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Driving from Serene and Quiet Boca Chica to the Artistic Disorder of David

Country Road Leaving Boca Chica 2

We experienced  tremendous relief after finding the rental car key.The stranded feeling was gone, and the series of problem solving  clutter of strategies was lifted. We were given one key and I tied it to a large and heavy object.

The scenery on the way out of Boca Chica is very beautiful with gently rolling hills and big fields for cattle with shady trees for them to rest.

 

Country roads leaving Boca Chica

We did a quick stop at a local Mini Super outside of Boca Chica on a quiet country road to stock up on water and plantain chips and we were on our way. This was the grocery I wish we had of discovered earlier. There is an archway as you can see in the distance.

Quiet town outside of Boca Chica

Getting lost past David 2

We prepared for our trip by studying the road map we had bought in detail so that we could arrive smoothly at our next destination of David. We looked for ( mostly non existent ) road signs to towns, rivers, streets etc…..then check that against the map to establish where we were. Without signage and the benefit of altitude to spot rivers and towns it can be quite awhile before you get a sign or a clue. We saw a town La Concepcion, and then continued not seeing a David sign.

Getting lost past David

We stopped in Santa Marta and asked for directions at a local beauty parlour, and they redirected us to turn around and go back. Looking at the map a second time we had completely missed David, and if we had continued would have reached the Costa Rica border. We turned back and kept our eyes peeled for a David sign after passing again La Concepcion. We noted that that junction was our important turn to Volcan which was our next stop after David. Still not seeing a David sign, we spotted a large Reys market,and a truck crushed against a hydro pole with wire hanging and police on the road, and decided that this was David. There were directions on Booking.com to Hotel Ciudad in David which I had booked. It looked like a turn of from the main highway, but we could not find a sign with the street name. We stopped at a corner gas station and asked if they knew Hotel Ciudad and bingo! We got directions, and it turned out we were sitting right on the correct turn off.

We headed down the road, however we were not prepared for the quagmire of confusion and bewilderment.

 

You need fast reflexes when driving in a Panamanian city, as it is a kaleidoscope of busy where anything could happen at any given moment, so eyes need to be peeled at several things at once. In driving school they say “keep your eyes moving”, and this puts it to the test. As you can see the driving creatively flows at intersections in David and somehow works. I kept my eyes peeled for the hotel as it had very distinctive appearance with a large square red shape. We pulled over to ask directions from a local man and he did a left right left gesture with his hand, and we were on our way again, discovering a one way street. Glenn handled the drive with expert pilot skills!

I saw the beautiful sight of the red square building in the distance! We pulled over again to look at it, which was not an easy maneuver. The building looked like a department store with no hotel sign.We asked an expat where the hotel was and he said “It’s right here! “He explained that it looked like a department store with the mannequins but it was the hotel. The expat was a Canadian and Glenn had a nice long chat with him. We found it had underground parking by guessing, and drove under, and security guided us to a perfect parking spot. Glenn checked us in, and a staff took our bags and showed us to a beautiful hotel room with down pillows and comfortable mattress. We had spent many nights with sparse foam pillows, and made extras by stuffing tea shirts with our clothing. We took a moment to breathe and have complete gratitude for arriving safely. There was a spectacular breakfast included in the room price of 95 USD. It felt extremely safe, and it was a gloriously comfortable nights sleep. From the hotel there is a view of the University.

 

David university

Glenn patiently went shopping with me to buy a light cotton dress and sandals. My sandals broke, we glued them and they kept breaking.The bounce and rattle of the city was upbeat, and the Panamanians were friendly and welcoming. The journey into the shops was a delightful fun adventure.

We thoroughly enjoyed our one night stop in David before our trip to Volcan,Boquete Isla Bastistomos and Colon in Bocas Del Toro. The next morning we were headed to Volcan, and we already knew exactly where our turn was!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pedasi… Vast and Untouched Land and Beaches,Reassuring to the Soul

The bus picked us up at the corner at Venao Cove as we waited with the couple from Hungary. We had a scenic journey in the small local bus, that picked us up on the corner. The back seat was small so I had to sit sideways, but I was grateful to have transportation. It made several stops along told the bus driver that we were looking for the Terpel gas station. Christine, the home owner of our vacation rental said her house was just up the road from there. We went to a local cafe and called her and she picked us up from the cafe. The one bedroom house among her flower garden was beautiful!

