Days of Summer

cautionary tale for my on-line friends in another botched surgery case in Florida.

Let the buyer beware:

In the most recent case, four individuals have been arrested for impersonating surgeons and operating an unlicensed surgery clinic. According to the media reports, only one of the four people charged is a licensed physician, nurse or other trained healthcare provider – but that didn’t stop them from performing major operations such as liposuction and abdominoplasty procedures on their unknowing patients.  While Dr. William Marrocco* was the doctor on record for the clinic – patients report that he wasn’t the one operating!


Unlike many of the ‘chop shops” we’ve written about that take place in garages, motels and private ‘parties’, in this scenario, unwary consumers were duped by a savvy group of criminals who had owned and operated the “Health and Beauty Cosmetic Surgery” clinic in downtown West Palm Beach.

*The good doctor Marrocco remains a legally licensed doctor in the state of Florida – though interestingly enough – he does not have prescriptive privileges.  One the Florida Department of Health website, Dr. Marrocco (whose secondary address corresponds with the clinic address) reports active licenses in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana and Nebraska.

But let’s check it out… so I did my own preliminary online search –

Virginia: No records found.  No active or past licensees (expired in the last five years) found.  So he may have had one – but not recently.

Pennsylvania: William Charles Marrocco held a license in Pennsylvania for a brief two-year period between 1998 to 2000. This includes his period of medical residency training at Temple University Hospital.

Michigan: Three expired licenses – one for student status (resident) and one as a pharmacist.

Indiana: Dr. Marrocco was a licensed plastic surgeon in the state of Indiana from 2000 to 2011 and has a notation “reinstatement pending‘.  Maybe Dr. Marracco is planning on heading back to Indiana – where his license remains unblemished – despite the scandal surrounding the 2003  death of his wife after he performed liposuction on her).  License # 01052282A

Nebraska:  Expired, license #2909, educational license permit (training) affiliated with Indiana University

Jorge Nayib Alarcon Zambrano – (one of the individuals charged) is listed as a member of the Colombian Society of Plastic Surgeons – from Cali, Colombia.  So he may be a trained surgeon, just not a very good one (and not licensed in the United States).

Licensing isn’t everything..

Kind of goes to show some of the pitfalls of relying on licensing boards for consumer protection.  Dr. William Marrocco was a licensed plastic surgeon, but that’s little consolation for many patients at that West Palm Beach clinic.

In fairness to Dr. William Marrocco, Jorge Alarcon and the other individuals in the case – they have been charged with multiple counts, but have not been convicted of any crime.  Until that time, they remain innocent until proven guilty.

Apologies to my loyal readers for the long lapse in posts but my plate has been pretty full.  But I will be finishing my latest assignment in a few weeks and starting a couple of new projects for the summer months.


I applied for and received a new assignment from to expand my focus to include more than just health topics.  Now I will be able to write more articles focusing on life and culture in Latin America.

Colombia Moda 2014

To kick-start my new assignment, I have applied to attend Colombia Moda 2014.

(official image from Colombia Moda / Inexmoda)

As many of you already know, I was able to attend last year – and got a fascinating glimpse into the fashion industry and the future of both fashion and consumerism.

Last year’s speakers were promoting the concept of “re-shoring” and changing from the traditional ‘seasonal’ lines and collections to an ongoing, evolving fashion line with new designs and items being designed, developed and sold to the public in shorter mini cycles.


This year – I’ll be able to cover all of this – along with interviews with individual designers, fashion lines and the Colombian fashion and textile industry.  (Last year, my articles were focused on the role between fashion and plastic surgery).

Fashion is so intrinsic to Colombian life, and many parts of Latin America, so I am really excited about it.  It plays such an important role in the economic, social and an even personal lives of many Colombians.


I won’t have an assistant this year – but I am getting a new lens for the event (I will be journalist/ photographer for the event).

