Bocas del Toro via Wikipedia

I figured it had been awhile since I went out to see what information was available about Bocas on the internet. So one of the first places I popped over to was Wikipedia. Here is what the basic description about Bocas included:

Bocas del Toro is a province of Panama. The capital is the city of Bocas del Toro, found on the island of Colon. The population of the province numbers some 89,300 people. Its extension is 8,745 kilometers and is formed by 9 principal islands. There are many plantation of plantains here, often called the oro verde or green gold of Central America.

You can get to the description here.

Write a 250 word essay…

I get an email Monday through Friday from a company called Ideal Bite. They have different tidbits of information for one to improve day to day activities and purchases so that what you do is more sustainable than other options. Some work for those of us on an island in the middle of the Caribbean Sea and some do not. Today they sent out a special email with a link to a contest where you write a 250 word essay about what you would do to make your community a greener place. The top five entries will receive $20K and a variety of other things. You must be a resident of the USA in order to enter. So we strike out in this instance. But really, what does it take to come up with an idea and write 250 words? You might win. You might not. So what. Give it a try.

Go see it here: http://greeneffect.nationalgeographic.com/

Banana Trivia

This information is from an email that is circulating the world about bananas. I don’t know if it is true or not, but it does make me stop and think a bit more about nature’s fast food.

Bananas contain three natural sugars – sucrose, fructose and glucose combined with fibre. A banana gives an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy.

Research has proven that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. No wonder the banana is the number one fruit with the world’s leading athletes. But energy isn’t t he only way a banana can help us keep fit. It can also help overcome or prevent a substantial number of illnesses and conditions, making it a must to add to our daily diet.

Depression:
According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND amongst people suffering from depression, many felt much better after eating a banana. This is because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.

PMS:
Forget the pills – eat a banana. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.

Anemia:
High in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anemia.

Blood Pressure:
This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, making it perfect to beat blood pressure. So much so, the US Food and Drug Administration has just allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit’s ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.

Brain Power:
200 students at a Twickenham (Middlesex) school were helped through their exams this year by eating bananas at breakfast, break, and lunch in a bid to boost their brain power. Research has shown that the potassium-packed fruit can assist learning by making pupils more alert.

Constipation:
High in fibre, including bananas in the diet can help restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without resorting to laxatives.

Hangovers:
One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to make a banana milkshake, sweetened with honey. The banana calms the stomach and, with the help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels, while the milk soothes and re-hydrates your system.

Heartburn:
Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body, so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief.

Morning Sickness:
Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep blood sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness.

Mosquito bites:
Before reaching for the insect bite cream, try rubbing the affected area with the inside of a banana skin. Many people find it amazingly successful at reducing swelling and irritation.

Nerves:
Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system.

Overweight and at work?
Studies at the Institute of Psychology in Austria found pressure at work leads to gorging on comfort food like chocolate and salty snacks. Looking at 5,000 hospital patients, researchers found the most obese were more likely to be in high-pressure jobs. The report concluded that, to avoid panic-induced food cravings, we need to control our blood sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods every two hours to keep levels steady.

Ulcers:
The banana is used as the dietary food against intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness. It is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in over-chronicler cases. It also neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.

Temperature control:
Many other cultures see bananas as a ‘cooling’ fruit that can lower both the physical and emotional temperature of expectant mothers. In Thailand , for example, pregnant women eat bananas to ensure their baby is born with a cool temperature.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD):
Bananas can help SAD sufferers because they contain the natural mood enhancer tryptophan.

Smoking &Tobacco Use:
Bananas can also help people trying to give up smoking. The B6, B 12 they contain, as well as the potassium and magnesium found in them, help the body recover from the effects of nicotine withdrawal.

Stress:
Potassium is a vital mineral, which helps normalize the heartbeat, sends oxygen to the brain and regulates your body’s water balance. When we are stressed, our metabolic rate rises, thereby reducing our potassium levels. These can be re balanced with the help of a high-potassium banana snack.

Strokes:
According to research in The New England Journal of Medicine, eating bananas as part of a regular diet can cut the risk of death by strokes by as much as 40%!

Warts:
Those keen on natural alternatives swear that if you want to kill off a wart, take a piece of banana skin and place it on the wart, with the yellow side out. Carefully hold the skin in place with a band aid or surgical tape!

So, a banana really is a natural remedy for many ills. When you compare it to an apple, it has four times the protein, twice the carbohydrate, three times the phosphorus, five times the vitamin A and iron, and twice the other vitamins and minerals. It is also rich in potassium and is one of the best value foods around. So maybe its time to change that well-known phrase so that we say, ‘A banana a day keeps the doctor away!’

Patience

I am working on updating the blog to a format that other people can contribute to as well as that can be updated when I am away from my computer. It has been a challenge for me, but I think I am in the home stretch. So you will see two blog pages here until I get it all straight. I am trying to keep them consistent. We are up for a picnic at the dock. The sun is just blazing. Where is the rain in the rainforest? Have a great Sunday.

Pre Columbian Artifacts – Sitio Barriles

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Don’t listen to your guidebook when it suggests skipping archaeological site Sitio Barriles located just outside the small town of Volcán. If you are in the Boquete or David area, I suggest making time for one of the most interesting archaeological sites I have seen in Panama. One can tour the area on their own, but I suggest paying $3 for a guided tour in English or Spanish by Edna Landau, whose family has lived on the property since they settled here from California in the early 1900’s to raise coffee. (The site is well kept by Edna’s family and not funded by the Panamanian government.)

While preparing the earth for planting, the family discovered stones with carvings, pottery, and tools that led to a larger exploration of the area by archaeologists. The area is thought to have been an important town and ceremonial site for a culture that flourished here between 300-600 B.C. From artifacts such as human sized statues that have been unearthed, the people who lived here are thought to have had African or Asian ancestors.

An ancient tomb has been discovered on the premises with urns that held cremated ashes. One can actually walk down three meters into the tomb and see pottery and urns still encased in the earthen walls. Many of the larger statues and ceremonial tables can be seen in the Reina Torres de Araúz Museum in Panama City, while a plethora of artifacts still remain housed in an on-site museum. One of the most fascinating pieces sits exposed to the elements as it has for thousands of years: a magnetic stone engraved with a map of the area. The map has been studied using GPS technology and shows to be an accurate diagrammatic representation of the site’s situation in relation to Volcán Baru, other ancient towns, and both coasts.

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The guided tour can last from 45 minutes to two hours. Edna is the granddaughter of one of the original settlers and gives a friendly and very thorough tour of the archaeological site as well as the grounds where tropical plants from around the world thrive. There is soon to be a restaurant on the premises, but meanwhile a nice offering of homemade cheese, lemon or papaya preserves, and duros are available.

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Today, metaphysical groups come to Barriles to experience its energy, which is said to be better than that of Machu Picchu. It is believed that this ancient culture was put to an end by several eruptions from Volcán Baru located just 16 kilometers away

The area is simply magical and holds a feeling of peace. Bring a swimsuit if you are interested in taking a dip in the cool spring that leads to a stream flowing uphill for over one kilometer to the Chiriqui River. Also bring a water bottle to fill from the spring that is the perfect temperature for drinking and is 99% pure water.

To get there, go through the center of Volcán on the road to Rio Sereno. There’s a blue sign on the left, just before the Ortega Panderia. Turn left and keep going for about 6 kilomenters. The entrance to Sitio Barriles is on the right.

Contact info for Sitio Barilles (open form sunup to sundown):
Edna Landau Telephone: 507-6575-1828

Jose Landau Telephone:  507-6607-5438

Miracles do happen

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We have been without the internet and our telephones for almost 48 hours.

We have had a substantial amount of rain and the rivers on the mainland are coming out of their banks. We are doing just fine. Our guests have been able to get to and from Tranquilo Bay. Our employees are having a bit more difficulty getting to and from Tranquilo Bay as they are traveling by road rather than by air. The road in this province has been closed due to some problems.

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All of this makes me sit back and think how amazing it is that we have communications out here in our secluded piece of paradise anyway. There are something like 14 cellular towers over which all land and internet connections are sent to Bocas del Toro. If there is a problem with any one of these towers due to weather, etc. we have a reduction and sometimes absolutely no communication. These towers have to be working at their finest in order to ensure there is an internet connection for us in Bocas town. Once we have an internet connection in town we then radio that connection to ourselves out on Isla Bastimentos. In about 90% of the instances when we have a communications problem, it is prior to our radio.

While it is frustrating not to have communications, I know that it is truly a miracle that we have communications most of the time. And, we can communicate again!

