Trip Start Dec 14, 2011
Trip End Jan 05, 2012

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Flag of Panama  ,
Tuesday, January 3, 2012

It's a windy, blustery, cool, gray morning with occasional rain showers in El Valle. It’s a wee bit of a shift from yesterday’s gorgeous, sunny, hot day. But then we are sitting in the middle of a volcanic crater. Through the night we could hear the wind gusting and the occasional downpour. When the wind would blow against our building, it sounded like a train whistle; and almost as loud. But, I have to say, the cool feels good this morning.

The first half of the night’s sleep was a bear; but things improved and I actually got some sleep and felt better the second half. I don’t want to jinx myself, but maybe this cold is on its downswing.

We walked (yes, Linda re-did the math and finally agreed with me) over to La Casa de Lourdes last night around 8 PM. It was a real nice setting and a good meal. I had a fish dish and Linda had a pretty good pork chop with a double mustard sauce. It was good.

A family sat at the table next to us at La Casa de Lourdes while we had dinner. We watched one of the teenage girls solve a Rubik's Cube (when was the last time you saw one of those?) as fast as her fingers could move. We had to take a picture a little later when this genius and her sister ordered their huge ice cream dessert.

We must have gotten home around 9:30; I crawled immediately into bed.

As blustery as the weather is in El Valle at the moment, I doubt we will decide to stay around here to hike to the Chorro de Las Mozas ("Young Women's Falls") as we were originally planning. After experiencing how unmanly the "Manly Falls" were yesterday, I think we will be inclined to pass on seeing the female version. It will be a short hour-long drive to our next stop, Farallon, so maybe we figure out a little longer route to see more sights.


I am now sitting under the whirling fans of the covered courtyard of the Togo Bed & Breakfast in Farallon. It is about 6 PM. It is very quiet in this little place, which may have six units---probably too quiet, but for two nights, our last two, we will make do.

Since this is a B&B, there is no bar, so I am drinking the beer I bought today in a "99" store, which is like a Costco without the efficiencies. It took over 30 minutes of standing in line to check out.

After dropping down off the crater this morning, we hit the Pan-American Highway and turned west. After about 20 km we reached Santa Clara where we turned off the highway and traveled a couple of kilometers to its beautiful beach. When we pulled into a parking area just feet from the beach; a Caucasian man greeted me and asked me to pay three dollars. I told him we were just looking and wanting to take pictures. He was okay with that and when I was done I started talking to him. He and his wife were Canadians and ran the beach concession in partnership with a Panamanian who owned the land fronting the beach. They said that yesterday, the last day of the Panamanian Holiday season, they had 5,000 people at the beach and that patrons were standing three deep at their little beach bar. I can’t imagine the road to the beach could have handled that many people, but who knows. The Canadian owners did look pretty tired. They were very friendly and invited us to come back tomorrow.

From Santa Clara we drove a few more kilometers west until we saw the Farallon sign. We turned and drove the couple of kilometers to the beach town of Farallon. We located the Togo B&B and talked to Gordon the owner. It was only 11 AM and we didn’t expect the room to be ready---and it wasn’t. Gordon said it would be by 1 PM. We chatted for a while about things to see and then drove off.

We first explored Farallon, which was home at one time to a Panamanian military base, the remnants of which can still be seen (primarily a long runway). The base was one of the first targets of Operation Just Cause in December of 1989 when US President George H.W. Bush decided to oust Noriega after the dictator declared war on the US.

Now, Farallon is the site of a fishing village and its primary asset is a huge 600 room all-inclusive hotel, called Decameron, which stretches over a mile of Farallon’s gorgeous white beach. On the far western side of the village is a little beach café called Pipa’s that we wanted to check out for dinner tonight. We found it and it looks perfect, but it is closed today. That is okay, we will save it for tomorrow….our last dinner in Panama.

We drove out to the Pan-American Highway again and continued our drive west. We had decided to get to Penonome, have lunch and find a farmacia to get some eye drops for Linda. We passed through Penonome looking for good options and suddenly found ourselves outside of town. The Pan-American Highway had continued, since Panama City, to be a beautiful four-lane divided highway and we weren’t able to find a place to turn around. Finally, we pulled into a place, which would allow us to reverse direction and get back to Penonome.

The development we pulled into immediately caught our attention. It was away from all other development, looked pretty new and had a dramatic walled entrance. We pulled in and saw a row of garages and at first thought they were storage units. That didn’t make a lot of sense because of the effort made to make the building look appealing. While the series of garage doors were ordinary, in a few that were open we could see that the entries from the garages into the center of the building were made to be very ornate, like front entrances to houses. As we circled the building, we could see garages all the way around, so each garage entered into a space, which was totally enclosed with no windows or exits or access to the outside, except through the garage. Weird. Scratching our heads we drove out the exit to re-enter the highway. As we did so, we were able to read the sign. It appeared the units were rented by the hour at the rate of $15 per hour! I guess you could conclude it is/was/or is going to be a place to discreetly drive and park your car while you get serviced by whoever is behind the ornate door, or by whomever you brought with you. Maybe there are other explanations, but they wouldn't be nearly as much fun.

After getting turned around on the Pan-American, we drove back into Penonome, found a farmacia, got Linda’s eye drops, and then drove back to a complex that had both a pizza joint and a “99” store. I went into the “99” store to get beer and wine and Linda went to get herself some pizza. When we finally got back together half an hour later, I had my sack of beer and wine and Linda had two 14” pizzas! Who the hell are we having for dinner? It turns out they were having a two-for-one deal and she didn’t know how to tell them she didn’t want nor need that much pizza. The uneaten pizza is in the refrigerator here at the B&B now. It might be lunch tomorrow.

We got back to the B&B around 2 PM, unloaded and immediately went out to the beach. We walked together to about the middle of the sprawling Decameron hotel before Linda turned around. I told her I would meet her back where we entered the beach after I finished my walk.

When I rejoined Linda we went for a swim in the calm, bath-water ocean. The beach has a nice, fine sand and has very little slope; and the surf is quite calm; a beautiful day for hanging on the beach. Which is exactly what I did until 5 PM.

Linda went back to the B&B about 45 minutes earlier than me. As I sat there alone on the beach three riders went by on horses; it made for a pretty scene as the sun got low in the western sky.

Later two women walked by about the time I was texting Tom about having beers on Friday after I return to Seattle. One of the women was a curvaceous blonde in a bright blue bikini. I got the idea to take her picture and text it to Tom. I walk up to her and tell her that she reminds me a lot of a friend of mine (a bold face lie) and that I would like to take her picture and send it to my friend. The curvaceous blonde is much younger than I thought she was, maybe 20, and more attractive than I thought, too. Her body, however, was just as good as it appeared from a distance; definitely good enough to get the desired reaction from my buddy, Tom. "Oh sure, you can take my picture", she says, "I hear that I remind people of someone a lot." Yes, she probably does, from lying men like me. She tells me her name is Evie. Oh, I reply, isn’t that a coincidence, my friend who you remind me of is Evelyn (bold face lie #2).

It is possible we will see Evie on the beach tomorrow, so I need to get Linda to back me up on my story! The text I sent to Tom (and to Chuck, but he is still traveling in SE Asia and won’t be back to Seattle for a few more weeks) accompanying this foxy girl’s picture, said, “She is up for joining us for Friday beers, but we have to buy her plane ticket”. Tom immediately replied that he was “In”.

Time now to go figure out where to have our evening cocktails and dinner.
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