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Dr Daniel Daves and Tracy Daves, Welcome to Boquete

You announced yourself subtly asking on BoqueteNing asking for advice of many types to help you settle in to your new home.  Then  within moments of arriving you are writing about life in Boquete. Many people who live in Boquete write about their experiences here, usually they wait until they have feet on the ground, but you seem to have a different vision.

“We are doing a news story on Boquete living, and have a single survey question to ask expats and those who have moved into Panama from other international locations. ”  BoqueteNing

Your post and questions inspired other locals to do some Google research. You are a noble man, a man of god, a self described philanthropist.  DrdanielDavies.com

According to the Oxford dictionary.

philanthropy

The desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by the generous donation of money to good causes: he acquired a considerable fortune and was noted for his philanthropy”

This is how you describe yourself on Linkedin.com

Dr Daniel Daves

“Educational Skills With Logos Bible College, Jacksonville, FL.:

1. Masters – Missiology (world missions & community development)
2. Doctor – Ministry (D.Min) Generalized biblical ministry and serving the needs of various people groups.
3. Ph.D – Ministry Administration – Developing, building and sustaining organizational aspects of ministry/business. (Authored the book: The Business Of Ministry)

Private Pilot
Business Owner & Development Specialist
Music, Television, Radio, Production Experience
Property, Rentals, Rehabs
Stock, Options, Futures, Commodities Investing
Philanthropist – Feeding Children, Nutritional Support For AIDS Orphans

Specialties:Business & Market Strategist”  Linkedin

Never having heard of the college that awarded your PhD, I did a little Google research.

LOGOS Christian College and Graduate School is not accredited, regionally or otherwise. …. The degree programs of this college are designed solely for religious vocations.”

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LOGOS Christian College and Graduate School is a distance education school of theology and ministry. Recognizing that it is not practical for all who are called to ministry to pack up their families and leave their homes or places of ministry to attend a conventional “brick and mortar” school, LOGOS brings quality, affordable and accessible ministry and theological training where students live and work.   Logos Christian College

Dr Daves, I too have my ministerial credentials from the Monastary.org, another mail order degree,  mine was free.

image.phpI neglected to become a doctor of divinity. I defer to your wisdom, education and godly visions.  I never had any visions telling me that god is destroying US dollar.

“From Dr. Daniel Daves: “I had two dreams in 2008 and and I believe that they were from God.  They were so real, powerful, and convincing.  They took me by surprise and the things I saw and heard in these dreams were amazing, shocking, and hard to grasp.  But the first dream has unfolded perfectly before my very eyes, and everything is now complete except one last major announcement to come from our government.  When that announcement comes, it will be too late for anyone to protect themselves.”

“Internet Special: For a limited time, you can get a one year subscription to the GIANT TRACKER MONTHLY REPORT and the paperback book of “Warning America” for only $129.00. Two year subscription and book is only $199.00. The Giant Tracker Report is regularly priced at $399 per year. Hurry. This offer won’t last forever. CLICK HERE.”

DrDanielDaves.com

Bravo, the dollar is worthless but send those worthless dollars to me, I should have thought of that.

I was caught by your stated goals of being a Philanthropist, we need more of them. The world needs good giving people like you. You list three charities under your Philanthropic section of your web site.

“Dr. Daniel Daves believes in the power of “GIVING BACK” to our communities who are in need.  He learned a powerful lesson early on in life regarding widows and orphans”

“Dr. Daves says, “If you want to get close to the heart of God and really want to help Him, then you must help His widows and orphans.  He promises to be a Father to the fatherless and a husband to the widow.  Because of this, God blesses and prospers anyone who is committed to helping His widows and orphans.  You might not even be a real nice person, but if you care for widows and orphans, you will have the blessing of God upon your life.  I’ve learned this lesson personally, and I teach it everywhere I go as a financial commandment for anyone who wants to walk in abundance and blessing.DrDanielDaves.com 

I thought the children’s feeding network was an outstanding idea. There is no more noble act than helping children so they might have a brighter future.  I looked up the Childrens Feeding Network on Guidestar. The Childrens Feeding Network is  real, IRS approved 501 C(3)  and you are president of this charity. It  did file IRS form 990 that is public record.

