Category Archives: Panama Journal

Information Worth Passing On

I have a good friend that is experiencing difficulties, with Panama bank accounts, following the death of a spouse. My friend said that I could share the experience with others in hopes that it might prevent them from having similar problems.

Here was the information that the individual sent me.

We have two bank accounts (savings) with a local bank, signed with the principles’ name and authorized person. The problem lies in the fact that one was signed with “or” which is fine, the other signed with “and” which has presented a problem in the fact that the one signed “and” now has to go probate, which I have been told to not expect any results for a year.

I should clarify this situation happens after a death of the principle individual. I find it hard to believe we did this, but am sure there are others that may want to be aware and check their accounts and how they are set up.

I have been told that the banks do have a beneficiary form that can possibly alleviate this problem.

I was previously aware of this type of problem. Lilliam has told me that having lawyers and wills tied to bank accounts also leads to similar problems because the legal fees to free up accounts usually take a huge portion of the assets. The bank beneficiary form solves the problem with little, if any expense.

Kayley’s Trip Begins

My granddaughter, Kayley, raised all of her money to go on her church’s missionary trip to Nicaragua.

Thanks to all who helped her hit her target.

They left Austin yesterday. This should be quite an experience for her. It is her first trip out of the U.S. and I know it will be an eye opening experience.

Her group will be taking photos so the families can keep up with their experiences.

This is a photo taken at the airport prior to departure. Kayley is in the center of the photo, nearest the camera.

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Lilliam – This is for you – Happy Valentine’s Day

By Don Ray Williams
February 4, 2012 (Updated February 14, 2015)

I’m younger, they say,
Than I was yesterday,
And I know the reason is you.

You make me feel good,
And I think that I should
Say thanks for the things that you do.

The warmth of your touch
Means ever so much.
I enjoy the smile on your face.

Yes, I’m lucky I know,
And I must tell you so,
For your goodness cannot be replaced.

Please ignore all my faults,
And remove any doubts
About how much I really care.

My loves always growing,
Though it’s not always showing,
So I’m telling you, so you’ll be aware.

Our time spent together
Seems to only get better,
And I hope that it never will end.

Hold my hand as I say,
In my very own way,
I love you; I need you,
my sweetheart, my lover, my wife, and my very best friend.

NetFlix Vs. VOD

I continually get emails from Cable Onda for movies currently on Video On Demand. I am pleased to say that I never have to order them and think we will see the day when VOD disappears.

I do subscribe to Netflix. It costs me $8.00 a month and has many advantages over VOD for me. Cost is one advantage. I can watch as many movies or TV shows that I want a month for the same price and that would amount to about 3 VOD movies.

However, cost is secondary to the convenience. Netflix operates just like a video player. You can stop a movie and pick it up another day. You can pause the movie and take a phone call. You can watch the same movie multiple times, if you want.

Netflix isn’t perfect, but it sure beats anything else I have found. I can watch it on my Apple TV, my PC, my iPad and even my cell phone if I want to have eye strain. Yesterday, I watched a Steven King movie on my iPad using headphones, while Natalie and Lilliam watched a show in Spanish on TV,

The main limitation of NetFlix exixts with the Internet. I have had a couple times this week when the Movies would stop to receive more content. The reason is not always something that I have control over. I have had times when it has been Cable Onda having performance problems. This week it has been external to Cable Onda and is either NetFlix having problems or the network somewhere between here and the NetFlix servers.

Even with the problems, NetFlix remains my main source of media entertainment.

NetFlix isn’t the only provider. Amazon has Prime (I used it in the past), and another is HULU. I sometimes watch HULU by streaming from my PC to my Apple TV. However, I have uncovered so many series on NetFlix, that I haven’t watched, that I rarely need to use the others.

On a related subject, I hope to have time to go visit Cable Onda this week. I think I can improve my current subscription. I have already cut off all my premium movie stations which lowered my bill substantially.

Now I see that they have an “M” PLAN for $58.82 a month including a 6MB Internet speed and telephone. If it is indeed that price It would reduce my bill even more and increase my speed.

Well, enough technology talk. Have you told your sweetie that you love her/him? If not, you better get to it. I have told Lilliam and that I have plans for a new restaurant this evening. What ever I do for Lilliam is not enough, but at least she knows I am making an effort.

And to all of the Chiriquí Chatter reader – HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!

Carniceria La Casa del Cerdo – In David

After several recommendations, I found the House of Pork. HERE is a Google Map to La Casa Del Cerdo.

As you can see from the map, it is set back from the street, but there is a sign on the street, so no one should have a problem finding it.

