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  1. Marcelyn and I scheduled a meeting between ourselves and the Boquete Police, Captain Roberto Espinoza. That meeting was held on Tuesday, January 24th, 2017 at Puente de Encuentro (aka Olga's) here in Boquete (behind the Dollar Store). The purpose for the meeting was to familiarize Captain Espinoza with CL, and other services that we may be able to offer him and his colleagues, and to get to know him better and publish that information to CL members. Given that my Spanish skills are not good, we invited a good friend -- Mitzi Clare Nash -- who is a licensed translator to join us for the breakfast meeting. Besides an excellent breakfast, courtesy of Olga, we had a very good conversation that lasted a bit short of one hour. What follows are the salient points that were discussed. First, a bit of background about Captain Espinoza. He was assigned to the Boquete office in December 2016. He is originally from Boquete, and so he knows the area very well. He soon will be achieving 30 years of police service. He could retire later this year, but no firm decision has been made at this juncture. We found Captain Espinoza to be an excellent listener and logical thinker. He was easy to approach, and always very professional, with a huge smile on his face most of the time, unless deep in thought. Boquete has 20 assigned officers. Ten of those officers are on duty at any time, and the other ten are resting and on standby in case of an emergency. They have only one (yes 1) vehicle, which is a Toyota HiLux truck. The truck on average gets about 5,000 kilometers every two weeks, and so service for the vehicle is a big issue, referring to the routine changing of oil and filters, etc. The current truck already has over 100,000 KM on it, and so there is no more factory warranty coverage. All parts and maintenance costs are strictly on the police department. Of the 20 officers for the Boquete office, Officer Pedro Guerra is the only one who is fluent in English. If you are competent in Spanish, or have access to either Rodny Direct or Alto Al Crimen resources, then there should be no language problem while calling for police assistance. Otherwise, look around for a neighbor or friend to help when you need to contact the police. When asked what the residents can do to help him, Captain Espinoza immediately responded without hesitation: anytime there is a crime type incident, it is very important to report it to the police, and if appropriate to make a denuncia (a sworn statement of an alleged crime), and then work with and coordinate followup reports with the Personaria (think of that as a local "district attorney"). Without the reports of every crime, it would be reasonable to expect two downsides: (a) the size of the Boquete police force might be reduced, and more importantly (b) if the police recover goods believed to be stolen but have no report to link the goods back to the rightful owner, then two undesirable outcomes are likely, first would be that the goods are not documented as stolen and so it is possible that the bad guy(s) could go free as there is no documented crime, and also you probably will never recover your stolen goods. We don't think you would like those outcomes. You need to be aware that Panama changed its legal accusatory system in the recent past. All of the laws and regulations about how someone gets officially charged with a crime have changed. There have been a few twists in how things work. One twist is that once the police believe they have the criminal in front of them for questioning, they are restricted as to what they can say or do. One example is that the police cannot take a picture of that person. All of these procedural rules were designed so as to protect the rights of an accused person. One violation of those rights (such as taking even one picture of the accused), even if unintentional, will most likely result in invalidating all of the evidence that would be used in a legal proceeding. It is not our purpose here to educate our readers about the new accusatory system, but you need to be aware of it, and that it might adversely affect the outcome of an incident that you are involved in. There are two issues that Captain Espinoza has very high on his list, hopefully to be achieved in the near future. First is the maintenance issue for their one truck. While it is in for service, they have no backup vehicle(s). By the way, we learned that the routine maintenance on their one truck is done (we believe he said without charge for labor) by Quick Fix, which is located across from Plaza Los Establos. (On the matter of maintenance parts and supplies, he did not solicit donations, but it sounded like if someone wanted to donate funds or the actual parts for the truck's routine maintenance that such a donation would be appreciated.) The second important goal is that of getting a better security facility at the Caldera bypass intersection on the David-Boquete highway. This really means two separate but related items. One is a barrier/entrance gate on the Caldera bypass road. And the second is the need for a "pull off shoulder" for vehicles to be removed from the main traffic lanes for additional inspection. Apparently the mayor of Boquete has to approve these items through the construction permit process, and so the police department is putting energy into getting the security gate and the bypass shoulder planned, designed, funded, approved, and constructed. The last area that we talked about was communications between the police and the residents. Captain Espinoza emphasized two items here: (a) use of the WhatsApp capability of mobile devices, and (b) the Vecinos Vigilantes program, which is known by gringos as Neighborhood Watch. Here are some pictures of Captain Roberto Espinoza, and Mitzi Clare Nash (our translator friend).
