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TCM: World Wide Medical

The presentation today was by World Wide Medical with some new health insurance offerings to the expat community. I am going to try to summarize and below my summary is their presentation.

They have a new option for Panama only health insurance that includes Hospital Chiriqui and Punta Pacifica in Panama City as the two in network providers. They want to be very clear this has nothing to do with the MS Chiriqui plan many people here use. The only common element is the hospital is a provider to both plans.

This Panama only plan requires you be under 64 years old at the time of enrollment; if enrolled you can continue coverage until age 100 with premium increases as you mature more.

If you are over 64 they have an international plan with three options that allows enrollment up to the day before you turn 75.

Please address any questions to Sr Bellisario, not me.

If you want more information the contact in David is
Belisario Centeno S.
telephone 775-9237
telephone 775-1615
FAX 775-8478
Cell 6672-4479
email minsl@yahoo.com

For more information and some idea of costs www.worldwidegroup.co

I tried to do an online quote, but alas, this is Panama. It did not work for me using Safari or Firefox, maybe IE but I don’t have it. Rates will vary with age, sex, health etc.

Nobody asked, but here is the Recipe for Boquete Chili Verde

In Texas they have a bowl of red, in Tucson I preferred a bowl of green, chili that is, Chili Verde. Chili Verde is what I make here in Boquete Panama. It takes a little work to find all the ingredients in Chiriqui, but for me it is comfort food and worth the effort.

My Chili Verde  does not win any prizes but I like it and it can be done with almost entirely local ingredients. This is not exactly the same as what I prepared for the Buenos Vecinos event, nor is it traditional, but it is my preferred method using what we have available here way south of Arizona.

chili verde

Boquete Chili Verde con Puerco, the recipe, not the picture, I forgot to take a picture.

Scaled for 8 servings mas o menos

1.o kilo of Carne Lisa, boneless pork, usually from the leg, they say. Cubed in 1 cm cubes. I ground it for the cook off, but cubed is much better.

8 poblano chiles, fresh, usually at Super Baru or Romero, San Mateo in David. You can substitute canned green chiles if you can find them. I buy these when they have them, roast, skin and freeze for when I want them. The level of heat varies a great deal with the local Poblanos but they tend toward mild.  You can kick it up with a couple of chopped Jalapeños which you can usually find in the same places.

1 -2 Tbs lard or if you insist vegetable oil

1 large onion chopped

5-6 cloves of garlic, chopped

1tsp of cumin

4 chopped Culantro leaves (Cilantro is good too)

1 can 15oz of cubed tomatoes, drained or better some blanched, skinned roma tomatoes, remove the seeds and cube.

200 grams mas o menos of tomatilloschopped fine or pureed, hard to find here, in a pinch use a can of green mexican salsa, I do.

A six pack of Balboa or other lager, don’t waste the dark beer on this, drink it instead.

salt

some flour as needed

some corn meal, I like the Arepas corn meal because I have it in the house.

Ok the fun starts now

You need to fire roast the chilies, here are a few techniques.

1. Using insulated thongs hold them over a gas flame, rotating until charred evenly and then put them into a covered heatproof ceramic or glass container and cover adding them until all are done.

or

2. Put them on a tray under a broiler, turning as needed to char and them,  then put them into a covered heatproof ceramic or glass container and cover adding them until all are done.

Let them sit until cold and the skin will come off easily. Wash and removed stems and seeds.

Chop the chilies and if you have a food processor turn half into a pulp, leave half chopped.

Cookery

Next heat up a heavy dutch oven or a big heavy frying pan with a lid on the stove, add the lard and then the pork chunks. You want to brown the pork so if necessary do it in batches. Remove the pork and add the onions and garlic. Sauté until translucent but not brown. Then add enough flour to absorb the lard and cook a little more to cook the flour.

Return the pork and any juices from the pork. Add the tomatillos, cumin, culantro, the chile both the puree and chopped and one can of beer, less the can of course. Open a second beer for consumption because this is hard work.

Cover and simmer until the pork is falling apart. I like to use a pressure cooker because I hate waiting, usually about 30 minutes of pressure works vs. hours of simmering on a stove and that way I still have some beer left for dinner. Or you can use a crock pot and lament the long term delay in eating.