Their hours are:

Mon – Fri: 7:30 am – 6:00 am
Sat: 7:30 am – 2:00 am

We stopped by yesterday and Lilliam bought some pork chops. I wanted two slabs of ribs, but I had to go in today to get them. Many order ahead so here is their business number. 7307362.

Here is a photo of the front of the business.


Here are today’s posted prices.

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This young man took care of my order. Unfortunately, I didn’t get his name, but will get it the next time I go in. He speaks english in case you are Spanish challenged. I was very impressed with the shop. Extremely clean! No foul odors. You can also buy eggs and chicken.


I said I picked up two slabs of ribs. They are larger than those at PriceSmart. I did have to trim the a little more than PriceSmart, but it was worth the effort. I cooked on slab this evening. I also cooked some of the trimmings and that was what we had for supper. Super tasty.

We will try the ribs tomorrow. We are going to visit Robert in Hogar Santa Catalina on Thursday and I promised to bring him some to try. Lets hope they are as good as the samples we had this evening.

Here is a photo of the this evenings ribs.


Remember, if you stop in to Carniceria La Casa del Cerdo, tell them you heard of them on Chiriquí Chatter.


I received the following guest post:

Illustration 1: Class in the Quilt House, Volcan, Chiriqui, Panama 2014
Volcan Quilters or Las Hermanas de Acolchado de Volcan is celebrating their fifth anniversary and over 400 women have learned to sew or quilt. They have sold over $50,000 in products. The women are justly proud of their quality workmanship, the classes they teach and the products they produce.

  • Our goals are:
    teach women techniques so they can produce high quality items from their homes and increase their income,
  • teach business and organizational skills to women who have limited resources and education,
  • bring income to Volcan via beautiful, high-quality products and great classes,
  • provide scholarships for students without the resources to begin this craft, and
  • establish Volcan as a center for the quilted arts.


Another Travel Advisory

I received a call today from an individual whose son was coming to visit, for three days, for the individual’s  80th birthday.

The son had Landed in Tocumen and was not being allowed to enter because his passport didn’t have enough time left on it. The individual was wondering if any thing could be done. I contacted the Embassy and here is the information they sent me.

The regulation states that individuals entering Panama must have at least 3 months validity on their passports.  We have this information posted on our website at the following link:  Other than U.S. citizens themselves ensuring they have the appropriate validity, the airlines are supposed to check passports to ensure they meet the entry requirements of the destination country before they board passengers.  We have seen this issue with several airlines (COPA, Delta, Spirit Air) and we have held meetings in the past between airlines, FAA, TSA to remind the airlines of this regulation.

We have not seen any exceptions made to this regulation at Tocumen.  Individuals are not permitted to enter Panama and are returned on the next flight to the same airport they arrived from.  Anything you can do to encourage citizens to ensure they have adequate validity on their passports would be appreciated.

If you have family coming to visit, you now know one more question to ask them.

It Is Always a Hoot

Every time the Proof of Life (POL) topic comes up, it is always a hoot. Conspiracy Theorists come out of the woodwork and wonder why the government is wanting a Panama Address.

People say POL only applies if you are having money deposited in Panama and doesn’t apply if money is deposited stateside. Not true, but people tend to believe what they would rather believe.

People say I use a mail forwarding address or I have my mail delivered to a friend or family in the U.S. and they forward any important mail to me. I have never received a POL letter. Well guess what, these letters are not mailed to the U.S., and the government doesn’t recognize a mail forwarding address as a valid address.

I get the question, I have no address. There is no way for me to get mail in Panama. Now this has some validity. Some areas have more problems getting mail than others. You can alway use “entrega general” (general delivery), to your closest Panama Post Office, for you mailing address.

Some areas in Panama have a higher likelihood of losing mail or having it delivered very late. That is the reason that the Embassy is making the effort to tell people they may have a problem if they are on the list and haven’t been notified.

Your mailing address and your physical address are two separate things.

I have had people tell me they called SSA and were told they didn’t have to fill out POL. You may be surprised to learn that many in the agency don’t understand what requirements are imposed depending on where you reside. The international office usually does, but I would rather follow the guidelines set for the country I am living in.

It is always the same and it happens every time POL comes as news to someone that hasn’t heard of it before.

The previous notice, from the FBU, stated that there were currently over 300 people that will start missing their checks this month.

Why do I give a shit? I’ll tell you. The FBU is a small staff in the Panama Embassy. 300+ problems will cause them a lot of work that is due to irresponsibility. Each one of the 300+ affected individuals will be upset because they have to make a trip to Panama City to visit the Embassy in person to get payments restored.

