Monthly Archives: October 2011

Rain Just Part Of Life In Panama

It should be no surprise to anyone if I told you its been raining all morning here. But if you’ve been following this blog you already know that its the rainy season in Panama for nearly two-thirds of the year.

Rain is just a part of life here in Panama. Unless it’s coming down at a rate of six inches an hour and wiping out bridges and causing landslides that devour houses people just get on with their lives. After all, what are the alternatives?

I first noticed this behavior when I was living over in Boqueron. One of my neighbors has a very large yard and the kids from all over would come there to play. One of their favorite games was a form of baseball. One day it started to pour but it didn’t interrupt the game for a moment. I used to laugh at gringo behavior I’d see when working at the family restaurant at the beach back home in the summers. People would come down to the beach and frolic in the water all day long. But let three or four drops of rain fall out of the sky and everyone would high-tail it to their cars. Not here.

Yesterday I went up to Boquete with a nearby gringo couple and Magalys, the maid we share. Magalys’s son’s band was supposed to be playing at an event sponsored by the local Lion’s Club. Shortly after we arrived it started raining, of course. But unlike in the States where things would probably have been postponed until another day, the show just went on.

Kids from a local school stood in the rain and played their instruments completely oblivious to the steady rain.

Adults had their moments, too, performing in the wet.

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The Survivors

Just a few weeks “Columbus Day” was celebrated in the United States by almost everyone except the Native Americans. The coming of the white man nearly destroyed the native population. The Europeans brought dreadful diseases with them that wiped out entire populations of the people who were already living here. A simple case of the sniffles would rampage through villages leaving a wake of destruction which was to the indigenous people what the Black Death was to the Europeans.

It occurred to me recently riding on the bus with half a dozen Ngäbe Indians that these were the descendants of the strong. The survivors.

Sunday I went with some gringo and Panamanian friends up to Boquete for a special program being put on by the Lions Club. I caught these photos of some of the survivors.

Since it’s the rainy season here we weren’t disappointed and I caught this snap of a young girl who was hiding out from the showers under a tree.

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Where Do You Fit In?

Every morning as I sip through my first cup of Chiriqui Province’s finest coffee I have a list of blogs and news sources I read. Then there are some others that I’ve bookmarked that I read less frequently. Today I went to written by Emma, a young Canadian girl who lives in Penonomé, Panama. Yesterday’s post gave a link to a cool BBC article called “The World At 7 Billion.”

“The world’s population is expected to hit seven billion in the next few weeks. After growing very slowly for most of human history, the number of people on Earth has more than doubled in the last 50 years. Where do you fit into this story of human life?”

The result I got when I typed in my birthday was:

I was the 2,345,139,400th person alive on earth at that time and 74,972,711,208th to have lived since history began. Cool, huh? Try it yourself and then I’m sure you’ll email the link to everyone on your email list.

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I’ve Started A Third Blog

I don’t know why I do this to myself, but I’ve started a third blog. The second blog I created is:

Since I bought my Kindle I’ve been reading a LOT! And most of what I’ve downloaded to my reader are either FREE books or books costing less than $3.00. A lot of the authors are self-published like myself or are offering their books at drastically discounted prices or absolutely free in hopes of attracting an audience that will shell out some cash to read their other work.

I’ve run across some really good stuff and, of course, some real trash. So I thought I’d start a blog giving my opinions on what I’ve found on line.

I call the blog Cheap Reads On Your Kindle.

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The Ultimate Slacker’s Boat!!!

Murray Stevens instantly became my hero when he designed and built this —

Once again, another fine find from reading:


Filed under boats, Floating Homes, Houseboat, Living off the grid, Living Small, Microcruising, Minimalist Cruising, Shanty boat, Shantyboat Living, Small boat cruising

Your Town On Penny Postcards

Here’s a great site worth checking out…

Here’s a picture of the town on Cape Cod where I grew up. Despite the age of the cars in the photo not much has really changed. The last time I was there a couple of years ago that building on the right with the cupola was still there. Right across the street, where the photographer stood to take the picture, is probably the first cemetery in the town. The grave markers are leaning over at odd angles and the dates on them go back to the early 1700s.

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Every Movement Needs A Song

Every great movement in America’s history had a song behind it. It was Yankee Doodle when we were fighting for Independence. The Battle Hymn of the Republic and John Brown’s Body Lies A Mouldering In The Grave in the north during the Civil War and Dixie during the War of Northern Aggression in the south.

It was a Long Way to Tipperary in WWI, and the Andrews Sisters in WWII

The Union movement produced many great and memorable songs…

The 1960s saw two huge movements, Civil Rights which resurrected many old black spiritual songs…

Within recent days we’ve seen the rise of the 99% in the Occupy Wall Street movement and why shouldn’t it have a song, too. Ry Cooder’s provided that for us…


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Down At The Depot

Some time ago I’d written a post describing an old Bert & I skit where a rugged Down-Easter had won a free trip to Boston for a week. When he returned and people asked him what Boston was like he said, “There was so much going on at the depot I didn’t get a chance to see the village.”

Well, the bus terminal here in David is sort of like that. I’ve alluded to it before in quite a few posts. It’s one of my favorite places in all of Panama, so I thought I’d give you more of an idea of what the place is like.

It takes up quite a bit of space…

If you’re heading to Panama City you go to this area…it’s in the upper right corner of the photo above…

You can see one of the modern double-deck, air conditioned buses waiting to load on the right. Buses leave almost every hour for Panama City and there is even an “express” bus that leaves late at night and knocks about an hour off the seven-hour trip. But I’ve never been tempted to take that one because you miss all the scenery along the way by doing that. The last time I took the bus to the city was to do the paper work necessary to get my driver’s license. The fare, one way, was $18 and change with the Jubilado discount.

There’s a hotel at the terminal but I can’t imagine what it must be like to stay there.

The terminal and the surrounding area is about more than just transportation. Across the street there are five stores selling all kinds of feed for animals as well as huge quantities of rice. The other day when I was down there, without my camera, of course, you could buy baby rabbits and quail. There are always young chicks for sale. They cost 50¢ each, or for a buck and a half you can get one of these…

Even in this day and age horses are a daily mode of transportation for many Panamanians…

And if you’re in need of a new saddle, well, just drop in at the terminal. I saw two different stores selling saddles there today and one in a store across the street.

Typical Ngöbe Indian dresses for little girls are available. Boys wear jeans and tee shirts…

More than a dozen people sell lottery tickets every day at the terminal. Panamanians LOVE to play the lottery and they go from one vendor to another looking for their special number. There are no “quick picks” here. If your number doesn’t come up you can use the pharmacy behind the vendor to buy something to calm your jangled nerves…

You can find out if you need to go to the pharmacy by having your blood pressure checked…

Not into pharmaceuticals? Well, an apple a day, they say…and grapes and strawberries are just nice to bring home with you for later…

Hungry? There are three fondas serving comida corriente, two cafeterias and a pizza place at the terminal…

After you’ve eaten your fill, if you’re a lady you can get your hair done at one of the three hair salons…

Or you guys can visit my barber and get a $2 cut…

There are also18 kiosks all selling approximately the same stuff…bottled water and soft drinks, bags of chips, empenadas, candy, ice cream, etc…

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Observed in Panama

Just a few things I’ve observed about children here in Panama.

I don’t know if these things hold true in Panama City but out here in Chiriquí I’ve noticed that children are much more polite than they seem to be in the States. You never see them running wild and unsupervised in restaurants. They are invariably polite to their elders.

When there is a family with an infant it is almost always the man who is carrying the child.

When parents and toddlers are walking together in the States the child usually is grasping one or two of the parent’s fingers. Here the parent, either the mother or father grasps the toddler by the wrist as they walk.

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Trip to Boqueron

Yesterday I took a trip out to Boquerón. I wanted to see what was going on with the collapsed bridge  to see what damage had been done to the house I’ll be renting and the lot behind the house.

I was mistaken about the bridge location. It’s further to the west on the Interamerican Hwy. Between David and  Boquerón there’s a similar set of bridges a short ways before where you have to turn off to go up to the pueblo. The price of the ride from the terminal in David has gone up from 50¢ to 60¢ since the last time I went there, but it’s still an outrageous bargain compared to riding on public transportation anywhere in the States.

The damage done to the lot behind the house was much greater than I’d expected. There used to be a chain link fence around the property and the lot was full of grass and weeds. A footpath ran down the side of the lot and around behind it. It was used daily by Indians who live on the other side of the river down in that direction. They’d wade across the river and then walk up to the main road to catch the buses. It was a much shorter route for them to get to transportation that way.

As a point of reference take a look at this video I shot last year. At about the 33 second mark you are looking back up the footpath back towards the house. You can see the chain link fence that marked the lot and you can see some trees growing at the side of the river.

Here’s what it looks like from roughly the same spot today.

This is looking in the other direction, down towards the back of the lot.

Here are some of those trees.

Take a close look at this picture. You can see where the water level was this morning and it’s usually like this. Now, note how high the bank is above the water level. During the storm the water must have come up at LEAST 12 feet or more.

While the torrent didn’t wash anything away on our lot, water apparently did get inside the house. It has been described to me as being quite a “mess inside.” I haven’t got a clue to that means. The gate was locked so I couldn’t even get on the lot to try and peer inside. I just got the phone number of the neighbor girl who is looking out for things and I’ll try and get in touch with her over the weekend. I’m sure there’s a lot of mud inside though I have no idea how high the water might have risen. I didn’t see any waterline left on the side of the house. I’m sure there’s a lot of mud in there. The river, which is usually clear enough to see the rocks on the bottom was the color of coffee this morning five days after the storm. I was also told that, as of a couple of days ago, there was no water service in the neighborhood. That happens all over the place because the sediment clogs up the filtration systems at the water plants and they usually don’t have spares on hand. Also, the water infrastructure is definitely “third world,” and mainly consists of PVC piping and most of it just runs along top of the ground.

Well, it’s all part of the adventure of living in a developing country, though they didn’t seem to fair much better in Vermont from that last hurricane than we did in this tempest.


Filed under Boqueron Panama, Living Abroad, panama, Retirement, Retirement Abroad