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Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

IDB loan to assist Panamanian students

IDB loan will assist Panamanian children

Inter-American Development Bank News Release
June 7, 2012 – News Release

IDB loan for US$70 million to benefit more than 38,000 Panamanian students

The Inter-American Development Bank approved a loan for $70 million to provide innovative educational infrastructure to 47 communities in Panama that will benefit more than 38,000 students. The goal is to expand educational opportunities and encourage students in marginal and indigenous areas to complete basic education.

More than a third of Panamanians between the ages of 13 and 17 do not attend school. Coverage levels are especially low for the groups targeted by the program. For example, in the Ngäbe-Buglé and Guna Yala indigenous administrative regions, only 43 percent of youths attend secondary school.

The IDB financing will be used to expand and equip 20 primary schools to include grades seven to nine and construct two model schools that will have innovative facilities and will employ a new pedagogical and educational management approach. These investments are expected to result in the matriculation of 10,000 new students from preschool through secondary school.

In addition, the program will providing 47 schools with classrooms designed to facilitate learning. The basic curriculum will be updated to prepare students for the challenges of the 21st century, and training and support will be extended to staff and faculty in school management, pedagogy, and curriculum content.

Only 62 percent of Panamanian schools have drinking water in Panama, compared with 77 percent for the Latin America and the Caribbean as a whole. Half have adequate sanitation, compared with 65 percent for the region

Studies indicate that the quality of a school’s physical environment directly affects both the motivation and behavior of teachers as well as learning, discipline, and attention levels of the students.

Schools benefiting from the program are located poor areas with high dropout rates in the provinces of Panamá, Coclé, Colón, Chiriquí, Los Santos, and the indigenous administrative areas of Ngäbe-Buglé and Guna Yala.

The financing was extended for a 25-year term with a grace period of four years and a variable interest rate based on LIBOR. Counterpart funding totals $10 million.

New release thanks to IDB website: http://www.iadb.org/en/news/news-releases/2012-06-07/panama-will-improve-school-infrastructure,10017.html

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Helping Protect Our Earth, One Step at a Time.

Helping Protect Our Earth, One Step at a Time.

Thought provoking ideas from two men ahead of their time but with ideas not out of reach:

PREVENTING COASTAL EROSIAN
Rohit Talwar and Ian Pearson
An Authorized Repost on Destination Panama thanks to The Fast Future Bulletin July 2009

In this article we propose an alternative approach to tackling coastal erosion around the globe which would also cut carbon emissions and reduce plastic levels in landfill and waste dumps.

The latest nightmare environmental forecasts suggest that much of the UK coastline will be affected by severe erosion. Indeed, some parts of the Norfolk coast are already suffering dramatic erosion. The official policy is not to protect such areas, but to allow erosion, for various reasons. In areas where protection is needed, often, concrete blocks are dropped into the sea to absorb or deflect the wave energy.

A seemingly unrelated environmental problem is the disposal of plastic. Much is recycled now, but a lot still ends up in landfill sites or waste tips, which are filling up fast all over the world. Big concerns have also been raised over the potential for non-biodegradable plastic to remain in the environment for hundreds or thousands of years.

However with a bit of imagination, both of these problems could be tackled together. When plastic is recycled, it is gathered and compressed into cubes for easy handling and distribution. If these cubes were wrapped and weighted, they could be thrown into the sea instead of concrete blocks, solving several environmental problems at once. Concrete production consumes energy and produces large amounts of carbon dioxide, both of which would be averted. Raw material costs would be reduced since the plastic is waste and in plentiful supply. It would hang around in the sea for many years, and as the blocks accumulate, they would provide an artificial reef, before becoming a good base for reclaimed land, while reversing the erosion process. During this time, the plastic blocks would be locking up carbon, making the plastic ‘reef’ carbon negative, as compared to the carbon neutral recycling process. And of course, landfill would not fill up as fast.

