Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Housebuilder Sets New World Record in Panama

Via C. Kelly News Service:

Housebuilder Rudy Moberg shows off his New Dream House after only one day of construction, thus setting a new Panamanian record.

Says Rudy, "The contract was signed for a ten month duration starting on Feb 21st, but I never dreamed they could finish so soon."

For those of you who saw a previous foto in November, it confirms the fact that Rudy indeed has set two world records in three months.

Congratulations Rudy! He immediately went out and celebrated with his friends Wael , Laura and Baby Selma by ordering a pizza at Pinnochio's.



(Actually, this type of shack is the first thing that goes up in any construction project. It's merely a temporary place to store tools and supplies).

Sunday, February 17, 2008

El Valle for horses?

Only a few days ago I installed a contact form on this blog (upper left corner) so that readers can send me messages or questions, and already I've received a question from a reader:

Hi, Hope you can help us. Is it possible to find 3+ acres with some sort of home on it in El Valle, affordable to working middle class gringos from California?

Is the grass okay for horses?

Thank you !

- Laura

My response:

Hi Laura,

Thanks for your email. To answer your question in a word, maybe. Depends on your particular financial situation.

There are indeed large lots available for purchase in El Valle, particularly on the edges of town. Land here is priced by the square meter (m2), or the hectare (a hectare is 10,000 m2). An acre is 4,046 square meters. So three acres is about 12,000 square meters, or 1.2 hectares.

The going price for land in El Valle is about $30/m2 and up (sometimes as high as $50). At the lowest price of $30, an undeveloped lot of 12,000 m2 would cost you $360,000.

If indeed you could afford it, I would say it's a good buy. Property values in Panama are constantly climbing. And El Valle is an amazingly beautiful place.

There are many horses here. I often see riders on the roads and side streets, and horses can be seen grazing almost any plot of unoccupied land here, so presumably the grass is just great.

Land outside El Valle is much cheaper. You can get land in other parts of the mountains, or in the lowlands around Penonomé (for example) for as little as $5/m2, and in very remote locations it's even cheaper than that. At that price you could get your three acres for $60,000 or less.

Best of luck.


Friday, February 15, 2008

James Bond Versus Yours Truly?

The latest James Bond film, Quantum of Solace, has begun filming right here in Panama. They put out a casting call for extras. With my Hapkido skills perhaps I could be cast as a goon and get beaten up by James Bond. As long as they don't ask me to play an Arab terrorist. What do you think?

What's up with that awful title? It's fine for an Ian Fleming short story, but for a feature film?

"Ian Fleming had written about relationships," explained Daniel Craig. "When they go wrong, when there's nothing left, when the spark has gone, when the fire's gone out, there's no quantum of solace.

"And at the end of the last movie, Bond has the love of his life taken away from him and he never got that quantum of solace."

Ok, I need some quantum of understanding.

They started out filming the former Howard Air Force Base, then moved to the Institute of Culture building, then various other locations. See here for the schedule of filming locations:


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Salma Playing in the Yard

In the afternoon our side yard is shaded and now that it's summer Salma loves to go outside and play on the grass. She plays with her green ball, dances, or tumbles on the grass. Sometimes we fill a yellow plastic tub with water and she puts toys in it and splashes about.

Click on any photo to see a much larger version:

If you'd like to print one of these, I recommend this next one:

This is the yellow tub that we fill with water. Climbing on things is another Salma favorite.

Salma dances at the least provocation. Humming a tune is sufficient to get her going.

We have many fruits growing in our yard and Salma enjoys eating them straight off the tree (we do not use pesticides or chemical fertilizers). Here she is biting into a lemon. She loves the tartness.

What, are you talking to me?

Don't make me come after you:

This last one is my favorite, and another good one to print and put up on the fridge:

Monday, February 11, 2008

My Gentle Tramadol Alter-Ego

I mentioned that many strong drugs can be purchased here in Panama without a prescription, and that I had bought some Tramadol (a mild opiate) for my back pain.

I took the Tramadol for three days. I noticed during that time that not only did I have no physical pain, I also had no anxiety. I was very affectionate with Laura and Salma, and generally easygoing.

This morning I mentioned to Laura that I had stopped taking the Tramadol because my back is feeling better.

"Yeah, I figured as much," she said.

