Beach Walk ~ The Mangroves

While we were walking along the beach yesterday morning I turned my attention inland instead of towards the ocean.  As we walked I noted how many trees lose their leaves during dry season while, seemingly so many more take to blooming and fruiting.  The contrast between the bare, bone like branches reaching to the sky and the tattered palm trees and large green trees that are still green was interesting to see from an unobstructed distance.

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As we walked further I observed that the mangrove areas are also very dry right now and the lines where the water normally reaches is very noticeable.  There are many varieties of trees and shrubs that grow in mangroves but they all have a few things in common; they are the amphibians of the plant world, thriving in salt water but also needing soil to live.


The first time I ever saw mangroves was in Australia during a trip to the Daintree Rainforest.  We saw huge trees that looked like they were barely clinging to the sand along the shore line at Cape Tribulation.  What I learned during that trip was that mangroves are very important ecologically.  They protect the coastlines from strong waves and winds, rising sea levels and most importantly erosion.   From then on I’ve always noticed the mangroves when I’ve been near the ocean.


We have several areas of mangroves throughout our district and mangroves are an important part of the ecological system.  I’ve learned recently that further down the peninsula a large area of mangroves has been dug out from the shore and is currently being filled.  It’s unfortunate because the system of mangrove roots trap sediment and adds to the stability of the shore. The environment provides breeding grounds for many fish and other wildlife. The soil is rich in organic matter and it forms an important source of food for the creatures that live there.

My observation is that ripping out mangroves and filling the area in to build is something like selling a lot with a pond a foot away that never seems to dry out in even the driest parts of the year.  There is a reason that mangroves form in the areas that they do.  I personally wouldn’t be willing to gamble on building or living on a property like that in the campo no matter how great a deal it is.

Go ahead and read what others have written about mangroves!


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Day 8 ~ I’ve Changed My About Page

Today’s assignment was to create and publish your About page, and adapt it for a widget on your home page.

As I already had an About page I changed mine to be more current and added a small About widget at the top.  I also moved my Follow widget so it’s easier to find.

Check, check!



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Rejoice Kiwis…and What the Heck is the SPI!!??

Friend Pam wrote an article on her blog about how the United States didn’t do so well on the new the Social Progress Index (SPI), a measure of human well-being that goes beyond traditional economic measures such as GDP or per capita income. You can read Pam’s thoughts here: U.S. in the World: Misplaced Pride.

A U.S. non-profit group, the Social Progress Imperative, worked together with the World Economic Forum to create the index.  The group looked at 132 countries around the world for the first time, last year they only studied 50.  The Social Progress Index is a study meant to compliment the measurement of GDP. The study of the relationship between economic growth and social progress can help countries in understanding how to grow and how social progress can essentially help growth.  In other words GDP doesn’t necessarily tell countries what to do while the SPI does give suggestions of where they should centre their attention to evolve.

To explain what the SPI is the folks that did the study created this great YouTube video that assists in enlightening us all:

All of this got me to thinking how my “adopted” country tallies up against my “home” country and so I went exploring further into the SPI website.  Canada ranks 7th in the world on the Social Progress Index and Panama rates 38th but those numbers don’t tell the story.

Panama mapPanama GDPCanada Map Canada GDP

Turns out that Canada is the best performing G8 country.  We are behind countries such as Switzerland, the Netherlands and Norway.  But it is ahead of the United States and United Kingdom (two more of our benchmark countries).  Costa Rica and Uruguay are the top two countries in Latin America but Chile and Panama are third and fourth. So not too bad Panama!

Top 10 Europe, Oceania, North America:

North Americ etc top 10

Top 10 Latin America, Caribbean:

Latin America

Canada gets its high-ranking from its good scores on personal freedom and choice and on providing opportunity for people to improve their place in society, earning a total score of 87.2 or second place in the “opportunity” category. In contrast Panama earned lower scores in tolerance and inclusion and access to advanced education earning a score of 62.48 or 37th place overall in this grouping.

