Archive for September, 2008

Press Release from the Minister of the Exterior.

Machine Translation – English:
The Ministry of Exterior Relations communicates to the citizens, airlines, travel agencies, operators and other interested organizations that, in coordination with other governmental institutions, it has been decided to establish a moratorium of one month for the yellow fever entrance requirements for all the people who wish to enter Panama national territory, coming from the countries considered in risk of transmission of this disease by the World Health Organization. Also the vaccine is necessary for all the nationals or residents in Panama who travel to the countries with risk of transmission. The new regulations will be enforced starting the 1 of November, 2008. Entering the national territory means that even if traveler leaves an airport or port for only a few hours. The vaccine, so that it takes the desired effect, must be received at least 10 days before the date of entering Panama. The Ministry of Health will publish in the news media the list of countries that are considered at risk of transmission of the yellow fever, as well as the places and schedules of vaccination for the people need who it. The National Government recognizes that these measures will cause some inconvenience but they are very important in preventing yellow fever, and safeguarding the health of the Panamanian population. Panama, 29 of September of 2008.

Here is the link to the WHO list of countries for Yellow Fever, this is not the Panama list which will be published soon: http://www.who.int/csr/ith%20annex1%202008.pdf

Spanish Press Release:
El Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores comunica a la ciudadanía en general, líneas aéreas, agencias de viajes, operadores turísticos y demás instancias interesadas que, en coordinación con las instituciones gubernamentales competentes, se ha decidido establecer una moratoria de un mes para la entrada en vigencia del requisito de vacunación contra la fiebre amarilla para todas las personas que deseen ingresar al territorio nacional, procedentes de los países considerados en riesgo de transmisión de esta enfermedad por la Organización Mundial de la Salud. Igualmente la vacuna es necesaria para todos los nacionales o residentes en Panamá que viajen hacia los países de riesgo de transmisión.

En consecuencia, se informa que la medida de exigencia de la aplicación de la vacuna contra la fiebre amarilla entrará en vigor a partir del 1 de noviembre del presente año.

Se considera ingreso al territorio nacional incluso si el viajero abandona un aeropuerto o puerto por pocas horas. La vacuna, para que tenga efectos, debe inocularse por lo menos con 10 días de anticipación a la fecha de ingreso a Panamá.

El Ministerio de Salud publicará en los medios de comunicación la lista de países que se consideran con riesgo de transmisión de la fiebre amarilla, así como los lugares y horarios de vacunación para las personas que lo necesiten.

El Gobierno Nacional reconoce que estas disposiciones podrán causar algunos inconvenientes pero tiene presente la extraordinaria importancia de prevenir el surgimiento de un brote de fiebre amarilla y preservar la salud de la población panameña.

Panamá, 29 de septiembre de 2008.


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Yellow Fever Shots

Yellow Fever Shots

Several months ago I wrote about our experience at the Department of Health getting Yellow Fever shots. It seems that the government is now making them mandatory for people entering or leaving the country.

MUST YOU GET THE SHOT?: There are different answers to the question must you get it or not? I just had our family doctor call the ministry and ask if my my husband needs the shot because he is flying from Japan through US. They said no. On the other hand I spoke to the nurse this morning and they said everyone needs them. We choose for the moment to listen to the doctor. I suspect it is a good idea to get it anyway since until they are clear on who needs them or not, it will give you peace of mind.

Please do not take my opinion as the rule because today I got 2 different answers.

Panamanian Ministry of Health (MINSA) issued a notification 089-DE/0091-DGS/MS stating that they will begin to enforce the requirement on Wednesday, 1 October 2008.

This is the Machine Translation of the article from La Crticia:

All travellers coming from countries in risk of transmission of yellow fever will have to be properly vaccinated. The measurement adopted by the governmental, aeroportuarias authorities and of health will begin to prevail to divide the next Wednesday first of October. In a document of the World-wide Organization of the Health one notices that in ” case of appearing a passenger without such accreditation, will be given back to the country from where it comes by the airline company that transportó”. The vaccine that can be applied free in the aerial and terrestrial terminals of Colombia has a use of 10 years and will have to be applied at least 10 days before arriving at Panama.

Spanish Version
Panamá exigirá certificado de vacuna contra fiebre amarilla

Redaccíón | Crítica en Línea
Todo viajero procedente de países en riesgo de transmisión de fiebre amarilla deberá estar debidamente vacunado.

La medida adoptada por las autoridades gubernamentales, aeroportuarias y de salud empezará a regir a partir el próximo miércoles primero de octubre.

En un documento de la Organización Mundial de la Salud se advierte que en “caso de presentarse un pasajero sin tal acreditación, será devuelto al país de donde procede por la compañía aérea que lo transportó”.