  2. The November 28 Parade in Boquete, celebrating independence from Spain in 1821, is the largest is Panama. Virtually every school is represented. President Juan Carlos Varela was on hand to review the schools, along with many enthusiastic Panamanians. See the pictures here. As expected, around noon the rain started and continued off and on for the afternoon. Far from ruining the parade, the crowd became one with the performers, as "We are all in this together." The atmosphere on the street under the umbrellas was like a giant living room with everyone having a good time as one big family. It was quite unlike any parade I have experienced in the eight years of shooting this parade. The tolerance, respect, admiration and good manners they express to one another is extrarodinary. Anyone who wants to understand and become part of Panamanian culture should be open to participating in and appreciating their cultural events. For what it's worth, this entire event was shot with an iPhone. Mark Heyer
  3. Hi we live in the Boquete area part-time and would love to purchase a midsize used recent model SUV. Which one(s) the best for driving around in the David/Boquete area? Also needed for hauling stuff and for hauling 4-5 people comfortably... Should we purchase in Panama or in the US and ship it over? Any warnings/ideas/kudos/issues, etc. we should know about? Any suggestions or tips are greatly appreciated! Thank you! D & L
  4. Popular trip back to Medellin in December with Danny Panama Travels Come with Danny Panama Travels and visit Medellin in December. We depart Dec 1 and return Dec 5 for a fun filled excursion to the city filled with millions of holiday lights and much, much more. Our trip was so popular in 2015 that we needed to add another week. Go to our website and check us out...http://www.dannypanamatravels.com
  5. https://mebeinpanama.wordpress.com/
  6. News Boquete - What It Is and How to Subscribe News Boquete is a free community news service. Anyone with a valid email address can ask to have their name added to the subscriber database at no cost. To request that you be added to the subscriber database, please send an email to news.boquete@gmail.com and include your first and last name. The full name is important for the subscription to be processed. News.Boquete and Chiriqui.Life are two separate communications channels, each with its own management. Both News.Boquete and Chiriqui.Life work closely together, but again totally separate. Note that emails that are distributed via News.Boquete are also archived in a dedicated forum here on CL for archival research purposes.
  7. A few days ago we had a really special sunset in Boquete, which several people photographed and shared. It happens that on that same day, I set up my time lapse camera on the deck and, well, gee whiz! Watch till the sunset. Notice how the jungle looks like it is on fire - and it is - burning off water vapor into the streamers of clouds that we see so often downwind of Baru.
  8. ¡Hola, mi amigos! Although I prefer the format of the Ning forum platform over this Invision Community Software platform, now that I stop by every day, I am beginning to realize that the content here is much more relevant for me as a "settled in" expat who loves living here. Plus, a lot of my friends hang out there Although I still occasionally visit to read and post at Boquete.ning, that community forum website is a shadow of it's former self without a strong sense of connection to the core expat community of Boquete. I am aware that many of you here were summarily excluded from ning, and the forums there now represents only a fraction of the community compared to the past. Indeed, the forum there would be pretty dead without admin postings of new discussions, many of which are not even related to the community. However, it does have a lot of informational content and links, and the word "Boquete" in the name will probably attract a number of people looking up Boquete for the first time. I look forward to contributing and participating more at Chiriqui Life.
  9. Volunteering. In some ways, it's a tricky business. Just like a paying job, a volunteer needs to balance what they give with what is given back to them. If it isn't a good fit for some reason, then you start making excuses not to go. You're late one day, and then the following week you don't show up at all. What do the experts say about volunteering? I read a bunch of articles and took away four gems. To volunteer, find your passion, your talent, and go from there. The good folks at Amigos de Animales have been working with volunteers for a long time and most people I talk to say good things about them: their mission (spaying and neutering dogs and cats), their commitment (over 10,000 spayed so far and counting) and their attitude toward their volunteers (they think volunteers walk on water.) Alicia McGuigan, the Co-president and Director of Volunteers for Amigos de Animales, told me that her philosophy of providing good volunteer services is to: "Give a person a job that suits them and say Thank you." Ruby McKenzie, one of the founders of Amigos de Animales, noted: "Our volunteers are given options as to where they would like to work and if that is not working, we move them into other areas that might be more appealing. We put new people with people who know what they're doing. We don't let them feel neglected or confused." Sounds like a no brainer, but often agencies are so immersed in what their needs are that they forget about the volunteers who need to meet those needs and what they need. Because when looking at volunteers, you've got your techies/logical/practical types vs. your creative/pull a trick out of the hat types, or your extrovert vs. your introvert." A chatty people-person stuck in a small room using the copy machine is not going to stick around a long time. Find something that fits your talents and your personality. Then as you give, you're giving truly of yourself. Make sure the agency gives you training and then follows up to help you be successful. Alicia said that training is essential for their organization. They offer formal classes and then pair new volunteers with experienced ones so the newbies learn how to do things correctly. For Amigos de Animales, it is especially important because they don't want animals or volunteers getting hurt because they don't know they are