Category Archives: Panama Journal

English Conversation

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Today, I visited my friend Dario Quiroz and his students that are learning conversational English. It has been a while since I had stopped in to see Dario and it is always a pleasure to be involved with his students.

I met four students today. Three are in the photo above. and one came a little later and I didn’t get her photo. However, I may get her photo another day because she has a new Venezuelan restaurant and I may drop in to give it a try. She said all the food is typical Venezuelan.

The students are Anise, Stephanie and Sasha. I hope I got their names right, but if I didn’t they can comment and correct me.

Dario’s students are always the best. While English is taught in the school system and is mandatory, it is not necessarily a desired course by the students.

The students, that go to Dario, want to learn English because they see that it will help them to get a better job. There isn’t anything I enjoy more than helping students learn. It is always beneficial for students to hear English spoken by a person speaking his/her native language.

Most Panamanian teachers, including Dario, will have a Panamanian accent, when they teach English. That is to be expected. Dario has always gone out of his way to try to get native English speakers to visit his class so the students can practice hearing a non-Panamanian accent.

I enjoy these conversational sessions. You might too. If you think you might like it, see if there are any english conversational classes and volunteer to participate. You will be surprised how good you feel for helping the youth of Panama.

The Civil and Family Courts of Chiriquí Have Moved

IMG_0637As you can see from the photo above, today I visited the new location of the Civil and Family courts for Chiriquí. They are now located in Cadena de Frío. One end contains the public market and the other end now contains the courts listed in the photo above. In my previous post, the area that was vacant is what now contains the court system. The courts moved within the last three weeks.

I was requested by the Embassy to visit the court in reference to a juvenile case. While I can’t and wont discuss the case, I have a few observations that are pertinent that I can share.

First, I could never have participated in discussions for a case like this, when I moved to Panama. Neither the judge nor the social worker I visited today spoke English. Also, when we visited the family setting all communication by the social worker was in Spanish. Some of the participants spoke English, but being able to understand Spanish was mandatory.

Now while many may move to Panama and never learn Spanish, I feel that gaining a respectable capability in the language of the country is required. The language of Panama is Spanish. If you are going to live here, learn Spanish or at least learn as much as you can. Panamanians will respect you more and appreciate your being interested enough to make the effort to learn.

My Spanish is not great, but I can understand the majority of everything I hear as long as it isn’t spoken to fast.

When I got to the offices this morning, I was given the current files of the case. Obviously this was all in Spanish. In 2003, that would have been 2 inches of paper with writing on it that I could not understand. Today, I amazed myself how much I could understand.

Next, I would like to say that I was very impressed with the professionalism and concern that was shown by all involved in this case. The interest of the involved juvenile was their sole focus and they took their jobs very seriously.

More Regulation Enforcement at the Frontera

I have seen complaints lately by people being upset because the border at Paso Canoas is becoming more strict. HERE is one of the latest issues.

I meant to write a post about the increased border enforcement a month ago and got distracted and forgot.

I for one, approve of their enforcing the laws better. It is happening on both sides and not just on the Panamanian side. There is too much criminal traffic at the borders and a crack down has been needed for some time.

If you have been to the border lately, you should have been impressed with how the area between the two customs area has been cleaned up.

Once you pass through the Panama customs area, You are now in Costa Rica, even thought you have not reached the Costa Rica customs check area.

When I first moved to Chiriquí you could drive through the Panama customs area and park on the Costa Rica streets. You can no longer do that. I shouldn’t say you can’t but you are wise not to.

It is just as well. If you were to have an accident, your car would be impounded in Costa Rica and a healthy fine would be imposed. In the past,

I also used to walk over to the Costa Rica customs area to meet Lilliam’s daughter that was coming to visit. I no longer do that.

Lilliam and I also used to drive to see Lilliam’s uncle, who lives close to the border. We no longer can do that.

You can’t get upset when countries control their boarders. I wish the U.S. would control theirs.

When Lilliam’s daughter comes to Panama and buys things, she is obligated to pay duty when the products are taken into Costa Rica. Sometimes she is lucky and sometimes not.

You can go to the border and buy liquor at the duty free area much cheaper than normal Panama prices. You can only do that if you have your passport. The duty free stores could care less who they sell it to as long as they are not Panama residents.

However, if you are a permanent resident of Panama, then your out of country passport will not apply because the duty free is to be used by those who are not residents. The stores will not ask if you are Panama residents. They just want a sale and they will just record you passport.

That is the same reason that duty free at airports deliver your purchase on the plane and not when purchased.

If large purchases are made on the Panamanian side and you don’t want possible problems, then make sure you get a receipt. Use your smart phone to send yourself the GPS location of the purchase, if you are making a substantial purchase.

