Coming this Weekend the Debauchery of Carnival

The biggest holiday of the year in Panama is Carnival. Boquete Panama is among those locations that does not have a massive Seco induced hallucinatory party for Carnival. This town is a retreat for people fleeing the Carnival party towns and the Capital. Seco for the uninitiated, is the national drink of Panama, it is just ethanol mixed with water and some “secret” ingredients ( It hink more water). A visit to any local distillery will find the sugar cane being fermented, distilled, bottled and aged in the truck on route to Romero.

Carnival is not unique to Panama, Mardis Gras is a carnival celebration, Brazil has some of the biggest and Panama has some of the wettest. This year the health department is trying to insure the water sprayed on the copious crowds of revelers is safe and they are requiring tank trucks to get permits. The soaking of partiers is part of the Panama tradition.

Another new regulation this year is that you can no longer open a fire hydrant to soak your neighbors. I think they want the pressure for filling the now licensed tank trucks.

Carnival Panama

Welcome to my hallucination

If your Carnival goal is drinking heavy, eating street food and getting hosed off as you watch lovely ladies in scanty outfits parade about you need to find another town. If you do not yet have reservations in Los Santos or Penonome allow me to suggest the much closer town of Dolega. Dolega parties for Carnival. The level of intoxication and traffic coupled with the ongoing chaos of constant daily rerouting of the road from Boquete to David means driving to David starting Saturday might be more hazardous than normal. Watch out for horses weaving and riders falling. Parking in Dolega might also be an adventure. But if you want the experience, just do it!



More on the murder in Dolega

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com – Paul Roger Nunes, a US citizen who recently moved to Panama, was killed this morning in the house he was renting in the Alta Mar #2 development of the Los Algarrobos neighborhood in the town of Dolega of the Chiriquí province, Republic of Panama. Paul Nunes was approximately 65 years old, according to neighbors, and he had been living in the area for only two months. There was a young Panamanian couple living in the same house with Paul Nunes. According to reports, the robbers forced the young Panamanian woman into a back room and locked her in with her baby. The woman’s husband was not home at the time of the incident. The attack apparently occurred in the early morning hours, today. Area residents suspect the robbers might have had keys or some other way to gain access to the house, because apparently there were no signs of forced entry.

Americans in Panama Participant: Paul Roger Nunes, the CEO of Stonecastle Homes Inc, was a frequent participant on the Americans in Panama Yahoo Email Group. Ironically, in a recent discussion about crime and violence in Panama, Paul wrote:

  • “thats all fine and dandy, but some people prefer to live free, not locked behind bars in a private prison (for protection?)…if thats what was required to feels safe, I would definately move to a different location, even a different country. Some people here have compared the crime threat to being less than the average american city. Possibly true. I will not live in any city for many reasons, crime being one of them. Life is much different in rural farm country or mountains. here i do not expect thieves and muggers. Neighbors help each other and doors are unlocked. Obviously, latin countries seem to have a problem that is much reduced in other cultures. This is a morale issue of society that does not respect or value other people. It is the sad dark side of a culture that is otherwise very warm giving to others, even if a gringo is viewed as a private atm machine by many locals. This problem will not go away quickly and will hinder future growth. Panama has much to offer to outsiders, but this ugly problem needs to be addressed by both the government and society as a whole. Armed police is not the answer. Educating people and instilling basic values of honesty in the schools and at home will be a start. Paul Nunes [pstonecastle@sbcglobal.net]”

Police Are Investigating: Police are apparently anxious to talk to the husband of the woman who lived with Paul, and according to neighbors they have not yet been able to locate or talk to him. More details as they become available.

Copyright 2009 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

Bad news from El Banco

Dan and Jennie Miller are good friends of mine and of much of the Boquete Community. Today I discovered they are landlocked in El Banco, due to a decision by our now ex governor.

This a translation done by Jeanie Miller of the La Prensa article and a published response by the Millers.
“Locked in their own farm, an American couple
A couple from the United States has been locked into their own land located in the corregimiento of Rovira, district of Dolega, for eight days.
Herbert Daniel Miller and his wife, Jeanie Fiester Miller, have not been able to leave their finca since the gate to their farm was locked by an agricultural company in the district.
The couple’s lawyer, Fidelina V. de Donohoe, stated that this is due to a conflict with a company that is trying to close a neighborhood road that has been used for more than 80 years by the community.
Representatives, Venancio Villarreal from Dos Rios, president of the Municipal Council of Dolega, and Alvaro Martinez of Rovira, explained that there is a resolution dated eight years ago that prohibits the closure of public or neighborhood roads.
“The community complained eight years ago and because of that a resolution prohibiting the closure of gates was issued”, assured Villarreal.
The former mayor, Rafael Rivera, ruled in favor of the American couple asking that the gate be opened, but the company appealed the decision.

La Prensa 26/7/2009

This is a post Dan and Jennie made online about the situation.

“The article is about us and our finca in el Banco, in a very rural area about five KM from Potrerillos Arriba. A bit of background:

On 4 January 2007, the Ministerio de Obras Publicas (MOP) issued a ruling stating as follows concerning the access to our finca across land owned by Citricos: “por lo anteriormente expuesto, se certificaa que el camino en mencion es de uso publico, con una longitud de 420 metros y un ancho de 12.80 metros.”

Based on that certification and the testimony of several witnesses who had lived here for many years, the then mayor of Dolega issued an order to require that the Citricos gate be removed. However, Citricos sought reconsideration based on a procedural flaw by the mayor, and he vacated the order. At his suggestion, we started over again and he later issued another order in our favor. Citricos then appealed this to the Governor. After sitting on it for more than four months, he issued an order directing Citrocos to conduct a visual inspection and provide further information. Contrary to the law as our attorney understands it, we were not advised of this and neither was our attorney.

