Still in Panama...now in Pedasi. (pronounced 'pe-dah-si') We're at the very bottom tip of the country, through cattle pastures and gently rolling hills -- now into a more sandy area. Palms and greenery are everywhere; we had morning coffee and pancakes under an arbor full of vines, swaying in the (brisk) wind.
It's definitely warmer in here than in El Vallee ('el vah-yay'), the more mountainous area we spent a few days in. (And loved -- it was a lot like Colorado.) Last night, the air was close and thick. Today, though, it's warm, but the wind keeps it light. Our room overlooks Main St. -- not much happening, except for the occasional dog and man wandering down the thoroughfare. Nice.
Last night, we had ceviche ('se-vee-chay'), a mixed cocktail of shrimp, fish and octopus, chunks marinated with lime, garlic and onion -- ooh, good. And shrimp in a very garlicky sauce, along with "patt-cone," plaintains (a kind of less-sweet banana) smashed flat and fried crispy. Husband had a $1 Atlas beer. Seafood heaven.
We're headed out to the beach, but I thought I'd report in first...tomorrow, we're on the way to Boquete ('bo-quet-tay'), which is cooler, back up in the mountains -- and is filled with coffee plantations. We're big coffee drinkers, and are hoping to bring a bunch back to the States...the coffee here is said to be the best in the world.
We'll be in Panama all week...hey, someone's got to do it!!! :)
A few things I've already learned about this fascinating country:
*If you're thinking it's like Mexico, don't -- it's not. The language may be the same (sort of), but the houses are arranged differently, the people dress much more conservatively, and the food is definitely different. For example:
*'Tortillas' here do NOT mean the Mexican kind. Instead, they're round cornmush-type disks...kind of like polenta. And you have them for breakfast with a slice of cheese on top.
*Milk and eggs are in short supply. Especially milk. A fair amount of cattle, but they seem to be raised for meat. Brahmans, which are NOT known for their milking capacity.
We've seen a fair amount of chickens, but the price of eggs in the 'mercados' are in the $1.75 range for a dozen. The chickens like to hang out by the road, and make sudden darts at rushing across. Very freaky, if you're the one driving. After the hundredth chicken acted like he was going to make a break for it, Husband took to sticking his head out and "bawking" at them. (At least it made him feel better about it!) Score, so far: Chickens -- 100, Husband 0.
*The people are very kind here...but don't know that much English. (We'd read that a lot knew it. Right.) Before you give me the 'ugly American' speech, realize that we're willing, and have been limping along in our bad Spanish. The people are very patient with us, and generally we manage to communicate what's needed. (The one exception was the cop, who saw Husband making a left turn and decided he was really going for a U-turn, which 99.9% of the time, is illegal here. Husband kept saying "lo siento, no comprende," Spanish for 'I'm sorry, I don't understand.' Eventually the cop threw up his hands and let us go. Whoo hoo!)
*Don't expect spicy food. It's pretty bland, even by American tastes. (Although it's generally been good.)
*See the earlier comment about the kindness and good manners of the people? Take it back, if you're driving. They rush in front of each other. Stop in the middle of the road, if they see a friend. Drive like banshees -- then slow down to impossible speeds. Swerve in front of you, if you're in the lane they want. Stoplights are generally obeyed; stop signs, however, seem to be 'suggested only.' Panama City was a nightmare of clogged streets and people acting like idiots. Out here in the country, it's easier only because there are fewer cars. Way fewer cars.
The weather has been overcast some, and rainy some, but very pleasant. The scenery: wonderful -- green, rich and tropical. Fruit trees everywhere. Some flowers. (It's right at the end of rainy season -- winter -- and beginning of dry season -- summer -- kind of the in-between season for them.)The fruit and 'licuados' (juices) are FRESH, somehow richer and sweeter than what we've come to expect. The fish is terrific, too -- but the beef, a little stringy. (Chicken's ok. Bean dishes have uniformly been wonderful.)
We went to a weekend market in El Vallee, and again in Penanome ('pen-a-nome-ay') yesterday. Piles of veggies, beautifully fresh -- and in El Vallee, lots of painted wood (garish) and weird earrings (ditto). And piles of the most beautiful, glowing molas I have ever seen, with the women who made them sitting nearby. (More on this later. I bought five.)
In Penanome, a much larger city, more trashy merchandise, including nighties and many piles of bras. On the sidewalk. What are you supposed to do, try one on right there???
Fireworks are going off -- just the sound, no flashy colors. Husband is waiting, so we can leave for the beach. Hope you're doing well.