What I do not understand is why the Philanthropist paid himself $45,000 for working 40 hours a week for an organization he is implies is a recipient of his money.

cfn

The full, pubic report is at Guidestar.org, LINK

I wondered about your other charities, Aids Research and assistance Institute seems to have discovered a dietary cure for AIDS. If that is so I am sure the world will be eternally grateful. Once again this is a valid 503 C( 3) charity.  In a post on Curezone.com asking for test volunteers you say you are Vice President of the organization.

If you are HIV positive or have AIDS symptoms, you qualify for this program. Please send me a request to participate, with your contact information and a brief description of how long infected, signs of hiv infection, etc… and I’ll put you in contact with our R.N. who is handling all of the new volunteers. My email is rriver1010@aol.com and my name is Dr. Daniel Daves, Vice Pres. of AIDS Awareness Assistance Fund. www.aidshivawareness.org.”

There is no date on this post so it could be before the IRS 990 below. The IRS 990 does show your wife Tracy as President earning $39,000 a year from your Philanthropic works here. Guidestar

aids

So without knowing more, between two of your philanthropic works you and your wife earn $84,000 annually. I should add, according to your vision from god, worthless dollars. I can think of several needy organizations in Boquete Panama that would benefit from your donations of those worthless dollars. Perhaps Bid4Boquete or many others and you would not need to be conflicted about taking a salary since unlike you their volunteers work for free.

Dr and Mrs Daves welcome to Boquete, you are just what we need here.

Boquete: evolution and change

There have been a number of sincere concerned comments to my interviews of the three candidates for mayor of Boquete.  One of those comments stuck a familiar chord one I have heard many times in Boquete.

“THEY (Panamanians) are the ones impacted by the costs and they place the blame directly on the “mochilas” (their term). How many expats are actually retired, i.e. not doing something to earn money? How many own more than one property for the purpose of renting it or selling it.

The push for tourism is a benefit to all the expat land speculators and those expats who depend on the new in-flow of expats to sustain their incomes. Converting Boquete to Aspen, Co. can be done if one is willing to destroy everything that made Boquete a good place to visit. Tourist traps are everywhere.

I agree with JimT, there are mountains, and beaches the length of the continent. If expats came to Boquete for a cheap, relaxed retirement, they are about to be very upset with the direction the mochilas promoting.”

Change is inevitable. In 1969 I arrived in Tucson Arizona, it was a small city of 250,000 and loved the magical environment of the Sonoran desert. When I left in 2006 it was almost four times as populated and all that drew me to Tucson was changing. I benefited from the changes and I packed my bags and left. I was an opportunist and good capitalist. The growth in Arizona allowed me to leave long before most could consider retiring. I did not retire in Boquete, I morphed my life and started writing. I am guilty of working on the Internet while in Panama, the changes in technology made my move possible.

Here in Boquete I have witnessed eight years of change. I came after Valle Escondido, I arrived and bought at the peak of real estate prices.  I have visited many places, they all change. When I visit Tucson Arizona it is a trip to a familiar but different place; despite my thirty eight years there. Boquete is not unique in its evolution.

Of the estimated five thousand expats in Boquete most have probably not lived here full-time for eight years, some longer, most much less. Some of those new immigrants came to ride the tide of growth and made things happen. These people were not “mochileros”, they did not come with backpacks, they came with cash and invested their cash here. They did drive up land prices if they bought, they did build homes and often second properties for rentals. They paid their cash to the Panamanians who sold the land and paid cash to Panamanian contractors who built their houses. They did, by their very presence lure others who are still coming. Some are coming and staying, many are coming a leaving.

These same people provided jobs and  invested capital. Some lost their investments and left.  Those who did not fail in their endeavors are still here improving the entire community, for all the community.

