Sunday, February 27, 2011


This is what jazz does: it brings out the love in people.

This is my gift to Boquete, with love in my heart to the wonderful people - behind the scenes, on the instruments, and in the audience - who made this happen.  My heart is bursting with love for these people and for this place.


Saturday, February 26, 2011


Here are some more of my shots from the Boquete Jazz Festival.  Hope you like them!

John Hyde
Bassist Extraordinaire
of the Pat Belliveau Jazz Quartet
Pat Belliveau in a Resting Mode
John deWaal, Pat's drummer,
caught in a moment of movement
Another View of John Hyde.
I had the pleasure of hanging out with John
and his wife Elaine as part of the family hosting program.
A "Doctored Up" View of John
Shooting the Boquete Jazz Festival was exhilitaring, exhausting, and unforgettable.  Hope to see you there next year!


Friday, February 25, 2011


The Boquete Jazz Festival is in full swing, and I am one of the fortunate few to be an "official" photographer of the event, and well as one of the organizers. Here are some pictures from this morning's jazz clinic with the Carlos Ubarte Jazz Band from Panama.

I had no idea that jazz was popular here, nor that the Panamanian musicians are of such high quality.  Carlos is as good as anyone I've ever heard. The clinic was especially interesting because Carlos and his musicians explained what they were doing and also talked a lot about jazz. But the neatest thing, in my opinion, was the opportunity for amateur musicians to jam with the "big guns".

It was a wonderful event, and if you are in Boquete please come to the Festival. Saturday night's concert by the Pat Belliveau Jazz Quartet from Canada is sold out, but there is another free clinic Saturday morning at the Boquete Community Players Community Center, and a free concert in the park Sunday afternoon. I'm shooting both of those events, so stop by and say hi.

Here are a few of my pictures from today. This was the first time I had officially covered a public event. Shooting is especially challenging because the photographer cannot set up the shots or completely control the composition. The close-ups were due to a long lens and a privileged position in the wings of the stage behind the curtain.

You can see some my fellow photographers' work at the official website, New material is added each day. Hope you like them - more later.

The hands of Ibrahim Oscar Merel,
the talented Ubarte keyboardist

Amateur saxophonist
jammin' with the band

Left: Carlos Ubarte, my new favorite
musician, playing with the amateur -
a thrill of a lifetime

And now for the "arty" stuff:

Amateur drummer with the Ubarte Band -
I hope I can find him tomorrow
to give him this picture.

Portrait of Adam

Update:  I did see the young guitarist the next day, and gave a color print to him and his parents.  They seemed very appreciative.


Friday, February 18, 2011


It was a lovely, breezy afternoon when I was just settling down for a nap.  Then it happened.

A truck pulled up to my gate and stopped its engine.  I didn't get up, but a few minutes later heard someone shouting at the gate.

Dragging myself out of bed, I trudged to the front gate only to find a strange man holding some kind of form.  He didn't speak English, but I managed to figure out that he was collecting for the city to haul my trash.  He filled out the form, indicating where I should sign, and said the fee was one dollar.

"No problema!" I said as I walked into the house and came out waving a dollar.

"Non!" he replied, and indicated on the form that I had to go down to City Hall to pay my fee.

That was yesterday.  Today I made the trip to City Hall and stood in a long line with some other people at "Caja 2".  Caja 1 had no line, but I assumed that I had to stand in the line.  Then the lady behind the window at Caja 1 called up a lady who had just walked in the door.  Something was fishy.

I asked the American man in front of me in line if I was in the right line to pay my garbage bill.  Turns out that was the line for registering your car in Boquete, and I needed to be at Caja 1.

Feeling somewhat relieved not to have to stand in a line that hadn't moved in ten minutes, I strolled up to Caja 1 and presented the bill along with a dollar.

Turns out it wasn't that simple.  The cashier asked for my passport and took it to another room.

"What are they doing, checking to see if I have a criminal record?" I asked my new friend in the other line.

"One never knows," he replied.

A few minutes later the cashier re-appeared with my passport.  She had made a copy of it.  Then she pulled out a longer form, one showing all the months of the year, and told me I had to pay two dollars instead of one dollar because this is February and I should have paid in January.  How could I have known this?

Two dollars later, she painstakingly filled out the form and a receipt.  I asked her if I had to come back in March, and she said "Si."

You can be sure I'll go back to pay the bill each month.  I don't want them to report me to Interpol.