A plastic reef could be used to effectively seal off a region of coastal sea, making it possible to use it as landfill for other kinds of waste without the danger of sea pollution. This would accelerate the creation of reclaimed land as well as creating more landfill capacity.

One major obstacle is that under EU law, it is currently illegal to dump plastic in the sea. At the same time, landfill is highly taxed. It would be very sensible to review both of these obstacles to make such solutions feasible, as there would be very substantial environmental benefits. It is ironic that laws designed to protect the environment are now the major obstacles to one environmental solution.

For more information please contact Rohit or Ian via these links:

http://community.icontact.com/p/fastfuture

http://www.linkedin.com/in/talwar

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Mayor of Taboga and Taboga Expat at Health Center Donation Ceremony

Mayor of Taboga and Taboga Expat at Health Center Donation Ceremony

Taboga Island Community Joins Forces to Donate to the Health Center and the Fire Fighters.

Medical and other equipment, as well as construction materials for repair, were donated this past Friday by the Taboga Island community to the local health center (Centro de Salud, Isla Taboga); organized by two expat Taboga residents to assist this Panama community.

Taboga Health Center
Because of the ongoing dedication of the Doctor, nurses and health officials, the expats on Taboga Island in Panama wanted to help the island. They asked the doctor at the clinic what supplies and repairs were needed and she came up with a list. Since Taboga is a small island community it is often forgotten by those in charge of government funding on the mainland and the health center is in dire need of building repair and working equipment. A fund was set up, money collected, and purchases made of the following items for the health center which assists so many on the island.

Financial Donations were used to purchase:

Air conditioner for the pharmacy
Air conditioner for the administration area
2 – 60 pound medical oxygen tanks
Fetal Doppler (monitor)
Stethoscope
Blood Pressure Monitor
2 cots to be used for stretchers or beds
Roofing and paint plus workers to repair and paint the leaking roof

The Ceremony
This Friday past, September 26th a ceremony was held in the council room on Taboga to present the donations. Held in the council room at the Department of Health, a number of people were present including the mayor, and the people´s representative.

During the ceremony a number of people spoke including representatives of the expat group. One of the expat Tabogringa organizers expressed: “ When an emergency arises in this special small village, the people of Taboga come to your aid – you helped us as you would your own.” “We are foreigners who live here in Isla Taboga but we came here for only one reason, we have a big love for your island.”

The department and doctor received the thanks as well as much needed supplies which will be used to help the islanders, expat residents, and visitors alike.

Note on further donations: This article is not an attempt to solicit donations, but if anyone reading this would like to donate to the Taboga Health Clinic or the Taboga Firefighters (below), please contact us and we will put you in touch with the group.

Still needed for the health center: Electrocardiograph, defibrillator, video computer display for educational purposes. Screens/curtains for examining room, toilet room needs repair.

Note on further donations: The Firefighters are also in need of equipment and supplies.

The list can be found here: http://www.bomberostaboga.org/donacionesusa_files/necesidades.htm
this is in Spanish with photos, if anyone is interested in donating to, or assisting with this cause we will put you in touch with the Taboga Island Fire Chief, Luis Endara, (he speaks English). Just comment here on our blog article and we will contact you.

Bomberos English Blog: http://bomberostaboga.wordpress.com (English site)

Bomberos website: http://www.bomberostaboga.org (English and Spanish site)

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Nature in Panama, Traveling with Kids

Nature in Panama, Traveling with Kids

PANAMA HAS PLENTY TO OFFER FOR KIDS OF ALL AGES.

We live in Panama with a child, therefore I often get questions from readers coming to visit Panama on vacation, and even expats living in Panama about what to do with their kids on vacation. Here are my suggestions for both the younger set and teens; some great ideas for adults as well.


