Friday, June 23, 2017

Education degree titles in Panama

An FSU Panama student cookout in 2015. Florida State University has a Panama City campus.
A North American was surprised to see that a recent high school graduate in Chitre received a diploma announcing that she had earned a "bachillers" in science with a secondary in mathematics. "I've seen that before," he says, "and have thought folks were graduates with university degrees... I did learn, for instance and after the fact, that the "lawyer" who stole the money from my bank account wasn't a real lawyer; he only had a certificate allowing him to represent certain kinds of cases and don't ask me how that works. Sheepkins in Panama are a little confusing."

The confusion stems from the fact that, in Panama, the high school diploma is called "bachiller" (which translates to "bachelor," which is what a college graduate in the U.S. and other places receives).

As for an actual university graduate, in Panama that person receives a degree called "licenciatura." This is the Panamenian equivalent of a bachelors degree in the U.S. In Panama having such a degree is a big deal and entitles the holder to respect. This is why you see some people being addressed as "licenciado (first name)."

It's important not to ignore this custom. I've seen this in other developing nations as well, where earning a bachelor's degree is uncommon and warrants acknowledgment. Of course if the other person wishes to waive this formality that's up to them, but it's a good idea to start out by respecting tradition.

Like in the U.S., those that complete a master's degree receive a "maestria." These people could be addressed as "Magister (first name)." Again, using such a person's title is expected and is a matter of respect.

Finally, those who complete a doctorate degree receive a "doctorado." These people should be addressed as "Doctor (first name)."

Saturday, September 7, 2013

August in the San Joaquin

The corn’s been harvested
and the stalks stand tall and brown,
crowded in rows
like surrendering soldiers.
The cotton is thigh-high
and the grapes are almost ripe.

My father is buried here
amid the almonds and palms,
the bracken and stubborn sun.
Does he perceive the rise and fall of life?
Does he hear my greeting and my mother’s sobs,
or my daughter’s hesitant,
“As-salamu alaykum Giddo...”
Or does his gaze fall on another world,
joyful and terrible?

I don’t know what games he played as a child,
or what he dreamed of.
Was he proud of his life?
I can’t ask him now.
I know he was tired at the end, and fearful.
I wish it had been easier for him.
Though I saw him after he died
and he seemed peaceful then, smiling.

Trucks laden with tomatoes
head west to the ports,
looking like red-backed beasts.
The rivers are dry sand
and the sky is high and hard.
It’s August in the Valley
and everyone is counting the days,
waiting for a change in the air
and an offer of relief.

Wael Abdelgawad
August 25, 2013

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Buon Appetito - home cooked pizza in El Valle

Lorenzo and Barbara of Buon Appetito pizzeria

Lorenzo, Barbara and their little daughter Sara are an Italian family living in El Valle. They recently opened a home restaurant serving pizza and other Italian meals. It's called Buon Appetito. As you can see in the photo, they have a stone oven that they crafted themselves.

Lorenzo and Barbara say:

Barbara, Lorenzo and the little Sara are waiting for you in this piece of Italy! Located behind Panaderia cano (bakery Cano), the 5th house on the right hand. Open:

Thursday...06:00 pm  / 09:00pm
Friday.......12:00am   / 09:00pm
Saturday....12:00am  / 09:00pm
Sunday......12:00am  / 08:00pm.
Thursday only Pizza and dessert.....
Friday, Saturday and Sunday Pizza and a dish of the day (spaghetti or lasagna or pork filette or crespelle or vegetarian lasagna...etc) what Barbara (the Boss) wants!!!

The tastes of the pizzas are: ham, pepperoni, mushrooms, vegetarian, vegan and much more. All is "home made" and we tried the best ingredients! We want you to feel like you are in a little restaurant in Italy!!!

For info or reservation : 6401-6301.

On the El Valle forum there were a lot of nice comments by Buon Appetito's customers:

"I had dinner there a week ago and I can tell you it was great."

"Excellent vegetarian pizza."

"Truly a wonderful place."

Good luck, Barbara and Lorenzo! I'll be sure to drop by next time I'm in El Valle.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Real Estate Attorneys for El Valle

A few real estate attorneys were recently recommended on the El Valle forum.

Christine, an American expat living in El Valle, says:

We used Melissa Soussa's services for the sale of our house and were very happy with her. She was prompt and very professional. She caught several errors the other attorney had made.

