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Giddy Up: The Horse Tour with Dave Hopper


National Police Summer Program



Yoga 101


Dish of the Month: Om Café


PUBLISHER INFORMATION / INFORMACIÓN DE EDITORIAL The Bocas Breeze is published monthly in English and Spanish with a circulation of 5,000 free copies distributed at airports, restaurants, retail stores, and local businesses throughout Panama (Bocas del Toro, Panama City, David, Boquete) and Costa Rica (Puerto Viejo, San Jose). The Bocas Breeze is also online at www. El Bocas Breeze es publicado mensualmente en inglés y español con una circulación de 5,000 copias gratuitas distribuidas en aeropuertos, restaurantes, tiendas y comercios locales en toda Panamá (Bocas del Toro, Ciudad de Panamá, David, Boquete) y Costa Rica (Puerto Viejo, San José). El Bocas Breeze también está en línea en Editor / Editora: Casie Dean Published by / Publicado por: Dean Enterprises, S.A. Printed by / Impreso por: Corporacion La Prensa Contact us / Contáctenos: 2005-2013 The Bocas Breeze all rights reserved. Photos and articles may not be used without permission. El Bocas Breeze Todos los derechos reservados. Las fotos y los artículos no pueden ser utilizados sin permiso.

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In a recent interview I was asked many questions about the world of Bocasdel Toro. This was odd for me considering I’m always on the other side of an interview. One of the very first questions- what my favorite thing about Bocas was. Without a thought I responded- the people. With their generosity, talent, and above all, their love for this island and the“island life”, the people of the Bocas community stand to-

gether, holding this little slice of paradise together like a tightly woven basket. In a place where resources are scarce we often rely on one another for a helping hand and sometimes a light of guidance. The people of Bocas are its heart and like the heart pumps blood to the rest of the body, the people give all the other aspects of Bocas the means to survive… and to thrive.


NOTA DE LA EDITORA En una entrevista reciente, me preguntaron varias preguntas sobre el mundo de Bocas del Toro. Esto fue extraño para mí considerando que siempre estoy del otro lado de la entrevista. Una de las primeras preguntas fue cuál es mi cosa favorita en Bocas. Sin pensarlo siquiera contesté que eran las personas. Con su generosidad, talento, y sobre todo, su amor por esta isla y la “vida isleña”, las personas en la comunidad de Bocas se integran y mantienen juntos


este pequeño pedazo de paraíso como una canasta de tejidos entrelazados. En un lugar donde los recursos son escasos, nosotros usualmente dependemos uno del otro para ayudarnos y algunas veces para obtener una guía. Las personas de Bocas son su corazón y como el corazón bombea sangre al resto del cuerpo, las personas le dan a todos los otros aspectos de Bocas los recursos para sobrevivir… y progresar.



March 8-11 at De la Luna in Loma Partida. Admission: $5/pp/per day. Rustic Campsites available for $15/ night, price includes admission. Three bungalows are still left which can be rented for the festival. Casa MargayRita is on the beach front garden, has a double bed and sleeps two. Casa Marijuye sleeps three (Two in a double bed, one in a loft) Casa Guillermo Dulce up in the jungle near my house sleeps two in a queen bed and has a private kitchen. All have private bathrooms. We are offering a 3 night Stone Soup Music Festival Package Friday, Saturday night with round trip transportation, lodging and admission included: • MargayRita (2 people) $125/pp • Marijuye (3 people) $80/pp • Casa Guillermo Dulce (2 people/ private kitchen) $140/pp

Jim McCarren passed away in the Bocas Del Toro hospital at 2:30am January 18, due to complications of a recent injury. Jim is survived by his wife Sumayyah, daughter Leila Almahdy and his brother and wife, Donald and AnoulaMcCarren, along with five nieces and nephews. A service was held on February 2, 2013 at 1pm in front of Jim and Sumayyah’s home on Bluff Beach.

Musicians and volunteers will be housed in Casa Colibri (My jungle house) Yachts are requested to anchor according to keel size. We request deep anchorages limited to monohulls, and the catamarans can park anywhere they are supported. Good anchors are important! ***There will be no catamarans tied to the dock this year Vendors are invited to set up and sell food/drinks at $25/day, and provide their own set up on island beach gardens on each side of the restaurant. Due to the recent drought, water is not available to share with vendors. Water taxi’s will be departing from the RipTide bar and restaurant Friday and Saturday at 10am and 12pm returning in the evening at 4 and 6pm

Jim and Sumayyah moved to Bocas del Toro in 1997. Jim was the founder of Buena Vista Restaurant that same year, and he later opened Buena Vista Reatly. Buena Vista quickly became known as the home town bar to all of the ex-pat’s. It was a place where many friends and acquaintances were made, and Bocas became the community that the McCarrens always wanted to be a part of.

Jim celebrated his 66th birthday on January 8 with his wife and friends. He will be greatly missed and never forgotten. Sumayyah and Leila would like to thank all their family, friends, and the local community for their love and support through this time.

HERE COMES THE 2013 BESO AUCTION! Since 2001, individuals and businesses throughout the Bocas del Toro archipelago have come together for a grand event, the Annual BESO Auction, to raise funds to improve education for Bocas’ children. Committees of dedicated volunteers have already swung into action to make the 2013 ANNUAL BESO AUCTION the best ever! Make your plans now to join the fun on March 20th at the Tropical Markets starting at 4pm and lasting until.... Go diving in your bodegas, attics, closets, and bilges to find those treasures your neighbors would love to bid on: household goods,

tion supplies and materials, clothing, jewelry.... You can drop off items at the Buena Vista Restaurant. Crank up those hidden talents to offer up your art work, handicrafts, and services that your neighbors just might need. No item is too big or too small to donate because every penny raised goes directly to funding scholarships and projects to improve educational opportunities for Bocas’ children. If you have visitors coming, ask them to bring items to donate, too. See you there: March 20th, 4pm, Topical Markets!