Why is face to face meeting required? Well it is because they want to make sure the person saying xyz is alive is really xyz.

I am a volunteer staff of 1 (2 counting Lilliam) and if the offender is in Chiriquí or around David, I will probably get a call. I don’t do well helping people that knew better, but didn’t like the system.

I have lived in Panama long enough to understand why the POL system is in place. Many gringos come to Panama and get involved with a family and they take care of the individuals and may even have access to their ATM card. It is to their advantage to avoid notifying the Embassy if the person dies. It happens.

Many U.S. Citizens fly under the radar and keep moving to various countries. They may die and no one knows where they are or who they are. People have died in Panama and the Embassy has never been notified.

If you are using a friend or family member in the US, then you may be able to beat the system. However, if it becomes known that you are a resident of Panama and receiving a check in the U.S. It is grounds for the SSA to stop payments until they receive POL.

How can they find out? Ask Snowden.

You can either choose to comply with what the U.S. Embassy has been instructed to tell the U.S. Citizens living in Panama or you can ignore it. If you get in trouble, it will be the FBU in Panama City that bails you out.

If it doesn’t matter if you miss a few months of SS or other Federal Benefit payments, then don’t worry about it. The Embassy will get it turned back on as soon as they can. Unlike me, they will remain politically correct on any communication delivered to the individual in trouble.

I personally am happy to see that this system is there and that the agency is trying to prevent payments from going to a dead person and still being cashed or collected. I am not sure that Social Security will be there for my entire lifetime.

It just Occurred to Me

I spent yesterday helping a good friend that has recently moved into a new house. The main project was to move her air conditioner from her apartment to the house she is now renting. Another task was having Cable Onda connect her TV, phone, and Internet.

Cable Onda came early in the morning and everything was up and running in about an hour or so. They did a good job and were very helpful.

Luckily, my task for the day was to provide my electrician who really did all the rest of the work. I was mainly the chauffeur if my electrician needed items in from the stores.

The AC move and electrical project did provide one thing that might be worth mentioning.

At the end of the day, I asked my electrician to take a look at the outside electric meter area, because that is always a security concern. Most people don’t think of it as such, but it is the first place many thieves go to before they try to enter a house.

The reason is because they want to turn off power to the house in case there is a security system or phone system connected. While most security systems have battery backup, the battery may be weak.

Power to the house will not affect the phone lines, but many people use new wireless phones in the house and if power isn’t on, then the phones won’t work. I keep my phone on my UPS and can make calls if power is out.

Well, I was surprised when my electrician took me out to the meter area and showed me that the breaker had been removed. Whoever had prepared the house for rent had just tied the lines direct without a breaker.

That is a very dangerous situation.

OK. one problem identified. A breaker will be installed.

Now back to my original concern. I wanted my electrician to measure for a cover for the breaker switch. If the breaker is covered and locked, then a thief has a much harder time turning off electricity to the house.

Here are two examples of how some people cover their outside breaker. The one on the left is the cover I had installed. It has a small lock to prevent the wrong person from opening it. On the right is another I have seen. While it makes it more difficult to turn off the breaker, a stick or screwdriver can still throw the switch.

This is another simple protective measure that I recommend all house owners take.

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Missing My Sole Mate

Today, I spent a lot of time on YouTube playing some of my favorite music, mostly music of the 60s and 70s.

I don’t know why, but I guess that I have had a feeling of melancholy surrounding me for the last month or so. I have received at least four emails, within the last 30 days, telling me that old friends have passed.

Lilliam is in Costa Rica and when she is gone I feel such a void. Natalie is here, but there is never a replacement for one’s sole mate no matter how hard others try.

The emails, Lilliam being away and the music had a dramatic effect on me. Tears streamed down my face and memories flashed through my mind relentlessly.

Beyond the current emails, I began to count other friends that have left all too soon. I doubt if they knew how much they meant to me. Each and everyone left an indelible print on me that will never disappear.

Many of the artists I listened to today occupy another part of my memories. I can hear a song and almost picture where I was and what I was dong when I first heard it.

I think had all of the Peter, Paul, and Mary albums. I was a big fan of the Chad Mitchell Trio. I remember when Chad Mitchell decided to go solo and brought in a unknown replacement by the name of John Denver.

I must have listened to more than 11 hours of YouTube of these artists today.

It seemed that the more I listened the more I was touched by how quickly time passes and how fragile life is. I also realized that the older I get the faster time goes.

As I listened to the music, I picked up my iPad and wrote a poem to remind myself that time is valuable and should not be wasted.

I called it Reminiscing.