Category Archives: More than a Dash

What’s Happening in The US Today

Sometimes living in a foreign country you forget about the smaller or less celebrated holidays! I know it happened to us for sure! Thanksgiving and Christmas are surely not forgotten but what about those other holidays that might have simply meant a three day weekend for you? Or maybe just a good time to buy appliances?

Well today in the US is President’s Day or as its lesser known as Washington’s Birthday! 

Washington’s Birthday is a United States federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday of February, meaning it can occur the 15th through the 21st inclusive, in honor of George Washington, the first President of the United States, who was born on February 22, 1732. Colloquially, it is widely known as Presidents Day and is often an occasion to remember all the presidents, not just George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, whose birthday is also in February.The term “Presidents Day” was coined in a deliberate attempt to change the holiday into one honoring multiple presidents.

The day is also a state holiday in most states with official names including Presidents’ Day, President’s Day and Washington’s and Lincoln’s Birthday. Depending upon the specific law, the state holiday might celebrate officially Washington alone, Washington and Lincoln, or some other combination of U.S. presidents (such as Washington and the third president Thomas Jefferson, who was instead born in April).

 

 

Coronado, Panama…..Not To Be Confused With San Diego

Back in the 1940s, Coronado was just a few sleepy ranches alongside an unspoiled stretch of blue Pacific and black-and-white speckled beaches. However, Coronado is now a highly popular beach town on the Pacific coast of Panama.

Located an hour from Panama City, it is on the ‘Arco Seco’ (‘dry arch’) stretch of coastline, so named because of the remarkably low rainfall it receives each year.

Continue reading Coronado, Panama…..Not To Be Confused With San Diego

Carnaval or Carnival 2016 In Panama

Celebrating Carnaval in Panama

However you spell it, Carnival or Carnaval, it is not just a Brazilian holiday or only celebrated in Rio de Janeiro. Carnaval is a mega-holiday celebrated throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and it’s even celebrated in Europe. No matter where you go or which country you find it in, Carnaval is a joyous, festive event.
Golden carvings of women on a floats for Panama Carnival with Panama City skyline in the background

As elsewhere, in Panama, Carnaval always takes place over the four to five days leading up to Ash Wednesday. Even though it’s not an official holiday for the country, many businesses in Panama shut down for the entire time, and the the entire country lets loose to party hearty. People all over Panama gather to drink, eat, and party until the sun comes up for 4 days.

Float 1

The word chaos comes to mind. The only thing in America that’s even slightly similar is in New Orleans, where it’s called Mardi Gras.
The first Carnaval in Panama took place in colonial times, when individuals dressed as king and queen of Spain, conquering soldiers, slaves and Indians and then proceeded along a road while simulating battles. When it was revived in the early 1900s, they chose a king and queen, complete with attendants, held a parade, and had fireworks. Or so I’ve read. That doesn’t explain why it’s done that way everywhere in Latin America … does it?

Where to party for Carnaval in Panama

Some of the biggest parties are in the interior (center of the country). Everyone seems to agree that the town of Las Tablas is the country’s top Carnaval destination, which sounds exciting … but if you try to get more details about going it might be followed up by phrases like “but it’s so big,” “it’s only for Panamanians who are used to that sort of thing,” or “but you need to be careful.” Between the crowds, potential pickpockets, heavy drinking, 4- to 5-hour drive and needing hotel reservations months ahead of time, any gringo might consider not going.

Float

Public safety is a major concern. Police will be out in full force.

Highlights of Panama Carnaval and what to expect

Every year in Panama City the police set up traffic blockades along Avenida Balboa, the large, 4-lane road that runs along the waterfront, and set up a tall perimeter fence around the festival area. As with most places these days, there are security lines with pat down (male and female) to ensure no one is carrying weapons.
Tip: Get there early; the lines get really long by late afternoon.

The streets will start filling up with people early in the day.
Mid-afternoon might be when the schedule says it will start, but thats probably when it will be getting started. That’s typical of Panama.

Water 1

Tip: Wear comfortable walking shoes that will protect your toes; some people don’t pay attention to where they step.
Inside the fence we found amusement park-style rides, food booths, drink booths, live music, games, vendors selling souvenirs and culecos, water-filled trucks which shoot streams of water out at the dancing and sweating hordes of people. Don’t think that avoiding the trucks will keep you nice and dry, though; we saw a number of people carrying loaded water guns. Also, be prepared to get wet a number of people will have loaded water guns and they aren’t afraid to use them!

