TCM: Prof. Peter Bormann on Tsunamis on Fat Tuesday

If you missed the meeting today you missed another excellent presentation by Dr. Bormann who travelled from near Jaco Costa Rica to educate us. The quality of many presentations like this is excellent and I am dismayed when half the seats in the BCP are empty. It is makes me question if the effort of those who organize and present is worth the effort for a disinterested community.

The presentation on Tsunamis was a good university survey level presentation. The summary is that if you are on the coast, any coast and feel an earthquake for over 10 seconds in duration put away the surf board and head for higher ground and stay there until you hear an all clear. It can take hours for a Tsunami to hit and they are usually multiple waves, the first not being the largest. Another signal of an impending Tsunami is if the ocean retreats further than normal, then run for higher ground because it indicates a tsunami wave is in route.

When asked if he had any knowledge of Tsunamis in Panama Dr. Bormann said no, but there is little written history. He commented of an island which had an old legend of tsunami flooding and that that legend coupled with observations of nature saved many people when the island was hit by a tsunami. The residents had fled the coast already. It might be of interest that I spoke to locals in Pedesi a couple of years ago. I asked why no one built on the beaches there until recently, they had similar local folktales of waves sweeping the beaches clear of earlier structures.

This is Fat Tuesday, it is also the official Carnaval holiday in Panama so don’t expect much to be open. The exodus from the national Carnaval fiestas will start later today and end tomorrow as people head back into real world again. Be careful drinking and driving, in fact don’t do it.

Here in Boquete the big event is at Fuzion Grill starting at 5pm. I hope to see you there.

Wow, from Chile to OSETI, the optical search for intelligent life

After almost a month on the road it is great to be back in Boquete. Although I never felt the need for ruby slippers, I did need to return to the tranquility of Boquete. After living all my life in Cities, I retired to the hills overlooking Boquete, I love the sounds of Panama including the crowing of my roosters. My holiday schedule was mostly cities, they are a great place to visit for culture, cuisine and energy but I prefer living here and visiting there.

My efforts at a real time travelogue were dashed by a failed power supply and then a loss of some data. I was going to move forward without more about the month away, but several people asked about the trip and wanted to see photos. I will do a post on each city we visited with photos and occasional suggestions for the traveller based on our experience and then a cost of living comparison to Panama.

Yesterday, I thought I had returned to earth after almost 24 hours of sleepless travel getting back to Boquete. Then I went to the Tuesday meeting and listened to Ben Schuetz a Boquete resident discuss his search for intelligent life someplace far beyond Chile.  Ben has been a resident of Boquete since 200, a retired physicist/engineer and amateur OSETI investigator.

The presentation was about the history, current work and future outlook for SETI and OSETI. Everyone knows what SETI is, but few know about OSETI,  “Optical Search for Extraterrestrials”, that is, searching for laser signals from ET.

Ben has created his own OSETI observatory, the Boquete Opera House and Observatory here in Boquete. It is probably the only one chair opera house with a telescope in the world. Ben has also developed and built his own optical search tools. As Ben admitted to a packed crowd in the newly remodeled BCP theater, his search is a exercise that is unlikely to bear fruit or discover ET. It is however his way to enjoy life after his career, we all find our own paths if we look for them.


TCM: A health insurance option, with some possibilities

Today the Boquete Community Meeting we heard from Digmory Rivera, a  Miami based Health Insurance Sales representative. She showed us to options for health insurance for expats in Panama from International Medical Group. One policy is for full-time residents, the other for snow birds who spend six months or less in Panama. What we also learned is the six month policy allows roll overs and therefore provides an option for continuous coverage.

I played with building some quotes for me, age 64, these are annual rates.

The part-time option for six months looks like this for the same 64-year-old male. You can model quotes at this URL LINK

You can do your quote here. LINK

There are many questions and the web site answers some like pre-existing conditions. There are other questions best addressed to Digmory Rivera info@dmymarketing.com. The prices look pretty good but as always the devil is in the details, the exclusions etc. I suggest reading and emailing Digmory.

MG Plans
Buy Patriot Travel Medical Insurance
Buy Global Medical Insurance

TCM: Heliconias and the environmental reality

Today in Boquete Panama at the Tuesday meeting Carla Black provided some education about the genus of plants known as Heliconias.

