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Everything posted by Marion

  1. Several year ago I had problems with PriceSmart getting answers for something I had ordered online which didn't come and didn't come and didn't come. I ended up calling their Corporate Office in San Diego. It took some perseverance to get to the right person but I eventually asked "Why the Delay/What is Their Solution/When I Would Receive the Item." I took the lady's name and said I would keep calling until I received what I had ordered. It worked, I picked up the item in PriceSmart the following week. Can't remember the lady's name but the phone number for the Corporate Office is 858-404-8800. It might be worth giving them a call to keep those doggies happy.The Corporate Office is open 8 AM to 5 PM Monday through Friday Pacific Daylight Time.
  2. Even though I no longer live in Panama -- oh Dr. Dru, I was so sad to hear of your passing. You were a special man. Dr. Dru helped me so much when my husband passed away. Wakana, my deep, deep condolences. My love, my tears and my respect are sent to you. And Gaia, she is beautiful, I know how proud Dr. Dru was when she was born -- and she looks so much like him. My thoughts and my love are with you.
  3. I am so, so very sorry to read this. Dr. Dru was a lovely man. My heart and my thoughts are with Jasmine and their daughter.
  4. Beautiful video -- southern stingrays, my favorite wonderful spotted drums, lobster, French Angelfish, trunk fish, white tip reef sharks, butterfly fish, green morays -- but also Lion Fish!! Is there an active program to kill lion fish on the Caribbean side of Panama to keep them under control? In the Yucatan where I now live there are many groups who go spearfishing for lion fish -- they are served in some of the best restaurants and are delicious. I am so happy to see that happening here as they are predators who will pray on every type of fish and slowly kill off all endemic species. Wonderful video but seeing that the lion fish had made it so far south made me sad.
  5. Make that "Punto de Encuentro", which means "Meeting Point" in Spanish.
  6. I am so sorry for your loss Jeanie. My thoughts and my heart are with you. My Love, Marion
  7. Hola Dan, There's also another site, Matrix, which compares fares offered by different airlines. You can't book direct on this site but it gives you price comparisons and the airline name so you can go direct to the airline website, find that fare and book. It's http://matrix.itasoftware.com/ I've used it a lot. I just got a $99 fare from Cancun to Houston direct. Saludos
  8. Good for her but I hope she follows through to have the laws changed so that minors (those under 18) can be prosecuted in serious/lethal crime cases. She was gung-ho on having the law changed after my "incident", probably because my home was only two minutes walk away from her parents' house. Enrique Athenasiadas has the finances to hire armed guards to protect his house, himself and his family 24/7. Perhaps her voiced intentions to have the laws changed regarding prosecution of minors was a knee jerk reaction to the fact that the attack happened so close to her parents' home and over time has become less urgent, given the armed protection her parents enjoy. I hope Athenas continues to push for changes in the laws regarding minors (for everybody's protection), as she promised she would 2-1/2 years ago.
  9. Hi Keith, great to hear a "minor" has actually been prosecuted -- this is progress indeed. Thank you so much for your post. I AM doing well (in between another emergency surgery and multiple and continuing doctor visits), but after 21 months here in the Yucatan with my wonderful daughter I am returning home to the UK. 20+ years in the US, 16 in Panama and 2 in Mexico -- it's time to go home. Of course I HAD to go see Mark, Gary and Shelly -- and they will take the ferry over to visit me here -- Gary fell in love with the arrachera at a local restaurant I took him and Shelly to so naturally Mark wants to try it out. Best to you and to the beautiful Jillian. Stay well, stay happy. Abrazos.
  10. I was so happy to read this. Good for the Policia on duty in Potrerillos!! Their proactive response came a couple of years too late in my case but I have no doubt that, on this occasion, somebody's life has been saved. Hopefully the Police will make much more progress in the fight to eliminate the gangs of underage (as in too young to be prosecuted) teenage members and are able to find and prosecute the gang leaders who recruit them -- and ultimately the legal system will sentence them -- maybe.....
