Getting Crabs in Panama

So one day at band camp….hehe, ok so you had to have seen the movie.

Living at the ocean usually means pescado (fish) of many types are plentiful. We daily see local fisherman out on the water minding their nets. We often also see people standing on shore with a string wound usually around a pice of PVC pipe or soda bottle or even their hand. They fling the string out to sea and are surprisingly somewhat successful with their catch of usually sea bass. Denise and I observe all of this as we take our daily walks far down the beach.

As we walk we often look around for neat shells, sea glass, etc… We also pick up broken glass we find from bottles so no one will get hurt in the surf or sand. Some times we find a few pieces of broken bottle and sometimes we find none.

So one day at… the beach, I was walking near the surf line and I stepped down and thought I felt a piece of glass. I was lucky I felt it before stepping hard. I was able to pull my foot up before there was any damage. I looked down and saw what looked like a piece of broken bottle barely covered in sand. I carefully put my finger under the glass to lift it up so I could safely pick it up and put it in the bag I carried. I put my middle finger in the sand about an inch or two down and then curled it under to lift the broken bottle.

Ouch! Damn! As soon as I had lifted with my finger, two big claws reached up and clamped onto each side of my hand. I am glad no one was around cause they would have laughed seeing some big gringo jumping 3 foot in the air while he waved his arm widely trying to shake this monster off. All in all it was about 3″ in diameter, not even big enough for an appetizer. Good thing I was in my swim suit cause It could have been embarrassing getting my good shorts wet. This was the first time after months at the beach that I ever had any run in or interaction with something like this. When I went back to the condo I told Denise what happened – mistake – as she again had a good laugh at my expense and told all the neighbors.

The next day both Denise and I were out for another walk. I was damned if I was going to stick my hand down there again. Well we were walking in the same general area at the surf line. The sand was a bit soft so we would sink in a little as we walked. Well in mid-stride as I planted my foot, another damn crab clamped onto my toes and didn’t let go until I flung it head long into the surf ahead. Denise heard me shout and looked over and didn’t understand what was happening until she saw the crab in the air before it hit the surf. I don’t know what she found funnier, me jumping up and down, my screams, or the crab leaving my toes and flying through the air.

That was two days in a row, I believe different crabs, and in the same area. It is odd that we have since been over that same area many times as well as other areas and have never had any such event happen again. Everyone here had their share of laughs due to Ron catching crabs at the beach. Well payback is a b…. you know!

I am including some more pictures of stuff from the beach. I hope you find them interesting. As always comments and opinions are my own. Replies are welcome as well as questions or anything else you might like to know about. I have an opinion on most everything.

Hasta Luego,

RB

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Denise’s home made avacado salsa. Avacado’s are plentiful and cheap here but the salsa doesn’t seam to keep for long 🙂
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My camera is full of pictures of sunrise/sunsets. They are amazing just about every single day. Even the occasional storm is wonderful to watch. Lightening storms are a spectacular show almost every night.
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This morning’s sunrise on the anniversary of my Dad’s trip to heaven – 22 Oct.
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Banana tree, the pod is almost read. When harvested the whole banana tree/plant dies and a new one sprouts near its base.
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This is a view from a Tiki Bar down the beach. $1.50 for a beer to just sit and chillax!
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Some items I have been collecting – oh, and some shells.

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Routine….is almost like doing the same thing over and over!

Routines develop no matter what we do. Even doing something different each time is a routine in its own way. Routines are often good but routines can often lead to boredom so ya just need to be aware of how you are occupying your time.

Our activities are somewhat limited some by circumstance and some by choice. We have begun waking up quite early, before sunrise. Something between 5:30 and 6:15 am. It is nice and cool at that time and the sunrise is gorgeous. We generally putzs around on the iPads for a few minutes and then depending on the state of the tide we try to go on a beach walk. We do two types of walks. Usually our morning walk consists of me trying to keep up with Denise down the beach and back for about 50 minutes. We have termed this our exercise walk. The other type of walk, again depending on the tide, is what we call our beach-combing walk. This is a nice calm leisurely beach walk where we look for shells, sea glass, walk in the water, contemplate the meaning of life, etc… Ok back to the routine.

After the exercise walk we come back to our condo and have breakfast and coffee. This is even somewhat of its own routine – oatmeal and/or hardboiled eggs and/or omelets with fruit and of course Panamanian coffee. Panamanian coffee is superb. We generally go up a floor to the roof top pool just after 9AM to ‘noodle’ in the water. A number of women do ad-hoc water aerobics from 9:30-10. Denise participates while I float in a corner of the pool with another of the husbands. Afterwards we generally stay in the pool, usually by ourselves or with another couple, until closer to noon while we just float around and soak up the sun.

