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Archive for the ‘Expatriates in Panama’ Category

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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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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Moored off Taboga Island Panama today with views from B&B Inn Cerrito Tropical´s balconies is the Amazing Earthrace. This impressive powerboat with its space age wave piercing hull design looked like it had dropped in from outer space.

The crew of Earthrace is relaxing on Taboga Island after transiting the Panama Canal before setting off for the Galapagos Islands.

From the Earthrace website: “The goal of Earthrace was to set a new world record for a powerboat to circumnavigate the globe, running 100% renewable biodiesel fuel, and with a net zero carbon footprint. The amazing Earthrace boat started the attempt on 27 April 2008 from Sagunto in Spain.

After breaking the world record in just 60 days 23 hours and 49 minutes Earthrace returned to Sagunto, Spain on the 27 June 2008, 12.24.00 GMT/14.24.00 CET knocking almost 14 days off the previous record. The journey was almost 24,000 nautical miles fueled by biodiesel to demonstrate the efficiency of, and draw global attention to, the potential for alternative fuel sources.

“This fantastic team of people and our astonishing boat have broken the record by a massive margin” said Pete Bethune, New Zealand skipper and owner of Earthrace, “I finally feel that all the sacrifices made, especially by my wife and daughters, have been worth it. I don’t even know how to begin to thank all the individuals and companies that have supported us along the way, some of them since the very beginning over five years ago. Without them, none of this would have been possible”.”

Learn more about Biofuels from this link on the Earthrace website.

The official fuel sponsor is SGC Energia (SGCE) which is based in Portugal, supplying the 100% biodiesel made from waste cooking oils, and soya bean and canola from sustainable sources. They are supplying fuel for the record attempt, as well as the promotional tour that will follow this years record attempt.


Check the Earthrace website out, a truly impressive undertaking and an amazing powerboat.

What interesting times we live in, there is never a dull moment, especially in Panama!

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Fresh Corvina (Sea Bass) for lunch at Ranchito del Cerrito.

Fresh Corvina (Sea Bass) for lunch at Ranchito del Cerrito.

Yesterday at B&B Inn Cerrito Tropical we devoured corvina (sea bass) for lunch which was so fresh it was practically still moving when Aristedes brought it back from the beach for our guests. We often have guests who go fishing with a local panga and come home after a few hours with their lunch (Fishing Charters with a local from $50 and up – depends on the number of hours). Aristedes is ready to fillet it and cook it up with his signature Creole and Garlic Butter Sauces.

American Expats Enjoying a Great Corvina (Sea Bass) Lunch on their Taboga Escape under Ranchito del Cerrito.

American Expats Enjoying a Great Corvina (Sea Bass) Lunch on their Taboga Escape under Ranchito del Cerrito.

A group of American friends came to Taboga on a mini-vacation and reserved with private chef Aristedes and enjoyed a delicious Corvina lunch with wine under Ranchito del Cerrito They had such a good time under the Ranchito they didn´t even make it to the beach!

For the freshest fish and most comfortable rooms to spend a few days by the beach, reserve in advance at B&B Inn Cerrito Tropical! Tel: 6489-0074 Under 1 hour from Panama City by Calypso Ferry to Taboga Panama.

Related Posts:
Jigging with a Fishing Goddess
Conclusion Jigging with a Fishing Goddess

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Press Release
Source: Cerrito Tropical, Taboga Panama
October 17, 2008

PANAMA CITY RESIDENTS NOW HAVE A NEW CASUAL EVENTS LOCATION TO TOTALLY RELAX & UNWIND – CLOSE TO THE CITY ON TABOGA ISLAND.

RANCHITO del CERRITO is now open and ready to book Events or Casual Meeting Retreats. Offering Ocean and Garden Views from the Ranchito* as well as friendly, experienced, service personnel (remember, it´s not New York, this is kicked back and relaxed “island style”).

*Ranchito: An open area with a roof usually located in the countryside similar to cabaña, gazebo or palapa. Nowadays “ranchito” is often used as a name for casual restaurants.