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Upon arriving at the pickup location, one is greeted with an earnest smile and hearty handshake from the man himself, Dave Hopper, founder of The House Tour on Isla Cristobal. The boat ride to this adventure takes you directly to Dave’s home on San Cristobal where the trail begins. His wife, Molly, pokes her head out of the kitchen windowto send down a warm hello and then goes

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back to making her soap line; she’s the guru behind Punta Coco Soap (in next month’s issue). Narciso is there as well. He is Dave’s right hand man, not to mention a veterinarian from the local village we will be visiting later. While saddling up Dave begins the horse tutorial. There were 4 well fed, well-mannered horses, all of which Dave took on the responsibility of rehabilitating. Clients of the tour will never guess that almost every horse was suffering from severe malnutrition and neglect not that long ago. With his knowledge and expertise Dave purchasedeach of them locally and brought them back to life by nourishing their bodies and souls. The Horse Tour now provides a beautiful insight to the jungle on San Cristobal, but it also offers clients a tour of the one of the largest indigenous villages in the archipelago. The village of San Cristobal has a lot to offer those who ride its way; a hot meal (and cold beverage) from the local restaurant, beautifully ornate jewelry and other crafts, and an inside look at the traditions shared by the hard working people who reside there. It’s a journey into an unknown world not to mention a culturally wonderful experience that everyone benefits from. Just a few tips for when you get ready to saddle up: “Ya” is actually universal and when Spanish horses hear this, they will begin to run, and always mount and dismount on the left side of the horse or you may find yourself face first in a pile of manure.



POR CASIE DEAN Al llegar al punto de salida, uno es saludado con una sonrisa seria y un cordial apretón de manos del mismo hombre, Dave Hopper, fundador de TheHorse Tour (Tour a Caballo) en Isla Cristóbal. Elviaje en bote te lleva directamente a la casa de Dave en San Cristóbal donde comienza el camino. Su esposa, Molly, asoma su cabeza desde la ventana de la cocina para saludar y luego continúa preparando su línea de jabones; ella es la gurú de Punta Coco Soap (en la edición del próximo mes). Narciso también se encuentra allí. Él es la mano derecha de Dave, sin mencionar que también es un veterinario de la villa local que visitaremos luego. Mientrasensilla, Dave comienza el tutorial sobrecaballos.Había cuatro caballos bien alimentados y educados, a los cuales Dave rehabilitó. Los clientes del tour no se imaginan que casi todos los caballos sufrían de malnutrición y abandono no hace

mucho tiempo atrás. Con su conocimiento y experiencia Dave compró cada uno de ellos localmente y los trajo de vuelta a la vida alimentando sus cuerpos y almas. El Tour a Caballo brinda ahora una hermosa percepción de la selva en San Cristóbal, pero también ofrece a los clientes un tour a una de las villas indígenas más grande del archipiélago. La villa de San Cristóbal tiene mucho que ofrecer a aquellos que la recorren; una comida caliente (y bebida fría) en el restaurante local, joyería con decoraciones hermosas y otras artesanías y una mirada de cerca a las tradiciones que comparten los arduos trabajadores que residen allí. Es un viaje a un mundo desconocido sin mencionar que es también una experiencia cultural maravillosa de la que todos se benefician. Solo unos consejos para cuando estés listo para ensillar: “Ya” es en verdad universal y cuando los caballos hispanos escuchan esto, ellos comenzarán a correr y siempre monta y desmonta del lado izquierdo del caballo o te encontrarás con la cara en el estiércol.


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NATIONAL POLICE SUMMER PROGRAM In January, the National Police started a program called “Happy Summer” (VeranoFeliz) in which 60 children will participate from the Bastimentos and Saigon communities, as well as Deportivo AVI and the San Francisco Futbol Club. These activities, developed by the National Police, and primarily by the Isla Colon Sub-Station together with the local community, target the involvement of youth on vacation from school in healthy and positive activities. The program will use the Juan Chen Stadium, the Saigon Beach, and the Municipal Gymnasium thanks to the generous support of the Hotel Gran Bahia, DEBASA Distributors, and Aguas de la Montaña. This past December, the Isla Colon Sub-Station of the National Police contacted Mr. Luis Rodriguez, an Isla Colon resident, about ways he could support the Los Tiburones boxing program on Isla Colon. Mr. Rodriguez stated that he was in contact with the current World Boxing Association flyweight and bantamweight super champion Anselmo “Chemito” Moreno, who visited Isla Colon along with his wife, Rouss Laguna, daughter of boxing legend, Ismael Laguna. They came on January 4, for a conversation with 2nd Sargent Martin Sanchez and to visit the in-

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stallations where the youth boxing club practices. After this visit, Chemito Moreno promised to buy new equipment to donate to the Los Tiburones Boxing Club. On the 29th of January, the champion, followed through with his promise

and the equipment was donated at a boxing event in the park. Chemito Moreno also promised his continued support for the youth and all the boxing fans of Isla Colon.


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PROGRAMA DE VERANO DE LA POLICÍA NACIONAL En enero, la Policía Nacional comenzó un programa denominado “Verano Feliz” en el cual 60 niños de las comunidades de Bastimentos y Saigón participarán, como también el Deportivo AVI y el Club de Futbol San Francisco. Estas actividades, desarrolladas por la Policía Nacional, y principalmente por la Sub-estación de Isla Colón con la comunidad local, se enfocaron en la participación de la juventud en vacaciones de la escuela en actividades saludables y positivas. El programa utilizará el Estadio Juan Chen,

la playa de Saigón y el Gimnasio Municipal gracias al apoyo generoso del Hotel Gran Bahía, Distribuidores DEBASA y Aguas de la Montaña. Este diciembre pasado, la Sub-estación de Isla Colón de la Policía Nacional contactó al Sr. Luis Rodriguez, residente de Isla Colón para ver maneras de apoyar al programa de boxeo de Los Tiburones en Isla Colón. El Sr. Rodríguez dijo que estaba en contacto con el actual campeón de peso mosca y peso gallo de la Asociación Mundial de Boxeo Anselmo “Chemito” Moreno, quien visitó Isla Colón junto con su esposa Rouss Laguna, hija de la leyenda del boxeo Ismael Laguna. Ellos vinieron el 4 de enero para conversar con el Sargento Segundo Martín Sanchez y a visitar las instalaciones donde la juventud del club de boxeo practica. Después de su visita, Chemito Moreno prometió comprar equipos nuevos para donar al Club de Boxeo Los Tiburones. El 29 de enero, el campeón cumplió su promesa y el equipo fue donado en un evento de boxeo en el parque. Chemito Moreno también prometió su apoyo continuo a la juventud y a todos los fanáticos de boxeo de Isla Colón.

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¿Viajas a Bocas Del Toro? Aquí tienes unos consejos de yoga que pueden hacer tu viaje más placentero. Si viajas desde lejos, un par de simples vueltas en tu asiento ayudarán a que tu cuerpo esté más cómodo. Levántate y estira tus piernas para que la circulación corra. A la llegada a nuestra hermosa isla recuerda que el primer principio de yoga es una actitud positiva – estás abierto a nuevas ideas, a una nueva cultura, a algo más grande que tú. Aprende a aceptar lo que no es familiar y simplemente ve con la co-

YOGA 101

BY LAURA KAY, FOUNDER AND TEACHER AT BOCAS YOGA Traveling to Bocas Del Toro? Here are some yoga tips that can make your journey more pleasant. If you are traveling a long distance, a few simple twists in your seat will help get your body feeling more comfortable. Get up and stretch your legs to get circulation going. Upon arrival to our beautiful island remember the first principle of yoga is positive attitude – you are open to new ideas, a new culture, something bigger than yourself. Learn to embrace the unfamiliar and simply go with the flow. This means being more flexible in mind than in body. Yoga is for everyone - no experience required! It can help your body adjust

to new conditions. Yoga can improve your sleep in an unfamiliar bed, it can detoxify if you choose to imbibe. Yoga can improve your surfing skills, even your sex life. What’s not to like? It brings balance and equanimity even during challenging times. Sit with yourself and enjoy your breath. If you have room in your hotel, do some hip-openers or legs up the wall for your back. This is where second principle of yoga is important – alignment. Training in proper anatomical alignment is important in any yoga pose so that you are safe and get an optimal flow of energy throughout your body. Third principle is action – that’s where the smile and sparkle in your eyes shine at the realization that you are awesome. Your intrinsic nature is of freedom and goodness - a reason to celebrate!


rriente. Esto significa ser más flexible en la mente que en el cuerpo. Yoga es para todos – no se necesita experiencia. Puede ayudar a que tu cuerpo se ajuste a nuevas condiciones. El yoga puede mejorar tu sueño en una cama extraña, puede desintoxicar si bebes. El yoga puede mejorar tus habilidades para surfear, hasta tu vida sexual. ¿Qué no te va a gustar? Brinda balance y ecuanimidad hasta en momentos desafiantes. Siéntate contigo mismo y disfruta tu respiración. Si tienes lugar en tu hotel, haz algunos ejercicios que abran tus caderas o sube las piernas a la pared para tu espalda. Aquí es donde el segundo principio de yoga es importante: alineamiento. Un entrenamiento con un alineamiento anatómico apropiado es importante para cualquier postura de yoga para que estés a salvo y obtengas un flujo óptimo de energía por tu cuerpo. El tercer principio es la acción – allí es donde la sonrisa y el brillo en tus ojos brillan cuando te das cuenta que eres maravilloso. Tu naturaleza intrínseca es de libertad y bondad, una razón para celebrar.

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Centuries ago, a man named Christopher Columbus set sail from Europe looking for the westward passage to India.He landed in the Caribbean many times, never actually making it to India. Centuries later, I can confidently say I’ve accomplished what Columbus set out to do: I went to the Caribbean and found the westward passage to India. It’s here in Bocas del Toro. It is in fact the Om Café. Ascending the stairs to the famous Om Café, it dawns on me that I know very little about Indian food. I know that I like it, I know that it’s generally spicy and I imagine Indian food is what Mahatma Gandhi ate between fasts. That was the extent of my Indian food knowledge before Sunanda took me into her world and introduced my taste buds to the wonders ofnaan and curry. To begin my education in Indian cuisine I was greeted with “The Sampler” and a cocktail. The Sampler features

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a bit of each appetizer on the menu. Not only did I discover that my new favorite sauce is actually a yogurt, but I also learned that lentils can be made into a tortilla. What?! Who knew… The Pappadam is just that: a tortilla that was once a bunch of lentils; and this large cracker-like creation comes with 3 homemade chutneys for dipping, my favorite being the yogurt-mint-garlic sauce. Also good with the magical yogurt sauce is the Seekh Kebab, a spicy ground beef dish served with naan and onions. With this kebab, the platter lives up to Indian food’s spicy reputation as it’s packing some heat for sure. Luckily I was sipping on one of Om’s specialty cocktails, the “Tipsy Turban” passion fruit daquiri. Thanks be to Buddha for frozen cocktail drinks. Let’s move on to the Vegetarian Samosa, which I will lovingly and ignorantly refer to as an “Indian Empana-

da”. I don’t know much about Indian food, but I know an empanada when I see one. One could also describe it as a deep fried pastry filled with spicy potatoes and peas. Whatever it is, it’s good, but not as good as myfavorite: theChaatPapri. Forgive me for being even more ignorant, but if this sampler has an Indian Empanada, it also has Indian nachos; and these Indian nachos rule. ChaatPapri is a helping of deep fried tortilla chips smothered with chickpeas, potatoes and a blend of chutneys (including my beloved yogurt sauce). What a great way to get acquainted with Indian cuisine. Also good for exploring Om’s culinary repertoire is “The Tasting Menu”. The Tasting Menu allows you to fill a big round plate with any 6 dishes in the restaurant. Variety is the spice of life and Indian food is indeed spicy.Now onto the main course, the “owner’s pick”, Sunanda’spersonal favorite dish: Tikka Masala.“For years, I must have eaten Tikka Masala everyday,” confesses the boss-lady herself. I don’t blame her. I would eat it every day too if I was serving it at my restaurant. The British love Tikka Masala as well. Wikipedia claims that it has replaced Fish and Chips as the Brit’s national dish. Well I’ve never been to Delhi or London, but I’ve been to the Om Café in Bocas del Toro and the Tikki Masala is worth the hype. Served with either Chicken or Shrimp, Tikka Masala is tomato based sauce, with a hint of garlic and tamarind. It’s moderately spicy and completely delicious. Although Indian food has a spicy reputation, not every dish is this way. There is something for everybody on the menu, but I won’t give it all away here. There are plenty ofvindaloos, tandooris and cur-


ries for you to explore. Sunanda is not only my Indian food mentor, but she is also the owner of Om Café. She was born in India, raised in Toronto and wound up in Bocas del Toro working in an Iranian man’s restaurant in Carenero. The restaurant was called PargoRojo, but in 2013 you might know it as Aqua Lounge. The owner was the ever eccentric Bernard, who unfortunately became ill and had to relocate. Sunanda took over the restaurant and when business became slow, she decided to take it back to her roots and initiate a “Taste of India Night” on Sundays.After a few Sundays it became clearthat she needed

her mom’s table cloth saree; she has been able to empower a Bocatoranian to cook Indian food just as good as she does. Paulina has been with Om sinceits inception 10 years ago. She’s the reason Sunanda was confident in opening a 2nd location. Paulina is also the reason I enjoyed my meal so much. God bless her. Some say she makes a better Kourma Chicken than Gandhi’s momma, but I wouldn’t go that far. Or would I?

So there you have it: Om Café is the undisputed king of Indian food in Bocasdel Toro. It’s a place for spicy food and chill vibes; a place to relax and take in a nice 2nd floor view of Bocas town. The Om Café experience is suitable for an intimate dinner for two or a group of friends getting the evening’s party started properly; but any way you slice the naanbread;there is no place like Om.




to open her very own Indian restaurant. So she did; and the rest is history. Om has been so successful that she has been able to open a second location. The new place is called Maracuya and it is not another Indian restaurant.It features a very different menu, including breakfast and a dinner of eclectic international fusion specialties. Sunanda loves her restaurants; especially Om.She feels it’s a real expression of her heart and soul, complete with her very intimate personal affects adorning the whole restaurant. First of all, there is a lamp made out of bangles. Bangles are bracelets that are traditional Indian garment. Sunanda collected over a thousand

of bangles from her family and made a lamp out of them; very special. Secondly, there is the “red room”. A tribute to her favorite color, the red room is homage to all things red. It’s also a lounge area for private parties or casual dining. It was once closed off to the rest of the restaurant, but not since knocking down one of the walls in 2011. It’s rather special because it features the 40 year old table cloth that was once Sunanda’s mother’s “saree”. And the saree is beautiful; in case you’re wondering. One really cool thing about Om is Paulina Forbes.Sunanda really put her heart and soul into this restaurant and you can tell not only by her food and


Siglos atrás, un hombre llamado Cristóbal Colón zarpó desde Europa buscando el pasaje hacia el oeste a la India. Arribó en el Caribe varias veces, sin poder llegar a la India. Siglos después, puedo decir seguro que he logrado lo que Colón se dispuso a hacer: fui al Caribe y encontré el pasaje a la India. Está aquí en Bocas del Toro. De hecho es el Café Om. Al subir las escaleras del famoso CaféOm, me doy cuenta qué poco sé sobre comida hindú. Sé que me gusta. Sé que generalmente es picante y me imagino que la comida hindú es lo que Mahatma Gandhi comía entre ayunos. Eso es todo lo que sabía sobre la comida de India antes de que Sunanda me llevara a su mundo y me presentara las maravillas del naan y el curry. Para comenzar mi educación sobre la comida hindú me brindaron “El Sampler” y un coctel. El Sampler te presenta un poco de cada uno de los aperitivos del menú. No sólo descubrí que mi salsa favorita es en realidad un yogurt, sino que

también que con lentejas se pueden hacer tortillas. ¿Qué?¿Quiéniba a decirlo?El Pappadan es solo eso: una tortilla que fue en un momento un montón de lentejas; y esta creación que parece una galleta grande viene con 3 chutneys caseros, mi favorito fue la salsa de ajo con menta y yogurt. Algo que también es muy bueno con la salsa de yogurt es el Seekh Kebab, un plato de carne molida picante servido con naan y cebollas. Con este kebab, el plato se pone a la altura de la reputación picante de la comida hindú. Por suerte estaba tomando una de las especialidades de cocteles de Om, el daiquiri de maracuyá “Tipsy Turban”. Gracias al Buddha por los tragos congelados. Sigamos con la samosavegetariana, a la cual me referiré con cariño e ignorancia como la “empanada hindú”. No sé mucho sobre la comida hindú, pero reconozco una empanada cuando la veo. Uno también puede describirla como una masa frita rellena con papas y The Bocas Brezze

guisantes picantes. Lo que sea, es bueno, pero no tan bueno como mi preferido: el ChaatPapri.Pido disculpas por ser aún más ignorante, pero si esto tiene una empanada hindú, también tiene nachos, y estos nachos son buenísimos. ChaatPapri es una porción de chips de tortillas fritas bañados de garbanzos, papas y una mezcla de chutneys (incluyendo mi querida salsa de yogurt). Qué buena manera de aprender sobre la comida hindú. El “TastingMenu” (Menú para probar) también es bueno para explorar el repertorio culinario de Om. El TastingMenu te permite llenar un plato redondo grande con 6 platos del restaurante. La variedad es la sazón de la vida y la comida hindú está definitivamente sazonada. Ahora en el plato principal, la “elección de la dueña”, el plato preferido de Sunanda: TikkaMasala. “Por años, debo haber comido TikkaMasala todos los días”, confiesa la propia dueña. No la culpo. También lo comería todos los días si sirviera en mi restaurante. Los británicos aman el TikkaMasala también. Wikipedia dice que ha reemplazado a los “Fish and Chips” como plato nacional de los británicos.

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Bueno, nunca estuve en Delhi o en Londres, pero fui al Café Om en Bocas del Toro y vale la pena promocionar el TikkiMasala. Servido con pollo o camarones, el TikkaMasala es una salsa a base de tomates, con un poco de ajo y tamarindo. Es moderadamente picante y completamente delicioso. A pesar de que la comida hindú tiene como reputación ser picante, no todos los platos lo son. Hay algo para todos en el menú, pero no contaré todo aquí. Hay muchos vindaloos, tandooris y currys para que explores. Sunanda no es solo mi mentora sobre comida hindú, también es la propietaria del Café Om. Nació en India, fue criada en Toronto y terminó trabajando en Bocas del Toro en un restaurante de un iraní en Carenero. El restaurante se llamaba Pargo Rojo, pero en el 2013 lo conoces como Aqua Lounge. El propietario era el excéntrico Bernard, quien desafortunadamente se enfermó y tuvo que reubicarse. Sunanda se quedó a cargo del restaurante y cuando las ventas bajaron, decidió ir a sus raíces y comenzó con “Noche de Sabores de la India” los domingos. Después de unos domingos, fue claro que ella necesitaba abrir su propio restaurante hindú. Entonces lo hizo y el

resto es historia. Om ha sido tan exitoso que ha podido abrir un segundo local. El nuevo restaurante se llama Maracuyá y no es otro restaurante hindú. Este presenta un menú totalmente diferente, que incluye un desayuno y cena de especialidades de fusión internacional ecléctica. Sunanda ama sus restaurantes, especialmente a Om. Ella siente que es una verdadera expresión de su corazón y alma, con sus afectos personales muy íntimos adornando todo el restaurante. Primero que nada, hay una lámpara hecha de brazaletes que son una prenda de brazalete tradicional de la India. Sunanda coleccionó más de 1000 de su familia e hizo una lámpara con ellos; muy especial. Segundo, está el “salón rojo”. Como tributo a su color preferido, el salón rojo hace homenaje a todas las cosas rojas. Es también un área para fiestas privadas y cenas. Una vez estuvo cerrado al resto del restaurante, pero no lo está desde que se tiró abajo una de las paredes en el 2011. Es bastante especial porque tiene el mantel de 40 años que una vez fue el sari de la mamá de Sunanda. Y el sari es hermoso, en caso de que te lo estés preguntando. Algo muy bueno sobre Om es Pau-


lina Forbes. Sunanda realmente puso su alma y corazón en este restaurante y puedes decirlo no solo por su comida y el sari de su madre, sino porque ha podido alentar a una bocatoreña para que cocine comida hindú tan bien como lo hace ella. Paulina ha estado con Om desde su comienzo hace 10 años atrás. Ella es la razón por la cual Sunanda estaba segura de abrir un segundo local. Paulina es también la razón por la cual yo disfruté tanto de mi comida. Dios la bendiga. Algunos dicen que ella prepara un Pollo Kourma mejor que el de la mamá de Gandhi, pero yo no iría tan lejos. ¿O sí? Entonces, el Café Om es el rey indisputable de la comida hindú en Bocas del Toro. Es un lugar de comida picante y con un ambiente fresco, donde relajarse y tener una hermosa vista desde un segundo piso del pueblo de Bocas. La experiencia que brinda el Café Om es ideal para una cena íntima para dos o para un grupo de amigos que comienza apropiadamente una fiesta; pero sea cual sea la manera en que rebanes el pan naan, no hay lugar como Om.



In all his 76 years, Tito has never been away from the islands of Bocas del Toro for more than 2 months at a time. He’s travelled abroad, worked all over Panama building everything from airports to hotels but has never taken his mind and heart away from his home. He has always loved this place and has been long working to see it grow and prosper; with a vigilantly vested interested in seeing the archipelago blossom in only the right ways. Even though the development hasn’t gone exactly according to plan, Tito cancertainly be proud of his pristinely preserved piece of Bocas history. I’m talking about no other than the 108 year-old building known as the Gran Hotel Bahia, arguably the most important standing historical landmark in all of Bocas. This is the profile of the hotel’s owner: Jose Thomas, better known as Tito. Tito is a born and raised Bocatoranian. Growing up he spent most of his time in the sea; diving, snorkeling, fishing, boating and surfing waves in 8 foot canoes. This was back when every kid had their own boat and outboard motors were a thing of the future. If you wanted to go to Almirante or Basimentos, you had to rely on sails and paddles to get you there. He spent his childhood wanting to be a boat captain. Unfortunately, there were no nautical schools available to him so he elected to study architecture at the National University of Panamá

in Panama City. He has dedicated his career for the most part to construction and has played a role in building pretty much everything in the Republic of Panama. His résumé is slightly more impressive than mine. He was the General Super Intendant in the construction of the Tocumen National Airport. He has worked remodeling parts of the Panama Canal and building houses for the US Army and Navy in the Canal Zone. He’s taken part in the building of the Atlapa Convention Center, Panama’s first Marriot Hotel, the port in Chiriqui Grande and the road from David to Almirante, as well as being the Administrative and HumanResources Manager for Petroterminal de Panamá, the crude oil pipeline from Chiriqui to Bocas. After his illustrious career as a builder of all things Panama, he retired in 1999 and returned to his beloved Bocas Town to oversee the operations of his Gran Hotel Bahia. Gran Hotel Bahia was originally the main offices of the United Fruit Company. Built in 1905, the building had been practically abandoned years after the company moved their headquarters to Almirante in 1929. Tito bought the building in 1967 and immediately remodeled the upstairs to convert the former offices into 10 hotel rooms. An architect by trade and lover of Bocas history, Tito has done all he can to preserve the integrity of the building, keeping


its original charm well intact. While the inside has been renovated over the years to meet the needs of the hotel guests, the outside of the building retains its original design. Tito’s office was once theoffice of the United Fruit Company paymaster and you can even find the original bank vault directly outside his office. The reception desk was actually the bank teller’s window where the workers would come to pick up their checks.Furthermore, each side of the building’s entrance is adorned with displays of 100 year-old photos of Bocas Town,the main street and the building itself. The history of the building is something that can absolutely not be ignored at the Gran Hotel Bahia, and I’m sure Tito wouldn’t have it any other way. Tito made his return to livefull time in Bocas amidst the boom of the late 90’s. He had long been a firm believer in Bocas tourism, however at the same time a huge proponent of the island developing in a way that maintains the place’s original charm. Being well-travelled himself, he was enchanted by cities like San Juan,Santo Domingo, Antigua, New Orleans, Washington D.C., Boston and San Francisco that in his opinion are fine examples of highly developed cities which haven’t allowed their growth to destroy the traditional culture.He doesn’t want to see Bocas lose its charm, but nowadays he can’t help but be disappointed in the some of the chang-

The Bocas Brezze

es to his beloved home town: “It’s good because everyone can get a job, but what I don’t think is good is that it’s changing the character of the town. Somewhere along the lines, it’s not going to be attractive anymore to the tourists.” “We are losing most of our culture,” Tito believes. “For example, the language: when I was growing up, we spoke Spanish at home. On the streets it was English, or what they call Guari-Guari. That is lost. Very few people speak it. If I speak to a kid in the street in English, he would understand me; probably at home they speak it, but he will answer me in Spanish.” Ironically, just as Tito was explaining this change inBocatoranian culture, a friend of his passed by and greeted him in Spanish, to which Tito responded “Wha’ppen?” (What’s happening?), a standardBocatoranian English greeting. He also went onto explain that the traditional dances that were brought to Bocas from the Antilles are also being lost. Dances like the Cuadrilla, Pasillo and May Pole that were once commonplace at evening get-togethers are now rarely seen. Food is another big part of the culture that he’s seen change. According to Tito, it’s hard The Bocas Brezze


to find a good Caribbean meal anymore. Coconut rice and beans and Journey Cakes (coconut bread) used to be made from fresh homemade coconut milk. Nowadays everybody is using canned coconut milk from the supermarket. “You can’t eat turtle anymore. That was the basis of our diet: turtle and fish. We never used to eat beef. Only very special occasions,” he says. All this as I am diving into a 16 ounce rib eye steak at Carlos Steak House. True to the seafaring Bocatoranian way, Tito has ordered tuna off the menu.“We used to eat a lot of lobster that we’d go out and catch ourselves. In the market, they would kill 14 or 15 turtles a day. And it was cheap; 12 ½ cents a pound,” he explains.Eating turtle was banned in the early 90’s to protect against the extinction of the species.Though it is quite taboo in this day in age, you have to consider that before North Americans and Europeans flocked to the Caribbean to build their little pieces of paradise, it was a sustainable way of life for people that had been living here long before even Christopher Columbus came to Isla Carenero to repair his boat. Lastly, one big change in Bocas culture that is particularly dear to Tito’s heart is the architecture:“Bocas wasconsidered the only

wooden city of Panama. All the houses were made of wood.There used to be regulations that you cannot build anything except wood, and the design had to be a Caribbean style design. You couldn’t build higher than your neighbors. All that is gone. Now they’re building structures that are completely covered with tile. I think those are things that are making Bocas less attractive to some type of people. I know people go to cities because they are old and they are maintained with the same tradition. That’s the only reason they go there.” It seems like this breaks Tito’s heart. He has long been fighting to see Bocas preserve its heritage. After the beginning of the tourism boom of the late 90’s, a group of professional developers were contracted by the government to make a master plan for the proper development of the city. They drafted up a document of building regulations and turned it over to municipality. The document was

ignored at first. However, Tito, being an architect and builder by trade, read the document and was a firm believer in it. He fought to get it approved, meeting individually with government officials and explaining why it was important to adopt the principals of city development in the document. Finally, he convinced them and the building regulations were approved in 2002. It wasn’t very long before the first change was made. A man was complaining because he had just bought a piece of property and wasn’t allowed to build a third story. “I had a clipping that I cut out of a magazine that recommended that people who are going to buy properties to investigate what they could do and what they could not do and check with the government agencies; check what you can do before you buy it. I took it to him and said look.”The new land owner was furious. He argued that if he was in the US, he would be able to do this. Anyway,

this man must have met with the officials and presented a different type of paperwork, because the law was soon modified to accommodate his building plans. Today, those building regulations have long since been forgotten. The same restriction on height has been changed 4 times. Tito loves his home and that is probably what makes him so concerned. He’s not opposed to the growth and development; but he feels it’s being done without the proper foresight and may jeopardize the future of the islands. According to him, “Bocas is losing its character because of uncontrolled development.” If you want to see an authentic piece of Bocas that has yet to lose its character, visit the Gran Hotel Bahia. If you want to meet a realBocatoranian historian who truly cares about this place, ask for Tito.

PRESERVANDO LA HISTORIA DE BOCAS CON TITO POR NICHOLAS COREA En sus 76años, Tito nunca ha estado fuera de las islas de Bocas del Toro por más de dos meses. Ha viajado al exterior, trabajado por toda Panamá construyendo de todo, desde aeropuertos hasta hoteles pero su mente y su corazón nunca han estado lejos de su hogar. Siempre ha amado este lugar y ha trabajado por mucho tiempo para verlo crecer y prosperar con un interés particular en ver el archipiélago desarrollarse solamente de la manera correcta. Aunque el desarrollo no haya sido de acuerdo con lo planeado, Tito definitivamente puede estar orgulloso de su inmaculado pedazo preservado de historia de Bocas. Hablo del edificio de 108 años conocido como el Gran Hotel Bahía, el punto de referencia histórico más importante en todo Bocas. Este es el perfil del dueño del hotel: José Thomas, mejor conocido como Tito. Tito nació y fue criado en Bocas. Al crecer pasó la mayor parte de su tiempo en el mar, buceando, haciendo snorkel, pescando, paseando en bote y surfeando olas en canoas de 8 pies. Esto fue


The Bocas Brezze

cuando los niños tenían sus propios botes y los motores fuera de borda eran algo del futuro. Si querías ir a Almirante o Bastimentos, debías confiar en velas y remos para llegar. Pasó su infancia queriendo ser un capitán de bote. Desafortunadamente, no había escuelas náuticas disponibles para él, entonces decidió estudiar arquitectura en la Universidad Nacional de Panamá en la ciudad de Panamá. Ha dedicado su carrera en su mayoría a la construcción y ha tenido un rol en la construcción en casi todo en la República de Panamá. Su hoja de vida es un poco más impresionante que la mía. Fue el Superintendente General en la construcción del Aeropuerto Nacional de Tocumen. Ha trabajado en la remodelación de partes del Canal de Panamá y construido casas para el Ejército y la Marina de los Estados Unidos en la Zona del Canal. Ha participado en la construcción del Centro de Convenciones de Atlapa, el primer hotel Marriot de Panamá, el puerto de Chiriquí Grande y la carretera de David a Almirante, como también fue el Administrador y Gerente de Recursos Humanos en la Petroterminal de Panamá, el oleoducto de petróleo de Chiriquí a Bocas. Después de su ilustre

The Bocas Brezze

carrera como constructor de todo en Panamá, se jubiló en 1999 y volvió a su preciada Bocas para supervisar las operaciones de su Gran Hotel Bahía. El Gran Hotel Bahía fue originalmente la oficina principal de la UnitedFruitCompany. Construido en 1905, el edificio fue prácticamente abandonado años después de que la compañía mudara su oficina principal a Almirante en 1929. Tito compró el edificio en 1967 e inmediatamente remodeló la planta alta para convertir las antiguas oficinas en 10 habitaciones de hotel. Arquitecto de profesión y amante de la historia de Bocas, Tito ha hecho todo lo posible para preservar la integridad del edificio, manteniendo su encanto original intacto. Mientras que el interior ha sido renovado con los años para satisfacer las necesidades de los huéspedes del hotel, la parte exterior del edificio mantiene su diseño original. La oficina de Tito fue una vez la oficina del pagador de la UnitedFruitCompany y hasta puedes encontrar la bóveda original directamente fuera de su oficina. La recepción era la ventana del cajero del banco donde los trabajadores iban a retirar sus cheques. Además, cada lado de la entrada del edificio está adornado con fotos de hace 100 años del pueblo de Bocas, la calle principal y del edificio mismo. La historia del edificio es algo que no puede ser ignorada en el Gran Hotel Bahía y estoy seguro que era lo que Tito quería. Tito volvió para vivir tiempo completo en Bocas en medio del boom a final de los 90. Él ha sido un firme creyente del turismo de Bocas, sin embargo al mismo tiempo un gran partidario del desarrollo de la isla de manera que se mantenga el encanto original. Habiendo viajado bastante, le maravillaron ciudades como San Juan, Santo Domingo, Antigua, New Orleans, Washington D.C., Boston y San Francisco, que en su opinión son buenos ejemplos de ciudades altamente desarrolladas que no han permitido que su crecimiento destruya la cultura tradicional. No quiere ver que Bocas pierda su encanto, pero hoy en día no puede evitar estar


decepcionado de algunos de los cambios en su querido pueblo: “Es bueno porque todos pueden tener un trabajo, pero lo que no creo que sea bueno es que está cambiando el carácter del pueblo. En algún momento ya no será más atractivo para los turistas”. “Estamos perdiendo la mayor parte de nuestra cultura”, cree Tito. “Por ejemplo, el idioma: cuando era chico hablábamos español en casa. En la calle se hablaba inglés o lo que llaman Guari-Guari. Eso se perdió.Muy pocas personas lo hablan. Si le hablo a un niño en la calle en inglés, me entenderá; probablemente en su casa lo hablan, pero me responderá en español”. Irónicamente, mientras Tito explicaba este cambio en la cultura bocatoreña, un amigo suyo pasaba y lo saludó en español, a lo que Tito respondió “Wha’ppen?” (What’s happening?), unsaludobocatoreñocomún en inglés. También continuó explicando que los bailes tradicionales que llegaron a Bocas desde las Antillas también se están perdiendo. Los bailes como la Cuadrilla, Pasillo y el May Pole que alguna vez fueron algo común en las reuniones ahora casi no se ven.

La comida es otra gran parte de la cultura que él ve que está cambiando. Según Tito, es difícil encontrar una buena comida caribeña. El arroz con coco y frijoles y los JourneyCakes (pan de coco) solían hacerse con leche de coco casera y fresca. Hoy en día, todos usan leche de coco en lata del supermercado. “Ya no puedes comer tortugas. Esa era la base de nuestra dieta: tortuga y pescado. Nunca comíamos bife, sólo en ocasiones especiales”, dice. Todo esto pasa mientras me deleito con un bife de 16 onzas en Carlos SteakHouse.Fiel a la manera bocatoreña, Tito ha ordenado atún. “Solíamos comer bastante langostaque pescábamos nosotros mismos. En el mercado, ellos mataban entre 14 y 15 tortugas al día. Y era barata, 12 ½ centavos la libra”, explica Tito. El comer tortuga fue prohibido a principios de los 90 para proteger la extinción de la especie. A pesar de ser un tabú hoy en día, debes considerar que antes de que los norteamericanos y europeos llegaran en masas al Caribe para construir sus pequeños pedazos de paraíso, esta era una manera sostenible de vida para las personas que vivían aquí hasta antes de que Cristóbal Colón llegara a Isla Carenero a reparar su bote.

Por último, un gran cambio en la cultura de Bocas que particularmente es preciado para Tito es la arquitectura: “Bocas era considerada la única ciudad de madera de Panamá. Todas las casas eran hechas de madera. Solía haber regulaciones que prohibían construir con materiales que no fueran madera y el diseño tenía que ser al estilo caribeño. No podías construir más alto que tus vecinos. Todo eso ya no existe. Ahora están construyendo estructuras que están totalmente cubiertas con mosaicos. Creo que esas son cosas que están haciendo que Bocas sea menos atractiva para ciertas personas. Conozco personas que van a ciudades porque son antiguas y mantienen la misma tradición. Esa es la única razón por la que van”. Parece que esto rompe el corazón de Tito. Ha estado peleando por bastante tiempo para que Bocas preserve su herencia. Después del comienzo del boom turístico a finales de los 90, un grupo de desarrolladores profesionales fueron contratados por el gobierno para hacer un plan maestro para un desarrollo apropiado de la ciudad. Ellos redactaron un documento con regulaciones para la construcción y lo entregaron a la municipalidad. El documento fue ignorado al principio. Sin embargo, Tito al ser un arquitecto y constructor de profesión, leyó el documento y fue un fiel creyente del mismo. Peleó para que se apruebe, reuniéndose individualmente con oficiales del gobierno y explicando por qué era importante adoptar los principios del desarrollo de la ciudad del documento. Finalmente, los convenció y las regulaciones fueron aprobadas en el 2002. No pasó mucho tiempo antes de hacerse el primer cambio. Un hombre se estaba quejando porque él había recién comprado un terreno y no podía construir un tercer piso. “Tenía un recorte de periódico que había tomado de una revista que recomendaba a las personas que iban a comprar propiedades que investigaran lo que podían hacer y lo que no y que chequearan


con las oficinas gubernamentales lo que podían hacer antes de comprarlas. Se lollevé y le dijeque lo vea”.El nuevo propietario estaba furioso. Reclamó que si estuviese en los Estados Unidos, podría hacer lo que quería. De todas maneras, este hombre se debe haber reunido con los oficiales y presentó un documento diferente, porque la ley fue modificada al poco tiempo para acomodarse a sus planes de construcción. Hoy, esas regulaciones de construcción han sido olvidadas. La misma restricción de altura ha sido cambiada 4 veces. Tito ama su hogar y es lo que probablemente lo preocupa. No está en contra del crecimiento y desarrollo, pero siente que se está haciendo sin una previsión apropiada y puede poner en peligro el futuro de las islas. Según él, “Bocas está perdiendo su carácter debido a un desarrollo incontrolado”. Si quieres ver un pedazo de Bocas auténtico que no ha perdido su carácter, visita el Gran Hotel Bahía. Si quieres conocer un verdadero historiador bocatoreño que realmente se preocupa por este lugar, pregunta por Tito.

The Bocas Brezze


MARCH 2013

ARIES March 21 -- April 19

VIRGO August 23 -- September 22

Your friends may seem to have forgotten you this month, and with good reason. Listing your Facebook status as deceased , although appropriate in the afterlife may be considered bad form in the here and now. Start saving string, and when speaking aloud refer to yourself as we. Your lucky number this month, pi to the third power.

If you were smart you took my advice from last month and split. Good move, you’ve left debt, anger, and uncertainty behind. This may be your last chance to get it right, so focus on cleanliness, and personal details, the more anal the better. P.S. Less drinking more thinking. Lucky number this month I-95

TAURUS April 20 -- May 20

LIBRA September 23 -- October 22

Hello Taurus, and welcome back to reality, and with it the truth about your miserable failure regarding those unrealistic New Year’s resolutions. Tap and jazz lessons, what were you thinking? Obviously nothing about gainful employment or a productive lifestyle, again! Stop, rethink, and proceed slowly, there’s still hope.

GEMINI May 21 -- June 21

Someone in the literary field has it out for you. And not in a good way like the boys down at the Turkish bath. This person has been misinformed, but it falls to you to try and repair any misunderstandings you may have had with this local scribe. Avoid Frenchmen in any form.

SCORPIO October 23 -- November 21

Hi Gemini, how is it going with that fantasy romance that’s been bouncing around in your head since New Year’s Day. It’s time to get some skin in the game, right now is an ideal time to overcome your shyness and act on your impulse for intimacy. If you don’t someone else will, and soon.

CANCER June 22 -- July 22

SAGITTARIUS November 22 -- December 21

LEO July 23 -- August 22

Some people take responsibility, others are given responsibility which are you? Make a decision and stick to it, the payoff could be huge, and I’m talking J. Holmes huge… Which reminds me, you may find yourself in ascension without obvious cause. Avoid parks, schools and public restrooms.

The Bocas Brezze

Hey Aquarius, keep in mind you don’t always need a plan to be in Florence by midnight. Let your natural wit and charm supersede your intellect; someone finds you intriguing and even more so when you keep it light. Buy something white and share it with a friend.

PISCES February 19 -- March 20

Go into to a Chinese grocery you don’t ordinarily frequent and ask for credit, then watch the fun. A Gemini you know well is about to blow off an opportunity for romance, when they do step in and take a shot. Use a cash machine, and as you remove your money yell “I won again”. Avoid clichés and catchphrases 24/7.

Cancer please, no one’s buying that raggedy ass sarong and blond wig routine. It’s time to redirect your anger towards your mother. Take it, roll it into a ball, force it down into your unhappy place, and allow it out only in the form of misdirected drunken rage. Start an alphabet support group. Substitute the phrase “buga--buga” for hello whenever possible.

AQUARIUS January 20 -- February 18

Congratulations Sagittarius, your patience is paying off with new friends and opportunities. Choose carefully, some things can’t be washed off no matter how hard you scrub. Look for a Libra with a limp, they’re uneven gait could lead you to financial success. Avoid bookstore owners who twitch, and most definitely their associates.

CAPRICORN December 22 -- January 19

This month astrology could be your best friend. There are powerful influences all around you, so heed the stars, especially Steven Seagal. Just for a moment consider this theatrical frog, here he is making his third or maybe fourth comeback, and he hasn’t even had a career yet. Try putting that in perspective regarding your own life, then take a nap.


OK Pisces, you took a chance. Admittedly it didn’t work out as you had hoped, but what about that hot chick at the pharmacy. Did you see the way she looked at you when you asked for those things? I mean, come on, nobody smiles that hard unless they’re into you. So keep plugging away, this is your time, both physically and literally, so rejoice and remember there are still lots of opportunity and pharmacies to choose from. MONTHLY OVERVIEW OF ASTROLOGICAL INFLUENCES

This month it’s either feast or famine for the signs of the zodiac. In fact if you check your chart, or better yet look up, you’ll see the planets and their influences are equally divided between the strong and the weak. Taurus, for instance, is so far out of the celestial loop this month he doesn’t even flinch when told his mother-in-law is arriving for an unscheduled visit. And get this, the woman brings four huge suitcases, which poor Taurus is expected to hike up the two flights of stairs to the apartment, which by the way he already knows she will not approve of. But there is some good astrologically speaking to be gleaned out of the cosmos this month. For instance, anyone involved in a relationship with a Scorpio, Cancer or Libra can look forward to a serious growth spurt emotionally or romantically speaking. However if you’re not presently in a relationship this is not a good opportunity to begin one. From chaos comes order, so be patient and remember, sometimes life hands you a bag of worms, this could be a good time to go fishing. Beware of moon signs. Employees must wash hands. I think you know what I mean. This monthly horoscope column in no way endorses recommends suggests or in any other form infers actual fact. And under no circumstance should be considered valid information for the purpose of life decision making. Should you have any comments or suggestions regarding this column, please feel free to keep them to yourself. This column is created and written by John Schneider. Mr. Schneider is frequently overmedicated and has been known to bark at taxis.

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The Bocas Brezze

The Bocas Breeze March 2013  

Printed monthly in both English and Spanish with a circulation of 5,000 copies. Free copies distributed at airports, hotels, restaurants and...

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