Since it is now approaching noon we head back to the condo for lunch, more internet time, etc… Around 2PM we sometimes plan for our beach-combing walk, maybe back up to the pool for more ‘noodling’, maybe sit in the sun and read and listen to music and maybe all three.

Other activities that are sometimes thrown in are some grocery runs, trips to Pricesmart (Costco), and the occasional trip to the mall – you know the usual stuff normal people do.

Our evenings vary a little but also tend to be somewhat routine. Now that football is back on we can pick and watch any games we want to see via the internet. We usually watch the Gamecocks on Saturdays and of course the Seahawks on Sunday/Monday. There is a standing ‘happy hour’ on the roof top every night. It used to be around 5PM but lately time has drifted later to 6-6:30PM. This can be as few as 2-3 people or as many as 10+. I like 2-3-4. We have also begun to catch up on our shows – The Blacklist, The Big Bang Theory, Madam Secretary among others.

Sometimes we walk to a few local bar/restaurants. Gaviota’s is a Tiki type bar a short walk down the beach. They have a decent menu but I tend to get the $4.50 queso hamburguesa (cheese burger) with Papas Fritas (fries) or Pantanos (plantains) and the $1.50 beer. It has a great tiki bar kind of atmosphere. There is also a local bar a few blocks away called Picassos that has a community happy hour on Wednesdays, trivia on Thursdays, 2-1 pizzas on Fridays and usually live music on Saturdays. Many places are closed Sun-Tuesday. We have been hanging around at the condo more lately vs going out to these places. Having a cocktail on the roof, BYOB, is much more convenient.

We did have a great night out a couple days ago with one of our neighbors. They took us to a local Mexican Bar and Restaurant called Cholos. Believe it or not, there is hardly any Mexican style food here. This place is the only one we have found. The motif is more of a surfer bar and we hear it gets quite wild at night. It was fun and next time I go I will get the giant burrito. I would say the majority of restaurants are Italian and/or pizza oriented.

So all in all, most days are somewhat routine but each one a little different. The tide table often influences what we do as does transportation options/opportunities since we choose to not have a car. The beach, the pools, the friends are hard to beat so we are enjoying our routine. Hope you enjoy yours.

Below are a few pictures. If you didn’t know, you should be able to click or tap on them to enlarge the pic. As always any comments are welcome as well as questions or suggestions on a topic you may be curious about.

Btw – I have been using the Duolingo language app for some time and the other day it said I was now 26% fluent in Spanish. I think that is quite a stretch but I will take the pat on the back while I can get it.

Adios, hasta mañana.

RB

Ou with friends (Bruce n Judy) out for a Mexican dinner at Cholos
Out with friends (Bruce n Judy) out for a Mexican dinner at Cholos
After dinner entertainment at Cholos. Hole!
After dinner entertainment at Cholos. Hole!
inside of the Mexican restaurant, Cholos
inside of the Mexican restaurant, Cholos
Sitting ocean front under the palms on the patio.
Sitting ocean front under the palms on the patio.
Reading or watching the waves?
Reading or watching the waves?
Now how do I get the coconuts in to my rum?
Now how do I get the coconuts in to my rum?
This last week has been a little more cloudy and wet than normal.
This last week has been a little more cloudy and wet than normal.
just another place down the beach.
just another place down the beach.
yep, a 'routine' breakfast always with hot sauce!
yep, a ‘routine’ breakfast always with hot sauce!
I am so spoiled!
I am so spoiled!
Dinner at Buzz's condo. The filet here is delic as was all the rest of the food and friends
Dinner at Buzz’s condo. The filet here is delic as was all the rest of the food and friends
A stranded Mermaid. Ain't she a beaut!
A stranded Mermaid. Ain’t she a beaut!
No, we can't take the driftwood home!
No, we can’t take the driftwood home!
OK, maybe time for a new suit - no longer in Hawaii.
OK, maybe time for a new suit – no longer in Hawaii.
Jason and Ann, our next door neighbors invited us over to celebrate Sukkot.
Jason and Ann, our next door neighbors invited us over to celebrate Sukkot.

A Wild and Dangerous Trip – Medellin, Colombia

Dudes/Dudettes,

We have all heard stories about this mysterious place called Medellin in the mountains of Colombia. This name alone conjures up all kinds of frightful possibilities – Harrison Ford Movies; Pablo Escobar; FARC Rebels; secret CIA camps, …I could go on.

