As of July 1st we move into our new condo. It is on what they call the Penthouse Level. It is the top floor (23rd) just below the rooftop pool, fitness center, helipad, and the social area that we have our 5-6PM happy hour pretty much each day. All this is a stairway away :). From our Condo the view is great. We see directly down a long stretch of beach that runs west to east, we can see south out to the ocean, and also northeast to the mountains. The north of Panama borders the Caribbean, but no we can not see that from here.
Most people don’t realize that Panama stretches East to West and not North to South. Most think, WAH! how can that be? You have N. America and S. America and Panama connects them so it must be North to South. Well, North America is actually a good bit further West then South America.
Panama does stretch between them to connect but it is ‘left to right’ for the connection and not ‘up and down’. Panama City is almost directly south of Buffalo, NY which shows how far East the country really is. Panama is about the land mass size of S. Carolina. Many of us have thought that if you went directly south from the USA and through Mexico and kept going due south you would run into South America. Actually due south of Mexico is Ocean and then next stop Antartica. Also Brazil and Argentina are further East then the east coast of the USA.
OK, Geography lesson is over. It is still a little weird getting our head around the directions but we will learn. For now I thought I would share some pictures of the humble abode.
As always comments are welcome and I will choose or not to publish them. Let me know if there is any topic you would like to hear about regarding our adventure. Well time to get ready for Happy Hour. It takes lots of time and energy to relax!
Well we found our home for the next year. We sign the lease this week. Details on the new digs will be in the next story but the big news is that our place sits right on a nude beach. I think I may need to purchase some binoculars just to verify. It seems that in this area of Panama the times our beach is nude varies. Generally it is nude Monday through Thursday especially during the off-season. Enjoy the censored pictures below but for now read on.
OK a little clarification…. when I say nude I mean devoid of not clothes but people – empty – nada. It has been pretty amazing being here. For the most part we have had the beach all to ourselves and I mean a couple miles of beach in both directions. Monday-Thursday no one is around. Friday a few people start showing up for the weekend. Saturday and Sunday generally bring out more people including families from the city.
Most mornings, preferably low tide, Denise and I hit the beach for our walk. We first decide if we go right or left and then we walk for at least 30 minutes out and back. Anyone who has ever walked with Denise knows that it is a brisk stride. In that hour plus of time we may see anywhere from 2-8 folks out. The water feels nice and warm on the feet and an occasional wave will get us a little wet. Denise has gotten real good at spotting the sea glass and special shells. Though a brisk pace, the walk is also relaxing and meditative. After the walk we generally take a dip in one of the pools and do some aqua exercises and then lay out to dry off.
Everyday is different. Each tide changes the beach. The only constants seem to be the ever rolling waves and the ultra soft sand. The local fishermen are usually out by the time of our walk and we can see them moving about. Yes it is morning and the world is just waking up but for the most part the beach is empty like this all day long. We have been told that during the dry season (Dec-April) there are more folks out and about but for now we enjoy our own private ‘nude’ beach just steps outside of our new home. If you do show up you will want to be sure to wear your suit and lots of SPF as you can be sure you don’t want to get a burn where the sun don’t normally shine!
I have heard this a number of times now. A couple times from those back home who have stayed in contact and also from those other ex-pats that were here before us. The other ex-pats know the answer but ask anyway? We have been here for about 2.5 semanas (weeks). To me this is way too short of time to make any kind of judgment but yes there are impressions. First of all, anyone who thinks that somewhere else is just what was expected just hasn’t done much traveling, especially to different countries/cultures.
So far there are things that are great and there are things that are challenging. It is a different country; of course it will be different. Different customs, expectations, foods, languages, manners, food labels, driving habits, availability to items, etc… These are negatives, yes often frustrations, but mostly are just differences that should be expected when being in a different country.
We have chosen to start our adventure in a very specific area. The Playa Coronado area was/is an area where the ‘well-off’ from the city would have second homes or come for a weekend or holiday visit to be at the beach. There are a number of great homes as well as resorts/resort condos that have sprung up offering a great attraction to non-locals as well.
There are some very fancy estates in this area. As we walk down the beach we see some very high-end haciendas. They are well taken care of. We also see some that appear to have once been hi-end but seem to have been abandoned or at least left alone until high season comes. There is one place that reminds me of the large house/mansion seen in the movie Jumanji after the game is well underway and vines invade the home. There is also a real big fancy estate that some have said must be owned by some Columbian Drug Lord since there is hardly anyone there and it is kept real nice. Someone told me they saw guys walking around this estate with machine guns guarding it. Well I have been watching as we walk by as well as admiring the handwork of the structure. Yesterday I actually did see someone on one of the patios that appeared to have something resembling a gun over their shoulder. Humm, yes the imagination does begin to flow. Well today I saw another person with a gun across their shoulder on a patio near the beach. They came out of the shadow and leaned on the rail. I was clearly able to see the police/security uniform and badge. Well, so much for imagination. The place must be owned by someone well to do desiring protection or maybe a politician from the city. He returned my wave and I continued on. Remember this is the low-season-everyone abandons Florida also during low-season.
The beach is great. Everyday it changes with the tides. Sand comes and sand goes. What is unique here is the make-up of the sand. Some is regular sand and some is negra (black). I mean really negra. At first it almost looks oil soaked but it is very soft fine black sand from the ancient volcanoes that once formed this area. Most of the sand is like fine sifted powder. We have very small shells we see on our beach walks. Denise even found a full sand dollar, the only one we have seen so far. She has also found some sea glass. She likes collecting some shells and glass.
So is it what we expected? No, never thought it would be. We really like where we are staying. We have met a number of real nice folks. Seems to be a lot of people from Canadia (hey) as well as Texas. Monday night was an impromptu pot-luck on the roof top deck with about 2 dozen folks. There is a nightly happy hour on the roof for who ever shows up. There is a Wednesday night happy hour for the ex-pats at a place called Picassos that is a 5 minute walk away. We are adjusting, trying to learn the language/culture, trying to learn how to get around without a car, trying to get good exercise, and most of all trying to be patient. Patient with each other, our selves, and those who do not hablo Ingles as it never is what you expect it to be! Wouldn’t that be boring?
These blog posts are my random thoughts and experiences. Feel free to comment/reply. Let me know if seeing this stuff is worth your time or if I should just be rambling to myself.