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House Hunting in Panama: Tucked Into the Mountains for $580,000



This three-bedroom house is a short walk from downtown Boquete, a mountain town in the fertile highlands of Panama’s western Chiriquí province, known for its remote location, pleasant climate and popularity with expatriates.

The single-story house, which was remodeled and expanded to 2,450 square feet in 2017, is in Panamonte Estates, a 13-year-old gated community with 23 architecturally distinct homes. The community’s land was purchased from the owners of the neighboring Panamonte Inn & Spa, a local landmark whose 1914 opening coincided with that of the Panama Canal, said Lauretta Bonfiglio, an agent with Casa Solution, which has the listing. Though not huge, “every house is individual,” Ms. Bonfiglio said. “Even gated communities are not mass look-alike developments. That is what makes Boquete a unique community.”

Wrought-iron gates open to a stone walkway traversing the lawn and a wood bridge with a decorative railing. Across a creek, the path resumes, leading to a glass-topped pergola at the front entrance. A second gate slightly farther down the road opens to a large carport.

The entrance hall, with wood-beam accents, leads to a great room with living and dining areas. The room has stone walls, a vaulted ceiling, and a floor-to-ceiling, double-sided stone fireplace. Porcelain tiles resembling wood cover the floors throughout.

Massive glass doors slide open from both the living area and adjacent library/study to a covered terrace with an outdoor living room, a stone fireplace and custom iron railing. Warmed by the other side of the fireplace, the library/study could double as a third bedroom.

Across the entry hall, the kitchen is distinguished from a sitting area by a long wood table with drawers and shelves tucked underneath that serves as a movable center island. A stainless-steel sink is set in a white-tile countertop, with matching subway tiles forming a backsplash. A walk-in pantry is in the sitting area.

The main bedroom has a wall of closets and windows on two walls. A pocket door opens to an en suite bath with beige porcelain tile, a marble-topped wood vanity and a decorative mirror. The shower has a bench beneath a clerestory window.

Beyond the main bedroom, a hallway lined with louvered doors hides a washer and dryer on one side and a linen closet and storage compartment on the other. A second doorway reveals a full bath with a tub in a stone surround. The adjoining second bedroom is used as a study.

The house is tucked into one end of its 0.39-acre lot, adjoining a large side garden with bougainvillea, bamboo, ferns and citrus trees. Several wood bridges span the brook that crisscrosses the property.

The town of Boquete, near Panama’s western border with Costa Rica, sits about 3,900 feet above sea level and attracts locals and foreigners alike with its natural beauty and vibrant cultural scene. This property is a five-minute walk to several Boquete restaurants, and not much farther from the pharmacies, grocery stores and churches that dot its downtown strip. Enrique Malek International Airport, in the Chiriquí capital city of David, is about an hour away. The flight to Boquete from Panama-Tocumen International Airport in Panama City takes just over an hour.

Thanks to its agreeable climate, affordable housing and health care, and use of the U.S. dollar, Panama has emerged as a favorite destination for foreign buyers, particularly American retirees. Those buyers have gradually pushed up prices over the past five years

Rafael Gangi, the broker-owner of Sotheby’s International Realty Panama, said that although the coronavirus pandemic shuttered the country’s housing market from March through August, prices remained stable. Tourists and expats are returning to Panama, but in fewer numbers. “There is a moderate inventory of properties for sale in both the primary and secondary markets,” he said.

When Panama instituted its lockdown on March 20, Jason Cohen, an owner with his wife, Stephanie, of Casa Solution Real Estate, got nervous. “In the beginning, we lost a few deals because of what was going on,” Mr. Cohen said. “I expected things to get much slower.”

But sales volume in Boquete remains similar to 2019 levels, he said, and while there are some “buying opportunities,” prices haven’t slipped.

Properties “started selling virtually and we started selling more luxury properties,” Mr. Cohen said. Before the pandemic, most of their sales were in the $200,000 to $400,000 range, with luxury homes from $500,000 to $900,000 selling “once in a while.”

