Yearly Archives: 2012


Claro prepaid in Panamá

For mobile Phone service in Panamá, you have 4 choices. All if these mobile phone service providers are private commercial, as in Honduras and El Salvador, not as in Costa Rica which also has ICE (ee-see). Each charges 8 US-cents a minute to talk to another cell phone and .99 per day or $5 per 10 days for data. Seeking advice from several people in David, as to which Panama mobile service provider was best or better I was told by all that each provider was the same and none had more subscribers or better service or better rates. I went with Claro for my mobile phone. (And have found most people I know have other service.)


City with a future

Anyone who attended SUNY Oswego with me will understand why I had to stop, smile, and take a photo of this poster as I walked down my street in San Salvador. It says: “San Salvador, una citudad con futuro” That is: “San Salvador, a city with a future” We who drove from lower New York State to our college in Oswego were very familiar with the sign that greeted us in the town before Oswego — Fulton, NY — and the wooden sign that said: “Fulton, city with a future.”


Eye glass repair in San Salvador & Panamá City!

Maybe it is the extreme heat, but the plastic cording must stretch causing the lens to fall out. This is not something I can pop back in and be done with. That is, I’d put the lens back into place, but the lens falls out again.

This happened to me twice. First, in San Salvador at the beginning of September and again in Panama City on December 22 when the glasses are almost exactly a year old. (I believe each lens has now fallen out.)

Luckily in both cities, I have found that there is amazing reciprocity amongst the eyeglass stores. In each city, the first optician shop I walked into repaired my frames free of charge! Each time, with just a few words and a fast look at the situation, the plastic band has been fully replaced.


Friends in common – travel style

Today I went walking along the Panama City coastline and skyline with 3 friends. Stopping to take a group photo, we picked up another traveler, Miranda. A few minutes later, each was finding himself on my Facebook. (I had a cellular data connection to make it easier for some of us to meet up.) So Miranda finds herself to invite herself to friend me and says “We have a friend in common.” I ask who. She checks. It is my friend Carola, with whom I remain in touch. We never would have realized this. Pretty cool.


Great start in Panamá City

My stay in Panamá City is off to a great start. I am in a beautiful hostel – Los Mostros Hostel. Good swimming pool, plenty of places to sit, no dog, fans and fresh air. It also has a great kitchen (2nd only to Cumbres del Volcan in San Salvador). I will get to go through the Panamá Canal. I have hope for sailing. I know good people. I have a friend from San Salvador who lived there and now lives here so I came here knowing I will get to know the city with him. My first morning I met a few people at synagogue that I am happy to know and a new friend to explore and enjoy the city with. And we both have Claro Panama phone numbers so we can actually be in touch! Boy, does that help! She and I talked last night and today […]


Nice private rooms in Boquette, Panamá for $15

I did not get to stay at this place but my new friend Mike knows Boquetti very well and took me here to show me this hotel — Pension Marilos. For $15 you get a private room with a very good bed and bath. (I didn’t test the water pressure but the bathroom I saw looked very nice.) You will find Pension Marilos on the street that has the police station. it is a bit further from the town square, and is also en route to the Library. The owner speaks. Like many places to sleep in Central America, there are dogs inside. I did not ask if the dogs are permitted on the furniture.


Dorm & private rooms in David, Panama

It is easy to take a nice direct bus from San José, Costa Rica all the way to Panama City but there is much to enjoy before Panama City as it is far south. I opted to go only as far as David, Panama’s second largest city, and see some of the north en route down. This is the view from my lounge chair as I say and wrote one day. This is the back yard of Bambu Hostel – low-cost accomodation in David, Panama. Bambu is a hostel — casual and budget accomodations. There are some private rooms with and without private baths for $25/$30. There is an indoor 6-bed (3-bunk) dormitory with a bathroom (not shower) for $11. The lowest cost accommodation ($9) is the hut-style dormitory they call the “Jungle Lodge” out back. You see it pictured above. This is partial open-air, 10-bed (5-bunk) room in which […]


Great meal off the beaten track in Boquette

Boquette is a small mountain-surrounded town a 30 minute drive from David. The volcanic soil there and its climate make it the vegetable garden of Panamá. The climate is beautiful as ate the vistas. Most short-term visitors dine on the park at Central Park or two blocks up the road at a choose-your-food buffet that my meal companions and I enjoyed. However, my friends Mike and Mike live and work in Boquette and took me to a favorite place of theirs — Nelvis — that Mike says is always great. I did not take photos of my meal but have photos of Nelvis’ facade to share with you. (And yep, that is Mike and Mike in the photo.) About the food: There were several good looking meat dishes in offer as well as fried (not greasy) chicken — and side dishes. As I do not eat Cilantro, the meats’ sauces […]


