I took a short vacation from writing and from Boquete. It was time to relax a little, another midlife crisis, so I took advantage of the last of the Royal Caribbean repositioning cruises from Miami to Colon Panama. Royal Caribbean apparently has decided the cruises from Colon through the Caribbean are not profitable and has decided that this, the fifth season is the final season. The unofficial word is that Panamanians and Colombians do not spend enough money in the bar and casino to make the trips worth doing. This year is a good year to take the seven day Caribbean cruise from Colon if you want a nice inexpensive vacation, rates are lower than in the past few years. Perhaps they exhausted the limited market of people who can afford the cruise.
I flew Air Panama to Panama City and Copa to Miami. I am willing to pay a few dollars more for Copa, but I discovered if you book a Copa Code share with United through United instead of Copa the rates are lower and you are on the same Copa flight. I always research my flight at http://matrix.itasoftware.com, print out the detailed flight info and then buy through Anavillma at Viajes David in Boquete. They charge $20 a ticket for their service but can always get the jubilado discount which more than pays her fee.
Miami was fun, I had some wonderful dinners with some new friends, including a Panamanian Pediatrician working at Miami Children’s hospital and his wife. We talked a lot about politics in Panama and the medical profession in Panama contrasted to his experience in the US. He prefers working in the US, he believes the quality of care is higher and for him the compensation far better. In the US he needs to pass new competency exams every two years. He said the doctors in Panama resist having to prove their level of competence. His conclusion is although there are excellent doctors here in Panama there are also some who should not be licensed to practice.
Thanks to Frank Santana, a Boquete resident I had a list of restaurant to try in Miami and I did make it to one, El Rey de Fritas. As I discovered the Frita is a Cuban style hamburger. Not bad and since I walked several kilometers into and through Little Havana to eat at the restaurant I ate the greasy sausage and beef burger without any guilt.
The trip back was fun, three days of too much food, not too many drinks and great relaxation. I returned with friends from Panama City and we spent a lot of time discussing the history of the Jewish community in Panama. I will write more about that later this week. We also spent some time on Panamanian politics, the election is coming the political discussions were hot and heavy. One important note is that the current government has succumb to pressure and backed off on reappraising land and increasing property taxes. They want to be re-elected and raising taxes before an election turned out to be a bad idea. I wonder if if it will resurface after the election.
There were at least forty people I recognized from Boquete on the trip and many returned with piles of stuff. This year, aside from one drug sniffing dog the there was not even a customs check coming into the port, immigration yes, customs no.
There were a few buses chartered for the trip from Colon to Boquete. After my bad experience last year, I did not use one. I had a ride with my friends from Panama City to the bus terminal in Albrook and took the regular bus back to David. My car was at the airport so it just took a $4 taxi ride from the David bus terminal back to my car and I returned to Boquete.
Upon arriving I received an email from a good friend asking if the rumors that I sold my finca and was leaving Boquete were true. They are not, I have not sold my Finca and have no plans to leave this paradise. This is especially reenforced after this trip. I could not live in Miami full time, too crowded and too expensive. Prices in Panama have increased a lot in seven years but prices in the US have increased even more. The cost of living in the US is much higher than here in Boquete.
One point that some may have noted, I am no longer involved with the BCP or the Tuesday meetings. I volunteered because no one else wanted the responsibility and when others stepped up to the plate I was relieved to walk away and let others take the burdens.
It is nice to be home.