According the Wikipedia “Heliconia, derived from the Greek word helikonios, is a genus of about 100 to 200 species of flowering plants native to the tropical Americas and the Pacific Ocean islands west to Indonesia. Many species of Heliconia are found in rainforests or tropical wet forests of these regions. Common names for the genus include lobster-clawswild plantains or false bird-of-paradise. The last term refers to their close similarity to the bird-of-paradise flowers (Strelitzia). Collectively, these plants are also simply referred to as heliconias.”

Carla showed some specimens ranging from small to one cut into sections so she could transport it’s thirty foot stalk. She discussed her garden, one I have not seen for several years and her up coming plant sale June 30- July 1. More on that at her website http://www.heliconiagarden.com/ .

In all of the discussion that happened one part stuck in my head, Carlas trip into the Nogbe Comarca with the Panama Audubon Society. The bird watchers went to see the birds, Carla and her husband Angel went to find Heliconias in the wild. In addition to discovering many heliconias they did not know they observed the destruction of the forests in the comarca. People clearing land for pasture even when they had no animals to put onto the pasture. The destruction of what is a unique environment, in this case only for the hope of future gain, not even a reality.

If I was Christian I would be preaching that we are only Stewards of this planet. Stewardship in a Christian context refers to the responsibility that Christians have in maintaining and using wisely the gifts that God has bestowed. God wishes human beings to be his collaborators in the work of creation, redemption and sanctification. Increasingly this has referred to environmental protectionism. This also includes traditional Christian Ministries that share the resources of treasure, time and talent. [2] wikipedia

If I had a pulpit I would be preaching Panthesim. Pantheism is the view that the Universe (or Nature) and God (or divinity) are identical. Wikipedia. Actually since the Internet made me a minister, perhaps I need to find a pulpit. Unfortunately not being a citizen here my rights to point out the obvious are limited to whispering on this blog.

Many of us came to Panama because of it’s extraordinary beauty. When I arrived in Boquete I said I had no idea there were so many shades of green, all those trees along the path from Panama City. Costa Rica has recognized their treasure and protects huge areas from development preserving them for the future and becoming a tourist mecca. Panama, it’s government and too often it’s people, see what is created by god or nature, as a only something to be used, consumed or destroyed for a profit; this is short term thinking.

Please do not read this a tree hugger manifesto, read it as a plea for balance. There needs to be a balance, nothing will prevent people from chopping trees for lumber, but they could plant more for the future. Nothing will prevent urbanizations and new hotels, but they can be built in a balanced environment. Many tourists and residents would like to see heliconias from their windows and monkeys in the trees, many of us flee from cities to escape concrete and cars. Destroying irreplaceable rain forest for pasture is poor land management. Developers, be they indigenous trying to raise cattle or builders of hotels need a perspective  that is longer term. Think of our children and generations to come.

We lose species daily and one day our grandchildren or their children will see nothing but trees in museums and wonder what it was like before the paved over Paradise. (thank you again Joanie Mitchell and Ron Cobb).

TCM: Hummingbirds

Ralph Dessau gave the Boquete community a great presentation on Hummingbirds. He was gracious enough to send me this information to pass on to all.

How to make a Hummingbird Habitat

Hummingbirds are one of Panama’s special delights, but they are so fast that many people don’t even notice them. Yet, Panama is blessed with 59 species. Some live in beach areas, while others thrive in woods or the mountains. In Chiriquí I have seen six different species, the Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, the Violet Sabrewing, the Blue-tailed Emerald, The Snowy-breasted Hummingbird and unique to Chiriquí, the Volcano Hummingbird (in Finca Lerida). And if you enjoy  hummingbirds, the best way to attract them is not with sugarwater feeders but with their favorite flowers.

The hummingbird diet consists of two ingredients – flower nectar for energy and tiny insects for protein. We need not worry about the latter, for insects are everywhere, and one benefit of hummers is their help in reducing the insect population. Instead we will focus on the nectar part of their diet – with sugar being its main ingredient. Hummingbirds use huge amounts of energy and must consume over half of their weight in sugar every day.

Nature fortunately arranged it so that certain flowers attract hummingbirds, an evolution that took millions of years. During this period these flowers underwent changes so they could no longer be pollinated by bees or other insects. But if they could produce sufficient nectar, they began instead to attract hummingbirds who then took over their pollination.

This means that hummingbirds, apart from being a delight to the eye, also play an essential role in nature by pollinating plants, which would otherwise become extinct. In simple terms, without the plants the hummingbirds can’t survive and vice versa. My main reason for writing this article is therefore to explain how by creating new habitats for hummingbirds we can prevent such a crisis.

