When summer comes back to Boquete in early 2015 the valley will resonate once again with the sounds of world-class Latin Jazz and the raw power of North American Blues. For almost a full week, world-class music will rule the Boquete valley again with the 9th edition of the annual Boquete Jazz & Blues Festival, the biggest international music festival in the Chiriqui highlands.
With a star-studded program of 56 musicians from the US, Panama and Europe, 8 daytime shows in the beautiful amphitheater of Valle Escondido plus 5 nightly jam sessions, a New Orleans style street parade, a Latin Jazz garden party at the Panamonte hotel, a free concert in the park, a "The Art of Music" art show and a ‚ music for Schools’ program, the 2015 festival will be the best ever.
The line-up is hard to beat: International Blues star Shakura S’Aida from Canada will be tearing up the stage on Saturday, Feb 7 at 4:30pm; Li’l Ed & The Blues Imperials from Chicago will present their legendary spontaneous and unpredictable rowdy live show on Sunday, Feb 08 at 3pm; Deanna Bogart from Baltimore will boogie the 88’s and blow her horn on Saturday at 1:30pm; 83 year old Blues veteran Leon Blue from Las Vegas, will rock the house on Sunday Feb 8 at 1:30pm together with Swiss Blues Award winner Andy Egert and the Boquete Blues Band, presenting the best of Blues that has ever been heard in Panama!
As the year end approaches, I decided to look back at my wine reviews and select some of the highlights of 2014. I have broken it down to Sparkling Wines, White Wines, Rose’ Wines and Red Wines.
All the wines I list have been rated a BEST BUY or HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, or both.
Chandon Brut Nature, $19.40, 13% alc. Argentina
This non-vintage blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir shows full flavors with some intensity. A very nice alternative to more expensive French Champagne.
Greenhouses or in Spanish viveros, are a common solution used by gardeners to combat the dry and hot months in Panama. While having and operating a greenhouse might seem like a daunting task at the beginning, if you can see the construction through your garden will flourish.
A greenhouse can be a big help in a tropical climate, especially when growing vegetables. It can help regulate temperature, humidity, water distribution, and protect from pests. The allure of a greenhouse in North America is often that you can extend your growing season; here in the tropics it is more about creating a consistent environment.
The most common greenhouses seen throughout Panama are simple, but they do the trick. A semi-permanent structure made of PVC piping and metal with or without roof, is not only an economic, it’s also efficient. Some greenhouses use a clear plastic covering rather than a mesh roof, for plants needing more light. Affordable irrigation systems are also available locally. Automatic irrigation can help take the guesswork out of watering, it can also free up time for other hobbies. With automatic watering and airflow conscious construction, your greenhouse can actually take care of your plants for you.
The holiday season is upon us along with the season for entertaining, cooking, and sharing food and drink. Here are three holiday recipes sure to impress your guests.
Rum Punch / Ron Ponche
This is a traditional Panamanian drink, served at Christmas and New Year celebrations. It can be made with or without rum.
- 4 big cans of evaporated Milk (315 grams each)
- 2 big cans of sweetened condensed Milk
- 6 beaten eggs
For many the beginning of a New Year is about starting a new chapter, getting a clean slate, a new opportunity to start over. While parties and fireworks are global traditions, there are certain unique customs that have their roots in the Spanish and Latin American World.
Wearing white for New Year is one way to represent a fresh start and bring good luck. Add a splash of color with the underwear you wear. Red for love, yellow for prosperity, green for health. Do not wear black or you will be doomed throughout the coming year.
Eat 12 grapes - one with each toll of the midnight strike. Each grape represents a month of the year and eating them is supposed to bring you luck. A lot of people throw in an extra grape, for extra luck.
Hoping for that dream vacation? Walking around in circles with a suitcase is said to ensure a year with plenty of travel.
Located in the Maria Chiquita area, on the Caribbean side of Panama, Safarick’s Zoologic is an animal rescue and rehabilitation center founded by Antonio Purificacao, a real estate developer from Montreal, with a love for animals.
Most of the animals kept at the zoo are brought in by ANAM, Panama’s wildlife protection agency. Many arrive sick and unhealthy. Some come from seizures, others are found injured and /or deforested. “In most cases we strive to return the animal to the wild, but in cases where an animal has been rescued from life with humans, we have to keep it and care for it, as it cannot survive on its own”, says Antonio.
Antonio and his family started rescuing wildlife four years ago when they arrived in Panama. The very first animal they saved was a baby Howler Monkey that had been rescued from poachers. The wildlife population under the Purificacao care increased from there; today the Zoo has 109 animals that are being rehabilitated and cared for. While the family has been saving animals for several years, the Safarick Zoologic facility only opened its doors this year in October.
