It was sun set before we drove back to Panama City, but the sight of the sun burning out and surrendering to the moon as we travelled back was incredible, as the jeep windows were down and we were able to gulp down our last taste of fresh mountain air at the same time. Vero and I once again checked into the excellent Rui Plaza hotel. 2 hours later, at 10:30pm, M and JR picked us up and we headed to an Arab place for sheesha,(of course) snacks and drinks. Tonight we headed to Lights Out 2 – the biggest party in Panama of the Year – with a glow theme. The place was packed, and it was definitely the best place in town to be. JR bought a bottle of rum with soda mixers. The mix in the place was good – although generally the crowd was quite young – most 18-22. Everyone seemed to know each other, and there appeared to be no dress code. With military police stationed in various areas of the club, there was no trouble either. It was a good night – the organisers had put a lot of effort in with performing artists, costumes, lighting and the sound system. We left at 4 am and headed back to the hotel.
The next day Vero and I were allowed a lie-in, and we didn’t make it to breakfast until 9:30. M picked us up at 1:30, and we were on the road again on this fantastic tour de Panama. JR was with us too, and our destination was another beach where M’s family have an apartment. We stopped en route at JR’s friend’s place – he was having a farewell party that night. It was a nice house, in a nice neighbourhood. Tables had been set out on the lawn, and there was going to be a DJ. We relaxed with some Miller Lites and chatted with the small group present thus far – 3 Panamanians and 2 Chilenos. Like everyone here, they were positive, optimistic, forward-thinking people, and it was refreshing to meet them.
Another supermarket shop was needed to load up on essentials before we reached our final destination. Beer, wine, rum, bread, eggs, snacks and more were all loaded into the car. We made 3 further short – but necessary – stops. We headed to a restaurant first to pick up a huge bowl of paella that M had pre-ordered. We stopped for ceviche at a locally famous place that also seemed to serve as a bar for a group of inebriated locals. Finally, we stopped for ice. Panamanians like to be prepared.
We entered a gated area and drove another 10 minutes, past hundreds of apartment blocks, and finally reached M’s apartment, a stone’s throw from the beach. M’s apartment was new, bright, fresh, clean, a fabulous place with 4 well-appointed ensuite bedrooms, the front 2 boasting sea views. There was also a large balcony with replete with BBQ, tables, chairs and a sofa. The complex itself includes a lovely pool and a gym. Again, like El Valle, a perfect respite from the city
The paella was delicious. The red wine divine. The sheesha on the balcony watching shooting stars irresistible. JR then got started on the Chivas Regal, something I had previously only associated with affluent Chinese people who gather around a bottle in nightclubs to be considered VIP but a drink which I had had quite a bit of in Panama. JR taught me the best way to drink it: a glass full of ice, 3 fingers of Chivas, 1 finger of soda, and voila!