The last evening I found myself watching an Australian Candid camera type of show called
“Balls of Steel”.  There were three or four strange episodes. One was a young man that wanted
to see how many people he could get to “hit the floor”.  He put on a cowboy hat, stuck his
hand under his t-shirt as if he had a gun and walking into a restaurant and shouted, “Hit the
floor” and everyone including the wait staff and cooks got down on the floor.  Then he left
and did it again and again…every time, everybody in the place “hit the floor”. That was ALL he
said. Somebody might have shot him in the US.
The last episode, a nicely dressed women went to some shin-dig in Hollywood and stopped
celebrities announcing she was a reporter for an Australian News Show and want to ask a few
questions.  They all agreed and she had cameras rolling but pulled out a dildo with the mike
inserted inside then stuck it to their face while asking questions.  David Carridine  answered
about four questions not even noticing, until the last, that it was a dildo he was talking into.  I
think he was stoned.  Then he laughed and bit the dildo.  Others were furious and slapped it
out of the women’s hand. Finally security told her that wasn’t appropriate and escorted her
out.  Leave it to the Aussies.
I awoke to the owner’s wife knocking on my door with a wake up call. I bid them Arrivederci 
and departed.  Alberto did his best to smile but was obviously depressed and upset over
something.  His wife was smiling and trying to cheer him up.  I think the Panamanian system
that closed his kitchen had something to do with it.  I didn’t feel so bad about losing that
money in the stock market.  He still had to deal with an ongoing situation that didn’t look

Security confiscated my lighter during a search at the airport.  There are 12 of us boarding a
36 seat puddle jumper going on a half hour flight a short distance in country.  They search
everybody here because they don’t have x-ray machines to put your luggage through.  
The flight got a little turbulent when we were going over the mountains.  A small plane like
that was bouncing up and down and side to side.  We landed safely in David. 
I noticed the police with a dog sniffing out our bags before we could claim them   David,
named after me, is a fair sized city on the Pacific side surrounded by fertile farmland and
close to beaches.  I asked an American if she lived here? “Thirteen years” she replied. I was
going to take a taxi to the bus station and then the bus to Boquete when she remarked that
another man was also going that way.  I teamed up with him and split the $25 taxi.  
It was a 45 minute ride up the mountains and into the valley where Boquete is located.  The
countryside and weather was fantastic.  Like Hawaii with a lot of volcanic rock but green fields
and fauna. A cool breeze and sunshine. The taxi took me to Pension Topas. 

Axel, the German owner, greeted me and showed me my room.  He moved me to a cheaper
room that wasn’t much different than the one I booked for $22 a night.  This was $19 with hot
water, blankets on the bed, no TV but a private bath and two beds.  You could hear the near
by babbling brook flowing over the rocks.  We passed the pool on the way. The grounds were
like you imagine the Garden of Eden. 

Little children running around laughing and chasing a wild Rooster.

I hiked into town, after unpacking, and ran into the man from Reno that I shared the cab with.
  We explored the town together.  Ten minutes later we were done so stopped to have a
delicious lunch.  I had homemade vegetable soup and a chicken Quesadilla.  We decided to
meet after Siesta at the same place.  I stopped at the local supermarket for some Rum,
Peanut butter, Bimbo Bread, juice, and bananas for later.
When I returned, Milko was there to greet me.

He got his second camera sent from Germany and was ready to climb the 11,550 foot mountain
to camp out and witness both the sunrise and sunset from the top.  Only one problem…he met
a girl from California and has been seeing her since he arrived.  She and him are going to an
Island off the coast of David tomorrow to camp on a beach that Axel owns.  He may never
return to Germany or climb that mountain. He lent me his drinking cup so I had something to
make a drink in and gave me a lighter to replace the one confiscated on the flight.
After Siesta, I returned Milko’s cup and walked to the Internet station to check my email. 
Bruce, my friend from Phoenix called to invite me to Super Bowl and Joe called to invite me
to a Poker game at Harold’s in Cave Creek.   Sorry guys but the average temperature in
Panama is between 87 and a low of 77…I don’t think I’ll make it.  I got the Internet station to
print out my ticket from Air Panama when I leave Boquete , paid my $.90 cents for one hour
and a half and proceeded to the Bistro Boquete to meet with Dennis, the guy from Reno.  
I had a glass of wine at the bar and bought a paper to catch up on what was going on in the
world.  He showed around 6:39 and we both had Grass fed beef Steaks.  I had the Sirloin with
Brandied Mushroom sauce and he the Filet Mignon with Chipotle Rub.  We had a few beers
and great conversation about travel then paid our $40 bill…$20 each included the tip.  We
decided to meet tomorrow, his last day in town for an Italian dinner at Papa Rico’s around
6 pm.
When I arrived at Pension Topas

I noticed Axel’s light on so stopped in to book breakfast at 8:30 the next day.  Now I’m sitting
in my room with no television so will try and enhance my record at “Hearts” on the computer
and catch up on some reading.
Axel prepared a European breakfast served in the outdoor dining area. 
It consisted of Ham, Cheese, Soft Boiled Egg, Toast, Cereal, Coffee, Juice, and Fresh Fruit.  A
young couple, a Middle aged German couple, the man from D.C., and an attractive
Englishwoman all shared the dining room.  The young couple left on a coffee plantation tour,
the German couple put on their backpacks and checked out, the D.C. man checked out for
Boca and on to San Blas, and the Englishwoman took off to explore the town.  I arranged for
Axel to book me the plantation tour tomorrow morning and prepared to do some more
exploring in town.
I took off with the intent of finding a map to get a feel of the area and scoping out other tour
opportunities.  The city of Boquete is the 5th ranked retirement haven in the world!  I walked
North of the main street and farther to discovered another internet station with an ATM
outside.  I backed myself up with another $200.…$500 left in the account until I had to start
putting the money on a credit card.  I tried to use the credit card as much as possible to defer
payment until I return but a lot of restaurants and hostels only accept cash. 
I went to the internet to print out the America’s most wanted poster of the man I recognized
in Panama City.  The site said I had to contact the American Embassy in Panama City and I
wanted to get the address and phone in hard copy to remind me.  I was going to be staying in
the hotel next to his hangout but sure didn’t want him to know that I was the one that turned
him in.  I’ve been through that before.  The man jumped bail after threatening me in the court
room!  I don’t need any worries but want to do the right thing.  The computer never printed it
I left after catching up on my emails and went up the road to the Art and Crepe Restaurant. 
 It was a new French restaurant that had an Art Gallery connected to it.  The art was great and
I would have invested but my money is already in losing stocks.  I would have had to UPS it
home with insurance. I had the Chicken Curry Crepe with Cappuccino.  The Crepe was great
the Cappuccino was out of one of those vending machines. 

I am getting disgusted with instant coffee in a country that touts some of the best in the world.
  I left and toured the Art Galleries in the neighborhood.  It was like Snottsdale but the prices
were good. I would have bought all my family some expensive souvenirs but with over a
month left I didn’t want to be lugging all those valuables to wherever.  I did find a place that
sold a nice map so now I had that.

I returned to the room to wash some clothes.  Since I didn’t have a washer but only a pair of
socks, underwear, shirt and shorts, I thought I’d try something different and put them all on
and to take a nice hot shower.  I have been washing out my underwear and socks daily so
really didn’t have more than what I wore into the shower.  At first the water got hot and I tried
a bar of soap but that wasn’t really getting the job done so I switched to shampoo.  About the
time I was soaking wet in my clothes, the water turned to cold, cold, cold.  Now I shut it back
off and was standing there in the shower with these cold wet clothes on and all soaped up.  I
tried again and after I few minutes it returned to hot water so I decided it best to start taking
the clothes off and rinsing them of the soap.  I started with the shirt, then the shorts,
underwear and then the socks.  Each time I would rinse them really good then throw them in
the sink to hang up later.  Finally I was done and decided it was better to just use the sink next
time. After hanging up everything in this 85% humidity I opened all the windows 

and redressed to meet Dennis for an Italian dinner at Papa Ricos.  
I arrived on time and ordered a wine when Dennis showed up.  He had the Eggplant
Parmesan and I the Chicken Lasagna.  We each had a few wines, finished a delicious meal with
some nice homemade Parmesan bread and left to have a drink before parting.
We went next door to Machu Pichu but there was no bar just a FULL restaurant.  It was
Peruvian food so we checked the menu.  It was mostly seafood and the price was right.  I
decided to return tomorrow.

There aren’t any Gringo Bars or Sports Bars in Boquete.  I saw a Panamanian bar near the
bus station and suggest we stop in for a beer and some local color.  The place was like a
Mexican bar in Rocky Point.  Loud Spanish music and all working class Panamanians drunk
with one barmaid.  She gave us two bottles of beer for $1.20 and we proceeded to exchange
addresses ….if your ever in Reno or Phoenix…etc.  Dennis did travel a lot and was getting close
to full retirement.  We talked about all the places we would like to go and agreed that we both
had the same places in mind.  We decided to definitely stay in touch.  He had ran into Austin
and Maggie from Plymouth, at Bohmfalks in Boca the night before I did.  I bought two rum and
cokes as a parting drink…$.50 each and we left the noise behind.  
When I returned I noticed some of the Hostal guests were sitting on the patio having
conversation and drink.  They had washed there clothes just after I did (Not the way I did…I
don’t think) but were hanging them on the line outside to dry in the breeze when I left.  Mine
were still soaked and only the quick drying non iron shirt , underwear and socks were fairly dry.
  I mixed a drink and took my shorts out and hung them on the line then joined them.  
The  lady from England who spent the day looking at rentals was there.  She plans on moving
here to rent until June or July then decide whether to buy or not.  She saw 7 different places
today and fell in love with one for $700 a month and took it.  There were two men and one lady
from Canada traveling together.  One guy from Vancouver and the other guy and his girlfriend
were from Toronto.  They are on a four month trip through Central America.  It started in
Nicaragua then to Guatemala , on to Costa Rica then to Panama.  They were returning to Costa
Rica and flying out to Toronto next month.  We chatted a while then I retired to get up early
and check my shorts to see if they were dry.  I booked another breakfast at the hostel then I
leave at 9 am to get some real coffee. I also vowed never to take a shower with clothes on again.
My shorts were dry when I awoke. Axel served another nice breakfast then Hans arrived to
drive a young Swiss couple and myself to the Coffee Plantation.
I assumed because Axel was German that Hans was also. He was from Amsterdam and left
with his wife on vacation to Panama in 1997.  They fell in love with it and bought in Boquete
and later opened a tour business and started a small coffee plantation of their own.  He also
knew of Jeannette Kok my best friend in Amsterdam.  The first thing he said is, “They are a
very rich family”.  Jeannette’s brother Basel is.  When I “googled” him 500 different web sites
came up.
We drove a short distance up into the mountains until arriving at the Kotowa Coffee Plantation.
  It was raining like in Ireland…a soft rain.  We went into the field were we stood in the “soft
rain” for an hour while Hans explained the different coffee plants as well as the beans. 

