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Archive for November, 2008

Panama Today Magazine, Online Now

Panama Today Magazine

Panama Today Magazine

Panama Today Magazine. Check out Panama´s newest online magazine. An online virtual magazine with stories of the people who make Panama such a wonderful place to live or visit. Few online magazines really give you an in depth experience but Panama Today takes you behind the scenes and into the country and the people in a smooth easy to read fashion. Need more information check out the blog site www.panamatodaymagazine.com.

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Seems like the rain does not want to stop this week. November is traditionally the month in Panama with the most rain and this year should top most as the November with the highest amount of rain for decades. I just spoke to a man on Taboga Island who has lived there for 40 years and “has never seen weather like this on the island”. The weather conversation went on for quite some time but I will cut it short. A number of areas in Panama have been affected by flooding – fortunately for us, Taboga has not. Normally the weather on Taboga is much dryer than the mainland as the cloud cover prefers the mainland.

Historically by next week the dry season begins to set in, rainfall will drop drop off so we will see the sun a lot more! We need to dry out.

weather-annual-farenheit

weather-annual-farenheit

annual weather celsius

annual weather celsius

Daily Weather Forecast Site: http://www.qwikcast.com

Satellite Image for Panama: http://wwwghcc.msfc.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/get-goes?satellite=GOES-E%20NHE&info=ir&width=820&height=620&type=Animation&numframes=10&lat=9.70&lon=-79.5&zoom=1&quality=85&palette=spect.pal

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Playa Honda

Playa Honda

Thank you to Matt Landau for allowing me to repost this story he wrote about his weekend getaway on Taboga Island at B&B Inn Cerrito Tropical, and for the glowing review.

Weekend Getaways Reinvented in Panama, by Matt Landau of The Panama Report
View the original story here on The Panama Report

As a child, weekend getaways were epitomized by long car rides which left us so tired and cramped that, by the time we arrived at our vacation destination, none of us wanted to speak to one another. Our trips were long because, in suburban America, nothing is close. Close was the diagonal drive across the empty parking lot from Linens ‘n Things to Best Buy. The trip to the beach took four hours.

We’d usually break up our trips up by stopping at convenient stores where cheap sunglasses, beef jerky, and the burley men who bought both of them at once acted as exotic distractions if only for a few minutes, before we realized that we still had three hours to go. Our trips would take us on big highways where the only scenery was a blurry mass of metallic exit signs and generic forested wasteland.

Forbidden from owning a Gameboy, my brother and I resorted to various intellectual games as methods of self-diversion. We enjoyed word puzzles, brainteasers, and the popular road trip game I Spy, our contents of which were a tribute to America’s trashy consumer suburbia. “Something red…” I’d ponder. “Is it the Red Lobster sign? How about the McDonalds drive through overhead?”

Somewhere on one of these trips, I learned there were roughly nine million people that live in the sixteen main precincts of New Jersey, which meant that, if my family and I planned it carefully, we could visit all of them before we turned twelve hundred years old. Weekend trips required so much planning that, before we knew it, Monday would arrive and we’d be left another week to yearn.

B&B Inn cerrito tropical

B&B Inn cerrito tropical

In Panama, the concept of weekend getaways is reborn.

The amount of interesting destinations within a several-hour drive of almost anywhere in the country is enough to keep any tourist or local entertained for some time. One of my favorites is the literal hop over to Isla Taboga. Ridden with stories of pirates and conquistadors, the island of Taboga was founded back in the 1500s and is as rich in history as it is in sublime relaxation. It’s a low-key vacation option, located about 12 miles off the coast, which reinvents, for a kid from penny loafer New Jersey, the concept of a weekend escape.

The city has a way of depleting you. Traffic, pollution, noise, phones: it’s a hodgepodge of activity common to any large city that, over time, slowly sucks the energy and innovation from your bones leaving you robotic and dull as if just going through the motions. It was the kind of sunny weekday morning that inspired me, upon waking up around seven, to drive to the Amador Causeway and catch the Calypso ferry to Isla Taboga ($11 round trip) to get some of my mojo back by the beach.

I arrived on Taboga and was greeted by the caretaker- chef of a local hotel where I’d made a last minute reservation. The man, a longtime local named Aristedes, offered to take my backpack which I told him (citing the relationship between wit and leisure) was better left on my back considering it was filled with a team of baby turtles.

He walked me (and my turtles) through the town of Taboga, a narrow labyrinth of cobble-walkways and dangling bougainvilleas, then up an inclined path to B&B Inn Cerrito Tropical, my new favorite Taboga hideaway. The hotel itself is situated on a hillside higher than most establishments on Taboga and, while within walking distance of town, is blessed with its own serene Caribbean-like mountainside quietude. Cerrito Tropical is a beautiful retreat with a Creole ambiance offering both bed and breakfast rooms and vacation apartments: not the sort of thing that’d be out of place in Martinique or any other Caribbean isle. The place oozes relaxation.

My days on Taboga consisted of rigorous activities such as eating fried fish, downing cold pineapple juice, and relaxing on what amounted to my own private beach which was once a pirate´s hang out . I wandered up to a clifftop lookout that afforded a spectacular view of the same Panama City skyline I left not long before. I even went for a snorkel on the opposite side of the island, which is protected and offers a much improved water quality.