doing, but all agencies that use volunteers should offer some sort of an inservice on their mission and how they will use your talents to accomplish it. Every organization has its own culture and value system, as well as its own way of doing things, and without training, there will be problems. I've seen agencies throw volunteers into complete chaos, and then complain when the volunteers contribute to, as oppose to minimize, the bedlam. Speak up, and do so with respect and consideration. "We are all wonderful, beautiful wrecks. That's what connects us--that we're all broken, all beautifully imperfect.” Emilio Estevez There is just no way that you can volunteer, or frankly do anything in life involving other people, without misunderstandings or hurt feelings. Because we're beautiful wrecks. "Everyone has gifts. Everyone has quirks. Our job is to give practical ideas how how to handle tricky situations, " Alicia points out. When someone's quirks, or maybe your own quirks, cause problems for you, speak up. An agency won't know there is a problem if you don't tell them. Keeping your mouth shut just hurts everybody, but most of all it hurts you and those you want to help. If the agency blows you off, that tells you something. But if they address the problem, and the outcome is not what you wanted, know that just because it isn't your solution doesn't mean it isn't a good solution under the circumstances. Just say something. Work with people who appreciate you. "Volunteers come for 4-8 hours," Ruby of Animales told me."They are fed and watered and appreciated for the work they do." This makes sense from a volunteer appreciation perspective and also from a practical viewpoint. No one wants a volunteer with low blood sugar dealing with scared or angry animals. But any agency should provide tangible proof that they appreciate what their volunteers do for them. Because it's not what you say, it's what you do. Animales shows appreciation and respect for their volunteers through a gala every year. They host a big thank you party with food and drink for all. A fuss is made over those lovely volunteers, all who get an "Animal Lover" pin. I know of other agencies who make a big fuss, and it makes a big difference. Parties celebrate us and what we do, and what is more cause to celebrate than humans giving of their time and talents and doing wondrous things with them? It doesn't have to be expensive, it just has to be done with love and thoughtfulness. It just has to say to volunteers: "Damn you're good. And we know it. And we thank you."
  10. Located tucked a little away from the main road in its own private forest, this unique 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom offering, available for 1 year lease, has a kitchen/living room with great potential, the hookups for a full laundry facility, and closet units in every bedroom, not to mention an 800+ square foot deck, mostly covered perfect for entertaining that steps down into a tranquil yard within earshot of a seasonal stream!For more information or to organize a showing email connerc@gmx.com or whatsapp (507)67243084
  11. DR. MARIA RUIZ CEO of Special Projects, Casa Ruiz, S.A. Dr. Maria Ruiz has more than 30 years of experience working in the Panamanian coffee industry, including growing, green processing, roasting, tasting, and product development. She has participated in many activities at a national level as a representative of the private sector. She has also represented Panama in international forums such as the Specialty Coffee Association of America, Specialty Coffee Association of Japan, and the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe. Currently she is the CEO of special projects with Casa Ruiz, S.A., in Boquete, Panama.
  12. Colibri Restaurant, Something for Every Palate I have a confession. I don't invite vegan friends over for dinner. They're nice, friendly folks, but what the heck do I feed them? It's intimidating. I'm not what you would call an inspired cook to begin with and all I feel safe feeding a vegan is veggies, beans, and quinoa. That's boring. I've looked in the vegan section of a cookbook but I don't even know what seitan makhani or aloo matar is, much less be able to make it. Although matar in Spanish means kill, a bad cooking omen. Which is why I was so excited when the new restaurant Colibri opened in what was formerly Mango's at Isla Verde and advertised that they specialized in vegan and vegetarian dishes. I could invite my picky vegan friends out to eat, and Colibri would know what to do with them. They also have pork, chicken, beef and fish dishes for those of us who like more variety in our food. The owners of Colibri are Carolina Saldarriaga from Colombia and Daniele Levorato from Italy. They are both business and love/life partners; and this is their first restaurant, although Daniele has had previous restaurant experience. What I love about them is that they are welcoming and friendly, and sincerely want to make your dining experience with them a good one. Their chef is Chris Young, formerly of Valle Escondido, who has an excellent reputation in town. The Colibri decor is minimal yet comfortable. Like the old Mango's, there is a lot of light and open space. "Boquete is a lovely place and a great opportunity," says Carolina when asked why they chose Boquete. "It's about bringing something new here with a constantly changing menu and lots of specials." So what exactly is new about Colibri? Well,the large array of vegan and vegetarian options for one. And their menu is creative and diverse. Their passion is to use fresh, local produce, fish, and other markets to produce a unique dining experience. For instance, ceviche is a well known local dish, but add passion fruit to it and it makes it ever so exotic. Arepa is a Colombian/Venezuelan specialty but when you turn it into a beef slider (a la White Castle from the mid-west) you've developed a creative combination. Check their menu out at their website: http://www.restaurantecolibri.com/. I've been to Colibri to eat twice now and both times the food was delectable. The first time I went with my husband for dinner. He had amber jack fish on rice paired with a pineapple sauce. He loved it. I had Pad Thai with beef- Carolina warned me it was spicy, but I like my food hot, so for me it was perfectly seasoned. I did think that $17.00 for beef Pad Thai was pricey. The second time