DON YOUR PIRATE HATS AND SET OFF ON A MEMORABLE FAMILY VACATION

Panama offers a new world and a wealth of natural, fun, experiences–and what an education for both the kids and the adults (but don´t tell them that part). From the engineering man-made wonder of the Panama Canal to an abundance of nature´s treasures. Many destinations are within a couple of hours from the bustling capital city, so there is no shortage of excursions and activities. Panama was key in the history and development of Latin America and took center stage as the location for numerous pirate vs. conquistador battles, as well as the land route for transfer of Spanish treasure from the Pacific coast bound for Spain.


FAMILY ACTIVITIES IN AND AROUND THE CITY

WALK CASCO VIEJO: The most historic neighborhood in Panama City, many elegant buildings are now being restored. It is a World Heritage site. Around and within the old Union Club in Casco Viejo, check out where the latest James Bond movie (Quantum of Solace) was filmed, showing in theaters November 2008. After touring savor some of the best ice creams in Panama from GrandClement. French owned and run, wonderfully unique and traditional flavours! Location: Central Avenue and 4th street. Not in the mood for ice cream, try a traditional Panamanian Raspado near the boardwalk (grated ice with flavorings). Or taste both! Note: The wonderful museum in Casco Viejo is very nice for the adults but not too interesting for most children.
PANAMA VIEJO: Visit the site of the first Panama City, its interesting ruins, museum and go souvenir shopping at their Artisans handicraft market. A World Heritage Site.
SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTE MARINE EXHIBITIONS CENTER (Centro de Exhibiciones Marinas): On Isla Naos, connected to Panama City by the Amador Causeway. The center has a museum with marine exhibits, two aquariums, and a nature trail through a small forest harboring sloths and iguanas. Open Tuesday to Friday 1 pm to 5 pm, Saturday and Sunday 10 am to 5 pm. Nearby is the future site of the long awaited Museum of Biodiversity (2010).
RENT BIKES ON AMADOR CAUSEWAY: While you are out by Amador Causeway enjoy bike riding with your family. Rentals available from several locations where you can rent all types of cycles, from basic 5 speed bikes to lowriders to bicycles for 2 or 3, to pedal driven carts with a roof… From $2 per hour.
PARQUE OMAR: Once a private golf course, now the city´s largest park. Walk or jog around the some 5 km of paths shaded by large tropical trees. Parque Omar also has a simple gym, playground, tennis court, swimming pool, basketball court, soccer field, baseball field, outdoor halls, and a library. Various sports clubs meet there offering American Football and soccer, plus it offers a number of public events during the year. Located on Via Porras near the city center in San Fransisco. NOTE: Most city neighborhood parks have playgrounds.
PARQUE METROPOLITANO: A 655-acre wilderness park within the limits of Panama City. Offering trails, more than 250 species of birds and 40 types of mammals, it is also the site of a tropical research center. The visitors’ center is open 8 am to 4 pm daily.
ANCON HILL: The hill is a steep 654-foot hike but the reward is spectacular Panama City views; it is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the area with its giant Panamanian flag flying atop. When Henry Morgan sacked Panama City, his scouts used Ancon Hill to spy on the Spaniards.
It was under U.S. jurisdiction as part of the Panama Canal Zone for much of the 20th Century, and was never developed like most of the city. It is possible to see sloths, coatimundi, armadillos, Geoffroy’s Tamarins or deer on Ancon Hill which is now protected. It takes about 45 minutes, by foot, to reach the top from the parking area in Quarry Heights. Along the path you can see numerous species of vegetation and birds, including large number of orchids.
BOWLING: Enjoy bowling with a view at Sky Bowling, serving food and drinks by Bennigans on Avenida Balboa (in the Extreme Planet Building) or Bowling at Allbrook Mall.
EXPLORA PANAMA: A fun, science related, hands on, indoor learning experience for kids. http://www.explorapanama.org/ Tel: 230-3066 Area: Condado del Rey.
SHOPPING: An all time favorite, while MultiPlaza is a fabulous Mall with numerous high end and mid range shops you can also check out the more economical Allbrook Mall.
MOVIES: Although Hollywood movies offered in Panama arrive a bit later than North America it is a fun and inexpensive way to spend the evening. Price for a child and one adult is about $6 (not including the popcorn which will put you back the same or more). Many places offer kids animated movies in English only once a day if at all, so ask beforehand. There are plenty of cinemas in Panama, check the papers or ask at your hotel. Our favorite in the city is Extreme Planet, there are also cinemas at all the malls.
FRUIT AND VEGETABLE MARKETS: Check out tropical varieties of fruit and vegetables. Delicious and very economical. The market on the way to Casco Viejo is new. Located a couple of buildings from the fish market on Avenida Balboa. There is another older, large wholesale market but it is located in a rough area so we cannot recommend it for visitors.
LEARN SPANISH: Short-term, half days, and intensive Spanish-language courses are offered by a number of Spanish language schools in Panama City and also several locations in rural areas. Homestay programs are also available.


