Posted by: luisabaldwin | February 7, 2014

2013 in review

The AdventurousLiving  2013 annual report. 

Thank you to all of our viewers from 140 countries.  We appreciate your patronage and interest.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 16,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Posted by: luisabaldwin | July 12, 2013

Calling all “Techies”. Plenty of Job Openings in Panama!

A while back I described Panama’s economy as smoking hot.  Well, that’s putting it mildly.  Panama is running a staggering rate of -0% unemployment with a GDP growth rate for 2012 coming in at  11%!   That kind of growth is hard to keep up with and, currently, Panama can’t seem to fill all the job openings it has available, especially for skilled labor. Additionally, as previously described on this site, visa requirements have been relaxed to make it easier for people to get all kinds of visas, including work visas.  So what are you waiting for?  Take a crash course in Spanish and start investigating Panama as your new job frontier.
Lack of Technical Professionals in Panama

by Tom on July 2, 2013 in News from Panama

Tom Bryner has discovered yet another article on the miraculous economy of Panama.  Thank you Tom.  I think you’ll find his website to be filled with many more interesting articles.

Tom Brymer
Panama Advisory Group
Villa 128 Valle Escondido
Boquete, Chiriqui 33176, Panama

tbrymer@brymerpa.com

http://panamaadvisoryinternationalgroup.com/blog/news-from-panama

Panamanians are not interested in technical careers but rather social ones, as reflected by the short supply of professionals to meet the needs of the industry.

This issue was discussed during the forum ‘maritime sector and the impact of human resources in its development “, organized by the International Maritime University of Panama (UMIP by its initials in Spanish). According to the Director of Planning of the UMIP, Fernanda Billard, opportunities exist for technical training and supplying the workforce, but these have not been taken up by Panamanians.

Added to the lack of technical manpower is staff turnover, skilled workers are tempted away by higher wages and better conditions with the competition, said Billard.

“The Panamanian idiosyncrasy is that with a technical degree you are not going to be paid what you need, but that is not what the industry is saying, quite the opposite. We need to instill in the population that the industry needs more technical staff, ” explained the official.

Among the vacancies in Panamanian industry are positions in: renewable energy, environmental protection, ports and logistics in general. Billard says that “without development without quality training, without a staff that is excellent, Panama’s economic growth will not be sustainable over time, meaning that it will be difficult to develop the logistics and maritime hub with national human resources if we do not change the mentality of the population “.

Source: laestrella.com.pa

- See more at: http://panamaadvisoryinternationalgroup.com/blog/news-from-panama/lack-of-technical-professionals-in-panama/#sthash.UcvhMnx9.dpuf

Posted by: luisabaldwin | March 9, 2013

The Benefits of Investment Tax Exemptions in Panama

http://panamaadvisoryinternationalgroup.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/stock-market.jpg

Tom Brymer
Panama Advisory Group
Villa 128 Valle Escondido
Boquete, Chiriqui 33176, Panama

tbrymer@brymerpa.com

http://panamaadvisoryinternationalgroup.com/blog/news-from-panama

A while back I described Panama’s economy as “smoking hot” and, with GDP growth at a staggering 11% for 2012,  so it is.  Now, I would like to add another reason to peak your interest in Panama.  Written by Tom Brymer, we are very fortunate to have permission to reprint this exciting article on the miracle that is Panama’s investment opportunities.  His newsletter is always filled with interesting information and, I’m sure, he will be happy to put you on his mailing list.  Just send him an e-mail.

While the stock market in Panama is still small,  the volume in the Panama Stock Exchange is being driven by the fact that properly registered shares and bonds do not pay income tax. Do I hear another reason to consider investing down here?

Capital.com.pa reports that “the stock market in Panama traded $512.2 million in January 2013, a figure which much higher than that negotiated in the months of January in the last seven years, with the exception of 2011

The explanation for this increase “has to do with many factors, but one of them is still the benefit of tax exemptions received by equity investments.”

The president of the firm BDO, Ruben Bustamante, said that “one of the benefits you get when you invest in the domestic capital market is that the profit from the sale of shares of companies registered with the Superintendency of Securities Market (SMV), generates no income tax, no tax on dividends nor complementary tax.

“At the same time, if the instrument or value is registered in the VPS, the interest that is paid incurs only 5% for income tax, however, if it is paid via the Stock Exchange, such interest would be exempt from Income Tax”, explained the accountant.

Source: Capital.com.pa

Posted by: luisabaldwin | February 2, 2013

PUERTO LOPEZ, ECUADOR

Thinking about Ecuador?  Wondering if there's a beach scene to settle into?  Check out Puerto Lopez!

Thinking about Ecuador? Wondering if there’s a beach scene to settle into? Check out Puerto Lopez!

PUERTO LOPEZ, ECUADOR
Sea Level
 (And it’s not hot and sticky!)
Where you can buy a ½-acre ocean-view lot for $19,500

or a smaller 40 ft x 80ft lot for $6,900.00!

