Schools and coffee

Our 10-week school vacation ends today, so the buses will be back on the street on Monday and parents can get a break, even if it isn't much.  Frankly, I think the kids in my condo are looking forward to it as much as their parents.  They just don't want to admit it!

I love Panama coffee.  The very best has sold for more  than $600 a pound (more than $1300 a kilo) and that is wholesale!   I buy my favorite brand for about $4.90 a pound ($11 a kilo) and love it more than coffee sold for a lot more money up north.

I brew it at home in a simple coffeemaker that works fine for me, but once in a while, I let someone else do the brewing and visit a coffee shop near where I live.  We have several Starbucks in town and more to come, but I like the little local shop near me.  It takes advantage of our great climate and has no walls.  It sits in the middle of a very busy downtown area, but somehow it always seems peaceful.  Best of all, it serves coffee and simple food 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  So, when the urge comes, they are ready for me!

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Carnaval!

We have just finished Carnaval (Carnival in English, Mardi Gras in French).  Big parades with floats pop up all over the nation, but the celebration in Las Tablas, a provincial city, is the most famous.  Neighborhoods sponsor candidates for "Queen" and build the floats.  The video below is just a tiny portion of the celebration, but about the right length for a video here.

It's colorful, its noisy, it's crazy, but above all, it's fun!  They don't pretend to be Rio and don't care about that.  It is just real people having a huge party before the Lenten season begins.  It's a tradition gong back many decades and every bit as popular today as ever.  Maybe you will see it one day for yourself!

Preparing a new Report from Panama

People who have followed Retirement Wave over the last 14 years are very much aware of my "Reports from Panama".  I used to do them three times a year, but now only one, possibly two..  Why? Because they are detailed and provide a great deal of information, running 12-18 pages in length as a PDF. 

These reports are very time-consuming and hard to squeeze in between all the other work I'm doing, so they tend to be at the bottom of my "to do" list each day.  Well, I am now pushing myself to get a new one done because the old one really needs updating. 

So I am doing my best to prepare it and I definitely want it to get out in February, but I know better than to promise anything more specific!  Have faith.  It will get done and sent out, but it can be exhausting, so thank you for your patience.  You are not forgotten!!!

Summer in Panama

We are not south of the equator, so this is technically "winter", but for us, it is really summer.  The weather is the best, schools are out, and people are on vacation, but the city keeps up the pace.  The final results for 2017 are not yet official, but it is clear that Panama will once again be the fastest-growing economy in the Western Hemisphere from Alaska to Argentina and Canada to Chile.

 

We are not always #1, but when we are not, we are still near the top and have been for two decades. Consistency is a great strength.  Other nations that depend primarily on tourism or a single natural resources like oil, tin, copper and so forth are always vulnerable to weather and price changes.  We have our "ups and downs" too, but they comparatively gentle and so far, always positive.  Keeping it that way is why the city keeps up the page, even during vacation months.

No complaints.  There are many worse fates!

Panama at the Rose Bowl Parade!

So proud! Once again, the high school students from Colegio José Daniel Crespo in Chitré city in Herrera province were invited to take part in the Rose Bowl parade. They are the largest band in the nation, but from one of the smallest rural provinces. You can imagine how much it costs to transport, house, and feed 250 band members, two groups of dancers, various support folks, and a small mountain of instruments that must be handled with care to and from California! A lot of Panamanians and businesses chipped in to make this happen once again and, as always, they made us proud! ¡Viva Panamá!

The new "Report from Panama" is coming soon.

Once again, I am preparing a "Report from Panama".  There was only one in 2017 back in May, the first time that has been true in years.  This one will be a major update and the first of 2018.  Long-time members at Retirement Wave are familiar with my making this kind of announcement, only to have to wait a long time for the actual report!  Simply put, these are major reports that take consider time and effort to complete, so it always takes longer that I would like.  I am sure that will happen again, but I am determined to get this out in January!  In any case, subscribers at this site will receive notification through the newsletter as soon as it is available.

