Menú Panamá en el Biomuseo

114Este sábado 20 de Marzo, 2015-  el Biomuseo presenta “Menú Panamá” un encuentro gastronómico para los amantes del buen comer.  Con la comida de fonda como tema, reconocidos chefs locales como Chombolín (Íntimo, que se estará inaugurando próximamente), María de los Ángeles (Humo BBQ), Alberto Perrino (Azafrán), Enrique Hendricks (Oink House) y José Olmedo (Donde José) estarán versionando platos tradicionales de fonda.

Además participarán chefs internacionales que forman parte de la conocida lista de la versión Latino América de “The World’s 50 Best” :   la chef Kamila Seidler, del restaurante Gustu (Bolivia), Gonzalo Aramburu, del restaurante Aramburu (Argentina) y José Antonio González, de Al Mercat (Costa Rica).

El evento tendrá lugar en el Museo de la Biodiversidad – BIOMUSEO, ubicado en el Causeway a partir de las 5:00 pm y los participantes podrán degustar 5 platos, además de open bar, y actuaciones musicales. Un espacio en el que podrá compartir con los chefs y artista.  No se lo pierda!!

Two new frog species in Panama




Two new frog species were discovered just northeast of Panama City. Unfortunately they may be among the next victims of the fatal fungal disease decimating highland frogs worldwide, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis.


Anomaloglossus isthminus, first collected in 1974 near the El Llano-Cartí Road, was mistakenly called Colostethus chocoensis. STRI’s Roberto Ibáñez and César Jaramillo found the same species in streams at two more locations during a 1997 survey of the Panama Canal watershed. This species made the short list of endangered frogs to be saved by the Smithsonian’s Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project.


Taxonomist Charles Myers at the American Museum of Natural History realized that this was a new species by examining the specimens’ tongues. Among the few specimens examined, he identified a second closely related species, collected in the indigeous comarca of Kuna Yala in 1985 by Jorge Roldán. Myers named this one Anomaloglossus astralogaster for the starry pattern on its belly.


Captive breeders need tens of individuals to save a species from extinction. So far, too few of these frogs have been found to successfully breed them in captivity.

Source: STRI (Smithsonians Tropical Research Institute)

Panama leads Latin America in ecosystem services science



In 1997, the term ‘ecosystem services’ first appeared in a scientific paper concerning research in Latin America. Since then, the number of publications that discuss how modern economies rely on the services of nature – such as carbon sequestration and fresh water – has climbed dramatically. In a review of ecosystem services (ES) science in ten Latin American countries published online in Ecosystem Services, Panama trails only Mexico by total number of publications. With over 200 ES articles each and more than double any of the remaining countries, it is clear that Panama is a leader in this research field.“This is a story about STRI (Smithsonian’s Tropical Research Institute) and its century of work in Panama,” says STRI’s Jefferson Hall, one of the paper’s coauthors, explaining STRI researchers’ tradition of investigating a wide breadth of natural ecosystems..  Hall directs STRI’s Panama Canal Watershed Project, or Agua Salud, a large-scale land-use study that explores ecosystem services in the tropics.“Scientists and policy makers have recognized that ecosystems provide a suite of services needed by people,” says Hall. “At Agua Salud we’re trying to understand the mechanics of service production across land uses as well as tie in the social and economic aspects of these interactions.


Source: STRI

The Story Of The Banana

Recommend reading:  Bananas by Peter Chapman.

The story of the banana and the people involved in its introduction to the United States is a very interesting one.

Bananas were available in the US immediately following the Civil War, but they were a luxury item. In 1870 captain Lorenzo Dow Baker sailed his ship to Venezuela’s Orinoco River to drop off gold miners searching for riches near Ciudad Bolivar 300 miles upstream. On the way back he put in at Jamaica for repairs at became acquainted with bananas. He decided to take a cargo to the mainland where he was able to sell them for $2 a bunch netting him a profit equivalent to $6400 in today’s dollars. By 1871, he was the major banana exporter from the Caribbean. He bought land in Jamaica, planted acres of bananas and made a fortune. The banana he was planting was the Gros Michel.

In the United States, Andrew Presto was a young importer of fruit and became a partner of Captain Baker. They added a fleet of refrigerated steam ships to replace the sailing ships in which so much fruit was lost and the boon was on.

Meanwhile, Minor C. Keith had gone to Costa Rica to help his uncle build a railroad system between the capital of San Jose and the eastern port of Limon. When Costa Rica ran out of money for the project, Keith borrowed money from banks in England and offered to build the railroad at no cost to the Costa Rica government in return for a 99-year concession to run the route and full control of the port of Limon with 800,000 acres of land adjacent to the tracks, tax-free. On that land he planted bananas. Then Preston and Keith met.

Preston was a genius at getting the fruit to market and Keith knew how to grow them. He continued making deals, as in Costa Rica, throughout Panama, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Colombia and Ecuador. The two decided to merge and thus, on March 30, 1899, The United Fruit Company was born.

As the company grew, it extended control over every facet of life in the regions where it operated. . The company rewarded those who cooperated, and began to behave more and more brutally towards those who did not. The lucky ones nicknamed the company “Mamita”. The unlucky ones called it “El Pulpo”.

United Fruit did not like competition either and crushed rivals in price wars. By the late 1920s, United Fruit was worth over $100 million, had over 67,000 employees and owned 1.6 million acres of land. It had business interests in 32 countries and operated everything from churches to laundries, telephones, telegraphs, ship-to-shore transmission radio, schools, commissaries, housing, etc. It also had a powerful ally . . . the U.S. Government which made troops available when needed.

The one thing United Fruit could not control was Nature. And the enemy was disease. Disease would devastate one plantation after another which had to be abandoned and a new one started. Finally, the solution was to stay a step ahead from the disease by creating a new, disease resistant banana. The disease was ultimately named “Panama Disease”, not because it originated there, but because it was there that scientist finally identified the fungus. Unfortunately, Panama got a bum rap. And the days of the Gros Michel banana were numbered. By 1947, the bigger Cavendish was replacing the Gros Michel. The Cavendish was resistant to Panama Disease and the other diseases that could attack it could be controlled by other means. But it is not as tasty.

In the meanwhile, though, United Fruit played the role of “Mamacita” one day and “El Pulpo” the next. When they would open a plantation, they would, as mentioned before, create a town with every convenience. But they would pay the workers with script which could only be used to pay the rent of United Fruit housing and spent in the company’s store. All would be well until the “Panama Disease” would strike. Then, the company would move to a new area, dismantling every piece of the town and moving it to a new location. Distance would determine if the workers would be brought along or left behind to fend for themselves. This is when the company would be called “El Pulpo”. And their ruthlessness in breaking strikes went beyond cruel in many instances. They controlled the governments in Central America and had no qualms in using the U.S. government agencies, such as the CIA, to topple governments not favorable to them. The story of the banana and its producers is really a love-hate story.

Source: “Bits and Pieces About Panama” by Luis Celerier

EcoCircuitos Jungle Boat Tour & Hiking in the Soberania National Park


By Benita Rose


After having worked in the EcoCircuitos office in Panama City for about 1 ½ months now, my task as the new German intern and therefore one of the representatives of the company was to start getting to know the services that exceed our office-doors. Having read the description of our tour many, many times, and having added it to itineraries of our clients almost every day, I knew more or less what was expecting me. Nevertheless, participating in the tour in person was a way more exciting experience.

On our way to the Soberania National Park, guide Irvin and driver Roberto were a great team in knowing where to pass and what to explain to us. The 1 hour drive went by quickly as Irvin gave us some insight about different parts of the City, the Canal and various bridges we passed. As we got out of the car, we instantly noticed the change of climate. Although it was only a short drive, the humidity seemed to have risen a 30 %.

During our hike in the forest Irvin apparently knew every little detail that happens in nature: whether it was spotting any type of animal or (tiny) insects, where they would go, what kind of sounds they make or what kind of trees and plants can be used for medicine or survival – Irvin knew it. Since we were almost alone, the sounds of nature you could hear while walking were stunning. I secretly imagined sleeping in the rainforest, surrounded by hundreds of bird and animal sounds. I personally enjoyed listening to how Panama´s indigenous tribes survive living in the forest, how they hunt, how they make sure they have sufficient water, or what kind of plants can be used for their housing or living in general. A highlight of the hike was the monkeys we spotted. Their sounds could be heard from far away, but we actually managed to walk by right where they were climbing the trees.

Leaving the Soberania Park, we headed to our Jungle Boat Tour on the Chagres-River. I didn’t know what was expecting me, and was even more surprised when I found myself mentally back in the Tortugero National Park I had been to in Costa Rica a few years ago, definitely a somewhat jungle-experience. We spotted iguanas, crocodiles, and again about three different types of monkeys. Irvin was not just quick in spotting animals, but he was also more than up to date on his information about the river, its history and the plans for the future. The many little islands covered with tropical forest and wildlife we saw from the boat are supposed to be connected in the next few years, so that the animals have more space to live and spread. It was good to hear that something like that will be happening in the future.

All in all I was more than content with what I saw and learned on my first EcoCircuitos tour. I´m looking forward to the next experience and will definitely share it with you!

Panama – a trendy & booming destination


By Clémence Rouleau

Panama is a small tropical country, but it is growing more and more in terms of tourism. Its strategic position makes it possible to drive from one coast to the other in short time, it is bordered by two oceans, and has a connecting position between North and South America. The mix of cultures as for instance indigenous & urban cultures, and the diversity of natural resources are significant advantages. 

The main objectives of the government are to produce economic and social prosperity through the development of national and international tourism.

Because of this, Panama seems like an emergent destination in Central America, which can compete with its neighbor Costa Rica. Luxurious forests, pristine beaches, the diversity of the flora and fauna, and indigenous peoples characterize the country. At Tocumen airport, the number of arrivals in the first trimester of 2012 increased to 19,1% in comparison to 2011. The percentage is constantly rising due to newly created facilities and investments in tourism businesses through the opening of a lot of Convention Centers.

But what should tourists do in Panama?

The answer is not easy, since there are many things to do and many places to visit. Each experience is unique here and you meet friendly people who can help you during your visit. The most popular destinations are Bocas del Toro Archipelago, Boquete, and San Blas Archipelago; but many other provinces are worth a visit as well. A lot of activities can be practiced, as for instance hiking, scuba diving, horse riding, bird watching, kayaks, rafting or just relax in paradisiacal beaches.

In addition to this, the mentality and tourism tendencies have changed in the world and tourism is taking a new track. The Authority of Tourism in Panama (ATP) and the Panamanian Association of Sustainable Tourism (APTSO), as well as the touristic infrastructre in Panama are involved in ecotourism -“responsible travel to natural areas conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.” (TIES, 1990)

Ecotourism is now developing quickly in the whole country.

Ecotourism in Panama is a necessity. In order to keep the variety of traditions, the country has to maintain its natural resources and the indigenous cultures and lifestyle. This – I would say – is one of the main touristic attractions, since it makes a great difference to Costa Rica for example. Costa Rica is well developed in ecotourism but indigenous peoples have almost completely disappeared. Moreover, with 950 species of birds, 15 natural protected parks, and 11 000 species of plants, Panama offers exciting possibilities to enjoy your vacation.

Partnerships of touristic businesses and local communities are common, and don’t only permit the development of the local economy, but also the maintenance of traditional cultures. The company Ecocircuitos is a part of the economic development of ecotourism due to its ethic values and its involvement in the tours.

If you want to help protect Panama´s environment and traditions by travelling sustainably, feel free to contact us !