Monthly Archives: January 2013


Lost In Space in Spanish

As I sit in my Panamanian friend’s outside/inside room I turned on the TV to hear some Spanish. A familiar black and white woman greeted my eyes and as I was wondering if this was indeed lost In Space, the music confirmed this. I haven’t seen this show in…decades! It’s actually the first old or re-run American programming I have seen in a year in Central America. I wonder if I’ll hear the robot say Danger Robinson in Spanish.


A ticket home

Today I bought my ticket home. In some ways it was difficult. It took me 3 months to actually make the move and set the date. The experience changes once your travel days are numbered. However, in several ways it feels great. I love that I know when I will see my immediate family again. It will be great to see them and to see my friends again. It will feel good to have my own car again. (But I must keep up the walking that has been so good for me, too.) It will also be fantastic to have my real Mac again. (And my Rosetta Stone to actually study Spanish the way I had first planned.) This is a different kind of coming home. I don’t get to open my own front door into a familiar home and plop down on my lovely leather couch or my comfy […]


Recommendation for affordable hair cut in Panama

If you are an English speaking traveler, either male or female, looking for a great haircut in Panama — and you don’t want to pay $35+ at the English-speaking Panama City salons — I have a fantastic recommendation for you. The salon is Aaròn Estudo. It is in Punta Patilla, across the street from MetroCentro, in the side street beside Arocha Farmacia. (I have to get the correct spelling of Arocha as I know this is wrong.) The man to see is Carlos.


Traveller cash emergency, my Vonage saved the day

Talking with a friend about calling technology, I was reminded of a calling lesson I hadn’t thought to share here. In early December, I was hanging out in the sitting area of Bambu Hostel in David, a fellow traveller approached me and asked if he might borrow my iPhone. He was having problems with his bank card and his bank needed to call his bank as soon as possible. Happily, I was able to help. I had three calling options installed: Skype Vonage Mobile app MagicJack Vonage Mobile was the instrument that saved me when I needed to call my own banks. It even lets me call the US for free (for now).I knew MagicJack could call the US as well. However, this guy needed to call Europe. I don’t recall where he was from. Maybe Sweden, Denmark or Germany. The issue was simply that I had never used these […]


Amador, Panama – meal on a budget

When you’re traveling in Panama City, the walk from the start of the cosway to the end of the three now-connected islands the comprise Amador provides great views of the city. However, the restaurants there are higher than the meal budget of the typical budget traveler or backpacker. Of course you can bring sandwiches for the day. Sandwich meats and cheese are quite affordable in Panama City. However, as of approximately December 2012, there is an affordable alternative. at the very end of your walk, off to the side of the last parking lot, you will notice a Sort of a New York City style trailer that is a diner. The owner set this up to sell hot food to the people who work on Amador — but it is open to all of us. It isn’t fancy and it isn’t top quality, but it will get you buy. A […]


Walking, movie & my radio show

At 11am today, just as the heat of the day was building, my friend Gary Smith and I went walking. We walked the entire Cinta Costera, stopped at the Seafood Market for cold drinks, then continued through the streets and scenic views of Casca Viejo and San Filipe. As the sun went down we thought we would take a Metrobus but we just walked instead. It was easier to walk as the sun went down. We stopped for shaved ice along the way. Gary’s first. As we walked home, we decided to go see a movie. We did something I have never done before. We walked up to the ticket counter and asked what the next film was that was playing in English. It was 7pm and The Impossible was on at 7:30, so that’s what we saw. At $9 or so in LA, I would likely not choose to […]


Theft by taxi driver in Panama City, Panama – Lic Plate 588431 2

As with all stories of theft, I post this story to help good travelers remain safe as they get to know the world. I strongly believe that if more people in the world knew more other peoples of the world, there would be more trade and less war. I want people to travel safely and give themselves the opportunity to get to know local people wherever they go. This story of robbery relates the theft of two clean, honest, well-presented European travelers by the driver of an official (or official-looking) Panama City taxi (license plate 588431). Both are good sized people, in shape, not overweight, not tiny or weak looking.


Hostel recommendation in Panama City, Panama

If you are seeking a beautiful hostel in a safe, well-to-do part of Panamá City — and you are OK with staying in a 6-8 bed dorm — I highly recommend Los Mostros hostel. It was built by an Architect. It had a pool in back, a billiard/pool table and ping pong tables out front. The kitchen is spacious and has real cooking items and plates, not broken odds and ends. There is a refrigerator for your food — and it actually works. There are just a couple of downsides: Smoking is limited to outside but you breath that smoke in the inside recreation rooms too. There are no private rooms. Here is a photo taken from the lobby area looking into the main recreation areas. Those two bean bag chairs are upstairs across from the reception desk. I will add more photos and info, time and photos permitting.


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, and 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 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 […]


Thefts by USA, TSA

On Monday, December 10, 2012, TravelMole.com reported about a TSA agent leving JFK International Airport with iPads he stole from passenger luggage. The story is “TSA agent caught red-handed with stolen iPads.” Regarding action against the employee, the story says: Transportation Security Administration spokesman David Castelveter told ABC News that the TSA has “taken the steps to begin processing [Henry] for termination.” “TSA holds its employees to the highest ethical standards and has zero tolerance for misconduct in the workplace,” said Castelveter in a statement. What I do not understand is why the TSA does not have a simple rule: You steal, you lose your job! Granted, the USA is a country where we stupidly are not permitted to say something negative if asked to give a job reference, so a second rule is needed: You steal, you lose your job and the theft becomes a criminal record! It is […]


Track your own luggage when you fly

Every traveler knows that when you flying, the is always the possibility that your luggage won’t make the same journey as you. A new personal luggage tracking device is about to make the scene and provide us with an option to know where our bag is when it flies. It is called the Trakdot Luggage Tracker. I have not seen the Trakdot Luggage tracker in person yet or had the opportunity to try it yet so I cannot offer a review of it here yet. However, I feel it worth bringing to your attention for now. UPDATE 2017: They never sent this and dropped all communication so I have no idea if it ever came into being.


The best flashlight EVER – survived a Holocaust concentration camp

When I visited my friend Danny in San Salvador and told him about my cherished and much-appreciated Energizer Solar 3 LED Flashlight solar/windup flashlight, he showed me what I believe is THE BEST flashlight and one of THE BEST pieces of technology EVER invented and manufactured. In this sadly disposable world, we can all learn from this well-created piece of technology. The flashlight Danny holds here was his grandfather’s. His grandfather was able to have it with him when imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp and he managed to hold on to it. This amazing piece of technology, manufactured in Holland by Philips, provided much cherished light to his grandfather and those held along with him. It works simply by pressing the lever — and it still works! In fact, I believe it still has the original light bulb! Looking up the model on the web, I see several stories […]