  He talked about harvest times, wages, history of coffee, the different grades and the markets
to where to coffee went.  
I inquired about 6 or 8 years ago when coffee prices plummeted a lot of small growers were
losing money and went out of business.  He said people were coming up to him on the street
and offering to sell there plantations for any price because they weren’t getting enough money
for the coffee to afford to pay the pickers.  That’s when all of the out of work pickers in Panama,
Costa Rica and Guatemala had a mass exodus into Mexico and on to become Illegal’s  in the
U.S.  That is when everyone started complaining as our borders began to get overrun.  
The largest exodus of American’s recorded, took place right after Bush got re-elected.  I wonder
how many will leave when Hillary get’s elected or Obama for that matter.
The coffee industry had been working for years to develop a quality plant that could withstand
severe weather and required little pesticides.  They did develop this plant but it didn’t have the
flavor of the natural Arabica plant that preceded it.  The plant produced a heavier bean in more
abundance so generated greater profit.  At the time it was being introduced into Panama, there
was what the Panamanian’s called the “Crisis Years” .  This is when Noriega had taken over by
promising certain things but then reneged and filled the government with his cronies.  None of
the coffee growers wanted to invest in anything at this point and some were leaving or making
plans to get out of the country.  This is when the U.S. changed all that by invading and arresting
Noriega.  Two hundred U.S soldiers lost their life in the few weeks it took to change the
government back and bring stability back to Panama and the business environment.  Right now
, Panama is the fastest growing economic force in all of Central America.   
This plantation was founded by a Scotsman from Aberdeen that migrated to Canada and came
to Panama to start in 1917 to buy this place.  He realized that one man had a monopoly on
purchasing the product so he would be limited on what he could get for it.  He decided to
compete against the man and grew his own but also bought other plantation product. He set up
his distribution center and delivered coffee all over the world.  He modernized his operation
with special dryers that were designed and made my a Scotsman back in Aberdeen.  They
bought a water driven generator that was invented in the US to power his operation.  The
generator still works but has been replaced my electricity.
We toured the plant

and witnessed the different sorting and drying machines used to separate and classify the
coffee.  The Plantation provides housing for both permanent and temporary Indian employees. 
  It is “green” , in that it recycles the water and the waste so nothing is lost. After visiting the
packing room we adjourned to the tasting room.
There I learned a lot about the process of brewing coffee and the different roasts.  We could
buy the coffee but I decided to wait and get it at the airport on the way home.  Maria, one of his
employees was at hand to offer some of her handicraft beaded bracelets.  

She had 6 daughters and is 31 years old. The money just gets goes to buy uniforms and books
for her children’s schooling. Hans explained there are three main tribes of Indians in Panama
and each has a pattern they use in all their pottery, bead work, and clothing that defines the
tribe they originate from.  This is similar to the Clans of Scotland.  Maria’s dress and her
bracelets had a set pattern that defined her origin.
We returned to the Hostel passing another Peruvian restaurant.  I asked Hans about the
Machu Pichu restaurant, that I visited last night and wanted to eat at.  He said they give poor
service, add 20% on the bill and the bill is not always correct to begin with.  I decided to take a
cab and visit the other Peruvian restaurant ,that he highly recommended, this evening.
I walked instead, stopping to check my email at Mail Box Etc.  The woman who owns it speaks
English and I was told was from Vancouver , B.C.  It turns out that her son goes to school up
there and she is from David.  Her daughter graduated from Hotel Management at ASU in
Phoenix and is now employed at the Luxor in Vegas.  I could download and print things there
and if I wanted to bring my Laptop in she said it would be no problem.  I printed out my
Itinerary, 1099 Tax Statements, and the wanted poster from the FBI for the man I saw in
Panama City.  I am going to the Embassy there and file a report this coming week.  I had a
second phone message from the same source on the computer but didn’t recognize the number
.  She didn’t have headphones for the computer so I couldn’t get the message unless I had
I walked up to the Peruvian Restaurant

and order a glass of Red wine and Mixto Ceviche.  It was octopus, squid , shrimp, and was
excellent.  I then re-ordered another glass of wine and had a Chicken dish with a Turmeric
based sauce with olives and nuts.  Rice on the side came with it and a small salad.  It was so
good I thought I’d treat myself to a Rum pudding and Cream that was sweet but really good
also.  The only drawback to this beautiful meal in a very attractive restaurant was out of the two
couples and one man in the dining room FOUR of them were talking on their cell phones quite
loudly.  The noise conversation echoed in the dining room and I could hear everything. Three
of them were Americans. The bill came to $27 and I gave him my credit card…he gave it back
five minutes later explaining it was rejected.  The expiration was February 2008 but I thought I
had until the end of the month.  This is going to create a problem but I did have a back up card
which was accepted.  
Returning to my hostel I decided I should go to the other Internet station to check those phone
calls.  Sure enough Visa suspected suspicious activity and when I didn’t return the calls, shut off
my Credit Card.  I decided to get out my Magic Jack phone and return tomorrow with my
computer and contact them to reinstate the card.  I would call Mom a day ahead while I was at
it and let her know I was fine.
When I returned the English lady was out on the patio so I introduced myself.  Her name is
Judith and she looked at more homes for rent today but still likes the one she saw yesterday.  I
invited her to join me tomorrow to visit the Peruvian restaurant again.  There was a lot on the
menu that looked great and the Chef knew was he/she was doing.  I won’t have the desert this
time.  She agreed to meet with me at the Hostel tomorrow at 5pm.  Hans stopped by the room
to check if I was going to breakfast again tomorrow but I declined in favor of my Peanut Butter
on Fiber Bread with a banana.  I am leaving in a couple days and don’t want my snacks to go to
waste.  Hopefully I will be able to squeeze in a short hike and a museum after the Internet calls
in the morning.
The plans didn’t work out like that the next morning.  I stopped at a coffee house for a real cup
of coffee then hooked up my computer at the Mail Box Etc store.  After plugging in the Magic
Jack I was talking to Visa and had everything straightened out.  Then I called my Mother
because the store would be closed on Sunday and that is when she expects a call.  I explained I
was sitting next to the customer counter and traffic was loud so it would have to be short.  She
xplained she thinks she has everything but to avoid mistakes, I asked her to mail it Monday
morning to me in Phoenix.  She was disappointed I didn’t talk longer or listen is more like it
but said goodbye.  I emailed Chris in New River to ask if she would pick up the mail on Friday
and I would hopefully be able to find an Internet station in Panama City to call her for the
information. I could then fill out my Mother’s taxes and Real Estate exemption and forward it
to her from Panama to file.
It was Saturday and there was a big Flea Market set up in the town square.

  I hadn’t had breakfast and it was now after 1pm.  I stopped in Amigo’s for an excellent
American breakfast and noticed people with laptops.  I tried it out and they had a free internet
connection with a fast and strong signal.  Maybe I’ll make another call before I leave on
I wanted to go to the museum, tour or hike and it doesn’t look like I have enough time.  Judith
and I are going back to that Peruvian restaurant shortly so I’ll try again tomorrow.
Well I went over to the patio area to meet Judith at 5pm but she wasn’t there.  I mixed a drink
and waited until 5:30.  Meanwhile, Carlos from Panama City came up and introduced himself.
  He comes out to Boquete to get away from the city a couple times a year and was staying
there.  He lived in St Louis, Mo for 5 years and has family in Dallas that graduated from college
in Austin.  His family runs a catering business in Panama City.  We chatted then I knocked on
Judith’s door, noting that her key was in the door.  She never answered so I left a note that I
would be at the Peruvian Restaurant if she wanted to join me then walked up the street
noticing Roxanne’s BBQ just a block away.  The reviews I read said good cheap Steak dinner
so I decided to go there instead.  I backtracked to the Hostel and went to rewrite the note but
noticed that the key was no longer in her door.  She never answered when I knocked
previously so figured she is typical English prude and probably a Gemini like some people I
I was returning to Roxanne’s when a man about my age was sitting in a chair, invited me
over.  He was Manny from Colon, Panama.  His father had been in the Merchant Marines and
opened two bars there.  They always gave credit to G.I.’s and the Navy packed the place. 
When he got older he went to Vegas to live and work for over 15 years.  He considers himself
an American and said Panamanians never take welfare.  He is back and plans on staying in
Boquete for two months.  He comes here often and loves it.
I left for Roxanne’s along the river just outside my window while I was dining.  The grass fed
Filet was top notch with mashed potatoes and a beautiful salad.  Two glassed of excellent wine
and I was ready to try the dessert again.  Apple pie with coffee and Grand Marnier.  I went  out
side to finish the Grand Marnier with the first cigarette of the day.  You can’t smoke in any
public place in Boquete!  I like that.  Two Americans came out to join me.  David from Ohio
that went to Oberlin U. and was a classical flutist. He came here a year ago and his girlfriend
that came from Silicon Valley in 2005.  She bought a beautiful home that has appreciated
three fold in two years.  She was a computer analyst from the old school that never got into
the web and was out a job then.  Now she runs a Theater Company of 180 Gringos that put on
plays and dinner theater in Boquete and will never leave.  She said there are a lot of Vietnam
Vets here and I’m starting to think about here instead of Vietnam next winter.  It is beautiful.
I’m off to see what night life in Boquete is all about.  Oh, my bill came to $21.00 for all the
wine, steak, salad, veggies, dessert and Grand Marnier.  Did I mention I had coffee too?
     I started with Amigos for a beer.  There I met Mark from Philly, Pa that just bought Amigos.
  He came to Panama with his wife.  They were wonderful people.  Another man was there that
was from Colorado but spent a lot of time stationed at Ft. Clayton just after the Vietnam war. 
He spoke fluent Spanish and knew both Colorado and Panama like the back of his hand.  We
started buying each other beers and Mark brought out Nachos and Cheese for us to share. 