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Her dogs were there to greet us.It had a large kitchen,many fans, and big windows that opened up into farmland with fields with cattle grazing, and chorus of birds singing, with the breeze flowing through the house . We organized ourselves first walking to the Chinese grocery close to our new accommodation,and bought food and a cell phone. The cell phone was 25.00 US the sim card was 3.00 and we bought 15.00 worth of minutes for local calls, this has lasted us a long time. We noticed that the temperature was extremely hot, dropped our groceries in our well equipped kitchen,and took a taxi to the beach. This particular beach was where the fishing boats come in. Fish we are told can be bought locally, however most of the fish at this time of year is sold to restaurants.

We walked along the isolated beach…the heat was extreme. I went down to the water. The beauty of it was breathtaking, with the beach continuing on for miles and miles. The water had many powerful waves, and I stayed along the outskirts. As we strolled along I saw a bug about one and a half inches long with a curled tail approach my leg. I screeched loudly as it bit me feeling like a wasp bite x 20. Pain in the hand of nature was sculpting me to stay in touch with my highest self. Swelling and red, the pain was searing and lasted for a long time. At least with a wasp you know what it is. Once we reached the road, there was a policeman, and I  tried to ask him in English with sign language as to what the insect was. He shrugged and walked away. It had a curly tail and was very aggressive in the manner that it bit my leg. Are there scorpions on the beach? No one seemed to know. I decided it was just going to get better, and put on polysporin that I had in my bag.There was a local area where the fisherman were drinking beer, so we had a Balboa for 1.00, and I used it to ice my leg.Here is some information I got from the internet on biting insects on the beach in Central America. Apparently the best treatment is to put vaseline and then a bandaid,and use deodorant for the itching.It was about an inch and a half long with a curled tail..that is what I know for sure, and I thought for sure it had wings.If anyone can what bit me was actually a large type of sand flea please let me know for my research.All I can find is what I have below.

Tungiasis: Tungiasis is caused by the burrowing wingless flea Tunga penetrans(Tunga penetrans is also known by the following names: chigoe flea, sand flea, nigua, chigger flea, jigger flea, bicho de pé, pico, sikka, kuti, and piqui, ) which is endemic to certain areas of the world including Central and South America, the Caribbean Islands, Africa, Pakistan, and India. The impregnated female burrows into the upper dermis resulting in a lesion resembling an abscess. If secondary infection does not occur, the lesion usually resolves without treatment following discharge of the eggs and the death of the female. Complications can include secondary infection and rarely tetanus and gangrene.

We eventually got a taxi by spotting one and running down to the road. It was driven by a Panamanian man who looked 80 and he wore a cute hat with the front curled up.

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I was getting hungry, and needed to have nutrition at this point. We asked to go to Smilies which is a local restaurant that is owned by an expat, and is a popular place that expats go and listen to music. I ordered a big salad with fish. Glenn had a great conversation with John the owner of the restaurant. John loves music and plays music with his friends and comrades in the band. John has an amazing history of the events that led to him and his wife becoming expats and settling in Pedasi.The town is quiet and clean with friendly local people and expats. Fresh vegetables are difficult to get in the Azuero Peninsula, and I am told that expats shop for them in David. Eighty percent of produce comes from the Chiriqui Province in Panama.

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The next morning we woke up with the intention of looking at real estate, and connected with Mark Heilbron who gave us an incredible safari tour of properties for sale. There were some amazing properties in the area, and Mark gave us some insights of the land in his four wheel drive that were very thorough and well informed of years of them first visiting the area and renting and then living in it for many years. We went in his four when drive to many areas of Pedasi and had honest local details and accounts of people, places and possibilities.There is a prince and an ex president that have chosen this beautiful Azuero Peninsula to live.We saw cattle round ups,horses grazing in lush grass and stunning rolling pastureland with rivers running through it, with many large beautiful tree.Howler monkeys are living in this area along the river.

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After much research we decided to rent a car to travel across Panama.We asked local expats how to bus to Las Lajas in Chiquiri and then onto Boca Chica and they were not sure of the logistics. We researched buses online, and although they do travel between Panama City and David ,It was tricky to travel from Pedasi to Boca Chica. We would first need to find our way to Las Tablas, transfer to Chitra and then Santiago and then hope that our connection could get us there all in one day. At this point in our trip driving was the only reasonable option. Glenn rented a car from Thrifty’s in Pedasi, and they provided us with a nice compact vehicle for a reasonable price with good seatbelt and airbags. We were happy to have the freedom of the vehicle, but were aware there could be challenges with driving in Panama. We packed and were on on way to the Chiriqui Province.

My next blogs will be about driving the Pan American Highway from Pedasi to Boquete, Las Lajas,Isla Boca Brava,Boca Chica,David, Boquete,Isla Bastisimos,Colon in Bocas Del Toro Panama.

 

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Playa Venao or Never!

This post finds us in Volcan,Panama. I am back tracking as internet connections have been challenging. We did an entertaining jaunt with Pedro from Coronado to Playa Venao. We went through Chitre and Las Tablas as well as other small towns. We should have been taking notes on Pedro’s expertise with the one ways in Chitra as we rented a car later and ended up in a chaotic one way(more later!) The land opened up into beautiful vast range land and farms,trees and jungle along the way. I am very excited at how different the land is here toward Playa Venao.It is isolated beauty, and can feel the beach approaching. We got lost and asked where Venao Cove Hostel was at a local beachside hotel. We needed to travel further. We pulled up to the location, and I could hear howler monkeys close by. We made sure we had our room, and then said our goodbyes to Pedro. One of the staff showed us to our room. It was two shared rooms and bathroom with a big kitchen and an outdoor shared area.We met the people that we shared the kitchen and bathroom with. She looked like Halle Berry, and worked in the fashion industry in Germany, and he was a surfer. We quickly changed to go to the beach.As you can see in the pictures the beach was astounding, with not a soul on the beach, and I ran down to the water dramatically tossing my hat and sandals.

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The drive from Pedasi was at least 5 hours with one quick grocery stop, and it felt fantastic to be on the beach. The water was warm, and the waves very gentle and easy for swimming.

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We hiked along the beautiful isolated beach.As you can see I found a beautiful set of lime green glasses at a local store.

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Glenn found a spot to do an aerial video. See below the pictures for his video.

We spent 2 nights at Venao Cove waking up to the sound of ocean waves,howler monkeys and tropical beach. I woke up early and decided to do yoga on the bed listening to the tropical sounds outside the window. I stretched up doing a sun salutation and put my left hand right into the low ceiling fan in the dim light.I screeched loudly looking at my bloodied and contused hand.Glenn had a fully equipped first aid kit with him, and cleaned and bandaged my hand.That was quite a lot of pain for a moment of not thinking. I was grateful that nothing was broken, and it gave me an opportunity to have a caring conversation with a Hungarian woman who offered us assistence. A lifetime of learning!

Wisdom comes from life experience; life experience is the result of repeatedly taking corrective action while courageously learning from mistakes.”
― Ken Poirot

I love quotes that are just honest and state the obvious!

The next morning at 9 am we took the local bus to Pedasi for 35 cents each,for another incredible adventure.

Next blogs will be about Pedasi,renting a car ,driving through Las Tablas, Chitre,Santiago, driving the Pan American Highway, Las LaJas Chiqiri,Isla Boca Brava,Boca Chica, David,Volcan,Bambito,Cerro Punta, Boquete, Bocas Del Toro(Colon) and Isla Bastisimos. I have a feeling that internet will improve once we leave Volcan and go to Boquete.

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Our Strategy for Adventure to Panama and Costa Rica

Trip planning to Panama was a kaleidoscope of many incredible possibilities. I have had ideas rattling around in my mind for 6 months! Although it was no where near like planning the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, this had it’s challenges.With not knowing a country it was a chess board of information with different squares that needed piecing together.The biggest piece missing in the puzzle is transportation. I did stumble across a site called thebusschedules.com which has Panama bus routes. What I do know is Panamanians take the bus often and there is a bus I am told to just about anywhere, as well as shuttles. We will know more about this once we are there.