It is true all prices have increased in Boquete. The biggest increase, that of land was driven by external capital. Not all external capital was from extranjeros, much is from Panama City. Some of the biggest projects being built now are financed and owned by Panamanians, who also smell opportunity.

Other increases in prices, fuel and food in particular, are not influenced by the five thousand immigrants to Boquete. Those prices are increasing world-wide due to inflation, currency fluctuations and climate change.

Boquete is also changing due to climate change. I am not going to debate whether the climate change is man-made or natural, the cause is not relevant. Boquete dryer now than when I arrived. Statistics on boqueteweather.com for Palmira are indicative of the change.

In interviewing the candidates for Alcalde none had any problem with new immigrants. They recognize 20% of the population in Boquete was not born in Panama.  All three candidates understand to different degrees that Boquete is in transition and as it grows it will change. All recognize that planned change is better than the type of reactionary actions we have seen for the past ten years.

I remember a meeting about seven years ago with a local coffee grower where I and a group of expats were lambasted for increasing wages for local labor. We were blamed for the fact that they needed to pay their labor more. Coffee prices have tripled and then collapsed to almost double the cost in 2007. Should we blame the expats? Coffee is a world market and Panamanian coffee competes with coffee from many countries.  Coffee from Panama is still competitive so it is hard to blame five thousand expat for a worldwide shift in coffee prices, yet people do.

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The price of coffee has fluctuated worldwide, not because expats pay workers in Boquete more than the coffee farmers did in the past but because the world market for coffee has changed.  Maybe those increased wages have kept up with inflation, maybe not, but either way the workers received more money, spent it and therefore increased the local economy.

As a member of a local water junta I have been in many houses in rural Jaramillo,  Boquete. I have seen hovels with outhouses that have electricity, large screen televisions and satellite dishes. Whether this is progress or not is a subjective opinion, but these people had the money to make the purchases. I have been thanked by a local kiosk owner, she said “thank you, before you (meaning expats) came to Jaramillo no one had money to spend, now people have work”.

Remember the people who sold the land to the expats were Panamanians, many owners of tourist businesses and new urbanizations are Panamanian and all the employees working in those non agricultural jobs should be legal.

I am sitting now and watching two new houses being built across from my finca. They will cost $170,000 each on a slip of land. I do not know who will buy them, but they are being built by local labor, receiving wages locally and they will put their wages back into the local economy.  Everyone can benefit economically from growth. Each of us will need to find our way to deal with change. Some will find it good and stay, others will pack their bags and leave.

The only constant in life is change and planning for change is smarter than trying to ignore or stop it. People who complain about change have their heads in the sand. In this human dominated world it is better to ride the wave and direct where the change will go because you cannot stop it.

The road to Pedasi and a taste of reality

After hearing about the excitement and the growth down the Azuero Peninsula I wanted to see it with my own eyes, not those of the people selling or trying to sell sand castles. Mayra and I visited two years ago when I was writing for Live and Invest in Panama, this was a return to relax and see all the changes.

The new four lane highway from Divisa to Las Tablas is moving along and the ride down the peninsula is much faster than before. One massive credit to the current government is that the investment in infrastructure will at least in theory propel growth, it is certainly enticing private investment.

We passed through Chitre, Los Santos to Las Tablas on new and improved highways. There are an extraordinary number of new businesses and developments in the Chitre region. I always liked Chitre as a very traditional Panamanian town, like much of Panama it has a new flavor; the flavor of investment and growth.

Mayra and I arrived in Pedasi near sundown, about five and one half hours from David. We did run into one half hearted Indigenous road obstruction on the road between Tole and Santiago. There were fewer then ten people there and more than that number of riot police waiting down the road. We and all the traffic passed through unmolested.

We stayed with some good friends who have a small secluded  B&B about 30 minutes west of Pedasi near Playa Venao. I do recommend staying there it if you wish to make the trip and want to be close to both the surf camps and the pueblo. Goeff and Caroline are former Boquete residents now living the beach life. This is a link to their website, LINK.