After Colombia Moda, I will be flipping back and forth between writing about culture and my ‘usual’ medicine and health storylines.

I will be staying in Colombia for several weeks as well as covering the Latin American Association of Thoracics (ALAT) conference at the end of July.   It’s one of the biggest international conferences in thoracic medicine/ surgery with many of the legends of thoracic surgery planning to be in attendance.

Sponsors del Congreso ALAT 2014

In August, I’ll be heading across the globe to interview the head of an innovative surgical program.

I’ll be checking in along the way – and posting photos, interviews and articles as I go.


International Tango festival

There’s always something going on here in Medellin, so I am keeping busy even when I’m not in the operating room.

Dressed and ready to tango!

Dressed and ready to tango!

This week – it’s the 6th Festival Internacional de Tango..

the crowd at the Botanical Gardens enjoys a free show during the International Tango Festival

the crowd at the Botanical Gardens enjoys a free show during the International Tango Festival

While salsa dancing is a Colombian original (from Cali), the Argentine tango is alive and well here in Medellin.  At this week’s festival, several musicians and dancers from Medellin are being showcased for their skills – along with Buenos Aires legends..  Local schoolchildren are also participating in a series of concerts and dance demonstrations.  It’s quite a bit of fun – and showcases some of the things the city of Medellin really excels at.

After attending a Tango performance last weekend, and numerous other public events and outings – one of the things that it really noticeable is how well the city manages these events.

Fun and family friendly

There has been no trash or litter, no displays of public drunkenness (despite the fact that there is plenty of alcohol at these events), and no disturbances at any of our outings (and several were free).


Roaming the city

During the weekend, we roam the city – taking pictures, enjoying the endlessly lovely weather – and riding on the metro (train).  The trains are affordable, quick (and if you avoid peak traveling times during the week) not too overly crowded.

above ground metro train

above ground metro train

Universidad Station

Universidad Station

Several parks and museums are located close to the Universidad Station including the Planetarium, Parque Explora (for kids) and the Botanical Gardens.

the planetarium

the planetarium

The Botanical Gardens

The ‘Joaquin Antonio Uribe’ Botanical Gardens were a delightfully relaxing place to spend a gorgeously sunny Sunday afternoon in the midst of the city, but away from the hustle and bustle of El Centro (where I live).

Jardin botanico 038

Admission is free.

There was live music to listen to, plenty of flowers, and wildlife to enjoy (iguanas roam the grounds), and assortment of snacks (ice cream, juice drinks, and other regional treats).

Iguanas roam the park

Iguanas roam the park

But the park isn’t just there to enjoy nature.. It’s a great place to people watch.. Also the people of Medellin are very kind and friendly, so they are happy to talk – even to gringas with bad Spanish, like myself.

using his camera to meet girls

using his camera to meet girls

We watched this photographer use his camera to meet girls as he roamed the park..

A group of young people singing…

Jardin botanico 134

Then we met a lovely princess..

Jardin botanico 043

and a local vendor selling gum in the park..

lost his leg due to a landmine

lost his leg due to a landmine

This very nice gentleman is a reminder that as sunny and lovely as Medellin is – there is still an ongoing war to remember.. One that has devastated thousands of young men, and displaced millions of people.

jumping rope

jumping rope


As a visitor (and temporary resident) of Medellin – the wholesomeness of the park is enchanting.. It’s a reminder of one of the reasons, I do enjoy Colombia so very much.. Just like my “Sundays in Bogotá” – the city slows down during the weekends, and people spent time with their loved ones.. No gameboys in evidence, and phones used mainly to take pictures..  It’s a gracious illusion that reminds me of my own childhood in a small town..

Sunday lunch: the food of Antioquia

So, my talent runs short when photographing food..


As I may have mentioned before, the regional cooking of Colombia varies quite a bit.  Cartagena and the other Atlantic coastal areas, are famous for the Caribbean influence of the local cuisine which is heavy on fried plantanos, fish and a caribbean (caribe) curry type flavor.

Bogota, as a more mountainous but cosmopolitan area boasts a ready mix of flavors, but also have delicious traditional dishes such as Ajiaco, and  my personal favorite, morcilla.

We’ve talked about the tamals of Tolima.. and the vast array of fruits and vegetables, many of which only exist here (or in very specific areas of Colombia).  I have an intense love for chonteduro, feijoa and uchuva myself.. There is another blog, by a fellow traveler – who documents his delicious encounters with numerous varieties of Colombian fruit.

found mainly around Cali (and some parts of Panama)

found mainly around Cali (and some parts of Panama)

While I mainly write about surgery and such, I think it’s important that visitors to Colombia have a chance to experience the rich abundance of this country – and no where is it more evident than in the streets, fruit markets and grocery stores due to the readily availability of fruit.  No visitor to Colombia should ever leave thinking Colombian cuisine is just arepas, empanadas and frijoles.

concord grapes, uchuva, mangos, brevas, strawberries, guava and mangostinos are just a few of the delicious (and cheap!) fruit grown in Colombia

concord grapes, uchuva, mangos, brevas, strawberries, guava and mangostinos are just a few of the delicious (and cheap!) fruit grown in Colombia

Mangostinos are a particular delight – with an inedible hard shell, but a creamy, smooth and amazingly rich/ sweet interior.

Mangostinos (and brevas) with rich creamy interior of mangostino visible.

Mangostinos (and brevas) with rich creamy interior of mangostino visible.

But the food of Medellin, the food of the ‘paisa’ has its own flavors.. Hard to know where to start – and you don’t want to get locked into thinking ‘bandeja paisa’ is all Medellin has to contribute to Colombia’s culinary culture.

But I am fortunate enough to live with a native Medellinesa, Diana, who (among other things) is an excellent cook, so I can pretty much label “Authentic Cuisine of Antioquia” to most of what comes out of the kitchen, with the exception of the few paltry and miserable offering of my own.  (I am not a good cook.)

DeAna, with Olle Petersson

Diana, with Olle Petersson

So for Father’s Day lunch, we had grilled pork with a grape sauce, rice and a ‘green salad’ made of green tomatos, mild onions, avocados and a light dressing along with a creamy vegetable soup.  (Sorry I don’t know all the foodie terms like compotes and such – but it was delicious all the same.)

creme of vegetable soup, pork with grape sauce, green salad and rice

creme of vegetable soup, pork with grape sauce, green salad and rice

Medellin, my beautiful friend..

I don’t know how it always happens.. I set out on one kind of expedition and (frequently) it turns into something else.  So we have it.. I was planning to write extensively on Panama City, but looky, looky – here I am again, living in the fantastic, tragic beauty of Medellin.

As I wrote once before, Medellin is a city of great loveliness, but somehow Bogotá always blinded me to Medellin’s charms.. But it’s time to give Medellin a fair shake, so here I am..

Medellin 002

Ceviche with Anthony Bourdain in Panama City

Okay, okay.. so maybe it wasn’t actually WITH Anthony Bourdain, but based on Anthony Bourdain and his episode on Panama.. (Season Six, episode 1 of “No Reservations“).

As everyone who is a fan of any of his shows already knows, Anthony Bourdain loves ceviche.. Me, personally, not so much..  I mean – it is raw fish – in juice.. Or at least that’s what I thought it was after a particularly nasty encounter in Buenos Aires..

But one of the members of my “Away Team” convinced me to give it another shot..  Since, rumor had it – “Anthony Bourdain recommends the ceviche at stall #2 in the fish market.” Logically it seemed like sound advice – where better to re-attempt ceviche than a place named “Abundance of Fish”..

type different varieties of ceviche from the famed stall #2.

type different varieties of ceviche from the famed stall #2.

Anthony’s right – it was delicious..