Comparison Canada Panama

By my observation access to further education is a problem for those who live out in the countryside.  Living costs are relatively low and public universities are free for everyone, but private institutions do charge, with fees varying depending on your course. The problem is that the majority of these institutions are based in Panama City and that is when costs start to climb, giving people already living in the city an advantage over those who have to move from the campo.  There are satellite campuses available but they don’t offer all the courses available in the larger centres.  It also doesn’t help when The University of Panama suspends classes as they did today at its central campus because of  lack of water due to a burst pipe which brings me to the next area…

Panama lags behind is in the basic human needs section.  The government is currently undergoing a huge investment in infrastructure to improve potable water and sewer throughout a great part of Panama.  They are also investing money into subsidized housing and subsidized mortgages which is encouraging.  The area of great concern by my observation is the safety and security section.  It seems in our area at least, there just isn’t enough policia to keep everything in check and be proactive and not reactive.  I do see many recruitment posters in the towns around the country which is a good thing.

Panama 1a

Canada has good scores for basic human needs as well as healthcare and nutrition.  There is a problem with access to clean water outside metropolitan areas and ensuring shelter is available to all citizens; particularly in First Nations and Northern communities.  Another thing that the citizens and government have to watch is the problem with obesity of the population which adds to healthcare costs.  Always a work in progress…

Canada 1

Panama outranked Canada in Ecosystem Sustainability by scoring the 10th spot as opposed to Canada’s 51st spot.  Panama scored way behind Canada on the access to information and communications.  I don’t know how that was calculated it seems that everyone, even those that live in little tin shacks have cell phones.  The mail system in Panama leaves a lot to be desired.  In our town there is only a post office and one needs to wait for someone to move or go to the “Great Beyond” to get a box here.  On the other hand isn’t that the way that Canada’s postal system is going?  We do have access to internet although it’s not always wired in but WiFi with a USB stick works well…most of the time.  When the electricity is working, and the stick is recharged, and the moon is aligned in the right spot and there’s not hundreds more people in town trying to use their cellphones sucking our signal and it’s not too windy…

The data gathered for comparison is by no means perfect but still it will hopefully allow countries to benchmark themselves against similar countries and help them to improve.  (Remember those terms from school?) FYI, if you look at the list you’ll notice that there is a grouping of Scandinavian countries in the top five.   It all makes for some interesting reading in the campo.

* If you’d like to explore or compare further you can find the full website here.

If your brain isn’t ready to burst here’s even more to read!



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WP Weekly Photo Challenge ~ En la parte superior.

This week’s photo challenge is  “on top“.  Participants are asked to demonstrate what being what “on top” means to us.

on top (phrase of top)
on the highest point or uppermost surface.
on the upper part of the head.
in a leading or the dominant position. 

I have several photos of  beautiful, colourful birds “on top” of trees that are just begging to be chosen as this week’s entry however; I’ve chosen the lowly Grackle and his piece of poo or as we call it here ‘caca de vaca’.

I’ve always found animal behaviour fascinating and as we watched this bird alight on his delicious find behind our back fence it was no different.  He was ever watchful of what was going on around him as he walked on top his prize, and he kept at least one of his feet on top of his treasure the entire time he was picking through it in the campo.

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More about “on top” that hopefully (for your sake) don’t involve poo:



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Day 7 ~ Changing Again

I “boobed up” the other day and got ahead of myself changing the look of the blog.  Today’s assignment is to create and upload a simple header, background, or both.  I decided I didn’t like the gold on the background I chose whilst getting ahead and so I’ve chosen something a little softer.  Done and done.

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Day 6 Assignment ~ It’s New to Me

One of the components of today’s blogging challenge is to use an element that is new to me. I’ve learned that I can embed tracks from Spotify or Rdio into my blog for my readers listening pleasure. (If you are a Spotify user click the play the button, the music will start playing in the Spotify Desktop Player or Web Player. If you are not logged into your Spotify account, you will be prompted to do so. If you do not have Spotify account you will be sent to the Spotify sign-up page, in a new window.  Sign up and explore if you haven’t already, there’s something for everybody.)

Often on long weekends the house across the street is rented out.  This weekend was no exception.  Around 11:30 pm on Viernes Santos (Good Friday) the new (short-term) neighbours rolled in.

There is a law on Viernes Santos that loud music liquor sales are not permitted from 12:00 am to 12:00 am the following morning. This didn’t seem to bother our new neighbours who partied on…all night.  I was already in bed when they arrived and didn’t realize where the noise was coming from.  When I opened the front window the next morning and got hit with a wall of sound emanating from the car parked on the lawn across the road.   

We don’t know what happened but about an hour after we got up everything got quiet.  Maybe one of the other neighbours told them to cut it out?  Who knows?

|Thanks to Spotify I was able to find a familiar Reggaetown song that I’m sure was among the play list booming from the campo.  I dare you to sit still as you get into the groove…


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Day Five ~ Confusion

I got Day Five accomplished on Day Three by clicking on the wrong challenge.  Whoops…

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Day Four Assignment …. Follow

I’ve been off the net for a day so I’m a day behind in my blogging project.  Yesterday’s task was to follow five new topics in the Reader and five new blogs.  One of the suggestions was to look in the The Blogroll on The Commons.  I was a little disappointed when several blogs that I clicked on were on the list but it didn’t seem that they were really participating in the challenges.  So I went on the hunt on my own.

Here are the five blogs I’ve decided to follow and what they are about.  Some of the “Abouts” are pretty long so I’ve kept that part that gives the idea of what the blog is about. I’ve linked the blogs to their names so if you’d like to find something new to read go ahead and click and explore with me in the campo.

Gone Catawampus

Gone Catawampus tells the tales that must be told. The good, the bad, the completely insane. Our woes become your enjoyment. Who is “our,” you ask? Funny you should mention it. …

Because I think Dos Gatos would enjoy reading the posts from this blog with me.  And after all Dos Gatos happiness is of the utmost importance in la casa.

Reluctantly Suburban

After 15 years in the heart of the city, I’ve moved back to my hometown to navigate the sprawling suburban abyss with my Texan transplant husband, cutie-pants toddler son, and impossibly fluffy dog.

What the hell were we thinking?

I liked the “About” portion, it’s cute and pithy.  A book I’m reading says that Mommy Blogs are among the most popular blogs because it’s nice to know that you’re not alone in this mommy gig.   Technology is a wonderful thing…

This Is My Corn 

Welcome! It’s a warm day, so come on in. There are ears ripe for picking, so take a treat home with you. But this is my corn, and you people are guests in my corn, so I expect everyone will act accordingly. The stalks can break, and that’s no good for anyone.

I like warm days and I like corn.  I there anymore to say?  

Catherine Caffeinated

In 2006, Catherine moved to Orlando, Florida and went to work at a hotel in Walt Disney World. In 2008, she came back to Ireland and started writing a book about the time she moved to Orlando, Florida and went to work in a hotel in Walt Disney World. This became Mousetrapped: A Year and A Bit in Orlando, Florida, which she self-published in March 2010. Then she wrote a book about what she did after she worked in a hotel in Walt Disney World — she spent three months backpacking through Central America — and she self-published that too, calling it Backpacked: A Reluctant Trip Across Central America. Then she wrote a book about what she did after she spent three months backpacking through Central America — she started self-publishing books — and then (can you see where this going?) she self-published that too. That one was called Self-Printed. …

She currently divides her time between the desk and the sofa, drinks a LOT of coffee and wants to be a NASA astronaut when she grows up.

I’ve never really read blogs about writing so this will be a new one for me.

Bucky (the blog)

Name: You can call me Leslie.

Age: Older than I act (most of the time).

Occupation: Fashion Designer (, Serial Blogger (this one and elle’s adventures), and Creative Tornado (for better or for worse).

Things I hate (let’s be honest, this is far more interesting than a laundry list of things you love): Babies, dinosaurs, space.

Hobbies: Jogging, sewing, drawing, reading, creating awkward moments.

Heroes: William Morris, Eminem, Stella McCartney, Buckminster Fuller

What’s the Point of This Blog Anyway?: Bucky is the little sister to my older, more sophisticated and mature brand: Buchanan. While being classy is fun and what not, sometimes it needs to loosen up…and that’s where Bucky comes in. Always fun, always fresh, and usually not politically correct, Bucky is just here for the party. This blog is my creative outlet for all things not ‘work related’…you know…like pictures of homemade scones and all the latest trashion.

Anything else?: I have an unhealthy obsession with my cat Jacques. And my husband is the bee’s knees.

