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Today the new Cinta Costera walkways along Ave. Balboa were packed with holiday goers (located on the Pacific Coast of Panama). This morning, hundreds of people walked, biked, jogged, played, skate boarded, roller bladed along the new walkways.

Today is the swearing in of the new Panamanian President Martinelli at the Atlapa Convention Center so it is a National Holiday in Panama (Canada Day as well- a holiday in Canada!).

SCROLL DOWN THE BLOG PAGE 2 STORIES TO MORE CINTA COSTERA PHOTOS.

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Speaking at the Live and Invest in Panama Conference

Speaking at the Live and Invest in Panama Conference

I was invited to speak at the Live and Invest Overseas Conference a while back in Panama City. The Conference was very well organized by Kathleen Peddicord and Lief Simon; attendees flew in mainly from North America for from several days to several weeks to explore Panama.

My subject this conference (I had spoken a number of times for previous International Living Conferences) was “Opening a Business in Panama – Our Experience”. We also set up an information table about Taboga Island and our B&B Inn Cerrito Tropical.

Conference Table for B&B Inn Cerrito Tropical

Conference Table for B&B Inn Cerrito Tropical

People often ask me, if not for financial gain, why do I speak publicly at these types of Expat / Investment conferences?
My answer is quite simply, I love the challenge of speaking to a large group, and the opportunity to speak about Taboga Island.

Expat

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Taboga Island, Playa Honda

Taboga Island, Playa Honda

03-07-2009 | ROB KIRCHER
rob@robkircher.com

Taboga, the garden paradise only a few kilometers offshore and less than an hour ferry away.

We’ve all heard the phrase, “So close, but yet so far away”; which by the way originated during the US Civil War between the States when bales of cotton would be stacked close together, so the enemy would face a seemingly impregnable barrier.

Well, that phrase couldn’t be any more accurate than describing quaint little Isla Taboga; which I’ve heard much about and finally visited a short time ago. To me, it was always an intriguing place, but unfortunately more than a taxi drive away. So therefore, it wasn’t a realistic destination that fit with my hectic schedule.

It wasn’t until I met a new friend of mine, Monarch, that the thought of traveling to the close but seemingly far away island became a real desire. As we were sitting last month in the Café Havana in Casco Antiguo enjoying one of the best mojitos on this planet, she enthusiastically introduced me to the finer aspects of the garden paradise only 20km offshore and less than an hour ferry away.

But, being a previous New Yorker with an engrained mentality that whatever someone needs should be attainable within a 5-block area of where they reside, the thought of traveling over an hour by boat just to see some pretty flowers was becoming a tough sell. And, oh by the way, that was just one way. Another hour would be needed for the return trip. My mind started to race. What if I get bored because there are not enough things to keep my interest? What if there are no quality restaurants? What if it rains? What if I miss the last ferry back and I have to stay the night? Will there be an available hotel room? What then? Should I make reservations just in case? No. The whole notion of visiting this seemingly far away island was becoming a big hassle.

Being the clever person she is and knowing how much I enjoy historical places such as Casco Viejo, Monarch ordered another round of mojitos and started to relieve my concerns by filling me in on the fascinating past of the scenic island? a place she was very passionate about.

Over the next half-hour I learned that Taboga was founded in the XVI Century by the Spaniard Sancho Clavija and that the island’s original name was “Aboga”, which means “an abundance of fish”. She also told me that Taboga is surrounded by several other islands, including Isla Taboguilla, Isla Urava, and Isla El Morro and that they were a small group of more than a thousand islands found within the Gulf of Panama. Then with a big smile Monarch began to enlighten me about the picturesque pueblo of San Pedro and how small eateries and shops line its main street and continue down some of its constricted paths too narrow for automobiles.

With my concern about finding adequate restaurants successfully satisfied, Monarch launched herself onto the main reason why Taboga is known as “The Island of Flowers” by reciting a list of floral species that are abundant throughout much of the island, such as lianas, bromeliads, orchids and ferns; along with a host of fruit trees that include nisperos, mameyes, nance, mango, tamarind and pineapple.

Finally, she appealed to my love of fishing and expounded upon the fact that Isla Taboga is world famous for its sport fishing and that the majority of its roughly 1000 inhabitants make their living from the sea. Some of the prized trophy fish caught off its shores are Amberjack, Pacific Sailfish, Black Marlin, Yellowfin Tuna, Wahoo, Cubera Snapper, Blue Marlin, Corvina and Roosterfish.
Then with a twinkle in her eye, Monarch added that the dazzling skyline of Panama City can be easily observed at night anywhere on the island and when there is a full moon the island lights up with a special air of romance. As things happen, it rained the day I visited the island, so I never got to experience what she described. However, blooming flowers were everywhere and the food was very tasty.

Rob Kircher is marketing and advertising specialist, writer and filmmaker

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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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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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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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