Tuesday Talk: Be Prepared!

I was surprised we did not have standing room only at the Tuesday Talk today. The topic was Emergency Preparedness and in light of the recent flooding in Cerro Punta and historic flooding in Boquete I though more people would want to know about self preservation.

The meeting was sponsored by three vendors selling products like emergency lighting, Water purification and colloidal silver, they paid a fee so attendees did not.  We do lose our lights, a lot, and we all should be looking at water quality even in the best of times.

It was only a few years ago we on Jaramillo were without lights for almost two weeks as they rushed to replace power polls swept away by a raging Caldera river. Today there are houses built along those same river banks, expensive expat houses, and one day it is possible they too will be swept away. Being prepared is a good idea.

Here are some important telephone numbers courtesy of Gene Melton

Alto al Crimen, bilingual emergency help for crime or medical needs. 6477-6662

National Police (Spanish only)  720-2145 / 1222

CSS Polyclinic in Bajo Boquete 720-1909 (Spanish)

Boquete Health and Hospice for blood needs. Andrea Moss  6665-5398  and Charlotte Lintz 6693-5005

Bomberos  720-1224 / 1277  (Spanish)

Alcalde’s office 720-1261  (Spanish)

SINAPROC Boquete 720-4202  (Spanish)

SINAPROC David 775-7006 / 774-3944  (Spanish)

You might note Speaking basic Spanish can be helpful in an emergency

Gene discussed the two emergency shelters in Boquete, one the Gym in Los Naranjos the other in Alto Boquete. He also discussed the alternative routes out of Boquete should the highway from Bajo be closed.

Other resource information is available from the Red Cross

This might be paradise but we have a dormant volcano and regular flooding here so if self preservation is important you should be aware!



Tuesday Talk: A refreshing new attitude for Boquete

On 1 July 2015 Boquete gained a new mayor, Millo Walker took the reigns of government and did something we in this community have not seen before. He asked for public participation in planning Boquete’s future.

During the campaign Sr. Vasquez told me he would start citizens committees to engage the public in the future of Boquete. He has kept to his word. Today at the BCP we had a full house to listen to members of a committee tasked with beautifying Boquete. This group is a legal entity by decree of the Alcalde and has the mandate to make Boquete a better place to live.

Their first task of this committee is the repair and renovation of Boquete’s Central Park. They already have the plans in place to do the job. They want expat involvement in the meetings, further  planing and the execution. This is the first initiative I have seen where the local community has asked the expat community to be part of the total community. This is a big step.

This is a summary of some of their short term goals.

1. Beautify the Central Park

2. Integrate the park to the to be completed Municipal Market

3. Plan a program to repaint all the buildings on Avenida Principal from National Bank to the Catholic Church to a common theme of colors

4. Plant coffee and flowers in medians of the highway in Alto Boquete

5. Install one hundred fifty gallon trash cans in the town and have them painted by school children

6. Implement a new recycling program

They want more ideas, they are open to ideas from around the world, they want you involved. They plan to go to every business in town to find funding and have the legal authority to do so.

The committee has a meeting next Tuesday 16 Sept at 5pm at the Consejo room in the Municpo.

Other issues that were raised were about the forever incomplete three story building across from the Bistro. The Junta Comunal forced a deal allowing the completion of the the building by ordering it to be torn down. Suddenly the two warring parties preventing construction came to agreement and the building will be completed.

They explained the delay on the Municipal Market was political and the funds to complete the market have now been made available and construction will start again.

In summary this was a very exciting meeting, we are walking on new ground with an Alcalde that wants to make Boquete beautiful and welcomes support from the entire community. Now whether you can vote or not, the Alcalde would like you to be involved in making Boquete a better place to live.

Tuesday Talk: Insurance Needs in Panama

Magda Crespo provided some insights into insurance needs in Panama. The intent of the presentation was to help new resident understand what is different here.  Magda covered homeowners, auto and health insurance.

A few important points of discussion were what you need to keep in your car so you do not find it impounded if stopped.

1. Copy of your title (copy never original)

2. Annual registration and inspection document

3. Proof of insurance

4. Minor accident reporting form

5. Copy of your ID, drivers license, cedula, passport etc

6. Copy of the book with traffic laws

She discussed the difference between Panama’s liability laws and those in common law countries. As an extension of that the need for liability insurance on your auto more than your home. For questions about rental insurance, there is none in Panama but a renter can but content coverage for theft.

Much of the presentation was health insurance and you can see all of it in the the Powerpoint below.

Tuesday Talk: Sorry but I hate PseudoScience

My opinions get me in trouble often and I admit to being ignorant in many areas. It has been forty five years since I received a BS in biology.  I stopped teaching anatomy and physiology in 1969 so I am not an expert in the field of cellular nutrition.  Even with that disclaimer I had to walk out of todays presentation. It was not supposed to be marketing but it was a sales pitch for a vitamin mineral supplement using nonsensical, non data designed to get you to nod along and agree and then to shell out money for an unknown product.

I did not ask for the powerpoint, I would not post it under my name. I want to bash just a few points I heard before leaving. In no special order.

Senate Document 264 was cited as something supporting  nutritional supplements. I googled it while in the presentation and laughed. I had never heard of a Senate document.

“99% of the American people are deficient in minerals and a deficiency in any one or more important minerals actually results in disease.” A partial quote from document 264. 

The problem is that Senate Document #264 is not a “report,” and it wasn’t “produced by the government.” It’s not research, it wasn’t commissioned by and had absolutely nothing to do with the government other than the fact that Senator Duncan Fletcher, Democrat of Florida, asked that it be put into the Congressional Record (two weeks before his death of a heart attack at the age of 77). Just like any senator can ask for anything to be put in regardless of merit. Did I mention this occurred in 1936? And did I mention that the “document” is actually an article from “Cosmopolitan” magazine written by Rex Beach, a popular writer of the day?” Everydayhealth,com

Or how about the odd discussion of vegetable shapes correlate to what body organs they augment. Walnuts look like brains so they are good for your brain? Of a carrot cut cross section looks like an eye so it must be good for your eye. I thought a carrot before meeting the knife looked like a penis, why is not good for a woody? Give me break.

As to the porta-potties full of Centrum tablets, urban legend, not true.

“You guys know that story where Centrum multivitamins…

suck since they don’t get absorbed by the body? That septic tanks the world over are filled with undigested tablets? Has anyone actually seen such for themselves? Like personally, and not as told by their sister’s coworker or cousin’s girlfriend or whatever…

See I just dropped a centrum tablet in glass of water less than five minutes ago and It’s already almost completely dissolved. I’m pretty sure my tummy’s stomach acids are a lot stronger than plain old water…”

Try it yourself. Most of any multivitamins contain both oil and water soluble vitamins. The water soluble vitamins not used go out the famously yellow urine and the oil solubles remain in the body and can accumulate to toxic levels.  Colorado State University

How much is safe, check this from WebMD 

Next the banning of Boron a micronutrient, more half truth.

Boron toxicology

Toxic effects appear at intakes of about 100 mg. The World Health Organization has banned boron (in the form of boric acid) as a food additive and preservative. Toxic effects include a red rash with weeping skin, vomiting, diarrhea characterized by a blue green color, depressed blood circulation, coma and convulsions. A fatal dose in adults is 15 to 20 g and in children 3 to 6 g. Repeated intakes of small amounts can cause accumulative toxicity. Signs of toxicity include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dermatitis, and lethargy. In addition, excess boron intake induces riboflavinuria. Landauer found that boron-induced teratogenic problems include skeletal abnormalities and were reduced with riboflavin therapy.” DC Nutrition 

Minerals in general:


In recent years, a plethora of oral “colloidal mineral solutions” has been appearing in the dietary supplement marketplace sold as mineral/trace element supplements. The following discussion is not intended to be an indictment against the colloidal minerals per se, but to bring to light scientific evidence that challenges many of the claims being made for these products. The natural products industry is under considerable challenge from many sectors to provide the public with truthful and non-misleading information about its products. If any sector of the industry is found to be misinforming the public, regulators will use these examples as evidence of why the industry should be significantly restricted in the marketplace. Consumers can only determine what is best for them if they are informed.

The purveyors of colloidal minerals have gone about their business aggressively informing the public about the importance of minerals and many trace elements in human health. For this effort, they are to be commended. Minerals and many essential and some still unproven trace elements play a crucial role in human health, as do all the micronutrients, vitamins, essential fatty acids, and accessory nutrients. However, in their enthusiasm to inform the public about the importance of minerals and trace elements, exaggerated and sometimes totally unfounded claims are made for products which lack scientific support and/or experimental evidence.” DC Nutrition 

Try this resource for dosages of herbals and minerals  NIH 

One last maybe most important point comes not form me but in this outstanding HBO link. Before you waste your money on miracle supplements watch this and you will save your money.


Todays Tuesday Talk by Mike Petersen

I was surprised at the low turnout for todays Tuesday talk. The topic, Understanding our universe from the very large to the very small, was enticing. The presentation was stimulating and the people who were in attendance learned something. I learned a lot, so much that I want read more so I can try to process more of the content.

