Apr 12, 2014

Mucha Actividad Esta Tarde

This has not been a typical Saturday in Boquete.  Truth be told, I have doubts if the typical days are ever going to be the same.   Too many events have brought notoriety to the pueblo, and I don't think you can turn back time. 

The morning started out with really loud helicopter noise. When it woke me, I looked out the window and saw the bottom of a military helicopter about 50 feet above my roof. The cats ran under the bed, and I thought of doing the same.  Instead,  I threw on some clothes and ran outside to investigate.  Seems the entire neighborhood joined me as we all tracked the ruckus down the street.   Not one, but TWO helicopters had landed in a vacant field two blocks away. Lots or speculations circulated, but nothing alarming surfaced, and I decided to return home to a morning brew.  Given the stepped up search efforts for the missing women, I surmised rescuers  were either being dropped off or picked up.  

As I write this at the end of the day, once again I hear helicopters, but further away this time. There are also a lot of popping, explosion kind of noises happening.  This sort of thing occurs from time to time when there are events happening downtown, and it's fun to run outside and watch the fireworks displays.  But the sun hasn't set yet, and I'm thinking it could be some kind of call to arms for the rescue forces, so I'm not leaving the house.  No stray bullets/blanks/flares, etc. for me... Seriously, though,  I have to say, it's reassuring to see the amount of effort that has gone into trying to locate these woman.  If it were my family I would want the same.  It's been reported 18 detectives from the various security forces in Panama, some with over 25 years of experience in this type of situation, are engaged in the search and rescue effort.  And a lot of individuals are providing resources and volunteer effort and skills as well.  It would be wonderful if a successful conclusion were reached. 

Late this afternoon, there was an art exhibition at the library displaying works from local artists in David.  The exhibit will stay until April 30th, but this was the opening reception  I liked some pieces much more than others, but in general enjoyed the cultural themes of most works.   I noted five English speakers and the rest of the crowd all spoke Spanish,  which gave me plenty of conversational experience. Below are some highlights. 

And then last, but not least, a quick trip into town to buy fertilizer found me right smack in the middle of a cabalgata.  Had my trusty camera handy and was able to snap these.  

 Waiting to see what tomorrow has in store!

Apr 11, 2014

Search for Missing Women to Continue Until Sunday night

The above link is to an article published today indicating the terrain search for Lisanne Froon and Kris Kremers would continue at it's present level for 3 more days.  Authorities are stating they have no indication that the disappearance is related to a kidnapping, and choose not to speculate where there are no clues.  The only concrete evidence they have is sworn statements from people who declared they saw the women enter the Pianista trail.  They continue to treat the matter as one of search and rescue based upon evidence the women did enter the Pianista trail.  
The article also makes mention of a directive from President Martinelli that the search continue this additional time, and that the agencies not skimp on resources.  Apparently 150 people have been involved in rescue efforts to date.  The article indicates all the trails of the Volcan Baru National Park have been trekked.  At this point the plan is to to cover with air and ground forces the route from Bocas del Toro to Boquete to rule out any other point.
After this ongoing effort the decison will be made to pass the case on to the Public Ministry, and it will continue to be monitored, given that all possible hiking spots have been covered and investigated. They don't hesitate to mention that many of the volunteers who have participated in the search efforts also work as trail guides and will be continuing to walk the trails on a frequent basis and remain cognizant of the fact the women are still missing.   
Lisanne Froon and Kris Kremers arrived in Boquete on March 29th and went missing on April 1, 2014.

Apr 9, 2014

Ongoing Search Efforts and an Unrelated Murder

Today seems to be the peak of search activities regarding Lisanne Froon and Kris Kremers, the two Dutch co-eds who disappeared here on April 1st.   The neighborhood locals have finally heard the news, and three helicopters have been overflying the town all day.  If I didn't know what was going on, I'd fear some kind of militarization effort.  Never realized what I was missing until I heard helicopters again after a 7 year respite from air traffic noise.  I fear Boquete is changing for the worst, and my guess is these outside influences on the town's rural atmosphere will be more frequent and intrusive in times to come.  

As it is today, though, I am reassured by the intense efforts that are going into trying to find these unfortunate women.  It's been published the parents are in town and a dog team is being dispatched on all the local trails in hopes of catching some clue regarding their whereabouts. The news yesterday on the local expat forum was that the Dutch canine SAR unit was available and just awaiting invitation from Panamanian authorities to come to Boquete and provide services.  Perhaps that's what's happening now, as my neighbors are telling me that the local news channel mentioned numerous dogs being released to search for the women.  

On an even sadder note, it's been reported a 22 year old man who worked odd jobs for an expat woman was found dead here 5 days ago along the riverbank.  He was nude, and had been beaten to death with rocks, as well as tortured.  His funeral was yesterday.  Four gang members are in police custody, but for how long is anyone's guess.  (No one seems to stay in prison for long here no matter how horrible the crime.) Boquete used to be free from much of this activity.

I guess it really is impossible to find paradise.  Hoping at least the families of the missing women are able to get some answers--- or better still, locate their children.  The entire community feels their anxiety and concern. 

Apr 7, 2014

Search for Missing Dutch Women Continues

According to most recent reports, mountain search efforts yesterday were unsuccessful. Spokesmen for SINAPROC, Panama's agency for civil protection report international search and rescue standards are being applied, and they are asking for anyone with information to come forward.  Two helicopters and 35 police units had been dispatched in search efforts.  Apparently the police have upgraded the search to a criminal investigation at this time.  Rumor has it the women were seen returning from a short hike on April 1st around 3:00-3:30 pm, and were waiting for a bus or taxi back into the downtown area.  Other information suggests they may have been hitchhiking.  A $2500 reward is being offered by the Spanish language school where the women were enrolled for information leading to their whereabouts. Six days have now passed since their disappearance. Independent search efforts reportedly continue. 

First Central American Light Rail System Opened in Panama City April 5th.


Panama City's light rail system was officially opened on April 5th, and President Martinelli took a ride on Line 1 yesterday, Sunday April 6th at noon. (Above photos courtesy of Telemetro and TVN-2).  Since then, thousands have boarded the trains and report great satisfaction with the speed and convenience over the typical traffic gridlocks that have plagued Panama City for nearly a decade.  The current line will operate from 5 am until 10 pm each day, and today was the first business day the line has been in use. 

According to the Metro publicity releases, there will be 19 trains in all, with three wagons each, that will move some 15,000 people during peak hours beginning on April 18th when the full operation is scheduled to be in effect.  There is still some public confusion regarding the procurement and use of fare tickets, etc. but it's announced there are people assigned to the various stations to assist with these issues.   Currently there are no fees for the use of the Metro, but reports keep mentioning that fares will run less than $1.00 per person.  At the present time no charges have been levied to ride the Metro, and this allegedly will remain in effect until the end of President Martinelli's term in office, which is June 30th.  

Current polls show the President's party, Cambio Democratico, is the leading party with Jose Domingo Arias as it's Presidential candidate.  Martha Linares de Martinelli, the current First Lady, is his running mate. 

Apr 5, 2014

Two Dutch Women Visiting Boquete Missing x 4 days.

See link below for descriptions of the missing women.


Rescue efforts continue, but the latest information reveals the two women, ages 21 and 22,  were last seen around 1:30 pm on April 1st at the trail head in the Il Pianista area .  There is extensive coverage of their disappearance on the usual blogs and websites, so won't go into detail here.  Just want to assist in disseminating the information.  Jungle search and rescue experts are departing around 7:30 am tomorrow (Sunday, 4/6/1) on another search effort.