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Los Buzos

We had the opportunity to meet three members of a family of four who are running a family oriented beach resort and sport ranch on the Azuero Peninsula on the other end of Panama. They came over to Tranquilo Bay to meet us and learn more about our business. It was really interesting to learn about what the Palmer family is doing over at Los Buzos. The have secured a large tract of land, built a set of homes and a hotel for rental. Now they are in the process of developing their activities. While we haven’t seen first hand what it is they are doing, based upon the photos, etc. it seems as if they are on the right track.

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Los Buzos is a five hour drive from Panama City or a one hour flight. They arrange for charter flights for guests out of both Tocumen and Albrook airports. They are on the Pacific Ocean and have a completely different climate than we have over here in Bocas del Toro. Right now they are in the middle of their dry season. It really is dry there. The last rain they had was at the beginning of December. We rarely go for a few weeks without rain let alone almost two months. The terrain is extremely picturesque. Both fishing and surfing are great according to many of our friends and colleagues here in Panama.

It is nice when you see other families or groups creating some place where you would like to go visit. It works out even better when one of our guests is looking for a place to go (in addition to Tranquilo Bay) on a vacation to Panama. We will definitely be making a trip over to Los Buzos at some point to check things out on our own. Meanwhile, you can check them out here: www.losbuzos.net.

Have a great week.

Wildlife Watching

I subscribe to an email publication entitled Green Lodging News. The publisher pulls together a variety of “green” topics and provides them to those who have subscribed to his newsletter as well as on his website. The weekly newsletter arrives each Monday morning. Some weeks I get a lot of information out of the newsletter, others not so much. This is largely due to the expanse of his market. He is pulling information together for everyone in the lodging industry. Not just little guys like us.

However I found today’s newsletter very interesting. He highlighted a study entitled

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, “Wildlife Watching in the U.S.: The Economic Impacts on National and State Economies in 2006”. You can download the study from a link on his
. The information included in the study was fascinating. It is one of those things that you have a gut feel that there are “lots” of people out there who are interested in observing nature and wildlife, but when you can get concrete numbers it makes it all the more fascinating. Here are a few statistics from the report:

  • 71 Million people in the United States of America participated in some form of wildlife watching in 2006, which equates to roughly one out of three Americans 16 years of age and older.
  • This 71 million wildlife-watching participants is more than four times greater than the attendance of all National League Football teams during the 2006 season.
  • Wildlife-related expenditures in 2006 were $45.7 billion.
    Expenditures on wildlife watching are equivalent to the amount of revenue from all spectator sports (football, baseball, and other sports), all amusement parks and arcades, casinos (except casino hotels), bowling centers, and skiing facilities.

  • Expenditures rippled through the economy generating $122.6 billion in total industry output and 1,063,482 jobs. The more than one million jobs supported by wildlife watchers are almost three times the number of people who work for United Parcel Service in the U.S.
    $9.3 billion in federal tax revenue and $8.9 billion in state tax revenue

    were generated from these activities.

The summary of the study is as follows:

Wildlife-watching in the U.S. has significant economic impacts at the local, regional, state, and national levels.

In 2006 it generated $122.6 billion in economic output, 1.1 million jobs and $18.2 billion in state, local, and federal tax revenues. Wildlife watching’s continued popularity gives evidence to the importance that people attach to diverse, accessible and robust fish and wildlife populations. The magnitude of its economic impacts prove that wildlife watching is a major force, driving billions in spending around the country. These economic impacts can be the life-blood of a local economy. Rural areas can attract thousands of wildlife watchers each year, generating millions of dollars.”

Now, how to translate the impact of this information for other locales…

The Path Less Traveled – Bocas del Toro

I was looking over the different videos on You Tube for Bocas del Toro Panama this afternoon. I came across this one which is from Panama’s Tourism Bureau. The restaurant in the video belongs to a good friend of ours. It is called Crawl Caye. Luis and his family have been doing business here in Bocas for years. Just about every time you see a photo of Bocas del Toro or a video it includes Crawl Caye. We are fortunate to be located in the vicinity of Crawl Caye as we have access to all of the same reef systems as they do. Luis is a great fisherman – he caught the largest tuna in a recent fishing tournament here in Bocas. This video brings a smile to my face as it is great that Luis and his family get this kind of publicity.