Well after speaking to people who personally went to Colombia and specifically Medellin we decided to give it a try. Flights were somewhat cheap and the dollar very strong to the Colombian Peso. With further research we found that general hostilities in the country subsided generally between 2000-2005. Yah, there are still places travelers should not go but that can be said for Miami, D.C., or many other areas of the USA.

Medellin is a very large city, 2.77M folks. It is known as the Milan of South America. It has a reputation for fashion and medical tourism. It is huge for plastic surgery drawing people worldwide due to the quality and price. No, that is not why we went! I am not sure where to start in describing Medellin except maybe to say we were very very impressed. It was nothing like what we expected. We of course didn’t go to the areas comparable to the ‘south side of Chicago’ and pretty much just roamed the one district, Poblado, but – wow.

We stayed in a boutique hotel in a neighborhood called La Florida. The neighborhood reminded us a lot of Belltown in Seattle but nicer/cleaner. There were a number of residences that were being transitioned to restaurants, bars, cafes, shops, and hostels. This area had and was in transition from a neighborhood to a more upscale mixed-use area.

Cafe seating for the coffee shop across the street from where we stayed.
Cafe seating for the coffee shop across the street from where we stayed.
Evening picture of the street we stayed on
Evening picture of the street we stayed on
Our daily Latte, Cafe, and street.
Our daily Latte, Cafe, and street.
No these are not real. Do no try this at home! The implants really stick out in a crowd - pun intended.
No these are not real. Do no try this at home! The implants really stick out in a crowd – pun intended.
Couldn't pass up the chance to 'butt' in again :).
Couldn’t pass up the chance to ‘butt’ in again :).

Ok, enough background, what did we do and see? We flew on Viva Colombia which is the only airline that flies in/out of the old Howard Air Force Base. At the terminal we had to pay a $15/person Colombian tax – cash only. From there security and immigration was easy. It was there, in line, that I photographed the woman with the butt implant (see pic). Part of the famous plastic surgery in Medellin is a tremendous amount of breast and butt implants. Apparently Colombian, and possibly other Latin societies find large butts desirable, aka Kim Kardashian style.

Viva Colombia - with an O not a U!
Viva Colombia – with an O not a U!
Leavin on a jet plane, .....
Leavin on a jet plane, …..

The plane was a modern Airbus A320. No, not a twin engine Coke runner. To board the plane everyone gets an assigned group and walks out on the tarmac to the stairs. Some groups board from the front and some from the rear and there are no assigned seats. Maybe that helps balance the load. Approaching the terminal and taxi-ing the runway allowed us a view as to what things may have looked like during the USA Airforce days. The flight was great and we landed early evening in Medellin. We purchased some Colombian Pesos – 3 COP to the $1. The 45 minute cab ride was 60,000 pesos to town (around $21). We checked in to the hotel and then went to find dinner. I must comment here that people drive like bats-out-of-hell as they do in Panama but the cars mostly seem nice and well maintained and not all dented. Roads were very good and even the small streets seemed to have signs. A big difference from Panama.

Donde Juan sidewalk cafe
Donde Juan sidewalk cafe
Donde Juan at night. That is Denise and Buzz to the left.
Donde Juan at night. That is Denise and Buzz to the left.

Just outside the hotel door were some plastic patio tables and chairs and about 10 folks sitting having cocktails. It was a little café / garage / storage unit that operated as ‘Donde Juan’ – pic shown. Our travel companion, Buzz, struck up conversation as some spoke English. We ended up sitting for a while for cocktails and met some fun folks. This place became our evening neighborhood-gathering place each day.

We walked up the street looking for food and I engaged a nice man who invited us into his very nice, classy restaurant, Sal e Brasa. He said it was a Brazilian type steak house. We sat on a second level patio overlooking the sidewalk, very pleasant. A picture on the menu caught our eye so we asked about it and then ordered it – Bife Chorizo. Buzz and I ordered ‘glazed mushrooms’ and Denise ordered Yucca Fritas (Yucca Fries) as our sides. All 3 of us have had a lot of steak in our lives but we all agreed that this meal was near the top of the list of all steaks. It was an excellent cut, aged on site, and cooked just right. The glazed mushrooms were also to die for. The service was impeccable. Our meals ended up being just under $7 each plus a few bucks for drinks. WOW! This place set the standard we would compare to all others. It was so good that we went back on our 3rd night.