FAMILY ACTIVITIES OUTSIDE THE CITY

THE PANAMA CANAL: and its Museum at Miraflores Locks. The Museum is quite child friendly and the big ships are impressive to watch as they travel through the locks. About a 30 minute taxi ride from downtown Panama City.
TRAIN RIDE ALONG THE CANAL TO THE COLON: http://www.panarail.com Prearrange a bus or Taxi to take you back by road or first on a tour to historic Portobelo Town on the Caribbean.
BOAT TRIP ON THE PANAMA CANAL: Take a day trip on the Panama Canal by boat. See my “Activities” page in this blog.
TABOGA ISLAND: take the scenic ferry ride along the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal from Amador to Taboga (under 1 hour) for a few days to relax; spend the days at the beach and overnight at B&B Cerrito Tropical (oceanview beside the rainforest) – other activities that can be organized at Cerrito include fishing with a local from Taboga (reserve excursions in advance please), take a boat ride around the island to see the Brown Pelican Reserve, go snorkeling on a wreck, hand painted manicure and pedicure designs, hiking on trails that pirates and conquistadors used, practice Spanish with a tutor (advance notice required) and swimming at Playa Honda (which has very little current and nice for building sandcastles and beachcombing).
MONKEY ISLAND AT GAMBOA RAINFOREST: spend a couple of hours in a boat around protected islands beside the Panama Canal teeming with wildlife and monkeys that come to the boat for snacks.
RAINFOREST EXPERIENCE: The Panama Rainforest Discovery Center; http://www.pipelineroad.org/index.php?lang=en
SUMMIT BOTANICAL GARDENS AND ZOO: About 20 minutes from Panama City, six miles (10 km) past the Miraflores Locks. The gardens contain 15,000 plant species and nature trails. The zoo’s main attraction is the compound housing Panama´s national bird, the Harpy Eagle (endangered). Hours are 8 am to 4 pm on week days and 8 am to 6 pm on weekends.
PARQUE AQUATICO, AVALON RESORT: Water Park, 30-40 minutes from Panama City on the way to Colon in Las Cumbres. Open 2 days a week Saturday and Sunday only. $8.50 pp. (507) 268-4499
PARQUE SOBERANIA: This large park borders the Panama Canal and has several hiking trails through the rainforest, including the 11-mile Camino del Oleoducto (Pipeline Road), which attracts bird-watchers from around the world.
ISLA BARRO COLORADO: Barro Colorado Island in the middle of Gatún Lake was formed when areas were flooded during the building of the Panama Canal. The island is home to numerous plants and animals and is used as an outdoor laboratory by Smithsonian tropical research scientists. Barro Colorado can be visited on small-group tours given by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Tel: 507-227-6021/6022 in Panama City for information.
CANOPY RIDE AND HORSEBACK RIDES IN EL VALLE: The mountain town just 77 miles (124 km) from Panama City El Valle is famous for its Sunday market, gardens, nature walks, and pre-Columbian petroglyphs. The Canopy Ride takes adventurers on an exciting experience through the rainforest canopy. The Canopy Adventure is in El Valle near Chorro el Macho, a 195-foot-high (60 m) waterfall. http://adventure.panamabirding.com/#top, horseback riding can be found on the town streets, just ask when you arrive for directions. El Valle also has a small zoo and botanical garden with an amazing bird collection. Near the zoo there is a small family run serpentarium.
