Clearing The Air

I have received a couple emails related to one of the last statements I made on Chiriquí Life, before I requested my membership and profile be removed. The statement was misunderstood and has been taken out of context and maybe should be clarified.

I will use today’s email as a means of doing that because it covers many subjects, which I can only assume are repeated elsewhere and I prefer to have all discussions in the open. Many of these locations are places where I can’t respond, such as Ning and CL.

I do not know the writer of the email. I will respond within his email. While he states that this doesn’t need to be on my blog, I don’t like rumors or innuendos being stated without discussion.

So with apologies to the author, I will use his email to begin the discussion and appreciate his taking the time to email me.

Chiriquí Chatter is a blog and not a forum, but often posts do generate a lot of discussion. Usually the discussions on CC remain civil. In the “About” section of the blog, I state that all opinions written by me, are my opinion and do not reflect the opinion of the U.S. Embassy.

I always appreciate these discussions because they allow all viewpoints to be heard. I will also remind you readers that the written word is not always understood as the writer intended it. This is true in things I write as posts and things that are written as comments. As my dad always used to say,

“I know you think you understand what you thought i said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”

The email follows.

Hola Don,

I have some criticisms and I didn’t feel that they needed to be said as public comment on your blog.

Over the past year I have watched you become increasingly opinionated, both in your blog and in other forums. I remember disparaging remarks you have made about Keith Woolford, Bid4Boquete, Boquete Ning, Richard Detrich, and now Chiriqui Life. Certainly, you have a right to your opinions, but they have resulted in a gradual change in my opinion about you as well.

This is the first part I want to discuss.

Keith Woolford – Keith has had differences of opinion with me on occasion, but to the best of my knowledge, I remember no disparaging remark from me toward him. I consider differences of opinions something that exists with everyone. I don’t know anyone that I agree with 100% of the time and doubt if anyone agrees with me 100% of the time. However, I am always open to listening to other’s opinions and have changed my mind based on some of these discussions.

I received an email a few days ago from a person looking to buy a car and I provided them with Keith’s email to get in touch with him. I also told them he could be found on CL and Ning.

We did have a discussion on Ning, which ultimately resulted in my getting banned, but I considered it a misunderstanding on Keith’s part. He removed what concerned me and I was satisfied the issue was closed.

I will admit that I am very suspicious of the new Ning management and think the real motives for their purchasing Ning still have not come to light.

The people, who have lived in Chiriquí and Boquete with the largest amount of knowledge, have been banned. I have no problem being among the number no longer on Ning.

Furthermore, Ning had no justification in most of the bans they issued. This reinforces my suspicion of Ning having an ulterior motive for removing those they removed. Time will tell.

Bid-4-Boquete – I have always been a supporter of Bid-4-Boquete. I have publicized their event every year it has occurred.

I have also voiced that I would have been happier if it were easier to designate where money went for purchased items in the auctions.

I have also reminded people that there are many worthwhile organizations outside of the Bid-4-Boquete organizations that deserve consideration and suggested that those living outside Boquete look for needs close to where they live. There are more needs in Panama than can be served. I stand by that.

Boquete Ning – I knew Lee from the time he moved here and prior to him starting his blog. I had met him the first time at Hotel Nacional in the restaurant. This was prior to his creating his blog and we talked about the need for more blogs passing out information on Panama offsetting that published by International Living. I met him several times, in various locations, until his death.

I had a lot of resect for the information conduits Lee created and participated in Ning from its inception at various times, but mostly to post Embassy notices.

When Ning was sold, I thought it would continue to be a source of information (good and bad) about Boquete and Panama as a whole. That hope was short lived. By removing the contributors, it removed, it also removed the real knowledge base of the previous Ning. I still believe, that we will eventually know the reason for the purchase of Ning.

Rumor has it that Ning wasn’t the primary purchase, but I still think the buyers have a plan for Ning.

Richard Detrich – Yes, I have been critical of several pieces that Richard has written. His blog is a main source of information for people considering Panama as a retirement location. He has a large readership and with that comes the responsibility of not misleading those in the process of making decisions.

The posts I took objections to, I thought were more misleading because readers would associate his name with them. I knew that he would never have used the words he was using in his writing. He was using another site’s words, but with no qualifying remarks to what they had written.

My feeling was that it was possible that his having over a million dollars in property for sell in Panama was altering his judgment.

I have noticed that Richard seems to select which comments he wants posted. I have had many comments that were not allowed and have been told by others that their comments weren’t printed too.

Richard’s recent posts have been more balanced and I have recognized that. The only thing I don’t like is the misrepresentation of real living in Panama. I have dealt with too many people that came here, lost a lot of money, and then were returning to the States after living here for less than a year. If I see misrepresentation of life in Chiriquí, I speak up.

