Happy Thanksgiving to all Chiriquí Chatter Followers

Today is Lilliam’s day for the maid to come, so that prevents any outing for a Thanksgiving feast. For just us few it is not worth the hassle to buy turkey and make the fixings so it will be Panamanian tipica for lunch.

I do plan on watching football today. There are just some things you can’t give up. Go Cowboys!

I hope all of my family in the U.S. are enjoying this holiday and want you to know that you are all on my mind today.

I have said it before that I no longer need a day to give thanks. I am thankful everyday when I get up healthy and can take Koki out to pee. In fact I am happy that I am to be able to pee easily also.

When you see others at my age struggling to just get by or unable to get out of bed, it helps you to focus on what the important things are in life.

Health ranks much higher than money. I have had more, but I have not been happier than I am now.

I find it funny that they even celebrate Black Friday in Panama. Malls will be busy from now until the end of the year. Black Friday is much less in the U.S. than it used to be. The internet has changed all of that.

Looking at the news of the weather in the NE of the U.S. is another reason for me to be thankful. I may even take a dip in the pool as another reminder of how lucky I am.

Lilliam and I wish all Chiriquí Chatter followers a wonderful day.

Notes From Warden’s Meeting on the 20th

I am still in Panama City, but thought I would post this while it is fresh on my mind.

Lilliam and I attended a Warden Meeting at the U.S. Embassy in Panama City on the 20th. This is the second time I have attended a Warden meeting in PC and while it is not an expense free trip, I feel the expense is worth it to be able to meet and talk to the other wardens.

The Embassy gave me more recognition for my support of U.S. Citizens in Chiriquí than I feel worthy of, and I neglected to tell the group that I could not do what I have done without the help I receive from Lilliam. I will tell everyone now. She enjoys helping people and having a David local to intercede when my Spanish breaks down is invaluable.

Not all areas in Panama were represented, but there were 22 wardens in attendance.

Lauren B Armenise (ACS Chief) moderated the meeting. There were presentations from the Regional Security Office (RSO), the International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Office (INL), a tour of the Embassy, A Federal Benefits Unit & Non-Immigrant Visa presentation, a American Citizen Services presentation, and got to meet the new Consul General (Alice Seddon).

Much of the information was the same as last year, but there was new information as well. Proof of Life (POL) was covered and HERE is my post on that topic from last year. We were told that they expected fewer problems because of POL and all were thanked for getting the word out. Continue reading

Crime Update

My morning email contained an email from the Boquete District. An individual was opening the lock to his finca when two thugs attacked him. One hit him and threw him to the ground while the other took his bag with all his ID, both from here in Panama and from back in the U.S. along with some money and his cell phone. Along with those items they also took his U.S.passport and his Panama Air ticket.

He had called to ask the procedure for getting a replacement passport. The process is not that difficult. You have to report the theft to the Panama authorities and receive a document from them of the passport theft.

Then you have to contact the U.S. Embassy in Panama City and make arrangements to go there and get an emergency passport. They will make it a priority item.

Crime seems to be on the uptick. There have been recent armed robberies in restaurants and fincas. All of these types of crimes seem to fuel the gun advocates promoting guns as a solution. In the case above, had the individual had a gun on his person, it would most likely have been taken from him and he might have been shot with his own gun.

I believe in being as prepared as possible to prevent being a victim, but there will always be cases in which you couldn’t be prepared. In those cases, I believe the best thing to do is remember that things can be replaced. Life can’t. Continue reading


Well, today was a big day.

We moved the stroke victim to Hogar Santa Catalina. Basically all large items in his apartment have been placed. We packed a large amount the loose ends, which are currently sitting in my living room to be sorted and distributed.

Only the loose ends (smaller items, which will take me a little time) and the Isuzu are not sold. I want to issue a HUGE THANK YOU to Chris Smoot and Drew Williams. Without those two individuals, today could not have happened.

We started at 9:00 AM and completed several hours later. Continue reading

Home invasion robbery last night in Santa Marta

I received the following information and feel it is information that needs to be distributed.

Last night, 11/11/14, at 9:00 pm three armed thugs broke into our farm manager’s personal home located 5 km south of Finca Santa Marta.

Many of you know Tino Charmont, our manager from his days as the “go to” English speaking salesman at the Do It Center in David.

Fortunately he was not hurt. He was tied up and told to be quiet.

They came in through the only unbarred window in his house. 3 guys all with guns. They got away with his laptop, 2 TVs, frozen food from his freezer, $200 in cash, and other items of value including a registered Glock handgun.

This was a planned robbery. Not a random act. The 3 robbers came with a truck to haul off the booty.

We have recently increased security at our farm and will continue to do so. You should do the same. Until the local law enforcement officials achieve a higher arrest/conviction rate, these types of crimes will continue to increase in frequency and boldness and happen in areas previously untouched by such.

And as all Boy Scouts learn: “Be Prepared”

Ron Miller

Heather Paudler Guest Post 2 – la danza Bugabita

To read Heather’s previous post, click HERE.

Her second post follows:

Continuing from my last post that included Act I, it’s in the next act when the action really begins in la danza Bugabita. In Act II the battle is waged between the Christians and the Moors. It opens with Ganelon, an ambitious and egotistic member of Charlemagne’s troop, drawn by greed to cross over to the enemy line. The Moorish King welcomes him, claiming “Rise and come into my arms, brave renegade.” He then places his crown on Ganelon, the Christian traitor, and Ganelon boldly claims, “I am the King!”

