Monthly Archives: December 2005

David Auto Service Update

On November 5th, I wrote that I needed to have a car’s front end aligned. I originally wanted to go to MARCONELA AUTOSERVICIOS, but it was closed. I went to SERVICENTRO ROBINSON as a substitute. As it turns out, I should have waited and gone to my first choice. After less than 4000 miles the rear tires on the car that I had aligned are showing tremendous wear. Since there had been even wear on all tires prior to the work by SERVICENTRO ROBINSON, I can only assume that they did a faulty job.

Today, I went to MARCONELA AUTOSERVICIOS and had the same job done again. I will see how this work compares in another 4,000 miles. I have to say that I liked the price better. I paid $18.90 today for the same thing (Alignment, tire rotation and balance) compared to $23.00 at SERVICENTRO ROBINSON.

Should Auld Acquaintnace Be Forgot

While I was looking up the reason that eating 12 grapes as the clock strikes midnight was customary in Panama, I found a couple of interesting sites that provide some insight into many New Year’s Customs.

This first site provides a chronology of events leading to the first of the year celebrations, which I had not considered having started on something other than January 1. There are several interesting things I think you may learn from this site. At least there were several things I didn’t know. While you read this site you will be able to listen to Auld Lang Syne.

The second site told me that AULD LANG SYNE was adapted from a traditional Scottish song written by Rabbie Burns. His lyrics follow as well as the meaning of several of the words from his song.:

AULD LANG SYNE
Words adapated from a traditional song
by Rabbie Burns (1759-96)
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne?

CHORUS:
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup of kindness yet,
For auld lang syne!
And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp,
And surely I’ll be mine,
And we’ll tak a cup o kindness yet,
For auld lang syne!
We twa hae run about the braes,
And pou’d the gowans fine,
But we’ve wander’d monie a weary fit,
Sin auld lang syne.
We twa hae paidl’d in the burn
Frae morning sun till dine,
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
Sin auld lang syne.
And there’s a hand my trusty fiere,
And gie’s a hand o thine,
And we’ll tak a right guid-willie waught,
For auld lang syne

Meanings
auld lang syne – times gone by
be – pay for
braes – hills
braid – broad
burn – stream
dine – dinner time
fiere – friend
fit – foot
gowans – daisies
guid-willie waught – goodwill drink
monie – many
morning sun – noon
paidl’t – paddled
pint-stowp – pint tankard
pou’d – pulled
twa – two

Oh, I forgot. Panama has the custom of consuming 12 grapes as the clock strikes midnight as a part of its Spanish heritage. Hmmmm. Now I wonder why eating black-eyed peas on New Years Day in the southern states of the US is considered good luck.

A Little Late Is Panama Normal

Plaza El Terronal was scheduled to open around December 15, 2005. Obviously that date has come and gone. However, that is not that uncommon for construction in Panama. A house completing within three months of the scheduled date, is pretty good. For a construction such as Plaza El Terronal, it will probably take more. Since the Christmas season is over, I could easily see this going into March before anything of substance is in and ready for business.

I heard of one man that came to Chiriqui (I don’t remember if it was in Boquete) and bought some land to build on. He then paid a builder to build his house while he returned to his home country. He returned six months later expecting to see his house almost complete. He found his land untouched and found that the person who had contracted to build his house had disappeared. In Panama you never pay up front for a project.

To Speak To An Attendant Just —

I don’t know about you, but I hate spending time going through multiple menus on the telephone to get to speak to a human. Living in Panama, it is even worse if you need to call a company in the US, because the 800 numbers are not valid. While some credit card companies allow you to call collect, some don’t. Besides, who wants to wait forever to get to talk to a real person?

This morning I happened to tune into news interview with Paul English who has put out a cheat sheet on how to get to a real person. Paul has categories for “us finance”, “us government”, “us insurance”, “us pharmacy”, “us products”, “us retail”, “us shipping”, “us technology”, “us telco”, “us travel”, and “us tv/satellite”.

As an example, if you need to call Discover ant talk to a real person, you would enter ****. If you are living in Panama or moving to Panama, I would suggest you bookmark Paul’s URL or print a copy for your file. It could save you a lot of time on hold or fighting computer menus.

Christmas In Panama – 2005

I had a wonderful invitation to spend Christmas in Panama. It was an experience I hadn’t expected and one that was most enjoyable Christmases I have spent in some time. Of course Christmas is for kids and my host’s two children were anxious for Santa to arrive.
Where is Santa?

In Panama City, the Christmas celebration begins at the strike of midnight. As December 25 enters you find the sky of Panama City filled with fireworks. It started close to midnight and went for at least 10 minutes. I have never seen fireworks on Christmas before, but it is a tradition in Panama City. I wasn’t set up for night photography, but I did capture a couple photos.
Fireworks 1

Fireworks 2

Christmas day was an extremely pretty day. You can see the Pacific Ocean and new high-rise apartments being constructed in this shot.
Beautiful view

The noon meal was a traditional meal for my hosts. There was plenty of ham, chicken, rice, plantain, potato salad, lasagna, and my cheesecake. What, you have never heard of lasagna for Christmas? Well, one of the grandmothers of host is from Italy and she makes lasagna every Christmas. It was one of the best lasagnas I have ever eaten.
Let's Eat.

Good food, great hospitality, magnificent view. It was a Christmas to remember.

Cooking Diva’s Pumpkin Cheesecake is a Success!

Thanks for out to Chef Melissa (the cooking diva) for a great holiday recipe combining what I think of as Pumpkin pie with cheesecake. Thanks also goes out to one of Chiriqui Chatter’s readers for providing the pumpkin. I had given up finding it in the stores in David. The recipe called for 16 oz of pumpkin and the can had 30. I divided it in half and have saved the second half. Guess what it will be used for.

I had plenty of cashews so I put a cup of chopped cashews in the crust. I guess I am just a little nutty.

I have been told that this was the best cheesecake yet. Way to go team!
Pumpkin Cashew Cheesecake