Travels and a Journey of Another Kind

Sorry I have been absent for a while.  I guess you could say I had my version of writers’ cramp.  It’s that feeling you get when there are so many important things happening in the world, you figure no one wants to read your drivel anyway.   I do love writing this blog though.   It helps me relive all of the interesting, funny, heartwarming and awkward moments traveling brings to your life.

My husband and I have been traveling a lot this summer but mostly to one place, our hometown of Rochester, NY.  I was on grandmother duty for a month helping out with the end of school chaos and taking care of my grandson during my daughters’  birthday celebration trip to Europe.  My husband Sam has been exploring his passion for race cars and went back to his racing roots.   He drove the “Bad Banana” at Spencer Speedway for an excited audience of cousins and friends.  I believe this wasn’t a one-off,  so stay tuned for more sightings of the “Bad Banana” in Upstate New York and probably on this blog.

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We have been traveling, but I have been on a journey of another kind.  This one is pretty personal.  Several years ago, I found out that the father I grew up knowing was not biologically my father.  It seems my mother had a pretty big secret.  She died in 1984 and told my sister this just before.  For reasons not clear, my sister did not tell me this until around 2004.  I suspect it was because the father I grew up with died that same year.  This news was like a punch in the stomach and anyone who has had a similar experience will tell you it is a journey of reflecting and questioning everything you have known and everything that you are.  I loved my mother and do not question her life or her motives.  I know she had a hard life.

Armed with the few pieces of information I was given, an Ancestry subscription and a DNA test given as a Christmas present to me by my oldest daughter, I started the journey of finding who my biological father really was.  It seems my Dad was from Texas just like my Mom.  Most of my relatives live or have lived in Texas as well.   I was able to discover that my biological dad died last year so I guess we were not destined to meet.  I found a picture of when he was young a well as when he was older which left little doubt that I am his daughter.   I also have a half-sister that showed up on DNA.  She also lives in Texas.  I have contacted her but she can’t see the connection and I don’t feel it is my place to show her that DNA makes it clear that she can’t be anything but my half sister.   It is a delicate situation for sure.  DNA doesn’t lie so she will also have to come to know her mother had a secret as well.  I hope she reaches the same conclusion that I did, that it is impossible for her to be anything else but my half-sister.   Also,  in the process and quite by accident I was able to help a woman find her biological mother and also found some pictures of her mother on line for her.

Through DNA I have found such interesting and exciting ancestors.   I have a first cousin in Austin, Texas who was so nice and even invited me to Austin to meet in person.    One thing is for sure, secrets abound.  It was a different time and abortion was illegal for which I am grateful.

With my daughters help, we have traced our family tree quite far back.  I was shocked to find that many of my ancestors were royalty.  For example, King Henry II was my 25th great-grandfather, James I Stewart, King of Scotland was my 17th great grandfather and Mary Boleyn who notoriously had Henry VIII’s illegitimate son and was sister to his wife Anne is my 14th great-grandmother.  It’s been an amazing journey.

Coming up,  we are going on a cruise and will be returning to Panama for New Years.  I am back in the blogging groove and will be updating often.  Thanks for reading.

 

MSC Divinia

 

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Lovely Coronado, Home of Picassos and Lagartos

 

We arrived in Coronado, Panama two weeks ago and I must say I am in love.  First of all we are staying in a gorgeous apartment on the 10th floor of the Coronado Golf Tower.  The thing about this breathtaking mountain and ocean view apartment is it’s affordable.  We would never be able to afford this in any other location I can imagine.  Coming from Aruba, we are constantly impressed  by how cheap it is to live, eat and play in our beach location which is approximately an hours’ drive from Panama City.

When we first studied this location last year, we made a trip here to visit our ex-pat friend Don.  He was sweet enough to show us around and introduce us to his friends who are mostly other ex-pats.  Picassos Restaurant is the epicenter  for networking, entertainment and good food.  My first impression was “Ah ha, so this is where all the hippies from the 1960s went”.  So did I really want to hang around here for an extended period of time?  As charming as flowers in the hair, granny dresses (for real) and orthopedic flip flops can be, is this for me?   Given its incredible beauty, we decided it was worth a shot.   As it turns out, the people are great.  They are friendly, eclectic and very entrepreneurial.  It seems almost everyone has a business and on Tuesday mornings at Picassos, business cards are passed out freely.  There is the egg seller known for his double yolks and heavenly Panamanian coffee grown in the mountains and processed in small batches.   There is a concierge service, a massage and reiku expert, numerous real estate agents and artisans of all persuasions.   As you can imagine there are also musicians from all over the world.  We were treated to an impromptu blue grass concert featuring local and visiting artists. As our new friend Scott the harmonica player and former tennis pro said “it was magical”.   If you closed your eyes you would swear you were in South Carolina, minus the moonshine.