Add salt to taste and enough corn meal to thicken the sauce. The corn meal adds a pleasing texture. The beer adds flavor and drinking it makes the entire experience worth doing, over and over.

Break out the tortillas or serve over rice and enjoy with any remaining beer.

 

 

 

 

Cinco de Mayo a faux holiday for a good cause

Today as we served Chili at Amigos Restaurant for the benefit of Buenos Vecinos, a good cause, Mayra, a Panamanian, asked me about Cinco de Mayo. She asked what it was about, my answer was that it was not really a Mexican Holiday but a something celebrated in the US Southwest. I was not able to provide any more details because I did not know any more. So here is a a good link to explain the origins and evolution of a holiday that was never really much of a holiday. LINK. Thank you Lynnie for the link.

Cinco de Mayo is a big day for local Mariachis and this event at Amigos had many participants who donated their time and money cooking Mexican food for the many attendees who came.

Buenos Vecinos de Boquete is a small group of volunteers who deliver food supplies to the handicapped and elderly on a monthly basis. If you missed the event you can make donations at the Tuesday meeting they will help feed people who need help.

I was surprised at the absence of another important community group that usually attends and participates in fund raising for good causes, no Dog Breath Chili from Amigos de Animales, a past award winner. I missed their energy and their chili. It is a shame they were not there.

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Still the food was good, the Panamanian Gene Autry, below, was fun and the food I managed to taste was all done with love.

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Mayra and I dished out some Boquete Green, our local variant of Chili Verde. We did not win any awards, but that was not the reason we went. We were there to support a group that does good things for people who need their assistance.

We the expats in Boquete do some very positive things for our community and those who benefit appreciate the assistance and that was obvious from the increased Panamanian participation in this and other events.

 

I found a Dorado in Bajo Boquete

Dorado is a great firm fish, also known up north as Mahi Mahi it is splendid to see fresh out of the ocean. the photo below is of Mayra’s daughter Karina on a fishing trip we made some time ago. This Dorado was assimilated a long time in the past, but memories still stir desires to find more like it.

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Todays recipe is made from a Dorado I bought whole from the back of a pickup in Bajo Boquete, it was $2 a pound, whole. I asked the vendor to fillet it and he had broke out the knife and board.

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If you do not know how to pick a fresh fish from a vendor this old post has some hints. LINK

I took the filets and the skeleton and head too. They made for a great fish soup, but that is another story.

Thai Curried Dorado with Langostinos in a clam and curry sauce

Ingredients

Dorado filetes

Cleaned langosintos

cleaned, rewashed almejas, clams

Red and green bell peppers, Julianne

Thai yellow curry

cooking oil and butter

flour

Coconut milk

cooked rice as a side is perfect

I found the curry in Panama City at Foodie in Bar Harbor center, Patilla

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I like to dust the fillet with some flour to give it a crisp exterior

In a heavy frying pan melt some butter and add some olive oil. The butter helps browning, and pan fry the fish until it is done.

At the same time mas o menos, put 1 tbs of cooking oil into a heavy saucepan. Heat at medium and add some of the chili paste. How much is a guess base upon your heat level lust. I like a bit less than one tablespoon. Stir fry the chili until it is aromatic, not too long.

Add about half a cup of the coconut milk and stir until it boils. Add the langostinos and the clams. Then cook about five minutes or until the langostinos are turning pink. Add the vegetables and and the rest of the coconut milk. Bring back to a boil and give them about another five to seven minutes at a simmer. You want them cooked through but not rubber.

Plate the fish and rice, put the langostinos on the fish and pour the clam curry sauce over the fillet. Then savor the aroma. Sake is a great accompaniment and you can now get in at Romero.

 

 

Robinson Crusoe never it so good

Isla Palenque is a island in the Gulf of Chiriqui about thirty minutes from the small port of Boca Chica, Chiriqui Panama. This is the last of three posts about what we experienced in one weekend exploring Isla Palenque.

Here are links to the earlier posts if you missed them, the first on the hotel, the second on the food.

