Comings and Goings – Playa Coronado, Panama

Well the Ocean seems to have been a bit more active lately but Denise and I did get out the other day with our foam floaty tubes and floated in the salt water for a good hour. I don’t have pictures since my camera is not water proof. We saw some ‘flying fish’ near by. It was neat. Floating out there on calm waters is really relaxing that is unless something bumps your feet.

Last week I finally was able to check off one of the items on my list of things to do but it was just a start. I went SUP (Stand Up Paddle) boarding. There is a group that meets weekly now and the leader has boards he rents for the 2 hour block. The water was a good bit more choppy than I was comfortable with so much so that there were people surfing just about 100 yards away. I spent most of the time on my knees paddling but did manage to get up on my feet 2x for very short times. I do admit, the choppiness made me fearful since I am not a strong swimmer at all. I plan to go back but i needed to take a break as I was very sore. It is a great workout. My thighs, abs, shoulders, and back were barking at me for days. The pictures aren’t great but Denise could only get so close. Oh and we saw ‘Camp David’. I wondered where they put it. It is a very high end place right the beach. See the pics.

Success - on his feet!
Success – on his feet!
Is that a wave coming????
Is that a wave coming????
Ah, maybe Ron is standing on the other side of the board?
Ah, maybe Ron is standing on the other side of the board?
Pretty choppy for a newbie.
Pretty choppy for a newbie.
It was fun riding the waves rom my knees.
It was fun riding the waves from my knees.
So this is where the politicians go. Pretty digs.
So this is where the politicians go. Pretty digs.

Just about every day we see the local fisherman go up and down the coast casting their nets. It is very interesting to watch and we really like going to the local fish market to get fresh giant prawns, red snapper, and corvina. Oh and it is real inexpensive getting it right from the fisherman.

Tonight we are watching the Seahawks game. We are set up to watch most any game we want via the internet but tonight it is also on regular cable.

There was a couple earthquakes about a week ago that some say they felt. They were in the area of the Panama/Columbia border a good distance from here. They were about 6.1 on the scale. Talking about scales…Denise and I had not been on a scale for a few months We had been eating more carbs than before and drinking (ok I was doing the drinking) a lot more than before. We were kind of wondering and maybe worried about where we might be. A neighbor of ours allowed us to borrow an extra one they had. It was non-digital and each of us had to get down on the floor for the other to read the numbers. It was pretty funny, until we saw the numbers. It appeared we both put on 10-15lbs since we left Seattle – OUCH! I cut out the alcohol and we were more careful with what we were eating. Well about a week later, on our anniversary, we went to spend a few days in Panama City. The 4 star hotel had a digital scale in the room. We were afraid to go near it but Denise finally tried it out and found that it said she actually lost a few pounds compared to where she was when we arrived here. I tried and had the same results. Now we were confused. We had hoped our daily beach walks, pool time, and floating in the ocean time was keeping things in check even with our additional food and alcohol bad habits. When we got back to our condo Denise bought a new digital scale. We needed a third opinion to validate which scale was right. We were relived to find our numbers were very positive. I had never previously spent time at the beach and not lost weight so now it makes sense. Now I can attend daily happy hours with much less guilt especially those that include pizza!

Rum from Cuba. Maybe you can get this in the states soon.
Rum from Cuba. Maybe you can get this in the states soon.

Last week we bought a large Papaya from the roadside farmer. We never had one yet. You cut it and clean it somewhat like a cantaloupe. OMG was it delicious and they are very inexpensive especially directly from the farmer. Some use them in morning fruit shakes.

Another new item for us are Liche Nuts. These are very funny looking fruits/nuts. They look like a red walnut with hair. They grow in bunches from trees. The way you eat them is by squeezing one end and they split open and expose the fruit and nut. Squeeze and grab with your teeth. Very refreshing.

Hairy Nuts - Weird to look at and touch but it has a very nice taste.
Hairy Nuts – OK, quit snickering, this is a family blog. Weird to look at and touch but it has a very nice taste.