Another lady was there from Toronto with her boyfriend.  We were sitting out on the patio
when Caesar showed up.  He joined us and bought a round.  He had moved to Boquete 13
months ago from Belize where he bought and developed an Eco Tourist camp in the jungle. He also worked with Mahogany and sold crafts
made from the wood. He was originally from Greece and grew up in South Africa for years
before moving to England and then to Belize. He sold everything there and moved here to play
golf and he is a drummer for a Jazz band. He is a firm believer is Ganja and doesn’t smoke
but likes wine.  He and the guy from Colorado started talking about wood and all the different
varieties available in Columbia and Central America.  Caesar was telling him about a dealer in
St. Louis that would buy any high quality hard woods that this guy could provide him and they
exchanged addresses and numbers.  The Colorado guy invited Caesar to come to Panama City
and meet one of his suppliers.  They talked about trees here in Boquete that are 1000 feet and
are a whole eco system  or universe in them selves supporting an entire system of life.  
Mark said he and his wife had been to Cartagena and said I would be a fool if I didn’t go.  The
old city is incredible.
Caesar was going to his friends bar called Zanzibar and invited us. Philippe the  owner was
also a Greek from Zanzibar, Africa and just within the year bought this property and opened
up Zanzibar.  I was tired and ready to bed down but knew an opportunity when I saw one. 
The guy from Colorado, and myself left to go in Caesar SUV to the bar.  We arrived and had a
drink while listening to some great guitar music. 

Then Caesar decided to leave so I grabbed a ride back but when we got outside Philippe and
his friend John showed and invited us back in to taste this fine Rum Philippe had just acquired.

I could have walked home at that time but ….I didn’t want to miss anything.  I met John and
Philippe and chatted a bit with them but enjoyed the Panamanian crowd that packed the place
.  I saw my waiter from the Peruvian restaurant the night before and we talked a bit along with
the guy from Colorado.

Caesar eventually decided to leave and dropped me off close to the Hostel and I walked back. 
Tomorrow is Super Bowl at the Amigo but what I’m going to do during the day I’m not sure. 
I should take at least a three mile hike.  I do believe this is a place I will return to and maybe
live for a while.  It is great.
I slept late as usual but when I started out for breakfast and a long hike, Axel stopped me and
wanted to know when I was checking out.  I explained tomorrow and he thought today. We
had a misunderstanding and the only way I could stay another day was to move to Mirko’s
with the bath and shower in another area shared.  I had no choice so had to pack anyway since
I was departing the nice day.  I spent the morning packing up everything and then moving to
the other room.  
I finally got settled in my new cubby hole and left for the Amigo to have a nice Omelet, fresh
fruit plate and juice.  Then I went over to get some great coffee at the Coffee Company.  The
last time I was there they served it in Paper cups and I hate that even though the coffee was
great.  This time I asked them to serve it in the “Duran” Coffee cup. The bill was $3.85 vs. the
$2 I paid last time.  I realized I just bought their cup.  
I took it back to the Hostel and was ready for a nap before I even started my last day in
I decided to walk into town, through the town and up the mountain.  It was about a mile and
a half but took me a hour! I visited the Pharmacia for more Advil.  My left arm and shoulder
were killing me and my tooth was acting up again.
As I was finishing my hike, I stopped at the Ruiz Coffee Plantation Coffee House and had a
GREAT cup of Cappuccino as well as a GREAT piece of Apple Tart with nuts in it.  I had
another cup of Cappuccino then headed back toward town. 
I still wanted to visit the volcano and vowed to take a taxi if one passed by.  Everyone taxi was
full with tourists doing the same thing I wanted to do.  The trek back was all downhill and I
passed by the Zanzibar where I was last night with Caesar.  It was open and I decided to have
a beer.  
When I entered they were having “Off Track Betting” from Golden Gate Park.  I made a few
bets then left for this Italian Restaurant I heard about that makes their own Pasta.  I was the
only customer and had the Spinach and Ricotta whatever and a glass of wine.  It was cool not
hot and mediocre.  A big disappointment so I left for Amigos and the Super Bowl.
I noticed Sunday is a day that a lot of the Indians come to town with their families to shop
and meet with their friends.  At the end of the day, you see the wives with their children sitting
on door steps at in alleys across from the Indian bars.  The bars are full of only men and the
party spills over to the street while the women patiently wait.
The Super Bowl party was outside on the patio and because it was so warm this afternoon, I
had a short sleeve shirt and a jacket. 

After the first quarter I was freezing even though it was about 65%.  The guy from Colorado
that I met the night before was sitting next to me so I asked him to watch my seat and
returned to the Hostel to put on my long john shirt and a sweater before returning.  
When I returned there was a couple that asked if I was staying at the Hostel Topas, as they
were also.  I replied yes and they asked if my name was David?  It turned out my date with
Judith fell apart because she got moved that day to another room like I did and never saw my
note.  She asked them to explain that to me if they saw me.  Made me feel better but Judith
was supposed to meet me on the patio so that was a ruse to get out of feeling guilty.
I watched New England lose to New York in the last two minutes.  I had to go home and get a
good night’s sleep so bid my friend from Colorado goodbye.  The Mark the owner came over
to say goodbye. I explained I was going to plan on a Columbia trip after he told me about him
and his wife’s experience there.  I gave him my card and he promised to email the
information about his guide and number.  He also said his guide knew Columbian Emeralds
well and if Mark had had $10,000 he would have turned it into $50,000 back in the states
with these gems.  I don’t take much stock in that and know just about as much about gems
as I do about the Stock Market where I just recently lost over 15% of my savings.
I returned to Hostel Topas and put everything together for tomorrows departure. 

I am taking the local bus for $1.50 vs. $25 for the taxi, to David, and catching the 1pm Air
Panama plane to Panama City. It is now about 12 pm so I will retire.  I do hope to come back
here.  I think this is the best place I’ve seen so far in Panama and wouldn’t hesitate to invest
money here NOW.
  I had to use the outdoor sink to brush my teeth and the communal bathroom to shower.  It
was like a Spring day.  The morning sun was warm and a nice cool breeze off the mountains.
They call this area the Valley of Eternal Spring.  Axel asked if I wanted breakfast and I
explained I wanted a taxi to the bus station.  He said the bus goes right by the front door.  I just
have to wave him down and board.  I decided to have breakfast.  I noticed a bus passing as I
was finishing.  It was 9 am and the buses leave every 20 minutes.  I paid my bill for 5 nights and
3 breakfasts.  It came to $91!
I was out front at 9:15 and at 9:20 the bus showed up.  I had a seat to myself, which was good. 
These are old American school buses designed for children and the seats are cramped.  A
short distance later the bus picked up enough passengers to fill it and my seat.  Lots of people
were sitting 3 to a seat and on each others lap.  Later the bus was standing room only.  The
driver stopped about every two minutes to pick up or drop off someone.  I arrived at the bus
terminal in David around 10:30 am and paid the $1 as I left the bus.
A taxi drove me out of town to the airport for $2. This was much better than paying $25 for a
taxi.  I was too early to check my bags so  relaxed with a Kotowa coffee.


Last night Mirko and I had a pot luck with tomatoes, noodles, ham sandwiches, eggs and
bread we had left over.  It was a quiet evening of packing and downloading some new music
for my MP3 player.  He flies to Bouquetta and I to Boca Del Toro. I was surprised it never
rained the three days I’ve been in Clayton but Mirko said it never rained the whole week yet it
was a downpour in Panama City every afternoon.  “Smiling at the World” proved good
bedtime reading.
    I have been in Panama 8 days and have had only two hot showers.  That is not to say I have
been not showering, but the weather is such that of the last three places I’ve stayed, only one
had hot water. A cold shower definitely wakes the mind and body. Today’s horoscope reads
Wednesday, January 23
Old and new friends alike could be of great benefit to you today. Just be aware that any new
contacts you make at this time will probably be able to assist you in achieving some of your
goals and aspirations. And there should be quite a few opportunities for you to make some
new friends and increase your social circle today.”  Great start!
    I took a taxi to the Albrook Airport to catch the flight.

..notice the military.
The Puddle Jumper we took to Boca was not air conditioned, full , and about 120% one hour

They did serve Doritos and Sprite! The seats were designed for Panamanians. Short small
Indian Panamanians.  You could view the canal on take off

and the new canal they are building.

I saw Boca Islands from the air.

You could see the beaches and the surf.

I finally got my seat belt fastened when we landed.

We disembarked on the tarmac and had to wait while they loaded out bags on a trolley then
brought them to a fenced in area where only one person at a time had to claim their bag. 

…and was the flight?

…great rates?

A van was loaded with our bags and about 8 of us sitting on top of each other while they drove
us about two blocks the the Main drag and we all had a hotel within a block.

  I checked into the Cala Luna

which turned out to be fairly nice. $55 a night but it’s the high season and the owner, Alberto
from Italy

, told me they have been booked since December.  The menu is Pizza or Pizza in his downstairs
restaurant.  I have an Internet connection in the lobby, Air Conditioning, Cable, but NO HOT
WATER.  I think I’m going to enjoy this week.  I had to add a day to my reservation because
the plane I waited to book to Bouqette was full.  Mirko sent me a message from Bouqette that
he was unable to book me a room there but offered to try at the place he was staying. He is
going to try again tomorrow but if he can’t, I told him to book at his place.  He is climbing the
highest mountain in Panama and camping there near the volcano.  You can see the sun rise
over the Atlantic side and set on the Pacific side from there.  I would join him but at 11500 feet
I am going to pass.
    The Gorgonola cheese and Anchovy pizza was great with the left over in my refrigerator for
breakfast I should be fine.  Locked my money and passport in the safe and am off to enjoy the
wild night life.  The horoscope may be right? 
Well Mirko did help by trying to get my reservation in Boquette and Alberto did call
Panama City and confirm my reservation in February for me but as for expanding my Social
Circle, it was a bust.     The town was like walking down the Midway at an old 50´s Carnival.
There were vendors selling hand crafts like jewelry, necklaces, clothes, bags, and all different
types of food.  There were Caribbean hamburgs, coconut drinks, fruit shakes, hot dogs, and
assorted Panamanian snacks I´m not sure of. 