IslaPalenquemap1

The island is the polar opposite of the desert Island of Daniel Defoe’s novel Robinson Caruso. Isla Palenque is tropical rain forest and most of it will remain as it is, a nature preserve. The coasts and beaches, about five percent of the island, are scheduled for development. The development is environmentally sensitive, no clear cutting, minimal environmental footprint. The developer is integrating the homes into the landscape as much as possible.

The entire island is privately owned and varies between 400 acres at high tide and 440 acres when the ocean recedes and reveals some wonderful sand beaches and great tide pools.

Tide pools

Tide pools

Beach Isla Palenque

Beach Isla Palenque

Beaches and more

Beaches and more

Mayra hiking with a guide

We stayed in the current six room resort which will become someone’s home and ate some wonderful food. In addition we took a hike, saw some howler monkeys and a lone monster iguana marching the narrow roads cut into the island.

Howler Monkeys outside the hotel

Howler Monkeys outside the hotel

The developer Amble Resorts, is an American company and is selling innovative houses on the island. I doubt anyone will want to live on Isla Palenque full time, so the houses have the option to enter a rental pool.  If you did decide to invest $300,000 or more in a home you will have the potential to reap some rental income. If you choose not invest and just want to rent for short stays there should be many options to choose from.

Houses are selling and many more have been reserved. The developer is doing something not seen in a Panamanian project, they are using a US based escrow company. Buyers put down a deposit into escrow with payment due on delivery, something that makes purchasing pre-construction a bit safer than normal in Panama.

If you ever wanted to have a piece of a tropical island for escape from reality this might be an opportunity for you. I suspect we will be intermittent visitors and enjoy the change from the mountains periodically.

For more information see their website. This is the LINK to their website for more information.

A great vacation requires great food

There is a current thread running on Boquetening.com with a resident claiming the food in Chiriqui is not equal to Washington State. I am sure there are places in Washington State that have both excellent and awful food.  We have the same here, but because there are fewer people in Chiriqui Panama than in Seattle Washington, we have fewer of both.

Napoleon is credited with saying that “an army marches on it’s stomach”.  Not everyone will agree but to me a great vacation requires great food.  Great food can be mean different things to different people. I like to try new things. I like innovative cuisine, I like things I cannot or will not cook at home.

Our trip to Isla Palenque had included a surprise, great food, the best I have eaten in Chiriqui, the best I have eaten in Panama.

In April 2011 I wrote a restaurant review of The Rock in Boquete, in that review I said,  “About two weeks ago Mayra and I ate at the La Casa de Lourdes, an acclaimed restaurant in El Valle.  The meal in El Valle was not even close in quality or taste; this was excellent food”. The chef at the Rock was a Panamanian named Oliver Blond, Oliver is now the chef at Isla Palenque.

Chef Oliver Blond

Chef Oliver Blond

On Isla Palenque the chef has a captive small and demanding market. He can be innovative or lazy. Oliver selected innovative and excellent. His food qualified as the best I have eaten in Panama. He has taken local ingredients and produced unique variations including some with very traditional names and non traditional execution.

The Island has it’s own organic gardens and produces much of what is served. It also has the Pacific Ocean on it’s doorstep providing fresh fish, lobster, shrimp and more.

So here is the naked truth, to us foodies, the following photos might be pornographic. These photos are a hollow expression of how good the food actually looked, smelled and tasted.

Like all people who never grew up,  I like to start with dessert. Here is a crepe stuffed with strawberries and covered with island produced coconut ice cream.

Strawberry crepe with coconut ice cream

Strawberry crepe with coconut ice cream

When Mayra saw traditional dishes on the menu she wanted to see how different they could be. She tried the Arroz con Pollo and said, “the is the best I have ever eaten”. It had both flavor and lots of chicken.

Arroz con pollo, Rice and Chicken

Arroz con pollo, Rice and Chicken

I needed to see what could be done to make a Cuban sandwich different, it was heaven on toasted bread, unlike any I have eaten before.

Cubano with fried yucca

Cubano with fried yucca

Sancocho is another Panamanian tradition, just like Mayra texting while she eats. This soup was the best Sancocho either of us has ever eaten.

Sancocho, Panamanian Chicken Soup

Sancocho, Panamanian Chicken Soup

Mayra never tasted a salad with marinated beef in it before this one, exceptional.

