My mother said there would be cannibals
02.02.2005 - 02.02.2005 22 °C
Day 6 began much like any other day on the Scottish Moors........waking, rubbing sleep out of one's eyes, peering out the castle ramparts at the omni-present mist and listening for the Hound, hoping that he was well sated from a night of gorging on hapless expatriots. Best put on some undies Dear if you're going to stand in front of the open window. Again, this wily woman of mine was correct. Donning a pair of shorts, I left my wily woman to the comfort of her luxurious comforters and stepped out onto the terrace.
Hang on a second....this isn't the Scottish Moors........sure, the mist was here, but there was no drone of the bagpiper sonorously piping to wake the dead, nor was there a howl of the beast. Is that a blender? Perhaps, though it was difficult to make out across the lavishly manicured gardens of the Hotel Panamonte. A waft of delicately fragranced flower was borne of the light breeze, awakening my senses. Damn these are nice gardens.
Oh Dear, may I interest you in a coffee and perhaps some cooked meat products? But of course, and after said coffee, adventure awaits us.
A splash of water on the face, a quick dressing, and we were off to the restaurant. The Hotel Panamonte serves a delightful breakfast of pretty much whatever you could possibly want, though we did have to dress accordingly. This was not an undies only place......one should certainly wear at least a collared shirt and shorts. The waitstaff was as professional as we had ever seen, well manicured and eager to please. We could have stayed here all day, especially since there were few other guests making use of the facilities. It was heavenly, the coffee was perfect, the eggs were outstanding, and the cooked meat products were simply magnificent. Once again, Panamanian cooking had served us well.
Stumbling our way back to our suite, heavily laden with breakfast but stimulated by excessive amounts of caffeine, we briefly mapped out a plan for the days' adventures. Oh look, there's the greenhouse for the property.
A visit to one or two of the expat gated communities, a bit of lunch, more visiting, then perhaps a drive deeper into the mountains. Sounds like an adventure indeed. And so we set off to find Valle Escondido, the Hidden Valley, of gated American and British expatriots. It wasn't particularly difficult to find as there were signs everywhere. Mostly for purchasing real estate, which could well have been an option for us. Little did we know of the snowball of sales pitches we were about to endure. We wandered into the sales office and inquired a bit of the area. A Chinese, Florida-based banshee descended on us, hungrily greeting us as if we had marinated ourselves in bacon grease and hung signs on our necks proclaiming "fresh meat here". It took this she-devil no time at all to whip out maps and plots and price guides about the real estate that was to be had for only the most discriminating buyers. Did we look like discriminating buyers? Perhaps, though I have always found that the "most discriminating buyers" rarely wear flip-flops. But oh look, Sean Connery just bought a parcel in the upper valley. So we could be neighbors to James Bond himself? Well, no, he is going to build a large wall around his property. Really, we're just curious as to what you have here. No, we're not going to sign a contract just yet, nor do we want to see every plot of land that's available. Excuse me, would you please stop gnawing on my arm. Yes, you. Thank you. Oh, you have a gift shop, how lovely. How much was that 2 hectares of lot, and how little can we pay the Panamanian slave contractor to build our very own Taj Mahal? Really, only $300,000. Such a steal. So we only have to set up two offshore bank accounts (to protect us, of course), make payments directly to your company, and keep our gringo mouths shut? Well, that's an impressive sales pitch.....can we just look around a little? It took three .45 caliber shots to the forehead to escape the she-witch, and as she stumbled backwards over the cheaply built diorama of the development, we made our hasty departure. Still, this was a somewhat attractive prison for expats......one would hardly ever have to mingle with the local populace, save having to actually "shop" for food (or even hiring a young woman to do this for you), or perhaps deign to have one of them mow one's lawn. The insanity of the whole arrangement sank in as we toured the grounds. The entire "facility" was designed to keep expats "safe" from what was apparently rampant crime in the Land of the Cannibals. Who knew? There was not only a cheesy gate, lacking an actual guard, but a real clubhouse at the golf course, which no doubt was well armed with the latest in CIA technology, including, but not limited to, anti-personnel mines in the rough, surface-to-air missiles should a wayward condor approach and try to devour your visiting grandchildren, and satellite views of the town, able to watch for sundry domestics not washing one's clothes properly.
