A Travellerspoint blog

Carnaval in Panama City

Almost time to return to CONUS

sunny 85 °F

Our time in Panama is drawing to an end and we are already dreaming of a return trip. Our last night at the BOO, Coronado Bay Condos, was another potluck on the roof. There was a wide array of foods from organic popcorn to KFC. Yes, there is a KFC in Coronado as well as a Mickey Dees. Three couples were leaving on Friday morning, including us, so there were lots of good-bye wishes, hugs, email exchanges, and promises of meeting again somewhere on the road. There were a lot of like minded people in this group.IMG_4130e.jpgIMG_4140e.jpgIMG_4131e.jpg

On Friday morning we headed back to Panama City for three nights of Carnaval, aka Marti Gras in Panama. The city shuts down one of the main streets, Cinta Coasta and cordons off the area. This becomes the playground for the Carnaval . All the party goers enter thru police check points. You must show an ID to get in, the police check your bags and give you a patdown.IMG_4268e.jpg Once you are in the party starts. Beer, food, and music in mega doses abound. The sights and sounds are really no different than an American festival, except there is definitely a hot Latin/Caribbean beat. In the past there has allegedly been a lot of rowdy and criminal behaviorIMG_4286e.jpg but with a very large police presence the crowds were just having fun, music and dancing.

At dark the parade starts. The Carnaval Queen and her court, decked out in feathers and glitter, IMG_4314e.jpg IMG_4349e.jpgIMG_4321e.jpg ride huge floats waving and smiling to the crowd. Between the floats carrying the various queens, marching jazz bands, calypso dancersIMG_4338e.jpg IMG_4302e.jpg and a staggering group of intoxicated revelers entertain the crowd. The night ends with a great fireworks show that everyone seems to enjoy. IMG_4386e.jpg

We're glad that our last few days in Panama are during the Carnaval because the joy and happiness of the celebration keeps us from thinking about the sadness of leaving Panama.

Posted by rhislop 13:31 Archived in Panama Tagged queen carnaval caribbean panama carnival fireworks panama_city coronado policemen Comments (0)

Hairy Knees

Many new friends

sunny 85 °F

I was sitting at the pool a few days ago, diligently working on my tan and reading The Painted House by John Grisham, when one our new friends announced, "Damn, I'm getting hairy knees!" I looked up from my book, "What...?"

"I'm getting hairy knees," he exclaimed again. "I've been in shorts or swimming suits for such a long period of time hair is starting to grow on my knees."

Now that's a serious problem to have I thought. Then I looked at my knees...fine sun bleached hair was sprouting from my kneecaps. Welcome to the too long in shorts club. What a problem to have, but not to worry, unfortunately in a few short days I'll be back in jeans and the denim fabric will quietly and quickly rub off my hairy knees.

Our time in this beautiful place is rapidly coming to an end, we've been saying good-bye to many new friends for the past few days. Most of these new friends are from our northern neighbor Canada. It seems that Canadians have figured out what a cool place Panama is and they have been coming down here for years. There is a small airport in Rio Hato, Panama that has been expanded and is accepting charter flights from Toronto and a few other Canadian cities. The various hotels, condos, and all-inclusive resorts are filled with Canadians. IMG_3567e.jpg IMG_3571e_edited-1.jpg

When the winter Olympics were going on there was a lot of good natured cheering and bantering about our nation's teams. When the USA hockey team defeated the Russians high fives were slapped all around. Then the fun stopped, the USA women lost to Canada, the USA men lost to Canada, condolences were given to us, much like the Super Bowl defeat. As the Americans continued to falter the Canadians excelled. The gold medal game was at 7am, team Canada's headquarters at the Coronado Bay started the day with Bailey's and Coffee at 6am, switching to Caesar's at game time and most of the day. Eventually, beer and other adult beverages found the way into the mix and the Canadian victory dance lasted until 1am the following day. That afternoon there were no Canadian hairy knees at the pool.

One of the Canadian techies has set up a Facebook page for all the guests, friends, and others to share pictures of this area. If you are interested in seeing a collection of photos of the place search for Coronado Bay on Facebook. Most of the pictures at this time are from a wedding photographer from Toronto and me. IMG_3788e.jpg

We are heading into Panama City tomorrow morning to attend "carnival" or the Panama version of Marti Gras. We will be with Colorado friends for the big parade on Saturday night viewing the festivities from their balcony and from street level. Two years ago we left the city to avoid the madness of carnival but this year we're going for it. It should generate many cool images.