With our lovely apartment came a golf package.  Sam has been practicing his game for a few years but I honestly was never too excited about the idea. But given the beautiful course literally at our feet and the idea that we could do something together, not to mention the fun of racing around in a golf cart, I said why not?  I will give this a fair shake.  As it turns out, we play nine holes every other afternoon around 4ish when its not too hot and I really like it.  Don’t misunderstand me the game is all right but the birds, butterflies, palm and orange trees are spectacular.  Keeping score is not an option.  Speeding around in the cart and searching for lost balls is also fun and the occasional “high five” for missing a water hazard is also gratifying.

Speaking of water hazards, many are filled with what the Panamanians lovingly call lagartos which in Spanish means lizard.  I disagree, mi amigos, these are crocodiles and are not tiny.  I was so excited when, in my golf kit, I found a water hazard ball retriever.   I can just see me having a tug of war with Mr. Largarto with yours truly surely losing.

Our first two weeks have been great.  More adventures to come.

Bon Pasco

Bon Pasco!  In Aruba, this is the Papimento greeting for Merry Christmas.   We really enjoyed ours, hope you did as well.

Our new adventures included spending Christmas in Aruba.  This would be the very first Christmas we have spent away from home.  Despite the obvious differences such as snow vs. palm trees,  family is the constant.  We truly missed ours. The Arubans, like most people everywhere, cherish traditions and family.  The island is alive with parties, decorations and gift exchanges.

Our Christmas Day was spent snorkeling and watching the sunset on the beach sharing a bottle of champagne.  Arubans celebrate big on Christmas Eve and Christmas day is for Sinterklaas to deliver presents to the kids.  Sinterklaas arrives at the marina in Orangestad and the children welcome him as he comes by boat. This is another Dutch influenced tradition.  Aruba has a mixture of influences that have melded into celebrations and daily life.  They have elaborate decorations everywhere.  At almost all of the traffic circles, there is a green area which is decorated lavishly.  One even has a miniature Aruban house completely furnished.  Another has a chorus of Angels.  One has a perfect replica of a cruise boat.  All are colorful and beautiful. We rented a car and traveled the island enjoying them.  We made some friends here and celebrated with them learning their customs and traditions.

We enjoyed the children singing songs in the supermarket.  One little girl truly had the voice of an angel and even though I understood little of what she was singing about, her sweet voice brought tears to my eyes.

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And, of course, Christmas wouldn’t be complete without silly games.  Meet my husband, the snowman.  Needless to say, we didn’t win in the toilet-paper snowman building contest.  Lots of laughs though.dscn6403

We returned to Panama on December 30th and plan on spending a week in Panama City, then up the coast to Coronado and finally a trip to the Caribbean side in Bocas del Toro.  I will be updating this blog as we go.

Here’s wishing all of my readers a very happy and healthy 2017!

It’s Been a while

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I really didn’t feel much like writing while America was embroiled in one the the nastiest yet most important elections of our lifetime.  We have still been having fun but have been closely watching all the drama unfolding in our beloved Country.  We even were able to cast our vote online in late September which was very important to us.

Its  been two months since my last blog and we haven’t gotten sick of Aruba yet.  Some of the reason was because we have gotten into an island rhythm.  An island mindset, if you will.  What a great gift to be able to live in a place with swaying palmtrees, gentle breezes, exotic sea creatures, interesting wildlife and really nice people.

I was missing my family and was able to have a nice long visit here in Aruba with my two daughters and my grandson.  We spent lots of time at the beach, snorkeled in deep water over a ship wreck, hiked, climbed a mountain and went spelunking.  My grandson and I even dipped our feet in a stream while fish nibbled at them and, as crazy as that sounds, was pretty cool.  We fed donkeys and goats, did karaoke or at least my grandson did.  We hiked and explored. Lets see, what else has happened?  Sam grew and cultivated a rather handsome beard.  We also got to know several people pretty well that make their home on Aruba.

One of our favorites is Leon.  He is the main guy on our favorite beach, Moomba.  He works hard keeping the people happy with drinks, food and beach chairs.  He teaches us Spanish and makes sure everyone has everything they need. Leon is 18 and seems much older.   He works very hard to improve his present and future. Leon emigrated from his native Columbia with his Mom and other members of his family and is learning Dutch as well.  He got his certification as an inspector here in Aruba and is looking to ultimately join the FBI in the US.  I have no doubt that he will achieve whatever he sets out to do.  He is smart and very determined.  He always greets us with a smile and we look forward to seeing him each time we go to the beach.

