Panama – Day 4

This morning I awoke to a delicious smell wafting in from the kitchen. I enjoyed listening to the clinking and clanking of pans as we arose & got ready for the day. Piña, cantaloupe, eggs, and toast were on the menu for breakfast. So much food was put in front of me. The fruit was so incredibly flavorful and the rest of the breakfast was equally delicious. The Contadora Island Inn staff seemed shocked that neither one of us drink or like coffee. We were told that most of the Americans who have previously stayed guzzle literally cups and cups of coffee each morning…

After breakfast, we took a walk – spotted a parrot as well as a huge lizard-looking creature…kinda like this one. The walk around the island this morning was so serene – lush green vegetation, various creatures, aw-worthy architecture and manicured landscapes:

During our walk, we stumbled upon a new beach – Playa Ejecutiva.

Observing, people watching, analyzing, taking it all in… these are some of my most memorable experiences while visiting new places. There’s really not much better then finding yourself conversing with a local who is full of passion, enthusiasm, and LOVES to tell stories. In the event it isn’t totally obvious…I ended up chatting with a guy like this today.

We began chatting about Panama. Well, he began chatting, I began listening. From his perspective, there is quite a bit of corruption here. Allegedly, everyone is always striking about something. Many people don’t want to work. He said it takes forever to get an appointment with a doctor. One specific example:

Guy: “I had a 4:30PM appointment with a cardiologist. I arrived on-time and the tech said: “Oh sorry, I just cleaned the machine.”

Guy: “But I have an appointment at 4:30PM – it’s 4:30PM now.”

Tech: “Sorry, come back tomorrow.”

Guy: “I live 4 hours from here, I need these tests done now.”

Tech: “Sorry.”

So, the guy went to the front reception area and told the secretary he wanted his medical papers to take elsewhere. She said: ” Sorry, I’m on strike. I can’t help you right now.”

He said he was so mad, he almost threw his chair out the window. Yikes. He also said that college students here are always striking about something.

This is only 1 story from 1 man, so of course it’s not enough to base any legitimates thoughts/opinions about Panama. Regardless, it was an interesting story – one of many this man told over the course of our stay.

After our (his) chat, we headed down to Playa Larga and played around on the almost desolate beach. The fact that there are not more people here still bewilders me. We built an epic sand castle kingdom. I don’t think I’ve built a sand castle in at least 10 years. It was delightful:

After the beach, we ate lunch at Gerald’s.

After lunch, we rented a golf cart to cruise around the island. This lasted about 20 minutes until BANG. My first reaction? “Oh god, we’ve been shot…!!!”. So yeah, I guess you could say I was cool, calm and collected. We looked around, saw nothing, and shortly thereafter realized that we merely had a flat. Drove slowly back to CII. As the staff wasn’t there to exchange golf carts, we decided to go back out on foot!

We walked down to Villa Romantica and went on the beach where we re-encountered the island dog. This dog is ridiculous. And highly strategic. Here’s his ploy: act cute, pretend to be super relaxed, wait until people have left clothing/flip flops on their beach chair, watch people get in ocean, immediately grab clothing/flip flop/etc. and peace out. Over the last few days, we’ve watched this dog play so many games of tug of war! He refuses to play tug of war with anything but a person’s belongings. Tonight, we witnessed the dog steal another girl’s shirt. The dog came out of nowhere! She had a good attitude about it and I was praising the lord that wasn’t me in her shoes!

For dinner tonight at Villa Romantica I had spaghetti. Dericious. A girl also staying at our b&b ate with us. She’s a nurse from Canada – we ended up chatting about the Canadian vs US health care system. Debated the pros and cons to socialized vs. privatized health care. My takeaways: 1. No system is perfect, 2. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is, 3. Idealized systems and reality of quality of care is important to understand, 4. I’m thankful to not have socialized health care.

One final note – there was an epic thunder/lightning/intense rain storm our first night here. The elements of the storm knocked out power, phone, and internet. The power returned pretty quickly, but the phones & internet on the island are still down. I have to say, I’m not too disappointed. Being disconnected during vacay was one of my goals…so thank you, mother nature, for helping me accomplish this.

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