Chiriquí Life – My first issue with CL was being told how to use the Blog capability of the site. I requested that the my blog on CL be removed and the issue was closed.

My next issue with Chiriquí Life resulted after I posted a recent Embassy message. I received a message from the Admin (Bud) that my post had been removed and CL would be posting all Embassy messages.

For the record, I had no problem with that.

When I looked at CL, I saw that the Embassy message had been posted with the mis-formed URLs that the Embassy had issued.

I replied on CL that I only posted links to my blog for this Embassy messages because the Embassy has made mistakes in the past and I did not want to have to go back to multiple sites correcting errors. I could correct them once on my site and be done with it.

I also said, in that response, that there would be no further messages from the Embassy posted from me. This was acknowledging to CL, that I would no longer post those message to CL. In no way should that have been understood to include areas outside CL, that I post to.

Call me lazy for only posting links to one location that I have control of.

I thought that Bud might reread the Embassy’s message and correct it.

Instead, I got a curt remark, that they had it handled.

To which I replied that they might want to change the URLs in the Embassy message because they didn’t work. I had corrected them prior to posting on CC and notified the Embassy of their mistake, which the Embassy acknowledged.

Then I received another cute message on CL saying something like the URLS work just “spiffy here” and asked if I had a problem.

A proper response, would have been to say that they had fixed the URLs, but instead, Bud preferred to make it look like I was wrong in my statement.

When I saw that, I decided that I preferred to no longer participate in CL. I wrote multiple messages to the Admin (Bud) asking for my account to be closed and my profile to be removed. With CL’s design, an individual has no control of his/her content once it is posted.

I received zero responses to any of my communications. Only when I went to check in to CL, did I get a message that I was banned from the site.

I will admit that that upset me. Nowhere had I written anything justifying being banned.

I wrote what I thought was a humorous post stating that I had now been banned on two sites. Obviously the humor was only in my mind, because it certainly triggered the author of this email to have an upset stomach.

None of this would have taken place had Bud written me an email stating that he was closing my account at my request. My assumption is anyone’s account that is closed will show up as banned to that person. I think this is an oversight in the CL software and not caused by Bud. Still an email after my multiple attempts to communicate with him would have been nice and I would have respected him for doing so.

I understand it is Bud’s field and Ball and he can play the game the way he wants.

I was one of the people who criticized Ning management after your membership was revoked. There were two reasons for that. I strongly believe in the necessity for free speech and consideration of dissenting viewpoints. And, you have shown extraordinary compassion to people in need as the David Embassy Warden. But, in my opinion, your obstinance and arrogance now overshadow the superb work you have done as Warden.

I just took a look at US DoS Foreign Affairs Manual Volume 7 to get more information on the Warden system:
The term “warden” currently refers to someone who has the charge or care of someone or something. The Department uses the term to refer to individuals, usually but not always U.S. citizens resident in the host country, who volunteer to facilitate communication between the U.S. embassy/consulate and the U.S. citizen community.

Recently, on Chiriqui Life, you made the statement: “None the less, you will see no more Embassy information from me.” However, Foreign Affairs Manual Volume 7 includes the following description of Warden duties:
The Consular Section transmits Messages to U.S. citizens electronically, but there may be instances during crises where local infrastructure fails or inhibits the delivery of timely messages by the Consular Section. If necessary, Messages for the local U.S. community may be relayed from the embassy or consulate to you for dissemination by any means available to you.

I realize that each Warden has in own methods for disseminating Embassy notices. I live in Boquete and, as far as I know, Price Peterson only uses the Noticias system. If you had not stated your intent to eliminate a means of communication that you had previously used, I would probably not take issue with you. But, your statement reveals a conflict of interest with the duties you have agreed to perform as the David Warden. It’s time for you to decide whether you want to keep expressing Don Ray Williams’ opinions or be the David Warden.

Again, this is a misunderstanding by the email author as to what my message said. It should have been interpreted in the context of which it was written. CL had said to not post any more Embassy messages, and I acknowledged CL’s request. Nothing more. It only applied to CL.

Best regards,


Let me address a couple other things. I have over the years posted many experiences I have had while acting as Warden. My intention in writing these experiences are to bring to light problems that U.S. Citizens can run into in Panama. I have always avoided using people’s names in any of my writing. My writing about being involved in these cases my be considered as arrogance by some. My intention in writing is to present information.

I take, and have always taken, the responsibility of being a volunteer warden for the U.S. Embassy very seriously. Because of living in David, I wind up with more opportunities to help than the other wardens. This is not my opinion, it is what the Embassy tells me. This is primarily because of the Regional Hospital is in David and the fact that most emergency cases are sent to the Regional Hospital.