This the view from their back porch, it is not a golf course but could be a putting green.

Playa Lifestyle Pedasi Panama

Playa Lifestyle Pedasi Panama

On Saturday we spent the day following up on our prior trip two years ago. On that trip we met with some of the developers of beach front property who arrived from Israel to turn the sea coast into lot line to lot line developments. The number of houses in each development has doubled in two years. Then you could count them on one hand, now after two years you need two hands.

Beach front development in Pedasi Panama

Beach front development in Pedasi Panama

It seems every pasture near Pedasi is either for sale or has been sold to a developer. All that is missing are the buyers of the lots they created. Pedasi has a new hospital under construction and an airport completed in December 2011 that  has just opened. We visited the airport and took a walk onto the runway because only us, some cows and a wind sock were there. There are currently no flights scheduled into Pedasi. My political corruption curiosity wondered who might have been the prior owner of the pasture which is now an airport with no staff, fuel facility or parking.

Pedasi Panama Airport terminal shot form the runway

Pedasi Panama Airport terminal shot from the runway

Like so many stories in Panama I think the pitch on Pedasi is a speculation on the future. The beaches near Pedasi are fantastic, some literally deserted, tourists do come, surfers love Playa Venano and fisherman love the waters off the coast.  I asked  who is buying in Pedasi and heard interesting things, the most sales in the area are coming as Panama’s middle class is investing in vacation houses in the beach area, houses selling for a bit over $100,000. It is really refreshing to see that the economy of Panama is allowing Panamanians to make the same mistakes that were made in North America a decade ago. I was told that the beach properties are selling slowly and are often back on the market rapidly as people discover there is nothing to do in Pedasi beyond surfing and fishing. The beaches have not flooded since the projects started but local memories go back further than the developments.

There is a demand for rentals, as in Boquete, that might make for some good long term investment. Despite frequent failures of urbanizations there is little doubt in my mind that this area will eventually develop into the French Rivera of Panama. The only question is will either I or my children live to see it; perhaps my grandchildren.

Beach near Pedasi Panama

Beach near Pedasi Panama

The local restaurants on the beaches like Playa Arena are still affordable and great fun. You can buy lunch for four with a few rounds of beer for under $35, I did.
roadtriping2
Pedasi is a beautiful, remote place to visit and spend a few days on the beaches. Enjoy it while you can because like all things in Panama the times they are a changing and the things that made Panama attractive to many are evolving into the things some of us fled.

In defense of the restaurants of Boquete Panama

I do not write real reviews of restaurants any more, I seldom eat in restaurants in Boquete because I enjoy creating food at home. When I was writing reviews I discovered one trip was insufficient to judge any restaurant and it was rare I was willing to do two or three more in a close enough time range to be meaningful. I also discovered when I wrote my real opinion, if negative, it was never received well, so I quit doing reviews.

Recently I have been listening to comments by expats that the cost of eating out in Boquete has increased; shocking. The cost of everything has increased in Panama, the annual inflation so far for this year is six percent but the real cost increases in Boquete are much higher.

The last round of Minimum wage increases in Panama moved Boquete into a new group clustered with Panama City, increasing the base for all wages in Boquete. This plus the increase in minimum wages increased labor costs in Boquete by as much as 40% literally overnight.

As Boquete has grown, the cost of rentals has also increased and from the experience of searching I can say it is much more expensive to find a space for a business now in Boquete than six years ago.

The influx of retires waving their pensionado cards and requesting discounts of 25% on meals is a cost that the restaurants, not the government must shoulder.

As we notice the costs of fuel for transportation seems to ratchet up, then down a little then up again. Each time it goes up the cost of local and imported foods increases, other than for some seasonal anomalies the costs rarely retreat.

So why are restaurants charging more for meals? Increased rent, increased food costs, increased wages for employees and factoring in the 25% discount given to an aging expat population.

