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Are you walking around with a copy of your passport? There are a few websites out there that will tell you it’s a perfectly safe alternative, especially if you copy the stamp page too. I know a couple of gringos who would tell you they will never do that again. Let’s call them Mary and Joe so this story won’t […]

Why You Should Carry Your Passport (Really)


Suggested Universal Sign for Panama's Highways 4
One very big element of cultural shock for most norteamericanos (and possibly, to many Europeans as well) new to Panama is the lack of signs – street signs and road signs. Finding a street sign in town is cause for celebration. On the highway there is almost never a sign that tells you what little town you are breezing through. For […]

Why Signs Are Not Important in Panama




Spotless Meat Dept at Riba-Smith in Chitre 6
I don’t care how tough you are, everybody gets “homesick” sometimes. A couple of really smart entrepreneurs, Señores Riba and Smith, decided to be the solution to that problem for expats — and for Panamanians who just like foreign food. (Yes, I know.  You thought Riba was a super savvy daughter of the Smith tribe.  So did I.  Nope. We were […]

Why Riba-Smith is My Favorite Store in Panama




Panama and the U.S. are good friends.  However, as with all friends, there have been occasional difficulties.  One of those happened in January of 1963 and is now commemorated as Martyr’s Day on January 9 of each year.  In case you aren’t familiar with that bit of history, a website called “Every Day’s a Holiday” has an excellent writeup on […]

Panama Martyr’s Day


Wonder Woman Costume 4
The last three weeks or so have seen a flurry of deep cleaning at my house.  I try to start the new year with everything clean and repaired, making a symbolic fresh start. But this year, I have an extra reason.  Scorpions. When I moved into my current residence, a scorpion with babies came in with one of my boxes.  Since […]

Scorpions, Glue Traps & Collateral Damage


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Who? The effigy of Judas. Here in Panama you can unload all the baggage of your year at midnight on December 31 by making a sort of scarecrow and burning it at midnight. Isn”t that great? A couple of weeks before Christmas the observant will begin to notice these stuffed, life size dolls lashed to fences and gates, ready for immolation […]

They Burned Him Last Night