Central America


Travel between Panama and Colombia

I share this because every backpacker that has time, has the interest to travel between Panama and Colombia. I have not made this trip and will not be doing so, but I watched a lot of travelers research and book passage. The flights are around $500 as are the commercial sailing boats. The sailing experience be excellent or, like some travellers tell me, your captain can fail to being enough food and water or can be high or drunk on the voyage. Every hostel in Panama City, and Captain Jack’s in Portobelo (and maybe hostels in Bocas del Toro) can provide information about several of the approximately 30 boats that now make this trip. Jeff at Captian Jack’s is a sailor and told me that several years ago there were only 10. This voyage is a popular thing for people with boats to do in order to make money. Jeff […]


Hoping for a boat

It is 8:20am. I am again sitting at Captain Jack’s bar, upon the bar stool immediately beside the radio. I woke up before 7, took a fast (cold) shower, threw my sarong on to rush from the bathroom, then quickly donned my dress to run upstairs. There are two reasons for my early rise and rush — but both are because late last night I met a guy named Aaron who was lucky enough to be invited onto the boat that is sailing to Bocas del Toro this morning and I asked him to please put in a word for this solo traveler. I wrote down my contact info and my credentials. He said “I want to be the person that wakes you up with a call to get down to the boat. Sleep with that phone.” I absolutely did sleep with my phone! But, I do not get Claro […]


Congo Carnival in Portobelo, Panama

I happen to be in Portobelo, Panama during the Congo Festival. In the early afternoon four men dressed up for this traditional celebration came up to Captain Jack’s, whistles blowing, acting in the traditional goofiness. Their faces were painted the blackest black, making their lips ever-so-pink and they were always sticking their tongues out. That is part of the celebration, which is to mock the Spanish, their former enslavers. (In the days of the Spaniards here, people were brought from the Congo as slaves.) Later in the day, Gary and I were walking in town and watched as the men surrounded a car in the road and one man stepped in front of the car and laid in the road with his feet up on the hood of the car. Still later, we were walking home from seeing the Negro Christo (Black Jesus statue) when the guys noticed me and […]


Portobelo, Panama – exploring a fort

This fort is the closest one to the town. It’s the easiest one to visit as no boat is needed. However, the other one is the first line of defense and is three levels and more interesting. (You can get to the other one by renting a kayak and enjoying the harbor as well. It is difficult to see here but that long wall is where the cannons are. They are clearer in the next photo.


A Gal & El Canal III

I’m a gal impressed with El Canal The first time I visited the Panamá Canal I was a tourist visitor at the museum. The second time I visited the Panamá Canal it was as a customer making a transit. The third time I visited the Panamá Canal it was from the perspective of a Canal Authority Tugboat Captain. The ships that transit the Panamá Canal are quite large. Under their own power, their own mechanics are well able to steer the ships. However, they must travel an extremely show speed within the Locks of the canal, as well as through the Gaillard* Cut. At these slow speeds, their rudders aren’t effective. They must rely on tugs and “mules” to steer them. The job of the Tugboat Captian is tricky. It requires precision to be able to match the speed of a ship, to come up right against it, and to […]


Trump Panama

Unable to sleep for the first time since coming to live in a friend’s home in Punta Patilla, I just looked out my bedroom window. It is 3am. Rising out of the darkness comprised of private homes and now empty office buildings, is just one building — its elevators and halls alit. How interesting, how telling it is that by night Trump Panama looks like a Cobra poised to strike. And that I didn’t notice in the light of day – from any angle.


Hair like Brillo

Sometimes words can be be funny when you go between languages. I got a kick out of this hair conditioner which promises smooth hair (suave) but says with (con) brillo. In Spanish brillo means luster/sheen/shine. It is quite befitting as a hair product promise. But the United States Brillo is the brand/product name for a very course, tough steel wool scouring pad to clean baking dishes — the last thing you want your hair associated with.


Story of a traveling Sim Card

Having an unlocked phone enables you to buy a sim card in each country and have a local number and local phone service. In Panama City I met the bright, personable, amd trustworthy Karol. Karol was headed up to Costa Rica so I gave her my CR sim card. Service with CR’s ICE is so inexpensive that I had plenty of service left on the card and it might come in handy for her. I insisted she take it. A few weeks later she returned — with stories of how that sim helped make her trip a great one. This is Karol’s short version of her story, which she called a butterfly effect.


This big world

For New Year’s, my friend and GoLive Bible Tech Editor, Richard Gaskin wrote to me: “Wherever you are in this big world right now…” His words struck me. We talk about technology making the world smaller, and it is true that technology enables so much more communication that the world gets smaller. Indeed, GoLive, for example, was developed in Germany, my Acquistions Editor was in New Jersey, the Editors were in other states, and Richard and I were in Los Angeles. I simply worked around the clock, able to have email conversations with the Germany starting at 3am and a book on how to create websites with the best software was born. (That’s the simple version but it will do for here.) Indeed, in 2012 the world became even larger for me. My plan had been to go quickly from The Yucatan to Panama covering that tiny map area of […]


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.


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 […]