Category Archives: Panama Journal

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 travel.state.gov website at the following link:  http://www.travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country/panama.html.  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.

FYI

I am going to change some of the ways I operate this blog. By that I am talking about what gets posted.

In the past, I have allowed any comment to be posted on whatever post it was responded to. The change I am going to make, related to comments, is that they must now be related to the post.

As an example, yesterday I got a comment on some post asking where the best bars were in Panama. If you have a question, unrelated to a current post, use the “Offline Contact” section. If I know, I will answer it. If not, then I may write the question as a post for others to answers.

However, then it will have to be a question I find beneficial to the types of readers I try to cultivate and “The best bars in Panama” would not qualify. For that, ask Don Winner. But then you will most likely have to subscribe (PAY) to his site to get an answer.

I have no problem with general discussion, as long as it is civil. Comments keep any post honest and usually help all readers looking for information. Continue reading FYI

Missing Dog – Congo

I received a request to post the following:

Dear Ray,

Thank you for including Congo in your chatter

he is a rescue (mix labrador) from the island of St. Maarten and came with us to Boquete november 2013.
Very friendly with people and dogs

on Thursday Jan 15th, some tourists, staying with neighbors inside our gated community, let him out of the gate without any authorization
or feedback to us and did not bother with him anymore and left Congo for himself out on the street. He had never been outside the gate and
around downtown boquete so all area’s are strange to him.
He was wearing a yellow (faded) collar with his name and my home phone number written with a marker on it.

Handing out flyers and posting posters have been futile for now. There has not been one sighting around boquete area of Congo in these last 10 days.

It has come to my attention 5 days ago that a young couple found him that Thursday nite at the feria, bought themselves a leash and took him with them
to David.
Trying to put a puzzle together with names and phone numbers also has not brought Congo back home yet.
Of course al this is hear say but i trust the source to be reliable.

Today i went around the major supermarkets in David to put up flyers,

If you can please ask the people in David and surroundings to keep on the look-out for Congo, i would appreciate that immensely.
On the poster there is a reward promised for the finder of Congo.

Thank you very much

cheers
Bernie Verhoeven
phone 65 03 03 44

It’s The Little Things

Today I am going to charcoal hamburgers. I needed hamburger buns, dill pickle slices and baked beans. Should be no big deal because I am 5 minutes from El Rey, which I think is the best super market in David.

Now there are just two of us who will eat these burgers, but I am going to cook four burgers. In the hamburger bun area there are about four different selections. Three are 8 bun packages and are very small buns. Larger than slider size, but not by much..

The other choice is jumbo buns and perfect for the sized burgers I am going to cook. However, these only come in a package of 12. That would mean I have to store 8 buns and they will be dried out be for I want to cook burgers again. Too much waste.

I go with the small buns and the meat will just overwhelm the buns. I bought burgers at Su Carne and these are big burgers.

Now on to get some dill slices. None to be found. There are some whole dill pickles, but I am not going to slice pickles. I settled for pickle relish.

Then I go in search of baked beans. I always get Bush’s Baked Beans. None to be found. I hate Campbell’s Pork and Beans and there are plenty of them. I notice that a large area that used to have several types of Bush’s Baked Beans now filled with the new Rey Brand of canned Guandu.

That was a double disappointment. I can’t stand the Panama national vegetable of Guandu. I almost want to leave the house when Lilliam cooks it to go in rice and I refuse to eat it.

I see that many shelves in El Rey are now filled with its own brand of products. Rey cereal, Rey sodas, Rey this and Rey that. I have been Reyed.

I doubt that I will buy any of the Rey products. I am sure they are less expensive than the ones next to them on the shelves. Since they are replacing products I used to buy, I will boycott them.

This may be the straw that forces me to spend more time in Super Baru. At least I haven’t noticed any Baru brands on the shelf.

I really don’t want to shop in Super 99. After seeing the corruption of the previous administration, I can’t support it. That only leaves me with two choices, El Rey and Super Baru. It is the small things that count and El Rey seem to be removing the little things that matter to me.

Haircut or Dog Tags

I was starting to look a little shaggy and I solved that problem by going to see Yanie. She has been my barber since 2006. It is the best $3.00 I spend and when I think of the expensive haircuts I had in the U.S. I am grateful.

She has moved twice since I first met her. One of the thing I like about Yanie is that she always has a smile on her face. A great haircut and a smiling face always helps to make the day a little bit better.

HERE is the post showing her location with directions to Dariush Salón. If you see Yanie, tell her you read about her on Chiriquí Chatter.

Costa Rica Consul in David, Chiriquí

IMG_0277Lilliam recently needed to renew her Costa Rican passport and there is a consul in David.

When I researched information on the location of the Costa Rican Consul on the Internet, I found THIS.

All the information on that site is incorrect.

If anyone wants current information on the Costa Rican Consul in David, it is currently as follows:

The office is in the Banco Universal building.
Address : Avenida 1 Este Calle C
Phone: 507 7747128
Email: consuladocrdavid@gmail.com

Fun with Friends

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Michael, Ellena, Patrick, Roxie

For the last several years, Lilliam and I have had an annual get together with a Chiriquí Chatter couple and their children who come to Panama to check up on their farm close to Santa Marta.

I forget where they came from the first time we met, but I remember in 2011 that they had just escaped from Libya. That was quite a story.

Currently they are in Scotland, where Michael is working as an engineer. He is planning his next move and one of the places he is considering is Qatar, where I seem to remember he had worked before. He said the temperatures can get up to 150 in the daytime there.

I am happy to be in cool David.

On this get together we went to Mar Caribe in Pedregal. It had been a long time since Lilliam and I had eaten there. Our food was good and reasonably priced. We all had more than we could consume. The place was packed when we had finished eating.

I have committed to a BBQ at our house in David for next year’s visit.

Photos of our food: