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Voyage to the Isthmus of Panama Day 8, more or less

My mother said there would be cannibals

sunny 30 °C

Day 8 began with the sound of the ocean breeze gently blowing at the steel curtains of our room. I was awakened by the raucous chatter of several pelicans deeply engaged in a game of dominoes on our terrace. They sat in a circle elegantly pushing seashells shaped like dominoes onto the table and taking terns (bird joke) berating each others' playing skills. Small wads of fish were piled in front of each bird, apparently being used as currency. A bottle of seco sat on one edge of the green and blue colored tile table, and with each winning hand, the pelicanos would quaff the rum and slam the glasses back down on the table. One particularly grizzled veteran of the game had a small filter-less cigarette dangling out of the corner of his sizable beak. And I could understand every word of Spanish they spoke. I politely asked if I could sit in for one hand, but apparently I spoke a dialect of Spanish they couldn't understand. They looked at me quizzically, and in unison, almost as if in song, told me to wake up and get my ass down to breakfast. Ah breakfast, and coffee.....

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Day 8 began with the sound of the ocean breeze gently blowing against the steel curtain of my subconscious. I snapped awake, barely avoiding a beak poke from the grizzled veteran pelican. I threw a fish to him, and rolled over to wake my Beloved. I must have been dreaming, or perhaps still was, because I found the Wily Woman not in bed but sitting at the table on the terrace, a huge pile of all the pelicans' fish sitting in front of her. The birds were not at all pleased, and with one last slam of a seashell on the table from my Beloved, they flew off in a huff, having been soundly thrashed by my cackling Love. Look Dear, we have dinner for tonight, she happily pronounced. Now I knew that I was still dreaming, because my Love dislikes seafood. Still, she played a mean game of dominoes, and I couldn't dismiss that. We gathered ourselves once again for a repast that promised to be a soul-satisfying treat.

As we made our way along the ridiculously hot sidewalk along the beach toward the restaurant, we noticed that several hundred dolphins had gathered just offshore to partake in what looked remarkably like a Riverdance session. The largest of them was leading the dance, dressed in his finest green Riverdance fins. We found the restaurant several days later, right where we had left it the night before. Miguel greeted us with a broad smile.......Buenos Dias Senores, como estan esta manana? Fine Miguel, fine, and you? Wonderful senores, would you like to sit for breakfast? Yes. please, and be so kind as to bring many large coffees, as I may still be dreaming. We sat at a lovely table, clothed in a very bright white tablecloth. Jugo de naranja, yes, orange juice would be splendid, thank you. My Beloved, did I drink a bit last night? Yes Dear, you outdid yourself. Hmmmm, thought so.....perhaps I should ease up a bit on the rum. Not a bad idea Dear, even though it is quite inexpensive. So what would you like to do today, my Companion in Adventure? Well my Sweet, it would seem that the ocean has called my name today, and a cooling dip would be in order. But first, the cooked meat products and exquisite coffee await.

We rolled ourselves back toward our room over the really very hot sidewalk along the beach. There were masses of pelicans swirling overhead, cackling something about getting even at the next game. Very curious these Panamanian birds.

