Trip Start Jan 20, 2008
11Trip End Apr 29, 2008
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Where I stayed
Sid is taking a break from the blog, so I am doing today's entry. The week at Las Olas was quite exciting. Las Olas is on the beach of Playa Barqueta. The beaches here on the Pacific side are mainly grey beaches, ie a mixture of black and white sand. Although I don't normally like the texture of black sand, here in Panama it isn't as coarse as it has been in other countries we have visited. The sand is actually quite a fine texture, so the color doesn't matter.
This is the area closest to Costa Rica, and looks very much the same. We went up to Boquette, which is a favorite, as the adventure tours mainly take place from here. There is white water rafting, zip line, safari tours in the jungle etc. Although Boquette is quite popular with the North American population, we found it quite open, and apparently there is a rising problem with theft there. We learned from living in Cost Rica that one must be very cautious in Latin America.
The Panamanians are generally a nice people. They do not smile a lot, but when you speak to them they do smile, and try to be as helpful as possible. They are generally a short group, especially the indigenous people. The woman tend to be on the chubby side, which we found very different from Costa Ricans.
Las Olas is near the town of David. David is pronounced as in the Hebrew version, which is interesting. David is the business centre for this part of Panama, and has pretty much everything you could look for. They are building an international airport which should be finished in the next 2 years, and then people will be able to fly from Fort Lauderdale straight to David, without having to stop in Panama City. That will be a plus.
The hotel at Las Olas is supposed to be a 5 star, but we would rate the rooms as a 3 star. Here in Latin America one never knows who made up the stars! This is a developing resort with hotel, condos and houses. The people buying here are mainly Canadians and Americans. It is a gated community and the guards are quite careful who they let in. There is also a security guard going up and down the street constantly.
We are able to enjoy the beach, but also the resort which has 2 swimming pools, fitness room, massage, bar, etc. Although the rooms are 3 star, the hotel facilities are 5 star. It is very beautiful. We sit out on the hotel patio, and just watch the ocean and listen and see the most beautiful birds. It is all very serene. Because it is mainly North American, everyone talks to everyone and it is very friendly. We met a wonderful couple from just outside Seattle who moved here in May. They are in the midst of building their house, and it should be ready by April Panamanian time, which is probably June. It isn't that Panamaians are lazy, on the other hand, they work very hard, but very little is done by machine, it is all done by hand. Laborers work in this very hot sun, and are paid about $3 per hour. The people in this area are poor, although the main land owners are Panamanian and rich beyond our wildest dreams. There is great disparity, but as long as the resort is expanding and North Americans are building, the Panamanians are just happy to be employed.
We have become friends with another couple from Montreal. They are lovely and are just starting their plans for building their house, which will be very large.
As I told you this area is very close to Costa Rica so one day we decided to go to the duty free malls which are advertised on all the billboards. We surprised ourselves when we got there by going over a passage in the road. Lo and behold all of the license plates were now Costa Rican! We got back to the Panama side quite quickly as the rental cars from Panama are not allowed to go to Costa Rica. It is really just a zone, as there is a real border that you have to cross a little ways down.
The duty free malls were really nothing special, mostly imported junk from China, although the furniture was nice, and the motorcylces very reasonable. The merchants here are mainly Moslem, which doesn't give me too good a feeling. They have a picture of the dome in one of the malls. In speaking to them, we find they are Lebanese, and "Palestinians" That is all I needed to hear to make me buy nothing there!
Mainly we have been hanging out on the beautiful beach, and talking to the people from Calgary, Saskatoon etc. It is easy to become quite lazy in this atmosphere, as it is so serene. My friends fron Seattle tell me that a maid here is about $15 perday, so eat your heart out ladies! By the way Sid's Spanish is improving, and he really tries to talk to the people. My Spanish is improving which means it has gone up from nothing to near nothing.
Our next entry will be about Gargona Beach.
Take care everyone,