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Jim Bondoux

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Jim Bondoux last won the day on November 17 2018

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About Jim Bondoux

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  • Full Real Name:
    Jim Bondoux
  • Reason for registering:
    Live and/or work in Chiriqui
  • Location of primary residence:
    In Chiriqui
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  1. Jim Bondoux

    Mexico Dry Canal

    Makes good sense sense from an international shipping viewpoint, but the concept is only about 150 years old, and yet no real "land bridge" is in place. A big infrastructure project with highway, railway (beefier than the present inadequate line), and pipeline, plus port expansion sounds awfully good - but I wonder how they will obtain the support of the local indigenous folks, and how they will protect the cargoes from criminal attacks. Until those questions are answered, I am betting the thing will remain a white elephant. Cruisers know about the dread "T-peckers" (make the summer winds in Alto Boquete seem like gentle breezes), but that's a topic for another day.
  2. No inside info here. I just note that COPA has built their success on the model developed many years ago by Southwest Airlines, i.e. hub & spoke route map and focus on one aircraft model (i.e. Boeing 737 variants, give them a pass for the few Embraers in the fleet). I have flown into Tocumen on COPA from Santiago, Aruba, Bridgetown, Las Vegas, Denver, Los Angeles, Mexico City, and a couple of other places that slip my memory, and I am amazed at how few of my fellow passengers show up at immigration - the overwhelming majority are connecting to some other flight. I now watch when they pass out the Panama customs forms on board - hardly anyone takes one to fill out. That is the source of my sense that Panama is taking the Americas passenger hub business away from Miami. I don't think Panama's geographic position (on the same meridian as Miami) gives it the same potential for European destinations. As to the full recline seats, they don't exist in a Southwest-type model - no long-range non-stop flights - just hopscotching along, not unlike a bus route. If I had inside info of any kind it would be illegal for me to share it... my comments are just based on my observations as a traveler.
  3. Everyone seems to have a collection of air travel disaster anecdotes to share, so I won't burden this note with my most recent misadventure. What I do wish to pass along is a sense that the golden days of COPA Airlines are presently likely to be behind us. I have enjoyed COPA's service, which is easily superior to that of most US -based airlines I have made use of in the past. But the company's new headlong rush into the future is diluting its competitive strengths. COPA has nearly 60 new jets on order, compared to its base of just under 100. The company announces new routes and destinations with regularity. To this observer, the challenges in recruitment, training, and infrastructure of such a high growth rate signal major trouble ahead. To which must be added the inevitable teething problems when the new Tocumen terminal finally opens. A commercial airline is an incredibly complex system, and is vulnerable to disastrous events when a simple link fails. Panama City is challenging Miami as the hub for The Americas, and COPA's day has dawned. The temptation to make the most of the opportunity is difficult to resist, and the company has succumbed. The price will be a decline in the quality of customer experience. The stock (listed on the New York Exchange) has had a nice run, but has dropped from its high last January at 135 to today's 76. The consensus of opinion expressed in the stock market is trending downward, but that rarely causes management or the Board to alter their strategic plan. I expect to have more frequent negative experiences in the future when traveling with COPA.
  4. I didn't think it was just sour grapes when I was told that my previous employer stated that the canal job couldn't be done for less than the $4.8 billion it had bid. The winning bid of $3.1 billion was met with derision at the time. Now I read that we are at $5 billion or so...
  5. Jim Bondoux

    Yes or No

    Just as Panama and Boquete continue to change and evolve, so does the environment everywhere else. "Going back to the USA and to family" isn't really in the cards, since both have changed since one' last experience with them. And also, so have you. "No man ever steps into the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man"... It might be a really good idea to explore what a "return" might be like before committing, just as it was when coming to Boquete...
  6. Thank you. But if your mailing address registered with SSA is in the US, then you are not on the foreign mailing list, which was the thrust of my question.
  7. I am curious if anyone has yet received their new Medicare card via mail to the Boquete Post Office. The mailing to US addresses is nearly complete, and I imagine Medicare left foreign mailing addresses for last. All Medicare enrollees are being assigned a Medicare number, which will replace the Social Security number used up until now as Medicare ID. Deadline is April 2019.
  8. A month has elapsed since the announcement, and the Calle F road to the airport is still definitely two-way, except that the traffic signal halfway down toward the former police barracks is dark. Re-reading the announcement clarifies that they stated that the work on changing signage and signals was starting, rather than the immediate conversion to one-way traffic. BTW, there is an almost complete sign on the corner building that has been under construction forever - it identifies the structure as the "Hotel City Plaz"... with space left for the missing "a" as of yesterday. Seems like quite a long time to get the signals changed... must be fiestas patrias month...
  9. As a counter-example, I consider the construction of the initial Hong Kong subway to be a model. A 16-kilometer new underground metro was approved in 1972, but construction did not start until almost four years later - and the project came in ahead of schedule and under budget. This, in one of the densest rural environments one can imagine. The secret: they didn't turn a shovel until every last engineering drawing had been completed, including not only right-of-way, but also design of the railcars, station equipment, fare collection systems and linkages between sub-projects. Everything was put up for bid and committed in advance, including logistics of delivery. A marvel of project management. Of course the British Colonial government was fairly authoritarian when it came to matters of eminent domain and squawking by the affected merchants...
  10. I spent 12 years of my working career immersed in the world of engineering/construction contracts. Negotiating incentive/penalty provisions such as you suggest is part of almost every deal. My guess is that the contract negotiating skills on the government side are as scarce as the project management skills are on the contractor side. These are shark-infested waters, and the turnover in Panamanian administrations caused by the political pendulum almost guarantees that the government will be at a perpetual disadvantage.
  11. Powerful side-to-side shake in Lucero
  12. How did Mackinac Island get to Canada? Maybe it's one of those floating islands that might tip over at any time.....
  13. The Chiriqui Chamber of Commerce is warning businesses about the distribution of counterfeit one-dollar bills (yes, just singles - victims less likely to take the trouble to file complaint over small losses) https://www.tvn-2.com/nacionales/provincias/Comerciantes-alertan-introduccion-billetes-Chiriqui_0_5147485289.html
  14. FWIW - yesterday morning we ran errands in town between 8:30am and 10:00am, and once past the detour mess to enter, it became the most convenient we've ever experienced. We passed Romero and noticed two vacant parking spaces under the canopy, not counting the handicap space; we parked directly in front of the door at Melo; we were the only car parked on the block in front of eShop; we were the only customers at Revilla, ditto at Whole Foods; We parked directly in front of the door at Mailboxes, ditto Burbuja and the pet shop (ours was the only car on the entire block); ours was one of two cars in front of Super Baru; final stop was Organica, parked right in front. And yes, it was a bit messy getting back out, but it turned out to be an extremely efficient run: easy parking, fast service everywhere.