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Donning our swim apparel, we again made for the beach. The sand was a gorgeous shade of gray-black, brought down from the mountains by centuries of rains and the occasional volcanic eruption. The few seashells that were strewn about would have made great prizes for our collection, but alas, the sand temperature was just slightly over 185C, so stopping to pick them up was not an option. We traversed the 100 meters to the water in just over World Record time, leaving our melted flip flops about halfway there. Our towels erupted in flames as we dropped them on the sand just shy of the water. That's OK, because we were used to third degree burns on the soles of our feet, we could just rub some dirt on them and we'd be right as rain. The primordial soup that is the ocean once again breathed life into our adventurous souls. Say, the current is a bit strong today, Dear. Yes, but the breakers call, I must heed. Remember to swim across the rip current that will take you out Honey Bunch. I knew that. Really. But the waves were breaking 50 meters offshore, and were no less than spectacular. We swam and giggled, pausing only to splash water on each other. We body-surfed until we were exhausted, but knowing that the run back would again cause third degree burns on the souls of our feet, we lingered for hours in the cooling waters. There were several small children (aren't they all small Dear?) and some over-sized adults rollicking in the shallower parts. They played with nearly the same abandon as we. Wrinkled to the point of needing re-hydration, we pursed our lips and made the mad dash for the bar. Gently patting out the flames on our legs, we submersed ourselves in the poolside shower and washed bits of ocean life from our tired bodies. It was nearly noon, certainly time for a cocktail, possibly a bit to eat. We eagerly quaffed a few vodka tonics while gingerly picking some small octopi and starfish from our bathing suits. While tossing aside one particularly aggressive sea urchin, we were suddenly face to face with three of the small children who had joined us in the water. They sat down at our table and began conversing as if we were old friends. Um, hi. Who are you? The kids, aged 3, 8, and 11, told us with all earnestness that they were from Oregon and their parents were missionaries living and working in Costa Rica which by the way was just over there and they were here on a holiday that they haven't had in a long time and wasn't this place great and have you been in the pool yet cause the pool is great and a lot of fun and oh they have two pools which one do you want to go in first? Children are so eager. We talked to the kids at length over a nice lunch of fish and/or chicken, with extra cocktails, then decided that it was indeed time to explore one of the pools. We had become like the teachers these children had never had, educating them on numerous subjects ranging from geography to the political influence of religion in society. Being adventurers, we knew we didn't need to wait an hour before swimming as our mothers had insisted. The oldest child, an adorable girl of 11, took great delight at me lifting her up and heaving her across the water. For me, it was akin to midget tossing that one might find in a Chicago bar. This went on for many hours, and the kids could not stop giggling and chatting away. And we found ourselves giggling as well, because it does tend to be an infectious behavior. Like sneezing, but without the watery eyes. We bid the children a fond farewell, and quaffing one last cocktail, we made for our luxury suite.

A full day of adventurous exercise certainly builds ones appetite. A quick shower, a bit of local news on the television, and we were again off to the restaurant for an evening meal. The dolphins had long stopped Riverdancing, but as the sidewalk had cooled considerably, we stopped to marvel at a magnificent sunset.

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This is what life is all about, stopping to smell the roses or take in a glorious setting sun. OK, that, and a meal that rivaled them all. Miguel again greeted us with a curious yet inviting smile, noticing politely that we had burned ourselves silly in the sweltering Panamanian sun. Miguel, tonight it is Chef's choice, please bring us whatever is suggested, meat for my Lovely and fish for me, with a dollop of soothing skin balm. Oh, si Senor, I shall bring you the finest meals in the house. And he did. We sat comfortably at the linen-clothed table, devouring the rare beefsteak and tuna surprise (chef's choice) until we could dine no more. Coffee and brandy finished the meal, and we were the happiest campers on the planet. Miguel regaled us with tales of his driving journeys over the mountains, through dense fog, to get to Bocas Del Toro. Senor, you do not want to drive through fog in the mountains, it is very dangerous, and the trucks are all over the road. I suspected that he was trying to keep us here for another month, but his stories were engaging enough that we could have stayed, if for nothing else than more stories.

We bid adieu to our gracious waiter and made for the suite. Fortunately, the pelicans had been asleep for hours, but they had left behind many shells. We picked up a few for the collection, just because we could, and settled in for the evening. Sleep came quickly, and we dreamed of the sea.

And so endeth Day 8 of our adventures. Stay tuned for more adventure, as we drive nearly the breadth of Panama and find ourselves in a volcanic hole among the company of a German merchant marine Captain and heaping mounds of sauerbraten.

Posted by beerman 10:42 Archived in Panama

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Dear - it wasn't a dream. The pelicans were playing dominoes on the veranda. And, I do play a mean game myself though I had to fight to gain ownership of those fish for your dinner. The grizzled veteran was not so willing to give up his "catch of the day" just so you could eat. There's a reason I only eat chicken and cooked meat products. Shell collecting - good! ;)

by Isadora

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