ISLA GRANDE EXCURSION: Located on the Caribbean Coast, 1-2 nights is perfect. Try Bananas Resort for a family get away. They offer a bus service from the city as well. We recommend that you take the bus because the drive is difficult on bad roads.
PORTOBELO: An interesting historical day trip from Panama City to the Caribbean coast. Visit the market that was center of trade in the America’s has been restored and there is and its small museum. There is also a visitor’s center in the town and a small artisan market.The Portobelo church has the black Christ statue. Lots of ruins and cannons and a beautiful harbor. You can rent pangas from there to take you out to private beaches and there are also, a couple of nearby dive places. A very, very quiet town.
FORT SAN LORENZO: Visit this historic fort on the Caribbbean side: http://www.sanlorenzo.org.pa/
SAN BLAS ISLANDS: Kuna indigenous people experience; 1-2 nights recommended. Archipelago of about 350 islands off Panama’s Caribbean coast. The San Blas Islands are home to the Kuna Indians, a unique indigenous people who retain many of their ancient traditions. The islands can be reached on a short airplane ride from Panama City.
EMBERA INDIGENOUS PEOPLE: Visit the Embera peoples´ village for the day. Boat ride up the river, swimming at a waterfall, hand painted tattoos (temporary), visit their village and learn about their traditions.
ISLA COIBA: Take a trip to Isla Coiba, one of Panama´s best underwater areas for diving or snorkeling, spot sharks, turtles, rays, numerous species of beautiful tropical fish. It is quite far from Panama City so allow several days for the excursion. Isla Coiba was once the site for a large prison and there is simple accommodation available, as well on the coast in the nearby towns you can find several offerings.
VOLCAN AND BOQUETE: Mountainous areas offering a complete ranges of options as well such as touring a coffee plantation or hiking in the mountains or river rafting on the Chiriquí River.
WILDLIFE RESCUE CENTER PARADISE GARDENS: BOQUETE. Enclosures for birds and animals set in 4 acres of beautiful landscaped gardens. Visitors have the opportunity to interact with some animals, especially monkeys. They also have kinkajous, several big cats, lots of parrots etc. etc. They concentrate on rehabilitation of animals with a view to returning them to the wild. Open every day except Monday from 10 am to 4 pm. Admission is by a donation of $5 per adult. Children, no charge but they must be accompanied by an adult. Tel: 6615 6618, email; junglefotos@yahoo.com
SURFING: El Palmar in San Carlos (rentals available as well as lessons from a couple of locations): http://www.elpalmarsurf.com/?gclid=CMKX-snBuZUCFQukHgod2FJBQg, http://www.nomadsurfers.com/English/Panama/panama_sancarlos.htm
FISHING: Panama offers some of the best deep sea fishing in the world. A number of deep sea fishing companies offer tours out of the city plus there are several others along the Pacific Coast. If you don´t want to spend a lot, buy inexpensive rods at Do It Center or Abernathy (there are other locations in Panama City as well which sell gear) and head out to Amador Causeway where there is a public fishing pier. Or head for Taboga Island and fish off the pier or beach. There are also several small operators offering fresh water fishing in Lake Gatun, near Gamboa.
PACIFIC BEACHES: Dozens of idyllic white sand beaches line the Pacific Coast. Be very careful when swimming. There are very few lifeguards in Panama and currents can be strong, on both the Pacific and Caribbean sides. The drop offs on the Pacific side can be quite steep.