Aristedes, who I took to calling “A” (which in Spanish sounds more like “Ah”), is also the private Cerrito chef who prepared everything from ceviche to grapefruit salad from scratch. When I wasn’t eating his food or hanging out on the beach, I took full advantage of B&B Inn Cerrito Tropical’s wireless internet connection (having brought my laptop) and picturesque upstairs balcony which I converted into a temporary office complete with breezy palm fronds and lazy hammocks. Although work wasn’t something I had planned on accomplishing during my stay, to say that the atmosphere was conducive to intellectual stimulation would be an understatement.

The weekend jaunt to Isla Taboga was a far cry from the over-planned vacations I used to take as a child. There was comparatively very little organization and the trip in its entirety cost less than $150.

B&B Inn Cerrito Tropical Bed & Breakfast Inn plus Vacation Apartments
Tel: 507-390-8999: Cell: 507-6489-0074
http://www.cerritotropicalpanama.com

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zen salon

zen salon

ZEN SALON

Jerome and Elodie from France, owners of Zen Salon in Panama City have notified me that they now offer several new packages in their Spa area:

Facial treatment:
Deep facial cleaning, collagen veil mask and back cleaning: $80.00
Special Treatment: Deep facial cleaning, collagen veil mask, corporal scrub, soothing massage: $100.00
Corporal Treatment: Soothing massage, corporal scrub, seaweed wrapping or chocotherapy, manicure and pedicure: $100.00
Day Spa: Corporal detox, corporal scrub, soothing massage, manicure and pedicure: $95.00
They offer many other Spa, Esthetic, and Beauty Services; their Hair Salon is excellent. They style womens´, mens´ and also kids´ hair.

French, Spanish and some English spoken.

Marbella, Panama City
Calle 55 este, Obarrio Casa 7-B
Tel: 263-0123, 263-0124

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Red snapper and shrimp

Red snapper and shrimp

We recently visited the beaches in the interior of Panama along the Pacific Coast and stopped at Restaurante Los Camisones. A little hard to find, on the main Pan American highway drive past Coronado, look for the El Valle turn off it is about 5 minutes past the turnoff on the right hand side, you can spot a sign where you should turn up a small hill. There is no forwarning to let you know where the turn is. The gardens and bohio (large thatched roofed area where the restaurant is) are lovely and well kept.

Deliciously prepared Spanish and Panamanian food with attentive service. I was told to order Paella in advance which I did not because our visit was a spur of the moment thing. In case you want it, order 1 hour in advance, their number is: 993-3622.

Appetizers run from $4 for Corvina Ceviche to $9.75. We ordered the Greek Salad ($4.75). It’s a delicious Greek salad with onions, olives, green peppers, and feta cheese served in a lettuce bowl.

Main courses run $7 for Corvina (Seabass) to $21 for Lobster Thermador; the mains do not come with vegetables. We ordered a sides of potatoes, fried yucca and rice. We enjoyed fresh jumbo shrimp and red snapper. Both the food and service were excellent.

Open 7 days a week.
Owners: Tomas and Beatrice Camison
Tel: 507-993-3622
La Ermita
San Carlos KM 104
Panama

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Medical Care in Panama City, Panama

Medical Care in Panama City, Panama



Punta Pacifica Hospital Orthopedic Clinic in Panama City, Panama: Pensioners´ Experience

Following my story on Santo Thomas Hospital in Panama City, other friends relayed the following experience to me. Our friends are jubilados (pensioners) and live here in Panama. They both had some orthopedic trouble and set off for the Orthopedic Clinic at Punta Pacifica Hospital (affiliated with John Hopkins Hospital in th US). One had foot problems and the other had pain in their knee. They were attended to immediately by the English speaking specialist who ordered xrays, analyzed them, gave a cortisone shot, and wrote a prescription. The couple were with the doctor and at the clinic for two hours.

They were extremely pleased with the doctor, the service, and the price which came to just under $150 which included everything except for the prescription medicine.

Medical Tourism is on the increase here in Panama, and more and more services are being provided for visitors who are looking for quality economical medical care. One of the main benefits of Panama is that is is close to the USA and Canada with a number of daily flights.

If anyone reading this requires the doctor´s contact details, please comment on this article and I will get more information for you.

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parrots at our window

parrots at our window

While I don´t usually post such trivial news, I cannot let this one go by. Even in the center of Panama City we are reminded that Panama is a tropical country very close to lush and thriving tropical rain forest. I am not an active birder, so sorry I cannot identify the birds better.

We live on the upper floors of a tall tower in the center of Panama City. Two days ago at 6:30 am while I was waking up our son for school I heard a noise, at first I thought it was our son. Looking out our window on the ledge of our building I saw a pair of large green parrots at the window (the kind that perch on pirates´ shoulders). We watched them for a bit and then I tried to open the window but they were frightened and flew off.

Why they chose us I will never understand but it was incredible and surprising to see these beautiful tropical parrots, in the city center at our window – even if for only a few minutes.

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