007 – Bond, James Bond. There is someone here on the beach that has a 4 wheeler/boat. When they drive into the water the wheels fold up and they then function like speed boat. They can then steer toward the beach, put the wheels down and drive onto the sand. Who said Panama is 3rd world? One thing that is a bit aggravating on the weekends is the few folks who do have 4 wheelers and dirt bikes and race them up and down the beach. They are very loud and seem to be accidents waiting to happen. At least it is almost always just on the weekends, weekdays we pretty much have the beach to ourselves.

This 4-wheeler runs on Ethanol and can reach two horse power.
This 4-wheeler runs on Ethanol and can reach two horse power.

Oh and finally a reminder, On Aug 27th about 12:30AM, in the night sky, you are able to see the Moon and Mars very close together. This will not happen again until the year 2287and no one alive today has ever seen it. Look it up and yes there is an App for that.

IMG_1883
Coronado in da Moonlight – not to be confused with Escanaba (movie reference). Watch for Mars coming soon.
If ya miss Mars hopefully you at least can enjoy something like this every  morning.
If ya miss Mars hopefully you at least can enjoy something like this every morning.

Well enough for now. As always pass any questions back. All opinions are my own.

RB

Don’t be a Dead Ringer – Saw it on Facebook so it must be true.

Remember back before you were born?

They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot & then once a day it was taken & Sold to the tannery…….if you had to do this to survive you were “Piss Poor”

But worse than that were the really poor folk who couldn’t even afford to buy a pot……they “didn’t have a pot to piss in” & were the lowest of the low

The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water temperature isn’t just how you like it, think about how things used to be. Here are some facts about the 1500s:

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and they still smelled pretty good by June.. However, since they were starting to smell . …… . Brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor. Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting Married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it.. Hence the saying, “Don’t throw the baby out with the Bath water!”

Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof… Hence the saying “It’s raining cats and dogs.”

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That’s how canopy beds came into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying, “Dirt poor.” The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance-way. Hence: a thresh hold.

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire.. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme: Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old. Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could, “bring home the bacon.” They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and chew the fat.

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the upper crust.

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would Sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial.. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of holding a wake.

England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive… So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift.) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be, saved by the bell or was considered a dead ringer.

We enjoyed this, hope you did to.

RB

30th Aniversario Adventure

Anytime someone makes it through another year with me they should get a medal. When I was a kid I thought folks that were married (to the same person) for even 20-25 years – well that was a long time. I never imagined, at that time, that I would surpass that milestone. I tried to get out of all the anniversary hoopla by saying that we know live on the beach, in the tropics so lets just go floating at high tide. Well needless to say ‘we’ decided to celebrate a little more special. After 2+ months in Panama we have not spent time in the capital city so we decided to go in town for 2 days and see/do a few things.

While in Panama we have chosen to live without a car. The driving is quite hazardous to your health, so we take the bus or taxi’s everywhere. Using public transport the city is about 1:45-2 hours away. First we take a small bus/van from our neighborhood up to the highway (Pan-American Hwy). At the Hwy you can get on another small bus generally called a Coaster or wait for the big bus. Going towards town to the central terminal at Albrook we chose to take the big bus. These are big modern buses that are usually on their way from one of the other major cities in the country heading to Panama City (Albrook Central Terminal). Both the Coaster and big buses usually have air-conditioning. The big buses are mostly quite comfy and some even have ‘el bano’ on board. They all have LOUD music. The big buses most always have a fairly large TV screen with either a movie or some kind of music video. I repeat, it is played loudly. Below is a picture of the front of our large KIA bus on this trip.

Some of these bus videos push the old PG13 limits.
Some of these bus videos push the old PG limits.

We made a few stops on the way to the city to pick up some other passengers. Sometimes at these stops someone will get on the bus and try to shake down the passengers to get them to buy or donate to something. ‘No comprende’ comes in handy sometime. This trip we had a girl come on board and ask if anyone wanted to buy some Churros. She was on and off in a matter of a minute or so as the stops are extremely short.