Science and the understanding of physics and cosmology has come a long way from my academic days. I do remember the concept of life long learning and hope to keep on learning all my life. I hope that if we have more topics like this one more people will find the time to open their minds to serious education.

Mike Petersen was an excellent presenter, clearly an experienced teacher and he said a lot.

Below is his Powerpoint, it is just a bare outline to stimulate his presentation but to those who missed it perhaps it will encourage more participation when in the future we have quality speakers. To those who were there,  thank you for your interest. By participating you are encouraging more and better quality presentations like this one.

BCP Tuesday Talks

There was an interesting Tuesday Talk, actually a discussion at the BCP yesterday. It was an open question and answer for those who attended and wanted to learn more about Boquete. A lot of new faces where there.

The major thrust was about healthcare. Healthcare is a frequent topic for expat and locals alike. It is even more important to expats who have retired here, as we age we accelerate the process of physical disintegration. Although in this Shangri-La it does appear to slow down for many people.

Because this topic has been discussed many time before want to point to all the past articles and do a fast summary. If you want to pick and read from years of posts try this link.

This is the fast summary of medical care options in Boquete Panama.

Panama has a three tier healthcare system all paths are open to all people. There is the MINSA or Salud system which offers low cat services to all. A doctors visit is $0.50 and the Salud clinic in Boquete is located next to Romero; the green building. Expect a long wait and limited resources.

Caja de Seguro Social has a clinic across from the Bomberos in Boquete. It is Blue building and if you pay into Seguro Social you and your family can get free healthcare there. If not you can still use it a very low cost, again $0.50 for a consultation. Except long waits but good service. It closes early about 3pm and is being replaced with a new larger clinic in Alto Boquete which will have emergency services. Hopefully the political change will not prevent this from happening.

Finally there is a parallel private system with an increasing number of private doctors in Boquete. Office visits vary from $5 to $12 depending on doctor. Some still do house calls at a higher rate.

If you need more it will be in David. The Private hospitals are Mae Lewis and Hospital Chiriqui. There are two public hospitals,  Regional and Obaldia, a children’s hospital. More here. link.

For those who want health insurance in Panama, it is easy to get if you are young and do not have preexisting conditions. For the rest it can be a challenge. More on that at this link.

With all of that said other topics discussed were about US veterans  and water. I ended up speaking a bit about the water issues here. I have written so much about water I will pass on adding more for now.

With that the discussion moved to a close and I will have an announcement later this week about the much debated future of the Tuesday Meetings.


Tuesday Meeting: Alto al Crimen

When Alto al Crimen hosts a Tuesday Meeting a lot of people come to the meeting.  We had a good meeting and the best part is that reported crime in Boquete has once again fallen off to a very slow pace.

The meeting had three speakers, over one hundred attendees and covered the realities of trying to keep a lid on crime in a growing Boquete. Caesar Sherrard, the founder and current President of Alto al Crimen explained the purpose of the foundation.

In summary Alto al Crimen was created to help make all of Boquete a hard target for criminals. This is a challenge when Boquete is one of the more affluent areas in Panama and we have many non Panamanian residents who do not understand the language or the culture they live within.

The discussion went from securing your home through how to defend yourself and not end up in jail.

The next evolution of Alto al Crimen (AAC) is to be sure those arrested in committing crimes in Boquete are prosecuted. This is easier said than done. AAC needs to retain a lawyer in David to push any Boquete arrests through the system so they do not fall off a desk into a trash can. The system here different than up north, here some cases disappear rather than making them to trial. AAC wants to be sure people arrested for crimes against persons or property in Boquete are prosecuted.

This and increased expenses for the 7×24 hotline are forcing AAC to push for more donations.

As a guest or resident you can call the hotline, 6477-6662 seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day to report a crime, a medical emergency or for assistance if your car breaks down on the highway. The operator is bilingual and will do his best to get help to you. This is a free service, the hotline is funded 100% by donations and it is being copied in other parts of Panama because it works here.

AAC is asking for a donation of $100 per household, per year to help maintain the service. If you can pay more great, less also great but the monthly expenses have grown to where they need money to keep it going.

You can leave a donation at Mail Box Etc, Box 13112.

TCM: Crime in Boquete, an insight

Today Caesar Sherrard one of the founders of Alto al Crimen in Boquete spoke about the increasing crime problem in Boquete.

The theater at the BCP was packed for the presentation.


Caesar made his point that the driver on increased crime in the increased cost of living without commensurate increase in salaries. When people earning $16 a day cannot afford to house and feed their families, some will resort to any means to do fulfill the need.

