Monthly Archives: January 2011

Other Trip Preparation Items

I think I have taken care of all the pre-boarding items now, in preparation for the April trip. I did order four things that I will pass on. I ordered the RFID passport and credit card carrier, as I had mentioned in a previous post.

I also decided to order two items for my camera. I know a lot of people prefer to take pocket cameras on trips because of the convenience and the less risk of theft. However, I bought my camera to take photos and I intend to take it. The camera bag I bought, with my camera, has not been satisfactory. Some of the straps are needing to be better connected to the body of the bag.

This caused me to do a little researching into camera bags and I found some products put out by a company called pacsafe.

After reading about pacsafe, I decided to order two items. A camera strap, and a camera bag. The bag I ordered is black, but I did consider the green one.

If you look at the pacsafe products, you will see that they are specifically designed to protect against pickpocket type thieves. Obviously nothing is 100% safe, but after reading the descriptions on these products, I decided they were worth a try.

I downloaded a app for the iPad called Travel Tracker Pro. Expensive as far as iPad apps go, but after reading many comments on how well they have provided service to the program, I bought it. It allows you to build an itinerary and track all expenses on the trip. It will also convert Euro expenses into other currencies. This is just another thing you can do with an iPad that you can’t do with a Kindle.

I noticed that one of my credit cards expires in May, so I called the company to have them send me a new card sooner. It would have gone crazy finding myself in Spain with expired credit cards. I know, because this happened to me once in the past.

I made a entry on my calendar to call the credit card companies, a week before we leave, and tell them to expect charges outside of Panama. Now I am about ready to do the other things I hate to do this time of year and that is get ready to file the tax return. If I get everything under control, I may even may a Panama related post soon. Coming to think of it, I guess some of these items would be good for people coming to visit Panama to consider.

Researching for the trip

As always I tend to over research things. I will pass on some things I am researching and some things I have found from the travel book recommendations.

I am using Rick Steves books for both Rome and Madrid. I am sure there others that are just as good, but I happened to download these.

Having traveled in Europe before, I am well aware of pickpockets. Today I have been searching for security wallet for passports, IDs, credit cards and money. I doubt that you will find any travel guide that doesn’t drill the need for security wallets into your head. If you have seen these for sale in Panama, let me know where.

One thing that the travel guides have not mentioned is that your passport and your credit cards may have RFID chips in them and while your pocket may not be picked, the information might still be picked.

I just rechecked my current credit cards and one does have a RFID chip. It also happens to be the one I may use the most. Therefore I have two items that need RFID shields. The one credit card and my passport.

I knew this, but had forgotten it until I saw it on some of the security wallets. Most of the security wallets don’t protect you from RFID theft. Most are wallets or pouches that are designed to go around the neck, hung on a belt and tucked into your pants or worn around your waist and under clothing.

Another thing I was reminded of while reading the books is that credit card companies need to be notified prior to your trip to avoid your charged being declined and a call being made. I put a reminder on my calender to call them a week before my trip.

Another good tip I found, from previous trips, is to keep a itinerary and contact information in each of your bags. If the airlines happen to lose a bag, you will want them to be able to get in touch with you and if you are traveling, that might be hard to do without an itinerary.

I realize that I am a long way from the travel date, but I hate to not have things planned out.

The Planning is Done

I literally spent 11 hours yesterday planning and making reservation for the rest of the vacation we will take toward the end of April. I was a little slow on making the air reservations and over a day’s time the fares increased by $200. I made the air reservations first and then made the hotel reservations in the order of the air reservations.

Finding and deciding on which hotel is what took so long. It was interesting to see how many hotels were already full in Spain and Italy for May. I felt like I was scrambling against an invisible opponent (time). Funny thing is, I thought three months in advance was a lot of time to plan.

However, at 10 PM last night I got the last reservation made. I downloaded two of Rick Steve’s guide books into my iPad. One for Madrid and one for Rome. They were pretty vital in helping to research the hotels. They will also be useful on the trip. The Internet was also vital for reading all the comments by others that had spent time in the hotels. I can’t imagine doing anything without the Internet now.