        I left to return home when a black man asked if I wanted some weed.  He wanted $20 and
I told him I would sleep on it.  Just as I was getting close to home he pulled up on a bicycle
and offered it to me.  It wasn’t enough to roll two joints.  I told him a dollar and he said $10.  I
said I would never buy anything from a person that tried to cheat me like he was doing.  Later
I discovered Panama Red goes for $400 a half ounce. 
     I was back at the Cala Luna

in 15 minutes for another beer on my second story veranda. 

my veranda was painted bright orange like my living room at home.

Then the guard dog started barking just below my room.  He barked from 9:30 until it started
to rain about 1 am. I fell asleep to the torrential rain storm.  It was comforting. 
    I awoke to what I thought might be an earthquake.  My bed was moving back and forth. 
Then I realized it was the couple in the room behind me rocking my bed.  The beds are
attached to the walls and they going at it. I was horny enough without that. 
    I awoke again at 7am to the rain again.  Then the rain stopped and the dog started barking
again so I decided to take my cold shower and check out the breakfast. Surprise…HOT water. 
I had checked the sink when I arrived and it was cold but the shower was great.  My first hot
shower in days.  I didn´t want to get out. Now everything is complete thanks to the hot water.
  They even accept Visa. I was told when I booked that only local currency was accepted so I
made a special trip to the ATM and drained my spending money account of $400…now in the

Now if the dog would stop barking! 
    Alberto´s wife took my order, cooked my breakfast and served me. A very European meal
with cold …you guessed it…ham and cheese with bread.  I did manage one egg that was
actually cooked right.
I never did get to use the ping pong table though many did.
The maids came up to clean the room next door.    The maids had been cleaning the room
for over 2 hours and were still cleaning it when I left.  They polish all the woodwork, pull out
and wipe down all the furniture too.  This is definitely the cleanest hotel in Boca Del Toro. I
was relieved that the guard dog stopped barking when the workers arrived next door, until
they started building cabinets with saws buzzing at 100 decibels until I had to leave. 
    Walking the perimeter of the Island another storm came in.  I took shelter in a coffee shop
along the water and had my espresso while photographing the rain  I need to meet some locals
that aren´t drug dealers tonight. 
    Boco…I ventured back out along the main drag looking for a comfortable perch to observe
the town. After checking my email at the local Internet café, I bought a map of Boca for $2 and
found my perch across the street on a covered patio.

Croc’s are everywhere.


    I wanted some food but the waitress explained they don’t open for food until 7pm, so I
settled for what came to be six Panama beers.  I noticed a guy sitting the next table down
doing the same thing I was doing so introduced myself and asked about the local scene.  His
name was Chuck and he was from Cincinnati via Chicago. He had been in Boca two weeks and
his friend was playing in a band tonight that backed up the main band of the Lemongrass Bar
on the Ocean.  He also recommended Refugio, a bar a passed this morning on my walk.  He
said the food was great and they have a guitarist from Austin, Texas that is top notch.  He
starts at 7pm or in an hour from what is now. 
     I spent the afternoon taking photos from the porch and reflecting on the diversity in this
small town population 1500.  I felt I was in Key West one minute and Chiquita, Costa Rica
the next, then Haight-Ashbury in the 60’s.  I saw Chinese, Japanese, Blacks, Mulatto, Muslims
,Hippies, Tourists , Bicycles, ATVs, Jeeps, Trucks, Skateboarders, Backpackers, Motorcycles,
Buses, Skaters, and people going by in vehicles I had never seen. Everybody was friendly and
cheerful.  Chuck left then returned later with Chris from San Francisco and a beautiful Panama
nian girl who was his friend’s girl. Later he showed and explained he was only playing back up
to the house band that was REALLY good.  I explained I can only handle one nightclub a night
and then I left. I stopped for some Rum and water I returned to Cala Luna just before the
evening rain started.   Passing through the  Park I  noticed the  trees…climb one of these:

    Alberto was there to greet me and asked how my first day in Boca was?  He said so many
people get off the plane (which is a block away in the town) and expect a big city with all the
amenities.  Some call and ask if he will pay to have them delivered to the hotel.  I always tell
them yes.  Then they get in the taxi, drive one block and drop them off…it cost him $1.  You
can actually walk into town in 10 minutes from the airport. I like the atmosphere and enjoy
the laid back attitude of the residents and guests. Tonight I hope to find out more about the
night life than last night.
    I went up to my room to prepare for this evening. Alberto and his wife have two young girls
and three boys. They have been in Boca for 13 years and saw it grow into a surfer and hippie
haven. Both are anxious to move elsewhere. One boy is about fourteen and the other children
are young.  They have Nintendo and sit for hours playing video games. Tonight I was
pleasantly surprised to find them playing war games with an elaborate set of Union and
Confederate soldiers.  The South was winning. I explained that the South actually lost the war
when the older boy corrected me, “Not this battle”!
    A young attractive couple just checked in the room next door to “rock my bed again tonight.”
  I’m sure they are from the States after he greeted me with Good Afternoon.  I’m finishing my
fresh Pineapple and Rum drink and heading out for some food and music. The rooster that
woke me with the guard dog at sunrise was crowing as I left at sunset. 
    The streets in the evening are full of little children, big children, dogs running free, families
walking, chatter and music everywhere. I never was hassled to buy crap or approached
(except once) to buy drugs. This is a very safe place that reminds me of Rocky Point in ’76.  I
took the back road to Refugio and went one block North to run into a dead end at the Airport.
  Alberto was right that it is only one block to the Airport.  I will walk it when I leave.  Some
children gave me directions to go back one block and just continue up the same street that
Cala Luna in on. 

I did so then rounded the corner and ended up returning down the Main Street of town…Calle
3.  I asked a hippie that was American and he knew nothing of the place.  I asked a man that
looked like a policeman but turned out he just dressed like that.  He in turn asked some
women in the street and they sent me back where I came from.  It appears I walked right by
the place.  I was listening for music because I was told the band started at 7pm and it was
close to 7:30pm when I finally arrived.  I needed a Bano and asked the waitress.  She was
directing me when a man in a Western shirt came by and said, “I left the door open for ya”.  I
ordered a Rum drink with fruit and upon returning I had a sweet drink with Kiwi and Rum
that was delicious. I asked the barmaid from Vancouver , B.C. , who traded in skiing for surfing
if I could eat at the bar.  She gave me a menu and I ordered Pork Meatloaf.  I then noticed the
guy with the Western shirt sitting with another wearing a 10 gallon Texas hat. 

Doug Moreland
    I approached and asked if they were from Austin or Dallas…Houston and Austin!  They had
their wives and very young children with them and had been here many times before.  Chuck,
the guy from Cincinnati-Chicago that I met early showed up and joined me at the bar.  The
music started with the Cowboy shirt guy announcing that he was single and if anyone else
wanted to meet him he would be at the bar later.  Then he proceeded to talk about the
featured entertainer with the Cowboy hat that was with his wife. She was the one that had her
tit out feeding her baby.  He didn’t apologize for that and just started singing. He was old and
   I ordered another drink while chatting with Chuck. He is planning on retiring after he
completes a job with GE back in Chicago.  He is an Electrical Engineer who, if he solves 300
problems on this GE project, will have enough money to finally call it quits.  My Pork Meatloaf
arrived and Chuck went to the other bar to hear his friend play. 
 I suffered through the first set before Doug Moreland took the stage and put on a great
act.  I finished the delicious meal with garlic mashed potatoes, fresh mixed vegetables, and my
Pork Meatloaf. 
   I finished two of the Rum drinks, now it was time for the house Special …Caiparana.  I
watched B.C. mix a couple of them and I was convinced she did it right.  A gallon of Caciaco
Cane Liquor, some limes and sugar.   
    A couple joined me at the bar.  They were from Eugene, Oregon and sold out three years ago
to buy a retirement home just outside of San Jose , Costa Rica.  Since then, they have been to
Boca a couple of times and are enjoying their retirement.  She was originally from Plattsburg ,
N.Y. and knew of Attica.  Then three young Panamanians, around 8-10 years of age, came in to
sell some jewelry and stuff.  Two had large boards with the earring and necklaces on them and
the other had just a small box full of the same.  He was charming and had a personality. 
Earlier today he asked if he could shine my sandals for me and I almost let him. He would
disarm people with his smile, sense of humor and laughter and they would immediately invite
him over to look through his box.  This gave him a chance to sell them.  Every they picked up
something out of the box, he would comment about how that was perfect for them.  The other
boys were growing impatient but he just ignored them and went right on talking to the
Gringos with his head cocked and a big irresistible smile on his face until he sold them
something.  I finished taking some photos and headed back to Cala Luna.
I came out the door and there were three guys sitting at a table across the street playing
Dominoes under the dim street light.  I proceeded down the dark street until I reached my
     When I arrived, Alberto was doing a BBQ on the open dining room/patio so I asked if this
was in addition to the Pizza.  He explained they did it every night and the huge T-Bone steak
on the grill looked great.  I vowed to eat one before I left and then ordered a Pineapple drink
for mix back in the room.  I would sit on the patio,hoping to meet my neighbors before I
retired. I wanted to tell them that when we enter these rooms we turn on the switch to turn on
the lights.  The problem is, the switch is for the outdoor light and we don’t know it.  After your
in the room we pull the light cord hanging and think that the switch powered it, then go to bed
with the outside light on all night shining in the window.  It takes a day or two before you
realize that.  Last night my neighbor left it on all night and I want these people to know so both
of us don’t keep waking up at 3 am thinking it is daylight outside.  
    The following morning I saw them having breakfast while I was finishing my coffee and
introduced myself.  They explained they were leaving today so my spiel was pointless.  Right
after that, the lady next door was going into her room and asked if I thought the clouds would
clear so they might spend some time on the beach?  She was from Holland and her husband
was from Portugal.  They lived by the beach there but are so busy at home they hardly have
time to enjoy it.  They took a break from the cold and flew from Lisbon to Caracas then to
Havana and on to Martinique before flying into Costa Rica and Panama.  They had hoped this
would be the first day of sunbathing on the beach as the last week had been rainy everywhere. 
The day cleared and I think they left there bags to take a trip to the beach before flying out this
Please ignore the following Rant…Explanation will follow after….
    I’m struggling to get this all down…I left at around 5 pm to go to a happy hour near the
water.  After visiting a few places and meeting Americans from Costa Rica, I went on to the
local place for one two many Cuba Libras. Then I went back to this bar where I met Don and
Pam from Ontario that ran a restaurant here in Bocas a few years back and now have their son
here staying at their condo. They did recommend I take the sunset tour on Bocas for $2 . Later
I met Bob from Teluride , Colorado that was in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive and was
assigned to MACV when I was there.  He worked at the docks and knew the places I used to go.
We decided to buy some smoke but the first guy turned us off with his high prices and
small amount.  We decided, for old time sake, to buy some but to negotiate.. I went to the
bathroom and on returning he told me he struck a deal with the guy and the Smoke was in the
cigarette pack.  I only saw a small amount but agreed with him that we only wanted to taste
it and shared that old experience.  We got to his room to find there was zero in the pack ….the
man pulled a fast one and he paid for nothing.  I told him not to worry but he returned and
paid $5.00 for what he thought was A OK.  We returned to his apartment and there was his
Vietnam buddy he grew up with and a young girl that was really cool.  We popped some hole in
a coke can and proceeded to smoke the little bit he had….It was good then later we decided to
go to Beerbohm Fuck bar that was having a party.  A downfall later we were totally lost . After
asking the Police where we were, we finally found the Bheahm Fucher bar and had drinks with
a guy from Newburyport Mass that just married a 21 year old Paaaaaanamamnaian and ran a
bar in David called Panama Bills.  I was totaled when I arrived at Cala Cuna and bought some
Chicken for $1 from a street vendor with the special sauce.