Every year on January 6th the Coronado Area Social Association (CASA) celebrates Three Kings Day with special needs children and their families.
Three Kings Day, or in Spanish, Dia de los Reyes, is celebrated in many parts of the world. On the Christian calendar it marks the date the three kings brought gifts to baby Jesus. For many living in Panama, it is customary to give a gift on this day.
For the past 6 years, Senora Maribel Gonzales has welcomed eighty families with special needs children into her home to celebrate the occasion. Guests enjoy lunch and dessert, and children receive gifts donated by a local church. Each year, CASA provides a food basket for each family. Last year 80 families took home a basket, and children wore decorated paper crowns and received photos of them taken that day.
The baskets, containing dry foods such as flour, sugar, pasta, beans and other canned items, cost about $25 each. Fundraising events are hosted annually to raise the money to buy food items.
On the first and third Tuesday of every month PlayaCommunity hosts a networking evening at La Teca’s popular Happy Hour. This December those dates are December 2 & 16. From 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. guests enjoy 2 for 1 drinks and a special tapas tasting menu.
This bi-monthly event is a great way for expats to immerse themselves in the beach community.
Get to know the PlayaCommunity team and other local business owners while enjoying great food, quality drinks and music!
Did we mention Ron Abuelo sponsors the evening? This means just for showing up you get a free glass of Rum and the chance to win some great prizes.
La Teca will also be gives away two bottles of their house at every event.
Stop by and see who’s at La Teca this evening, you may even win a great prize!
Did you know that the Coronado Community Center (CCC) hosts a variety of social, educational, and health related activities every week? Located on the 2nd floor of the Village Mall, CCC was founded by the Panama Christian Foundation (PCF) in March of 2014. Since its inception, this simple facility has acted as a classroom, a studio, a dining room, and clubhouse. It has become a tool for locals to learn English and receive job training, a place for kids have fun and discover, and a meeting spot for social gatherings.The facility is open to all members of the community.Here is a closer look at some of the activities taking place at the CCC:
As we have entered the last quarter of 2014, the excitement is up! The traffic from visitors to Panama is increasing and as I travel around Panama I can feel it, I see it, and I hear about it.
With the presidential election behind and the new administration set to begin to put it's stamp on the next 5 years, I must say, now is the time to have a look if you are considering Panama as your next chapter in life to retire, to vacation, or to invest before the next boom.
I have spoken with developers from Holland, France, Italy, China, and the U.S. eager to enter the market and make things happen! New hotels are the key, and a sure sign of things to come. Especially in the area of Bocas Del Toro.
Tucked away in the small town of Los Pozos, (10 minutes past Cholos), this family owned bar and restaurant is open to the public on weekends. Bacchus is more than your average restaurant. With a large pool and three 4x4 tracks, it’s a great place to spend the day with family and friends. Since opening earlier this year, Bacchus has quickly become a local hot spot. When we stopped by to visit with Dutch owners Arjan van Groenigen and Katrien Slaar, it was clear to us why.
The atmosphere is welcoming. Bacchus has that old school, no-frills vibe that fits in with Panama’s naturally rugged terrain. The eclectic bar is spacious yet comfortable, sitting on 23 hectares of land, nestled between several small fincas. While only 20 minutes from Coronado, life is a bit more relaxed at Bacchus, explained Katrien. The main social area caters to families with several activities to keep the kiddies entertained. Katrien and Arjan’s son Troy is the inspiration behind features like the custom sandbox, little tike bikes, go-carts, and playroom room fully equipped with cartoons.
Paul, 35 and Tara, 34 moved to Panama from Alberta, Canada last year with their son Linden, 2 and daughter Taya, 5. Looking to get out of the cold and break free from the rat race, they decided to move to Panama. With their children in mind, Paul and Tara chose the Coronado area.
“Coming to Panama with kids definitely restricts where you can live,” explains Paul. “We needed to be near quality schools and health care, the Pacific beach area was our best option, apart from the city.”
On October 16, my wife Jackie and I attended Felipe Motta’s 14th annual Gran Feria de Vinos in Panama City. With 7 countries and over 60 wineries represented, it was a good cross section of wines to taste. This 2 day affair was heavily attended, with an ample contingent from the beach area. My personal strategy is to arrive as the doors open, thus avoiding much of the crowd.
We tasted nearly 75 wines that evening. When tasting that many wines and trying to remain objective, your humble reporter always behaves professionally and spits each taste. I can report we were the only ones doing so!