Steve Paskus
e-mail: ecuadored@yahoo.com
Real Estate office: http://www.ecuador-r-us.com
Phone from outside Ecuador: 593 983165 084
Phone in Ecuador: 0983165 084

Puerto Lopez is a sleepy little coastal fishing village where life goes lives out in tranquility

Puerto Lopez is a sleepy little coastal fishing village where life lives on tranquility

Adventurousliving has given our Ecuador readers articles on Cotacachi town at 10,000 feet and Vilcabamba at 5,000 feet.  (To access those articles just plug in Ecuador on the Website search parameter.)  Now we, and a friend of Adventurousliving, Steve Parkus would like to introduce you to sea level in Ecuador.  That’s right, sea level, and it’s not hot and sticky. Our friend Steve tells us you can buy a ½-acre ocean-view lot for $19,500!.

Steve stated, “It’s much easier to retire to Ecuador than Panama.  Ecuador requires only $800.00 a month pension to receive permanent residency here.  Or you can simply deposit $25,000.00 in a CD at a recognized bank.  Then you can get residency by buying real estate with a certified value of $25,000.00 or more.  That’s an overview, but by no means complete.”

With a population of 20,000 this colorful and authentic pueblo has all the goods and services to live a comfortable life-style.

With a population of 20,000 this colorful and authentic pueblo has all the goods and services to live a comfortable life-style.

Steve has opened up a real estate office there so he’s your go-to guy if you decide to explore this wonderful little fishing village with thoughts of settling into the life-style there.  As Steve says, “We are sooooooo busy doing listings its amazing everyone is coming out of the woodwork to sell. Sadly here in Puerto Lopez there is almost no beachfront available. There are other small villages, mostly with little or no amenities where there are beachfront at affordable prices. But even there in many villages the land is communal and I wont touch it.”

Puerto Lopez has a plethora of splendid beaches

Puerto Lopez has a plethora of splendid beaches

I guess the question that’s begging to be asked is would you rather be an Ecuador pioneer ex-pat kick your shoes off beach bum rather than a thin air mountain climber?  If the answer to that question is yes, Puerto Lopez just might be the answer for you.

If you’re searching for an authentic Ecuadorian pueblo, Puerto Lopez with a population of 20,000 and its ten gringo residents fits the bill.  Rentals are inexpensive, with a two bedroom furnished house running at around $230.00. Or buy inexpensive land and build because you’ll be in on the first wave.  A 1,000 square foot home can be built for under $50,000.00.

Puerto Lopez is developing into Ecuador's "model Tourism City" with numerous infastructure projects.  This is a huge 300 foot pier in construction.

Puerto Lopez is developing into Ecuador’s “model Tourism City” with numerous infastructure projects. This is a huge 300 foot pier in construction.

So, why is Puerto Lopez a good place to invest?  The Ecuadorian government is plowing a whole lot of infrastructure cash into this area in anticipation of making Puerto Lopez the “model Tourism City” of the coast.  They are building a huge 300 foot pier with a nice loading ramp in anticipation of bringing in cruise ships.  There is a brand new fishermans building done in a Santa Fe style with beautiful gardens.  There’s even a handicapped event building and a new market place for vegetables, fruits, and meats which is under construction at a cost of $700,000.00.  But by far the largest project is a 75,000,000.00 boardwalk on the drawing board.  These projects aren’t empty promises.  Most of them are already underway or almost completed. So the town is poised for growth and property values should escalate quickly.

Another project is the new market place for vegetables, fruits, and meats.  Happy shopping!

Another project is the new market place for vegetables, fruits, and meats. Happy shopping!

Puerto Lopez weather can be broken down into three seasons.  January –April is the summer and daytime temperatures range from the high 70’s – 80’s with plenty of sunshine and a constant sea breeze.  May – August is a mix of sunshine and clouds with temperatures ranging from high 60’s – 70’s.  Then September through December is mostly cloudy with intermittent sunshine.  Puerto Lopez has pharmacies, hardware stores, small grocery stores, and bakeries.  Tourist hotels, restaurants, and auxiliary services such as boat tours, fishing expeditions, scuba diving and excursions can also be found.

Puerto Lopez's subsistence comes from fishing and eco-tourism.

Puerto Lopez’s subsistence comes from fishing and eco-tourism.

Wikipedia describes  Puerto Lopez as follows: “Puerto López is a small fishing village set in an arched bay on the Pacific coast in the Ecuadorian Manabí Province. Puerto Lopéz is the Machalilla National Park headquarters. The main industries include fishing and ecotourism.” But it’s really a lot more than that.  Puerto Lopez is the jumping off point for some very interesting surrounding areas.

And here’s what Lonely Planet has to say about Puerto Lopez, “This sleepy little fishing village located in the center of Ecuador’s coastline is best known as a gateway to other attractions. A short ride to the north beautiful Los Frailes Beach in Machililla National Park and the indigenous community of Agua Blanca can be found.

In search of that deserted white-sand beach?  Check out Los-Frailes-Beach-Machalilla-National-Park

In search of that deserted white-sand beach? Check out Los-Frailes-Beach-Machalilla-National-Park

The Agua Blanca. residents of this communal village are all descendants of the Manteña Culture that inhabited the area from 800 AC to 1532 A.C. They provide personal tours of a small museum that houses a collection of artifacts dating back to 3500 B.C., all of which were discovered in archeological digs around the area. After the museum, a half-hour walk through brittle forests and a bone-dry riverbed leads to an unexpected sulfur lagoon, the last remnant of an eroded volcanic caldera where mud from the bottom of the spring can be spread on every square inch of exposed skin.

Need an instant face-lift? Agua-Blanca-Spring or the Sulfur Lagoon is good for the skin - all over!

Need an instant face-lift? Agua-Blanca-Spring or the Sulfur Lagoon is good for the skin – all over!

The slate-colored clay dries quickly in the sun and then a jump in the warm water will wash it all away.”  So good for the skin.

But there’s more.   One can go whale watching from June to September at Isla de la Plata in Parque Nacional Machalilla, the breeding grounds for the Humpback Whales.

Whale watching from June to September could provide you with a little more of an adventure than you wanted.  But you'll feel ALIVE!

Whale watching from June to September could provide you with a little more of an adventure than you wanted. But you’ll feel ALIVE!

The snorkeling here is excellent and a walk around the island will give you a chance to see the birds and views.  As in the Galapagos Islands, you can bet on catching up-close views of Albatros, Blue and Red Footed Boobys and Frigate birds, sea turtles, manta rays, and if you’re lucky, sea lions. Another passtime is a short ride to Los Frailes Beach, part of the greater Machalilla National Park. On the perpetual hunt for a powdery pristine white sand beach – you’ve found it!  Looking for an exquisite beach that you can have all to yourself?  Los Frailes Beach fulfills all those requirements.

Blue Footed Boobie

Blue Footed Boobie

After a pleasant boat ride back to Puerto Lopez, a cocktail on the beach while watching the sunset can be a pleasant way to start a relaxing evening.

If you're lucky, you'll find a good voice and a guitar to usher in the sunset.

If you’re lucky, you’ll find a good voice and a guitar to usher in the sunset.

I’m told that the BBQ garlic prawns at the Blue Dolphin are great and they also serve breakfast and lunch! But back at those lazy tropical evenings down on the beach where you might even get lucky and find someone with a good voice and guitar sitting by the fire as you sip down a few more cocktails.  So, if you’re looking for a big loud party, don’t go to Puerto Lopez because all you’re going to hear is the ocean waves and an occasional rooster crow.  But if you love tranquility, this is Ecador’s version for you.  That’s what you can expect from Puerto Lopez,  a nice slow-paced and relaxing lifestyle.  Personally speaking, I like to move slow;  smell the roses of life, sort of speak.  Heaven – I’m in heaven.

Here's how to find it.  Definitely worth checking out!

Here’s how to find it. Definitely worth checking out!

Posted by: luisabaldwin | January 7, 2013

Panama in 2013

THE MACROECONOMICS OF PANAMA IN 2013

Tom Brymer
Panama Advisory Group
Villa 128 Valle Escondido
Boquete, Chiriqui 33176, Panama

tbrymer@brymerpa.com

http://panamaadvisoryinternationalgroup.com/blog/news-from-panama

A while back I described Panama’s economy as “smoking hot” and, with GDP growth at a staggering 11% for 2012,  so it is.  We are very fortunate to have permission to reprint this exciting article on the miracle that is Panama’s economy, written by Tom Brymer.  His newsletter is always filled with interesting information and, I’m sure, he will be happy to put you on his mailing list.  Just send him an e-mail.

by Tom on December 29, 2012 in News from Panama

I am creating a new category for this post – “Reaching for the sky”

The numbers are out for 2012 and they are incredible as always. Here is how they stack up.

Our economic growth will be posted at 11 % for the year of 2012.  That is the strongest in Latin America by far.  In the same breath it was predicted that growth for 2013 will only be 8%.  These are the same people who said that 2012 would end up at 7%, very conservative but that is typical here.

In the  5 years that President Ricardo Martinelli will have been in office, expenditures and investments in major projects will exceed $15 billion. That is $5.25 billion for the Panama Canal expansion, $2.2 billion for the new metro transportation system and over $6.2 billion in Foreign Direct Investment in mining in Panama where we have the second largest copper reserves in the world.  The copper reserves were just readjusted upwards  a couple of weeks ago by 27% and gold reserves by 41% at the Cobre Panama project. This is in addition to the huge infrastructure investment in roadway and hydro electric projects expansion across the country.