We have taken the bus to Albrook before but have not gone into the city. When we arrived at Albrook we were told to take the Metro or a taxi to the city. The taxi should have been $5 since we only needed to go a few miles but if they see you are a Gringo it goes higher and you either have to bargain them down or walk away. They said $10 we said $5. Another said $12 we said good-bye. It was a busy time of the day so they could easily wait for the next Gringo to make their money. Next we looked for the Metro. We saw big city buses that said Metro-Bus but we couldn’t tell which bus from which zone, etc..to take. It was hot and we were getting tired. We tried asking some people and they would point back into the terminal while rattling off some Spanish. We went to a ticket window and they pointed to an area where we would catch the buses back to where we just came so we knew that was wrong. Patience, patience, patience…we finally found what looked to be an information center with a girl who spoke ‘muy poco’ English but enough to make sense of things. She looked up our destination on her smart phone and then also pointed, like the others, towards the return buses, except she also said Metro-Train. We questioned, Train? She again pointed and said ‘Si, Train, Metro’. Ah ha!! To the side of this bus area was an escalator that led to a bridge we needed to cross to get to the Metro-Train-Subway. Whatever you want to call it. It is all three, as it is Panama’s 1st subway called ‘The Metro’ not to be confused with the Metro-Bus, which we did. The girl even told us which stop, #4 Inglesia de Carmen. From there it was easy-breezy-lemon-squeezy.

We made it on/off the subway and knew our hotel was within walking distance of the station – The BlueBay City, a 4 star hotel. No I did’t spring for the Trump Towers even if he might be our next president. Our Metro stop was called Inglesia de Carmen probably because there was a beautiful church called Our Lady of Mt Carmel at the major intersection – pictures below. There are many old and beautiful churches with stations, stops, major roads, etc…named after them. More on the churches to come. I finally mapped the hotel on google and walked to it from there. It was a nice place with an Asian theme including the Shushi restaurant/bar on the main floor. The folks there were real helpful and some spoke pretty good English. One thing we found ‘unique’ was that the bathroom had a giant shower the full width of the bathroom and was separated from the rest of the room by a glass wall and no door. It was a good 1/3 of the whole room. A whole family could have fit in that shower. I did hear the Asians are family oriented and multigenerational but I think that was stretching the whole Feng Shui thing a bit much.

Our Lady of Mt Carmel
Our Lady of Mt Carmel
Alter area of Our Lady of Mt Carmel
Alter area of Our Lady of Mt Carmel
Back window  of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.
Back window of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.

On our first evening we had hired a driver to take us to one of the malls where they have a ‘Cinepolis VIP’ theater. A few words on Panama City. It is a very large, very sophisticated, and very modern city. It has more buildings over 21 floors than NYC. This mall would rival anything found in the USA except it was newer and maybe cleaner. Everything glittered and shined. We wish we would have gone earlier in the day as there was a Tony Roma’s and a nice good old fashioned plate of ribs sounded great. When we walked up to the ticket desks for the theater we said we wanted the VIP showing. They pointed behind us and smiled. We turned and saw special elevators marked as VIP to take us to another floor. Once at the right place we bought our tickets for the recently released Mission Impossible movie. Seats are assigned. We entered our specific theater and there were rows of very large ‘lazy boy’ type seats that go almost all the way back. Very very cushy. There was a little switch where, once flipped, a waiter comes to you and takes your food/drink order from the menus by your chair. They take your order on their iPad as well as run your payment. They then bring your food as the movie is proceeding. For us, who do not go to movies often, this was pretty fun.

Nice to be a VIP!
Nice to be a VIP!

The next morning, after our complementry breakfast – Denise choose the Mexican plate – we went for a walk around the area.

Sunny side up with salsa and a side of chips and refried beans, a fruit plate, croissants, Juice and coffee.
Sunny side up with salsa and a side of chips and refried beans, a fruit plate, croissants, Juice and coffee.

We were in the business district. There was a lot of old plaza shops, a grocery, casinos, banks, more hotels and oh, more churchs. At 3PM we had a hired car take us to Old Town – Casco Antiguo. This is in the area where the presidential palace is except the president doesn’t live there, the red-tape of the government takes place there. The area in this district had gotten very very bad, gangs, poor, etc….There has been an ongoing effort to revitalize the area. We saw may buildings that had been stripped out and were being refurbished. The architecture is quite beautiful, very French. It has a very New Orleans look and feel to it. There were many tourist shops selling much the same items from shop to shop just like any other tourist area you might have been to. The area seamed quite peaceful and beautiful. It is all located on the waterfront across the bay from the now current modern city. Some pics are below. An item of note is the church of San Jose that has a historic all gold alter – yes solid gold. It is said that during the pilfering of Panama during the pirate days of Captain Morgan that a priest had the alter covered in tar to disguise the gold from the pirates – or something like that – what am I Wikipedia?

A look across the bay from Casca Antiqua.
A look across the bay to the city from Casco Antiguo.
Architecture of Casco Antiquo
New Orleans type of architecture of Casco Antiguo
Panama City Scape from old town
Panama City Scape from old town.
Casco Viejo monument
Monument with old city wall behind it on a point of the bay.
Arts, crafts, trinkets in an outdoor walkway along the water.
Arts, crafts, trinkets in an outdoor walk way along the water.
Ron, Shopping????
Ron, Shopping????
12th Man in Panama!
12th Man in Panama!
Solid Golden alter at St. Jose
Solid Golden alter at St. Jose. Yes the whole thing.
A side alter at a church
A side alter at a church
A side alter a a church
A side alter at a church
Another beautiful alter in another beautiful church
Another beautiful alter in another beautiful church

We also found a very comfortable outdoor bar that had swinging chairs. We spent a bit of time there before heading to dinner at a small Italian restaurant for the special of the night, spaghetti, and we added a pitcher of wonderful Sangria.

Our Selfie at a nice bar
Our Selfie at a nice bar

No I am not a swinger.

Cool hanging chairs around the bar.
Cool hanging chairs around the bar.
Not sure if this was a restaurant or some where that sold silverware. Saw it as we were leaving the city.
Not sure if this was a restaurant or some where that sold silverware. Saw it as we were leaving the city.

Next morning we headed back to Albrook. Albrook was an old US military base from what I understand. There you will find the central Subway station, the central bus station AND a giant mall The Albrook mall is giant and we are told it is larger than the Mall of the Americas in MN. They have large animals at the main entrances so you know where you came in/out so you don’t get lost. Obviously we were at the dinosaur entrance.

Dino and Ron
Dino and Ron

A unique thing I saw at the mall, and am kicking myself for not getting a picture, is the bathroom. Let me explain, in the mall if you want to use the bathroom you better have .25. There are people whose livelihood is to stand there and make sure you put a quarter in the turnstile to get into the bathrooms. I suppose they also are responsible for keeping it somewhat clean. So skipping forward, I am in the bathroom mending my mascara and I go to wash my hands. There were about 6 sinks across a counter – pretty typical right? BUT each faucet had a 6 inch LCD screen as part of the faucet mount. These screens played advertisements. Bizarre I thought, until I found that a survey taken by RONMADETHISSURVEYUP.COM showed that those that wash their hands after going to the bathroom spend more money then those that don’t. Ah, now that makes sense. Talk about targeted advertising.

We finally got a Coaster bus ride back to Playa Coronado – 1.5 hours from the station. After quickly getting a few groceries we made it back to the condo and within 30 minutes we were on the rooftop and in the pool. It was nice to get away for a few days but very nice to get back home. We finished our 2 day celebration with dinner at the local watering hole called Picasso’s with a few friends. Denise says it was fitting that we spent our 25th anniversary in Maui and our 30th in Panama City. Not sure how we top that for #35 and 40???? All in all we both had a great anniversary.

As always, with these postings, your comments are welcome. All thoughts are my own except for those attained through hearsay or gossip. Do not feel a need to correct me on any factual items because where I did not know for sure I may have just as well made something up. If there is something you want to know about our experiences or Panama just ask and I will do my best.

RB