So if the cost of eating out is beyond your budget learn how to cook at home.

guacho de guandu

guacho de guandu

In the past I posted some recipes using local ingredients, I will soon post some more. There are some excellent uses for the wonderful fresh foods grown here in Panama.

Recognize even the most expensive restaurants in Boquete are a bargain compared to many other places in the world and the typicos are still dirt cheap. Since low prices are the goal in most typicos you will not often see the real cuisine of Panama for $3.25 a meal. You will see a pile of carbs and a little meat. For the real cuisine of Panama be creative with local ingredients and become a culinary legend.

 

Retire Overseas, lets all move to Colombia, Uruguay, Costa Rica or maybe stay in the USA

I have been following the current trend of emails from Live and Invest Overseas and others encouraging people to flee the USA and retreat to the inexpensive environs of places like Colombia. I do not want to bad mouth Colombia, I personally like the country and each time have visited I have enjoyed my experience, for me it is a nice place to visit but I would not want to live there.

Permit me to provide a little guidance to some who are being convinced to flee the USA and move to Latin America. I do not want to discourage you, I made the move more than five years ago and do not regret the decision. I do want to provide some sobering factoids you should consider to make an intelligent decision.

If you are leaving the US or Canada because of economic reasons, Latin America is still a good choice. Many things are more expensive here including cars and most imports, other things are less expensive. Anything created locally is less expensive, if you are not a victim of Gringo Bingo, that is because labor is still inexpensive. That makes local foods, local construction and locally manufactured products less expensive. Imports by and large are more expensive due to transportation and tariffs. Land is still a bargin but as always that depends upon location.

Gringo Bingo is the game of some locals who have learned that Gringos often buy before they research and pay too much, so they roll up prices on anything from food to land as soon as they see you. It is fun to play it right back if you do your homework and know what something should cost.

The current venues that seem to be enticing people are Panama, Columbia and Uruguay. I have visited all three and each has it’s virtues and which might be best for you depends upon you, your goals and needs.

If the climate, having four distinct seasons is your top criteria then look south to Uruguay, it might have more cows than people but it also has four seasons. If cheap is the top criteria then think seriously about Colombia, for now it is the best buy in town. If you still believe all the marketing about Costa Rica and have lot’s of money you can think about paradise for Colones. Finally if you are looking for the best infrastructure, most rapid growth, lowest tariffs and a currency that is the US dollar, Panama is the place.

I want to point out the currency issue first, it was one major consideration for me when I selected Panama. When I started searching for a retirement destination I considered the Netherlands, I know the seemed crazy but the dollar bought 1.24 Euros when Bill Clinton left office and I wanted a base in Europe. I watched the Euro trash the dollar as I continued looking. I decided since my retirement income was dollars it would be safest to be in a dollar economy. The chart below is the dollar vs the Colombian Peso for five years.

Dollar vs Colombia Peso 5 years

As you can see there is quite a range. We have an influx of retirees from Costa Rica coming to Panama now because at least a few months ago the combination of inflation in Costa Rica and appreciation of the Colon vs the dollar was making it too expensive to live there. The dollar has appreciated a little so the pain is not as bad, but as you can see from the graph on the Colombian Peso things go up and things go down. If your retirement income is in dollars you must consider the dual bite of currency valuation and cost of currency conversion.

I have historically discouraged people from moving out of their sphere of comfort and I will reiterate some points that apply to every country in Latin America. The cultures here are different, each country is different, the people are different and most significantly the language is different.

Unless you plan to live in an all English speaking colony you must learn some of the local language and culture. Too many people come here not understanding that fact and they leave within a couple of years with rancor. This is not Kansas, although speaking Spanish there might help also.

Another major parameter is not trust people just because they are expats and befriend you. All of the countries listed above are havens for some of the living refuse of other countries. Because the law and culture is different south of Texas these human ectoparasites profit from exploiting newcomers and do it over and over with no consequences. Please do not check your brains at the airport.

I have seen people turn over hundreds of thousands of dollars for the purchase of real estate without a lawyer or even documentation that the seller is the owner. You will find the legal system will not protect your ignorance and I am sure you would never do the same thing in the US. For some reason people forget all they learned in life when they visit any of these paradises.

If you plan to immigrate please use your head, visit, stay extended times in rentals and be sure before you invest in anything. I am glad I did what I did and hope that if you do the same you are also grateful for the new life you can live. Just do not buy all the hype, buy the reality.

Back with some surprises and a concern

We had a wonderful cruise from Colon and in seven days, back to Colon. We stopped in Colombia, the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao).
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The entire trip was a pleasure, lesson in how cruise ships leave lots of money in each local economy, how tourism is a painless industry for countries.
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Our passenger list was a varied as the crew, it was international with about 1,100, half the passengers from Columbia and Panama, the rest mostly from Spanish speaking countries, some from Europe, fifty one from Canada, (not sure why I remember that one number) and a few from the US. I must add the disclaimer, that I own stock in Royal Caribbean, I get a $100 credit for on board purchases as a shareholder. With this disclaimer noted, we had a great time.

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There were lessons, I wondered about why so many Colombians were there. The answer showed on my credit card statement. I withdrew 200,000 Colombian pesos, last trip that was about $80 US, this trip $118.00US. As the dollar drops things priced in dollars, like Panama become more attractive to outsiders. Before you think this is another rant about the declining value of the dollar consider the host of Argentines we met on board, when I was in Argentina a few years ago a dollar bought about three pesos, now it buys four. Currencies fluctuate so do governments.

When we returned to Colon I asked Mayra about this the final stop in out voyage. After all the beautiful, safe ports what about Colon, her response was feo; ugly. Colon is a pit and that is pitiful. I would not encourage anyone to step foot out of the secure port area. Panama needs to make some changes in its approach to tourism. That is echoed by the incredible comments made to Don Winner of PanamaGuide.com by the Minister of Tourism.

He wants to eliminate an important engine of tourism, Bed and Breakfasts; unreal. One step forward and two backwards, maybe he is learning the cha cha.

“What About Bed and Breakfasts? …. “Earlier this week someone had posted some questions about running a Bed and Breakfast operation in Panama. The last run-in I had with Minister Shamah was back towards the end of 2009 over short term executive rentals, and this B&B thing was sort of down the same alley. Anyway, since I had a crack at the minister, I bounced it off of him to see what would stick. I was surprised by the turn of events. The conversation went like this…

Panama-Guide: I know that in Panama there are several types operations where tourists can stay, such as hostels and hotels. Recently someone contacted me about running a Bed and Breakfast…
Shamah: Those are illegal, they are outside of the law. We have done many studies and it has been proven that these people don’t make the same kind of investment as a regular hotel operator. The law does not contemplate, nor allow, these kinds of activities.
Panama-Guide: I know there are many different categories within which people can legally operate…
Shamah: This is a very complicated topic and we could talk about this for five hours or more, but the fact is that these kinds of short term rental activities are not allowed, and they fall outside of the law.
Panama-Guide: OK, but it could. Is there any chance of making a change to the law to allow for this kind of activity?
Shamah: No, absolutely not.
Panama-Guide: Why not?
Shamah: Because it does not have the approval of the Minister. (Meaning, him.)
Panama-Guide: Well, you know that these things are hard to stop, and people are probably just going to keep doing it anyway…
Shamah: We’re going to be passing a new law in March to regulate this. The new law will contain sanctions and fines for those who insist on continuing these kinds of activities. Wait until I have my fine book in my hands, and when I can start sanctioning people, then we will see how long they keep it up…
Panama-Guide: When will this new law be passed?
Shamah: Next month, in March.
Panama-Guide: I would like to make an appointment to come by your office sometime to discuss this issue at length. Would that be possible?
Shamah: Yes, of course – just make the appointment with my assistant.”

A course correction and the Rio Encantado

When I started writing this blog more than four years ago, I was writing for my children, they never read it. Then I started writing for myself, my life, my experiences in the this great adventure called life. Over time more and more people started reading this blog. People in Boquete already know about what is here, but appreciate some news and occasionally a different perspective. Recently I can see a lot of new people visiting this resource, people who are considering a relocation to Panama and more potential tourists looking for information.

I stopped writing about restaurants, I stopped writing about resorts, I stopped travel logs of travels around Panama. In doing that I omitted what many readers want, some ideas for visiting, places to stay, places to eat. The silent majority of readers, according to Google are not in Panama but are in North America. Starting with this post on Rio Encantado in Caldera I am going to start sharing information about hotels, resorts, restaurants and regional travels again.

I live in Boquete which means I don’t usually spend a night in a resort in the area. Still I stumbled across an ad for Rio Encantado and decided to contact Frank, the owner, and ask if I could visit and write about his rather low key nature preserve with a few cabins. I wrote that sentence with careful consideration, because Frank has one hundred hectares straddling the Caldera River with only four cabins and one guest house. Although the cabins are well appointed and complete, the real feature is the wilderness.rioencanto1.jpg

Rio Encantado is not for the visitor who wants to be in the middle of an urban or even suburban setting, it is comfortable wilderness. This is the place for a quit retreat, a swim in the river, a walk in the tropical forest. The setting was being cleared for pasture when Frank purchased it, he reversed the process, reforesting, reinvigorating the native environment. Rio Encantado is a real nature preserve in the diminishing wilderness of Chiriqui.

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Do not consider Rio Encantado for a day, consider a week, the rates are a reasonable $60 a day. You will have your own kitchen, your privacy and the ability to commune with nature. If you wish Frank does have staff that can prepare elegant meals. If you prefer, you can do it all yourself.
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I did not spend a night at the resort, I did walk along the river and experience the beauty. It is very different from Jaramillo, and only thirty minutes away. Rio Encantado has a great party facility near the river and I might in the future consider renting it for an event, the location is that unique. It is that much of a trip back in time to a place only touched by man, not totally terraformed. Beautiful, comfortable but immersed in nature not concrete.

If you are interested in learning how to scuba dive, Rio Encantado offers lessons in the pool. A better place to start than the river :)
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For more information on the facility and availability check trip advisor

AARP names Boquete number three in the world

AARP The Magazine Travels the Globe to Reveal the Top 5 Best Places to Retire Abroad

WASHINGTON, July 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Experts in celebrating the next chapter in life, AARP The Magazine traveled the globe to discover the ultimate retirement destinations abroad. Factoring climate, expat community, cost of living, housing, health care, access to the U.S. and culture and leisure, AARP The Magazine reveals the top five locales in its September/October issue (www.aarp.org/magazine), available in homes and online today. See what regions in Mexico, France, Panama, Portugal and Italy have to offer—castles, palm trees, rain forests, grilled lobster—in their unique and unparalleled retirement experiences.

3. PANAMA—Boquete
Panama is a smart choice for retirees who want it all. Not only does it feature attractive retiree destinations, Panama also offers an unbeatable package of retiree benefits and discounts. Boquete has a unique range of back-home amenities, from a golf course to high-end gated communities.
Some Reasons we love it:
Expat Community: An estimated several thousand
Housing Costs: A small house goes for $175,000; in a gated community, $250,000 and up. Rentals: about $600 a month for a two bedroom house
Culture and Leisure: Rainforest hiking, river rafting, bird watching and coffee plantation tours keep Panama a bustling location for leisure

The first seventy Days

Sitting in Boquete Panama allows for memories of the US to be distant. I have heard the rumblings about the healthcare debate in the US, the speech and the word liar bandied. I don’t know the facts and have no comments it seems so removed in time and space. However I did want to note some of the issues of the first seventy days in office of Ricardo Martinelli, President of Panama.

During his campaign Ricardo Martinelli made many promises. In his first seventy days he has started fulfilling many of them.

