Category Archives: Panama Journal

Happy Anniversary Lilliam

Little did I know when I wrote this poem that such a wonderful woman would agree to spend the rest of her future with me.

It just goes to show, that good things can happen if you wait long enough. Three years and counting and the best years are yet to come.

Younger
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.

A Downside To The Rainy Season

I mentioned the other day that my favorite time of the year is the rainy season. I also mentioned a couple downsides.

However, the other day I was visiting Brigette Saldaña at Auto Servicios de Chiriquí Insurance, who takes care of all of my insurance needs. Great lady who speaks very good English. If you need her contact info, drop me a note.

Her husband is Carlos Saldaña, who runs Auto Servicios de Chiriquí.

While I was in his facility it dawned on me that I had not mentioned one of the critical downsides to the rainy season. His shop was full of cars that were undergoing bodyshop repairs and and near the entrance I noticed this wheel rim, which is the clue to this warning.

The rainy season brings a much fresher time to Panama, but it also causes a large increase in potholes. Some of these potholes can almost swallow a car and if it has been raining, the pothole may not be easily seen.

If you are moving at a good clip and hit one of these potholes, you are likely to do significant damage, at minimum, you may blow out a tire and ruin a rim.

The current government is not doing a very good job on maintaining the roads and many are downright dangerous. Many of the morning TV news broadcasts show examples of the problems throughout Panama.

This is another good reason I rarely drive at night.

Ya Gotta Luv The Rainy Season

For me, this is the best time of year in Panama. I love the rainy season. The last few days have had consistent rain and the days have been wonderful.

Luckily the rainy season is longer than the dry season. Lilliam and I get all of our running around done in the morning and have the rest of the day to enjoy the freshness that comes with the rain.

Not that the rainy season doesn’t have its problems. Depending on where you live, it can be a little extreme. I know some bike riders that prefer the dry season. Also, there is always a danger of problems caused by the rain. Sometimes roads become closed, bridges may disappear, there may be landslides, and rivers can overrun their normal boundaries.

When I lived in Boquete, I used to keep a dehumidifier running in the closets to lower the mold problem. I had to pitch all of my VHS tapes and threw out many leather products until I understood the prevention.

Now in David, I don’t have those problems. I can swim in the mornings and watch the rain in the afternoons and my closets don’t require a dehumidifier. It just doesn’t get better than this.

As a side note, I want to thank all the email writers that have written to see if I am OK or if I am planning on closing the blog. My plans are to continue the blog, but I have more than I can keep up with at the moment.

I also am having a problem with my eyes that will require laser surgery and the appropriate machine is not available in Panama to perform the surgery, so it will have to be postponed.

The problem my be seen in my posts because it is more difficult to check my writing and missing letters or misspelled words are easily missed.

I will try to keep the one liners going, but available time will dictate how much I post.

It looks like it is going to be a beautiful day. Go out and enjoy it.

The David Warden Position For the U.S. Embassy is Available

With this post I am announcing that the David Warden position for the U.S. Embassy in Panama is available to be filled.

I resigned my position as Warden effective today.

If you have an interest in filling this position, please email the America Citizen Services at the following email address (Panama-ACS@state.gov) and they will explain the duties and responsibilities.

I will no longer be posting the Embassy notices. I encourage you to sign up with STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) and you will receive all communications directly from the Embassy.

Felling Melancholy

Time Was When
By Don Ray Williams
December 6, 2008

I’m sure the day will come, when you’ll look back.
And wonder where the time has gone, cause you just lost track.

So many things you meant to do, were put off for another day,
And while those tasks lay waiting, the time silently slipped away.

It is always easy to say, “I really intended to …”,
But it is more difficult to just get up and to begin to DO.

Some things you should not put off, not even for a day.
Some things are tasks and some merely things you need to say.

Have you told all of your friends, what they add to each day of your life?
Have you expressed your love to sons and daughters or to your husband or your wife?

Have you given thanks for your health and the food that you have to eat?
Have your given thanks for having a roof over your head and a soft bed in which to sleep?

So many things we take for granted. So many people too.
So while it is on your mind, remember the things that you need to DO.

Buy a card that says you care, or call them on the phone.
Everyone can use a friendly word, especially if they are all alone.

And don’t forget the Man above. He would appreciate a little thanks too.
Now is the time to tell them all, so just get up and DO.

The Ending of A Story and the Beginning of Another

I am excited and extremely happy. I must share some news that I just received. Some of you, that have followed Chiriqui Chatter for several years, may remember an Embassy case I had back in 2010.