Also, we survived Hurricane Mathew with minimal impact but some damage on the island.  They are quick to clean things up to make ready for tourists. A few weeks later,  while my grandson and daughter were still here, we experienced a rainfall like no other.  It took the islanders by surprise and caused a lot of flooding.  Not realizing how bad it was, we attempted to drive to the beach and came upon overflowing streets and floating cars and had to make several detours returning to our resort an hour later somewhat shaken but safe.    With some answered prayers and great navigation skills by my go-to guy, we made it back safe for a movie marathon and some much needed cocktails.  Even in paradise, things can get dicey.

 

Two beach bums and a Scooter

Ok, so we are a month into our island adventure in Aruba.  Already we have had some great experiences.   So what we notice is we are becoming more and more …. shall we say…. relaxed.  By this I mean my normally fastidious husband is deciding to cut his shaving down to maybe once or twice a week.  Me? I am letting my normally blown dry hair go natural and somewhat wild and my practice of never leaving the house without makeup routine is totally ruined.  This is the siren song of  beach life.  The ability to live in a bathing suit, to use minimal make up and hair products.

But….. we keep telling ourselves we are not on vacation.  This is our home for the next 3 months so some discipline is in order.  We have a great workout facility in the immediate area and we are always walking and exploring.   We are trying to eat healthy but this is a bit more challenging.  They have the most amazing cheeses here, cheap and delicious.  They import a lot of food from Holland so in addition to the amazing cheeses, you will often see a puzzled look on my face in the grocery store at the unfamiliar looking labels.  With names like Aardbeien and Jong Kaas,  it is fun to figure out what the item is and what you would possibly do with it.  I adore food challenges so bring it on.  One of the things that is so nice about this trip is that I have a full kitchen this time.  Getting some good material for a future food blog so check back.dscn3375

Obviously we are spending a lot of time at the beach.  This naturally extends to people watching.  This is a favorite pastime of mine and an endless source of entertainment.  So, there was this American couple eating at the beach bar.  The woman told the bartender her fish was terrible so the bartender took it away and did not charge.  Then the man asked for some juice.  Not just any juice but  maybe a mixture of pineapple and orange, oh no, make that papaya and pineapple, oh no make that orange and papaya.  Here’s where I start rolling my eyes.  Ok so now, he gets his juice, and the bartender had the audacity to charge him, so fish lady chimes in “well if you are going to charge him, I want a full order of juice not just this bar glass, but a tall glass.”  The bartender told them nicely, this is a bar, we don’t give anything away.  Then fish lady opens her personal container and says “fill this with ice”.  These two were a tag team bartenders nightmare and have certainly studied their “How to be an Ugly American” handbook.  So there I sat disgusted and generally embarrassed for my country when along comes Scooter.

Scooter and his lovely wife were visiting from Tampa and were clearly having the time of their lives.  Not usually a fan of cigar smoke, I commented to Sam that the little Cohibas this guy was smoking actually smelled delicious.  Sam was looking longingly at the little beauties.  He is not a smoker but has enjoyed them in his past.  Scooter took note and generously offered Sam one, then the rest of his pack, then in a totally unexpected and generous move, went to the cigar store behind the bar and surprised him with an entire pack while we had a great conversation with his wife.  Wish we would have been able to get to know them better, but alas our ride was waiting.  Scooter, you restored my faith in Americans, at least for today.

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Scooter

 

 

 

 

Hasta Luego Panama

 

Our friend Alicia explained that you should never say Adios to friends you want to see again.  It’s too final.  So it’s  hasta luego (see you later) Panama.

Our six months in Panama have ended.  We are home and have begun post-processing our great adventure.  It is pretty amazing to think we actually lived in Panama for six months.  It was exciting, interesting, daunting, sometimes frustrating but memorable in every way.

There were quite a few things that didn’t make my blogs.  So here is a recap.

We spent quite a bit of time at the largest mall in South America called Albrook.  Not only could we find most comforts of home but there was some great people watching and food experiences here.

We did some biking on the Amador causeway.

Food and drink played a large part.

We played a little golf and went to an outdoor boxing match.  We were impressed by the Iron Man Competition.  The swimming part was held at the dock right outside our hotel.   There was music, parades, holidays and cultural shows.  History and gorgeous architecture everywhere.