“This year, it’s more $500s, $600s and $900s,” he said, with some buyers going into contract sight unseen. “I have been pleased with the shift to the higher end.”

The surge in Boquete is partly political. Buyers “used to originally be 55 and older,” including many snowbirds, said Joanne Hatch, an agent with Inside Panama Real Estate who does most of her business with expats. This year, she has seen “a huge uptick” of young families unhappy with “where the U.S. is going right now.”

“I have some people that hate Trump and some people that hate Biden,” she said.

Then there has been the pandemic effect: More domestic buyers are newly able to work from home and less tethered to their work commutes, Mr. Cohen said, while some are making lifestyle changes or seeking homes with more elbow room.

(As of Nov. 2, Panama had reported 134,915 Covid-19 cases and 2,720 deaths, according to the New York Times’s coronavirus world map.)

“We are getting a wave of Panamanians wanting to move to Boquete and get away from the city,” said Eugenio Horna, the general manager of Casa Solution. About 30 percent of his firm’s buyers are Panamanian, up from about 10 percent five years ago.

Foreigners living in Panama City, about 300 miles east, also are relocating to Boquete. At the high end, Mr. Cohen said, buyers “are mostly all foreigners.”

Still, Ms. Hatch said, she is overloaded with top-end inventory. She has more than 60 active listings, from $150,000 to several million dollars, with a gap from $200,000 to $300,000, the most popular price point. “We are short on those listings,” she said.

In Boquete, she said, $500,000 buys a 2,500- to 3,000-square-foot home with a nice kitchen. Most houses come fully furnished; a few have pools.

Though many Panamanian coffee farms have been sold and divided into lots, more houses and less land are being purchased. “Before, people couldn’t find what they wanted and had to build,” Mr. Cohen said. Finished houses are now often available for less than what it costs to build a similar house.

Since its founding in 1911 as a small agricultural community, Boquete has been “very multinational,” Ms. Bonfiglio said.

Recent American buyers have come from New York, Texas, Florida, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado and Ohio, agents said. Buyers also come from Canada, South Africa, Holland, France and Britain, Ms. Hatch said.

Before the pandemic, Mr. Cohen worked with buyers from Germany and Italy. While inquiries are still coming, few have previewed properties in person.

There are no restrictions on foreign buyers in Panama, said Oliver Candanedo, a local lawyer, though a notary is required to do a closing and “a lawyer is always recommended for foreigners that are not familiar with our laws and formalities.” Lawyers are required when a sale or purchase involves “a company or private-interest foundation.”

Real estate agents and lawyers perform due diligence and check titles. Though not compulsory for a home purchase, lawyers in Panama are required by law to do background checks and other due diligence on their clients, Mr. Candanedo added.

Foreigners pay cash or use owner financing, Mr. Cohen said.

A visa program established on Oct. 15 allows foreigners who invest at least $500,000 in real estate to obtain permanent residency. To retain the resident status, the investment must be kept for at least five years.

  • Boquete tourism:

  • Panama tourism:

  • Panama government:

Spanish; U.S. dollar

The annual property tax on this house is $1,350, with monthly homeowner’s association dues of $200. Buyer’s registration fees run about $500. Notaries cost $200 to $250, and lawyers charge between $2,500 and $3,000.

Jason Cohen, Casa Solution, 011-507-720-1331;

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By: Marcelle Sussman Fischler
Title: House Hunting in Panama: Tucked Into the Mountains for $580,000
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Published Date: Wed, 04 Nov 2020 14:30:19 +0000

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What could you order from Ansett Airlines’ inflight bar in the early 1970s?




People have always liked to drink on board flights, especially people from Australia. Therefore, it should be no surprise to anyone that there was an inflight bar offering in the 1970s.

Ansett Airlines were a major player in the Australian domestic market up until their demise in September 2001. For many years, there were two domestic airlines, Trans-Australia Airlines (TAA) and Ansett.

