Central America


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 […]


I’m going to transit the Panamá Canal!

One of my dreams coming true! I have been invited to be part of a Catamaran crew as they travel through the Panamá Canal from Panamá City to Colon!! Today is my first day in Panamá City – and what a fantastic day! Everything about my time in Panamá City is looking promising and exciting!


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.


Texting while bicycling

Today as I took a walk in a side street of a small city in Panama, a guy on a bicycle rode by at a decent speed. I looked over to him as he approached and traveled past. He was sitting perfectly erect, holding a smart phone and texting. And riding a perfectly straight line down the middle of the street.


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.


Thanksgiving

Being out of the United States, I barely realized Thanksgiving was coming, But the message did come through and I must admit it was a lonely feeling to realize I would be alone and not have a Thanksgiving Dinner. And then a huge surprise – an invitation from a CouchSurfing hostess who lives near my hostel. She invited me on Wednesday night. Of course, the dinner was delicious. Turkey, stuffing, and more. Something new for me: Costa Rican sweet potato mixed with orange juice baked and served in orange halves. Topped with marshmallow, of course. I really enjoyed the company too. I even learned a new game sort of like charades. Are you wondering how I realized Thanksgiving was coming? For one, via TV. (Gotta keep up on the Middle East and I have been catching a couple of my old Soap Operas while working online during some days. Also, […]


My bed in San Jose, Costa Rica

I think some of my friends will get a kick out of this, This is the bed I had in a small home hostel in San Jose, Costa Rica. There were three bunk beds in the room. Most of the time I had this room to myself. A few nights there would be another woman in the room. This room would have been a children’s bedroom before the house became a hostel, but the room has no closets. As is typical, bunk beds in hostels double as closets for clothing in use. Notice the flower. Flowers were a gift from my friend Kidron. Having a flower in my room was a unique travel experience. It isn’t too often that I sleep in a bunk bed, but at least when I do I typically get the bottom bunk!


Double Rainbow – Costa Rica

Friends and I went to see a volcano, called Volcán Poás, near San Jose. ($7 round trip bus nice ride in a comfy bus, $10 admission.) My friends and I ever saw the volcano lakes due to rain. But this is a vivid part if the ride home. I suddenly noticed this amazingly real rainbow out the bus window behind two of the guys.


Volcán Poás, Costa Rica – in the rain

On November 19, during the raining season, but on a day that was beautiful in San Jose, Costa Rica, a couple of brothers, another guy at the hostel, and I set out to see Volcán Poás, in Poás Volcano National Park, in Costa Rica. It wasn’t necessary to take a tour as there is a $7 quite comfortable (clean and in great shape) public bus that takes you there from downtown San Jose, gives you a few hours as it waits for you there, and then returns you to San Jose on the very same bus. Unfortunately, we forgot to realize that when you travel to the top of a volcano, you ascend into the clouds – and rain. The bus driver didn’t mention this to us, but of course we didn’t ask. Then at the entrance to the Poás Volcano National Park, we all willingly got out of the bus and paid our $10 […]