Booming Panama & More

The second Tocumen International terminal under construction will not be enough to meet projected demand by 2020,and a third airport expansion is being considered.

The authorities at Tocumen SA have projected that by 2020 the average annual number of passengers who transit through the international airport in Panama City will amount to 20 million and the second terminal, in which they are investing $800 million, will exceed its capacity in 2022, reports CentralAmericaData reports that “… The current expansion (T2), whose construction has a cost of US $800 million, will incorporate 85,000 square meters of buildings, 20 new boarding gates and 8 remote-controlled doors. After the work, the airport will have a total of 68 departure and arrivals gates in an area of ​​148,000 square meters. Although we the next stage is being analyzed, the administrator of Tocumen SA, Joseph Fidanque III said it is possible to increase the capacity of the T2 with the addition of an additional 12 gates into the current design, which would be possible, in his words, “for relatively little money.”

“… The initiative has been welcomed by members of the tourism sector. Moses Veliz, president of the Tourism Commission of the Panamanian Association of Business Executives, who has also been involved in the world of aviation, said a third extension is necessary because when the T2 opens, it will be full up. ”[NEWSROOM PANAMA]

Panama Canal Update

The world is waiting … so are the ships.  190 ships are now sitting at the ends of the Canal waiting up to five days to get a slot to make the transit.  This is what it was like when I started doing Canal runs, and before the world financial slowdown. In past years the number has dwindled, but now it is up again.

Here’s the latest Canal Expansion update …

Back To Sea

I was already scheduled to do two trips with Silversea Cruises in the Caribbean in December, getting back home a few days before Christmas. We have a wonderful couple we met on one of Jackie’s Panama Relocation Tours who are house sitting for us and taking care of the dogs while we are gone.

Then last week I got a call from Princess Cruises to do two of the final cruises of OCEAN PRINCESS, the first over Christmas in the Caribbean and the second a trip around South America from Miami. Instead of flying home as planned, I’ll fly off to St Martin to join the ship.  Christmas Day I’ll be somewhere in the Caribbean lecturing on England and France in the Caribbean.  But I have my tiny one-foot Christmas tree to take along.

The OCEAN PRINCESS is one of four “R-class” ships that Princess acquired when another company, Renaissance Cruises, went belly up with four new ships under construction.. These ships, about 650 guests and 130 crew, were fantastic little ships to cruise on.  Once before, and probably again this time, on a former ROYAL PRINCESS, another R-class ship, we were docked beside OASIS OF THE SEAS and looked like one of the OASIS lifeboats!  Carnival’s English cruise director John Heald once described these ships as being like “deluxe country inns gone to sea.”

But for me to get together 33 lectures between now and when we leave on SILVER WHISPER is a real challenge!  About half I can cobble together or adapt from talks I’ve given before, but half are new.  Although a talk only lasts 45-55 minutes, a single talk can take 2 to 4 eight-hour days to create.

People frequently tell me that I have the “ideal retirement in Boquete and on cruise ships” and I guess I do, but with responsibilities and properties in Panama, and the lecture biz, it is still a lot of work.  Work I choose to do, but still work.  So we are addressing some of the realities of our lives.  Boquete is home and we love it and aren’t leaving, but we do need to downsize, simplify and have less responsibility which is why I’m selling my properties including our lovely home. The idea of selling the house is tough, but we’re at the point where we need to downsize.

But in the meantime … I love our little coffee finca!

I love the light in the morning

I love the light in the morning

And especially I love the way the light streams into the living room

And especially I love the way the light streams into the living room

When we designed this, we wanted the Tuscan stone tower look from the outside, but I wanted the clerestory windows for the light

When we designed this, we wanted the Tuscan stone tower look from the outside, but I wanted the clerestory windows for the light

The entrance is a door from Egypt we found at Zapadora

The entrance is a door from Egypt we found at Zapadora


The Artist Freyzer

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASeven years ago my first contract with Princess was on the former ROYAL PRINCESS, the small “R-class” ship since shoved down the line and now scheduled to sail for Carnival’s new fathom Cruises, Carnival’s do-gooder, give-back-to-society shot at making a positive impact rather than the sometimes negative impact cruising makes on a society. [It’s actually a fantastic idea! Check it out! Trips to the Dominican Republic and … ta dah! … Cuba!]

Arriving at Boca da ValeriaAnyway my first trip working for Princess was from Europe to Manaus, Brazil, and then spending several months doing the run from Ft Lauderdale up the Amazon to Manaus. On the Amazon we would stop at a little, and I do mean little, village beside the river called Boca da Valeria, nicknamed by the crew Boca da Malaria. It was a tiny, tiny village, and in my humble opinion not one where the visit of the cruise ships had a positive impact. Try as I might I couldn’t get guests, or crew, to stop giving out candy to the kids in order I suspect to feel like the great, white whatevers. The village was lucky to see a visiting dentist once a year! And not just the kids: everyone in this poor village was hustling for money. Little kids dressed up in feathers begging for dollars and kids with evBrazil 303ery kind of animal on a string posing for dollars. In an effort to protect the rain forest Brazil outlawed exporting ANY kind of wood product, so although local artisans had beautiful wood carvings they weren’t allowed back on the ship.