Click to play

Construction permits were up 36% in 2012 and expected to increase again in 2013.  A lot of this is in the nonresidential sector where office buildings, hotels and shopping centers are being built.

Pricing remained stable  in the residential real estate market in Panama in 2012 surpassing price per square foot paid in 2007 despite a meltdown in Europe and the United States during the same period of time.

Two new airports opening in 2013 , the new International airport in Rio Hato and the expansion of the international airport in David  will create major opportunities for tourism development in these market areas.

Expansion of the Tocumen International Airport and investment by Copa Airlines in expanded routes in 2013 will insure Panama’s lead as The Hub of the Americas.

It is all in the numbers.

Panama’s positive growth and accelerated project expansion continues providing opportunities for companies across multiple infrastructure sectors.

Government investment and therefore opportunities so far include:

$6.2 billion in revenues projected- Mining Projects

$5.2 billion -Panama Canal Expansion

Click for a Bloomberg report

$2.2 billion-Panama Metro Line

$1.1 billion- Road Projects

$1 billion+- Energy Generation Projects various LNG/hydro/wind

$750 million-Howard Air Force Base Conversion

$540 million- Water Supply & Sanitation

$415 million-Panama Electrical Interconnection with Colombia

$358 million-Public Hospitals

$200 million-Airport Expansion

$80 million- Bridge of the Americas Reconstruction

Private Investment includes: (among other large-scale projects)

$700+ million on New Hotels and Real Estate

Trans-shipment ports expansion and Colon Trade Free Zone.

Thomas H. Brymer II

Posted by: luisabaldwin | December 31, 2012

2012 in review

Every year my host site, WordPress.com prepares stats on this site; a 2012 annual report sort of speak.  To the 37,012 viewers from 121 countries; each and every one of you who visit, we appreciate and thank you for your patronage.

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This site had 17,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 4 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

Posted by: luisabaldwin | November 18, 2012

FINCA LERIDA, BOQUETE, PANAMA

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FINCA LERIDA, BOQUETE, PANAMA

Tel: 720-1111
Website: http://www.fincalerida.com/
e-mail: info@fincalerida.com

(Click on the pictures to enlarge)

It’s the rainy season in Panama (October through December) so we considered ourselves quite lucky to be able to enjoy a clear afternoon outing up into the misty volcanic rainforests of Boquete.  Our destination?

Old world charm can be seen at the Fina Lerida coffee and gift shop. How about an espresso and a delicious home-made cake while you watch the herb garden grow?

Finca Lerida, which is 10 kilometers above Boquete.  This coffee plantation has a private nature preserve, a working coffee finca, a boutique hotel, a coffee shop and a great restaurant.  And boy, do we have a spot for you folks who are planning a visit to Boquete or those of us lucky souls who live here!

Finca Lerida has an interesting history going back to early 1911.  Back then Toleff Bache Mönniche, a Norwegian engineer working on the Panama Canal came down with malaria and came to the mountains seeking a refuge and recuperation from his illness.  It took him a week of sailing up the pacific coast in a vapor boat and then a long horseback ride to finally arrive at what was to become Finca Lerida.

Toleff Bache Monnich, a Norwegian engineer built his home in 1924 and became the Finca Lerida coffee plantation owner.

He found his slice of heaven and in 1924, retired from the canal and settled into his new life as a plantation owner.  As a coffee grower, he invented a sorting machine to separate good beans from mediocre beans and exported Panamanian coffee to Germany.  Today, the finca is owned and operated by the Collins family and they have carried on with traditions established a century ago.  Today they export coffee to the United States, Europe, and Japan.  Nothing much has changed.

Rio Caldera vistas can be enjoyed on the trip up to Finca Lerida if you take the charming long way to get to Finca Lerida.

A festive ambiance permeated the car and Jim started singing his favorite song, “There’s a telephone pole in the middle of the road, middle of the road, middle of the road.  Must be Panama.”  We all laughed as we actually drove past the telephone poles in the middle of the road.  And yes, things like that do happen here but then you get out into the country and it just takes your breath away.  All of the anomalies and little annoyances of daily life here cancel out and you know exactly why you live here.  Because Panama is breathtakingly beautiful and the people are lovely, genuinely welcoming, and sweet.  As we drove up the hill we encountered staggering vistas of the River Caldera and, at one point, the San Ramon waterfall.  November is the time of the coffee harvest and the Ngobe Bugle Indians were working in the coffee fields picking red cherries.  The women’s beautiful long black hair flowed in the light breeze and brightly colored native dress painted the landscape like a flower garden in bloom.  Interesting and mysterious volcanic formations begged answers to what happened here millennia ago. All the Ngobe children were playing by the roadside and smiled, waving as we drove by.  Nobody was moving too fast.  It was going to be a good day.  Oh yes, it was going to be a very good day.

Finca Lerida dries their coffee beans in the old way, in the sun!

