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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)

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.
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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)

Starting Another Adventure

Warmer climes and ocean views

semi-overcast 83 °F

Off to Panama for a warm winter. Left the cold temps of Colorado for the humid climate of Central America. We left Denver at 8am on the 29 of December, 10 degrees F at the airport. Thankfully, Kryss's sister, Kate, took us to the airport. We threw our winter coats into the back seat, grabbed our luggage and ran into the terminal. United had upgraded us, so Bloody Mary's and breakfast kept us occupied and happy.

The flight to Panama City, Panama was uneventful. The Bloody Mary's caused perfect sleeping conditions. At arrival we were the first people off the plane and made it through Panamanian immigration and customs without any issues. Our friend, Karlos, picked us up and took us to our favorite boutique hotel in Panama, the Magnolia Inn. The first floor of this hotel is a youth hostel and the next two floors are well appointed hotel rooms. Needless to say, this makes for an interesting mix of travelers. After a couple of relaxing adult beverages we called it a night.

We spent the 30th enjoying sights and sounds of Casco Viejo, the old city. Lots of construction since our last visit. Lunch with Colorado friends who are living in Panama City. After lunch we wandered for a bit, found a few new businesses in the area and a new pub overlooking Panama Bay. Tried it out, very nice place, but we can't remember the name. However, we can find it again. The decision for dinner was easy, we were going to Café Purdue, the best pizza and salads in Casco Viejo. We walked there and it was closed for vacation, re-opening on Jan 17th. Damn! Where to next, we walked to a place we been by many times but never tried, Finca del Mar. It was a comfortable place overlooking the Panama Bay. Cocktails and dinner. I had octopus, see picture, not quite what I expected...I'm thinking calamari. Couldn't finish it.
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Headed to Playa Coronado at 10am on the 31st, prepping for New Year's Eve. More on that later.

Posted by rhislop 15:06 Archived in Panama Tagged panama panama_city viejo casco Comments (0)

The Beach and the Mountains

Coronado and El Velle

sunny 86 °F

We took off last weekend for a trip to Punta Chame and ended up in Coronado. The short version of the story was the cleaning service didn't clean the condo in Punta Chame from the previous guests and we moved on down the beach. However, the benefit of this event was that we were able to visit Gorgona,Coronado, and El Valle. Gorgona is just starting to be developed by condo, land, and hotel speculators. There a few nice place available but most of the new stuff is in the development stages.
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We stayed at the Coronado Bay condominiums for three nights and used that as our base. Besides walking the beach, a very beautiful black and tan sand mix, bird watching and people watching, we explored the community. The places on the beach and the view from the highrise apartments are the best. The homes off the beach are nice but they have difficult beach access and all beaches in Panama are public. Also, once you get off the main roads of the community, it's slow going on the uncared for streets.
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We cruised up the mountains to El Valle on Sunday. A nice mountain town develop in the crater of a large volcano that "blew it's top" centuries ago. It is usually cooler in El Valle than in Coronado just because of the elevation but the humidity was still very high. We ate lunch at a great little restaurant called Bruschetta. A popular spot for tourists. Maxine and Foo-Foo were also having lunch when we were there. We visited the farmers market which was very cool and went to the local zoo. The zoo was disgusting. I'm not a radical animal rights activist, but after visiting that dump I was ready to release all the animals and birds back into the wild. And if you are a "forgiener" you pay extra to get in. The main reason we went there was to see a "Golden Frog". The Golden Frog is endangered and the frog house has two in captivity. I'm glad we got to see them, but the zoo is a place not to visit. Save your time and go to the Farmers Market. Lots of great deals and very friendly Panamanians.

We returned to Panama City on Monday. Kryss had classes to teach and clients to see. It has been amazing to me to watch the development of her business. No matter where we go Dr. Krysstine helps fill the need.

Tuesday night we became real "gringo" tourists. We went to Restaurante-Bar Tinajas in Panama City. They are known for their outstanding show of traditional Panamanian dances, costumes and music. We had heard from many people it was worth seeing the show but the food was just average, much like a dinner theater. Our friends were right. Food average, show great and we're glad we went. The place was filled with tourists from the US, Canada, Columbia, and the UK.
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This coming weekend...the jungle.

Posted by rhislop 10:40 Archived in Panama Tagged mountains beaches birds panama el valle panama_city coronado_beach gordona Comments (0)

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