La vacuna que se puede aplicar de forma gratuita en los terminales aéreos y terrestres de Colombia tiene una vigencia de 10 años y deberá ser aplicada al menos 10 días antes de llegar a Panamá.

Who is on the list? What countries require Yellow Fever inoculation certificates?
In the list with Panama, there are quite a number of countries (check this website for the list: List of countries where yellow fever is required) with Yellow Fever Vaccination requirements. Once you get the vaccination it is good for 10 years, and when traveling to any countries which require that you have the shots you must carry your vaccination booklet.

Here is the map and list of countries where Yellow Fever is present (this is not an official Panama Government list; I will try to get one): http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/yellowfever/YF_GlobalMap.html

About Yellow Fever
Yellow fever is a mosquito born virus, carried by the Aedes and Haemagogus species of mosquito which is prevalent during daylight hours. It is recommended that you protect yourself by having a vaccination and using mosquito lotion regularly. In Panamanian cities and towns there are regular inspections by the Department of Health for mosquito breeding areas, and they also spray often especially during rainy season.

Getting Your Shot
The nurses told me that the Department of Health offers a FREE Yellow Fever vaccination program for everyone. That´s right FREE. That includes Panamanians, foreign residents, and visitors. You do have to pay $5, that is for your registration of the shot and your vaccination booklet.

I was inoculated and impressed with the speed of service (there were no other patients there), cleanliness, and the nurses were helpful, knowledgeable and kind. The health facility itself was a basic tropical clinic but it was clean and organized.

This is not a new program but has been offered for some time now and I just did not have the time to get out to the clinic.

Yellow Fever Vaccinations are available at the Department of Health (Salud) Regional Health Center – “International Immunization Center” Clinic in Clayton (Corozal), look for the IDAAN sign on the right on the street just before the Crossroads Church (if you see the church you have gone too far) on the way to the Miraflores Locks.


Phone: 512-6600 and 512-6666.

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Whale Watching in Panama

Whale Watching in Panama

Yesterday while on the way back from Taboga to Panama City on the ferry we spotted two enormous whales, perhaps 30´ long, alongside our boat. They were not too active, lazing in the water side by side. Absolutely beautiful.

Just over a month ago our neighbor on Taboga Island spotted two large humpbacks playing in front of my friend´s oceanfront home.

It´s one of those grand nature events that we sometimes take for granted here in Panama.

If you are interested in whale watching, they are migrating now. You can sometimes spot whales and dolphins (along with the endangered Brown Pelicans and other large seabirds) from the Calypso Queen ferry to Taboga Island, or get in touch with Dos Mares.

Whale Watching by Taboga Island:
Dos Mares Tours, www.panamadosmares.blogspot.com, Cell: 6687-8189, email: panamadosmares@hotmail.com, Capt. Alex Peña

If you simply want to take a boat around Taboga Island, let us know and Cerrito Tropical can arrange it with a local fisherman. While we cannot promise whales, the trip around the island to see the brown pelican reserve and the formidable rock formations on the uninhabited windward side of Taboga is full of great photo opportunities, and many of our guests compare the landscape to “Jurassic Park”.

If you want to stay over, give us a call to book your reservation at Cerrito Tropical.www.cerritotropicalpanama.com Tel: 6489-0074

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Rich Kaminski, Musician from Chicago: PANAMA EXPAT PROFILE

Rich Kaminski, Chicago Musician in Panama. Photo by Philippe Arnoux

Richard Kaminski, Chicago Musician in Panama. Photo by Philippe Arnoux

Richard (Rich) Kaminski

Rich Kaminski IS BACK, in Taboga Island, Panama

Born in the rough South Side of Chicago, Rich had a tough childhood. To escape the violence of the streets Kaminski immersed himself into playing guitar. 

Completely self-taught Rich Kaminski was entranced by the guitar and started playing professionally at the age of 16 in Maxwell St. in Chicago. His inspiration came from such renowned musicians as: BB King and Blind Willy McTell.

Rich Kaminski is now transplanted from Chicago and lives on the Pacific side of Panama on Taboga Island, Isla Taboga (near Panama City) where he enjoys the laid-back island lifestyle at Pizarro Place Condominiums (Calle Pizarro, just past the Taboga Island Cemetary).

Musician Rich Kaminski, by Philippe Arnoux

Musician Rich Kaminski, photo by Philippe Arnoux

Contact Richard (Rich) Kaminski:
Tel: 6646-0998,
email: tabogarich@yahoo.com

BARS, LOUNGES AND THEATERS Rich appeared at such venues as: -Rosas, Chicago -Checkerboard Lounge, Chicago -Door, Chicago -Martyrs´, Chicago -South Illinois University -West Illinois University -North Illinois University -Highland Park Illinois -Red Rocks Amphitheater, Colorado -Sneaky Pete´s Milwaukee -Various Bars and Resorts along the West Coast of Mexico from Sayulita to Zihuatanejo.

