong guys those two frightening guys
  34. 2 points
    Good point, Penny. I can't recall any either, even the murder or Joe Petrobenko in Caldera, the vicious attack on Marion Clamp in Potrerillos that left her hospitalized for weeks, or the aforementioned attack in Coronado. This is something that International Living, Best Places in the World to Retire, and similar publications don't tell you about Panama.
  35. 1 point
    Thanks, John. Actually, I had already thought of that. I have a covered porch and two plugs out there. Do you know what these lights are actually called so when I go to Ivan's or wherever I don't flounder around all day? Jim, you have expressed my sentiments exactly. Every minute that the power is off seems like 30 minutes to me. I guess I'm a wuss.
  36. 1 point
    Cab drivers seem to be the worst. Imagine how fast that car was traveling that impacted the tree.
  37. 1 point
  38. 1 point
    I wasn't being critical necessarily, just musing out loud.
  39. 1 point
    An earthquake of 5.0 magnitude, located 95 km. south of Panama City in the Pacific, has been reported on the U.S. Wardens' WhatsApp. The city got a good shaking; buildings were evacuated. There now is concern about a possible tsunami.
  40. 1 point
    Sure. He was one of the most important fighters of the democracy in Panama back in the times of military dictatorship.
  41. 1 point
    This is the picture of this gentleman that I like the most. Protecting his followers from the "dobermans" of Noriega back in the times of Military Dictatorship in Panama.
  42. 1 point
    Thanks Bill. I'm going to check with them. I have a very old router, and I think it can't handle the streaming TV I'm trying to use.
  43. 1 point
    Bud, should it come to your needing a pickup man, I know one and will be happy to give you his phone number if you'll let me know.
  44. 1 point
    No. The report I found was the US Dept of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Panama. This was from the link Jim and Nena provided. Most recent report on Panama was 2015....at least that I could find. That was where I drew my quotations from.
  45. 1 point
  46. 1 point
    That was in 2013, long before the Caldera checkpoint. Bonnie's correct with her more current information, IMHO of course.
  47. 1 point
    The Specialty Coffee Association of Panama (SCAP) was formed 21 years ago for the purpose of learning how to grow better coffee and help with marketing. From four founders, it has grown to about 40 members and has developed a world reputation for Panama and Boquete as the gold standard for coffee quality. This is an open organization and welcomes all growers of coffee, big and small, new and old, Boqueteno and expat.. Membership is $500 per year and the SCAP office is in the Alto across the street from Centro El Dorado.. SCAP participates in most of the big International coffee shows with a booth and samples. Members are encouraged to help man the booth, hand out samples and talk to buyers. For more information contact the SCAP President, Wilford Lamastus (wlamastusb@gmail.com) or Rachel Peterson (rachel@haciendaesmeralda.com) . Among its activities is the annual cupping competition/evaluation which generally occurs in May. All the farmers submit a lot of at least 150 lbs of green coffee. Samples are taken, coded and enter the competition of blind cupping. All the samples are first cupped/screened by a national jury which is followed by three days of intensive cupping by the International Jury of Judges. There are opportunities for growers to talk with both national and international jurors to learn what might be done to improve their coffees. Finally, there is the big gala dinner on Saturday night where winners are announced and bragging rights established until the next year. I would urge all the newer growers, hobby or not, to participate. This event originated as a learning activity for the growers and remains that today. The only risk involved is…. not winning! Regards, Price Peterson
  48. 1 point
    Our bill was exactly the same as last year's bill .
  49. 1 point
    ..and in typical fashion, sloppy work - see the bend below consists of straight segments welded together at an angle. It may hold if it's a non pressurized sewage line, buy WHY WHY WHY not use the correct 22.5 or 45 degree bend?
  50. 1 point
    I am incredulous. Doesn't anyone submit plans before getting a $25 million contract??