Category Archives: Panama Journal

What Will I Do in Panama

This is an important question anyone wanting to move here should ask. Fellow bloggers Joel and Kris have done a good job of integrating themselves into the community they live in. Because of that, they recently were asked to be judges at a local bilingual school.

This appears to be one of the few bilingual schools I haven’t been in. It is always rewarding to interact with the young people in Panama.

Kris and Joel, I applaud you.

Here is Kris’s post of their day behind the judging tables. Kris also has several YouTube videos that are worth watching as well as a performance of Joel singing Love Potion #9 for the students.

Yesterday Was A Great Day

We got up and had a morning swim. Lilliam brought coffee to the pool and we commented what a beautiful day it was with the sun coming up.

I answered emails and around 9:45 AM we headed out for what I thought was our run to Costa Rica.

As we got to McDonald’s Lillim told me to slowdown because she had forgotten something. I pulled into McDonald’s and she informed me that she had forgotten to tell me she was taking me out for a breakfast of sausage, eggs, muffin, potato cake and Pancakes all topped off with a cappuccino.

When she had brought the coffee to the pool, I completely forgot about having breakfast. We enjoy going to McDs for breakfast, now and then. We returned home again where I was lavished with a couple nice gifts and then we left for Costa Rica for real.

It had been some time since we went to visit with Lilliam’s uncle and his family. They live just inside Costa Rica and we slip in the back way to avoid having to go through the passport checkpoints at Paso Canoas.

I always have a great time. They are the friendliest people one could ever imagine. At the present they have four generations living in their home. Family is important in latin America.

They had a new puppy that spent most of the day on Natalie’s lap. I had to check the car twice before we left for home to make sure Natalie wasn’t hiding her somewhere.

It started raining about 2:30PM and rained until we left around 7:00 PM. We drove home in a very hard rain. My least favorite part of the day.

We made it home with no mishaps so it was a very good day. Lilliam returned with a couple new plants for her garden. Koki checked Natalie out when we got home and realized she had not been faithful and then ignored her for the rest of the evening.

I watched the last hour of Dr. Zhivago, which I has started to watch on Saturday. When I turned it, I reminded myself how lucky I am. It just doesn’t get better than this.

My Favorite U.S. Agency At Work

On June 2nd of this month, I had an electronic deposit from the IRS for my 2014 tax filling. I was a happy camper. It had only taken three months from when I sent in my filing.

Today, I looked at my account and found that the IRS has withdrawn $1080 from my account. This is very strange. I have never known this to happen before. I have to assume they think I had an error in my filing, but it is strange that they would just take money out.

I am having a mental debate with myself as how to proceed. I assume that I should receive some correspondence from the IRS within the next 30 days. What to do if it goes 30 days and I have not heard anything is my dilemma.

Panama’s Tourism Crisis

Most gringos, who come to Panama, probably don’t read the local news paper or listen to the local news. It does require a modicum of Spanish for either of these activities. However, it is also a good way to improve your Spanish and you will learn a lot without understanding everything.

In our house, news time is a ritual. Lilliam has the TV on at all news hours. I understand about 40-50%, but when something important comes up, Lilliam makes sure i understood what was happening.

This morning, the news was covering the Tourism Crisis in Panama. One of the large hotels in Playa Blanca has shut down and the people on this mornings broadcast said the occupancy rate of all hotels is very low.

Part of this may be because of the negative press that is worldwide related to the corruption of the past administration. Part may be because of the press about Banco Universal being shut down. Part of it is a lack of interest on Panama’s part to really leverage the country’s assets and beauty.

If you take a trip to Cartagena or Santa Marta in Colombia, you have something to compare with Panama. These areas are really clean and well managed. The police insure that tourists are taken care of and have a good time.

The last time Lilliam and I were in Santa Marta, Colombia and were questioning a taxi driver about his fare to take us a tourist site, I noticed a policeman listening. When the taxi driver gave a price, the policeman raised his finger and signaled “no”. The price was immediately changed.

Think that would happen in Panama City? You have to be kidding. You will be lucky to get a taxi at various times of a day. You even have a risk of getting into a taxi that will access your dress and escort you to a location to get robbed. Many Panamanians in Panama City will only use a driver they know.

So how does the downturn in tourism affect those of us that live here and are not tourists. Well a couple of ways. One it is a good time to negotiate with hotels for better rates if you do want to visit Panama City and the Canal or other tourists locations.

However, I think more about the other growing trend that occurs when an industry is firing employees.

I think about the increased crime that gets pushed out into the other regions. Families have to eat and if you can’t earn enough you may turn to stealing.

There will be more people going through neighborhoods masquerading as police or Electricity Company inspectors wanting to check your breaker panel or with other sad stories that might give them access into your house.

We have had young 10 year old boys come to the door asking if they could use the phone. You should not allow anyone in your house period, including the police. If police officers come to your door asking entry, you should call the police and verify they have sent officers out.

Now might be another opportunity to remind everyone to tip the bag boys in the local supermarkets and at PriceSmart. Most people moving here do not realize that they young men are not paid by the super markets. The work only for the tips and many are helping support their family the only way they can.

If I carry my bag out I still give the boy a quarter or 50 cents depending on how much I spent. If he carries a lot to the car, I will give him a dollar.

Food prices have gone up and employment has gone down. Remember those less fortunate than you.

Offline Contact Messages

If you try to contact me using the Blog’s “Offline Contact” screen, it is very important that you double and triple check your email address.

I received an email this morning and got an error message on my reply that the addressee did not have a Yahoo account.

I reply to all emails, but can only do it if I have a good email address.

If you want you may contact me at the following address with the spaces removed.

donraycc @ gmail.com

Morning Walks

A couple weeks ago, Lilliam decided that I needed to start walking again with her and Natalie. I had stopped the walks when I started swimming each day.

Now that the rainy season is here, my 5:00 PM swim is usually canceled because of rain. I have changed my calendar to say “Swim” at 7 Am, but so far, my calendar fires and I just ignore it.

That is why Lilliam made her decision for me to start the morning walks again. So far my body had not gotten to excited about the walk. I would just as soon have another hours sleep. My alarm goes off at 6AM and I am getting up. Begrudgingly, but none the less, I am getting up.

IMG_0476I am not sure if it is a sign or not, but several mornings I have seen these large scavenger birds at various positions on the walk. What bothers me is they typically are seen around dead carcasses. It makes me wonder if they are scouting future meals. It does provide some motivation to keep moving.

 

 

IMG_0477This is about my most favorite part of the walk. It is all down hill. We walk all the way down the hill. Amazing how my gate speeds up going down hill.

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0478On the other hand, this is my least favorite part of the walk. It is the same location, but at the bottom of the hill. To make it even harder, we walk this portion backwards. Robert Watson told me that walking backwards up a hill was a good way to strengthen the muscles and help keep the back properly aligned.

I sure miss Robert. It is a shame he is no longer with us, but he did leave me with some good advice.

We are walking 6 days a week now. I hope that it becomes fun soon, because so far it is still a chore. I do enjoy the birds singing all along the walk, except for the ones whistling a dirge march and waiting for me to collapse.

I track our walk each time on the iPhone. We usually hit the mile mark in 20 minutes, so you can see it is not a very rapid pace. I will blame the slow time on the portion where we walk backwards.

The one good thing about the morning walk is that if I complete it, I must still be alive.