I have been asked to cover cases from Puerto Armuelles, Boquete, Volcan and other parts of Chiriqui and Panama because a person wound up in the Regional Hospital. It would be unreasonable for the area warden, where the person resides, to assist if the person is in trouble in David.

My intention in posting this email is to open a dialog. I don’t like misunderstandings to linger and cause problems. I think discussions are healthy.

30 thoughts on “Clearing The Air

  1. Don, I read you blog because you seem to be a very dedicated person to the truth and to honesty. Others often seem to enjoy fighting battles for “strange” reasons that should not even exist but that unfortunately seems to be human nature. Please don’t let a few stupid, ignorant, and spiteful people spoil your excellent blog. I personally learn more from you than just about anyone.

    By the way, I now have Magic Jack working on an Android 5.0 Samsung cell phone. It works great and the good thing is that I didn’t subscribe to the cell phone service. The neat thing is that I can send text messages to other cell phones and receive them as well on the MJ on the cell phone but this service still isn’t on the desktop version. What most people don’t realize is that these cell phone systems are really just mini-computers and can still be used with wi-fi just about anywhere. I believe it even has a built in GPS that I haven’t used. I’m still trying to figure out an easy way to transfer fotos so that I can see them on my big screen desktop.

    Keep up the good work.

  2. I have not been able to get MJ to work on either my updated MAC OS X or on my iPhone. I have to get it solved before next year when my current Magic Jack contract runs out.

    I have one Mac Mini that I didn’t update and that is what I use for Magic Jack.

  3. Hi Peter. I hope you, Xenia and the girls (they are so big now, that they barely qualify as girls) have a great holiday season that is upon us.

  4. I have two opinions about all this. One; political correctness has slithered down here from the USA and he wants your Warden job. Don’t you give in to him, please.

  5. I have a question that you can relay to the embassy for me: can the embassy supply the name of any other warden in Panama that has provided as much service to their area? Does Panama City have wardens and do they spend their days (and money) caring for expats while in the hospitals?

    Are there any other wardens who have received thanks from another country’s embassy as you did from the British embassy?

    At least the email author didn’t call you a “pompous ass” as happened on ning. That’s a plus. 🙂

    We have been reading Chiriqui Chatter since the beginning and will continue to do so. It is the only true picture of what life in Chiriqui province is.

  6. Interesting Joyce. Do you only have it on your iPhone or on it and the PC as well. I am wondering if you can have two devices active with the same number. Maybe I need to just creat a new account on the cell.

  7. There‘s definitely no need for apology or accountability of actions on your part Don Ray, you have proven yourself as a fine upstanding and caring individual on numerous occasions.
    I don’t understand it, but since the unfortunate departure of Lee Zelter there seems to have been a jockeying for position within the expat community. Wasn’t everyone just looking for a peaceful, harmonious, life when they initially decided on making the move to Panama!

  8. Don, I think you cleared the air and stated your perspective clearly. Unfortunately, I think most people are stuck with whatever opinion and mindset they made before this point in time. Hopefully a few will reexamine their own prejudice. There will always be those that see the good. We applaud you for the job you do, your honesty and your extraordinary efforts to personally care for others. There will also always be those who look to find fault and hang on to disagreements as proof of arrogance and malintent.

    It seems we get so easily offended these days and it blinds us to the good intentions behind the words and actions. Clearing the air helps. Putting up walls to keep each other out, telling members of one place they are not welcome because they belong to another place – these things divide us. As we divide into these little opinionated groups, we forget that we are all apart of the same community which makes us all part of the same group. It is OK to disagree and it is healthy to have an open discussion.

    Thanks for clearing the air, now lets get back to being a community.

  9. We have MJ on 2 Cell phones, each has their own separate number. So we now have 3 MJ numbers, the Main MJ, Connie’s iPhone 6 and my iPhone 5. The iPhone’s MJ numbers cost $10 per year each. Well worth it as then we have MJ service when traveling via WiFi or via WiFi on our data plan on our phones.

  10. Don, the larger metric is the fact that times change, and it is important that we, as thinking, reasoning human beings, need to constantly evolve in order to maintain credibility and relevance in the modern age. Therefore, I believe that it is time for you to consider changing your name from Don Ray Williams to William Ray Don. Then we can all start calling you “Billy Radon”, and your appeal to the younger generation will increase exponentially, even though they probably don’t even know what radon is. That doesn’t matter, because marketability is key, and you can start selling “Billy Radon” bumper stickers and tee shirts — for $9.99 Balboas. Soon, you and Lilliam can retire in the lap of luxurious luxury. I’m roughing-out the storyboard for the first graphic novel, wherein Billy Radon uncovers the fell US Government plot to disseminate faulty URL’ s!

    Don’t forget, Wheaties and spinach can help deflect the Forces of Evil!!