  11. Rodny, Though I am no longer in Panama, I did live in Potrerillos for 16 years. You have been and continue to be one of the greatest treasures of Panama. Gracias por todo lo que haces. Eres un joven especial. Saludos, Marion (Con Abrazos y Besos)
  12. In the UK large supermarkets and retail stores charge 5p for each plastic bag you want – if you buy a week’s worth of groceries the 5p’s can mount up. It’s a great incentive to take your own shopping bags (as my mother did when I was small, as I did when I grew and as I do now). Smaller businesses can charge on a voluntary basis. The 5p is not a government tax and does not go into the government coffers but the government does expect retailers to give the proceeds to good causes – it is for the individual businesses to choose what to do and which causes to support. I’m sure if, worldwide, charges were levied for plastic bags we’d see a sharp decline in their usage.
  13. Nice one -- hadn't seen this before -- Thanks John.
  14. It would be great if more airlines initiated a scheme similar to British Airways' "Flying Start". If you are on a BA flight, travelers are encouraged to donate their loose foreign change. There are envelopes provided in the seat back pockets of international flights, or you can give directly to the in-flight crew. Money collected from travelers has raised over 5.8 million pounds in three years to help disadvantaged children in the UK and in some of the world's poorest countries. Nice to think that coins which would probably be tossed in a drawer once you reached home can do so much good.
  15. Thanks for your good wishes and yes, I feel much safer here in Playa. I'm in touch with the people and lawyer pursuing this and they will have all of the paperwork they need from me. I plan to help in any way I can. The money for the missing items isn't the reason I am pursuing this, the important thing is to put a stop to unscrupulous business practices so nobody else is hurt by the loss of sentimental possessions that, for one reason or another, they have been forced to give up or leave behind. Items (memories) which were entrusted to a person who broke that trust purely for monetary gain.
  16. Thanks for your support Keith. The main thing is that they are stopped and cannot hurt anyone else.
  17. Many of you will know me as a 15 year resident of Panama, some may be aware of my story. If you aren’t, I will briefly explain. I was a victim of a home invasion in October 2015, and I was stabbed and shot twice. I spent nearly three months in Centro Medico Mae Lewis fighting for my life. Once the doctors told me I could travel, my daughter brought me to Mexico where she could take care of me. Unfortunately, I could take very little with me, therefore, anything that could not fit in three suitcases was either left with the house when it was sold, or taken to a local Boquete consignment store in May 2016. We made three trips to the consignment store, the trunk and back of the car filled each time with unique and expensive items, collected with my husband – memories of our 40 years of marriage which I had no option but to let go. Pieces entrusted to the owner of the consignment enterprise included Lladro, Lalique, Royal Doulton , Nao, framed artwork, crystal etc. I have received a “listing” of the items sold from the owner of the consignment store which is lacking in detail and extremely unprofessional. So far I have received a partial deposit for items sold, she says another deposit is forthcoming – but even if this is received, the total amount is miniscule. The items she has listed as having been sold and the photos she sent me of the items she still has, account for only a fraction of the pieces left with her. I have asked several times but she either cannot or will not account for the missing items. Obviously, I have become a victim of her nefarious business practices -- as have many others. I strongly urge everyone who has left items on consignment and who has not received payment, the return of the items or has a complaint or issue with this Boquete consignment business, to attend the Special Town Meeting, to be held at Skateworld, tomorrow Saturday, 8th July at 1:00 pm. A local attorney and representatives from the Prosecutors Office will be there to take reports and hear grievances.
  18. No, I didn't confuse you with Keith, Bud -- I just took the liberty of saying hi to Keith and Jillian in the same post since he started it (a no-no, sorry, I confused things somewhat -- but the last year or so has been "sort of" a confusing time for me )
  19. I like the "Future Organ Donor" definition of FOD -- anyone who ever worked for an airline would know that FOD is an acronym for "Foreign Object Debris". Both of our definitions are appropriate as the end result would be the same. Hope life continues to be kind to you and Gillian.
  20. Apologies Penny, you asked for info from vendors -- obviously I'm not a vendor but who doesn't know Sylvette at 2.16. Think her stall is called Quilting as Art. Quilter extraordinariamente artístico!! Lovely, lovely lady (and wonderful friend). Hope all is well with you. Saludos desde Mexico.
  21. 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.
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