My mother said there would be cannibals
03.02.2005 - 03.02.2005 22 °C
Day 7 began not unlike any other day in the highlands of Panama. A thick fog had enshrouded the room, giving the appearance of a Scottish moor during hunting season. Several pheasant were suddenly startled by the dogs and sprang forth from the shrubbery in the far corner of our room. Not wanting to blow holes in the walls, we opted against using the shotguns. The pheasants slowly settled back into the bush as the dogs lost interest and found new quarry: us. WOOF BARK WOOF, wake up you silly humans, as they bounded upon the bed, it's time for walkies. Walkies? Unless you mangy hounds have some coffee or at the very least a flagon of rum tied around your necks, I strongly suggest you go wake the cook. And so they did, because in the time it took us to shake sleep from our souls, brush our teeth, dress, and walk to the restaurant, the smiling waitress was there to greet us. Curiously, there wasn't a dog in sight. These dreams of mine were becoming increasingly unusual, though I did see a few dog hairs on the floor on the way to our table. Reality, or insanity? One will never know, especially when distracted by the heavenly smells coming from the kitchen. Mmmmm, cooked Panamanian meat products. These people had meat down to a science. Bon Matin mademoiselle, comment ca va? Damn, wrong language, wrong country. The faux French wallpaper and tapestries hanging at the windows had fooled me into thinking I had stepped into Provence. But the waitress guided us to a nice table in the center of the restaurant and brought me back to my senses with a lovely "cafe senores?" Si, gracias, dos cafes. The images of hunting dogs still hung in my subconscious when the waitress returned with two exquisitely prepared cups and a carafe of fresh cream. Nectar of the Gods, restore my soul. Say Dear, is it necessary to claw at the table, asked my Wily Woman. What? Yes, I'm awake. I was just thinking about the Moors. That's fine Dear, but please try not to drool so much, you're moistening the tablecloth, she posed. Can't help it Woman, I am in need of sustenance. The coffee is good, but I need more. And in the blink of an eye, the kindly waitress returned with what can only be described as a mind-readingly accurate portion of my needs: two eggs over easy, Panamanian breadstuffs, and sausages cooked with the loving care that only a chef with the uncanny capacity of a magician could procure. Life is good, especially after a breakfast such as this.
We strolled back to our room, taking a bit of time to scout the gardens and look for the hounds.
My God, these are beautiful gardens. Cactus, orchids, bougainvilia, succulents galore. Our minds were swimming in sights and smells not available back home. We stopped for a few moments to chat with one of the groundskeepers, complimenting him on the wonderful gardens. He was unabashed in his gratitude, so much so that he pointed out where the hounds were bedded in the evenings and showing us his prized shovel. This was a dedicated man, more so that his English was slightly better than my Spanish. It's entirely possible I may have called him a "master gardener", but I'm guessing that I called him a "masterbater"...still not sure, my Spanish needs some improvement. Still, he smiled as he toddled back to his daily chores.
Back in the room, we managed to re-pack our two metric tons of articles back into two metric ton suitcases and made for the front desk. Stopping on the way, of course, for photographic evidence that we were where we were.
The clerk was positively gushing, and we had no choice but to gush back. Si, Senor, esto es lo mejor hotel en Panama, y los Dios se huelen a ti......I think I said God smells at him, but no matter, he was amused. Packing the Nissan, we were off with only a vague notion, once again, of our eventual destination, though we knew for certain that it was just up the road.
A few months later, give or take, we found ourselves back in David, the bustling center of commerce of Chiriqui province. Oh look Dear, a furniture......NO, enough of the translations, we have adventure before us, exclaimed my Woman. So right you are my Divinity, so right you are. And where is it that adventure proposes we go? Don't you remember, we saw on the news last night that the roads to Bocas Del Toro were washed out by the monsoon type rains? There are no roads, so we can't go there. Is that what that was? Say Dear, your Spanish is most improved, I could have sworn that was the A-Team we were watching. That newscaster looked remarkably like George Peppard. No Dear, it wasn't, so let's head to Playa Barquete....it's just up the road, she said in a somewhat snarky tone. Right, Playa Barquete it is, and look, it's only about an inch and a half on the map!!