It was 4:30 am when I was trying to get everything down that happened that evening.  I was
afraid I wouldn’t remember when I woke in the morning.
The following is an interpretation of the  preceding.

    I went out to check out the local Happy Hours I saw advertised.  Barco’s on the water was
the first place but the Rum and Coke was $3 and I thought it a rip though the view from the
dock bar was beautiful.  There were water taxis next door taking people back in forth to
Cararios Island across the way for $1. 
    The Buena Vista, just down the street was crowded so I sat next to a couple of Americans
that were living in Puerto Viejo , Costa Rica and were visiting Panama.  One was from
Brooklyn and the other from Florida. They had just finished these HUGE Caribbean
Hamburgers but I was thirsty not hungry. My waitress was from Panama City and spoke
excellent English. I inquired about the Happy Hour special that said all mixed drinks for $1.50
but after 3 I got the bill for $3.  She explained that a Cuba Libra is a specialty drink?  I left for
the best Happy Hour in town at the Pirates Cove.
    I was the only one there but  a two for one drink special worked, so I sat out on their dock
watching the sunset when Pam and  Don arrived. They had lived here a year ago. Pam ran a
restaurant and Don ran tours on his boat.  They sold out after dealing with Panamanians that
never showed for work but you couldn’t fire them.  They had to hire Panamanians and pay
medical…etc. They sold the business and returned to Ontario, Canada so Don could have  a
hip operation.  He ran an Apple orchard and a boat tour business on Georgia Bay.  They kept
there small home here so they could return for the winter.  His son was there now while they
rented a small room.  He said he hired Mexicans in Canada to pick Apples, then he tried
Jamaicans, and now had Romanians.  They had to pay the prevailing wage, buy their tickets
back and forth, pick them up at the airport, provide a place for them to stay, etc.  They told me
about the $2 sunset cruise everyday that went around the Island and recommended I eat a 
Pulled Pork sandwich at Bohmfauk’s bar near the park. 
    They departed to meet their son and his girlfriend and Bob showed up. Bob was from
Kansas and living in Telluride, Colorado where he is a journalist-photographer for a small
local Western paper.  Bob said he did that yesterday, got drunk and fell into the water trying
to get in the boat on the return trip.  It wouldn’t be so bad but he lost his eye Contacts, wallet
with credit card and money,  and to top it off his passport.  He emailed his doctor to send his
contacts so he can see…because now he can’t write, which is his job .      We were in Saigon at
the same time during Tet Offensive  in 67-68 .  He was with MACV, as I was, and was
stationed at the docks.  We shared some stories and a few drinks  .  Bob invited to meet his
    When we arrived there was a beautiful lady from Toronto, who was renting a room for the
week from him for $100, and his roommate that he grew up with from Kansas.  Greg
MacDonald, his friend, now lived in North Carolina and was also in Vietnam when I was.   We
went to Refugio’s to see if the guitarist was still played but he wasn’t.  We returned to his
apartment passing a Caribbean band of about 15-20 people dancing in the street.    

    Bob decided he could do that.

 We got DRENCHED in a downpour while wandering the streets.  We all went to Bohmfauks
but it was now 1:30 am.


I had no clue what day it was.  I should have realized when I inquired
about the party that was supposed take place that night and was told that was yesterday!  It
took us forever to find the place though I think we walked right by it three times.  Bohmfauks
is a real person and that is his name.  He came from New Orleans a few years back and bought
this Expat hangout, restaurant and sports bar.  We drank a lot of beer chatting with him.  I
also found out that Greg knew the lady that owns the Photo shop in Tombstone where my
friends from Holland, Peter and Jeannette had there photo taken in old western clothes for
the cover of the CD they gave to everyone at their wedding. Small world. Panama Bill showed
up to join us.  He was from Newburyport, Massachusetts, been here a year or so and was
around 50 years old.  He bought a bar in David and just recently married a 21 year old
Panamanian girl. Bob had left us after the first beer.  He never said anything but I thought he
was going to pass out and then just walked out the door, never to return.

    Finally Greg and I left and I stopped at a kiosk for some fried chicken.  It cost $1 and they
put it in a bag then you add some hot sauce in the bag and shake it to season it.  I must say it
was delicious but it was the first food I’d had in 12 hours.  I did sleep well and late the next

    The kitchen at the Cala Luna has been closed over the weekend with a sign on the door. 
Every night since I checked it the place was full with everyone eating Alberto’s great Pizza and
now in the middle of season the restaurant was closed?  There was a very official looking man
that confronted Alberto and his wife just before they closed.  They had a long and heated
argument  then the man left very angry.  He must have had something to do with the closing
because they closed that day.  Neither of them have been happy since the closing.  I don’t think
it was because of a health code violation.  This is the cleanest place I’ve ever stayed.  Maybe a
lapsed permit or one never obtained.
    I was supposed to meet Bob and Don at Lillie’s for breakfast but didn’t arrive until 2 pm and
they weren’t there.  I had the “Kill Me Man” Chicken and Salad for lunch.  I thought I was
going to burst into flames.  The waitress came over to ask if I was done using the condiments. 
  My eyes were watering, my face flushed,  and I couldn’t talk.  The next day it was like I had a
firecracker up my ass.
    Avoiding the bars I returned to my room and read.  That evening, I walked over to
Bohmfauk’s and had an excellent pulled pork sandwich with Cole slaw.  Bill the owner was
there and I asked him why he didn’t throw us out last night. He said we were all friends and
having a good time.  Besides, he had a door man that watched the outside and thought he
would come in and ask to go home. He would then announce that we had to leave.  The
bouncer-watchman had fallen asleep on the porch.
    I watched a good movie and retired early.  
    Today I wanted to visit the Starfish Coffee house. I’m sick of Sanka in a country that
produces some of the best coffee in the world.  They were closed as was the Pharmacia next
door where I vowed to buy a decent map of Boca.  It was Sunday.  Breakfast on the docks next
door was good and cheap.
    There were only three more evenings left before departure to Boquete.
Carnival started in five days and so far I haven’t received a confirmation from the Hostel that
Mirko was staying in.  Alberto called for me and confirmed Mirko had booked the room for
me.  Now it is time for me to call Mom and book an air flight to Panama City before that fills
up.  On the way up to the room, I showed Alberto a large Crab that passed in front of me and
inquired if that was going to be on our menu tonight? 
    I was planning on playing Texas-Holdem at a hotel out on the mainland at 4 pm.  I just
finished calling my Mother in Attica on Magic Jack over the computer network here when I
heard a band in the distance. I learned to follow my instincts and grabbed my camera. 
    My first impression was that it was the beginning of the Carnival celebration but after I
arrived on the street, I realized it was a funeral. 

He died of a brain aneurysm.
Everyone was marching to the cemetery for his funeral. I came home and called a cab to get to
Hotel Rumba for the game.  On the way out we encountered the “Wake” for the  dead man. 
The driver explained he was a young man that owned a disco we passed.  He was dehydrated
and before they could help him, he expired.  After the burial everyone went to his bar to
celebrate.  He had been a musician so all of the musicians from Boca came to play and pay
homage.  The streets were lined with people along the beach area on the way to the Rumba.
    I asked the taxi driver to wait.  The Hotel was a distance from the town and I didn’t want to
get stuck on the mainland if I couldn’t get into the game.  I arrived just in time and sent the
Taxi on his way.     
    It was a $20 buy in and the man that organized the games was the owner Blake.  I lost
within three hands.  I never even got to put up a blind…the ante.
    Their signature drink, La Rumba for $4, was named after the bar.  It was similar to a Long
Island Iced Tea but here they measure everything.  It was good but a beer was a better bet for
$.75.  I waited and played the second game.  The games go quick because they play with
$2200 in chips and in New River we play with either $4000 or $5000 so obviously it takes
longer to lose.  I seem to be the exception to that rule. The view was great while I waited for
the next game.

 I joined in on the second game and took it right up to third place so I won back my $20.  Second place was $40 and first was $140.    The owner was there with all the employees and nobody cared.     I called a taxi and refused an offer to play again. I think that’s why they offered me the joint…get stoned and get him in the game.  The whole table was stoned and bid me goodbye.
     The taxi showed and it was another DOWNPOUR that I got caught in on the way to the taxi.
  I asked him to take me to Bohmfaulks for a drink. 


Panama Bill was there when I arrived.  He remembered me and we chatted before he paid his $68 tab and left.  I was talking to an Emergency Physician from Lancaster , Pa that had worked in Pittsburgh. He just decided to take 2 months off and travel. This was his first trip overseas.  He had rented a bike that day and driven to the Main part of the Island then all over the Island.  We were having a great conversation when Bob and Greg showed up. It had been two days since I’ve seen them. 