Corrin, an American woman who works in real estate in Coronado, says:

Broce Pinilla Atty's. Jose Broce is a great atty and comes to Coronado once a #3905125

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Notary Public in El Valle de Anton

Someone recently inquired whether there was a notary public in El Valle. There is not. The nearest one is in Penonome, a little over an hour away.

The Paginas Amarillas gives this listing:

Cl Manuel Amador Guerrero 
Panamá, Penonomé

Phone: (507) 9085784

Thursday, May 19, 2011

New Health Foods Store in Coronado

Organic in Paitilla
The Organica store in Paitilla

A natural foods store called Organica, located in Panama City (in Paitilla) has been popular with the ex-pat crowd for some time. People often find products there that cannot be found in any other store in Panama, including Riba Smith. It's been the place to go for health foods like brown rice and organic chicken, and specialty items like cherry cider or vegan marshmallows.

Now Organica has opened a second branch in the new mall in Coronado, across the street from the Rey (45 minutes from El Valle). The mall has only a few stores open and not many signs up yet, but if you pull into the mall and ask security, they can direct you to the new store.

Fred from El Valle says, "I requested some brewers yeast and they called me two days later. You can also ask for special orders; Maria at the Panama store has been very accommodating for us. I use a lot of products that they carry and I would like to see the store do well."

Preventing Mold During the Rainy Season

tea tree oil
Tea Tree oil is a pale yellow substance extracted from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia. It's an amazing substance that has antiseptic, antifungal and antiviral properties.

Karyn Saunders of recently published a very useful article about using natural treatments to prevent and get rid of the mold that sometimes appears during the rainy season. Here it is:

The Moldy Season

Written by Karyn Saunders
Wednesday, 04 May 2011 09:38

The rain is coming and soon we will be amidst green grasses, lush flora, gentle sea breezes and great afternoon storms. The only downside of this season is the unwanted house guest: MOLD. It is a silent house guest, but annoying. By following some simple steps your guest will not stay for long. The following tips and tricks are quite simple and for the most part environmentally friendly.

1. If you own leather, give it away. I am really only half kidding. Leather purses, belts, jackets and untreated leather sofas will become green before your eyes. If you do own leather, get it into an airtight garment bag or in a very well ventilated room. Keeping it in a room that has an air conditioner running every so often, will help keep your leather mold free.

2. Vinegar and Water. Keep a spray bottle with 1 part vinegar 5 parts water handy at all times. Using this in your bathrooms, kitchen and even on your floors. A quick spray around your shoes or in the dark corners of your home, is not only nontoxic but is one of the best mold deterrents on the market, and it is a great alternative to bleach.

3. For those rooms that store a lot of your clothes or linens and may not get a lot of light or ventilation, turning your air conditioner on the dry setting for an hour a day will help to keep the humidity at bay.

4. Never use vinegar and bleach together. However vinegar and baking soda mixes well. Make a paste with the vinegar baking soda mix and gently scrub out mold spots on beds, clothing, shoes and furniture.

5. Tea tree oil is a very important extract to have in your home. Not only does it help in keeping your pets tics at bay, but it can also be used in a spray bottle with water to soak and rid mold from furniture, clothing etc. 15-20 drops of tea tree oil in a spray bottle is all you need.

6. Eucalyptus or any fruit seed extract is great as a mold killer. Not only does it kill the mold but it smells great as well. Five drops in a spray bottle and you can spray as little or as much as you want.

7. Borax and Dishwashing liquid. Combine a little of each of these products and use it as a past, like you would comet or ajax. While Borax is earth friendly, it still has some health effects in large dosages.

Mold can be deadly if not kept in check. Many of the products we use can be equally as harmful to our health. It might take a little more spraying or scrubbing. It will also take educating your cleaning lady on the harmful effects that bleach has on pets, humans and the environment. By using the nontoxic remedies as listed above, you can sleep easy knowing you have killed the unwanted guest and you have done your part in keeping your home free from harmful chemicals.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Puente Centenario is Closed for Repairs

Puente Centario, one of two bridges over the Panama Canal

The Puente Centenario, which is the newer of the two bridges over the Panama Canal and was opened in 2004, is closed for repairs. Apparently large sections of the approach to the bridge were washed out during the heavy rains of the recent rainy season. No word yet on how long repairs will take. A while, probably.