All of this for a stinking two dollars for garbage.


Monday, February 7, 2011


This morning the goose (whom I've named Lucy Goosey at the risk of humanizing her) came back to my driveway. I quickly looked up what geese eat, and bread seemed acceptable. I tossed out pieces of bread - healthy, whole-grain - and she followed them up to my gate. She took some bread right out of my hand.

I went outside the gate, and she let me pat her on the back. I've never patted a goose before. We seemed to be bonding nicely.

Then she tried to eat my clothes.


Sunday, February 6, 2011


It's a lazy Super Bowl Sunday.  This afternoon we were surprised by a visitor who decided to take a stroll up the street in front of our house:

Our Afternoon Visitor:
The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg?

The dogs went crazy over it, and it gave them a good honking lecture. Turns out it was following its master, my next-door neighbor, who came down the hill shortly thereafter and herded it back home with a big stick. Such is life here on a Sunday afternoon.

This is a good time to point out the numerous rocks in the road. This happens to be one of the better stretches; some areas are heavily corrugated from the truck traffic. Driving on it can be an adventure. Cars tend to follow the smooth tracks regardless of what side of the road they are on. Fortunately it's impossible to go faster than about 10 mph, so one needn't worry about close encounters with other vehicles.

Farther down the road I snapped this image - Boquete's concession to autumn. This is a grove of trees down by the river glowing orange.  Other trees are completely bare of leaves but covered in red flowers.

Clearly there is much to learn about this beautiful area, and that is part of the adventure of being here.  We are a world away from the Super Bowl hype, and that's fine with me.

Boquete Autumn -
View from My Street Down to the Valley
with Slope of Volcan Baru in the Background

Other than a shopping trip to David to get gardening gear and a printer, that just about sums up today.


Saturday, February 5, 2011


The past week has been one glorious sunny day after another. The plants in the garden are changing daily. Some have burst into flower virtually overnight. Trying to capture them in photos is like shooting at a moving target.

Here are two from the front yard that I've been able to identify in the last few days because of their blooms:

Anthurium andraeanum

Shell Ginger

Today I cut my first torch ginger, to replace the one on the breakfast bar that had died. The stalk was amazingly tough. I felt a twinge of sadness in removing it from its habitat, but am glad that I can enjoy it all day and evening when I'm in the house.

By the way, I didn't know many of these plants beforehand. I've been working through several websites with images of tropical plants to find the right ones. It's a laborious but rewarding process.

You'll notice that these flowers may not have the perfection of those raised in greenhouses. They get buffeted about quite a bit in the strong wind here and are often targets of feeding insects.

But they are no less beautiful nonetheless.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Hmm, let's see...
What'll it be???


Chicago Today February 2, 2011

Or Boquete?

Olga's Bouganvillea



As the U.S. is being hit by yet another blizzard and ice storm, I'm grateful for living in Panama where we have had beautiful sunny days in the 60's and 70's.

Boquete is not your usual American town.  It has a bit of the Wild West, which this Texas girl likes.  Here are a few glimpses of my life here:

View from My Street up the Hill from My House
Volcan Baru, the highest point in Panama

I came home one afternoon to find that a neighbor was cutting the grass next door:

Boquete Lawnmower
Chiriquí Province is a center for horses, 
and there are real cowboys here.

This morning on the way back from town I got caught in the rush hour traffic on my street:

Rush Hour in Jaramillo Abajo
(And yes, there was a cowboy with them.)

This last picture was taken from inside my "new" car, a 2006 Suzuki Jimny which I acquired just yesterday. I used a local agent, an American who does this for the Gringos.  After finding the car on-line, I asked him to check it out.  The car was in Panama City.  He flew there, inspected it, asked many questions of the owners (who spoke only Spanish) and determined that the car would be OK.  He bought it with the money I had wired to him and arranged to transfer the registration and title to my name, which will take several weeks in typical Panamanian fashion.  Then he had it driven to David, the closest city with a Suzuki dealership about half an hour from Boquete, and had their mechanics go over it.

There is no way I could have done this myself.

I got the Jimny after renting one and loving it.  It's the perfect vehicle for negotiating my rocky, unpaved road.  Here it is in my driveway (with the lot where the horse was in the background).  Please try to ignore the bird poop on the side.  I later found out the birds like to perch on the side mirror facing forward - hence the poop.

Suzuki Jimny, My "New" Car - Poor Person's Land Rover

That's all for now - more later.