OTHER ACTIVITIES: Panama has 1800 miles (2850 km) of Caribbean and Pacific coastlines, there are numerous outdoor activities possible. Panama offers thousands of islands and coral reefs and 12 national parks. Many activities can be done independently, contacting a local guide or tour operator may make arrangements simpler. But some guides and operators will not work with businesses who will not pay them commission.
Suggestions for additional activities include: Swimming, Snorkeling, Scuba Diving, Surfing and Windsurfing, Hiking, Horseback Riding, Sea Kayaking, Bird Watching, River Rafting, Cycling, Deep-Sea Fishing, Golf.

HOLIDAYS AND EVENTS
Carnival: The biggest event of the year in Panama is Carnival, celebrated during the four days leading up to Ash Wednesday. Music, costumes, dancing, and a large parade in Panama City all form part of the festivities. Many visitors escape the craziness and head for the interior or Taboga Island. All main villages and towns have their own celebrations but much more subdued than the city.
Semana Santa (Easter Holy Week): An important time for religious processions and events. Taboga Island has its own walking processions and event at the second oldest church in the western hemisphere.
Black Christ Ceremony: On October 21, thousands of religious pilgrims descend upon Portobelo for the Black Christ ceremony.
Boquete Fair: There is a 10-day flower and coffee fair (Feria de las Flores y del Café) in Boquete every January.
November Holidays: November is a month full of National Independence Holidays and parades, if you are traveling during November be sure to check your dates and what holiday is happening.
December: The month of December often has a Santa Claus parade for the kids which is quite nice, and many large companies put up gorgeous lighted displays for the holidays. Malls will often have a Santa as well as special events. December 8th is Mother´s Day in Panama, restaurants can be very busy. Christmas is a family time in Panama , traditional turkey can be found in major hotel restaurants and a few independent restaurants. New Years Eve offers numerous events which change annually. On Taboga there are family groups and couples coming to the island to enjoy the holidays at the beach on a toned down scale. There are some fireworks and fisherman set off noisy “tuna bombs” to scare away the evil spirits.
Jewish Holidays: Although Panama is mainly a Christian country there are many Jewish Panamanians who own businesses. Jewish holidays are celebrated and on the major holidays some businesses and offices may be closed.

GETTING AROUND: Panama has good roads and a well-developed intercity/regional bus system. However, Panama City’s public transportation is poor and often unsafe. We cannot recommend it for visitors traveling to Panama City. Taxis are inexpensive and the best way to get around town, for under $5 you can get almost anywhere in the city and outskirts. Ask your concierge how much should you pay and they will give you an idea. All the major rental car agencies operate in Panama City. There are a number of small airlines offering numerous flights to outlying areas from Allbrook Airport.

WEATHER: Located only nine degrees north of the equator, Panama has a tropical climate with a green and a dry season. The tourist season is year-round. The dry season, from December through April is the most comfortable time to visit is the busiest. Panamanian school children have their summer holidays during those months. The green season is also nice and the temperature can be cooler because of the cloud cover, expect some afternoon rain and humidity during the green season. The islands offshore experience a slightly different climate for example Taboga Island where we receive less rain than the mainland during every season and often have cooling sea breezes.
Temperatures in Panama City rarely go below 75º F (25º C) and highs can exceed 90º F (32 ºC). Mountain towns such as El Valle and Boquete are considerably cooler than lowland areas. Panama’s Caribbean coast receives much more rain than its Pacific side. Panama lies below the main path of hurricanes.

HEALTH AND SAFETY: Panama is a relatively healthy and safe country to travel in. However, malaria, dengue fever, hepatitis A, rabies, and yellow fever do present some risk for visitors. Discuss vaccinations with your doctor before leaving home. Tap water is potable in Panama City. Drink bottled water outside the capital. If you or the kids get sick during your stay, don´t hesitate to go to one of the major clinics. Medical services are very reasonable here and excellent. The pharmacies will also be quite helpful and a number of medications are available for sale over the counter. Bring any medicines you or your kids are accustomed to because some familiar brands cannot be found here.