I went for lunch with a friend, who is a vegetarian. She was thinking about the coffee bisque soup, and wanted to know if it was vegetarian. Daniele went back to the kitchen to ask and reported it had chicken stock in it, so my friend went with the roasted tomato basil soup, which she really enjoyed. I liked that Daniele checked on the soup's ingredients with a "no problem" attitude and reported right back to us. It is that kind of service that is much appreciated, especially here in Panama. My friend also requested a side order of coconut roasted potatoes which technically was a side to the falafels, but once again, it wasn't a problem. I had the Thai Marinated Beef Tenderloin Salad. The beef was tender, nicely spiced, and the salad was perfectly done. Their Crème Brulée is to die for. When we asked for our check, I mentioned that we were Jubliados and was told that the jubliado discount applies only to the five main courses listed on the menu. Sure enough, there in fine print it says so at the bottom of the menu. I asked Carolina why they chose to do this, and she said it was to keep their prices down. But, in my opinion, their prices are on the high side. Many of you will no doubt think that I am making "much ado about nothing" but it will be my small personal act of a rebellion to order only those items which offer the discount. But I digress. If you want delicious, interesting and creative food with great service, owners who aim to please, and a locally renowned chef, Colibri is the place to go. And you'll never have to worry about what to feed a vegan again.
  13. Volunteers in Boquete I remember as a young child (first or second grade), I got into a fight with a friend. As my mom held and comforted me, she gave me a good piece of advice for life: "You know, honey, if you want your friends to be nice to you, you have to be nice to your friends." Several months ago, I volunteered for a project with an organization, was told repeatedly that I was doing a wonderful job, and then I was fired. Abruptly. No warning. No explanation. No thank you for the work I had done. When I wrote to say how destructive this action had been to me, this organization let me know what they thought of me. Nothing. I was never dignified with a response. When I told others about my experience, I was saddened to learn that although there are some organizations here in Boquete who treat their volunteers like the gods and goddesses they are, many don't. Here are some examples of other volunteers who have had bad experiences. "I kept showing up and they weren't organized so I sat around doing nothing and waited for them to get their stuff together. My time is valuable- but not to them." "I love what they do. But they don't treat their people well. Maybe it's a power thing. They feel like they don't need to be nice since they have a lot of volunteers, so they're not." "They didn't train me and frankly the job they gave me was a bad fit for me. They called me on the carpet and told me I wasn't trying hard enough. I was humiliated." "I told them about a serious problem I was having with another volunteer and they just ignored me." This list could go on and on. But I'll stop here. Do your own experiment. Ask people who have volunteered how they were treated, and I guarantee that in addition to hearing good experiences, you too will get horror stories from hurt/angry folks. It ain't pretty. When we first came to Panama 13 years ago, there really weren't any volunteer agencies except for fund-raising organizations like the 20-30 charity. As Boquete residents saw so many needs in the community, grass roots efforts began to grow. Soon, animals were being neutered and hungry were people being fed. As needs were recognized, volunteer organizations began to grow. I'm amazed and awed by their dedication and service. But I am also really saddened by the stories I hear of how many volunteers are being treated. Some may argue that these volunteers (including me) should have stuck around and tried to make things better. Somebody told me to develop a thicker skin. But if you want to volunteer to make things better in Chiriqui, there are organizations that help the handicapped, give us great jazz and blues, knit baby blankets, provide care for the sick and dying, help stop crime, lead us toward God, sterilize or rescue animals, feed hungry folk, and share their love of nature, the arts, and photography. What it boils down to is that if these organizations want to keep their friends, they need to be nice to their friends. All the people quoted above quit volunteering at the agencies who treated them poorly and moved on to other volunteer opportunities. Why stay friends with someone who isn't nice to you? Folks who volunteer do so because they like the social interaction, they like the feeling that giving to others gives back to them, they like the satisfaction of seeing their good works come to fruition in all sorts of ways: people dancing to good jazz, a once abused dog finding a good home, a dying patient finding solace at the end of their life, or a new born baby all cuddly and warm in a hand-knitted blanket. Those agencies who cultivate and keep their volunteers happy are those who thank them and then thank them again- verbally, in writing, in their newsletters, with certificates or other tokens of affection and with parties. Parties are a huge way of saying thanks: these celebrations encourage their volunteers to eat drink and be merry, have fun with all these other folk who are as wonderful as you are for giving so much. Volunteers also like to hear how they've made a difference. Not just in statistics, but in individual stories of the positive ways they have impacted the community. But the most important thing is for a volunteer is to feel that his/her specific gifts are being used and are being appreciated. That their time and talents are valuable to and respected by the cause that they are giving their blood sweat and tears to. That when there is a problem (and as long as there are people, there are problems), that they will be listened to and some kind of action will be taken- even if it isn't what they necessarily envisioned it to be. That the friends that they have been nice to are being nice back to them. My next blog will highlight an agency in town who has a reputation for doing superb work and treating their volunteers well. Amigos de Animales.