It was time to leave this haven-nee-prison, and so we waved at the virtual guard at the gate and departed for town, but not before purchasing a very nice agate windchime and some tapestry thingies at the gift shop. Shouldn't be a total loss after all.
Winding our way back towards town, the wily one opened her guide book and noticed that there was yet another gated community we had planned to visit. It's just up the road a few miles, then a right. Uh, ok. And so we drove on, searching for the community that could one day be ours. And we drove. And drove. Jesus woman, where is this place? The guide book says it's not far. Soon come. You know what that means, right? Yeah, come soon, got it. We drove onward, passing several times the same bends in the road, growing increasingly convinced we would never find this new haven. There were signs for this place, yet no "place". The gravel roads were becoming as familiar as our own gravel road, and as we approached one particular paved road, the Wily One proclaimed "it's paved, we can go there". This would become a mantra of the Voyage......it's paved, we can go there. Still, an hours' worth of searching brought nothing but signs. No encampment. Oh well, maybe they have "plans" to build something. We were undetered, and so vowed to drive back into town for fresh supplies, as the seco and cheesy poofs were in diminishing quantities. Though we had driven for hours through the "suburbs" of Boquete, it took only a few minutes to find ourselves back in the thick of things. Oh look, there's the internet cafe, we should email the family to let them know that the only cannibals so far have been the she-devil saleswoman. OK, this was a plan. We parked and made our way up the dingy staircase, finding a sole, rather hapless computer geek sitting behind a makeshift desk. Cuanto para el internet, I expertly asked the gentleman. It'll be USD $0.25 for the first half hour, he replied. Hmmm, well versed this one was. And who could beat a quarter for half an hours' worth of internet? We settled in behind an antiquated PC and emailed home. Look Ma, still have both hands. The cannibals haven't taken much of a bite yet, save for the sales-witch. Had we been more modern adventurers, we would have sent along pictures as proof that we were indeed still whole. Alas, modern technology was not our trade. Satisfied that we had made our loved ones back home feel more secure, we strode adventurously to the store to resupply. Along the way, having dodged several hundred of the local dogs (why are there so many dogs?), we ran into an unexpected friendly face. Doctor Gary, wow, we didn't think you would be here so quickly. Turns out, Doctor G had an adventure of his own, having booked passage on a bus from Santa Fe. That must have been exciting, we inquired. No, not really, just like any other bus ride, except with more chickens. We chatted as we shopped, then decided that a nice repast was in order. This looks like a nice place. A lonely looking restaurant nigh beckoned for us to enter. We sat a a "window" seat (they were all window seats), and ordered several beers and some cheeseburgers. Many hours of conversation and laughter passed before we left. We drove Doctor G to his abode, which was a family hosting him for several weeks in exchange for knowledge and a few dollars.
The day was still young, so we drove to the highlands, rich with coffee plantations. The road was steep, but the Nissan was well up to the challenge. The road quickly narrowed, so much so that the large numbers of workers that were headed home, and several very large trucks laden with the days' bounty, soon occupied most of the road. We pressed on in search of further adventure. Most of the workers were well laden with packs, as they had to walk many miles to get to work and back, and required sustenance along the way. They peered curiously at the two gringos slowly passing them on the road. We smiled, waved, and turned around. There was only so much one could really get out of miles of coffee plantations. Still, simply breathtaking scenery.
Half an hour later, we were back in town and headed for the hotel. We made for our suite, stopping at length to smell the flowers. And there were a lot of flowers, so the length was extensive. Back in the suite, we unloaded our supplies and settled in for the evening. Oh look Dear. I think The A-Team is on. Ha, we don't need no stinkin' A-Team, we need some adult beverages on the patio. And so we sat, gazing out over the rapidly darkening gardens, consuming our cocktails, and reveling in the day. Damn, it really is pretty here. Too bad the expats don't have this view. Or maybe they do, less the pesky locals asking for their days' pay.
And so came to a close Day 6 of our adventures. Stay tuned, once again, as Day 7 approaches and we again have breakfast with exquisite coffee and cooked meat products, and plan for the drive ahead. But first, let's have another cocktail. Seco and milk is really pretty good.