I wrote a post about a young lady that had saved her husbands life. Several thieves had entered their boat, moored off Pedregal, and murdered the young lady’s husband’s father. When her husband went above deck, to see what was happening, he was shot and left for dead.

I have kept in touch with them through the years and had pushed them to move to the US because they had no future here.

I watched their young son get his US citizenship, and the last hurdle was for the wife to get her Green Card. Today was her interview at the US Embassy in Panama City. An hour ago they notified me that she was approved.

Zech, Sugey and little Bo have become like family to me. I couldn’t be happier for them, if they were my own kids.

They are probably still in shock, but greatly relieved. One part of their lives is ending and another is just beginning.

Congratulations.

Lilliam and I will miss you, but we will stay in touch.

My Day So Far

Robert’s head nurse has sent Lilliam a photo that Robert’s TV was not working.

I prepared for the worst as I couldn’t remember if the connection was the power connection for the TV. I went to visit Robert with my two screwdrivers in case I had to take the whole TV in to repair the connection.

Luckily it was the power connection to the cable box that was broken. I guess the cleaning lady must have thought it was a rat and stomped on it because it is not easy to break the connector like it was broken. OK, bad joke.

I did tell the other the attendant on duty that they needed to take more care when cleaning the room not to break the electric connecter.

So I picked up the connector and headed for Cable Onda to get a new one. I expected the worst. The TV remotes go out all the time and they are $8 a pop.

The attendant at Cable Onda asked for the account number and I gave them Robert’s account number and she handed me a box with a new power block.

I asked if the new connector would be on the next bill. She said it was free. Will wonders never cease. Something free in this world.

I left happy.

I returned to Hogar Santa Catalina and connected the new power cord to the cable box. No light came on. I turned on the TV and there was no power. I then checked the wall plug and tried the fan. The fan didn’t turn on either.

The attendant on duty said there was no electricity in the room. I said maybe when the plug was broken it shorted the electricity and threw a breaker. I asked where the breaker box was and it was in the kitchen.

There appeared to be no thrown switch.

Then the attendant told me that they were changing out the power in the showers and several rooms didn’t have electricity. Had I know that in the first place, I would never have searched for the breakers.

Hopefully in a day or two the electrician will get electricity back in the rooms and Robert will once again have TV.

All in all I can’t complain. At least I didn’t have to remove the TV and take it in for service.

Observations – Regarding Moving To Panama

I know I haven’t posted much lately, but I have several items consuming my time. However, I have had some time to observe several Yahoo groups and the Internet conversations about the frustration of the new immigration laws that Panama is enforcing.

For those considering retiring in Panama, this should have no major ill effect. I still maintain you should live here, as you would if you were a permanent resident, for a minimum of 6 months, prior to deciding to move here.

You should use that time for a test run to allow experiencing both the rainy and the dry seasons. That is not hard to do, but it does require effort. You should keep in mind that some locations have extra risks during the rainy season , such as bridge outages or land slides.

During that time you need to do a real due diligence to see if Panama is right for you.

I suggest several items for your due diligence.

  1. Observe the climate. Probably the most enticing reason to move to Panama is the weather. I consider it the only reason that would motivate me to move here after 14 years of experience.
  2. Visit the appropriate medical facilities. Check out doctors you might use. Visit the Regional Hospital emergency and watch the traffic. Determine how you would cover a serious illness or accident. Understand how you will pay for an unplanned medical event. If you have moderate to serious medical conditions, think hard before making a move here.
  3. Watch the local Panama TV news. Even if you don’t understand Spanish, you will learn a lot. This should be a daily event while you are here.
  4. Plan on learning Spanish, if you don’t speak it. It will be needed, if you are rushed to the Regional Hospital for an unplanned medical emergency.
  5. Determine how you will manage your finances. Many Panama banks no longer allow US citizens to open an account. To withdraw $500 from an ATM will typically cost you over $5+, if the account is not from a bank in Panama.
  6. Determine the cost and availability of reliable Internet. TV and Internet can be costly, if you don’t live in a good area. Most programing will be in Spanish. Service, both technical and account, can be a challenge, if you don’t speak Spanish.
  7. Verify the cost of living in Panama. It is not cheap. Granted, it is cheap compared to Costa Rica and safer than most of the other Latin American countries, but cheap, it is not.
  8. Verify your tolerance to rapid changes. What was the rule last week may not be the rule next week. Don’t like protests blocking you ability to get to medical services, well expect it in Panama and plan for it.
  9. While government officials will tell you that crime is on the down tick, locals will tell you it is higher than in the past. I have seen it change a lot in the last 14 years I have been here. Watching the local news will educate you.

Continue this list with other items that are important to you. Continue reading Observations – Regarding Moving To Panama