Almost immediately he followed through on a promise to increase police base pay by $100 a month, almost a 25% increase. He also cautioned the police that bribery is a crime and will be prosecuted. He also followed through on the pledge to provide $100 a month to people over seventy years of age with no social security income.

The rapid transit plans for a replacement of the Diablo Rojos in Panama City is in process, with bidding to start the process going now. Currently bus drivers are being given drug tests in an effort to weed out those who are even more dangerous than their decrepit buses.

I did not know he had pledged free public internet, but that contract was let and service is promised by October in some areas. La Estrella .

At least one minister from the prior government, former Education Minister, Belgis Castro, found himself in jail on corruption allegations. Usually incoming governments do not investigate the outgoing hoping for the same when they leave.

To fund things the government has made an effort to collect taxes. In fact if you owe any taxes this a great time to pay because between now and December 31, 2009 they are waiving all penalties and interest. Some people who think they do not owe taxes on property might be surprised and this a good time to check and confirm all papers for exonerations are correctly filed.

Yet not everything is perfect, issues about corruption continue to surface, Panama’s new Mayor is under scrutiny for a $4000 check made out to his wife. The new tourism ministry created a regulation eliminating short term apartment rentals and rescinded it almost immediately, oops. Must be inexperience.

There are also questions of nepotism in office, not a big surprise in this small country that put family above most things.

Long term residents I have spoken with are optimistic that there are indeed winds of change in Panama. As always time will be the test.

Resources

These are resources I have used personally over the past years or have been recommended to me by people I know and trust. I have omitted all resources if my experience was negative. If you have a different experience and want to comment please do so.

Abogados (Lawyers) – all bilingual English / Spanish

Julio Espinoza, located in Boquete, 6677-5077 Julio has been of great help dealing with MINSA and water issues in Jaramillo

Nicolas Colmenares, Panama City, ncolmenares@shirleylaw.com, 269-2255 Nicolas has been very helpful in immigration, Real Estate and general areas. He is with one of the best law firms in Panama, Shirley & Associates

Rainelda Mata- Kelly, Panama City, rmk@mata-kelly.com, 380-0606, 66125139 The best for immigration law.

Auto Repairs

Behind the Texaco in Boquete

Dentist

Dr. Franklyn Halphen halphenf@cwpanama.net 775-3344 David

Doctors

Dermatologist Dr. Armando Mocci C. 204.8300 204-8331 Punta Pacifica Panama City – Excellent!

Nefrologist Dr Regulo A. Valdes 269-5322, 263-7977, cellular 6675-9698

Urologist Dr Khayam Arias, 774-6010 Hospital Chiriqui

Orthopedics Dr Evcillo Barria, 774-0128, 66714444 Hospital Chiriqui

Cardiologists

Dr Norberto Javier Calzada ncalzada@psi.net.pa 204-8395, 269-0566/5222 www.cardiologos.com Panama City

Dr Franklyn Anguixola Santos, 774-2453 Cell 6675-5562 David Mae Lewis

Dr Boris Caballero, Hospital Chiriqui 774-0128, 777-8076 , excellent English

Civil Engineer and Construction

Moises Alberto Quiel , moisesquiel@gmail.com, 66425267 highly recommended by me for doing a new building or remodeling. Some English See link here

Furniture manufacturing

Magdiel, 65317901 , Spanish Only See link here

Marco Bogazzi, English  see link here

Insurance

Beyond Boquete Office in Bajo Boquete, Magda Crespo,  magdac2216@yahoo.com, Bilingual

MV SA. Alfredo Tovar, segurosl@cwpanama.net 6614-8159

Rentals

Steve Sides REMAX steven.sides@gmail.com , 6515-6915, 6460-4145

Accountant

Ana Mercedes Ruiz  6527-4102

Katiak Gonzales, katiakgonzalez@hotmail.com, 6667-0085 Spanish Only

Certified Legal Translator for official documents

Mitzi Claire Nash in Boquete  6669 4786

 

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