Suspecting that the Governor was about to issue a decision unfavorable to us, our attorney asked the Superior Court in David to stay any further action by the Governor. This happened, but the Governor in his last days in office disregarded the Court order and found in favor of Citricos.

That’s pretty much where things now stand. Our attorney plans to file something on 27 July to bring this mess to an end; we will see what happens.”

Dan and Jeanie Miller

A day in the Life

It has been a long time since I wrote about a day in Boquete Panama. In reality this is a day in David Panama since David days are goal oriented and focused. Being a mountain dweller, I find both the traffic and heat of David oppressive and avoid the experience when possible.

Yesterday was not a typical day because it both opened and resolved many issues in a small time. We also covered situations which many residents experience in their time here. Panama is not Kansas, every day is a learning day and sometimes a trip in a time machine.

We left Boquete at about 7 AM and took a slow ride down the hill toward David, watching speed limits. There appears to be a “transito” traffic cop, with radar randomly placed along the road. I wonder if the radar was a gift from the the US government? There are several areas designed to catch “traffic offenders” including a long stretch of double yellow line in a good clear passing zone. I am reminded of rural New York in the 1960’s. After conversations with long term residents, I have come to believe the stops and fines are equal opportunity theft, not targeted. in New York rural police liked to stop residents of New York City who dared to venture out of the concrete canyons, here it is anyone who might settle on the spot.

Our first stop, Auto Servicios de Chiriqui to get the annual auto inspection. We arrived 15 minutes early, left the car parked blocking the entrance and ordered breakfast at the typico next door. Two eggs, two hodrejas, coffee with milk for $1.50 each. When they opened Heather drove her car in, I took the pile of ownership and insurance documents to the office and the inspection began. The inspection consisted of a photo of the front of the car, a photo of the back of the car, an online records check for unpaid traffic tickets and a $15 charge, up from $10 two years ago. We were reminded that her insurance lapsed in three days, insurance is required to register your car in Panama; three days coverage was enough.

Next on our list was re-upholstery of sofa and chair cushions. I had a fabric swatch, a source and a recommended upholstery shop. However being a frequent observer of old Ford TV commercials, I had a better idea. I remembered a store near the Alcala hotel, Almacen y Tapiceria Peneco, we stopped there first. I found a fabric I liked and hauled in eleven cushions to be done by Saturday for $200 fabric and labor. Mission accomplished, pronto.

Off to get my hair cut, my beard trimmed and Heather’s monthly pedicure. Mery’s near McPato, the duck that sells chicken, was the destination. Ladies remember Ron, the Scotsman who used to cut hair in Boquete? He cuts hair at Merys now. I think I understand more Spanish than Scottish at this point in my life. A $5 haircut later and I was off to visit my lawyer.

My legal business will be public knowledge soon as my two year battle over property taxes is culminated. Once done I will write in detail about the mistakes I made and how to avoid them or at least minimize them.

Next on our list was our first stop for auto insurance, we did the rounds scattered through the day and in no particular order. We visited Generali, Ancon and Assa. Did you know that if you are a woman over 23 and have an accident you only pay one half the deductible? Car insurance is not inexpensive in Panama, it is based upon the value of your car, past accidents and the coverage wanted. To date, I have not seen a traffic ticket check, all three companies were in a similar range. In this case Generali was about 10% less than the highest quote.

At  Generali they broke out  a camera, took photos of the front of the car, the rear of the car, the sides, the odometer, the radio and who knows what else. This probably made Heather’s car the most photographed Prado in David that day.

We then met with my contractor to discuss my new, old front door, acquired at the Zapadora, but lacking frame, windows, hinges and a lock. Still, it is a lovely door and I am sure unique in all of Panama.

After shopping in Cochez, the three of us went to the Alcala for lunch. The luncheon special was soup, macaroni salad, rice with pigeon peas with either chicken with pepper sauce or something called a “rollo primavera”, Spring Roll, followed by desert for $3.90. Dieticans, don’t be shocked, the diet here is filled with carbs, carbs cost less than vegetables, meat or anything else. I was the risk taker. I tried the Rollo Primavera, which was a few slices of cylinder shaped meat loaf served with gravy.

Next, the great mattress hunt. For years I owned bedroom furniture stores in Arizona, so shopping for mattresses should be easy, not so. What is in that mattress? What does it feel like on a platform bed without a box spring? We stopped at Furniture City, Do It Center, looked for a now non existent specialty store and ultimately discovered Garantia on Ave 4a y Calle B Sur. Not much to look at outside, but they have a second level full of mattresses on both box springs and platforms. We tried the pillow top, too hard. The orthopedic too hard, semi orthopedic, just right. We bought a King and a Queen for just a little more than Do It and Furniture City wanted for just a King. Delivery to Boquete was an extra $10.

The last stop in David was the Dentist. Upon arriving there we were told the appointment was cancelled, no water. I was glad we had been in David all day, because no one ever considered calling to cancel the appointment. We were supposed to know there was no water in David. Fortunately we were there already, tired and ready to head north to Dolega to end our adventure.

We arrived at the Municipo in Dolega to exchange the inspection document we collected in the morning and some currency for a new license plate. We arrived at 4:30 and the auto registration window was closed. We asked at the one open window and with a smile they agreed to take the money, take the inspection document and provide the plates. Except, they did not have the plates. So they took the money, they took the inspection document and they provided a “get out of jail free”, document good for three months to show at our next traffic stop.

If reality is actuality the plates will be in Dolega before the document expires and hopefully before we are stopped cruising the roads of Panama.

Living in Panama requires a change in expectations and attitude, shift back into the way it was and relax. Nothing needs to happen in real time and other than getting speeding tickets, nothing does.

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