Ansett’s Inflight Bar

At the time, Ansett operated Boeing 727s, Douglas DC-9s and Fokker F27 Friendships on domestic routes in the country. Airline tickets were quite expensive, with tariffs agreed upon by both airlines thanks to Australia’s weird two-airline policy at the time.

While tickets were expensive and food complimentary, you still had to pay for a drink at the bar. Here is an inflight bar menu from the era, showing the drinks available and their prices.

Clearly the pricing is astounding by today’s standards – 30 cents for a beer? I’ll have thirty-three please! I like how Australian gin is 35c while the imported gin is just 5c more. Which would you choose?

You can tell it is from another era as you can buy cigarettes on board. These price up at 45c, a far cry from the extortionate prices people in the west pay these days for a smoke!

Overall Thoughts

The on board offering is pretty comprehensive for internal flights, and I imagine you’d be hard pressed not to find something you might like. In those times, all payments would have been by cash as well, which would have meant a lot of coinage being handled on board.

Of course, things haven’t changed too much over the years. On many airlines you pay for your drinks just as they did back in the 1970s. Shame the prices aren’t the same of course!

Did you ever buy drinks on board flights from the inflight bar back in the day? Do you still? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by Daniel Tanner on via Wikimedia Commons.
Menu image by Ikara on Australian Frequent Flyer.

By: The Flight Detective
Title: What could you order from Ansett Airlines’ inflight bar in the early 1970s?
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Published Date: Thu, 19 Nov 2020 15:03:14 +0000

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These Shrimp Leave the Safety of Water and Walk on Land. But Why?




The shrimp stop swimming at dusk and gather near the river’s edge. After sunset, they begin to climb out of the water. Then they march. All night long, the inch-long crustaceans parade along the rocks.

The parading shrimp of northeastern Thailand have inspired legends, dances and even a statue. (Locals also eat them.) During the rainy season, between late August and early October, tourists crowd the riverbanks with flashlights to watch the shrimp walk.

Watcharapong Hongjamrassilp first learned about the parading shrimp, and the hundred thousand or more tourists who come each year to see them, about 20 years ago. When he started studying biology, he returned to the topic. “I realized that we know nothing about this,” he said: What species are they? Why and how do they leave the safety of the water to walk upstream on dry land? Where are they going?

Mr. Hongjamrassilp, a graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, decided to answer those questions himself. His findings appeared this month in the Journal of Zoology.

Working with wildlife center staff members, Mr. Hongjamrassilp staked out nine sites along a river in Thailand’s Ubon Ratchathani province. They found shrimp parading at two of the sites — a stretch of rapids, and a low dam.

The videos they recorded revealed that the shrimp paraded from sundown to sunup. They traveled up to 65 feet upstream. Some individual shrimp stayed out of the water for 10 minutes or more.

“I was so surprised,” Mr. Hongjamrassilp said, “because I never thought that a shrimp can walk that long.” Staying in the river’s splash zone may help them keep their gills wet, so they can keep taking in oxygen. He also observed that the shells of the shrimp seem to trap a little water around their gills, like a reverse dive helmet.

DNA analysis from captured shrimp showed that nearly all belonged to the species Macrobrachium dienbienphuense, part of a genus of shrimp that live mostly or fully in freshwater. Many Macrobrachiumspecies spend part of their lives migrating upstream to their preferred habitats.

Most parading shrimp that Mr. Hongjamrassilp captured were young. Observations and lab experiments showed that these shrimp probably leave the water when the flow becomes too strong for them. Larger adult shrimp can handle a stronger current without washing away, so they’re less likely to leave the water.

Walking on land is dangerous for the little shrimp, even under cover of darkness. Predators including frogs, snakes and large spiders lurk nearby, Mr. Hongjamrassilp says. “Literally, they wait to eat them along the river.”

And the shrimp can survive on land for only so long. If the parading crustaceans lose their way, they may dry out and die before they get back to the river. A few times, Mr. Hongjamrassilp came across groups of lost shrimp dead on the rocks, their once-translucent bodies baked pink.

