We’re back!

26 Jun

We returned to the US in mid-Feb. for almost 4 months. We are now back in Boquete on a permanent basis in retirement. While we will return to visit family there (next scheduled for the holidays), we closed our business last Sep. 2012, and sold our home. Not really sure how much we will continue to post here. This was primarily for family friends to follow our ‘adventure’. However we have passed on the link to many who are in the process of exploring a foreign retirement/relocation adventure of their own.

As we travel around, meet new friends, or find subjects that may be of interest to family or explorers we will post new items, comments, pictures, etc. We are well along in our process to gain Residency in Panama, and it will be our next major undertaking.  If you find you have questions about anything you have read here, feel free to contact us thru this site.


Coming Home

20 Feb

We’re sitting in Tocumen International Airport waiting for our flight to Houston. Yah! for FREE Internet access.

We had a ‘last supper’ with Joe and Linda, and Orville and Charlotte who we hadn’t seen since New Years. Joe took a picture of us while in the garden dining area of Amigos.

Oui Tu! At Amigos. Last night in Boquete.

Oui Tu! At Amigos. Last night in Boquete.

Drove to David to overnite for an 8:15 AM flight to Panama City. Waiting for our United flight to Houston, then on home about midnight tonight.

Yesterday we toured a bit of downtown David….a place we’ve avoided like the plaque! Narrow streets, crowded sidewalks, no visible parking, etc. We parked the car at the large shopping center (Rey grocery, Arrocha Dept. store seen previously), and took a taxi into city center ($2). Here’s a picture of the Central Park….the fountain was shut down for maintenance.

David Parque Central

David Parque Central

We shopped in a couple stores. I saw a large fabric store across from the park…..lots of fabrics, from $0.99 per yard. Speaking no useable Spanish we got little info from the sales person who followed us around.
Cleo looking over the 'goods'.

Cleo looking over the ‘goods’.

More fabrics

More fabrics

We also found the new Champeon Dept. Store, a 3 story with supposed underground parking. Here’s a couple of photos. The store is quite large and has an amazing assortment, from clothing and shoes, to furniture, kitchen items, baby/nursery, home decor, etc.
Some of the furniture

Some of the furniture

Near the escalators...3 floors.

Near the escalators…3 floors.

Looking forward to seeing family soon. We may add more here sometime soon! Hoping those who followed our ‘expedition’ have enjoyed same.

Some Boquete History

16 Feb

Here’s a picture of Ray downtown near the Central Park. They have an old railroad car on display, and Cleo worked the camera.

Chiriqui Railroad Car

Chiriqui Railroad Car

A Better Look at the Car

A Better Look at the Car

From a story in ‘El Bajareque’, a local bi-lingual paper:
“According to several publications, the first human settlements in Boquete were found between the years 300 AD and 600 AD. Many petroglyphs in Caldera indicate human presence before the conquest. Those petroglyphs could have been used, among others things, as route maps or signs for travelers.
During the colonial period, Boquete was a refuge for the indigenous cultures that used the surrounding mountains to escape from the Spanish oppression because the valley was very isolated.”
(Ray’s note: see previous posting about recent findings of tribal life several thousand years ago)

A railroad was built in 1916 at a cost of over $2,000,000. The road to Boquete opened in 1949, and the railway service closed in 1952. The road is currently being expanded to 4 lanes, at a cost of over $127,000,000. Current completion date is Nov. 3, 2013. But in Panama, MANANA (Spanish for maybe tomorrow) is always a factor. But work is going on now after being shut down in Nov. and Dec.

(See a previous post about findings of life thousands of years prior).

More on Visit to Volcan & Lunch at the Bistro

16 Feb

While we were in Volcan, we decided to go on up to Cerro Punta (see earlier posts for more), and have lunch at a place Linda had been. Here’s a picture of the 2nd story restaurant. Notice the stalks of bananas and plantain hanging in the center.


Don’t remember the name, but the food was really good. I had a chicken breast in some sort of orange (naranja) sauce with mixed veggies. Cleo had a bowl of Lentil soup, and the Hart’s split a pizza.

Joe had built a pond by their front entrance and was looking for some water lillies to add. The referral we finally got was to Fina Dracula (Dracula Farm, hee hee!)…..a nearly inaccessible tourist destination as an orchid nursery. Alas no joy as all they had were orchids. I shot a picture from the road into the place, with a pond, waterfall (distant center), and greenhouse structures.


Then on Friday we had lunch with a couple, Trish and Brian, we met at the Dr.’s office in David. She also broke her leg, and is a few weeks behind Cleo in recovering. They live in Potrorillas, a nearby town southwest of here. Anyway it had been a few weeks since we’d visited, as Cleo’s therapy sessions ended. We had a nice visit. Trish is hoping to recover in time for a trip to Turkey with her book club members. Then Brian is meeting her in Paris for some time there. They live here in Panama about 6 months a year, and have been doing that for several years. Here’s a look at lunch:

Brian;s Bacon Cheeseburger

Brian’s Bacon Cheeseburger

Trish's Chicken Salad Wrap

Trish’s Chicken Salad Wrap

Cleo's Pancakes, Eggs, Bacon and Fruit

Cleo’s Pancakes, Eggs, Bacon and Fruit

Ray's French Toast,  Bananas Foster with Rum sauce and Fruit.