Posted by rhislop 05:37 Archived in Panama Tagged panama bay usa canada hockey playa carnival panama_city coronado_beach hairy_knees rio_hato Comments (0)

Happy Valentine's Day 2014

The Prom , aka "the flip-flop hop"

sunny 86 °F

Happy Valentine's Day to everyone. Hopefully, you are with the one you love and can share the that great feeling. IMG_3431e2.jpg

On Wednesday, February 12th, a group of residents from our condo building got together for the first annual Flip-Flop Hop. The social area on the roof of the building was the home of the party. It was a bring your own everything, plus a side dish to share. Two large gas grills were set-up, one for meat and the other for fish and chicken. The side dishes were lined up on the bar, appetizers were place on appropriate tables and the chefs could cook at their leisure. The fragrances of cooking steaks, chorizos, red snapper, corvina and chicken awaken your senses.IMG_3439e.jpg

There were so many side dishes that it took two trips down the bar to sample everything. I believe the most favorite side dish was made by a woman from Manitoba, Canada. Twice baked mashed potatoes casserole with bacon chips, cheddar cheese, and some interesting spices. When Kryss asked me to get her a second helping of this dish, I knew it was definitely a hit. I don't know what it was called, but I call it Manitoba Mashers and want the recipe. Other great dishes included guacamole dip, pasta salads, brochette, tossed salad, and foods I can't remember.

Music was provided by one of the vacationing Canadian's from Toronto. Her playlist was excellent and all music genres were represented. The sound was pumped out of a very cool Bose speaker that could be heard all over the deck. There were boppers, strollers, slow dancers and girls only circle dances. The flip flop dancers rocked the roof.

At nine o'clock a select group of dedicated and bold pyro-maniacs proceeded to the beach and entertained the attendees and many others with a fantastic firework show, fuegos artificiales en espanol, IMG_3342e.jpgThe inexpensive cost of fireworks in Panama and ease of use make firework displays a favorite form of entertainment at the beach. After the show ended the music cranked up again and everyone partied on until it was time to leave the roof. A great time was had by all.IMG_3529e.jpgIMG_3525e.jpg

One of the unfortunate problems of dry season in Panama is fire. Even though we have enjoyed the various fireworks we've seen, one night last week we witnessed the forest fires in Panama, but from a safe distance. It's not just Colorado or the rocky mountain west that has issues with hot, dry, windy weather. IMG_3219e.jpgIMG_3214e.jpg

Have a great Valentine's Day and share your love with those you love.:)

Posted by rhislop 10:40 Archived in Panama Tagged beach panama fire fireworks pacific coronado coronado_beach Comments (0)

Old farts spar on bridge

Broncos hobbled

sunny 85 °F

The time speeds by when you are having fun and discovering new sites, tastes and sounds. We've been spending a lot of time looking at various condos in the area from Gorgona to Playa Blanco. Most have some compelling reason to draw the happy vacationer to their area or building. We visited a building in Nueva Gorgona that had the coolest floor plan, three bedrooms, a large balcony facing the ocean and the back bedrooms faced the mountains. Additionally, there was a half bath on the balcony. The major draw back to this cool place was the road and distance to get there. We would need a military equipped Hummer to make it up and down the road, pot holes to eat small children, rocks to crush tires, and you are pretty much isolated from the world. The realtors location, location, location warning is important at this place. No, we won't be renting there anytime soon.

Visiting the Playa Blanco area, we stayed there two years ago, led us to a J W Marriott development hidden away at the end of the road and surrounded by jungle, farmland, a golf course and ocean. A five star resort that is truly off the beaten path. Beautiful buildings, condos, apartments, hotel area, swimming pools and quiet beach. We spent an afternoon there enjoying one of the pools, drinking a occasional beer and eating nachos that were so filling we didn't eat dinner. A place to return to.IMG_3012e.jpgIMG_3017e.jpg