  14. This cute casita in Alto Boquete, available now for a 1 year lease at $460 per month has 2 bedrooms, hot water, and new appliances. Not only is it in a nice neighbourhood, and tucked beind another home (good for security) but it also comes fully furnished with a covered parking spot. Cable, Internet (wifi) electricity and water are included! For more information, pictures, or to organize a showning, whatsapp (507) 6724-3084 or email connerc@gmx.com
  15. This 2 bedroom casita, located close to town in Alto Boquete is secure, convenient, and has some appealing features including gas hot water, cable onda internet and cable (included), proximity to stores and public transportation and a covered parking space (great for the upcoming rainy season).Available for one year lease, this home will not last long so please contact Conner Craig via whatsapp at (507) 67243084 or email at connerc@gmx.com for more information, pictures or to organize a showing
  16. Offered at $800 per month, with cable, internet, water, and 20$ worth of electricity credit paid, this tatseful 3 bedroom home in volcancito is not only close to town, but also fully furnished with luxurious features such as granite countertops, new appliances and 2 spacious bathrooms.The lower Volcancito area has a lovely climate and is known for being quiet and tranquil and this home is no exception! For more information or to organize a visitemail connerc@gmx.com or whatsapp (507) 67243084
  17. I started writing blogs for Chiriqui.life after another creative outlet in my life was abruptly closed to me. Bud and Marcelyn had started "a free online community information forum for the exchange of ideas, the posing of questions, and the sharing of local information." What the hell, I thought, I've written on and off throughout my life, most recently for the Bajareque Times. I could start a blog. Share my wealth of knowledge (heeheeheehee). It has been a pretty good fit for me. Bud and Marcelyn are incredibly supportive and encouraging, and correct all my tech problems for me. I like to write, and I like it when people comment on my stuff. I even like it when they disagree with me because people on Chiriqui.life disagree in a nice, thoughtful manner. What I am struggling with now is what blogs would be of interest to my readers. I imagine that most of my readers are from Boquete; or are people who are thinking of either moving to/ or visiting Boquete. I'd like to know what you are interested in. Restaurant reviews, the culture, the people/community who live here, what it is like living in a small Latin town, what to do, interviews with local folks, or tours/stuff to do that isn't posted on Trip Advisor. Better yet, I would love ideas for blogs that I haven't thought of, or wouldn't have thought of if you hadn't steered me in the right direction. Help me out here. I am no investigative reporter-- not a "scoop" kind of gal. But if there is something you want to know that would appeal to most of my other readers, please leave me your ideas in the comment section. I would be ever so much appreciative.