 

We finally managed to make it to Contadora Island.  A beautiful day on the beach!

We also visited Coronado, an expat community a little over a hour from Panama.  Our friend Don showed us around and introduced us to his friends.  We looked at some beautiful and reasonable rentals for future reference.

I can’t even begin to describe the amazing flora and fauna.

Sam was always exploring and managed to log 30 miles walking a week.  He discovered the military bunkers located all over the Amador area and the Islands nearby.  Some were from the American time in the canal, some were from Noreiga’s regime,  even some from World War I.  Our local historian/hotel handyman, Jesus would fill him in on bits and pieces of the fascinating history of the canal.  It was such fun to discover the man-made and natural wonders surrounding us.

 

The best part by far were the wonderful people we met on our journey.  Friends that you cannot hope to have in a short visit but you become close over six months.  Most of the Panamanian people are kind, hard working, family-oriented  people that I will never forget.  Also, we were able to meet many fellow travelers who invited us to visit them in their own homelands of  Columbia, Chile, Romania and Canada.

Throughout this journey I have focused on the positive aspects of Panama.  As with any journey or any place on the planet, there are positives and negatives.  There was the traffic jams, language barrier, occasional bouts of homesickness.  The struggle to find a hairdresser, etc.  All in all I wouldn’t have changed a moment.  Much love and respect goes to my husband and travel partner for his knack for photographic documentation and persistence in getting all the right shots.

Thanks for joining us on this trip.  Stay tuned for more, we are just getting started!

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Monkey Love

 

We’ve moved to the rain forest, an area known as Gamboa.  Our hotel is a golf resort and we don’t really play golf but are having fun putting around.  The views are spectacular and we hear amazing animal and birds sounds at night from our balcony.

The first day we met Carlos, a very friendly hotel employee who was showing us around.  He was explaining all the animals we might see and mentioned our favorite Panamanian animal, the Capybara. Seeing our excitement,  he said meet me in the lobby at 6:00 p.m. and I will take you to where the capybaras gather.  We met him at the appointed time and took a golf cart to a very specific spot on the course near a water-filled ditch.  There they were, not the same ones we thought were capybara on Ancon Hill and turned out to be agouti, but the genuine enormous capybara who had captured our hearts through pictures and you-tube videos.  Wow!  amazing!  What a great way to start off at our new rainforest location.

 

Monkeys were our next photographic prey.   Panama is great because of the many types of animals and colorful birds that call this great country home.  So, we went on an excursion with the Disney-sounding name of Jungleland.  We met at the dock and boarded beat-up Panamanian style boats.  We traveled the Panama Canal shipping lane to a floating lodge deep in the rainforest.  Along the way we spotted many ships, tug boats, mechanical equipment, the largest (until recently) crane in the world.  We even saw the Panama Express train filled with containers running alongside the Canal.

We stopped along the way to see heron, harpy eagles, egrets, crocodiles, iguana.  Soon, Captain Carl said we were pulling into a cove where we may be boarded by pirates.  The kids squealed in excitement and, truth be told,  I squealed a bit myself.   Armed with peanuts, we waited as a group of capuchin monkeys boarded our boat by jumping on the roof.  We waited and soon we saw a little face peek out from over the roof.  I held out my treat and he grabbed it and ran.  We also saw howler monkeys, tamarands too.  We loved every minute of it.

We soon arrived at the floating lodge and were treated to a delicious Panamanian meal, rice, chicken, steak, tamale, cinamon bananas.  Yum.

Then we were asked if we wanted to go fishing.   Si, por favor!  A expert Panamanian fisherman Ruben took us out to his favorite spot.   I had never fished before and was happy to hear Ruben would bait our hooks with minnows.  No sooner had I dipped my line in, I caught my first fish.  Sam and I both caught many.  Most were throw backs, a service also provided by Ruben.  One was a keeper and I am pretty sure it was Rubens dinner.  Such a great experience.

So, back at the hotel, we tried the golfing thing had lots of fun but more practice is necessary.  I dearly love doing things I have never done before.  Panama has been an amazing experience of “firsts”.