Ray’s French Toast, Bananas Foster with Rum Sauce and Fruit.

Another Trip to Volcan

15 Feb

Took another trip to Volcan yesterday with Joe and Linda Hart. Linda had seen a ‘Souvenir’ shop on the way into the town, and wanted to stop in to see more. What a surprise! The man who runs it, Arte Cruz, creates most all of the art being sold was there, spent quite some time with us. He does wood carving…..a very high end product. He made a ‘name plate’ for the Hart’s while we watched (video of some of it follows). In talking with him he trained in Italy for some time. If I understood correctly working on stone carving…statues, etc. Then he spent a period in Honduras, but I believe has been outside Volcan for a long time. He has an open area with displays of work for sale, and in the next room back are stacks of wood, some aged 35-40 years. He showed us a door he’s working on with both sides carved ($1500 per side). Here’s a ‘poor’ photo of one side:
Here’s a couple of the other smaller carvings. The one in the middle of the first picture is nearly a foot deep from front to back, and creates a 3 dimensional ‘view’ with branches and flowers projecting out. It is shown in more detail in the professional video below. Most of the art was carved in relief, more or less flat but raised from the surface. These are from one piece of wood, and not items cut out and glued on:

This is an unfinished ‘relief’ project:
Here’s a video I took of him working on Joe & Linda’s placquard. There was no ‘penciling’ in letters, etc. Just two guide lines the width of the board, and his use of the mallet and chisles. A young man, assistant or apprentice took the completed carving, added black paint to the letters, red to the flower, and clear coated the finished product….all done in about 25 minutes.
He has an amazing free-form ‘slab’ table he’s made from over 300 individual pieces of Panamanian wood….I think it was over 80 varieties.

And he uses a ‘dremel’ like tool with a bit to ‘etch’ glass. Here’s photos of one he did for Cleo:

Arte Cruz working on Cleo's glass.

Arte Cruz working on Cleo’s glass.



This is a professional video I found on YouTube, with a lengthy interview in Spanish, but if you turn down the sound, and fast forward thru a bit you’ll see more of his work.

And a final video done by a Dad and his son of the area and the shop. You’ll see his daughter carving too, obviously carrying on the trade:
[Sorry this You Tube video is no longer available)


Breakfast in Town

12 Feb

Stopped by the Tuesday Market today for a quick look around before they close at noon. We were meeting Jo Ann there to have lunch together before we all leave here next week. She was at the Kent’s casita where we stayed at first on this trip, and is pictured at the dinner in the Chapel, etc.

Had a nice lunch at the Hotel Oasis. They have a reputation as a fine dining room and excellent rooms as well. We had never eaten there so was a nice experience. And we got to have a nice visit with Jo Ann. We went on out to The Rock, another fine dining place for desert, and ended in town at ‘the Plaza’ for mochas.
Here’s a link to the Hotel Oasis. If you pause on the web pages, there are slide shows with pictures for any interested: http://oasisboquete.com/el-oasis-restaurant-the-new-gourmet-destination-in-boquete
Here a link to The Rock Restaurant:

We had gone into town for a bit yesterday, and took Cleo for breakfast so she didn’t have to cook. Stopped at a newer little bakery near the bridge where we had seen them serving pancakes, etc. Here’s a couple pictures of the place:

Waiting for food!

Waiting for food!

Here it is....$4. Coffee, pancakes, eggs, ham, and fruit.

Here it is….$4. Coffee, pancakes, eggs, ham, and fruit.

Miller’s Casita + Panama City

7 Feb

Actually Rick and Cheryl Miller’s Casita. No relation! It’s a small world sometimes. And seems even more so here as time passes. I mentioned early on this trip that an apartment renter where we were first located was a retired railroad worker from Eugene, OR. The next morning at the grocery store, the first guy (American type) we met was someone who lived and used to own apartments in NE Salem several years ago. We met another couple (Americans) at the ‘coffee place’, Ron and Karen. She’s originally from St. Helens, OR. We have tried to hook up with another lady here who has an apartment for rent. Finally got ahold of her and got the exact address location (did I mention they DO NOT have mail service here because there are no addresses here, at least visible to the public as there are rarely street signs anywhere including David, the second largest city in the country…mostly just legal property descriptions), and the unit is on the second floor of the building which houses the car rental business where we got our car.
Anyway here’s a video I shot of the Casita:

For any who think Panama’s a ‘third world’ country here’s a couple videos of the city. While there are ample rural, agricultural areas we have rarely found any lack of cell phone service, to include the data sim for our iPad so it can work like GPS.
The first is a brief promotional ad:

And another about the city:

I’ll probably add some other videos another day!
Buenos Noches!