CONCERTS AND TOURS: -Taj Majal, Illinois to Colorado, Mellaque, Mexico, Central American Tour, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama

ARTISTS Rich has played with a variety of  musicians and groups: -Taj Majal -Cahoots -Adrian Belou -Mark Knopfler -Paul Stoddard -Doug Young -Rev. Gary Davis

RECORDINGS Working with the band Cahoots, they recorded a CD in 1982. Following this Rich did studio work from 1982 – 1996 with various artists.

Rich recorded his first CD with partner Keith McKenzie in 2001: “Folk and Blues in Black And White” His second CD was recorded in 2002: “Live At The Grove” Third CD, 2004: “It Is What It Is”

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Bringing your pet to Panama.

Bringing your pet to Panama.

I have posted new information on the Pets Page: BRINGING YOUR PET TO PANAMA
Check it out through the Pets link above or here:


If readers have other suggestions please let me know through a comment and I will add them. Thanks!

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Quantum of Solace, James Bond 007

Quantum of Solace, James Bond 007

It was an exciting few months early this year in Panama when they were filming the next James Bond movie, The Quantum of Solace, due to be shown in cinemas this coming November 2008.

A number of people were fortunate to be chosen as extras and I was one of them. I had never thought of joining the group of some 1000 extras but a friend eventually convinced me to go and sign up. Although I had done television advertising before, I had never been on a big movie set prior to this and it was very interesting. Costumes, makeup, hair, coordination. And the waiting….. for hours upon hours. We really came to appreciate what it takes to be a professional in the business. It seems glamorous but it is very hard work.

The first scene I was in was shot was a night scene in the old Union Club in Casco Viejo, Panama City. We changed into our costumes and had hair and makeup done in an enormous underground garage which had been revamped into dressing rooms, cafeteria, and makeup. Then we were allowed outside to wait for our calls. It was beautiful weather and since Casco Viejo is beside the ocean it was quite lovely at night. There, we pulled three all nighters in a row for Bond. Super tiring but awesome in the professionalism, coordination and detail that went into the making of it by the mainly British crew. Watching Daniel Craig (James Bond) and the pros shoot their scenes numerous times to get it right for the exacting Golden Globe nominated director Steven Forster — German born, educated in Switzerland he studied film in New York. Forster made his directorial debut in 2000 and most recently directed the Kite Runner. Daniel Craig is said to be one of the finest actors of his generation in stage, screen and television. His supporting actors included: Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Almalric, Gemma Arterton, Jeffrey Wright, and of course Judy Dench.

An old historic building (former Union Club) was used which they revamped just for this. Set in Bolivia the scene was shot in Panama. It was an elegant extravaganza during which Dominic Greene (a criminal mastermind played by Mathieu Almalric), gives an important speech (I almost had it memorized–cannot tell you the speech, if I did M might send Bond to silence me). We were among the some 700 in this scene, dressed in elegant evening wear. Along with the cool party set, there were several stunts so the scene should be a great one.

Several weeks later I went again in one of several buses (some 50 extras) to Colon to shoot our next scene on a private island on the Caribbean coast in Panama (in the movie I believe it is Haiti). We stayed overnight in a hotel in Colon City, a very seedy port (not many of us were on the streets after dark, or even in the daylight!) Then before dawn we drove the hour to a site on the Caribbean Coast. There we dressed for the tropics and were made up, then taken by small local fishing boats (called pangas) to the private island. What a beautiful location. Since the extras group was rather small, we had a very enjoyable day acting as the “background”, waiting, chatting, taking in some sun, and eating from a scrumptious buffet. I was in a group of about 10 or so asked to be background in one of Bond´s heroic action scenes where he speeds up to the dock in his powerboat and carries the beautiful Camille (Olga Kurylenko) ashore who has been hurt. It was excellent to have the chance to watch the making of a major movie from within. What an awesome day. Late in the afternoon we were bussed back to Panama City and said good bye to the friends we had made during the shoot.

I believe most of us had a great time and what a once in a lifetime experience. Would I do it again? Indeed I would.

We were absolutely not allowed to take photos which is a shame because I cannot share them with you here. So the only souvenir I will have is to buy a copy of the film once it becomes available. But you can check out the trailer now:

View Trailer: http://www.007.com/

Written by: Cynthia Cudmore Mulder

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Alexander Jenkins was the lucky winner of our Destination Panama 10,000th visitor contest! He wins an original Cerrito Tropical souvenir Tshirt, Congrats Alexander!

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