It doesn’t matter whether you have a large garden or a few flower pots. You only have to fill them with flowers that hummingbirds can’t resist. It helps that hummingbirds have excellent taste, so their favorite flowers are also appealing to humans. Their favorite color is a deep red, but orange, pink, yellow and blue also seem to work. Many but not all of their flowers have a trumpet-like, tubular shape, which often prevents pollination by insects.

The plants vary from small, low-growing ones to giant trees. A patient observer can easily identify them by watching the hummingbirds in action, but below are a few that are common to Chiriquí – starting with small plants that are good for potting and ending with some medium-sized trees:

  • Firecracker – also known as Russelia
  • Penta
  • Lantana
  • Hamelia
  • Heliconias & Bird of Paradise
  • Lucifer – Crocosmia
  • Orchids
  • Shrimp Plant
  • Dwarf Poinciana or Pride of Barbados
  • Cordia (In dry areas)
  • Powder-puff – also known as Calliandra

The Firecracker is a veritable hummingbird magnet and ideal for large pots, where the flowers can cascade over the sides. This has the added benefit that the pot can be placed where you can watch the visitors in action.

In Chiriquí the earth is so fertile that plants grow fast. A Dwarf Poinciana grows from a seed to a height of 5 ft in five  months. The easy way to get plants is of course from a nursery. But when they have grown strong, it is often easy to propagate more by cutting off branches and sticking them in some good black soil. And as you gain more confidence, you should also try other promising plants. As long as they are red and of tubular shape, chances are that you won’t be disappointed.

You may also discover, that hummingbirds can be attracted to Hibiscus flowers, but they can be pollinated by insects and do not produce much nectar. So to find more winners it is better to observe hummers in action, for. Jardin es tu Jardin”, a little further up the road from the Panamonte.

An ideal hummingbird habitat must also meet some of their other needs. One is a shelter where they can rest, and a leafy bush without flowers will do very well. And being extremely territorial, they like a convenient perch, from where they can spot intruders on their domain and chase them away. When such a perch is not readily available, I make one from a four to five foot long slender branch, and stick it in the ground at what seems to be a good observation point. If that doesn’t work, I try to another location.

Hummingbirds also love to shower and they bathe regularly, where there is running water. The shower can be provided by a garden “mister”, which may be found in stores like Do-It Center, Melo or Novey, and a bird bath with a fountain should also work. After providing these additions to your garden, you should soon be enjoying the company of some delightful new neighbors. I have tried to be as specific as possible but will gladly answer any questions sent to rbdessau@yahoo.com.

For more information about hummers I also recommend  a visit to:


Ralph has a website at this link.

Some videos he recommends.

TCM: Hospital acquired infection presentation

I missed the Tuesday Community Meeting today in Boquete Panama. Donna O’Toole was kind enough to let me upload her Power Point Presentation. I cannot make much of a comment beyond saying in Panama and everyplace else this is a serious issue to be considered before surgery.

TCM: A Newcomers Meeting

I was surprised by the attendance at todays meeting, a large group. The meeting was  held because of requests for a newcomers meeting when I asked for feedback and suggestions. Many of the people were new to Boquete many others have been here for years. A lot of information was exchanged and we will do it again.

In this meeting Don Anitlla and I spoke, sometimes with totally contrasting views of the Panama and Boquete experience. I learned from him, he said he learned from me and we both learned from the other people participating.

Based upon this test Dianne and I met today and made some decisions on the future of the Tuesday Meetings.

The meetings will continue when quality speakers are available, we will have Tuesdays without meetings when there are no good speakers available.

The first meeting of each month starting in July will be similar to the meeting held today, Tuesday 22 May, a newcomers meeting to share experiences and answer questions. Those meetings will be run by Dianne, Lee or others who have been here and are willing to share experiences.

We will now allow commercial speakers who wish to sell goods or services. Those meetings will be free to the public, no $1 fee. The speaker will pay a flat rate of $40 to the BCP to cover the entry fee. I will schedule those meetings as any other, but they will be marked commercial no door charge, in announcements.

We are still open to new ideas, more speakers and quality topics. The changes made were based upon the poll here on Boquete Guide and other feedback given by the community.

The topic next week is one of those very important topics covering health care and I urge people to come early so they have a seat.