Fab fish dinner, $3 in David, Panama

Having traveled all the way down from Mexico to Panama,* I can now say that I believe Panama has the best food for the least cost. At least I can say that for the local small eatery food in David and Boquette. This was my dinner today, and two other evenings. It is served at a small restaurant on a residential street, not a commercial strip, across from Bambu Hostel in David. It is: • A fish filet, fried but not at all greasy. Just a perfect, crispy light breading. • Thinly sliced pickle with a mustard dressing. • Patacones – Green Plantains that are fried, then smashed, then fried the rest of the way. (My iPhone photo didn’t do it justice or you would be drooling right now.) Water is free. The water here is clean volcano water. No need for plastic water. A Balboa cerveza is $1.00. Wondering […]


Beautiful budget accommodation in Boquette, Panama

While in Boquette, Panamá, I forgot that I had made note of a fellow traveler’s recommendation — the Hostal Rio Refugio. He described it as “a hotel and hostel where the hostel is not second class.” It is right on the river, which runs alongside the town. I was told that in December (now) a hot tub will open there too. From what I was told, the only drawback was lack of free coffee. It appears to be budget accommodation with a touch of luxury. I was content to stay in a simple hostel right on the park in the center of town for $8.50, but I do wish I had remembered this place.


Travel packing tip for everyone!

Deb’s Travel Tip: Do something to customize your luggage, suitcase, or backpack and your day bag or day pack in a major way. Backpackers, especially: Get yourself to a fabric store and cut the fabric and sew unique patches onto your pack on all sides. Buy flags of favorite countries and sew them on. Less effective, but maybe helpful would be to get handing dongles and put them on your pull tabs. This can work for soft luggage as well. Hard luggage users: Get some stickers and put them on all sides of your luggage so something is visible from all views. Just make your luggage or bags or backpacks unique!


A tiny bit of backpack downsizing

As you quickly learn when you travel with just one bag — for any amount of time — every bit of space matters. As I was packing to move from Costa Rica to Panama, I had one of those moments of celebration… The celebration when you gain a bit of space, when you get to downsize even just a tad. Most of you will laugh at this one. I did. But my finally! grin was ear to ear at the time. The moment? When I finished a pack of dental floss and was able to fit the floss from my bigger container into the smaller one. I know you’ll wonder why I’d I brought two. It was because I had them when I left LA, each was partially used, and I was sure neither would last long. I am seriously amazed how long each lasted.

Downsizing in a backpack

The first Mac I couldn’t make more efficient

After years and years of helping people make their Macintosh computers more efficient, I finally came across one that I couldn’t set up for more efficiency. I met a new Mac user who has a beautiful MacBook Pro. When I hit Command-N to start a new browser window on his Mac and see his default settings, he asked how I did that. So now he knows about keyboard shortcuts and how to learn them. But… I was not able to set his Finder settings and customize his menus. His Mac is in Japanese. and my Spanish isn’t good enough to explain where he needs to go and what he needs to do. OK, truth is, given time, I would be able to recall menus or change the language and set it up for him. But that just wouldn’t be appropriate while he needed to do his work. He is another […]


Bus from San Diego to San Jose, 60 cents

I loved this sight… a bus from San Diego to San Jose for about .60 cents. This is the fun of visiting places that have the same names as other places you know. In California, San Diego is the south-most city, while San Jose is in the north. The ride between the two is at least 7 hours. But in Costa Rica, these are areas of greater San Jose. Anyway, when I noticed this bus one day I wanted to take a photo. So, one day, the bus was parked right in front of me and I had my opportunity.


A friendly ride in Costa Rica

The other day as I was rushing to be somewhere in San José, Costa Rica, a large dark car pulled over and the front passenger door opened. Each time I have walked this route I have noticed the cars pulling over and picking people up. With each car that pulls over I look and wonder for a moment if that car is someone from the synagogue pulling over to give me a ride but it is a silly thought; I am not well known and few people make this drive. This time I glanced at the car that stopped and suddenly realized that I recognized the man and the car HAD stopped for me. It was a nice feeling to be recognized and to have someone stop for me.