Bob and Greg

    We introduced everyone and were buying each other beers.  I found out that Greg was Greg
McDonald and Bob was Roberto Cerveza…or Bob Beer.  A very apt name for him.  I didn’t
have all my names right two nights before.
    A man named Bobby came by bragging about he was from N.Y.C. with his “shades” on and
a vest with bare chest and a sharks tooth necklace.  I asked where in N.Y. he was from and he
said Hudson.  That’s not NYC.  I questioned him, as he was spouting off about all he knew
about Panama.  We started talking about the 30 day Visa that I have to renew.  He told me it
was 90 days and not to worry.  I bet him a drink and he took me up on it so I went over to Bill
Bohmfaulks the owner to discover Bobby was right.  I bought another round…Bobby ordered
a drink and insisted I deliver it to his table while he gloated in front of his friends.  It was all
in fun.
     When I went over to ask Bill  the question, I ran into Austin Everett that said he was from
Plymouth , Mass.  When I mentioned I opened my first restaurant just outside in Manomet,
his girlfriend Maggie Mac Rae introduced herself as being born and bred in Manomet.  She
lived at White Horse Beach and knew all the places and the people I did.  She used to work at
the Lobster Pound at the tip of the point where I used to hang out and buy lobster.   We all
exchanged e-mails and I told them I would visit this summer.  They are planning on returning
to Boca to build a home and figure in five years they can sell and travel.  They were in their
early 20’s.  

Austin Maggie David
We took some photos, had our last calls,and took off to the Fried Chicken place across the
street.  I decided I wanted to try the Caribbean Burgers and noticed they served the chicken
too.  I ordered both and returned to see how Greg was doing.  They were out of Chicken at the
Kiosk so he order beef Shish Kabobs that were to die for.  He had met a guy from the States that just came from Costa Rica where
his wallet, passport and credit cards were lifted in Heredia.  It was his first time traveling out
of Military duty and he got taken.  I ate my burger on the way back.  It was 2 am when the
watchman let me in the gate and I retired to eat the Chicken. 
Best burgers and chicken in town…and packed every night.
It was great and they gave me a bag full of fried Plantains.  I ate some and through the rest out.
   We are all supposed to meet for the 5:30 Island Sunset tour tomorrow….we shall see.
    I slept in, as usual, then got my Boca Map at the Pharmacia before having breakfast at the
Starfish Coffee house on the water. While there, a lady from California came in. She was
studying Spanish.  Her and her husband had a place in Mexico they visited quite often and
decided to go somewhere different. I passed some homes and businesses while returning.

The fire engine is a 1918 something
and they still use it!

One business caught my attention. At night it was the lady’s home.   In the front she ran a
clothing shop then had curtains to separated the front from the back.  The whole home
/business was covered in tarp to keep the rain out and I doubt she had running water or a

I don’t think I’d like living there.

    I returned for Siesta then went out to meet Bob and Greg for the 5:30 Sunset tour at Barco’s. 

Entrance to Barko’s

They weren’t there when I arrived and as it turned out, there was no tour on Monday.  I left to
look for them stopping in about 5 bars before finding them at Bohmfaulks talking with
Victoria.  She had been a Stewardess for World Airlines and traveled the world.  Three years
ago she came to Boca are rented a place on the water with no hot water but a cute place.  Then
her cat of 15 years died, she fell and cut her head open and needed 20 stitches, then contracted
Dengue and almost died.  The neighbors bought her a new cat.  The hospital charged her
$1.25 for her stitches and did such a good job that she has no scars.  She suffered for a week
with Dengue.  Throwing up everyday, running a high fever and chills, couldn’t eat anything but
survived.  She said it was the worst she had ever been through.  Victoria said that many
Chinese moved to Boca after the Canal was built.  Most of them moved from here later but now
are coming back to Boca and investing in Panama. I had an Italian Sausage sandwich then we
all went to Bob and Greg’s apartment to try and figure out how to run this $1200 video camera
he bought for the trip.  None of us could and I returned home with a promise that we would go
on the sunset cruise tomorrow.
   I was going to meet Bob at the Pirates Bar for breakfast at 10 am but he didn’t show.  Don, the
Canadian was there finishing his coffee when I arrived.  After a great breakfast for $3.50. As I
was returning to the Hostal I heard someone yell at me and I saw a man across the street
waving at me.  I got closer and recognized him as one of the Poker Players.   He invited me
out this evening for another game at 7:30 but I explained I was off on the Barco Sunset tour
and couldn’t make it.  There will be a second game later if I decided to join them.   I thanked
him and went back to Cala Luna.  Today was  the best weather.  It was sunny and breezy with
no rain.. 
    This afternoon I was playing with my computer and asked Alberto to tally up my bill to pay.  I was signing the charge for close to $400 for 7 days when I looked on my computer screen and realized one of my stocks tanked today when the company announced a divided cut.  It went from a $12000 investment to $4500!  I’m going out  tonight on that sunset cruise.  I thought the casino in Panama was bad, duh!  I did manage to book my ticket from David back to Panama City on Air Panama so got that out of the way.
    Barco’s was empty
when I arrived to meet Bob and Greg.  The bar was closed but I was told the tour leaves in a
half and hour so I went over to Bohmfalks to have a beer on the porch.  I could see if they
came by to meet me.  I returned to find that the tour was canceled and they weren’t there so I
took a water taxi to the Island to watch the sunset.

The taxi took me to a boat landing near the Aqua Hostel so I stopped in.

I took some photos and realized there were no clouds and would be no sunset today.

Bob, Greg and roommate Sharon were waiting on the dock.  Bob sent me an email to join them
for a party on the Island that they were invited to.  They had their guitars and were going to
play and make a night of it.  I bowed out, knowing that if I went they would stay and I would
return by myself. 
     The stars were out in force tonight.  I went to Bohmfalks and had his famous Turkey and
Sausage Gumbo.  There I met Neil Saunders from Montana who arrived here four years ago to
help open a restaurant.  He worked on that for a year until the people that hired him had a
row and he left to open a Paving Tile business.  He bought the rights to the formula and taught
Panamanians how to make the tiles.  Now he is the only one in town with these special tiles
that hold up in this humidity. 
    Leaving Neil, I looked for my Caribbean hamburg place to open…not yet.  I sauntered to the
Refugio and had a beer on the dock.  The sunset was my last in Boca.


A musician was singing Mike Knopfler songs.  Upon returning to the main street I noticed
band stands being set up for the start of the Carnival.  The Hamburg place was open with a
line as usual.  I bought two and returned to set up a wake up call for the morning. 


  Well, this evening was interesting.  I ventured to the Veneto Casino and after perusing the Poker room I decided on a Texas Hold-em game at a table where you put up an Ante then bet on whether you were going to beat the dealer and bet double the Ante.  Also you could deposit a dollar when you put up you Ante to bet whether the flop matched you two cards to win.  If that happened , you would win a bonus depending on what the hand was…a flush, full house or even an Ace of Spades would return you a bonus regardless of whether you beat the dealer or not.  If you didn’t bet and felt you had a losing hand then you lost your Ante only.  A Mining Engineer from Augusta , Georgia was next to me with his team on the other side.  They were mining Panama for gold and had to fly the equipment into the jungle to dredge the rivers along the Mosquito Coast .  I was winning so stayed with the game until I started losing but felt a winning streak coming on so went to the ATM machine and returned to get beat down by a lucky dealer.  Back and forth I went until I lost over $400 then called it quits.  I decided to return by cab but the driver wanted $10 when the going rate was $2.  I walked.   I decided to take a “short cut” but I noticed I was in a dark area with nobody around.  I took out my wallet and removed my credit cards along with the driver’s license, Medicare card, Insurance card and $100 dollars I managed not to spend and put them in different pockets just in case I was robbed.  Within a few minutes my shortcut proved right and I ended up back on my block. 
     I decided to have the twin tenderloin steak dinner for $10 at the local restaurant around the corner. Being almost the only customer at 12:30 at night I sat outside on the patio and placed my order for Steak and Scotch.  Two Scotches’ later  my Steak arrived and at the same time an invite to join a young couple behind me on the patio.  I jumped at the chance and joined Huny and Carolina for a conversation that lasted until 4:30 am and a few Scotches. We Huny’s family is in construction and are developing a lot of these Hi Rises.  He was sidetracked with a Cocaine addiction that cost him Carolina’s love.  Now, a year later she is starting to date him again and giving him a chance but as of now, she only remembers him the way he used to be.  She is in Marketing and Real Estate and sells a lot of the condos his parents build.  Both of them were born in Panama.  She has a ear disease that affects her balance and makes her violently sick.  She may have to go to California for special operation or she will lose her ability to function.  This is a rare disease and the doctors here haven’t been able to help.  Her family went to Breckenridge, Colorado on a ski trip but she had to stay in the lodge.It was what I came to Panama for.  Huny gave me the number and name for his family Dentist to take care of my toothache. Both gave me their phone numbers if I needed a ride or wanted advice.  They were very genuine people with a big heart. I hope to meet more Panamanian people from all walks of life.
      I returned to Anita’s. crashed and awoke to major construction just outside my window.  After closing the window, putting in my ear plugs, and returning to bed, I awoke at 2pm with my alarm going off since 1 pm.  A shower with no hot water (you have to go upstairs for that) was welcomed.  Joseph, the manager called the Dentist and arranged an appointment for the next day at 10 am.  I only hope I awake in time so I won’t put in my earplugs tonight. 

     I walked over to the pharmacy to buy some forgotten razors that I didn’t pack as well as a script for my testosterone and chantex.  I got the razors and a blank look. Then I hiked back to the Casino area (with my back turned) to find the Marbella Hotel to book a room for the month.  $45 was the best I found…times 30 is over my limit so decided to leave Boca Del Toro and head for Boquetta in the North before returning to the hotel I booked the first day I arrived. I would catch the tail end of the Carnival Celebration and have time to find something in this area or I could stay where I was if it wasn’t too seedy.
    I found out I had to visit immigration a week or two before my 30 day tourist card ran out in order to extend it.  You have to arrive early in the morning and get in line with the Colombian prostitutes and plan on spending the day there unless you hire someone for $20 to guide you through.  The immigration office was close to the hotel I had booked so decided to keep the reservation. 
    As for my trip to Fort Clayton, I was told it is in the middle of no where and bring food and booze for three days. 
    I did have dinner of Panamanian Paella at the Trapechi before returning to Anita’s for drinks with my American and Canadian friends that have been living here for months.  Dentist tomorrow so bed tonight.
  I awoke to the construction so didn’t need an alarm. The Argentina breakfast at the Trapechi was excellent. A Taxi took me to the Dentist for $1.25 and it was full of Panamanians.  There were three Dentists that worked the clinic and I had made an appointment with Juan Carlos Diaz who was a young but very personable English speaking Doctor.  He recommended a through cleaning and explained that I was suffering from Gingivitis and needed and antibiotic mouthwash as well as a special toothpaste.  He cleaned my teeth with a high pressure water pick then took an ex-ray to be sure there was no decay or infection.  It was $25 for the cleaning and $5 for the ex-ray. 
     I then stopped at the Euro Hotel to get a price of $38.50 a night before taking a $1.25 cab back. I stopped at the Trapiche for a Tropical Fruit Milkshake make with fresh Pineapple that was excellent.  When I arrived at Anita’s, she was waited to move me to an air-conditioned dorm room just for me on the upper level.  I asked about returning here in February but was told it was booked. Joe and I watched the rain from the balcony then ventured out to eat.