Another exchange occurs from the army of the Moors: Fierabrás, son of the the Moorish King, recognizes that there must be a supreme being that guards over the Christian army. Amazed by their courage and steadfastness, he decides to unite with the Christian soldiers. He presents himself before Charlemagne and surrenders his sword, claiming to only trust in their God, saying, “I am ready to give myself for you, heart, life, and soul.” Charlemange accepts Fierabrás, and as he confessed that he has reformed, imparts baptism upon the converted Moorish soldier, and he joins the Christian side.
Of course, this makes his father, the Moorish King, quite angry, and he turns on Ganelon, believing him to be the cause of his son’s conversion. He orders Ganelon to be tied to a tree and executed. Seeing himself in these dire conditions, Ganelon cries out to God and begs for mercy. Meanwhile, the devil prowls among the lines of the soldiers, making his way to Ganelon because he wants to take his soul. However, the angel appears in order to get rid of the devil, thereby saving Ganelon.
Fierabrás, even more amazed at this Christian God, returns to the Moors to try to convince his father and his people to accept the Christian faith and be baptized. Bravonel responds, “It’s worth more to serve God, so we ask for baptism.” At this point the angel imparts baptism to all of the Moors, and the second act ends with everybody singing together about receiving the blessed sacrament.
The bulk of Act III features a zapateo, which as its name suggests, is a type of dance associated with percussive footwork. There are several different manifestations of zapateos throughout Spain and Latin America, both as a type of music and as a dance form. In this act, all participants perform this dance as a celebration for the conversion of the Moors.

At the end of the dance, as they bid farewell to the pubic with some dialogue, the lines of soldiers leave the plaza together, thus ending this version of moros y cristianos known as la danza Bugabita.
Again, for anyone who would like to see the pictures from the performance on August 30th, 2014, I have them in several albums on my Facebook account!

Back – Sort Of – But not Idle

We are physically back. The return didn’t go exactly as planned. Our plan was to arrive in Panama City on November 1 and go directly to the bus terminal and grab a bus and get home in David early Sunday morning.

However, when our SkyBliss drivers (more on them in a separate post) picked us up at Tocumen Airport, they said they doubted if we would get on a bus as they were filling up with people leaving for the holiday week and lines were long.

Sure enough when we got to the bus terminal at 10PM +, the line was incredible and the last bus for the day was sold out.

We elected to stay at the TRYP hotel for the night and get a good night’s sleep and try the next day.

The hotel was great, but pricier than hotels I normally use in PC.

The attendant at the hotel transported our bags to the bus terminal on Sunday morning and we got tickets and left at 11:30AM. Continue reading

Yesterday Outing

Yesterday’s outing took us to The Domain shopping area in Austin. I guess you would call it an open mall. All stores are entered from the street. Plenty of high end stores, but no covered in the event of inclement weather. It is a very high end shopping area, with upscaled shops and plenty of restaurants.

The reason for choosing The Domain was because it contained the Apple Store that was going to receive the Apple iPad Air 2 I had ordered. When I ordered it, the delivery date indicated that it might be delivered on the 31st, which was the day before our departure for Panama. Therefore, I put the delivery in my daughter’s name in case something happened and the delivery was delayed.

Last week I received an email updating the delivery to the 24th. Going on the 23rd was a day early, but I wanted to know where the store was and knew Lilliam would find a few stores to entertain her. The parking garage was close to the Apple Store (what luck), and Apple was our first stop (surprise).

Like all Apple stores I have been to, it was well laid out, was packed with people, and had an attendant at the door to assist you. He checked my order and it had not been checked into inventory. He assured me that if the delivery time said the 24th, then it should be here no later then the 24th. No problem. I would come back tomorrow. Continue reading

Heather Paudler Guest Post 1 – la danza Bugabita

I am honored to post a guest blog on ChiriquiChatter! First, let me begin with a brief introduction of who I am: My name is Heather Paudler, and if you’ve been following Don’s posts, you’ll know that I have stayed with Don, Lilliam, Natalie, and Koki (their wonderful dog!) three times since April 2013 conducting research for my dissertation.

I am currently a Ph.D. Candidate in Musicology at the Florida State University. Broadly, my research interests include moros y cristianos festivals – that is, festivals of reconquest performed throughout Latin America. This tradition of mock battles between Moors and Christians began eight centuries ago in Spain and is often incorporated into large festivals including dance, dialogue, and music. Versed in the use of music as a homogenizing factor, Spanish missionaries transplanted this tradition to diverse geographical areas in Asia and the Americas as a means to convert the indigenous populations to Catholicism.

I had always intended to go study one of these traditions as performed today in Mexico. When encouraged to find an area that had been less studied, a series of serendipitous events led me to the home of Don Ray Williams (more on this story in a later post!). I have been extremely fortunate to have Don, Lilliam, and Natalie help facilitate this research so welcomely!

Back to the story: In the community of Bugabita, Panama, the townspeople preserve and guard a tradition of moros y cristianos that they call la danza Bugabita. Their dance represents the struggle between two factions – the Moors from Turkey and the Twelve Peers of France led by Charlemagne.

On my third trip to Panama, the community organized a presentation on the night of Saturday, August 30th. While a massive thunderstorm threatened to undermine the outdoor performance, the rain subsided en route to Bugabita. I was fortunate to have an entire crew helping with photography (a huge thank you to Chris Smoot!!), video, and audio recording.
PICTURE 1 Continue reading