Monthly Archives: November 2005

Panama’s Second Independence Day Is Its First Independence Day

Not again. This must be a dream. These things ran through my mind at 2AM this morning as I was awakened by yet another band playing loud drums and bugles. Where am I? What time is it? Oh yes, it is November 28 and the day that Panama gained independence from Spain. A country having two Independence Day’s in one month is just not fair. November 3, 1903 is the day Panama gained independence from Colombia. November 28, 1821 is the date Panama gained independence from Spain, but became a part of Colombia.

Panama is a very proud country and these two days are very important days in its history. I celebrate their independence with them. I would just prefer not to start at 2AM in the morning.

Better Late Than Never

I decided to have my Thanksgiving today. Thursday, there was no one here to recognize my annual traditional dinner with.

I only bought a turkey breast, giblet gravy and some stuffing. Some vegetables will round out the meal. Only three people to eat everything and I don’t want any leftovers.

For dessert, I thought about pumpkin pie. However, I decided it was too much trouble for me to do. I looked in my pantry and saw a cake mix, some cherry pie filling, coconut and nuts and did a search on the Internet for a cake that would use those ingredients and came up with something called dump cake. The only problem was that I had a chocolate cake mix and the recipe called for yellow cake. I thought about it for a few minutes, make that 23 seconds and decided to do it anyway.

It came out of the oven and I had to taste it to see if it was a keeper or was headed for the trash. The verdict is in, it is a keeper. In fact, I think it is probably better than if I had had a yellow cake mix.

If you want to try the cake here is the instructions:

Empty 2 (13oz) cans of cherry pie filling into a 9×13 cake pan.
Evenly spread the dry cake mix over the pie filling.
Then spread 1 cup of coconut over the cake mix.
Spread 1 cup of chopped pecans over the top.
Cover it all with a thinly sliced stick of butter/margarine.
Put it in a 375F/190C degree oven for 50 minutes.

That is it. No mixing, no muss, no fuss – that is my type of dessert.

Now I am waiting for the turkey breast to get done and it then it will be time to give thanks and eat.

Chilling out!

Melissa, the Cooking Diva, had said to me the other day that she had heard that it was chilly here now. I replied,

“Only when I open my refrigerator door.”

Well she was right and I was wrong. Don’t you just hate it when a woman knows more than you do!

I learned the truth last night. I always sleep with the fan on and the covers pulled up. I never really know what the real temperature is I just sleep that way. Well last night about 2:00AM the electricity went out for two hours. Now I am sure you are wondering how I knew the electricity went out. It wasn’t because the fan went off, which it did. It was because my UPS on my computer started yelping to come turn it off.

I got up and stumbled to my UPS in the dark and shut it down so it would shut up. Then I returned to bed. With no fan, I decided to not use all the covers and that is when it struck me. It is really chilly in here. No fan on and I was chilly. Now who would think that you could ever get chilly in David? I heard the clock strike for the next two hours and I was chilling out. Then the electricity came back, the fan started, and I went back to sleep.

Well, Melissa, I have to give you credit for knowing more than me (not really that much of a compliment). The next time you talk about the weather, I am going to pay strict attention.

Chili in David last night, probably hot tamale. I know, I know, that is a pretty bad joke, but my brain has frost bite.

The Great Race at Playa La Barqueta

Note of apology before I begin: I apparently had a spot on my camera lens and you will see a small spot in the right center of the shots. My dad always used to say, “Nothing is perfect, some things less so than others.”

Playa La Barqueta

What an outstanding day I had today. A friend had notified that there would be another tortoise release at Playa La Barqueta. I drove from David and arrived about I arrived about 3:15PM. The road is pretty good, but in some areas there are still a lot of holes. I thought it was funny that in one of the areas that had a fair amount of holes, I saw this radar sign. Anyone speeding here is on horse, not in a car.
Speed Sign

I asked at one of the restaurants on the beach, if there was a man named Maricial and this young man said that that was he. I told him I had heard that there was going to be a tortoise release today and asked if that was true. He beamed and said it was true and asked if I would be interested in seeing the little tortoises. Of course, I did.

Here is a photo of the container with all of them limbering up for the great race to the sea. There must have been around a hundred. I May have the number wrong, so you count them and let me know the correct number.
Box of turtles

I took a photo of one on the side of the box so you could see a close-up. It is about the size of a silver dollar.
Single Turtle

One of the other observers that had been to the previous release, that I had missed, took me around to where Maricial has his tortoise orchard. He marks off squares and buries the eggs he finds in one of the squares and marks the date on a stick and places it in the square also. He said that about 45-50 days after he buries the eggs, the hatchlings arrive. He keeps them in a container with a little water until they are about 5 days old and then he releases them.
Turtle orchard

Here are a few photos of the race to the sea.

I recorded a short video. (it is about 2.7 meg in size so it might take a while to download)

If you get out to the Playa La Barqueta area, look up Maricial at his restaurant and tell him you saw the event on the Internet and tell him you appreciate what he is doing to conserve this animal. He does this because he is continuing a family tradition of his father and his grandfather.

Maricial was interviewed by one of the local stations and I got this photo of Maricial just as it had completed. That is Maricial just to the cameraman’s left.
Maricial and cameraman

The Tortoise Shepherds

The Tortoise Shepherds
By Don Ray Williams
November 25, 2005

On a beach in Southwestern Panama, named Playa La Barqueta
I met a man today, one I will not soon forget.
In these days and times when what you read is nothing less than vile,
To meet a man like Maricial, can’t help but make you smile.

