It wouldn’t have been too much of a stretch to walk down to the beach – it wasn’t exactly far. Going down in M’s beach buggy, however, looking as it did like something from Mad Max, was much more fun – and the cool box full of beer was quite heavy anyway. As we raced across the sands I looked at all the sheltered areas on the beach and saw such a beach buggy parked in front of each one, and under the shade were Panamanians doing exactly what we were going to do: drink, eat, listen to music, have a good time.
I was impressed with this beach. It stretched as far as the eye could see. It was practically deserted – a private beach in so far as only the people who have apartments can actually access it. The big resorts haven’t yet moved in. It looked like the Copacabana and Ipanema beaches without the crowds. The Pacific ocean here was calm. We parked up and set up our place for a day of tanning, eating and drinking. I went for m y customary lonely man’s stroll along the beach, collecting shells as I did so. It was a good walk. When I got back, M, JR and Vero were waiting for me in the ocean, and I was handed my own super-sized water bottle by M, filled with margarita! Heaven really is a place on earth.
Later, we ate ceviche and listened to a good mix of latin and north American music. I had a good chat with JR, and we shared many a story. He was a great guy to talk to, much wiser than his young age would suggest. An old friend of M popped by to say hello and to play a few tunes on his guitar as he’s a singer songwriter in Mexico. Night fell, and we packed the buggy up and headed back to the apartment, where M prepared a delicious pasta dish which we enjoyed with red wine. Sheesha followed on the balcony, and more chivas regal. M had prepared her famous Mexican dip, which we tucked into with tortilla chips. We drank and smoked and talked and saw shooting stars. It was Vero and I’s last night in Panama. What an amazing week it had been. What amazing hosts M and JR had been, and let’s not forget M’s brother, A, M’s parents, M’s sister and her fella, M’s grandparents and M’s maids in El Valle…for a place is nothing without its people, and Panamanians are amongst the most welcoming and hospitable I’ve ever met. It had been the perfect mix of hectic and chill, and the trip, from the city to the Caribbean coast to the mountains to the Pacific ocean, will live long in the memory. Panama, then, is the place to be in Latin America.