We arrived at the finca after our scenic drive and drove up to the little coffee shop/gift shop.  I was surprised to see the green beans being dried in exactly the same manner as the coffee fincas in the Colombian highlands that I used to visit as a child.  Raked out on a large concrete slab, the beans are left to dry in the sun.

As we looked around we realized we were really in for a garden landscaper’s dream come true for the gardens were truly magnificent.

We could see we were in for a landscaper’s dream come true. The grounds at Finca Lerida are just astounding!

This is the place to feast your eyes on the incredible flora and fauna that Panama has to offer.  My friend and I both decided we were going to have to bring our gardener here for inspiration.

Just think, you’ve had a bird watching tour on Finca Lerida’s well maintained natural preserve and now you get a fire roaring and sink down into your hammock on your private terraza to watch the glorious sunset. Pretty cool!

As we wound our way through the gardens and further up the hill, we could see that this was a hotel that could be considered ideal as a mountain retreat.  Hammocks and fireplaces graced the front verandas of the rooms. And the rooms and suites?  You’re going to have to link to the hotel Website above to see how tastefully decorated they are.

Perfectly manicured gardens with colorful birdhouses dotted the landscape.  If you’re a bird watcher it doesn’t get any better than this.  Finca Lerida offers bird walk tours on their private nature preserve so that you can identify the colorful tanager fruitarins feasting on an abundance of fruit trees. This is also the place to spot the elusive but glamorous quetzal amongst other species; too numerous to list in this article.

The end of the year is the coffee harvest in Panama. Maybe you’d like to enjoy Finca Lerida’s coffee tour. They describe it as an in-debth interactive coffee tour. You’ll get to see the founder, Mr. Monniche’s, “sifon” invention which sorts good coffee beans from bad. This invention is used on many coffee plantations to this day.

Another activity available at Fina Lerida is a coffee tour.  Coffee tours are interesting and Finca Lerida describes theirs as an in-depth interactive coffee tour.  On this tour you will learn how Mönniche built the first coffee plantation by gravity in Panama. This inventive engineer designed and patented the “sifon”, which is a piece of farm equipment made to separate good beans from bad. This device is still used worldwide by many coffee plantations and it is still busy sorting coffee beans at Finca Lerida.  Like every other industry, it’s interesting to find out what goes into a process from a red cherry growing on a tree to our favorite pastime, a really good cup of coffee.

Inspiring perfectly maintained grounds provide a feast for your eyes – everywhere you look.

Think about it.  After a hike in search of exotic tropical birds, you drop down into your beautiful hammock with a cozy fire going to ward off the evening chill, for the altitude of Finca Lerida is 5,000 – 10,000 above sea level.  But it’s at this altitude that you get to enjoy the incredibly steep volcanic mountain views with coffee trees growing up the mountainsides, exotic birds, and unique flora and fauna.

As tummies started to growl, we decided it was time to sit down at the restaurant and have lunch.  I had heard that the food was very good at this restaurant and that certainly turned out to be true.  Restaurants can be somewhat disappointing here in Panama but this one was really good.

Check out this charming old-world dining room. And the food was great too!

We decided to sit out on the covered veranda so we could enjoy the view but the dining room was really sweet.  After enjoying lots of good conversation and delicious gastronomical treats, we reluctantly decided it was time to go.  But not before a lingering garden vista walk.

You’ve got to put this one on your Boquete, Panama bucket list.  Want a day or a stay that will remain in your memory bank as a “peak experience”?  Finca Lerida is a place you don’t want to leave and certainly a place you’ll want to come back to time and time again. .  Now that will do for a place to sit; for what more can a soul ask for to keep you Alive.

Want a day or a stay that will remain in your memory bank as a “peak experience”? Finca Lerida is a place you don’t want to leave and certainly a place you’ll want to come back to time and time again.

Posted by: luisabaldwin | July 3, 2012

THE EMBERA INDIANS OF PANAMA, CENTRAL AMERICA

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The Embera Indians live a pure and natural life on the pristine Chagres River.

Photography by:
Luisa Baldwin
© All rights reserved

(Click to enlarge)

http://www.emberavillagetours.com
Anne Gordon
(507) 6758-7600
Guide: Archie

“Beautiful photos…they really make you want to get up and plan a trip. When people come here, to Panama, and tell me it seems to not have “any culture” (this almost always after a two-day pit stop in Panama City with no visits to the provincial areas) I tell them about the indigenous cultures. Seven tribes with their own language, art, traditions, and so much more. Visitors to the city are often completely unaware of this “other side” of Panama. Thank you for this post!”
InternationalLiving.com
Moving to Panama –
internationalliving.com/countries/panama/move/ x
internationallivingmagazine@gmail.com

Sometimes you just have to scramble things up to stay vibrant; create paradigm shifts, so to speak.  You have to give yourself a new experience to restore vitality and give yourself a new perspective.  I am privileged to live a tranquil and happy life in the mountains of Panama, Central America.  Panama is a great place to get an injection of life’s gift of inspiration, for it is a land that marries the old with the new.  With that in mind, my friend Sally Foulke and I decided to search out what many would call the most primitive of the various Indian tribes of Panama, the Embera Indians.  I’ll bet you didn’t know this, but all of our U.S. astronauts and other groups train in jungle survival skills with the Embera Indidans.  Panama, to this day, is one of the major jungle survival training destinations.

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We started our journey up the Chagres River in a “piragua” (a hand carved long boat)

It was a clear balmy day when we started our journey down the road less traveled.  Out of Panama City, we headed toward the Chagres River.  Our destination was the last Embera village up the river called Embera Drua.  We picked this village because they were the most authentic tribe living in the old ways of the Embera.  Our tour guide was named Archie and we lucked out.  Archie loves his work and has taken the time and energy to become highly informed, so I was able to learn a lot.

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We were excited with anticipation as we headed up the Chagres river towards the Embera village.

At river’s edge and filled with excitement and anticipation, we piled into a “piragua”, which is a narrow long boat hand carved out of hard wood.  On either side of the river the jungle canopy was dense and high.  It resonated with mysterious animal sounds.  Blue skies and puffy white clouds framed a perfectly shimmering and crystal clear river.  Oh yes!  The road less traveled was really the road to nowhere.  The piragula sliced through the water, making a clean waterfall and delicious sound as the dug-out promised a day of adventure.  It made its way up river and deeper into the mysterious jungle.

The feast for our ears and eyes included a lazy otter sunbathing on a rock, kingfish, caymen, and an occasional Embera Indian fishing for dinner.  Objecting to our invasion of their private sanctuary, howler monkeys shouted their presence from the dark jungle canopy.

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The first Embera village

The lives of the Embera Indians changed dramatically when five national parks surrounding the Panama Canal were created to produce a water reservoir to fill the canal during the dry season.  There are eighteen rivers flowing into the canal and the Embera Indians, who migrated to this region in search of a better life, became the protectors of this ecosystem.  To this day,they report the spilling of water so the canal doesn’t flood.

Their intuitiveness about natural systems exceeds the ability of machines, and the government of Panama relies on the Embera reporting of when and where to spill out the water.  They do, however, check the meteorological stations and report in by an old (out of place) pay phone in the village.  For this, they are not paid but are allowed to live beside the Chagres River

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The second Embera village

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Finally, upon arriving at the village, we were welcomed with joyful song and percussive musical instruments.

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And finally we arrived at the third Embera village. We were greeted by percussive instruments and happy singing by these gentle and pure spirits.

The village had come out to greet us and what a sight it was!  These wonderful people were handsome, dignified, and physically beautiful.  Short in stature, the men were well muscled from living a natural outdoor life. The women looked almost Polynesian, with waist length shiny black hair.

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The Embera women are quite beautiful, almost Polynesian looking.

Each village member shook our hands in greeting.  They were genuinely friendly and anxious to share information about their lives.  These people were leading a stress-free life and it showed in natural, joyful smiles.

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The men are dignified, handsome, and strong.

The village we were visiting was called Embera Drua (community) and was founded in 1975 by two families, the Kaitamo family and the Ruiz family.  All in all, there were eight people who migrated from the Darien (the province down by the border with Colombia).  Today, the village population is one hundred and eight people.

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And the children? Well what can I say?  Who can’t love this beautiful little girl?

Embera Drua has two tribal leaders.  Enerdo, the primary leader and the man who first greeted us when we arrived at the village with a friendly hand shake.  He was the principal leader and in his absence, Andrea replaces him.  More hand shakes followed and I thought how well- mannered and civilized they were.

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The Embera are true crafts people. The baskets they weave are so well made that they hold water.

Since hunting and agriculture is now restricted, the Embera rely on selling their beautiful intricate artisan basket weaving, wood carvings, and other crafts.  Tourism is another source of income as they now have to go into town to buy other supplies. The Embera speak two languages, Spanish and Embera. and are committed to preserving their culture and traditions.  I inwardly celebrated the strength of their beliefs in their heritage.

This unique primitive tribe’s religion was nature worship. Christian evangelical missionaries converted many from their natural worship to Christianity.  Their medicinal practices also come from nature.  The village had a medicine man by the name of Jaibana.

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The Embera village of Embera Drua. Yes, that’s a basketball court you see there!

As we walked into their village, we learned that they build their Tambo (houses) in the old ways.  They wait for the full moon and three days later they’ll harvest and collect the wood and palm fronds to avoid termite infestations.  In the jungle, they look for the best Espave (wild cashew).  They also use Teca (teak), and the wood from the Caimito, and Nispero trees.  The elders of the village are then consulted and give instructions on how to build their houses.  The roofing palms are from the Uagara and the Palma Real. However, the Uagara lasts longer than the Palma Real.  It has a life span of twelve to fourteen years.