  18. https://booksr4reading.wordpress.com/2016/03/10/a-business-opportunity/ As everyone knows, I’ve been trying to sell the BookMark for a number of years now. To recap, $25,000 for 35K(+/-) books, shelving, furniture, and the goodwill of Panama’s most famous used English bookstore. Retail value for the books alone come to around $250,000. Years ago, we had listed on Alibris nearly 500 books for sale online, the individual value of those books were from $5 to $100, plus we were allotted $10 (paid by Alibris) for shipping, so, if a book only cost $5 to ship, we made an additional $5. There was also a provision for over-sized books. I haven’t kept it up because that was Harold’s thing, plus my motivation was extremely low at the time so I couldn’t be bothered. In any case, since then, I’ve acquired a large number of books from different sources that I have discovered are worth significant money, with a number of them worth over $1000 each. Unfortunately, right now they are sitting in boxes, I don’t recall exactly the titles (they were text books, historical series, etc), but at the time I had checked out the prices on E-bay, and there’s a small fortune to be made. Which goes back to the point, since I’m a lazy, terrible procrastinator…If anyone is interested, they could re-establish the Alibris business, the BookMark receives 50% of the sale. In addition to that, those higher-end books would be sold on E-bay(I’ve seen some of those bidding wars, you’d be surprised), for those books, the seller would receive 25%. The best part, this is something that can be done from the comfort of your home. Of course, at this point, I’m just punting around ideas. We could do a trail balloon and see how it works out. In any case, the person would have to… Have an E-bay account. Have a PayPal account.(?) Perfect English speaker. Have a love and understanding of books. If interested, please contact me and we could work out the details. Ellis_m_1@yahoo.com
  19. Is Boquete the Best? A Look at our Quality of Life When we decided to move out of the US, we visited Boquete, Panama first and decided to stay. Our instincts were right. We've been very happy here. Of course there have been glitches, but everywhere you go has glitches. The key is finding someplace to live where the benefits far outweigh the glitches. It's all very personal. One man's ceiling is another man's floor. And one woman's paradise is another woman's penitentiary. I browsed the net to find surveys that determine a town/city's quality of life, looked at their criteria, and then developed my own. My system is just for fun, has no scientific merit whatsoever, and is just a way to compare Boquete to other North American towns. I love comments and feedback, please feel free to add things that I have left out or to disagree with me. So, let's start and see how Boquete stacks up. Safety Yes, we have seen an increase in crime, but that happens as a place, anyplace, becomes more densely inhabited. Overall, if you use caution and common sense, Boquete is a safe place to live. Quality Health Care I used to work in a hospital in the U.S. and learned quickly that health care is not so much about the hospital as it is about the individual doctors. Choose your doctors carefully (very carefully) and you can get good health care here. For more serious long term health concerns, I recommend Panama City. Public transportation. Lots of buses and cabs. Always an adventure! Weather It has its rainy and windy season, and by the end of either of these, people find themselves getting weary; but all in all the weather here is pretty darn good. Due to its temperate climate, you don't need air conditioning or heat, just a ceiling fan. Very few places can boast this. Schools. I've said it before and I got some flack for it, but I'm going to say it again. If you have younger kids and want a good education for them, I suggest home schooling or a long commute to David. Culture/Things to Do I'm from Chicago where culture means the Art Institute, Field Museum, ballet, stage-plays, amazing shopping and great restaurants. If you are looking for that level of culture, no way. But if you like lovely if quirky parades, local artists proudly displaying their art, the annual Jazz and Blues Festival, flower ferias, and an interesting mix of spanish and indigenous heritages, Boquete is a good place to be. We have photography and art clubs, a few great bands that play on a random basis, some pretty creative fundraisers, hikes, trivia contests, coffee, birdwatching and honey tours, and restaurants that host special events. It is enough for me, but if you want bright lights and a big city, best to go to a big city. Good shopping In a word, no. Good restaurants I'll write a whole blog about restaurants some day, but generally restaurants start out good in Boquete and then the prices go up and the quality goes down and they go out of business. A few have deservedly stood the test of time because they have good food and service, reasonable prices and offer the Jubliado discount. Those who have stood the test of time (no newer restaurants are included in this list) are, in my opinion: Sugar and Spice, Art Cafe, The Fish House, Big Daddy's, The Rock, Oasis, and La Posada for pizza. My personal favorites for tipico are Nelvie's and Sabrosón's. It continues to amaze me that our little town of Boquete has a better class of restaurants than David--a city six, or so, times the size of Boquete--and more of them. Sports/Fitness. We've got golf at Valle Escondido and Lucero's. There's local baseball and soccer, and an occasional boxing match. That's about it in terms of sports. For fitness, we have some great gyms and spas which offer massages and/or weight training/cardiovascular equipment. Larger facilities like The Haven offer a variety of classes to help you stay in shape. Natural environment. Boquete and its surrounding area kick ass in this category. Very few places hold a candle to it. Beauty, with its exotic critters and plants, surrounds us. We are immersed in it. Always.