Water Trucks

Tip: If you are there on Carnival’s final night, you will be treated to a very nice fireworks display after dark. To avoid the press of people at the end, leave early and find a bar, hotel or restaurant that offers a nice view of the water. You’ll be able to sit and enjoy the fireworks in relative peace and quiet. Check the schedule first to ensure you’re not missing anything else, though!

What You Will See 

Carnaval Parade Floats
The full-blown parade begins after sunset, but they don’t wait until then to parade around. So that everyone gets a chance to see the floats, they drive around the grounds while it’s still daylight as well.

Float 3

People dress up for Carnaval
Some people who attend Carnaval like to dress up in colorful and creative costumes.
Others prefer the costumes of the very traditional diablos. These devil costumes vary by region. While they may have carried—and used—real whips in Bocas del Toro, in at Panama City’s Carnaval, the whips they carry are mostly just used as props.

Women 2

And then there’s the food …
Besides the soda, water, local rum and cerveza, there’s a huge variety of really delicious food. You can eat and drink to your heart’s delight. Grilled chicken, chorizo (sausage), hamburgers, hot dogs, plantains, you-name-it.
Tip: Find out where the toilets are as soon as you arrive; you’ll need them!

Woman 1

Woman

Bucket Lists For 2016 Instead of Resolutions

For 2016 Todd and I have decided that we would rather put together a list of amazing things we want to do during the year instead of things we want to not do, change or improve.

2015 was a big year for us! We sold everything that we owned and moved here to Panama. That will probably be hard to top for the rest of our lives, but we will keep trying.

So what do you add to a bucket list when you live in Panama? This country is so full of amazing places, locations and things to do.  Here is a Top 10 Bucket List Items in Panama. Some we have already done, but wanted to create a list for others so you can add them to your bucket list!

Top 10 Panama Destinations 

  1. Bocas Del Toro
  2. Pearl Islands-Contadora Island, Mogo Mogo, Taboga, Isla Del Rey 
  3. San Blas Islands 
  4. Gamboa Rainforest 
  5. El Valle De Anton 
  6. Boquete 
  7. Panama Canal & Locks 
  8. Panama City-Casco Viejo, Panama Viejo, Ancon Hill, Amador Causeway, Fish Market, Albrook Mall
  9. Colon Free Trade Zone 
  10. Isla Coiba 
Ancon Hill
Ancon Hill View of the City
Bocas Del Toro
Bocas Del Toro-Hotels located on the water

Continue reading Bucket Lists For 2016 Instead of Resolutions

El Valle’s Hidden Gem Crater’s Edge Brewery: Craft Brews With a View

Crater’s Edge Brewery is perched on a quiet 2 acre property overlooking the entire El Valle De Anton valley.The views are amazing, and the property is lush and sprawling. The owners are Mike and Deb Lunsford, and they have brought together elements to create one of the most unique breweries we have ever been to. Their small batch craft beers are full of flavor that will please a novice beer drinker, all the way to a beer aficionado.

12208623_722884584480358_7293690112647389671_n

Producer Mike Lunsford and his wife moved from Colorado to El Valle in 2015. Mike has been home brewing beer for over 15 years and he is now sharing his passion with expats here in Panama. Their home is gorgeous and the grounds are full and lush.  Of course the backdrop of El Valle makes for a pleasant afternoon of beer tasting and conversation. Visiting with Mike and Deb was part of the fun of visiting. They are great people, with their own fun story to tell about how they ended up in Panama.

Before you start your tasting Mike will show you his impressive brewing equipment and give you a little education on the process. The Red Frog Zensual Ale is the base for all the flavors that we tasted on our trip. He took this based and infused it with mango to produce Toucan’s Delight, and another batch that had a coconut infusion. The products that Mike imports to produce the beers are all natural organic ingredients, and they are making sure to leave a small carbon foot.

IMG_1144

This is a private artisenal brewery and non-profit project that accepts payment in the form of a donation. Mike and Deb support local causes with more than 25% of sales donated to the Spay and Neuter program of El Valle and the Green Team.

We are so happy that we stumbled on to their Facebook page! Mike and Deb are really great people, making an amazing product! Add this to your must-do list!

They are on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Craters-Edge-Brewery-687065878062229/

Call ahead or message them for directions and to make sure they are open! It’s not hard to find, we included pics below to help you navigate!

IMG_1142
Todd enjoyed it so much he drank it all!
IMG_1140
Oh yes the goodness is in there!!
IMG_1139
Mike, Deb and Tiffany having a glass and enjoying the beautiful afternoon!

Continue reading El Valle’s Hidden Gem Crater’s Edge Brewery: Craft Brews With a View