Organic Salad with marinated beef

Organic Salad with marinated beef

Oliver was trained as a chef in Chile, so when I saw Lobster Empanadas on the menu I knew it would be a test of his education. We spent two weeks in Chile eating scores of empanadas in January, none tasted this good.

Lobster Empanada

Lobster Empanada

Grilled Fish

Grilled Fish

If you look at the Corvina plate in the Rock review and look at this grilled fish you will see some signatures of the chef and some new innovations.

Pork Chop

Pork Chop

Chuleta, pork chop,  in Panama usually means a thin cut, rib in pork chop either grilled to oblivion or fried. This two rib thick chop was moist on the inside and covered in a perfectly complimentary sauce.

If this was not enough to make you salivate our final evening meal had the following menu. Neither of us could make to the end and it was very fortunate we only had to walk a few score meters to our room.

menu

So to all you who say Chiriqui does not have GREAT food, you just haven’t been to Isla Palenque, yet.

This is the LINK to their website for more information.

From survivor to five stars, Isla Palenque, what a difference in two years

In June of 2011 Mayra and I visited Isla Palanque. At that time in a post, I described the vision of the developer and called it “survivor for the jet set”. We were invited to return this past weekend to see the changes made in two years. I am pleased to say Isla Palanque is still almost all a nature preserve as promised but the signs of the planned community are taking form.

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We stayed in what I will describe as a five star hotelet, six rooms.  It will be someone’s home after the first real hotel is built on the Isla Palenque. We had the opportunity to take a hike down one of the beaches and into the rain forest. We enjoyed some of the most innovative food I have eaten in all of Panama and on Saturday we took a tour with the project designer and manager who is living onsite.

Getting to Isla Palenque required a drive to Boca Chica and a thirty minute boat ride to a new pier.

Forget Fantasy Island

Forget Fantasy Island

We were greeted in a style reminiscent of Ricardo Montalban, except we were met by two gracious ladies both too young to remember Fantasy Island. They were from the staff of what turned out to be the nicest little house on the island.

Our welcome cocktails

Our welcome cocktails

After a weekend there I decided to take three days to share our experience. Today just a bit about the accommodations because they represent the quality of design and innovation. The current hotel is based on a design for a six bedroom house. It is a design I have never seen before. Each bedroom is part of a two level stack, each stack independent, floating above the ground with connections to the salon and outdoors. The salon has an infinity pool and view of the ocean. Each unit has air-conditioning, two or three different showers, a bathtub for two. The water is solar heated and the interiors true apartments themselves. I originally thought each bedroom suit was a free standing cabin minus a kitchen, but not to be, each is a bedroom.

Isla Palenque

Isla Palenque bathroom

Bathrooms are not usually photogenic but this one has a shower wall. a bathtub built for two and behind those doors an outdoor shower that is open to the sky and closed to prying eyes. It was great fun. The toilet has it’s own room.

Isla Palenque bedroom suiteThe suit has a king sized bed, living area and opens to a view of the ocean and a floating terrace. I spent most of my time on the terrace staring at the sea. There is no cable, in fact there is no television, who needs it. They do have Internet and provide an Ipad in each bedroom.

Isla Palenque  beach view from hotel

Isla Palenque beach view from hotel

Isla Palenque

Kayaking

The image below is the hotel from the beach. The Joron is the restaurant. The roof in the center the salon and entrance to the home.

Isla Palenque Hotelito from the beach

Isla Palenque Hotelito from the beach

Mayra suffering

Mayra suffering

Isla Palenque wants you, local residents to have our experience so they are providing a nice deal to fill short term vacancies. Tomorrow more, Food Pornography, the naked truth about great food.

VECINO5 discount rate
The special unpublished package rate applies to stays of 2 nights or more between 11-19 May and includes:

> Jungle Room accommodations
> All meals
> 1 Island Tour per room-night, based on tours offered per our regular schedule
> Transport to/from Boca Chica

The price per room, per night for this package is $195 (value: $540/night; save over 60%). All our rooms are double occupancy but one of our Jungle Rooms can accommodate a third person; to add a third person to this room would cost $95.