That evening I went for the tenderloin dinner with Joe from Seattle and Jim the retired Merchant Marine.  Joe had worked with the FBI and was trained as a private investigator but had bought lots of property when he was young in the Seattle area and was now just selling off parcels and living off his smart investments.  This was his second time in Panama and knew quite a few developers and Real Estate people. He was returning to Washington to develop a ranch in Eastern Washington that he planned on living at and retiring at 45 years old. We returned and had a few drinks on the balcony before retiring. I plan on sleeping in tomorrow and my tooth now feels great.  
I slept in …and in …and in until the smell of bacon woke me at 11:30am. Last night I remember a vivid dream where my father walked in.  He appeared disheveled with his tie messed up (something you never saw) but his expression was one of understanding (something you never saw).  He asked me sincere questions (something he seldom did).  Unfortunately that is all that stood out in the dream.  Now I’m  checking my email on my laptop at the New York Bagel Company while enjoying a breakfast sandwich and the Sunday morning parade of beautiful people…one in particular!
    My bags were packed and I caught a taxi to Fort Clayton but my directions weren’t all that good.  The taxi driver, with his girlfriend in the front, stopped at the gate to ask the guard directions but went off in the wrong direction and had to stop two more times.  He tried to kick me out at an address that looked like the one I gave him but I refused and while he was unloading my bags, I approached a couple and asked them.  They pointed around the corner and up the street so I asked him to repack my things and return. It was about three blocks away and he wanted $10 when he finally dropped me off.

    On entering the hostal, the  desk clerk refused Visa and directed me to an ATM machine on a map he issued all new check-ins.  It was 4pm and HOT outside. The road was uphill and I was in a sweat within 10 minutes but kept at it.  A mile or two later I saw a policeman on a motorcycle and flagged him down.  I showed him the map and he explained it was another mile and a half without offering me a ride on the back of his bike.  Another quart of sweat later I encountered an old man with his grandchildren playing in a makeshift pool and wanted to ask if I could join them.  His daughter spoke good English and the Cafe was only a short distance. When I arrived the waitress offered me some water as soon as she saw me.  I had three glasses before I noticed the ATM machine so ordered a Coffee and roll then discovered it was broke and there weren’t anymore for another 3-4 miles further down the road.
     Exhausted I walked out and flagged the only taxi I had seen all day to return to the Hostal empty handed. I explained that I would take a taxi or walk to the Mira Flores Locks in the morning when it was 5% cooler to visit the museum, lunch and get some money from their ATM machine to pay the hostal and buy some food.  Food was something I forgot and the Cafe only had muffins.  Nicolas, a Colombian young man who interpreted to my Panamanian Desk Clerk offered me any of the food he had and a beer.  I told him I might have a banana later just to satisfy my appetite and thanked him. 
    My computer hooked up to the Internet beautifully and I have the best connection since I arrived. Now it is time to test my Magic Jack free phone calls to anywhere in America or Canada from anywhere in the world. I called Mom three times before I realized I had to turn my headphones on. Mom sounded great over the phone.   I was having so much fun using this free service I called Chris in Phoenix to find out how she was.
    Later I joined the crowd on the back patio.  It is almost a full moon and this area is quiet.  I joined Nicolas 

, Kim from Seoul Korea and ran a cement plant…just back from Guatemala where he saw two people shot dead on the streets in Guatemala City…Antonia 

from Chicago now living in NYC that took some great photos for me and Mirko

from a small village East of Koln Germany.  He had been an exchange student in Dayton,Ohio when he was 16 and spoke fluent English.  He had hiked across the tundra near Cape Horn in Chile, camped there naked and been just about everywhere. He was a Landscape Designer in Germany.  The lady was working on her PHD in English education and Nicolas was a Computer Guru as well as an Economist who had lived in Madrid, Barcelona, and Rome.  We decided to have a contest to see if anyone could determine the difference between Heineken and Budweiser. 

I jumped on that and was the only one that blindfolded could tell which was which.  I think that is because they already when through a case of beer before I arrived.

Santiago joined us but never learned where he was from or going.  I’m supposed to hike to Mira Flores tomorrow morning with the Korean to spend the day., saw the movie, had a $30 lunch at the fancy buffet restaurant.  The lunch was first class and we stuffed ourselves. Then we visited the ATM machine, negotiated a cab, stopped for some beer and food, then arrived back around 1pm.

    The landscapers instead of construction workers woke me up this morning mowing the lawn outside my window.  After another cold shower, it was 9am so I looked for Kim to go with me to the Mira Flora Locks and Museum.  Al introduced himself in the lobby and offered a ride to the Café and we took it.  A nice breakfast sandwich and coffee started the day and we started walking to the locks.  It was hot…always during the day…as we sweat our way out of Fort Clayton and into Mira Flora Locks. Kim and I talked on the way.  He runs a Cement Plant near Seoul, Korea and has been traveling for two months.  He flew into Toronto , then traveled by bus to  Buffalo, Rochester, Boston, NYC, Washington, D.C. then flew to Mexico City and on to Havana, Cuba.  He returned from Havana via Guatemala City before arriving in Panama. Next week he goes to Lima, Peru to see Machu Pichu, then a bus to Brazil, etc .etc. He is in his early 30’s, has a good education and a good job.  He told his Mother he now wanted to travel around the world and she said he was crazy.  She suggested he find a nice woman, marry and giver her grandchildren.  He said that it is such an obsession with Koreans to keep a close knit family, it puts pressure on him all the time.  When I travel, I enjoy everything so much.

We purchased our tickets and did the tour(Panama sure has some big bugs)

, then we had a great buffet lunch with a cold salad table, and rows of hot items, then of course , the dessert table.  We walked back through the old Ft Clayton before taking a taxi back.  We stopped to stock up on beer and food. 

  I offered to pay the $90 I owed for the room and the desk clerk handed me a bill for $110.  I already gave a deposit but nowhere did it day anything about a 10% high season surtax.  I argued with the clerk until he just threw up his hands and said…OK leave.  So I paid him. 

    Now I’m on the Internet browsing my email and get one of those nasty emails from “one of the guys”.  When I open the attachment, porn web sites start popping up as fast as I can close them.  Then the whole site shuts down and my computer is singled out from the network and I can’t get on the computer the rest of my stay.  I go to use the one computer in the lobby.  I guess I will catch up on my reading the next two days.
    We all share a few beers and some food and I retire early to discover…I’m back on the Internet.  See y’all tomorrow.   
    I arose early in hopes that Al was going to go to the Cafe again and could give me a lift but he was gone.  Just Mirko, Nicolas, and myself were left.  I started my walk for breakfast and a taxi showed up…yeah.  I sat down in a booth at the restaurant , ordered breakfast then visited the Bano to freshen up.  When I returned, someone was sitting in my seat and reading my magazine!  He was an expat American living in Panama.  There are a LOT of them.  He apologized and returned my magazine.  I found another booth had breakfast and went for a walk.  I took a few photos of the old barracks, bought some supplies, hailed a taxi and returned to spend the afternoon reading and playing on the computer.  Nicolas was leaving to move to Panama City and Mirko went with him to buy some beer.  I choose to relax.  I’ll have a few beers tonight with Mirko and both of us fly out in the morning. Mirko is flying to David early and I am flying to Boca Del Toro later in the afternoon.  See you in Boca!


    Five-thirty in the morning is new to me but I was packed and ready when Don showed
up at my door to drive me to the Phoenix airport for my departure to Miami then on to
Panama City, Panama.  It was chilly and dark as I loaded my one carry on bag with my
computer on the side into Don’s truck.  He made good time and I was at the American
Airlines counter at 6:30 for my boarding pass, through security, and having breakfast by
6:45.…two more hours before departure.  I wanted to sleep.  I did on the way to Miami
with a row of seats to myself. 
    The view while landing at the airport was not of the Atlantic beaches I expected but I
could see the rows of skyscrapers and hotels that bordered the beach in the distance. 
Phoenix could take a lesson from the food concessions in Miami.  I started with some
great Cuban coffee and pastry (Guava and Cheese).  It would be three hours before
boarding so I would pass the time people watching and reading Joyce Major’s travel book
Smiling at the World.  That is easy to do in this multi lingual, multi cultured airport. 
Spanish is spoken a LOT.  The departure schedule reflects that…Cartagena, Caracas, 
Bogotá, Panama City, Rio, Havana…I wish I could live here and just fly to a different
Country every other month until I’d experienced them all, but until then I’ll just observe
their citizens.
    The flight to Panama was non eventful as was the $30 taxi ride to the City. The heat
was welcome after 15 hours of air-conditioned airports and planes…the humidity wasn’t.
  It is a dry heat in Phoenix and that is what my body is accustomed to.  The taxi driver
dropped me at the Hotel Residencia Texas and I met a drunk man from San Diego that
told me not to worry about safety.  He had been here a year and invited me to stop at
Fernando’s for a drink.  I unpacked in my 3rd floor walkup room and ventured out to

    The streets aren’t well lit and prostitutes, drug dealers and bums are everywhere,
including my new found “friend” and his pals at Fernando’s.  It was a pleasant bar with
an outdoor patio on the street and full of Panamanians as well as Gringos.  I met them
all including Johanna.  She offered me a massage and I bought her a Corona.  We chatted
then after helping me order a sandwich she left to find a paying customer.  Only five
minutes away and $20 but I didn’t want to let the jet lag get the better of me.  She was
gorgeous, young and personable.  Her American friend Tilly owned a bar in Mexico and
Key West before taking his boat from St Augustine to Panama City and falling in love
with Panama.  Tilly lives in a big high rise condo with a roof top pool for  $500 a month
and knows the “local” whorehouses” where you can fuck “Pamela Anderson” for $30. 
He will take me there as you never go alone to the local places. His friend John bought 
and sold property in San Carlos Mexico and in Boca Del Toro  Panama.  “Irish” came
here three years ago and bought a property in the ghetto.  He renovated it into a nice
three story home but no one else did so he was the only one in the Ghetto with such a
nice home and locals took note.   Three times they busted his door in and one time
threatened him with a knife to which he replied with a Machete and then sold out. 
    Marijuana can be smoked on the street and someone offered me some when on the
way home to eat my sandwich, but I just kept going.  I couldn’t bring myself to eat the
sandwich of all bread, American cheese , dried ham and I have no idea what the sauce
was.  Plenty of time to enjoy Panama after a good nights rest in my $16 a night
air-conditioned , hotel with cable that includes a porno station.  I left the
air-conditioner on when I arrived but now the room was chilly and there were no
blankets but just two sheets. I later discovered that all rooms came with 2 sheets and
no blankets.  I had a restless nights sleep.  The mattress and pillows had a “musty”
odor with a hint of urine.

