Nov 27, 2012

Floods, Nosocomial Infections, an Earthquake, and Sunny Days

Certain areas of Panama remain isolated and without communication due to Sunday's flooding.  This includes the agricultural areas of Palmas Bellas, Rio Indio, Guasimo, Santa Rosa and El Chilar.   In Panama City several streets have been closed off due to flooding.  Some 200 homes were destroyed in La Chorrera and recently built homes in Nuevo Arco Iris were also destroyed due to mudslides. 

Banco National de Panama has donated $50,000 to the relief effort and these funds are being handled and distributed through the office of the First Lady of Panama.  A collection center for donations of food and emergency goods has been set up in the central park in Santiago for those wishing to donate.
President Martinelli  visited many of the flooded areas, and was also seen distributing goods to people affected in La Chorrera.  Other than the two initial deaths reported, no further mention has been made of deaths due to the flooding.  Apparently two members of the Red Cross were traveling in a vehicle when the Transisthmica Highway collapsed, and they haven't yet been found.  Metal detectors were donated and are now being used to try to locate the vehicle under the rubble.

In Chiriqui, there was an earthquake this morning that registered 4.6 on the Richter scale.  It was centered in Punta Burica.  No reports of damage.  It was felt in the areas around Bugaba and David. 

The Chiriqui Social Security hospital is afflicted with an outbreak of Clostridium Dificile that has resulted in 6 deaths and 49 reported cases attributed to nosocomial infection.

Otherwise, it's been sunny and warm all day in Boquete.  Sunday's heavy, wind-driven rains were atypical for the season this year.  It's a shame they had to occur during the Independence Day Parade organized on Nov. 25th, when schools from all the other provinces came to march.

Tomorrow, Boquete's local schools will march in another Boquete Independence Day parade.   Nov. 28th is the traditional day for the Independence Day Parade.   This year,  President Martinelli declared the holiday would be celebrated on Nov. 26th,  to allow for a 3-day weekend.   It appears Boquete's mayor is complying with administrative directives, but also planning his own local traditional celebration.   Should be interesting. 

Meanwhile, I continue to enjoy the temperate weather, flor and fauna of my favorite region.

Nov 25, 2012

Flooding in Colon and western Panama

Thousands of people have reportedly been displaced from flash flooding in the western part of Panama, including the areas Arraijan, La Chorrera, and parts of Capira.  Reports of flooding in Colon as well....Information just coming in, not much yet to report, although pleas are being sent out via television for assistance with dry goods and food for those people affected.  Many homes have been completely destroyed and people have lost everything.   President Martinelli has visited the areas and declared a state of emergency, however authorities are awaiting for flood waters to recede to determine the full extent of damages.  Two known deaths have occurred, but all information is not yet in.

Just in at 7 pm.  People are advised to avoid the transisthmus highway from Colon into Panama City due to mudslides and an apparent collapse of part of the roadway.  Reports on TVN2 indicate part of the road "dropped 25 feet" and crews are out attempting to deal with the problems.

Panama Independence Day

November 28th is independence Day in Panama.  It commemorates Panama's independence from Spain.  This year, however, November 28th fell midweek, on a Wednesday.  So President Martinelli declared the holiday to be celebrated November 26th, in order to provide Panamanians with a 3 day weekend.
Boquete is one of the most frequented sites for this celebration, with municipal, governmental, special interest, and school bands from all parts of Panama bussing it up to our small pueblo for a full day's long parade.  This of course, is always preceeded and followed lots of loud music and dancing at night... This morning, the boom, boom, boom of the band bases could be heard all the way into Alto Boquete until about 3 am.  (No complaints, I admire Panamanians for knowing how to party...just reporting the way things are.)
Although the holiday is to be observed on November 26th, the parade was scheduled for November 25th.  This allowed time for the bands to travel up to Boquete on Saturday, party Saturday night, parade all day Sunday, return late Sunday evening, and rest up on Monday, the holiday. 
The weather hasn't been very cooperative, unfortunately.  I headed into town around noon to observe the parade and returned around 4 pm.  It rained the entire time, and the rain has only picked up in intensity and wind power since my leaving.  Even now I can hear the drums from my dry, warm, snug house five minutes up the hill from town center.  The thermometer shows it's 68 degrees outside.  Couldn't help but feel compassion for all those school children marching in thin, rainsoaked uniforms, without sweaters or umbrellas, wearing high heels or carrying heavy musical instruments in the downpours.  If any spirits were dashed, they certainly didn't show it.  They just kept on keeping on.  So proud of them!
No report would be complete without comment on the presence of SUNTRACS members who marched as well, carrying a banner of protest against the current president.



Boquete Thanksgiving 2012

(This photo taken by Chuck Lofthouse)
Time to catch up on the month's events in Boquete.  November is always jam packed due to the Panamanian holidays followed by the commercial push for the Christmas season.  Sometimes it gets too busy to write... Spent a delightful Thanksgiving with good friends, and a met a few new people as well.    The weather was cool but fortunately not too wet, and we were able to enjoy a traditional meal out on the terrace with spectacular views of Jaramillo in the foreground.

Guy, our host, cooked a memorable, mouthwatering roast turkey and stuffing with all the trimmings.  The wine, conversation, and commraderie flowed into the evening.   We're all planning an encore feast for the upcoming festivities.

Nov 4, 2012

Fiestas Patrias weekend

November  3rd, 4th, and 5th are Panamanian holidays wherein the country demonstrates its patriotism and independence, primarily by way of parades in all parts of the country.  Government buildings are draped in banners of red, white, and blue and school children everywhere participate in parades.  November 3rd is the day of independence or separation from Colombia, November 4th is Patriotic Symbols Day and November 5th is the day of withdrawal of Colombian troops from the city of Colon.  (Note:  Nov. 4th used to be called Flag Day, but Law 2 of Jan. 3, 2012 changed the name from Flag Day to Patriotic Symbols Day---no idea why.)
November 2nd is also observed as a national day of mourning and remembrance of loved ones who've passed away.