All that’s needed to take advantage of this rate is to input the rate code VECINO5 when booking. Please be advised that this is a “last minute” offer, meaning it can only be redeemed 7 days before arrival and is subject to our availability. Also, this rate is strictly “word of mouth”, meaning it cannot be published online, but you are welcome to email it to anyone you think would be interested.

This is the LINK to their website form more information.

 

Tuesday Water Update

If you missed the meeting today please read my April 21 post, LINK. What was added to my analysis is that the people here, in Volcan and Dolega are not happy about the proposal.

As I pointed out in the meeting, now we resolve our problems locally,  as we did in Jaramillo this month when we literally ran out of water, LINK. We, the local Junta had control of funds and we, the local junta spent them to provide a fast solution. Under the new law we would have had to ask for permission to fix the problem, wait for funds and authorization. We would probably still be waiting.

My idea written on April 21, was that this law is a repackaging for sale of Panama’s water, that seems to be the consensus of many, despite the line saying it is not.  The line in the law that says ““Paragraph: The National Authority for Drinking Water and Sanitation not be privatized.” may not mean what it says, Pearl Bryant pointed out that the Authority may not be privatized but there is noting saying they can not sell underlying portions, the utility and manage it.

When elected this government pledged to fix the potable water issues in Panama, until now they have failed. IDAAN the national aqueduct has failed to deliver water in most of the country, now they want to add the rural areas to the mix under one marketable utility. Potable water is becoming visible as a valuable resource.

Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, Chairman of Nestle has been quoted as saying that water is too valuable a resource to be left in public hands. He, in an interview with the Guardian has denied that.

“The 68-year-old Austrian believes water scarcity is perhaps the biggest threat facing humanity and while governments and businesses are finally waking up to this, precious little action is being taken.

Brabeck says he became a convert to the cause of water stewardship a few years ago when he was planning the food and drink giant’s 140th anniversary and wondered what the challenges might prevent it from celebrating another 140 years in business.

The “surprising” answer led him to step back from his role as chief executive to devote more time to his water crusade, and taking a lead in the development of the Water Resources Group (WRG), which is seeking to bring governments, business and civil society together to find solutions.

Guardian

This is in contrast to a video interview with the very same man, listen well about 2 minutes into the video.

It is painfully clear Nestle and others like Bechtel see money in increasing populations and decreasing potable water supplies. It is after all good capitalism.

Considering the rise of the Plutocrats there are no surprises in a claim that the large corporations of the world want to control your drinking water. There is also little surprise that the government of Panama would like the short term revenue of such a sale. No conspiracy here, just good business for a government with one more year to benefit from it’s elected power.

Watch for the signals here and in email as this fight brews before the law is passed and after, if the law is passed.

 

Another Friday night

At the peak of rush hour traffic, with police escort, we and a group of 4×4 cars, ATVs and other locos did a cavalcade through David. A crazy beginning to what might be a really interesting weekend.

Tonight should be good aerobics. Samy and Sandra are performing at Joron Zebede in David and we are here now. The disco is blasting and The crowd to be us trickling in. We were early at 10PM.

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Soon the aerobics of Salsa and Typico will begin. I wish you were here Panama is a lot if fun if you leap in with your dancing shoes.

Since I am blogging live it is now 11:00PM the house is full and the band is has not arrived yet.

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Here, Remey and Mayra are here. If anyone else from Boquete is here I have not seen them yet.

At 11:25 the action started and the dancing moved to at least hundreds if couples of all ages on the dance floors. Zebede has five different dance floors. They break between each song so I have time write a but.

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Saturday and Sunday in Dolega

I will not be there but you can be a Panamanian on Saturday and Sunday if you wish. My friends are having a motocross event at Pista Maxi Barria in Dolega.

Saturday bring your ear protection because it is a battle of the music trucks while people practice. You can eat, drink and watch or participate.

On Sunday it is moto completion starting at 10:00 am. The event is open to the public it will cost you $6 To enter and enjoy the planned chaos. Profits go to Casa Esperanza.

To get there drive to Dolega, take forced construction turn and make a left at the mercado angeles, they will be a sign up and follow the road to the Pista.

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