Maricial is a runner; he runs marathons for fun,
And it’s on these morning jaunts, that he does the good he’s done.
As he runs along the beach, he sees marks a tortoise made,
And he knows what lies beneath the sand are eggs the tortoise laid.

He knows that these tortoise eggs, many poachers want to find,
To sell as aphrodisiacs and make money for their time.
Maricial takes them home and buries them in the sand,
He watches over them and protects them, like a shepherd protects his lambs.

He dates each nest, and monitors it, and when the time has come,
He harvests baby tortoises, and he loves them every one.
In about five days, when they have grown, to silver dollar size,
He takes them back to the beach, and watches them with pride.

When on the beach, these tortoises, instinctively feel their needs,
They waddle off toward the ocean, with great deftness and great speed.
I understand that they return to the exact point, from which they’ve run,
And maybe if they build a nest, Maricial will find it, like he has always done.

Maricial, like his father, and his father’s father too,
Not for money, not for profit, not for fame, I’m telling you,
Just because they love the tortoise, and they want it to survive,
And because of men like this, generations are alive.

Vuelta Ciclista de Chiriqui

There was a bicycle race going on in David today. I understand that it is called Vuelta Ciclista de Chiriquí. I may be wrong on the name, but that is what I understood. From what I hear it is supposed to take place through out Chiriquí. I guess it is sort of the Tour de Chiriquí. Last year’s winner was from Colombia and I understand he walked away with about $25,000. That is big bucks for here. Someone from Chiriquí was supposed to be in the lead today. If anyone knows more, let me know. I sure didn’t envy the riders here today. It has been a nasty day, and it is raining like crazy right now.

An Old Dog Doing New Tricks

Today was the day I agreed to assist Professor Quiroz in his English Translator Preparatory class. I arrived early at David’s Universidad Latina. This is in keeping with my old type “A” personality which never allows me to be late. I got one photo in the front of the University.
Universadad Latina

Professor Quiroz met me outside and said his students were currently in a special seminar with some guest presenters from Panama City. Since we had a little extra time, he gave me a quick tour through the building. On the whole, I was very impressed with the facilities. I took this photo of one of the empty classrooms that is setup with multimedia equipment and PC for PowerPoint presentations. I am sure Bill Gates is happy that PowerPoint is spoken here.

Still having a little time, we sat in on another English class that was preparing for a Thanksgiving party. I was surprised that Thanksgiving was even known to the students and was told that as a part of the class in English they recognized the holidays. I took several photos of the students practicing a dance routine that would be performed. As I watched, I thought to myself, “Has it been that long ago since I was in college?” The next five photos are from the dance routine.
Dance routine 1

Dance Routine 2

Dance Routine 3

Dance Routine 4

Dance Routine 5
Applause can be heard in the background!

At the completion of the routine, we left to prepare for Professor Quiroz’s class. I don’t know about the students, but this was a lot of fun for me. We started off with just a little general question and answer. This was to get them familiar with the sound of a Texas twang and to relieve some of their tension. We went around the room and introduced ourselves. There were two people in the room that were not from Panama. I was one and the other was a young lady from Venezuela.

Now with the ice having been broken we started the class exercise. The exercise was for me to give a prepared speech and for each of the students, in turn, to take part in acting as translator for the rest of the class. This is a difficult exercise for both the speaker as well as the translator. The speaker has to remember not to make too long of sentences and to pause for the translator to translate. The translator is in the spotlight having to translate material that he or she has not heard before. Knowing that I would loose my train of thought by pausing, I had written down some material to talk about.
Professor Quiroz's Class

The class exercise took about an hour and I for one thought my time was well spent. I got to meet a bunch of very nice and intelligent Panamanian students and also see some of the education facilities in Panama. I hope they also felt that their time was well spent. I took one photo of the class to record this special day. Professor Quiroz is on the far right.

FreeMem v4.3

Another utility I have been trying that I found in PCWORLD is FreeMem. I have been curious if I had enough memory on my PC and I decided to try this utility and find out. I have been surprised to see how much memory I had left after everything loaded from a fresh boot.

It made me wonder if I should consider buying another 512 meg, but then I tried the function it has for freeing up memory and I had half of my memory back. It seems that after freeing memory from the initial boot, my PC stays pretty consistant on memory usage from there on.

Here is what the PCWorld writeup for FreeMem said,

If you’re a multitasking maven — or if you just use your computer like a workhorse — you’ll appreciate this program. It lets you “free up” memory by forcing Windows to flush its cache for programs and DLLs you’ve already opened but aren’t using. The effect is that you can control the RAM you use, instead of it being dictated by the programs you have launched and those in your system startup.
Another useful feature of the program is the ability to monitor the RAM you’re using. An icon resides on your taskbar with a green, yellow, and red indicator showing your current memory condition as well as your available memory. Since the program shows you your limits, you can avoid system freeze-ups before it’s too late.
Finally, you can boot applications through FreeMem, letting you free up RAM so memory-hog programs (graphics programs, Word Perfect, streaming audio players) can run more effectively.

If you are curious about your PC’s memory usage, you might want to try it. (FreeMem v4.3)