    Your trusty side-kick,


  11. Off to buy some Wheaties and Spinach.

    As a side note, Lilliam was reading my blog this morning and when she quit, she turned to me and said I should quit responding to idiots.

    What I didn’t know was if it was because she had read the blog or because she wanted me to quit talking to myself.

  12. The reply from Jim and Nina clearly exposes them as plants for Don Ray to feed his ego and carry on this nonsense discussion.

    If one looks at the posting that they reference on Chiriqui Life, you will see a footnote by the administrator that that URL provided by the embassy was “flawed and could not be repaired”. Jim and Nina should tell the truth and the whole truth. Their credibility is zero and their parents would be ashamed of them.

    I don’t like Chiriqui Life because of strange navigation, but at least they tell the truth. I like Chiriqui Chatter even less because it seems to me that Don Ray opinionates his version of the truth.

    The real solution here is for everyone to register with the embassy in Panama City and quit reading the local stuff.

    Disgusted with you all. I doubt Don Ray will allow this comment to be posted. He has deleted a couple other of my comments.

  13. Bill the only reason one of your comments might not have made it is if it were put in the spam folder and not seen. Sorry to disappoint you.

    By the way Bill, I do agree that everyone should register with the Embassy and STEP.

  14. Hi Richard. No, I haven’t read your book. I have read many of your posts and can only judge what you think based on those posts. It could be that I made a false assumption of thinking that what was printed in your blog was what you believed.

  15. Hi Don – Well, I have been reading your blog before moving to Panama and I still am seven years later. I may not comment often but, I will today. Times have changed a lot since moving here and your suggestions on this site are about the only thing, I read nowadays. Since, Lee’s departure, I have noticed a frenzy of egos skyrocketing in this area as most want there 15 minutes of fame and to have control over others which is a sign of the times and where this world is at today. Guess, we will never be loved by everyone, learned that back in the day in the early stages of my very young life. Nonetheless, I am so glad that there is Chiriqui Chatter and Don Ray William’s behind the scenes. Thanks again for all that you do to continually keep us informed. It is great to know level headed people and you are one of them.

  16. On the MJ – I bought a $49 Samsung 5.1′ Android 4.4 4G LTE 16 MP.2.1MP on black Friday at Walmart that normally sells for $200. I had MJ working on a much cheaper and smaller screened unit. I did not subscribe to the pay as you go service since I really had no need for it but did like the idea of downloading the app for MJ and installing it. All I had to do after that was to put in my user number and my password for MJ. On the second phone (taking the $29 one back to Best Buy), I was able to just transfer it all somehow (god only knows how) and then had to enter the password again. It was working on both phones and still works on the desk top. I really like the larger screen since my fingers were too big for the small keys on the smaller unit and the voice quality is much better on the larger unit. I’m still trying to figure out how to get the GPS app to work (not sure that it can?). I hope with uninstalling and everything else that I took it off the first phone that I will be taking back.

    A hundred years ago I bought one of those books saying everyone would do wonderful to retire in Mexico. I went to Mexico a few times and I feel that it is a totally failed country that I would never go to again. I just stopped reading Dietrch’s blog because it never pointed out anything but roses which I know isn’t real life at all.

  17. I am beginning to think that my Magic Account has a problem. Works fine on the desktop that I didn’t upgrade. However when I enter my sign and password on the iPhone, it acts like it is going to work, says you will be able to make calls in a short time and then resets and asks to put in id and password again.

    Of course support with MJ is a waste of time. I have been trying to work with them for a long time and nothing happens.

  18. Bill Davidson, let me tell you something, I am personal friends with Jim, and Don Ray, and believe me, neither of them will be phased by your opinion, nor do they come close to requiring the need to have their egos boosted.

    It’s beyond my wildest imagination why people choose to contribute thoughtless, irreverent contributions to a man who has only the best interest of the community as his sole agenda.

    I sincerely hope this will be a wake up call to you to please think twice before you attempt to wind people up, and attempt to hurt their feelings.

  19. It’s OK, Lynnie. Some folks just can’t be helped.
    Bill, not Nina, Nena, it is the Spanish version of Babe.
    I did see the footnote, strange how Don Ray has a working link? He is a wizard.
    As for my parents, Mom passed a few years back, Dad was 93 this past September and still proud of all his children.
    Don Ray, where is this year’s Thanksgiving bird? LOL

  20. After 20 years in Costa Rica started reading CC. I recall you posted the breakfast buffet at Hotel National, which at the time was about 6$. We were paying just under 20 in CR.

    I really have no idea why people would attack such a decent fellow as yourself..

    They´re probably jealous that you got the nice chick..??

    You´re above all that anyway.

    Don´t wrestle with a pig. You´ll just get muddy, and the pig enjoys it.

  21. What a nasty email to you. It’s your blog. You can say anything you want. Keep doing your good work.

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