I think I will have Internet access most of the time I am in Europe. However, since I only plan on taking my iPad, any real posts about the trip will occur after my return. That means, for all practical purposes, Chiriquí Chatter will go dormant for about a month. I may be able to make a few text only posts and I should be able to respond to comments and reply to emails.

The trip should be a good experience. I haven’t told Lilliam that the return flight is over 10 hours. She may not board the plane. 🙂

Potrerillos Neighborhood Watch Report January 20, 2011

I received the following to post:

Potrerillos has been quiet however there was a frightening incident involving a North American couple over the weekend.

New incident

On the night of Saturday 15-Jan-2011 at about 11:30 PM an American couple was the victims of harassment from a group of thugs assumed to be Local Nationals. The incident took place in a small outlying area know as Los Mameyes located several miles north of Potrerillos Arriba in an isolated area were the Americans couple are occupying a small RV as there shelter.

According to the Dolega Police the American residence were hunkered down in there RV home when a group of unidentified individuals drove up to their location in a 4×4 pickup with their high beam lights and additional off road lighting quipped on the vehicle and preceded to illuminate the residence and according to the victims the thugs were shouting and taunting them all the while causing the Americans to fear for their safety,  this according to the Dolega PD.

Additional information received indicated that the perpetrators drove around the stationary RV residence for a short time before departing the area.  A call for help was received at the Dolega Police Department who quickly responded to the location in force.  No additional information was provided other that the vehicle was described as a dark full size 4×4 pickup truck occupied by multiple Spanish speaking individual. Continue reading Potrerillos Neighborhood Watch Report January 20, 2011

Report from the Gatún Lake Defense Committee

NOTE: The following has been superseded by THIS POST:

I recently received an email from a reader of Chiriquí Chatter that is the director of the Gatún Lake Defense Committee. In it she said

From time-to-time the Gatún Lake Defense Committee, which I direct, issues results of ongoing investigations and research. Our most recent report was released without waiting for it in English due to the urgency of the subject.

I replied that I would like to review the report on the Panama Canal expansion and it was sent to me. I will present it below in the original Spanish form. I will add a Google translation following the Spanish version, which had begun to be translated and contains some translation at the beginning of the report.

As always a reminder that Google translation from Spanish is not perfect, but I believe that it did a pretty good jo on the following report. As stated before, this is the product of Gatún Lake Defense Committee and I appreciate their sending it to me and granting me permission to post it.

Living in Chiriquí and specifically David, I can see the impact of the new construction of the road from David to Boquete. My personal opinion really doesn’t count for much, but I really don’t like a lot of what I have seen to this point. In the name of progress, many of the age old trees have been removed with little thought of the environmental impact of future generations.

If the Panama government replaces each tree that is destroyed with a new tree, that would be something, but I will bet money that there will be only removal and no replacements. I believe that many parts of the road did not need to be four lane. Some areas two lane and others four lane would have created less environmental impact and also reduced the cost.

I can understand spending a large amount of money to expand the airport in David, but to spend an enormous amount connecting a city of about 8,000 with a city of 100,000+ is another thing.

You can read the report of the Gatún Lake Defense Committee below. As I said, the first part is as I received it, including some translation at the beginning. Following the original report will be a Google translation from Spanish to English. Continue reading Report from the Gatún Lake Defense Committee

Getting There Is Half The Fun

I have just made reservations on the Royal Caribbean Cruise going from Colon, Panama to Palma de Mallorca Spain. I made the reservation through Jularmo Travel & Tours in David.

Larry Mathew’s post, last week, sparked my interest and I decided I had to do it. Now that I am confirmed on the cruise, I am working on the second part of the trip.

I felt if I was going to be in Europe, I might as well spend a few more dollars and see some more sites. My plan is to spend a couple days in Palma de Mallorca and then fly to Rome. I will stay in Rome about a week since I have never been there before.

Then we will fly to Madrid and spend three days. I have been to Madrid in the past and therefore a week is not necessary. From Madrid, we will return to Panama and rest up from the vacation. It will be two weeks on the cruise and about two weeks in Europe.

I am currently researching the hotels in Mallorca, Rome and Madrid. The next thing I need to do is find a converter for the electrical items I am going to take. I am expecting this to be a fantastic vacation. I am hoping for no mishaps.