Yet most navigate upstream successfully, and scientists have spotted other freshwater shrimp around the world performing similar feats, scaling dams and even climbing waterfalls.

Leaving the water when the swimming gets tough may have helped these animals spread to new habitats over their evolutionary history, Mr. Hongjamrassilp said. Today, the number of parading shrimp in Thailand seems to be declining. He thinks tourist activity may be a factor, and learning more about the shrimp might help protect them.

The study’s authors made “some really excellent observations,” said Alan Covich, an ecologist at the University of Georgia who was not involved in the research. But understanding why the Ubon Ratchathani shrimp move upstream, and how far they travel, will require more research, he said.

“The most surprising thing to me was that it attracted so many tourists,” Dr. Covich said. He doesn’t know of any other example of people gathering to appreciate a crustacean in quite the same way.

“We have crayfish festivals, we have all kinds of things,” Dr. Covich said, “but generally it’s people eating them, not watching them move.”

By: Elizabeth Preston
Title: These Shrimp Leave the Safety of Water and Walk on Land. But Why?
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Published Date: Wed, 18 Nov 2020 17:02:07 +0000

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Will Aer Lingus launch transatlantic flights from Manchester?




There are reports that Aer Lingus have applied for 1,500 slots at Manchester Airport for the Summer 2021 season. This will allow the airline to base four aircraft there and service flights to the United States.

At present, there have been no press releases from the airline stating what is going on. Even so, it probably makes sense for the Irish airline to do this in the current market.

Aer Lingus And Manchester

From what is known, there will be three Airbus A321LRs and an A330 based at Manchester. These will operate non-stop services to New York JFK, Boston, Chicago and Orlando, and the season starts on 28 March 2021.

With Thomas Cook having gone out of business, there is likely space for another competitor. New York and Orlando will see competition from Virgin Atlantic, while the other two routes have no airline flying at the moment.

Aer Lingus has been connecting passengers over Dublin very successfully from the UK regions for a while now. Due to this, they will have visibility on traffic patterns, potential yields and more, making this an informed decision.

I imagine they also hope to cream off some of the connecting traffic that routes through London Heathrow on British Airways and Amsterdam on KLM among others. It would prove to be quite successful.

Transatlantic Joint Venture Approval

The US Department of Transport has tentatively given its approval for Aer Lingus to join the oneworld transatlantic joint business. This is operated by American Airlines, British Airways, Iberia and Finnair.

These airlines coordinate schedules and pricing, share revenues and expenses. For the consumer, it means more choice – those making a booking on British Airways across the Atlantic will also see options on American Airlines on the BA web site as one example.

Theoretically, it would allow people seeking flights on the British Airways web site to automatically be given options to fly non-stop with Aer Lingus, along with the Manchester-London Heathrow-US city connecting itinerary.

Whether Aer Lingus will join the oneworld alliance, even in a oneworld connect capacity remains to be seen. Frequent flyers would welcome it, especially those in Ireland.

Overall Thoughts

No doubt the boffins have been working behind the scenes to see if the business case for transatlantic flights from Manchester stack up. As things have proceeded as far as a slot application, I would guess chances are good that it will go ahead.

Either way, let’s see if this happens and if it does, whether Aer Lingus will stay for the long haul. If they can make more money elsewhere, they’ll up sticks and leave. Regardless, it is an interesting development in European aviation.

What do you think of Aer Lingus starting transatlantic services from Manchester? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

To never miss a post, follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
All my flight and lounge reviews are indexed here so check them out!

Featured image by N509FZ via Wikimedia Commons.
Aer Lingus A321neo LR by Pitmanaaron via Wikimedia Commons.
Business class cabin via One Mile At A Time.

By: The Flight Detective
Title: Will Aer Lingus launch transatlantic flights from Manchester?
Sourced From:
Published Date: Wed, 18 Nov 2020 18:03:48 +0000

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