Panama has created a special tourism police force to help protect visitors. Rural areas are generally safe, but there are several areas within Panama City which you should be cautious of: robberies have occurred in the Casco Viejo and Panama Viejo areas of Panama City. The entire Chorrillo area of Panama City should be completely avoided. The port city of Colón (1 hour from Panama City on the Caribbean coast) is dangerous for tourists (except for the Zona Libre).
TIP: Look for a taxi driver who is recommended by your hotel or someone you know, ask him what he will charge by the hour and have him stay with you for the day (about $10 per hour). It can be well worth it, especially if you are in Casco Viejo where there are few taxis to be found.

Use common sense and do not travel or walk alone wearing a lot of jewelery, large expensive bags, obvious cameras and electronics (cell phone and Ipods). When in public areas keep purses on your knee or over your shoulder. Jeans and pants with pockets are the favorite street wear in Panama.

PACK YOUR DAY BAG: travel everyday with sunscreen, mosquito spray, hats, packable rainjacket and bottled water. If you will be spending a lot of time in the water at beaches, pack a small bottle of vinegar; it is often helpful with jellyfish stings. In even in the smallest Chinese minimarket you can find snacks, but maybe add some granola bars to your day bag so you are not dependent on street food.
KEEPING KIDS ENTERTAINED: Things in Panama tend to move slower so include something to do for today´s kids who are used to being entertained all the time–it really depends on the age but a general list for ages 5 and up could start with: inexpensive digital camera, binoculars, sketch pad or journal with colored pencils, deck of cards, Spanish beginners dictionary and so on.
An excellent suggestion just came in, in fact my son´s teacher in Japan once asked him to write a story about Panama and keep a journal. Contact your children´s teachers before you leave to find out if there is anything they will be studying that would have a connection with your destination, for example: rainforest, biodiversity, animals, climate, oceans, indigenous people, Caribbean slave history, Spanish history, pirates and so on.

NOTE ON TRAVEL WITH STROLLERS:
City sidewalks are not well maintained and mostly have no stroller/handicapped, so travel with the most portable stroller you have or opt for a baby carrier.

NOTE ON TRAVEL WITH BABYSITTERS:
Panamanians love kids and most hotels can arrange to have one of their staff to babysit, and some exclusive hotels have Nannies.

If you have any questions or ideas to be added to this article please feel free to add a comment at the bottom of this article. For more information on Taboga Island, please visit my other website: www.cerritotropicalpanama.com, or contact me at info@cerritotropicalpanama.com

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Official opening of “15,000 Watts-Intelligent Energy” will be held in La Casona, Casco Viejo, May 29th, this Thursday at 7:30 pm. An exposition of Photographs, Paintings, and Displays by Arnoux, Cartooch, and Miguel Lombardo.

15,000 Watts Exposition

I recently had a “heads up” to this show from one of the artists and I have an inkling that it will be a unique, and interesting event. Artists were pushed to their limits to create works which are “off the wall” that will have the whole town talking. If you have an interest in the arts, plan to attend.

Sponsored by Alliance Francaise Panama http://www.afpanama.org/, Sanofi Aventis http://www.sanofi-aventis.com/, Empresas Bern http://www.empresasbern.com/.

Running May 29 to June 25th. La Casona is open from 9:30 pm until the wee hours.

La Casona Tel: 211-0740 http://www.enlacasona.com/
Plaza Herrera, Casco Viejo (a.k.a. Casco Antiguo & San Felipe)

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The Pacific Queen in the Panama Canal Locks
The Pacific Queen in the Panama Canal Locks

Just had a meeting at Panama Marine Adventures. They operate one of the companies which take visitors through the Panama Canal on day trips. A half day transit takes about 5 hours and there is a bilingual guide to explain the sites and nature as the boat sails through the locks and Canal; included as well is a simple lunch with soft drinks.