Boquete has a small police force which has about 15 officers on patrol for the entire district, and that is to cover 24 hours a day seven days a week. So maybe five on the street at any one time. The population according to the 2010 census was 22,435.[1]The district covers a total area of 488,4 km². Those police paid about $690 a month in wages try to do the best they can with one patrol car and occasional motorcycle support. They cannot prevent crime, they have a difficult time investigating crime.

Before you start asking for more police think about how much tax revenue the government earns from you.

Crime in Boquete is mostly amateur, now a bit enhanced by some gangs from David using the new highway that makes escape easier and faster than before. The solution to crime in Boquete is not the police. The solution is a smart population and proactive preparation. The message is be a hard target.

Most crimes here are crimes of opportunity, theft of visible high value items through open windows, unlocked doors or penetration by local workers who observe patterns of availability. Caesar made the point that most neighborhoods here, unlike the US and Canada are economically mixed. You might have a home that cost $200,00 built next to a tin shack. This economic disparity coupled with television sold examples of the good life motivates crimes.

There have been a few high profile home invasions here and in Volcan. These are usually groups of armed men who beat their victims. Sometimes they are caught, sometimes prosecuted, sometimes convicted and sometimes jailed. None of this helps the victims.

The solution is to harden your home. There is a reason even poor locals have bars on their windows and doors. There is a reason even poor locals have dogs and fences. The defense perimeter of your house is your fence. No one should be allowed into your fence without permission. Alarms, dogs, bars, automatic flood lights and fences are all perimeter defenses that make your home a hard target, unless you have been targeted the bad guys will pass you up for something easier.

The vocal advice from Caesar was, you are not in Kansas anymore. Unless you are willing to secure your own home you should leave now before you become a victim and statistic.

Discussion went on to the questions of guns and laws about guns in Panama, again this is not Kansas. You need a license to own a gun and then you need to find a gun. Panama is not currently importing guns so legal guns are expensive and need to be resale from another licensed gun owner.

Bottom line is you and you alone are responsible to secure your home and protect yourself. The police cannot protect you, even if they capture the perpetrators it will not undo the crime and terror of being violated.


TCM: Dr Maria Ruiz on Boquete history

Dr. Maria Ruiz, presented a history of Boquete with the personal framework of her family and their multigenerational history here. She discussed the roots of their coffee business and the ecology of this unique valley as it effects us all. Explaining in part why the people in this community are the most ecologically activist in Panama. Maria discussed the waves of immigrants and how they have effected Boquete and used them as a backdrop to explaining Boquete as it is today. Using some wonderful anecdotal stories she painted a vision of past, present and a possible future.

The first inhabitants appear to have been the indigenous people, I use the word for appear, only because that statement comes from cemeteries and archeological remains in the Boquete area, not from settlements that existed when the next groups arrived.

The Spanish first arrived in Chiriqui at Remedios, Chiriqui and then later settled in Dolega.  Dr. Ruiz explained the interaction with the indigenous people in a story that may be enlightening. As the Spanish came with their guns, horses and steel they first warred with the indigenous. A indian chieftain had what was clearly a brilliant idea. He suggested that the Spanish would not kill their own families. Since the original Spanish invaders were men he encouraged native women to engage them, literally. Hence the mixed blood lines that dominate Chiriqui. True or not, the anecdote says a great deal about the people here in Chiriqui. The first non indigenous peoples to move into Boquete came from the Dolega area.

The third group that came and actually settled this valley included people leaving from the construction of the Panama Canal. This group in the early 20th century was a mixture of North Americans and Europeans. They also left their legacy and genetics in the families and business in Boquete. These immigrants developed farms, most for coffee.  Boquete has always been an agricultural community, coffee was and possibly still is the major crop here.

During World War Two Panama became a strategic point for defense of the Panama Canal. Dolega was a training ground and many US soldiers were stationed here. Most left, but many left their genetics in the next generation, adding to the diversity of the people in Chiriqui.

The fourth wave included me, and perhaps you. We, the retirees are adding to the culture and evolution, and occasionally and often surprisingly to the donor, we add to the gene pool also.

Another thread in the discussion was for all of us who live here about climate change and how it is impacting the coffee industry. Coffee is the distilled  essence of Boquete Panama and we need to take notice of it and environmental impact to it. Climate change is real and it is affecting the very roots of Boquete and will continue the evolution and changes in this very special gap in the mountains of Panama.

If you missed this presentation you missed a great opportunity to learn.

TCM: Some Local Foods

This is the presentation I used at the meeting on foods. It isn’t snapshot not including all there is locally. I am own the road and will post some short travelogue themes for the next twomweeksmof travel and exploration.

To see this full screen click on the square with arrows on the lower right of the presentation above.

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