"Oh yeah, why?"

"You're back to your edgy self. When you were on Tramadol you were totally relaxed and friendly. I didn't like it. Not normal."

Apparently my Tramadol alter-ego is too warm and loving. It's good that I am loved just the way I am.

Rest in Peace, Zippy

Last night about 10pm our cat Zippy began seizing and gasping for breath. I held him as Laura stroked him and uttered soothing words. Eventually his breathing returned to normal. I laid him down on a cushion in the bedroom, where he remained conscious but quiescent.

Shortly afterwards we turned out the light and went to bed, but no sooner had we settled down to sleep than we perceived Zippy moving. I turned on the light just in time to see Zippy totter over to his favorite bath mat. He heaved himself down on the mat, took one last gasping breath, and died.

While he was still warm, Laura combed out his fur until it shone with smoothness. This morning I wrapped him in a few of my old shirts (Zippy always loved the smell of my shirts), and set him in the hole in the yard along with his brush, a favorite toy, and some catnip. I tossed a handful of dirt and left the rest for Listo.

Zippy's been with us almost fifteen years, through four different cities. I'll miss him, but I'm happy that he is now at peace.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Thank Goodness for Pharmaceuticals

Many drugs that are obtainable only by prescription in the United States can be purchased over the counter here in Panama. Right now I'm glad of that.

Every two or three years my back gives out on me. I feel something slip at the very bottom of my lower back, and suddenly I can barely move for three or four days. The pain is intense, even when lying down. I've had this problem since I was in high school, and it's not always obvious what triggers it. It eventually goes away on its own, but in the meantime I'm practically an invalid.

Well, it happened again yesterday. Even with ibuprofen or acetaminophen I can barely walk. I remembered reading a discussion on the Panama Forum a few months ago about over-the-counter painkillers in Panama. Someone had said that a powerful painkiller called Tramadol (brand name Tramacet) can be purchased over the counter here. It's an opiate, like a mild form of morphine.

So I asked Laura to check the local pharmacy here in El Valle, and sure enough they had one small package in stock. I popped two of these tiny pills, and within 30 minutes or so I was warm, sleepy and pain free. I napped all afternoon long and when I woke up I was able to walk without pain.

What a relief! When you're healthy you forget what a gift and a joy it is to be free of pain. Thank goodness for pharmaceuticals when you need 'em.

P.S. Yes Mom, I'm being careful, getting plenty of rest, not straining my back. Laura rubbed in some "icy hot" for me. Don't worry, I won't become addicted to Tramadol.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

How Many Lives Does the Cat Have Left?

Above is a photo of Zippy just last year, middle-aged but still in the bloom of health, strong and happy. He may look fat but it's just that thick coat of his.

You may recall my post of November 2007 in which I described how Zippy had suddenly lost his appetite. He has never recovered.

The veterinarian in Coronado, Dr. Jaime Reyes, finally figured out that Zippy has an intestinal tumor. Dr. Reyes operated in an attempt to remove the tumor, but it was too far inside the abdomen and could not be reached. So the doctor sewed him back up and I took him home. That was an ordeal as he could hardly move for days and required constant care.

Zippy has been in bad shape since then. He no longer eats or takes water. He is down to perhaps 9 pounds or less, from his original 18.

I have been worried that Zippy is suffering and is perhaps in pain. So last week I asked the local vet, Dr. Greco, to come to our house and put Zippy to sleep. We dug a hole in the front yard near the fence to bury Zippy, and I gathered a few of his favorite toys to keep him company in the afterlife.

Dr. Greco came to our house Friday afternoon. We said our goodbyes to Zippy and petted him as Dr. Greco trimmed his fur on one leg to expose an injection site. Unfortunately Dr. Greco is rather old and he accidentally cut Zippy's leg with the scissors. I was not happy about that. Because of Zippy's emaciated state, Dr. Greco had trouble trouble finding a vein. He tried three times but was unable to inject the euthanizing drug.

Finally I said stop. I had been deeply conflicted about the whole thing anyway, so I took it as a sign that Zippy should reach his own end naturally.

So the hole in the yard is still there, but Zippy is still here, alive and surviving if not thriving. Since Friday Laura and I have been feeding him an ounce or so of an egg & milk concoction by syringe.

Here's Zippy as he appears now: