Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

All you have to do is Google the name “Wild Bill Cortez” and you’ll be swept into a story that promises to be featured on “20/20” or “Dateline”. I suspect it may even turn into a movie….! I have mostly written about the good things in Panama since I’m the forever optimist. The longer I live here, however, the more I realize just how “different” it is from middle America. Don’t get me wrong. I still prefer my beach walks to walking the isles in Wal-Mart or Costco. The following link: has the Wild Bill Cortez story in its entirety. My connection to the story is that Wild Bill and his lovely wife Jane (along with their 2 dogs and various assortment of guns) lived in my house for 6 months before I moved in a year ago. After they murdered the Brown family in 2008, they moved to Playa La Barqueta and “rented” from the owner of the house starting sometime in late 2008. I use the term “rented” loosely because the owner never received rent. I only encountered them once, when I was peddling my bicycle around the neighborhood handing out fliers for the Jazz Night I helped organize. I knocked on their door and handed them a poster. They thanked me and said they were buying the house. Me knocking on the door probably prompted them to paste a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door (the tape marks are still there). Later, when another neighbor knocked on the door asking for help rescuing an upturned boat out of the waves Bill said, “Can’t you read?” and slammed the door in her face. When I moved in last July, there was an unexplained telescope set up in the bedroom. I recently found out that Bill and Jane trained that telescope on the street, most likely watching out for the Bocas Del Toro Police. They left here quietly (I imagine because the electricity was finally turned off) and moved back to Bocas in early 2009.  Here is a link to the Dateline story about Wild Bill Cortez:

And for the ugly: this is a picture of a dead olive ridley turtle that washed up on my beach last week. It looks like she died of old age rather than being caught in a net. It's still sad though. Before very long, the incoming tide turned her onto her back (as in this picture), providing easy access for the hoard of vultures waiting to reach in for her meat (via her legs).

The scary: Last week, one of my neighbors had both front and back doors open (to create a breeze). While relaxing in his chair, he noticed a Fer-De-Lance snake crawl up the step and into his house. He found a sharp, long tool and killed it. Yikes! Maybe I shouldn't leave my doors open any more!
The rest of the story: I've added two more pictures since I started this Blog last night. One is of the vultures lined up to eat the olive ridley turtle. The other picture shows the telescope that Bill and Jane left in my house.
Good news: 3:29 pm - MANAGUA, Nicaragua. (AP): Army spokesman Col. Juan Ramon Morales told AP that military forces captured two individuals identified as William Cortez, American, and his wife Jane, apparently Holland, traveling in a boat on the river San Juan.
Go Nicaragua! I"ll sleep better on the beach tonight!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Back Home At The Playa

After spending two lovely weeks in Washington and California, I'm happily back home at the beach in Panama. Some memories include: birding with Carol in Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge (saw my first Yellow-headed Blackbird and Common Yellowthroat); jumping into Kelsey Creek on the Fourth of July (after a hiatus of 45 years); travelling with Mom through airport security (yes, Mom really did tell the TSA agent who patted her down that she thought she was falling in love after all the "touching"); finding a plethora of bikinis to buy at Wal-mart because nobody who shops there is my size; birding with Chris Thaub and talking with him about his feature film Samira (wishing I could invest in the film before it becomes a hit); spending a week at True North Health and finally perfecting my diet (good-bye salt, sugar and oil); buying "The Kiss" from Artist James Zimmerman (Santa Rosa High School classmate) after seeing it in a San Francisco art gallery in 1978 for $300 and not being able to afford it.

The weekend I returned to Panama, I had the pleasure of "hosting" two Learning Enterprises ( interns named Kelsey and Emma. Kelsey is from Anchorage (her mother works with a Dancing Bear friend named David) and is a Junior at Brown while Emma is from DC and a Junior at Georgetown. They are teaching English in the province of Los Santos for 6 weeks. While at the beach they enjoyed kayaking (pictured), eating vegetables (it's rice and fried food when you live with Panamanian families), and dancing at the Las Olas bar (it was karaoke night).

I am back into my routine of walking the beach with Chester (yes, he did miss me), birding with the Boquete Birders (we will walk the Caldera River this Friday), catching up with friends (Pauline is in Panama for a couple of weeks), and enjoying the sun/fun/adventure of living in Paradise!