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Carnaval, Bid4Boquete and a Tequila Mocking Bird

This is a big weekend in Panama, Carnaval, it has a slightly different twist in Boquete. Carnaval Panama’s version of a religious festival in anticipation of lent began yesterday with parties in much of the country. Although Tuesday is the only paid holiday for the private sector, government workers are off until Thursday. They did work extra days in compensation, but this makes for a five day party time for many.

There are places like Boquete that do not have Carnaval celebrations, others like Las Tablas that revel in the event. Carnaval in Panama is a party for the young in body and spirit. It consists of rum, seco, beer and lots of water. You traditionally ingest the rum, seco and beer and are sprayed with the water. Local news channels have been building the expectations for a few weeks showing people buying special Carnaval   clothing mostly very short shorts and tee shirts. Consider Carnaval in places like Las Tablas a massive wet tee shirt party. The closest Carnaval town to Boquete is Dolega, so if you want to experience Carnaval Panama style you now know were to go. If take a camera make it waterproof because and wear a too be wet tee shirt.

It is politically significant as well as an acknowledgement of the party that that MINSA, the health ministry will be distributing free condoms at Carnaval events. I wonder how many will be used as water balloons?

While Carnaval is happening in Dolega Bid4Boquete, the annual fund raiser for Boquete charities is having their main events. Today they started with a art and home wear show in the BCP. I was there buying some art this morning, you should too. The money goes to good causes and there are good things there.

Bid4Boquete at the BCP

Bid4Boquete at the BCP

Bid4Boquete at the BCP

Bid4Boquete at the BCP

Tonight is the annual Wine Tasting, it sold out before I bought tickets; I never plan far enough in advance. Tonight is also the live auction of some really nice stuff.

Tomorrow in the Arco Iris room of the Fair grounds is the main event for the entire Boquete community, more auctions, silent and more. Lots of food, events for children and who knows what more. The doors open at noon and the worker bees are preparing today.

If you do need a little of the Carnaval experience a little closer to home Tuesday is the day, Fuzion Grill is the place. For music, drink and jambalaya, New Orleans style. The ban Tequila Mockingbird is mixing free drinks for the first on the scene and the Boquete Jazz and Blues festival will have hurricanes and food for those who make a small donation.

Tequila Mockingbird Boquete Panama

Tequila Mockingbird Boquete Panama

In all these should be a few fun days in all of Panama, Boquete included. Just be careful driving the roads will be shared by both the intoxicated and police with breathalyzers. They have been warning people more than a beer or a shot and you will receive a fine if caught.

David to Boquete Highway progress report

As predicted the construction restarted in January. Label me a cynic but I think the forces layoff of hundreds of employees was to avoid paying salaries for  the holidays of November and December. Now they are back at work.

Union Fenosa is removing power posts near Los Algarrobos now and both CabelOnda and Cable and Wireless are moving cables closer to Boquete.  The road is once again a daily reassignment of lanes and changes abound basde upon construction needs of the moment. This makes the drive more dangerous and down right hazardous at night.

Progress is being made and once again my unanswered question is why are they spending over one hundred million dollars on a new well constructed four lane highway from David to Boquete?

The current government does nothing unless there is an economic gain for members of the government, call that Panamanian politics. It is rumored that the massive new five star hotel and housing project in Jaramillo Abajo being constructed by TransCaribe, David Ochy, has a partner who is the current President of the Republic of Panama. If that is the truth, it could explain the use of massive amounts of borrowed government money to make Boquete more accessible. We will all need to wait and see if that rabbit pops out of the hat or if there are other more populist reasons for the expenditure. The benefit of bearer shares of corporations in Panama allows for great secrecy for everyone, you may never know who really owns anything here.

Regardless, when completed David and Boquete will be about twenty minutes apart. The construction of what appears to be a new government hospital in Clamito along the new highway, will make emergency medical assistance far closer to Boquete than before. It will take  about fifteen minutes to drive there in an emergency  instead of the current forty minutes to Regional or hospital Chiriqui.

Basically Boquete is becoming less of a sky island. Boquete will become more attractive to tourists flying into the expanded David airport. We are entering a time where tourism will become even more important to the local economy and I suspect we will see an increase in the numbers of what are called residential tourists, those who move here, like me.

Terminal renovation at David Airport

Terminal renovation at David Airport

The new “friends of Panama Visa” makes it easier than ever to obtain permanent residency with a $5,000 bank deposit and and either a job or opening a business. Under this visa you can open your own business and work in it, no need to hire employees unless you want them. This coupled with the enhanced access is going increase the growth both in Boquete and all of the “interior” of Panama as people worldwide smell opportunity.

A final taste of Chile and Argentina

I am going to truncate the writings about our trip to a short summary and a long movie. We enjoyed Chile, Mayra loved Viña de Mar, I preferred Mendoza, perhaps the milder weather made her happy, the desert of Mendoza brought back memories of Tucson for me.

The economics were interesting, I did a short price survey that might be of economic interest to some.
price comparisons

Both Argentina and Chile were more expensive than Panama on the items I compared BUT if you take cash to Argentina and exchange at black market rates, 7:1 instead of 4.71:1 for pesos Argentina is a bargain.

This 34 minutes Youtube film is a great photographic summary of our trip and yes we would return again given the time and opportunity.

TCM: Rainelda Mata-Kelly, a legal update

Rainelda Mata-Kelly made trip to Boquete to provide our community with an update on some of the changes in immigration law and in a long question and answer period clarified many other issues for people.

I am going to attempt to summarize.

If you are looking for a Visa she recommended two options as best today. The Pensionado visa if you are retired, do not want to work and can show a pension of $1,000 a month for yourself and another $250 for a dependent.

The other option is a creation of this government and allows anyone from forty seven different countries to put $5000 in a bank account and apply for a visa that includes a work permit. This is the winner right now, no income requirement, work permit and permanent resident status in about six months. Rainelda pointed out the rules on this visa are cloudy and interpretation might vary with a new director of immigration, but for now this is a great option.

She emphasized the current need for an FBI report for US citizens and the fact they are rejecting people with arrests, even if never convicted of a crime.

If you are a pensionado and want a Cedula E she recommended getting one. She is going to confirm that the costs have not increased from the $60 government fee. Under the current interpretation of the law Pensionados with five years residency and a Cedula E , can request citizenship. In response to a question she did point out that you are required to renounce your prior citizenship when accepting Panamanian citizenship and the impact of that will vary depending upon your original citizenship.

The question came up about the email circulated by News.boquete from a local law firm saying bearer shares are going away by 2016. Rainelda said there is discussion of a change in law due to international pressures but no law has been introduced into the legislator and nothing has changed at this time. The law may or may not change in the future. Her advice was that she does not recommend bearer shares to her clients but if you have them, the fear of an uncertain change to the law is not reason to do anything now; wait.

In response to questions she discussed the use of Private interest foundations for protecting assets and how they differ from Trusts and corporations in Panama. If you do have a Private Interest Foundation be aware the Tasa Unica, the annual fee to the government for the Foundation has be raised from $300 to $400. The rate of $300 remains the same for corporations.

There was a lot more but I failed to take notes. :)

For more information contact Rainelda Mata-Kelly

(Int. access code+507) 216-9299
(Int. access code+507) 216-9298
Mobile phone:
(Int. access code+507) 6618-0515
rmk@mata-kelly.com Website: www.mata-kelly.com
Office Address:
Suites 406-407, 4th Floor, Tower B, Torres de las Americas, Punta Pacifica, Panama City, Rep. of Panama.
Mailing Address:
P.O. BOX 0818-00534, Panama City, Republic of Panama


Mendoza Argentina, a trip summary

In pre Columbian times the region now known as Mendoza was inhabited by the Huarpe Indians in the Uco Valley, North and Northwest, the Incas at Uspallata and the Mendoza River Valley and the Puelches to the South of the Mendoza River.

“The Huarpes stand out because they had developed a net of irrigation channels in the Huentota Valley (city of Mendoza today), which enabled them to grow potatoes and corn.

The Spaniards found this clever system, which they later called “Dique de la Toma de los españoles” (Spanish Capture Dam).” History of Mendoza

This system has been expanded over time and now the desert of the Mendoza region is lush where irrigated. The city hosts what must be hundreds of thousands of trees, a two hundred hectare park (San Martin Park) with lakes and rich wine growing vineyards. The tree lined streets temper the brutal heat of the Mendoza summer in January.

For us Mendoza was wonderful, today a metropolitan area of just under one million people in a low density housing environment. Parks abound and each is beautiful and we stayed overlooking Plaza Indepenencia.

To a tourist the reason to go to Mendoza might be wine, it is the heart of Argentinas wine production. We spent some time finding vineyards and discovered some of the guidebooks were incomplete on how to do it.

You can of course spend a lot of money following the advice of Trip advisor and go on a wine tour. Apparently those tours are excellent. Dan and Deborah hired a tour guide for their own private tour and were pleased at the results. Mayra and I took a bus and wandered around the small town of Lujo de Cuyo looking for a vineyard or the guide book recommended local taxi, there were no vineyards close and no local taxis. We struck out but the next day to try again. This time the four of us took the new light rail, which was bought from the City of San Diego.

Light Rail, you need a RED card to cover your fare no cash.

Light Rail, you need a RED card to cover your fare no cash.

When we left the train we took a taxi to a spot recommended by trip advisor, it was not there. Deborah, suggested another spot, Bodega Rural, panned in trip advisor and the taxi took us there.

We arrived during lunch and visited an olive oil producer in the area. Mendoza produces huge amounts of olive oil in addition to wine. After a brief rehydration stop there, we walked to Bodega Rural into their wine museum and tasting room and had a wonderful time. Avoiding the free wine, which was considered awful by Trip Advisors, advisors, we paid for good wine and it was indeed good wine. I know that because Dan and Deborah told me it was good, neither Mayra nor I know much about wine.  I do wonder how can people write nasty things about free wine? Did they think the best was going to be gratis?

Mayra dreaming over some Malbec

Mayra dreaming over some Malbec

One of the interesting and for me unique things in Mendoza was that the sidewalks are effectively rolled up at one in the afternoon when everything except restaurants closes for four hours. We were told that it was because of the heat, very believable, but we were also told they do the same thing in the winter and I can attest they do it all day Sunday. In any event this tradition makes the city a relaxed place with a hub of parks and late night activities.

After some wining at Bodega Rural, we walked a few hundred meters back to the main road and once again using the advice of Trip Advisor we discovered Casa Campo, country food at it’s best, try the rabbit, Mayra did. Great food, great beer and a great atmosphere, lunch for four cost about US$100, not cheap by Panama standards.

If you go to Mendoza, and I recommend going, stay at least a week. Forget hotels rent an apartment, visit the 1883 public market an try some of the local foods at home. The public transport is great, the food excellent, the wine inexpensive and the people friendly.

Dan discovered the Park Hyatt Casino and Mayra and I returned to listen to Mariachis, they started one time and ended their performance at midnight. Mayra was amazed to see people ordering dinner at midnight, very Argentina.

Enjoy a bit of the Mariachi Mexico from Mendoza by clicking here.
Mariachi Mexico recording

A few hints if you travel to Mendoza.

We went by bus from Buenos Aires, the buses leave the Retiro bus station in the evening. There are several classes of seats and since the best route we could find was a thirteen hour, nonstop ride we took the best seats, what hey call Cama Suites. The cama suite is a bed, includes dinner of sorts, wine, champagne and a breakfast in the morning. The trip was smooth.

We never did figure out wht the green thing was and the steward had no clue either.

We never did figure out wht the green thing was and the steward had no clue either.

I used trip advisor and google maps and with the one peso a day charge from Movistar it was a lifesaver when wandering the streets.

Take a good hat, sunscreen and drink lots of water to balance the dehydration of the sun, the beer and the wine. Go to a kiosk and buy a RED pass, it works for the buses and light rail. The card costs 3 pesos and the ride vary a little depending on distance but are usually about 3 -4 peso, pesos run about 5 to a dollar. If you are not a red meat eater, I am sorry because the great Malbecs crave red meat, but you can find lots of options and white wine too.

Restaurants we visited

Florentine Bistro


In Lujan de Cuyo we visted to a place not in trip advisor but small, local and excellent. Lo del Dante near the central park.

Maipu we ate lunch at Casa Rural

Mendoza Argentina

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[img src=http://www.boqueteguide.com/wp-content/flagallery/mendoza-argentina/thumbs/thumbs_mendoza05.jpg]50Mendoza cafe
Mendoza cafe
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Mendoza Market
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The Boquete Jazz and Blues Festival needs YOU!

For the past six years Boquete has hosted a Jazz Festival, last year with the involvement of Hans and Barbara it expanded into a Jazz and Blues Festival. If not for their efforts, the contributions of a handful of corporate sponsors and individual donations the festival might not exist.  If more people do not step up and help financially and physically,  the seventh might be the last.

The Festival is running on the energy and donations of too few people. There are few corporate sponsors, one of which is Panamonte Brands, not associated with the hotel of the same name.  Panamonte Brands does not sell their rum in Panama, still they have made a significant donation of rum that is helping to fuel this festival. They make some of the best rum I have ever tasted and I am not alone in my judgement.

Panama Red

You can help the festival continue and make it’s financial goals my donating, donate enough and you will get enjoy some rum. Panama Red made Dana smile and now her dress, hair, lips  and skin are all shades of red. Buy tickets for a raffle and you might just win a $400 bottle of rum, tickets to the 2013 festival and more; I did. Hans and Barbara will be at the Tuesday Market looking for you and your donations.

For all of you who read this blog and want to see further development of the arts in Boquete Panama please help support this event. Here is the schedule for this years festival, more details on the events, the artists and how you can help are on the Boquete Jazz and Blues Festival Website.

Festival program (preliminary, subject to change)

Friday, February 22, 2103
4pm -7pm The Art of Musicopening of a complementing artshow at the Boquete library

Saturday, February 23, 2013
5pm – 8pm Wine tasting at La Casa del Risco, Hacienda Los Molinos

Thursday, February 28, 2013
2pm – 3pm New Orleans style street parade with costumes, beads and all
3pm – 5pm Garden party at the Panamonte hotel with the Rigoberto Coba Jazz quartet, admission $5
7:pm – 9pm Presentation of Panamonte Brands rum at the Panamonte hotel. Live music by Boquete’s Fantazy JazzbandAdmission $5
9pm – ??? Jam session at Mike’s Global Grill, hosted by Ron Hacker & The Hacksaws, Admission $8

Friday, March 1, 2013
2pm – 4pm Free concert in the Boquete central park with life music, 

4pm – 5pm harp-playing instruction class in the park by master blues-harpist Bob Corritore for students of local schools. The Hohner company donated 50 harps specially for this event!

8:30pm – ??? Jam session at The Rock restaurant, hosted by master Blues harpist Bob Corritore & Chicago’s legendary Bluesman Taildragger, backed up by the Boquete Blues Band. Admission $8

Saturday, March 2, 2013
12pm  – 6pm  Open-air at the amphitheatre at Valle Esconcido
Four Jazz and Blues bands (see artists page)
Doors open at 11am

9pm – ??? Jam session at the Amigos restaurant, hosted by the Randy Oxford Band.Admission $8

Sunday, March 3, 2013
12noon – 6pm   Open-air at the amphitheatre at Valle Escondido
Four Jazz- and Blues bands (see artists page)
Doors open at 11am


Buenos Aires Argentina, Rome of South America

Forget the often stated chestnut that Buenos Aires Argentina is the Paris of South America, it is really Rome. Buenos Aires is a European City with a distinctly Italian flavor. The Spanish spoken is fast and melodic, the people friendly and courteous, the food uniquely Argentine and the culture a synthesis of 200 years of immigration.

Buenos Aires is a mature city of almost three million people, almost the total population of Panama, packed into a dense multistory environment. It has excellent but confusing public transportation. There is the Subte (subway), a confusing maze of bus lines and what must be a taxi for everyone in the city. The subways are easy to navigate and you can buy passes for a single ride, when we were there a ride was 2.5 pesos, about $.50 soon to increase to 3.5 pesos, soon to be $.50 if their inflation continues at the current rate. The buses use magnetic payment cards and have such a convoluted route structure that guides are available for sale at kisoks where you can buy and charge the cards.

We Stayed in a district called Recoleta. I choose Recoleta in 2008, and because I was familiar with it, we selected it again. It is an older, wealthy urban barrio with a subway line close and short proximity to many tourist attractions. We rented an apartment for a week, two bedrooms in a lovely old building for $850US a week. It appears all real estate transactions in Argentina are done with US dollars, not Argentine pesos.

Much of our travel was done by walking to absorb the sounds, smells and tastes of the city. We worked a large perimeter around the Recoleta barrio into the downtown Federal District and out to the very Italian Palmero barrio.

The streets were safe for walking and crowded from morning well into the evening and in the busier areas there were police posted almost every block. You should not carry your passport with you, leave it secure and make a copy for identification. I never even carried a wallet, too many reports of pickpockets in tourist areas. I kept a copy of my passport, a credit card and cash in a pocket, nothing more.

I insisted on having a working cell phone so Dan and I went to Movistar and obtained prepaid SIM’s, they were free, but did require a copy of a passport to register the number. Movistar could not sell minutes, we had to find a a kiosk with a sign and ask the right questions, can you charge a prepaid Movistar phone to get it done. The killer deal was the one I needed, one peso a day for unlimited internet access, a great deal anyplace.

What to see is best demonstrated with photos so here is a gallery with some descriptions. Plus a short clip of dancing in the park in San Telmo.

Yo see the images full screen click FS in the lower right of the display. For the caption click the i in the upper right corner.

Buenos Aires Argentina Jan 2013

[img src=http://www.boqueteguide.com/wp-content/flagallery/buenos-aires-argentina-jan-2013/thumbs/thumbs_buenosaires2013c05.jpg]80A Florida Street Shopping Center
[img src=http://www.boqueteguide.com/wp-content/flagallery/buenos-aires-argentina-jan-2013/thumbs/thumbs_buenosaires2013b02.jpg]90A great Botanical Garden and cat sanitary in Palmero
[img src=http://www.boqueteguide.com/wp-content/flagallery/buenos-aires-argentina-jan-2013/thumbs/thumbs_buenosaires201305.jpg]90A new flavor of Squash in a street market
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Veterans of the 1982 Malvinas war with the UK have been asking for benefits for years. This encampment was there in 2008 also.
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[img src=http://www.boqueteguide.com/wp-content/flagallery/buenos-aires-argentina-jan-2013/thumbs/thumbs_buenosaires2013b04.jpg]80Deborah and Mayra in a very British Green house in the Botanical Gardens
[img src=http://www.boqueteguide.com/wp-content/flagallery/buenos-aires-argentina-jan-2013/thumbs/thumbs_buenosaires2013a2.jpg]80Deborah discovered like Europe you pay for the bags and bag them yourself
[img src=http://www.boqueteguide.com/wp-content/flagallery/buenos-aires-argentina-jan-2013/thumbs/thumbs_buenosaires2013c06.jpg]80Doors to the Admiralty building on Florida Street
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[img src=http://www.boqueteguide.com/wp-content/flagallery/buenos-aires-argentina-jan-2013/thumbs/thumbs_buenosaires2013b03.jpg]80Feeding the cats in the Botanical Gardens
[img src=http://www.boqueteguide.com/wp-content/flagallery/buenos-aires-argentina-jan-2013/thumbs/thumbs_buenosaires2013c11.jpg]80Florida Street
[img src=http://www.boqueteguide.com/wp-content/flagallery/buenos-aires-argentina-jan-2013/thumbs/thumbs_buenosaires2013c12.jpg]80Florida Street
[img src=http://www.boqueteguide.com/wp-content/flagallery/buenos-aires-argentina-jan-2013/thumbs/thumbs_buenosaires2013c10.jpg]80Florida Street
[img src=http://www.boqueteguide.com/wp-content/flagallery/buenos-aires-argentina-jan-2013/thumbs/thumbs_buenosaires201321.jpg]90Great beef cooked right and melting in your mouth
[img src=http://www.boqueteguide.com/wp-content/flagallery/buenos-aires-argentina-jan-2013/thumbs/thumbs_buenosaires2013c07.jpg]90Inside El Establo Restaurant
[img src=http://www.boqueteguide.com/wp-content/flagallery/buenos-aires-argentina-jan-2013/thumbs/thumbs_buenosaires2013c08.jpg]100Inside El Establo Restaurant
[img src=http://www.boqueteguide.com/wp-content/flagallery/buenos-aires-argentina-jan-2013/thumbs/thumbs_buenosaires201314.jpg]90Inside the National Cathedral Downtown
[img src=http://www.boqueteguide.com/wp-content/flagallery/buenos-aires-argentina-jan-2013/thumbs/thumbs_buenosaires2013b07.jpg]90It is always feeding time in the Zoo
[img src=http://www.boqueteguide.com/wp-content/flagallery/buenos-aires-argentina-jan-2013/thumbs/thumbs_buenosaires2013b10.jpg]80Mayra never saw a hippo before
[img src=http://www.boqueteguide.com/wp-content/flagallery/buenos-aires-argentina-jan-2013/thumbs/thumbs_buenosaires201315.jpg]80Mayra wandering in the Cathedral
[img src=http://www.boqueteguide.com/wp-content/flagallery/buenos-aires-argentina-jan-2013/thumbs/thumbs_buenosaires201316.jpg]80Military honor guard for the tomb of San Martin within the Cathedral
[img src=http://www.boqueteguide.com/wp-content/flagallery/buenos-aires-argentina-jan-2013/thumbs/thumbs_buenosaires201309.jpg]80Monument in the Federal District
[img src=http://www.boqueteguide.com/wp-content/flagallery/buenos-aires-argentina-jan-2013/thumbs/thumbs_buenosaires201323.jpg]80Navy honor guard at the memorial to the dead from the Malvinas war 1982
[img src=http://www.boqueteguide.com/wp-content/flagallery/buenos-aires-argentina-jan-2013/thumbs/thumbs_buenosaires201312.jpg]80Not Don Quixote
[img src=http://www.boqueteguide.com/wp-content/flagallery/buenos-aires-argentina-jan-2013/thumbs/thumbs_buenosaires2013c09.jpg]80Ojo de Bife , yum El Establo Restaurant
[img src=http://www.boqueteguide.com/wp-content/flagallery/buenos-aires-argentina-jan-2013/thumbs/thumbs_buenosaires2013c13.jpg]80OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
[img src=http://www.boqueteguide.com/wp-content/flagallery/buenos-aires-argentina-jan-2013/thumbs/thumbs_buenosaires2013b08.jpg]80Peacock displaying his wares or is it wears
[img src=http://www.boqueteguide.com/wp-content/flagallery/buenos-aires-argentina-jan-2013/thumbs/thumbs_buenosaires201313.jpg]80Pizza is different in Buenos Aires
[img src=http://www.boqueteguide.com/wp-content/flagallery/buenos-aires-argentina-jan-2013/thumbs/thumbs_buenosaires201301.jpg]80San Telmo District on a Saturday
[img src=http://www.boqueteguide.com/wp-content/flagallery/buenos-aires-argentina-jan-2013/thumbs/thumbs_buenosaires2013b06.jpg]80Saturnalia a sculpture in the Botanical Garden
[img src=http://www.boqueteguide.com/wp-content/flagallery/buenos-aires-argentina-jan-2013/thumbs/thumbs_buenosaires201304.jpg]80Seltzer, siphon bottles in San Telmo market
[img src=http://www.boqueteguide.com/wp-content/flagallery/buenos-aires-argentina-jan-2013/thumbs/thumbs_buenosaires201307.jpg]80Steaks on the barbie
[img src=http://www.boqueteguide.com/wp-content/flagallery/buenos-aires-argentina-jan-2013/thumbs/thumbs_buenosaires201317.jpg]100Street dog in Palermo
[img src=http://www.boqueteguide.com/wp-content/flagallery/buenos-aires-argentina-jan-2013/thumbs/thumbs_buenosaires2013b01.jpg]90Subway
[img src=http://www.boqueteguide.com/wp-content/flagallery/buenos-aires-argentina-jan-2013/thumbs/thumbs_buenosaires2013c01.jpg]80Subway
[img src=http://www.boqueteguide.com/wp-content/flagallery/buenos-aires-argentina-jan-2013/thumbs/thumbs_buenosaires201306.jpg]80Tango in the street San Telmo
[img src=http://www.boqueteguide.com/wp-content/flagallery/buenos-aires-argentina-jan-2013/thumbs/thumbs_buenosaires2013b05.jpg]80The cat feeder was please to have her picture taken
[img src=http://www.boqueteguide.com/wp-content/flagallery/buenos-aires-argentina-jan-2013/thumbs/thumbs_buenosaires2013b09.jpg]80The zoo is HUGE
[img src=http://www.boqueteguide.com/wp-content/flagallery/buenos-aires-argentina-jan-2013/thumbs/thumbs_buenosaires2013c04.jpg]80Typical traditional Country clothing, only in a shop windows in BA
[img src=http://www.boqueteguide.com/wp-content/flagallery/buenos-aires-argentina-jan-2013/thumbs/thumbs_buenosaires201318.jpg]80We only found one Seafood outlet in the city
[img src=http://www.boqueteguide.com/wp-content/flagallery/buenos-aires-argentina-jan-2013/thumbs/thumbs_buenosaires201322.jpg]80Wish I knew what it was but amazing building

Don’t Cry for me Argentina

I love Argentina, in 2008 I visited Buenos Aires in 2012 I returned with friends and a lot has changed, not all for the best. In 2008 a US Dollar bought about three Argentine pesos, now the bank rate is closer to five pesos for a dollar and the official inflation rate for 2012 was 10.8%. A typical lunch cost about 25 pesos in 2008 and is double that now. With the devaluation of the peso relative to the dollar the impact on us was small, but for those who earn their daily bread in Argentine pesos the impact has been significant. I was told the current minimum wage in Argentina is 2,000 pesos a month, about $400; not much more than the minimum in Panama with costs much higher. So if you want to shed a tear shed it for the masses living in Argentina, not for the tourists.

If you travel to Argentina in the near future take US dollars or Euros. In 2008 you could get either from any ATM no more, the government has restricted access to other currencies and Argentines are hungry for dollars and secondarily euros. In stores we had exchange rates of 6.5 pesos to one US dollar, from money changers I receive as much as 7 pesos for a dollar. At those rates the prices were not so bad at 5 to one it was expensive.

The costs of all things imported were astronomical. My Macbook power supply fried our first week there. It took some serious hunting to find a replacement in Buenos Aires, only one Apple dealer we could find even had one, they wanted 1200 pesos for the power supply, almost $240, I ordered one from Amazon for $29.

Argentina has taken a path of protectionism. They have very high tariffs on imports and export taxes on many items. Argentina has some of the best beef and wine in the world and a very long border with Chile. We could not find either wine or beef from Argentina in Chile.

What appeared affordable were groceries. I did a food survey of some items for comparison between Argentina, Chile and Panama and will compile and covert currencies later when I post it. We kept our travel costs down by renting apartments for a week in three cities, only two nights were spent in a hotel in Santiago Chile. In all cases, including the hotel they wanted US dollars not pesos for rent. We also did a fair amount of cooking and used a lot of public transportation. While we were in Argentina they were announcing increases in public transportation costs, the subway was 2.5 pesos for a ride increasing the 3.5 pesos.


Many restaurants in Argentina have a seating charge, not only do you pay for your food and drink but you pay for the privilege of paying for your food and drink.

We ate well, lived well, travelled well and saw a lot and it is likely at least I will return.

One more note of significance for those of us in Panama; Copa Airlines is great. We flew nonstop on a Boeing 737-800 a new aircraft. Copa is state of the art we did web checkin, they handled baggage perfectly, the aircraft left on time, although the flight left at 9pm they served us food, drink, a selection of movies and excellent service. Copa runs nonstop from Panama City and we spent less time in the air than in the bus from David to Panama City. On the return trip I neglected to do web checkin because I did not have a printer, I did it from my Iphone while standing in the queue to check my luggage and they printed out the boarding pass at the counter. Copa is a real Panamanian asset, a well run business building Panama City into a hub.

Tomorrow some pictures and specifics on Buenos Aires for the tourist.

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.


Wifi for a day,

I did not plan on a one week a absence but WIFI was not available in the apartment we rented and access with Movistar is slow so here I am on the beach in ConCon Valpariso Chile a beautiful spot a short bus ride from Viña del Mar and a twenty minutes from the historic city of Valpariso. Although I have much to say I will keep this short and add a few photos. We will be returning to Panama Sunday, pass out and be back online Monday.

My recent pictures are on my iPhone and have not updated to photo stream yet so please be content with this singular image of a woman I do not know, posing next to a statute that was not of Don Quixote.

Chile is beautiful, the food excellent and a great place to visit, but unlike Panam, Chile is not home of the happiest people on earth. After almost a month on the road I think we are all looking forward to returning to Boquete.


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