Not all the wines are currently available in Coronado, but I have been assured they can be ordered in any quantity.
On to the highlights:
‘Scratch & Help’ the kids in our community! Futbol Club PCF is introducing an exciting new program which is ‘win-win-win’ for everybody!
The program is for the benefit of all the local kids and young people who need leadership, mentoring, positive role models, educational opportunities and well organised sports activities to learn important values to create more success in life!
The program benefits:
You! You save money with valuable discounts from local businesses.
The kids! They get critical support they need from the local community.
Panama! All people living in Panama benefit from a more productive, positive and better educated youth who are not idle on the streets!
Local Businesses: The program promotes business and stimulates the local economy by helping bring in new clients to local participating businesses!
How does it work? It’s so simple! Three easy steps….
At its regular meeting on the 27th of October, the Rotary Club of Playa Coronado honored a local student, Francis del Carmen Moreno Torres as a charter member for their recently announced, Student of the Month Program. Francis is enrolled in sixth grade at the Roberto Eisenmann School in Coronado. She is an honors student with hopes of a future in Civil Engineering. Some of Francis' favorite activities are soccer, drawing and painting along with spending time with her family.
Francis was introduced at the meeting along with her father, Mr. Cesar Moreno. She circulated with each Rotary member and shared some her passions including her fondness for her little sister, Jennifer, her favorite foods, colors and classic stories like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. Members were impressed that Francis, upon entering the meeting immediately approached each member casually and introduced herself with a huge smile and warm handshake, catching some members by surprise.
Rotary of Coronado is seeking nominations for additional students from area schools. Selections are based on academic achievement, respect for fellow students, and a desire to improve the world in which they live.
By: Lic. Anibal Diaz
Panama becomes independent from Spain and voluntarily joins “Great Colombia” with the idea of forming one country together with Venezuela, Ecuador and Colombia. This country lasts only for a short time, soon becoming the “Republic of Colombia”. The Isthmus becomes subject to abandonment and neglect. These factors, among others, lead to the formation of several separatist movements, which result in separation from Colombia in November 1903.
Before I give my reviews of 5 chardonnays I recently tasted, I need to alert you to a real steal of a red wine I stumbled across. Purchased at PricsSmart, I don’t know if it’s their exclusive or is available elsewhere.
Senorio D Barriobero, Joven, Rioja, Spain.
12.5% alc. $4.65! I can’t find a vintage anywhere on the label. This wine blew us away! Sometimes we take a flyer on something with a great price and occasionally (rarely) find a real gem. This is one of those gems! Rich, balanced and complex. A heavyweight at a lightweight price. If anyone is going to PriceSmart soon, please get me a case! BEST BUY & HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Now, on to the chardonnays.
QUOTE: “Wanderlust. The very sound of it brings a pang of unfulfilled desire. Many of us harbor this secret desire to explore, to discover a new place, a place all one’s own.” Benjamin A. Loomis, President and Founder of Amble Resorts and Isla Palenque.
Sometimes one needs an escape from the everyday to appreciate what normalcy should be. Thus, my partner and I ventured off to Isla Palenque, an island just off the south coast of Boca Chica. Once our reservation was booked, we were e-mailed a questionnaire to fill out, asking what we expected from the trip, what tours we wished to pursue, and if we had any dietary restrictions or requests. Having completed this task, off we went. Once we reached Horconcitos, we were instructed to call the resort to let them know we had arrived. We then proceeded the 11 or so miles on to Boca Chica, parked the car, and were met by a concierge and boat captain at the main dock. After a 15 minute boat ride, we arrived on the spectacular eco-resort, Isla Palenque. Several articles have been written about this resort, but in my opinion, there aren’t enough words to describe the experience!
This Saturday October 25 from 12:00 noon, visit the Mercadito Del Mar in the Rincon del Chef Plaza. The PlayaCommunity office will be open from 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m., so stop by and say hello! Don't forget to pick up your copy of the 'La Playa' newspaper, stocked with relevant information on the Pacific Beach area.
This is the first Mercadito del Mar that will take place in the Playa Communities. The event will bring artist, designers, gardeners and bakers to the charming plaza near the entrance of Coronado.
The market is a great opportunity for small vendors in Panama to showcase their products, and for shoppers to pick up unique gifts in time for Christmas. Vendors will be selling locally produced products all afternoon. Some of the vendors that will be there are:
Maudy Bom, who will be showcasing her photography as well as selling Pucha's Morgina trees. Secretos de Sirenas is an artisan vendor that will feature handcrafted Christmas decorations made from driftwood, shells and stones. Discovering Surfing Talents Panama will be there to chat with parents about surf lessons and upcoming surf competitions. Bongzaii will feature hand painted hats, and Caribbean & Pacific will showcase a variety of bathing suits. Chef will be cooking up some gastronomical delights so be sure to pay him a visit.