Another first for me I don’t have a design blog on my reader.  This is all over the place with DIY, fashion and food all with a sense of humour.  I like people who don’t take what they do too seriously.  Seriously.




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Day Three ~ Does This Look More Like the Campo?

You’ll notice when you “land” on the page today that it looks a little different.  The Day Three task is to change it up a bit with the look of the blog and experiment with new themes, colors, and fonts.

I spent some time looking a new themes but I like the clean look of the theme I’m currently using so I’m keeping it.  I did change-up the header by using a photo from my archives that I think identifies more with living in the countryside of Panama.  I also thought the composition of the photo was kind of neat, almost as if all those vacas were posing for me.

The one thing I’m not sure about is the background pattern.  It reminded me of wheat sheaves which is an homage to the Alberta Provincial Flag but it may be too busy and formal.  I’ll have to live with it for a few days and then decide.

What do you think do you identify more with the campo when you look at the page?


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A Question of Weather

I received the following question and I thought it deserved a blog post of its own:

Hi and thnx for your blogging! Friends were talking about Panama as a retirement option. We live half the year in Arizona but avoid the hot summer. We too wondered if Panama was a fit, for us and the dogs, year round. Being from the Pacific coast, in Canada, we can seem too get the real facts on the weather. Yes it should be warm but, being in a rainy climate in Canada, what is your take on how much rain is there? I read other stories, I believe were yours, and it seemed the volume of rain may deter a lot of outside activities??  There is also mixed information when comparing the Caribbean to the Pacific sides, of Panama, regarding rain and cloudy skies. ?? 


Dear Earl:

Welcome to the big wide world of research on Panama! Although my in-laws also spent half of the year in Arizona to avoid the cold Alberta winters we immediately struck it from our list.  Why? Because we could only stay there for six months of the year and we were looking for a more permanent escape.  In Arizona there are also miles and miles of sand but not too many bodies of water to swim in, in other words we were looking for a place with a beach.

As with Canada, Panama has many places and climates to choose from.  Yes, it rains here but in varying degrees in each area of the country.  There are two seasons, Wet Season and Dry Season.  Wet Season is just beginning again in some parts of the country and will continue until about mid-December when the trade winds shift and it becomes Dry Season once again.

We live on the Azuero Peninsula part of the “Dry Arch” of Panama.  This is one of the driest areas of the country; for comparison think of Saskatchewan in the summer.  Our Wet Season is shorter and of course that makes our Dry Season longer.  Our temperature stays around 30° C year round but wind and humidity vary depending on the season.  During Wet Season the humidity climbs significantly and everything becomes lush and tropical and well, wet.  During Dry Season everything is mostly yellow, brown and dusty and dirty like a prairie summer.  On the other hand we do get some nice breezes over the ocean that cools the air down somewhat.  When it rains in our area the temperature doesn’t change, unlike the rains in Canada it stays warm enough that one can walk outside with an umbrella (a rain coat would be too warm), shorts and flip-flops.

The Caribbean Coast has more rain year-round and is more of a ‘tropical’ climate than a ‘neotropical’ such as ours.  The population is much sparser there also with mostly indigenous people and pockets of tourism.  This area is hot and humid and gets pretty steamy.

Some of the places that are cooler and similar to the West Coast of Canada with more rain year round are the cooler mountainous regions like El Valle, Boquete, Volcan and Cerro Azul.  Someone once told me that the temperature in Bouquete during Dry Season reminded them of Summer in Canada.  I do know that most homes in the higher elevations have fireplaces in them and that long sleeves and long pants are sometimes required when the temperatures dip to a balmy 18° or lower.

When one is researching for a place to live for part or the entire year one of the criteria you have to look at is the weather.  But there are other things to consider also such as access to services such as shopping, health care and entertainment.  It’s always best to visit at least once during each season and investigate several areas of the country to see what the climate is like and what services are available.  In all honestly a little rain was one of the least of our concerns when looking for a place to live.

The skies the last few days are trying to fool us.  We wake in the morning to the gray that quickly turns to blue as the sun rises.  During Wet Season rain fills the rivers once again.  Rain brings the green lushness of the tropics and helps the crops grow.  Rainy season means the return of the whales along our coast.  Bring on the rain…in the campo.

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