Nov 28, 2013

This is NOT Panama

Back in the US for a short respite from Boquete's rainy season.  Didn't seem to hit things right, though... First I experienced a cold front that hit San Antonio causing temperatures to drop from 77 degrees to 41 degrees in only 18 hours.  Temperatures continued to plummet over the subsequent three days of my visit.  I never got acclimated to their hovering at 30 degrees.  Temps were predicted to climb to 55 degrees, however, following my departure.

From there it was on to Wisconsin, where I expected 40 degrees and encountered 20 degrees with snow.  There was additional snowfall the day after arrival, which I captured on camera to show my Panamanian neighbors.   Today was the coldest Thanksgiving on record here in the last decade.  

I'm finding myself eager to return to the Boquete rains.  Have enjoyed the brief visit, and the additional 10 lbs of body mass I acquired, which MUST be exercised off. Couldn't resist all the great Tex-Mex food, nor the Brats & Beer (Leinenkugels).  Don't intend to repeat any of this for a few years now.

I am so grateful to have been able to spend time with my son, who just graduated with honors from basic military training, and then with my sister and her family here in the great lakes region.  Hoping everyone out there enjoyed a bountiful and blessed Thanksgiving in the company of loved ones and friends.  

Below are some highlights from San Antonio, TX.  Can't help but think about Boquete's Rio Caldera and how it has the potential to someday resemble the River Walk....I can remember discussions regarding the creation of a river walkway in Boquete as far back as 6-7 years ago.  Sigh....

And remember the Alamo...

Nov 2, 2013

Cultural Center Brings the Arts to David

The following is an article written by Linda Card for Inside Panama and reprinted with permission.

An artsist adds the finishing touches to her work 1024x768 Cultural Center Brings the Arts to David photo

There’s a cultural arts center in David? Who knew?!  David, the provincial capital of Chiriqui province in western Panama, is known as a commercial center. It is a bustling city where folks come to shop, take care of business, handle government requirements, or attend school. But it has not had a reputation as a locale that appreciates the arts and culture. That is changing thanks to the determined efforts of one man.  Antonio Singh at the arts center.

Antonio Singh at the art center  300x225 Cultural Center Brings the Arts to David photo

Antonio Singh founded David’s center for the arts and culture, Casa Cultural La Guaricha, two years ago. Housed in a small residence on a side street in David, the center’s purpose is two-fold. One is to provide a place for artists of all genres to create and display their projects, with both working and exhibit space. The other is to promote these artists and their work, along with all aspects of the arts and culture, to the public to increase awareness and appreciation of the great talent in our midst.

With an extensive background in marketing, training, promotions and organization (he is the former director of the Boquete Jazz and Blues Festival), Antonio has made great progress toward his and the center’s goals. La Guaricha presents musical and theater performances, film screenings, and literature readings, and hosts round-table discussions and exhibits of original art. Antonio has enlisted the support of two local restaurants, Cuatro and Most Bistro, for additional original art exhibits. The center also sponsors a music program in two of the community’s grade schools, with outside and local funding.

The biggest challenge facing the center is the establishment of regular financial recursos to meet expenses and continue to grow. There is now a Board of Directors and they are in the process of creating a foundation in order to formalize their funding. Antonio plans to create a Friends of La Guaricha program, which will encourage supporters by collecting a small annual membership fee in exchange for certain benefits. Until the foundation is established, resources are scarce and consist mainly of donations.

Sin embargo, Antonio has big plans for the future and is promoting upcoming events. On November 17 a fund-raiser will be held at Fiesta Casino in David to launch the Peligro Jazz Festival, which is scheduled for late March 2014. The music festival will feature mostly local musicians and will be held in the old town section of David. Antonio will be recruiting supporters and helpers for the event, and volunteers are welcome!

Art on display at La Guaricha 300x211 Cultural Center Brings the Arts to David photo
Art on display at La Guaricha.

People in and around David are getting to know La Guaricha and what is has to offer. Especially among young people, it has become a cool place to go. It is so important to have a place dedicated to the arts, where artists and art lovers can gather and flourish, and where cultural activities can take place and thrive, and La Guaricha is meeting this need.

Y, what about the name? A “guaricha” is a small, tin oil lamp used in the countryside in the absence of electricity. Folks use them to light their homes or to light their path so they can find their way. It seems the perfect name for a center for the arts and culture, a place where we may all be enlightened!

Nov 1, 2013

New Bakery in Alto Boquete

Had some business to attend to in Plaza San Francisco today, so after finishing up,  I stopped off at the new Morton's Bakehouse Panaderia which  opened up 5 days ago.  According to the owner, business has been brisk for the first week.  Morton was there himself to attend to customers, and offered a 10% discount as part of the grand opening special.  Samples of the breads and bagels were available and I ended up taking home several bagels.  They were delicious. 

Couldn't help commenting on the pricing, however, which was significantly higher than Sugar and Spice, in Bajo Boquete.  According to Morton, the price difference has to do with the density of his breads, which he claims are 3 times that of the Romero's bakery and stylistically different from that of Richard's breads at Sugar and Spice.  I tasted a bagette sample and decided to forego purchasing a loaf.  I prefer a softer, lighter bread and this bakery specializes in hard crust bread that is drier, chewier and, well, denser. It's kind of  difficult to swallow without a thick smearing of butter or cream cheese or something equivalent to help it slide down.   Sort of reminded me of the bread I ate at my Godmother's house in Germany many, many years ago.  I can imagine that the bakery will develop a strong following of European expats, and it's probably no accident that he located the business near the Zum Auslander restaurant which caters to the same. 

Small bagettes cost $ 2.50, compared with $ 0.75 for the same sized loaf at Sugar and Spice. 
Bagels are $ 1.00  each.  Round loaves of sourdough rye run $ 5.00 each.  Loaves of a rustic country style white bread sell for $ 4.00 each.  I imagine they go well with a hearty bowl of soup, but I think I'd find them a little dry for sandwiches or morning toast.   I will probably visit the bakery intermittently to purchase bagels, which Sugar and Spice does not offer, and which frankly, were quite good.