During the day(s) we either walked around or took cabs for $2-3. We went to some shopping malls and to Hard Rock Café. At Hard Rock we bought some souvenirs and had lunch and drinks. Buzz had Hurricanes and Denise and I had some ‘Sex on the Beach’. Drinks! I said drinks! Geesh. Later, I got a haircut at a salon ($4). It was a nice place and a good cut. Denise and I stopped for Gelato. We also stopped for some micro-brews at the Bogata Brewing Company that had an excellent Porter. Medellin is known for its microbreweries. In general we just had a relaxing good time. More to follow below these pictures.

The 12th Man is everywhere
The 12th Man is everywhere
Sex on the Beach was really good. Not to sweet, not to sour. Just right.
Sex on the Beach was really good. Not to sweet, not to sour. Just right.
Porter was great, had to have 2 with our burger and chips.
Porter was great, had to have 2 with our burger and chips.
The Porter. I would have brought a glass home but would have broken it.
The Porter. I would have brought a glass home but would have broken it.

Dinner on night 2 was right next door to our hotel. It was called Mu Fukin Good Ribs. How can you not try a place like that! It was only open Thursday-Saturday and lines formed early and if you were late they could run out. If you wanted something other than ribs they said to leave – only ribs and drinks are served. They were large meaty pork ribs and were excellent. Full meals for the 3 of us came to about $18. Thumbs up!

Big and meaty ribs - very good.
Big and meaty ribs – very good.
Don't be late, there will be lines to get in.
Don’t be late, there will be lines to get in.

In the evenings we ended up at our neighborhood sidewalk café for a nightcap. Lots of people were out and about walking into the evening. We felt safer than walking around Seattle in the evening. On our last afternoon Denise and I came across this multi-block area that was a park with the surrounding streets full of restaurants, bars, and nice shops. Some of the streets were pedestrian only. Wish we knew this was there sooner! We stopped into Partick’s Irish Pub for a pint and spent at least an hour with Patrick himself. There was also a Hooters though we didn’t get a chance to go in, just for comparison sake. This area looked like the nightlife place to be.

Lots of Blarney in Medellin!
Lots of Blarney in Medellin!
They were out of Guinness but they had other Irish Porter.
They were out of Guinness but they had other Irish Porter.

Comparing to Panama, one thing we found in Panama is that the city is quite metropolitan and where we stay in Coronado is quite nice but the area along the highway and to/from the airports can look pretty poor, dirty, sketchy. What was so impressive about Colombia was that even the 45 minute ride to/from the airport, over the hills and down to the valley, was clean, neat, and did not appear poor with a run down poverty look. In a lot a ways it really showed up Panama, much more mature and sophisticated. The only thing Medellin is missing is the wonderful beach that we live on J. Maybe a trip to Cartagena on the Caribbean is due?

A partial view of Medellin from higher up. The place is huge - 2.7M people.
A partial view of Medellin from higher up. The place is huge – 2.7M people.

The trip back was non-eventful and it is nice to get back to the beach where we saw the lunar eclipse, which was spectacular. We would go back to Medellin in a heartbeat BUT we have other places we want to also see. It was great paying so little for so much. It was nice to finally get a break for being from the USA.

Below are a bunch of misc pictures from our adventures. I hope you enjoy them. Comments are welcome. These blogs actually take quite a bit of time to put together. So let me know if they are stupid and I will stop or let me know if there is anything you would like to know about.

RB

Another shot of Medellin down into the valley.
Another shot of Medellin down into the valley.
One of the every day beers in Medellin. It was very good - both Roja and Amber.
One of the every day beers in Medellin. It was very good – both Roja and Amber.
The Coco Bamboo Hostel and Deck Bar. Just down our street. Lots of very nice looking hostels.
The Coco Bamboo Hostel and Deck Bar. Just down our street. Lots of very nice looking hostels.
He stopped by the sidewalk cafe. Denise couldn't resist fresh strawberries.
He stopped by the sidewalk cafe. Denise couldn’t resist fresh strawberries.
This is a row of fence posts in Panama. They say it is so fertile here anything will grow. Even the fence posts eventually sprout and grow.
This is a row of fence posts in Panama. They say it is so fertile here anything will grow. Even the fence posts eventually sprout and grow.
Dog Burger - Don't even want to ask about this.
Dog Burger – Don’t even want to ask about this.
Possibly the worlds largest Gum-Ball machine!
Possibly the worlds largest Gum-Ball machine!
A Roja pint at the BBC
A Roja pint at the BBC
It has been quite some time since our last Hazelnut Latte!
It has been quite some time since our last Hazelnut Latte!
Normal breakfast - Eggs, Chorizo, Rice n beans.
Normal breakfast – Eggs, Chorizo, Rice n beans.