The trip looks very interesting. A friend of mine went recently and loved the day, she said it was extremely relaxing with beautiful views from within the Canal (she did the Full Transit). As I have not had time to do it in the 4 years we have been here, I will go and check it out myself very soon.

The tours head out from Amador Causeway and depending on the day, either leaves from the dock at Amador or returns to the dock there. If returning in the afternoon to Amador by boat (Saturdays) they will take you by air conditioned bus to Gamboa in the morning where you board your ship. Schedules right now are Saturdays only, but during the high season they run three days, from Thursday through Saturday.

Half Panama Canal transit:
$115 adults; $65 children 3-12
Full Panama Canal transit: $165 adults; $75 children 3-12 (Full Transit takes about 12 hours)

For more information: please contact me, by commenting here in my blog or sending me an email directly: info@cerritotropicalpanama.com

Their contact info: 226-8917 270-4288 www.pmatours.com

Note, combining this with a Taboga Island trip: The tours both start and end near the dock we use to go to Taboga Island, so if our guests/visitors are coming over to Cerrito Tropical on a Saturday, and are interested in doing something additional during their holiday they could do the half transit in the morning and catch the ferry to Taboga once they return. Schedule works perfectly. The Saturday ferry for Taboga is at 4 pm.

Incidentally: Panama Marine Adventures, the same company as the Canal Tours with the Pacific Queen, also have a beautiful luxury cruiser for rent which sleeps 24 that they have just started to charter by the week in all inclusive packages.

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Museum of Biodiversity Site, Under Construction

Museum of Biodiversity Site, Under Construction from the Back

Museum of Biodiversity Site

Museum Biodiversity Model

I recently attended a presentation at the American Chamber of Commerce in Panama, Tourism Committee meeting, about the Museum of Biodiversity being built in Panama. I am so impressed with the plans and progress of the museum I need to share it. When you are finished reading my blog entry, please click on the Museum of Biodiversity link to the right to see the photos and more details of this interesting project.

The museum project was originally planned to be much larger; a tight government budget was implemented and the project was downsized from one which had locations on both oceans to the Museum of Biodiversity now being built on Amador Causeway by the Panama Canal, near the Pacific entrance. Still the project being built is very impressive and well thought out. It is too complex to describe completely in this blog but the incredible detail even takes into consideration numerous access and traffic movement for the present and into the future (perhaps Mr. Gehry should be in on the city planning as well!).

I learned from Patrick Dillan who gave the presentation, about the engineering and design of the project from the first stages to the end. The complexity of the building is incredible. I have been watching the progress from the first ground breaking since I am out to Amador several times a week to manage to our Cerrito Tropical on Taboga Island. Progress is tedious as work is very precise. The precision the museum must be built with: 0 – 2mm.

The museum will be a masterpiece of shapes topped by an explosion of color. The colors skillfully chosen to represent flora and fauna elements of the rain forest. The designers hurtled difficulties such as longevity of the color in the tropical sun which is intensified because the building is located on a causeway and will receive sunlight reflected by the water on both sides of the structure. The need for a long term paint guarantee is imperative.

The museum will include 2 large salt water aquariums which will be built with Japanese custom built plexiglass fronts which have arrived and will be installed soon.

The foundation of the museum is education; for Panamanians and visitors. The displays will be designed so that people with all levels of education can appreciate their messages. Themes will include creation of the world as we know it, the continents, the ice ages, the movement of humans and animals, how the ecosystems intertwine, conservation of our planet and more. Behind the scenes as well, education will be an important and lasting factor. The effects of the museum construction will be felt for years because of the training and improved skills of the Panamanian workers.

On the financial end, I learned about the end of funding by the Panamanian government, fortunately many felt this to be so important that private organizations stepped in to ensure the completion of this important project and adopted it. One of the partner organizations is the The Smithsonian Institute which has been in Panama with its Tropical Research Institute for many years.

If you want to become a Friend of the Museum, I highly recommend their website where you can get more information. Scheduled to open 2010.

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