Traffic was always heavy on the older bridge, the Bridge of the Americas, and will now be heavier. If you are a visitor to Panama and are planning a trip to the interior (for example El Valle, the Pacific beaches, or anywhere further), allow extra time for bridge traffic.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

It's Fer-de-Lance season, Watch Out!

Fer-de-lance snake in the grass. The fer-de-lance is a venomous species of pit viper. Notice the characteristic diagonal stripes and diamond pattern. Bites MUST be treated with anti-venom, not merely antibiotics.

Dr. Charlie Garcia cautioned recently (on the El Valle forum) that it is snake season now in El Valle. He wrote:

"Be very careful walking your dog. The heavy rains are bringing out the snakes, and it is the breeding season for snakes as well. This past week I know of one Cuidador (gardener) that got bitten by a Fer-de-lance, and several dogs that got bitten. If anyone gets bitten by a Fer-de-Lance you need to get the anti-venon ASAP. Dr. Greco has some with him most of the time. In the past month I have seen several large snakes crossing the street near Greco's home and on the road near our homes, and they are referred to as X's. Be careful."

The fer-de-lance is a highly venomous species of pit viper, and bites must be treated with anti-venom. Antibiotics are not sufficient or proper treatment. This snake is also sometimes known as terciopelo (velvet), or in Guatemala as barba amarilla (yellow beard). Adults generally have a length between 1.2 meters and 1.8 meters. The color pattern consists of diagonal stripes and diamonds in various shades of brown, with pale yellow underneath the head.

The fer-de-lance is mostly a nocturnal species. During the day it hides among tree roots or leaf litter. But the snake may seek refuge in the shade of a home; many bites occur indoors as well. They can be very excitable and unpredictable when disturbed. They may choose to flee, but may turn suddenly and attack.

The fer-de-lance is the most dangerous snake in Central America, responsible for half or more of all snake bites, with a fatality rate of about 5%. So be careful! Don't walk in tall grass unless you're wearing long pants and boots; and steer clear of anything that looks like a large stick. If you see a fer-de-lance don't try to handle it yourself. Stay away and call the local authorities.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Cassava Corn

Posted by: "ReinhildG" in Yahoo's PanamaForum:

Brown, hairy and ill formed is an apt description of the ubiquitous cassava corn. You can learn more about this foundation food that supports almost one third of the world's population at the Three Sisters next Saturday the twelfth of June in El Valle.

For more info contact:

Cassava is very common in Panamanian grocery stores and farmer's markets. Here's a recipe by Panama's "Cooking Diva" for cassava chocolate cake with coconut milk and vanilla ice cream. If that doesn't get you interested in cassava, I don't know what will.

Cassava, from the Taino (Arawak) casavi meaning flour, has 5000 wild and cultigenic varieties world-wide, each adapted to a different environment and ecological niche, comprising 30% of the annual reported global tuber harvest.

This perennial root crop is the most prolific calorie producer on the globe and harvesting cassava is highly labor intensive providing jobs for its many small-scale producers. Its breadth of applications and high perishability allows farmers to participate in the marketing chain by rudimentary processing methods.

There are two major classifications: bitter and the sweet, although in truth the bitter is not bitter and the sweet is not sweet, with the distinction relating more to size and toxicity then any palate values.

Low herb like or branched shrubs are usually of the sweet, smaller cormed, less toxic variety while the slender unbranched tree type, usually producing a single corm, represents the bitter. The bitter variety is a higher elevation drier cultivar while the sweet version prefers the lowlands and more irrigation.

Cassava and cheese empanadas from Peru:

Never eat cassava raw! Both varieties contain sharp oxalic acid crystals that can damage the stomach lining and hydocyanogenic toxins that can prove fatal if not removed by either processing or cooking. Most processed products are made from the bitter variety while the sweet type is what is sold in local and stateside markets so don't overreact.

Cassava requires three months of wet conditions to establish itself and then takes 6 to 12 months to mature and the bitter variety can remain in the ground for an amazing 4 years before harvesting!

Bitter cassava usually has a larger, often singular, tuber with 50 times more toxin then the smaller multiple corms of the sweet cultivar. The freshly harvested cooked leaves of the sweet variety are eaten as pot greens or challoos and the raw unprocessed corm can be used for livestock fodder.