In all this there was a kid … well he was just a kid then … who was selling his paintings. They were primitive, but some of them I thought showed real promOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAise.  His name Freyzer Andrade.

We visited Boca da Valeria and Parintins for several months, every ten days, and I always chatted with Freyzer who knew enough English to talk about his hopes and dreams of going to art school.  Thanks to Facebook, I’ve been able to keep in touch with Freyzer through the years and watch him grow as a man, tour guide, eventually working on Holland America traveling the world and hanging out in all the great museums and galleries, and 17311_679293285548631_3629848944139645144_nmost of all I’ve watched him become this incredibly gifted artist.  He has had shows in various cities around the world, and actually been accepted to various art schools and to work in connection with museums in Florida … with only one problem … the US won’t give him a visa.
Freyzer recently posted this on Facebook …

Tentei marcar os pontos no mapa com as minhas andanças por aí.. o sonho de um garoto se tornou realidade.Atualmente sou um artista profissional autodidata e domino as técnicas com tinta a óleo, acrílico e aquarela. Atraves da arte ja estive em diferentes partes do mundo mostrando as belezas da Amazônia a bordo de navios cruzeiros ms Maasdam e ms Prinsendam da companhia Holland America Line entre outros.
A arte é minha vida e vou fazer isso até o dia que eu parar de respirar. Enquanto isso não acontece, continuarei me movimentando pra onde a arte quiser me levar.

Minha religião é a arte . . . . Obrigado DEUS por me permitir ser um artista.

Freyzer's Travels

Freyzer’s Travels

And for those of us who don’t read Portuguese, the automated translation …

I tried to mark the points on the map with my wanderings around.. The dream of a boy has become a reality. Currently I am a professional artist auto-Didact
and conquer the techniques with ink the oil, acrylic and aquarel. Through the art I was already in different parts of the world showing the beauties of the Amazon on board ships cruise liners ms maasdam and ms prinsendam of the company Holland America line among others.

Art is my life and I will do this until the day I stop breathing. While this is not me, I will continue moving to where the art wants to take me.

My religion is the art. ………… . Thank you God for allowing me to be an artist.

So what’s the fuss? See for yourself …

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If you’re a high-powered attorney who knows your way around the visa process, front and back doors, an Ambassador or someone with US pull, an art lover, or a collector who wants an early Freyzer … let me know and I will put you in touch with The Artist.

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Habla Ya -#3 Hiatus With Lots of Tarea

After four weeks a Spanish at Habla Ya, one-on-on with a really great teacher, Yaira Munoz, Princess called … and when you work for a Princess, when she calls you listen. Going in Habla Ya realized that my assignments on ships happen, sometimes last-minute, and promised to work with me. One of the things I like about Habla Ya is that they will work with you to achieve your goals. My wife had started in a class for local expats and this is the second year she has taken this expat series of classes. Well some of the others in the class had to leave early, so wanted to speed things up, which wasn’t working for Nikki, and so Habla Ya put her in another class. It just really depends on you and I appreciate Habla Ya’s willingness to work with your schedule and goals.

Yaira Habla YaYaira was telling me about another student who came from Germany not knowing any Spanish with the single goal to learn Spanish for business. Like most Habla Ya students he was in an immersion program, living with a local family and taking private classes seven hours [7 hours!!] a day, five days a week, and on weekends taking advantage of the tours and outings, of course in Spanish, offered by Habla Ya. In three weeks he was speaking Spanish, maybe not yet with all the tenses, but Speaking “like a native.”

So, knowing I will be off on CARIBBEAN PRINCESS for a month with nothing to do but visit 16 ports of call in 12 countries, give 28 lectures, and answer port questions from 3,000 people, Jaira has loaded me down with Spanish homework [“tarea”]. Interestingly one of the options Habla Ya has available is to do classes online, which would have been a good option except for the fact that shipboard Internet is notoriously slow and expensive.

Hopefully I will find a couple of other crew members from Mexico or Spain who will help me perfect my Spanish pronunciation in the crew bar if I buy them drinks. Of course, just like English, every country pronounces things differently and uses different words for different things, not to mention that too many $1.50 drinks in the crew bar may not be that helpful for my Spanish education. Hell, I could probably visit the Cantina across from the new market in downtown Boquete on Saturday night and get the same thing!

Habla Ya- #1 With Fear & Trepidation

Habla Ya – #2 Why The Spanish Lost The New World

Habla Ya -#3 Hiatus With Lots of Tarea