  20. The monthly report by the Mayor of Boquete, January 2016 https://youtu.be/PDAVWZeXyis
  21. I was in a taxi in Panama City trying to talk to the driver. I had only lived in Panama a few months at the time and the driver spoke as much English as I spoke Spanish. Not much, but some. I tried to tell him that the drivers in Panama City were crazy and that I was afraid to drive my own car. I told him:"Tengo mierda." He slapped his leg and laughed. "Shiit," he said. "Shiiiiiiiiiiit!" Mierda means shiit. Miedo means afraid. I have lots of other stories of how not to speak Spanish. I can't tell you the number of times that I said something that I thought was Spanish and a Panamanian had no idea what I was trying to say. Learning a new language is both painful and funny. And valuable, if you are planning to live here. I recognize that the younger you are, the easier it is to pick up a new language. The younger you are, the easier it is to pick up anything. Dancing, cooking, skiing, reading, and algebra. OK, maybe not algebra. Only geeks pick up algebra easily. I think people who learn algebra easily have a genetic abnormality that allows them to absorb fairly useless information and then find a way to make it usable. But I digress. Speaking Spanish helps you navigate life here in the restaurants, stores, and community. You can order food, ask directions, tell someone you need help, and tell your workers what you need done. You can chit-chat on the corner with Boqueteños you have met instead of just saying "hola" and quickly walking on. The Boqueteños will respect you for speaking Spanish. Even if you can barely get your idea across, you are trying. You are valuing them enough to make the effort to learn their language. Believe me, it goes a long way (even if you have to use Charades and Spanglish.) Now that you are motivated, where do you start? There are teachers or schools here who will get you on the right path. I've seen private teachers advertise on Boquete News. Habla Ya usually offers reduced rates in September. Duo-lingo is a free online language program and it is pretty good. I've heard good things about Rosetta Stone. The big difficulty with these programs is making yourself do it every day. For those of us who don't don't commit to adhering to a daily schedule, it won't work. If you're paying someone to teach you, you'll most likely show up. When I first got here, I took an immersion class. I spent five hours a day taking individual lessons in Panama City. My favorite Spanish phrases were: "No entiendo." or "Como se dice?" I experienced huge headaches on a daily basis. I often cried out of frustration. I learned a lot of Spanish. It was a wonderful experience. Here's some other ways to teach yourself the language. * Read children's books in Spanish. * Listen to Spanish songs. Play one song over and over until you can pick out the words. i especially like Besame Mucho. La Bamba is also popular. * Force yourself to speak to the Boqueteños in town. Expect to be misunderstood or have a good laugh at your own expense. It's a bonding experience. * Pay a local to talk to you for an hour. You are not paying for a teacher, just someone to practice with, so you can work with any native speaker. * Watch telenovelas on TV. The actors speak more slowly and clearly than Boqueteños do. * When watching shows in English, use Spanish sub-titles. This will help you learn new words. It is how I learned that "cabron" and "Cabra" mean two different things. One of these words isn't something you want to call a man. At least not to his face. * Check this out on you-tube. It recommends You Tube videos to learn Spanish. https://www.brainscape.com/blog/2011/04/youtube-channels-learn-spanish/ * Learn the most common nouns, verbs and phrases first. Practice them throughout the day. Put stickies around the house with your new words on them so you see them all the time. Think of how a child learns their language- through repetition. You will need to learn and say a new word over and over again until your brain can spit it out again easily. Laugh at yourself and your mistakes. Don't give up. Rendirse es para los cobardes. Giving up is for sissies.
  22. Our Heads in the Clouds Several years ago, I was explaining to a friend that we had bought property in Alto Jaramillo and that it was in the rain forest. "Nope," she said. "It is in the cloud forest." "What's the difference?" "Uhm, I don't know, but Boquete is cloud forest. The lowlands are rain forest." So I looked it up. Do you know what turns out to be the big difference between a cloud forest and a rain forest? Clouds. You've all noticed them, I'm sure. You look out from a vista and see the clouds covering the land. They sit resting over the greenery with that mañana attitude. As if it is too much trouble to climb all the way up into the sky like they are suppose to, so the clouds just take a siesta. We live in a land of lazy clouds. Cloud forests are at higher elevations than rain forests, about 500 to 3,000 meters above sea level. The cooler temperatures hinder the evaporation process and therefore it is more humid, providing the plants a lot of moisture. Because there are so many hills and valleys, we tend to have a lot of different micro-climates. I see this all the time. It is sunny and dry up at my home and cool with bajareque in town or vise versa. You can start out wearing a jacket, drive for 10 minutes and end up wishing you were in shorts and a sleeveless top. Micro-climates. Blame the cloud forest. Rain forests get an average of about about 80 inches of rain a year, while cloud forests get about 300 inches. About 60% of the moisture cloud forests get come from the clouds going through the forest. If you were to take away the trees, we'd get only about an average of 150 inches. (The amounts of rainfall varied greatly depending on the article I read. I just took an average.) Because the clouds hover right near the flora, there is a lot less sunlight. This is why you see so much moss on the ground and on the trees here. The cool, moist weather makes it possible for not only moss, but orchids, ferns and bromeliads to grow in abundance here; creating a most beautiful place to take a walk. Because there are so many hills, valleys, and mountains scattered here and there, cloud forests have better vistas than rain forests, which tend to be flat. Better vistas when you can see through fog, that is. Seems like there is always a catch. We have plants and animals that are endemic to the cloud forest --meaning that you will not see some of the critters and plants that you see here anywhere else. The odd terrain and the fact it is ecologically remote means that living things evolve in a restricted area so they are less likely to live outside of the cloud forest. Cloud forests can have different mammals, reptiles, orchids, plants, insects and trees than you will find in Panama low lands. For instance, some of our mice sing. It takes a special species of mice to notice all the beauty around them and then sing about it, and we have them right here in our cloud forest. Another example of an endemic critter, although not a resident of Boquete, is the Panamanian Golden Frog which lives in the Cordilleran cloud forests of west-central Panama. There you have it--the big differences between the rain forest and cloud forests of Panama. I've done my best, but I am not a biologist so any additions and corrections are ever so welcome. Here is a list of all the flora and fauna that makes Panama unique. http://lntreasures.com/panama.html We're lucky to live here. So turn off those TVs, shut down your laptops, and step away from your iPhones. Get out and take a walk in the clouds. Not every can say they've done it, and you get to do it every day.