To the uninitiated, the title, “I love boobies” may come off as offensive, although to the “ornithologically” inclined this means something completely different. No we are not talking about the tatas, we are talking about the Sulidae family of birds known as “boobies”.
The Booby family is split into a tropical group and a temperate group (known as Gannets) and are large, sea-going birds that occupy a variety of ocean habitat. Boobies are large, typically larger than what most people think of the average Gull species (remember, we don't call them “seagulls” anymore, we learned that last time). Boobies have long pointed wings (up to 4 feet), long pointed bills, and webbed feet, and they come in a variety of colors but mostly brown, white, and black coloration is typical. They have a strange binocular-like vision with both eyes facing forward, which makes them awfully silly looking. It is thought that the spanish conquerors called them “Bobos”, which in spanish means something akin to stupid. They are often unafraid of humans on their breeding grounds, and easy to walk up to and kill. Furthermore, the courtship display of the booby is typically an awkward dance facing each other which is just plain dumb looking. This mixed with a silly look earned them the name, as the tale goes.
Last month a friend and I played a round of 18 holes on the Vista Mar Golf Course. I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the day, although that may have something to do with the fact I birdied the 1st hole and nearly had a hole-in-one on another. As a player with a 20 handicap, it was a bumper day!
The Vista Mar Golf Course is located just off the Pan American Highway, near San Carlos. It is part of a larger residential development and is managed by KemperSports, which manages some of the finest golf courses in the world. Consisting of 18 holes, each with 4 tee stations, this J. Michael Poellot designed golf course is in very good condition. Although not on the ocean, the Pacific is visible from several holes.
It’s amazing how a small itch can draw our attention to something way more serious in our bodies. Something that we should all jump up and pay immediate attention to, yet for various reasons, we choose to set those thoughts aside. Ultimately however, it is simply fear that keeps us from looking at many things square on.
As I felt the lump in my breast I froze, yet insisted to myself that it was ‘nothing’. I had been eating healthily, walking or running on the beach most days, and felt like I was in the best shape of my adult life. Stress? Well, there IS that. Being in real estate consulting in Panama, I had my fair share of stressful days, but not enough to warrant a lump. So, I pushed the lump down my throat and continued on through ‘high season’. I thought “What could be wrong?” – I was in great physical condition, had a healthy lifestyle and was happy!
As work began to slow in April, I had noticed the lump in my breast had gotten much larger – and now there was another one in my armpit. The time was here to address this, so off I went to see Dr. Levy, who sent me away with a request for an ultrasound.
Until recently, the expat community in the Pacific beach neighborhoods has been primarily made up of retirees. In the last 5 years a younger demographic has begun to arrive, and their needs are different than those who came before.
Many of the new residents have young children and seek social networks beyond what the beach community already offers. While “happy hours” have been the forerunner in community connection, there is now a growing need for more family oriented functions. Parents want events where their kids can meet other kids, they can connect with other parents, and spend quality family time.
Thursday Oct 2. From 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Panama Hospice & Respite Foundation will be hosting a "Healthy Aging Seminar." Topics like health & medical insurance, legal documentation, estate planning, advance directives & general medical information will be covered. Early registration is offered at a cost of $20.00, or $25.00 at the door. Hosted by Grace Church - located in the Rey De Paz building past El Reys on Highway between the HIM Plaza & Caja De Ahorros Bank.
Caring for an elderly or terminally ill person at the end of their life can be difficult and emotionally trying. Here in Panama, when an expat needs this type of care, there is an additional level of difficulty involved. The person is out of a familiar element, and often away from an extended structure of close family and friends. For this reason The Panama Hospice & Respite Foundation (PHRF) was recently formed, offering hospice care to English speaking expats.
Thinking of moving to Panama? Knowing what to expect can make life easier!
Housing - Things are not built the way you might be used to. Items like dishwashers, screens on doors and lighting fixtures are not standard and might be missing when you get delivery of your new house or condo. Check with your builder or agent to know what is and is not included in your purchase, and be prepared to spend more than you expect to for a North American or European style home.
Water - Water pressure is not always consistent. Running water can vary from place to place and even season to season, depending on where you live. Some areas also face regular shortages. Be sure to ask about water problems in the area you a thinking of moving to. In most cases, having a well will ensure you have running water, even if the area does not.