TCM: The 6 Million Dollar Man

Perhaps if I had not called this meeting “Hybrid Operating Rooms” but how you can be kept alive by new technologies in medicine more than twenty people would have come to the meeting. Our speaker Bruce Landau from the University of Pennsylvania was excellent.  We are often lucky that very talented visitors to Boquete offer us their time when they are here.

Bruce discussed some of the changes in modern surgery and how computer and imaging technology is remaking the operating room. The cost  of these new high tech operating rooms can exceed the six million but the outcome to patients is worth the investment.

The bottom line message was that the practice of medicine is changing, rapidly. The use of new technology is allowing for less invasive surgery and lower risk of infection. Although these new techniques are now being used in Canada, Europe and the USA, as of now they are not available in Panama. That might be changing soon and based upon what I saw today if I needed surgery that can be done in a hybrid operating room I would without a doubt travel to a location that has the technology.

This link to an article in USA Today might be of interest to those who missed the presentation. LINK

Sorry if you missed the meeting because many of us will face these life altering decisions in the future  for either ourselves or loved ones.


Tuesday Meetings a Followup on community input

I want to put a positive face on the Boquete Community input on the Tuesday Morning Meetings. I posted on Boquete Guide, BoqueteNing and used Noticas to reach in excess of four thousand people who either live in Boquete or are interested enough to read those resources. As of now sixty six people have responded to the poll, another twenty seven have left comments on this site.

Less that 2.5% of those contacted cared enough about the future of the Tuesday meetings  to respond.  Of those who did respond eleven said they never go to the meetings.  That would indicate that the meetings, a long tradition in this community, are only important to about one hundred people in Boquete; I know that is wrong. When we have a topic of interest the community packs the house.

Boquete Community Meeting

Boquete Community Meeting

Of those who did respond with comments there were many useful suggestions. One of the ideas is to allow commercial meetings and let the vendor pay the BCP, eliminating the $1 per person fee at the door, a great idea and the BCP has told me  they will consider that option.

Dianne and I have been donating time and effort to this meeting. Dianne has been doing this for years, me only for a few months. I will not call the work thankless because many people do thank us.

I was not a regular attendee of the meetings in the past.  I  went when the topic was of interest to me; the way it should be. Now I go to most meetings because I introduce the speaker unless Dianne does the deed.  Most meetings have fifty or fewer people present, rarely a full house in an expat community of thousands. It is clear most topics are not of great interest to people here. The question is why try to maintain a schedule of weekly meetings unless there are topics of interest to at least one hundred in the community.

What is needed is more speakers who are willing to donate an hour of their time to educate those in the community on something of interest. Most of our requests to groups in the community fall on deaf ears. In the past I have tried to get people to talk about alternative health care, only Gilberto stepped forward. I have tried to get people to speak on tourism, no one local was willing. I have tried to get some of the local groups who do hiking, birdwatching etc to speak, nada. When people make suggestions for speakers they are usually unwilling to contact the speaker and ask for them to speak.  It is not my job to beg people to speak. I do ask, but I am unwilling to be a gadfly.

I have decided to allow the meetings to be less frequent and reduce the pressure on both Dianne and I. When we have good speakers we will have meetings. We will try a bi or trimonthly tourist and newbies meeting as suggested in comments. If the BCP decides to allow paid commercial presentations they will fill the time slot.

In the beginning the meetings helped create the critical mass needed for the market. Now I believe the market stands on it’s own and will grow and expand regardless of whether we have speakers or not.

The new reality is fewer speakers, perhaps commercial speakers and more efforts at newbie related meetings with no speakers. I am still looking for input and speakers and if someone else has a better idea I am open to all suggestions.


TCM: The future

I have been running the Tuesday Community Meetings at the BCP for about six months. When I took on the mission I decided to change the format a bit. I have tried to introduce more quality speakers. At that time I decided a void in the schedule, no speaker would be better than some of the speakers who had been allowed to use the podium to promote products and agendas. I also decided to cut the long introductions and have only announcements and the presentation.

I am finding it increasingly difficult to find quality speakers.  I am asking for your input on the what you, the community, would like to see. Please look at the poll on the right column  below the ads and provide me input on the future of the Tuesday Community Meetings.

For those who think otherwise I have no commercial motivations for doing the meetings. The  dollar at the door goes to the BCP, not me or the speakers.

Use the comments area below and the parallel post on BoqueteNing.com for more feedback and ideas.



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