  23. 1. If a week goes by without a power outage, you check to make sure your flashlights are somewhere you can find them easily because you know one is bound to happen soon. 2. You think of dry season as rainbow season. 3. When someone asks how you are doing, you say, "Fine! Gracias a Dios." 4. You've developed a sixth sense when listening to bochinche, and can immediately mentally rate it on your "bullshit meter". 5. You have large containers of water inside to refill the toilets and huge tanques de agua outside in case your water mysteriously disappears (again.) 6. If it is dry season, no matter how wet you are getting from the weather, it is bajareque, not rain. 7. You think of Nelvie's, Sabrosons and Milqueburger as "fast food restaurants". 8. You don't think twice about why people have stopped their cars in the middle of the street for no apparent reason. You just go around them. 9. If a North American yells at or is in other ways rude to a Panamanian, you think, "damn gringos." 10. You don't wonder why Panamanians are the happiest people in the world. You live here so you know.
  24. New Year's Resolutions I keep a journal and recently I went back and looked at my New Year's entries. I always make New Year's resolutions and like most people, I don't keep them. A 2002 study showed that only 46% of people who make new year's resolutions are still actively working on them six months later. I am consistently in the 54%. I always resolve to lose weight and finally did it this year, but I cheated. I got really sick over a long period of time and lost my appetite. So does that count or not? It counts in the sense that I look and feel better, but it isn't like I made a resolution and stuck to it. I also always resolve to exercise more, and did better with this resolution toward the end of the year when my husband and I adopted a rescue dog who is part Alaskan Husky. She does a happy dance whenever she sees the leash and I find it hard to say no to her. So, I walk for at least 30 minutes almost every day. This year, I will keep the weight loss and exercise resolutions, because let's face it, they are a tradition now and traditions are good things to have in life. I am adding gratitude as my one of my New Year's resolutions, and I suggest you do the same. Being a grateful person makes you physically and emotionally healthier, reduces aggression, lets you sleep better and helps you win more friends. (http://www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin/2014/11/23/7-scientifically-proven-benefits-of-gratitude-that-will-motivate-you-to-give-thanks-year-round/) Most importantly, it is so easy to do, so you will be much more likely to keep it as a New Year's resolution. You just have to notice how lucky you are and thank God, the Universe, or whoever your personal belief system tells you to thank. Here are things i am grateful for: My husband, four cats and Gracie the dog. My friends and family who are the absolute best in the whole world. How lucky am I? Our home which is in a beautiful setting. The garden is full of color, shape and fragrance. Views that knock my socks off. All that rolling green land and the clouds that rest half way up the mountains. When a double rainbow decides to curve itself above those lush green hills I could fall on my knees in gratitude (except I am getting old and have a hell of a time getting up again). Morpho butterflies, (hell, all the butterflies), hummingbirds, tarantulas (I think they are so cute), brightly colored birds and geckos/lizards. I am not grateful about scorpions but my husband always comes running with a big shoe whenever I scream. Again, grateful for my husband. Living in Boquete which is so different than the South side of Chicago where I grew up. Chicago is a great city, but as a city it is full of concrete, cars and smog. The difference between these two places is huge and it reminds me how much I love it here. Having been so sick last year, I am grateful for my health. And for the health of the people I love. And I am grateful for any readers out there who like my stuff. Thank you and have a happy, healthy, prosperous year. boquete blog 7, new year's resolutions.rtf
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