We went to El Valle with friends from Panama City. As the perfect tour guides, since they had been there many times and we had only been there once before, we had an excellent day. The village market is a fantastic starting place. Fresh fruits and vegetables from the neighboring farms. We stocked up on spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, avocados, etc., for about twenty bucks. After visiting the market we went up to Chorro El Macho (Manly Falls) with our tour guides and another couple from our condo building. The falls are a local attraction that is a short hike into the jungle/woods. Along the way you cross two suspension bridges that wobble and shake as you make your way to the other side. On the second bridge the other hikers were amazed to see Robin Hood and Little John battling it out with their long staffs for bridge supremacy. The contest ended in a draw when the build up of on-lookers started to get impatient. IMG_2883e.jpgIMG_2880e.jpg

Lunch was had at La Casa de Lourdes Restaurant. IMG_2901e.jpgA beautifully designed hotel and restaurant in a Tuscany style. The restaurateur is a very famous Panamanian woman who has hosted many interesting people throughout her career. On one of the bookcases in the lobby was a picture of her and the Shah of Iran. He stayed in Panama prior to coming to the USA and his eventual passing. Lots of old memories about that guy.IMG_2905.jpg

As the Denver Bronco primary cheerleaders in our condo building and having the largest deck in the building it was imperative that we host the Super Bowl party. It was a BYOE, bring your own everything, party. One of the partiers told me that she had counted 47 party goers on the deck. We had two 100 square pools, a $200 paying off each quarter and the final score and a $500 winner take all for the final score. My lucky pick brought me the fourth quarter and final score winning of the $200 pool = $110.00 bucks, plus I won $20 bucks in a smaller pool. Even though the Broncos remained in their stalls all night, I won few bucks:).IMG_3045e.jpgIMG_3044e.jpg

The next day started with God letting us know that he still loves the Broncos....an Orange and Blue sunrise over the Pacific Ocean. A beautiful sight to behold and photograph. Go Broncos.IMG_3062e.jpg

We're going to continue to look at various properties here in Panama. Hopefully, before we leave we'll have next year's place reserved. Panama may not be for everyone, but it works for us.

Posted by rhislop 09:40 Archived in Panama Tagged gardens sunrise panama valle vegetables coronado lourdes broncos coronado_beach shah_of_iran Comments (0)

One Fast Week

Way to go BRONCOS!!!!

sunny 85 °F

Time really flies when you are having fun or staying very busy. We're doing both! The only time there are more than five to six people on the beach is during the weekend, usually Saturday from noon until Sunday at sunset and then everyone disappears for five or six days. During the week when we walk the beach it is highly unusual for us to see more than two other couples enjoying the quiet and serenity of Playa Coronado.IMG_2667e.jpg The beach is a blend of black lava sand and tan sand that makes interesting abstract art with the flow of the tide.

On our walks we've watched the destruction of the beach shack that was just five buildings away from our condo. Last Tuesday we took a picture of the building, part of front had been removed and some of the back are was cleaned out. IMG_2488e.jpgOn Wednesday, we walked the other direction away from the building but we heard the jack hammers and backhoe cutting through the rubble. Thursday, it was gone. There is no doubt that very soon a new million dollar mansion will start coming to life.
IMG_2635e.jpg IMG_2607e.jpg

Immersing ourselves in the Panamanian life style has been very easy. Even with our limited Spanish most Panamanians have been patient and understanding as we try to ask questions, directions, etc en espanol.

Yesterday we rode the local bus from Coronado to Panama City. An hour and ten minute ride for $2.00. All the buses converge at the central bus terminal in Albrook. From there it is a short taxi ride to Casco Viejo or downtown Panama City. The ride back to Coronado cost $3.00, we have no idea why the difference in price but for ease of the ride in an air conditioned coach blasting out hot jazzy Latin music, it was well worth the cost.

One of the couples we met last week went back to Canada after spending their vacation in Playa Coronado. We had a wonderful surprise the other day when we opened up our email...they had sent us a picture they had taken of us one evening when we where at dinner. panama-2014e-Bob.jpg So here we are, alive and well in Panama.

Congratulation to the Broncos for their awesome victories over San Diego and New England. We're thinking of having a Bronco themed Super Bowl party at our condo on Feb 2. If you are planning to visit be sure to bring your Bronco gear!

Posted by rhislop 12:10 Archived in Panama Tagged beaches bus panama buses panama_city casco_viejo coronado_beach albrook Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 47) Page [1] 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 »