I carry an Embassy Warden letter in my car, so I really don’t worry about being harassed. However, if you are a U.S. citizen and feel like you have a complaint that you are being treated different than a Panamanian would be treated, then contact the American Citizen’s Services unit of the U.S. Embassy in Panama City. Panama-ACS@state.gov

While the Embassy won’t get involved in legal cases, they can verify that Americans are not being treated differently than Panamanian citizens.

U.S. Embassy Wardens for Panama

I received an email today asking if I was the Warden, representing Boquete, for the U.S. Embassy in Panama City.

I am the really the David Warden for the Embassy. To understand what a warden is, I will direct you to notes I took at the Warden Meeting at the Embassy in March of 2013.

I was asked if I might post a list of the wardens for the different areas. Instead, if you want to know who volunteers in your area, it would be better to write the American Citizen Services unit in the Embassy. Ask them who volunteers in your area.

Their email address is Panama-ACS@state.gov. The list of Wardens change continually and to get a current answer, it is better to go to the source.

I also replied in the email that, while I represent David, I get more than just David’s traffic because of the hospitals in David and the jail being in David.

I am usually always around and have no problem responding to needs outside my area if I can. I do not place boundaries on who I will support.

Many times, I just need to get an individual’s email into the right hands at the Embassy and that doesn’t take much time.

A COPA Experience

I had made reservations for Lilliam and I to fly COPA at the end of the month to meet my cousin, who is coming to visit. Lilliam found out last week that she needed to change her schedule and go up early. I would maintain my schedule.

Yesterday, we went to the COPA office next to DHL where I purchased the original tickets. When we entered they said their system was down and we could either wait for some undetermined time or come back later.

I told them that we had previously purchased a round trip ticket for Lilliam and wanted to change the departing date and keep the return date. I asked if the lady could approximate the charge (if any) to do that. She said it would be around $90.

We had paid $150 for the the round trip (higher than my cousin paid without pensionado discount) and $90 seemed excessive even by Panama standards. Since the systems were down we decided to take care of the rest of our business of which was going to Hogar Santa Catalina.

I told Lilliam that we should go to the airport and check on changing the flight date.

We did and the you man said no problem and made the change to Lilliam’s ticket. The charge was $0.00.

My experience with the local office has not been very favorable. The airport personnel appear to be more competent. I will no longer deal with the COPA local offices.

Dra. Inés Chang and Metro Optica Have A New Service

Friday, we stopped into Metro Optica to see Dra. Inés Chang because Natalie needed new glasses. Dra. Inés has been my personal eye physician since Dra Susan left Optica Lopez.

I think Dra. Inés is great and has done an excellent job of keeping up with my eye needs.

In the past she has recommended a couple different ophthalmologists, when she felt I needed their service. I used one who visited Mae Lewis from Panama City.

I have good news. She now has a team of three ophthalmologists in her Metro Optica office. They are Dr. Miguel Wong, Dr. Julio Silvera and Dr.Hector Castro. They come in from Panama City at the end of the week. I met Dr. Julio Silvera on Friday.

They can take care of cataracts, glaucoma, or other surgical needs. Surgery will either be done in Hospital Chiriquí or in Panama City, depending on the situation. Dra. Inés said they bring a wealth of experience to David.

For normal eye needs you can see Dra. One and if more is required she can set up an appointment for one of the other doctors.

If you stop in to see Dra. Inés or one of her associates, tell them you learned about them on Chiriquí Chatter. I asked Dra. Inés if I could update her photo and she graciously agreed.

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Proof of Life Advisory

If you are a permanent resident of Panama and receive pension payments from the US (i.e SS, RR etc) then you should know that the Proof of Life forms, that must be returned, have been mailed.

If the questionnaire is not received by October, you should contact the FBU for a blank form to avoid the benefits from being suspended.

If you do not know about the Proof of Life requirement, then read the original post which is ->  http://www.chiriquichatter.net/blog/2013/05/09/proof-of-life/

For general information on the SS proof of life from the Embassy, you may refer to the following link: http://panama.usembassy.gov/ssai.html

And no, you may not use a PTY or other mail forwarding address as your SSA notification address.

If It Ain’t Broke………

OK. I thought I was through posting about KODI and the Fire Stick, but I have had a bad experience today.

They have released version 15 of KODI. I decided I would try it on my laptop first. It installed without problem on the laptop. so I decided to try it on the Amazon Fire Stick in my bedroom.

I first uninstalled 14.2 TVMC. Then I downloaded the Android version of KODI 15 to my laptop and moved it over to the Fire Stick. So far so good.

KODI 15 came up fine. However, there were no add ons installed, so I added the Fusion directory and installed the addon, which added the KODI Config program. However, the Config program fails.

OK, so I decide to uninstall KODI 15 and re-install TVMC for the Fire Stick. Again, it installed fine and on initialization, it fails during the config step,

So I have one Fire Stick that is in a native setting until I find out vis the forums, what is going wrong. Had I not deleted TVMC and just installed KODI 15, I would have had an easy backup.

Now i am in a trouble shooting mode.