     I awoke about 8am as the room was now getting hot.  The air-conditioner  has only
two setting….high cold or off. I heard of a place around the corner that served food
24/7 and headed there.  It was an open air cafeteria that was packed with people
eating and chatting.  I passed by a “refresca”  drink station where fresh fruit drinks
were made to order.  I can live off of those.  I expected to see all kinds of breakfast
items on the buffet at 9am but it was all Panamanian meats, chicken, fried corn bread,
fried bananas, fried polenta, fried fried, rice, empanadas, those things wrapped in
banana leaves, stews, gravies, and things I didn’t recognize.  I told her to give me what
the woman in front of me ordered.  I paid the $1.65 for my plate full of food and coffee.
I found a comfortable table when I realized what I thought was beef stew was all pieces
of liver or heart or kidney.  It had the texture and looks of liver.  If I didn’t have to look
at it or think about it, it would have been delicious. The coffee and fried cornbread was
    The Acapulco next door was serving breakfast when I sat down at the counter and
ordered fresh orange juice, café, and ham and eggs.   After two café leches.  I paid my
$6 and left to check out hotel prices.   The Acapulco was $28 and the one next to it was
$20 but both appeared to be full for the month of February.  After a brief siesta, a taxi
took me to Anita’s Inn where I was to spend the next three nights before moving to Fort
Clayton where my Dad had been stationed in the US Army 33rd Infantry Regiment from
1935-1941 before being sent to the war in the Pacific.  I think I’m going to like Panama.
    I thought it best to  book  a room for 10 days at the $20 Hotel so I will have something
to return to after visiting Boca del Toro.  Crossing the streets in Panama City is dangerous.
  They are all mostly one-way so you only have to look in one direction but the streets can
be four lanes and there are no stop signs or traffic lights on most of them.  As I was
looking for the traffic to slow or go by, I noticed a small black cat under the car parked
next to me.  He waited patiently watching the traffic until it passed then darted across
four lanes.  Who said cats are dumb?
    I hailed a Taxi and he drove quite a distance then dropped me right at the restaurant
Trapiche near Anita’s.  He asked for $2 and I knew it was $1 too much but I liked him
and gave him $3.  The directions said the Anita was right down the street 150 meters. 
Well that is a football field and a half in length but before I went that far the street  met
another and I didn’t see any building that looked like an Inn.  I went around the corner
and was heading back up the other street when a torrent of rain broke through the skies.
  I took cover under an awning with another man, also waiting for something.  I inquired
as to the direction of Anita’s but he spoke no English.  He ran inside the building and
returned with his 7 year old shy son and explained he studied English and might be able
to help.  He was very nervous while I questioned him.  He had spoke English in school
and was studying it but never had a situation one on one with a Gringo.  His father was
proud and he wanted to prove to his father he could do this but between my hearing
and the street traffic and sirens, we couldn’t communicate.  The boy ran into the
building and returned with his mother.  She motioned me over and held the door
open while I talked into an intercom with a neighbor upstairs that spoke English.  I
told her the directions I had and she instructed me to go back to the street, make a
right then another right by the restaurant.  That is where I just was!  I thanked her
and noticed the rain was subsiding so decided to have a Coke across the street in a
café until it stopped.  I was getting ready when the man came up to me and offered ,
with his wife and son to drive me there in the rain!  I declined and after my Coke the
rain stopped and I took off again. 

    When I arrived at the main street I decided it was best to ask the local shop owners
as they did business with Anita’s guests and would probably know.  I stopped into a
bakery to ask the owner and her husband.  They had no idea but noted a couple of
gringos that spoke English at a corner table might help.  I approached the three of
them and inquired as to the location of Anita’s and one turned and wanted to know
if I had reservations and what my name was….his wife was Anita.  I had walked right
by the place before but this time he phoned ahead and Anita was sitting on the step
to check me in and show me around. 
 I met a few of the guests, Jim and Ron I think.  They are travelers and have been
here some months as well as having spent time in Venezuelan last year.  We talked for
a while about where to eat , gamble, drink and the sites to see in Panama.  They were a
great help though it was hard to hear them over the din caused by the construction
right across the street…which is right across from my room.  It appears Panama City
is both under destruction and construction.  It is everywhere.  I think there  is still
money to be made here.  Retiring to my un air- conditioned room, I quickly put on
my shorts, short sleeve shirt and sandals.  Now I’m ready to roll

Strolling through the neighborhood the New York Bagel Company caught my
attention. There is internet access, bagels and good coffee. I will return. The Trapiche
offered an open patio to sip a beer and browse the menu.  Joe and another from
Anita’s sat nearby devouring a great meal at a cheap price. I will return.  Back at
Anita’s, I dressed for an evening at the Veneto Casino with long trousers and shoes. 
Good luck David!



Thurs:  Observation: Not a lot of sit down bars.  The bars have tables where people sit together but few “bars” to sit at if your by yourself.  Most people arrive or meet friends to drink with.

I emailed 5 SERVAS Hosts to meet and advise me on what and where I should be going to enjoy Slovakia.  Only Sonika responded with a meeting but not until Sunday. Two others said they were busy.

I started with a bad impression, was tired and returned to the room for a few Vodkas.

Fri: That evening I started getting sick….and sicker…real fast. I took all the meds I had, hot tea with honey….slept on and off with a fever and chills…

Sat: Breakfast and back to bed…that afternoon I had to get meds so walked to local shops where the front desk directed me.  Bad language barrier and I didn’t walk far enough and couldn’t find anything that resembled a pharmacy. I took the Bus to the centre bought what I thought were cold pills but just cough drops.  The other medicine was drops you put in your water and drank.  That was a mild antihistamine I think. Again I drank tea and stayed in bed.

Sun: Breakfast and front desk gave me a message to meet Sonika at 3pm that afternoon in front of the Presidential Palace. Stayed in bed until 1:30pm then took the bus with my Meds to show Sonika. 

She had the same cold I did and gave me some of her Meds and explained the ones I had. We laughed that maybe I caught the cold from her over the internet. We walked around the gardens then she recommended we meet her sister Zora…another SERVAS host. She said Zora didn’t want to meet us in the garden because the last time she joined her with another SERVAS traveler, her dog died and she just got another from the animal rescue shelter but doesn’t want to risk losing that dog.

     We met at the bus stop and I was impressed with her.  She was attractive and VERY fit with her hiking boots and jeans. The dog would nip at anyone and barked at everything. We boarded the bus for a nearby town in the Carpathian Mountains.  I thought I can handle a little hike and it is probably good for me.  Sonika was NOT fit, overweight, balding and in poor health. Both her and her sister transcribe documents from Russian to English. Sonika works for the state and Zora works as an independent contractor.  We stopped at an outdoor Café to have a beer, a BIG BEER, before starting the hike. They also had wine cider which is only at this time of year and very special.  We climbed this mountain overlooking the Danube with Austria on the other side.  There were watchtowers the Soviets used and of course barbed wire fences.  We then proceeded to hike a trail through the woods along the summit to the next mountain and so on.  It was getting dark around the time we arrived an hour and a half later on the other side at this famous castle, now in ruin. Zora had hiked along the river for 5 hours the day before.  I tried to use the bathroom at this tourist spot that sold stale sandwiches, drinks and postcards but the proprietor wouldn’t let me.  We took the bus back to Bratislava then walked through the street while they explained to me the different sites and what it was like during the Russian occupation…all fenced in.  She told me about her son and his ambitions.  How he earned a scholarship to U of British Columbia and is in his first year.  He hopes to transfer to Princeton and loves Cowboy hats. I took them for tea at an outdoor sidewalk café, then we parted. I walked back to my bus stop to return to the Hotel 7 hours later….I slept well that evening.

I did my own walking tour of Bratislava the next day that took me up a hill to a castle overlooking the city and river. I did a few churches, lunch at a Viennese Café, hot Chocolate at a Chocolate House, a few museums and finally a few pints.  I had wished I rented a car and drove around the countryside while in Slovakia but really don’t think I missed much.  I hope to visit Slovania this year which I’ve been told is much nicer than Slovakia, which is still being run by Communist lackies left over from the Soviet Union.  Bribes and mafia. 

        I made arrangements to take Sonika to a Slovakian restaurant that she recommended and I had heard about.  Old wooden tables, high ceilings, pasta stuffed with cabbage and a hearty soup but mostly broth. Beer.  Then we walked to a wine bar where we had the wine cider that is so popular at that time of year. I bid goodbye and flew to Amsterdam on Oct 5th , my birthday.

 Took the train from Schiphol into the Centre and  then hopped the tram to Jeannette’s. 

I arrived to a bouquet of yellow roses, wrapped presents to include Men‘s Cologne, Dutch Chocolate Bar, Rum filled Chocolate Kisses, a book on Holland, and my Hash I left from the last visit with a glass of red wine to accompany it. Then they took me out to dinner at a really nice restaurant in the neighborhood. Lovely Birthday with my Lovely Special Friends!!

The next day I had a nice lunch at my favorite Coffee & Jazz Indonesian Restaurant on Utrechtsestraat…the first restaurant I ate at with David Lavington my first time back in Amsterdam in 1987.

Good to be back home in Amsterdam.