I think this may be the most interesting report I have written.  In any event, it is coming!

Summer is here!

Blue sky, bright sun, beautiful day...from my balcony, this is the first day of summer in Panama.

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Yes, we are north of the equator, so technically we have the same "winter" months as North America and Europe.  However, quite wisely, Panamanians simply chose the months with the best weather for a vacation, mid-December through end-February, and called that "summer"  Rain is infrequent, humidity is lower, schools are closed, summer camps are operating, and school buses are not operating and adding to traffic.  That makes life on the road a little easier.

In truth, "summer" goes on after the summer vacation is over.  March, April, and beyond are not heavy rain months, the transition to the rainy season is slow.  The heavy rain months are October and November in the Panama City metro area and they are not that uncomfortable.  But the "summer" months are truly wonderful and I am always happy to see them arrive!

Then there's also the "pied-à-terre"

I recently put up a video at the YouTube channel on Metro Match, our service to help people with limited budgets find a good place to live in the Panama City metropolitan area.  Thousands of people pass through the city without being aware that they are not seeing 98% of it, some of it being very reasonably-priced and in good neighborhoods.  That is discussed here at the site in our Metro Match section.  We are particularly interested in sharing good homes in the $160K to 200K range.

But is is also a service for anyone looking a home in the metro area at any price.  However, the under-200K range is also a good one for people at the other end of the financial spectrum.  I mean those who have the money to pay the higher prices of the coast and mountains, but want what the French call a "pied-à-terre", a smaller, less expensive home in the city that they can use when they are in Panama City on business or pleasure.  That will be mentioned in a future video too. All Members at Retirement Wave receive equal attention.

If you haven't seen the video in the Videos section, you can see it at the YouTube channel now, if you like.  You can find it at https://youtu.be/wayv5RjdVrI.  If you visit, why not subscribe?  I often post there and folks seem to find it useful.  The videos are "amateur", but the  purpose is informational and I think that is what most serious people are looking for.

Shop 'til you Drop!

Like most of the world, this month is a shopping month for Christmas and Hanukkah.  But in Panama, it is also for Mom!  Tomorrow is Mothers Day and that is probably the biggest gift-giving day of the year other than the first two religious holidays.  As I write, the streets are packed with semi-hysterical men rushing to get their gifts bought!  Whatever, it is a big day and a national holiday as well.  So it may be busy today, but the streets will be quiet tomorrow.  My mother has passed on, so I am just as happy to see the lines of cars without having to join them.

We were told a month ago that this could be a dry "wet season", then the rains came.  A few days ago, they told us the rains would be heavy.  Today, the sun shines, laughing at us silly humans!  For the sake of Mother's Day shoppers, I am thankful for that.

I put up a new video at my YouTube Channel on our Metro Match program and I am already getting interest.  I think there is a genuine need to help people with limited budgets get the homes they want, so that interest  is my "gift" this year and it's a great one!

Oil and Natural Gas in Panama

We have known for years that there are some oil and natural gas deposits off-shore and on-shore in Panama, but little was done on the subject.  Well, we are finally having this studied more thoroughly.  I think the most exciting news about this is how unexcited people are about it.  We have so much going on right now that is positive that adding this is no big deal.  No one expects our deposits to be all that substantial, although our off-shore area is right along-side of Colombia's current oil fields.  The attitude is to take note, do the basic research, and then see if it makes any sense.  A simple Google English translation of the text of a local newspaper's article on the topic is readable.  It can be found here (will open a new page) for those who are truly interested.  We already have one of the world's largest copper mines under construction and that takes a lot of attention from the environmental side, so adding oil and natural gas just complicates that picture.  I have no opinion yet myself and will wait for the results, but although it may amount to little or nothing, it is another expression of this nation's approach to business.  They tend to be cautious on subjects outside their direct experience and I have no argument with that, but they do their research.