The schoolhouse

The government of Panama mandates that all children from the age of six attend school and the one building in the village was the schoolhouse.  The children have to wear uniforms as all Panamanian children do but jump right out of them and into their traditional dress, or less, when school is over.

We were served a delicious meal of fresh water snapper and plantains with a platter of beautifully arranged and colorful fruit.

The men’s loincloths are called Cucua and at one time they used the bark of a tree, dipped it into the river and pounded it with stone and rocks.  However, they are no longer allowed to use the bark and so, with their earnings, go to market and buy special designs made especially for them.
Now, the men dress in loin clothes but also favor beaded short skirts.  Their tattoos are from the ink of a fruit called Kipara, which interestingly enough, is also a natural insect repellant.
We were served a delicious fresh fish lunch with patacones (plantains) and a plate of wonderful fresh fruit for dessert.  Maybe that’s why I didn’t see very many fillings or extra weight on their frames.  No sugar!

The hummingbird dance conjures up healing spirits before a visit to the village medicine man.

After lunch the dancing began.  The first dance was called the Hummingbird dance and typically was danced before they go to the medicine man.  The purpose was to pull in the spirit of the hummingbird to help heal.  Sweet!  Then came the fun.  Many dances followed and joyful faces abounded as they and we danced around the center pole.

The weather had been perfect.  We didn’t even get our usual afternoon downpour so we all headed down to the river and dove right in.  Oh, that was really nice!

Then the fun began in earnest with festive dance by all.

Refreshed, we piled into our Piragua and, since we were headed down river, our two Embera boat guides decided to get a little adventurous.  I will admit there were several times when I let out the breath that I didn’t realize I was holding.  But it was adventurous and exhilarating.

Oh, for the simple life…

I have to tell you, I fell in love with these extraordinary people.  While the interventions and restrictions on this wonderful Indian tribe saddened me, I came to admire them in their determination to hold on to their tribal customs.  It was a good day in heaven and the smile I wore reached my heart.  I left them reluctantly with the thoughts and questions as to who was more “civilized”?  We with our big houses, maids, the Internet, our 54″ flat panel TVs, and all our other stuff or they, leading joyful and dignified lives in harmony with nature. The Embera live lives of purpose and with few wants. Their TV is nature’s magnificent panorama.  I think you know the answer!  This adventure is a “must do” on your Panama holiday or ex-pat bucket list!

And what a life it is! The Embera Indians are the protectors of this extraordinary eco-system.

Posted by: luisabaldwin | June 7, 2012

VISA REQUIREMENTS FOR PANAMA ARE NOW MUCH, MUCH EASIER!

EXTRA, EXTRA – READ ALL ABOUT IT!

Panama City is a thriving entrepreneurial city with a robust economy, in short, the country is smoking hot. Cia.gov states, “unemployment dropped from 12% to less than 3% of the labor force in 2011.  I would put money down on an unemployment rate of 0% for 2012 as Panama has now resorted to importing labor.   Job opportunities abound.  The government is actively investing in infrastructure. Panama is building roads, bridges, airports, a subway in Panama City, and most importantly, the Panama Canal expansion.  And now, living, working, and retirement in Panama is easy.  Think out of the box.  There are jobs to be had.

IMPORTANT NEWS FLASH

I am so pleased to bring you this great news!  The government of Panama has changed the visa requirements to attract a much-needed foreign skilled work force.  Living and working or retiring as a permanent resident has gotten a whole lot easier.  Don Winner, who writes for Panama-guide.com broke the story first and deserves the credit.  With his permission, I would like to offer his story directly for your perusal.

New Executive Order Makes It Easier To Obtain Permanent Residency Status in Panama

Monday, May 21 2012 @ 07:14 PM COT

Contributed by: Don Winner

http://www.panama-guide.com/article.php/20120521191423780

The Panama Canal is under expansion construction. Lots of jobs!

Wow. Today Executive Order 343 of 16 May 2012 was published in the Official Gazette, “that creates within the immigration category of Permanent Resident, the sub-category of Permanent Resident in the form of foreign nationals from specific countries that maintain friendly, professional, economic, and investment relationships with the Republic of Panama.

Executive Summary – Short Answer Up Front: The government of Panama has just created an entirely new immigration sub-category to make it easier for citizens from specific countries to obtain Permanent Residency status. Within this status newly qualified permanent residents will be able to exercise professional or economic activities – such as create a business or get a job. I suspect the “hand brake” will be the Ministry of Labor, so if they ever need to in the future they can either shut down or slow down the granting of work permits. But anyway, this is it. This is the big move I have been expecting for years. This is what the government of Panama has decided to do in order to ease their shortage of qualified workers. This move will allow the economy of Panama to keep growing. The text of the Executive Order is full of references to contributing to the growth of the Panamanian economy. Read on, kind folk, because it just got a whole lot easier to move to Panama, and to live here and work here as a Permanent Resident, if you’re carrying the right color of passport. (more)

Start your own business! Craig, an American ex-pat did. Now, after working hard, he owns two of the most successful restaurants in Boquete.

