It is the start of day 4 at Playa Coronado, Coronado Bay, Panama. We left Florida on Memorial Day morning. We were held up in Miami as the plane had mechanical failures. The APU failed before take off. The key word is ‘before’. It was great to visit with Aunt Rita and Uncle Danny as well as being able have a number of visits with my mom. She looked great and is getting around better now than she has in a long time. Keep it up mom – I love you!
Denise’s folks were true saints putting up with Denise and I, OK mostly me, for a month’s stay. Thanks so much and we enjoyed visiting and the chance to acclimate to the hot weather. We arrived in Panama where we had previously decided to have a private driver pick us up vs navigating the bus or taxis on this first trip. The delay of the flight caused us to hit rush hour so we got to experience the somewhat unique driving habits of Panamanians. We had to go right through the city. It has been growing very fast for years and there still was construction/building almost everywhere we looked. We saw a lot of very modern buildings, old historical buildings, some well to do areas and some not so well to do areas. Bottom line is we made it, met with the realtor who took us to our Condo building and unit.
We have a 2 bedroom unit that has both an ocean and mountain view. The facility is top notch – 3 pools with one being on the roof top, a heliport (forgot to pack my copter), nice fitness facility, a game room, and a beautiful beach fronting the whole place.
We are about 2 miles from the main road (PanAmerican Highway) where all the banks, groceries, shopping for the area are located. Some folks have cars but there are also buses (.30 each) and Taxi’s ($2). On the first day we knew we needed to get some groceries. The condo was stocked well with most stuff we needed except food. About a ¼ mile away there is a little Mercado (market) that we got some coffee and cream. Kind of the local 7-11 but priced lower just like the big grocery store.
Not knowing where to get a taxi or where to pick up a bus or even ask for one, we figured we would walk the 2 miles to get some staples and get a taxi back. It was a long and warm walk but we made it. About ¼ mile left some woman pulled over and offered us a ride. We have tried to take the bus numerous times but so far each time someone has stopped and offered us a ride. The grocery is a modern 24/7 supermarket with just about everything you would need. There are actually 4 large groceries within 100 yards of each other at this intersection. One is called Machetazo and is 3 floors and is something like a super Walmart, has everything from housewares, cloths and food, etc.. except I would say it may be a step up from Walmart, at least the Walmarts we are used to. We got our initial basics and navigated the taxi and made it back to the unit just after lunch time.
One thing you find in Panama are places called Fondas, no not the Jane type. From what we can tell, a Fonda is a small, usually family run ‘restaurant’ most often on the roadside and/or out of the front of their home. We have a Fonda about 50-100 yards up the road from our building. We were told these are usually good, very low cost, and supports the locals. On this first full day, after our groceries were put away, we thought we would be ‘brave’ and try it. We walked in and there were a few tables, a counter and 3 items on the chalkboards behind the counter – Eggs, sausage, toast for breakfast or some form of chicken, rice, beans for lunch. You could also get a soup of the day, that is usually chicken, rice and some kind of broth. Today the lunch was chicken with a red sauce and the rice/beans. We were pleasantly surprised as it was not only good but a nice serving. Maybe even the better part, the full lunch for two was $7. Btw…breakfast is $3. Same price every day for what ever they post on the board. Since then we have been back for a breakfast and another lunch, very convenient for a mid-day meal. We have found that we are eating way way less with the activity and the weather. Many times a small breakfast and a mid-afternoon lunch is more than enough for the day with maybe a small snack in the evening. Last night we had pineapple that just melted in our mouths, so sweet!
So back to our first day and ‘brave’ lunch in the local Fonda. As we are sitting there waiting for our food a guy walks up that looks something like Jimmy Buffet (mostly bald on top, white hair on sides, shorts, flip flops and t-shirt). On his t-shirt was a big Gamecock from USC where Lisa graduated. So we were quickly talking and found he is from Charleston, SC, has been here a month, lives in our building, and just signed a long -term lease. He is here until he feels he wants to leave – kinda like us. Well Buz invited us to a daily 5ish PM happy hour poolside on the roof top with some other folks that happen to show up – BYOB. Oh did I mention that local beer is about .45-.55/can! So we have attended 2 of these in the 3 days and have met a young couple from Canada who are here for good, a couple from Texas who after a month returned to Texas this morning, a couple from Illinois, and another couple from Iforget. Fun folks.
We went to another Happy Hour at a local hang out called Picassos. Wednesday night is the usual 5PM hangout for ex-pats (that is what they call folks living in a country who are not from the country – nicer than Gringo). Met a bunch of other folks but it was a bit much for us, like drinking from a fire hose. Everyone though is more than happy to share their knowledge and experiences of being here.
We have done more shopping mostly for more groceries and a crock-pot and just to find out what is where. We are trying to get in a routine of an early morning hour walk on the beach, a short work out in the gym, then coffee and breakfast, then whatever might interest us for the day. Denise is great at the beach. When she comes across some nice shells, she is like a kid in a candy store, gathering up her delicate booty! Next week we will start looking for a long-term place but we are really liking being here, guess we will see what happens.
Well today it is now 10:40 and we have made it through sleeping in, breakfast/coffee and Denise threw some chicken and beans in the crock-pot. I guess we soon will see what today brings – what-ever day it is? Here are some more pics we hope you enjoy.
Comments and feedback are welcome – stay in touch!