The map lied. It was at least two inches, and it failed to include the minor detail that not all the roads were paved. We might possibly have strayed off the map, as we quickly found ourselves driving down what can only be described as a farm road, which means not only that it wasn't paved, but it was occupied with farm workers taking their lunch break after a mornings' worth of hacking down sugar cane. As our windows were open, the better to take in the sounds and smells of our surroundings, we were greeted with wolf whistles and hoots from said farmers. Ay, Rubia, como esta? I could only surmise from these hardworking men that they weren't whistling at me, as not only am I not blonde, I am not a woman. My Divine Inspiration could only blush and wave, contented in the fact that there were men besides her beloved that found her attractive. Deftly steering the Nissan over several of the men, I headed further down the road searching wantonly for a sign from above, or even a road sign. And suddenly, appearing as if from nowhere, there it was: the sign directing us to Las Olas Resort. Three kilometers ahead. The sign lied. Three kilometers ahead was another sign saying ten kilometers further on. That sign too lied. The next sign said four kilometers ahead lay Las Olas. Oh look dear, it's paved, we can go there, proclaimed my Delight. Fifteen signs later, each proclaiming that Las Olas was just ahead, we finally found what we had searched for: the resort. It seems we had taken a shortcut through the suburbs, similar to Albert Schweitzer cutting his way through the Congo. Though this particular section of suburbs distinctly lacked cannibals and pygmies, we were nonetheless through it and bravely made our way to the parking lot.
The staff was waiting for us.......well, perhaps not us per se, but someone. The resort was nigh deserted, save for the staff and a few lost souls like us. Si Senor, tenemos cuartos.....para cuantas noches? Dos noches por favor. Two nights should suffice. The regular room rates had been suspended in favor of actually having guests, so rather than the usual rate of $130/night, we managed to procure a rate of $60/night. Not too damn bad, if I do say so myself. And all the rooms face the ocean......what more could one ask? Sixteen bearers artfully moved our luggage to the room, and we settled in for the grand view from the second floor.
Wow, I think that's Costa Rica over there. Sure enough, it was. The view was indeed spectacular, and the ocean inviting. Donning our swimming apparel, we made for the beach. Holy Crap, black sand beach......hot, hot, HOT, HOT.....run for it my Love, the water will be cooler. Ah, soothing water....life is again good. The ocean has a peculiar way of restoring balance to ones' life. Several hours later, we fled back to the room over the burning sands, ready for a repast. A quick shower to remove the days' grime and we made for the restaurant, stopping only briefly at the bar for several cocktails. Seated at a window table, we were greeted with the utmost in professional service. Food Senor, and lots of it por favor. The food was exquisite, and as there were only two other occupied tables, we conversed with Miguel, our waiter. So Miguel, can we make it to Bocas? Hahaha, Senor is most funny, there is no way anyone can make it to Bocas this week. Haven't you seen on the news (my Muse poking me gently in the ribs here) that the torrential rains, which by the way are unusual for this time of year, have washed out the roads making them impassable to all traffic? Si, I have seen (more rib poking), but what do you think are the prospects for road repairs in the next few days? Well Senor, it will be possible to make the drive, but the road goes over the mountains, and I have made that drive many times, so if you are not used to mountain driving, you will find it very difficult, very difficult indeed .....you are better off to stay here instead. I had the sneaking suspicion that Miguel was trying to keep customers here at the hotel. We were at the mercy of the weather and the Panamanian road crews responsible for fixing the passage. So we dined with abandon, as true adventurers must do when faced with such adversity.
Several hours later, back in our luxurious room (which reminded us of a 1950s Miami Beach luxury motel) , we pondered the fates. Well, not so much pondered as tried to figure out what we should do next. We decided a few days here would be better than facing near-certain death at the hands of Panamanian truckers. And so we drifted off to sleep, curious as to what lay ahead.
And so endeth Day 7 of the adventure, swaddled in the comforting sheets of a lovely resort. Stay tuned for the riveting trials ahead, which include copious amounts of pool-side cocktails and body surfing in the rip tides of despair. Not to mention the fascination of three small children whose missionary parents were taking a holiday in Panama. The kids were simply entranced by us, though for no known reason.