What’s Going On? Article One of Executive Order says “To create within the immigration category of Permanent Resident, the sub-category of Permanent Resident in the category as foreign nationals from specific countries that maintain friendly, professional, economic, and investment relationships with the Republic of Panama.”

What Countries Are On The List? Article Two of Executive Order 343 provides a specific list of the countries covered;

Germany
Argentina
Australia
Austria
Brazil
Belgium
Canada
Spain
United States
Slovakia
France
Finland
“The Low Countries”
Ireland
Japan
Norway
Czechoslovakia
Switzerland
Singapore
Uruguay
Chile
Sweden

How To Apply: Article 3 of Executive Order 343 tells foreigners how to apply for this category as a Permanent Resident. Specifically, “The foreigners who solicit this permission as foreign nationals from specific countries, that maintain friendly, professional, economic, and investment relationships with the Republic of Panama, who have as a goal of exercising economic or professional activities of any type, should comply with the requisites established in Article 28 of Decree Law 3 of 22 February 2008, and provide the following;

1. Three passport sized photographs;

2. Document that demonstrates the purpose of requiring the permanent residency, according to the professional or economic activity that will be realized;

3. Proof of the economic solvency of the applicant, which will be demonstrated by providing the following;

a. A banking certificate or bank account statement from the past month that reflects an account balance of no less than four digits, or that demonstrates your income, that’s acceptable to the National Immigration Service;

4. A copy of the identification card or residency card from your country.

5. A letter of responsibility, if necessary;

6. Documentation to verify kinship, if you have dependents.

Dependents and Family Members: Article 4 of Executive Order 343 describes the requirements for bringing your dependents and family members with you to Panama; “The applicant can include in their application as dependents their spouse, minor children under 18 years of age, family members with disabilities, and parents who are dependents. Adult children aged 18 to 25 can be applied for as dependents, as long as it can be proven that they are studying in a regular manner and that they are under the economic dependency of the applicant. The foreigner who proves to have the tutelage or guardianship or custody of a minor can apply for them as a dependent.

You Can Work, But You’ve Got To Stay Legal: Article 5 of Executive Order 343 gives a warning, saying “Those foreigners who wish to take advantage of this permission as a Permanent Resident in the category as foreign nationals from specific countries that maintain friendly, professional, economic, and investment relationships with the Republic of Panama must comply with all Panamanian legal norms and regulations in the areas of commercial, labor, or any other type, according to the professional or economic activity that will be realized.” In other words, whatever you’re going to do, you have to comply with all applicable Panamanian commercial and labor laws.

You’ve Got To Apply With Immigration: Article 6 of Executive Order 343 says “The applications for permission as Permanent Resident in the category as foreign nationals from specific countries that maintain friendly, professional, economic, and investment relationships with the Republic of Panama, can only be presented to the National Immigration Service.”

And That’s Pretty Much It: Here is a link to Executive Order 343 in it’s original Spanish, so you can read it for yourself if you like. I think this will pretty much do away with the need for people to be living in Panama as permanent tourists, and making those trips across the border every six months to reset your tourist status. It appears that Panama has used this mechanism to open up the doors to foreigners, to allow them to come here and live as documented Permanent Residents, as long as you’re from one of the countries on that list. Once you have your Permanent Residency status, then you can apply for a work permit from the Ministry of Labor, and get a job. Or, you can create your own business and hire a bunch of Panamanians. Anyway, this one is an important game changer (I think) – which is why I dropped everything to translate it at 8:30 pm. And remember, you heard it here first…

Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

Johnie, one of our commentators said,

“Please keep the words flowing as it inspires dreams.”

Laura, another of our commentator had this to say,

“Hello Luisa,
I have thoroughly enjoyed reading about your life in Boquete and it is because of your blog that my  husband and I want to visit there in October.

We are pleased to announce that our Website Adventurousliving is growing.  We invite you to peruse just some of the 75 countries that have viewed this Website  since February 25, 2012.  We would like to thank each and every one of you for visiting Adventurousliving and making our fledgeling Website what it is.  We strive to bring you excellence of information on what life really is like in the Republic of Panama, Central America.  We have included some resources, cost of living data, Panamanian centric economic data, places to explore, and places to live.  We also offer inspiring true-life stories of successful entrepreneurs who have re-located to Panama and started thriving businesses. We hope our little site inspires you to achieve the changes you desire.

In addition to information on Panama, expect to find detailed information on Ecuador and Costa Rica. A whole host of Panamanian indigenous floral photography by Luisa Baldwin is also featured herein.

We will strive to honor Johnie’s words for inspiring dreams is exactly our mission!  Again, thank you for visiting adventurousliving.wordpress.com.  We value your readership and your commentary.

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