The Theater Guild of Ancon

If you haven’t yet discovered the delightful Theater Guild of Ancon, now is the time to check it out. Billed as “The only English speaking theatre in Panama,” per their Twitter page, TGA produces a variety of plays each season and the 2015 season is about to begin with Cole Porter’s “Panama Hattie.”

When “Panama Hattie” premiered on Broadway in 1940 it ran for over 500 straight performances. You’ll only have two weekends to catch the show at the Theater Guild of Ancon, the weekends of March 12 and March 19.  Cole Porter’s musical production about night club owner and performer Hattie and her naval officer fiancé Nick is set during the construction of the Panama Canal. The show has Read more


In Person or via Email or In person chat? Which works and which does not?

There are so many challenges to ex-pat living: language barriers, unfamiliar laws and customs, new foods, different weather, strange critters, but the biggest challenge can be living far away from loved ones. Maybe your parents are long gone, your children are grown and moved away from what was once home, and friends you grew up with have scattered to the four winds. But still, you have left “home.”

Sure, you have plenty to keep you busy in your new home. You are making progress with the language, fewer cars honk at you, and you have acquired your favorites in local dining. But still, every now and then nostalgia creeps in and wraps around your thoughts, tugging you back to a Read more


Creepy Crawlies-Spiders in Costa Rica

If you like spiders, you’ve come to the right place. Costa Rica is crawling with them. In fact, the world’s most venomous spider, the Brazilian wandering spider, has indeed ‘wandered’ out of Brazil and hangs around Costa Rica.

I don’t know that I’ve ever seen one of this species, but I’ll never forget the spider I heard in the shower. Yes, heard. Thankfully I wasn’t in the shower, but it was, and it was so large it actually made noise climbing up the plastic shower curtain. This caused me to make an even louder noise, which caused someone else to rescue me. I was informed that spider was harmless. I’m still not convinced. After all, heart attacks are not harmless. Read more


Driving in Panama

Getting behind the wheel in a foreign country can be a dilemma. The promise of independence is tempting, but the fear of getting into an accident, getting lost, getting ripped off, getting robbed, getting arrested and getting dead understandably put many people off.

These are all valid fears for those that have traveled through other parts of Latin America where terrible road conditions and equally terrible driving practices regularly terrify new visitors.

But the story in Panama is pleasingly different.

Driving in Panama is pretty safe and as close to driving in the US or Canada as you can experience south of Texas.

The roads are in good condition, the signposting is logical and the traffic laws are regularly enforced Read more


Hiking Panama Sendero

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It’s easy to spend all your time in Panama in the capital. But a huge diversity of natural treasures awaits those willing to pull on some hiking boots and make excursions into the more rural west of the country.

One place definitely worth the effort is the Sendero los Quetzales near the Volcan Baru National Park in the province of Chiriqui. This 8km hiking trail meanders through pristine cloud forest between the mountain towns of Boquete and Cerro Punta.

The trail is named after the Quetzal birds that live here and whose resplendent feathers were coveted by the Maya and Aztecs for use in their headdresses. Catching a glimpse of these stunningly beautiful, but near endangered birds in their natural Read more


The Best Coffee in Panama?

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If you’re anything like me, the day doesn’t start until you’ve had your first coffee. The first scent of delicious aroma, the warmth of the steaming cup in your hands and the jolt of caffeine as the first sip goes down aren’t so much a daily habit as a sacred ritual.

Unfortunately, not all coffee is created equal and it can sometimes be a challenge to find a cup of Joe that meets your exacting standards when you’re a thousand miles from home.  Sure, it’s easy to find something that’s called coffee just about anywhere, but all too often what you get falls far short of the standard. And it’s not just the coffee but the atmosphere you have to Read more


Panama Canal Economics

The Panama Canal celebrated its hundredth year in business last month and what was once considered one of the Engineering Seven Wonders of the Modern World is now under question as to its future.

Panamax

Panamax is a term used to designate the maximum size ship that will fit in the Panama Canal. But in the economic mindset of “bigger is better,” larger ships are being constructed that will hold more shipping containers to transfer goods faster. More, bigger, faster. The time has come to max out the Panamax limit, and this will be accomplished with the new channel currently under construction and scheduled for completion in 2016. Not only with the new channel accommodate larger ships, but having two Read more


Bocas del Toro Province

The Bocas del Toro Province in the northwest of Panama is a lovely bay dotted with islands covered with sandy beaches. The city of Bocas del Toro is at the southern end of Colón Island, which is just a short flight from either Panama City or San José, perfect for a weekend getaway.

Once on Colón Island, water taxis are available to take you to other islands. There are a total of nine major islands and hundreds of small islets to explore.

Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park, or Parque Nacional Marino Isla Bastimentos, is just southeast of the city of Bocas del Toro, and provides protection for the natural habitat of many plants and animals. The National Marine Park extends Read more


Traditional Art – Panama City

What’s so unique about Carpio Arte? Everything. Each piece is handmade according to the traditions of their Wounaan ancestors. Their specialties include hand woven baskets and masks, and carvings from vegetable ivory and Cocobolo wood.

Cocobolo is a dark reddish colored hardwood with a lovely unique grain pattern running through each piece. Thus even two similar carvings will have their own unique design. The wood itself is oily, lending a highly-polished glassy look to the finished artwork. The subjects of their craft are usually inspired by the natural world. You will find flowers, birds and animals that simply beg you to take them home. The Wounaan tribes have been hand carving Cocobolo for generations, each one teaching the next. The Read more


Panama City Nightlife

Looking for something hot to do tonight in Panama City? Well, maybe not actually tonight, a Monday night, but maybe Monday night, especially if you’re a gringo or gringa living in Panama City. Are you on vacation? Retired? If so, Monday night is the same as any other night, and that means it’s a night to have fun. If you’re working in Panama City, maybe it was one of those Mondays and you just need to get out and forget it’s Monday. Either way, there’s plenty to do, see and experience any night of the week.

The National Theater of Panama is more than a hundred years old, but has been renovated in the past ten years and provides a Read more


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