This past weekend Ranchito del Cerrito held its special opening event. Ranchito del Cerrito is the newest addition to B&B Inn Cerrito Tropical Panama on Taboga Island. Created to offer more opportunities for guests and event hosts to enjoy the relaxing side of Panama while still having the flexibility of being close to Panama City. Groups can charter a private boat from Calypso to take them to Taboga, enjoy time at the beach and end their day with a private BBQ party before returning to Panama City. Or some guests may choose to stay over and vacation at B&B Inn Cerrito Tropical.

Relax and unwind by the beach in B&B Inn Cerrito Tropical on Taboga Island Panama.

Relax and unwind by the beach in B&B Inn Cerrito Tropical on Taboga Island Panama.

RANCHITO del CERRITO during a final construction meeting.

Ranchito del Cerrito Event Area during a construction meeting on Taboga.

Ranchito del Cerrito Event Area during a construction meeting on Taboga.

Reducing the stress in the hammocks before the opening BBQ event.

“Ranchito del Cerrito Recommendation for Stress Management:
Relax and unwind by the beach as guests of the B&B Inn Cerrito Tropical on Taboga Island Panama. Travel by scenic Calypso Ferry trip in 1 hour from Panama City. The local islander´s attitude for life: “No Stress, Amigo!””. B&B Inn Cerrito Tropical

Relaxing at RANCHITO del CERRITO on Taboga.

Relaxing at RANCHITO del CERRITO on Taboga.

The opening event lasted well into the night with music and great food. Attendees feasted on Guest Chef Fred´s 100% Homemade Southern Smoked BBQ and continued the next day when Private Chef Aristedes prepared his specialty, fresh corvina with signature creole sauce, coconut rice, and flan de la casa.

RANCHITO DEL CERRITO Opening BBQ, featuring Fred´s 100% homeade Southern smoked BBQ.

RANCHITO DEL CERRITO Opening BBQ, featuring Fred´s 100% homeade Southern smoked BBQ.

To hear more about the possibilities for any event, retreat or reunion you are planning let Cerrito Tropical know and they will customize a package to suit the occassion. To learn more about relaxing on a quaint Pacific beach island, check: the Cerrito website which has much more info on Taboga, Panama, thier B&B Inn, accommodation, activities, Calypso ferry schedules, and more.

NOTES FROM THE LITTLE HILLSIDE (CERRITO): “Many people write and ask us: What is Taboga Island Panama Really Like?
Here´s our view from Cerrito:
Taboga can be compared to a relaxed, stress free, Caribbean beach island blended with a Mediterranean fishing village, then picked up by the island gods and dropped into the Pacific only 1 hour from Panama City. Even many of the Caribbean Pirates made Taboga their Pacific base!” B&B Inn Cerrito Tropical

VISIT: If visitors or future event organizers are interested to check out Ranchito del Cerrito, reserve a lunch with Private Chef Aristedes to check out the RANCHITO personally, B&B Inn Cerrito Tropical (Tel:6489-0074). Prices from $6 – $10 pp for lunch or dinner.

For more information on events, fiestas, relaxing, Day Packages, and a no stress vacation, check the website: www.cerritotropicalpanama.com.
Tel: 507-6489-0074; 507-390-8999
Email: info@cerritotropicalpanama.com

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Calypso Ferry pier undergoes maintenance repairs on Taboga Island this week

Calypso Ferry pier undergoes maintenance repairs on Taboga Island this week

NOTICE: A new adventure on Taboga. They started today to repair the Taboga pier, work will go on until next week and people are transferred from taxi panga boats from the ferry Calypso Queen to Playa Honda beach.

As B&B Inn Cerrito Tropical´s regular service for their guests, they send our man Aristedes to help people with their bags.

Brought to you by B&B Inn Cerrito Tropical on Taboga. “Feel at home in our B&B Inn on Taboga Island Panama- enjoy your vacation: Relax by the beach and unwind with nature, hillside ocean views, and friendly local people” For RESERVATIONS call: 6489-0074. http:www.cerritotropicalpanama.com

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