 

 

 

 

Fashionistas

Adding to the multitude of new experiences, we were invited to a fashion show by our new friends Hector and Claudia.  Hector is a Panamanian born businessman and former Ambassador to Israel.  Claudia is a Romanian model who met Hector while modeling and studying in Israel.  They are engaged and spend part of their time in Panama and part in Romania.  Her modeling takes her to Japan, Italy, Panama, Romania and several other locations around the world.  We met because we live in the same house, i.e. the Country Inn and Suites.  They are patiently waiting for their apartment to be built in the City and in the meantime they are working on other projects.  They are lovely!  We sometimes run into each other in the coffee shop or business center and spend three hours talking together without even realizing it. We share baby pictures and family photos and stories about our respective homelands.  Claudia is starting a line of beautiful jewelry, Claudia H.  which will soon be launched and available to all.   She even shared logo choices,  and let us preview some of the merchandise. It is really nice and I think I see a potential birthday? Christmas? Valentine? gift in there somewhere for yours truly.  They are such a pleasure to be around and so entertaining.  I could listen to them talk all day.FSCN8289

So Claudia was booked for a fashion show at the Hard Rock Hotel.  We asked if we could tag along.  It is a great venue and always has a lot going on plus an epic rooftop bar with 360 views of the City.  So we could support our friend and have some dressed-up fun.

Sam, as you could probably guess, has never been to a fashion show before but is always up for anything.  The venue was in a space aptly named Bling.  Lots of shine and sparkle, perfect for the show. We positioned ourselves to strategically take advantage of photo ops.  The prestigious designer, Anna Chajin, is Panamanian and American. She put together a beautiful line of casual and elegant clothing for woman and also some menswear pieces inspired by the indigenous Guna Yala Indians.

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Guna Yala Indian

 

To begin, there were some gorgeous little dresses, followed by a young man who jumped up on stage, posing in his best skater/surfer stance.  Anyway, The young man jumped up on stage and Sam burst out laughing, thinking it was some kind of half-time entertainment clearly breeching proper fashion show etiquette . I could actually see where he could have thought this but we could soon see he was modeling some casual men’s clothes.  We recovered quickly and soon blended back into the mostly Panamanian crowd.

Claudia looked simply stunning in the two elegant gowns she modeled.  She reminded me of Princess Grace of Monaco in her younger years.  After finishing with the after-show paparazzi, she joined Hector, his beautiful sister and brother-in-law and us.  They had never been to the rooftop bar either so we went.  It was breathtaking .  We had some wine, listened to music and got to know each other a little better.

Such a great and unexpected evening.  So nice to meet such wonderful people and learn even more about Panamanian culture.

Carnivales and Canadians

 

It seems there are always parties, fiestas and special events here in the beautiful country of Panama.  So we were thinking of going to Carnivale but got mixed reviews from the locals.  Our friends, Hector (a born and bred Panamanian) and his beautiful Romanian fiancée Claudia were actually leaving the Country for a vacation because they didnt want to be here for Carnivale.  Our friend Alicia, also a Panamanian national, made a particularly bad face while relaying how they drench you with water cannons and throw eggs.  So, this kind of dampened our enthusiasm, that was until we met…………………..THE CANADIANS.

A word about the Canadians, a group of nine Alberta farmers and associates.  They came to Panama at the suggestion of their friend Alec who had a long-held wish to come back to Panama.  I must say I didn’t really catch all of the story but it was important to him to return and the others were happy to accompany him.  These people are your no nonsense, salt-of-the-earth types whose winter vacations tend to take them to warm southern destinations and sometimes unique group experiences.  We got to know them over local beers by the pool.  Sam was particularly bonded to Vince, a larger-than-life, constantly smiling guy who we instantly liked.  Sam enjoyed hearing about farming, cattle, farm machinery, lumber milling and all manner of manly undertakings.

Vince was all for going to Carnivale so while the others stayed behind we decided to venture headlog into the blaring music, samba bands, gorgeous floats, beautiful girls and dancing people from ages 1-90.

Carnivale is loud!  I mean really loud.  We dressed in our most throwawayable clothes and brought plastic bags for keeping our valuables out of the way of whatever liquids or other matter might seep into our totes.  After a few beers, we positioned ourselves along the parade route.  As it turns out the water cannons and eggs are reserved for the daytime festivities thank you very much.   There were some older men in headdresses that seemed to have some kind of historical significance, followed by lots of young and old devils, your obligatory men on stilts and lots and lots of music and groups dancing.   The night we went was the coronation of the Carnivale queen who was beautiful and very regal on her sculpted float wearing her shimmering gold costume.  The parade was set up where you could watch it twice because of its circular route.  Really fun and colorful.

Then, of course, it was time to get Carnivale food!  We had hot dogs, chicharones, meat on a stick, chicken and lots of beer.  The Panamanians love their meat so every tent had plenty.  Strangely, there were no sweets or deep fried oreos like we find at our American Carnivals.  It was great being in another country trying their version of stuffing your face with Carnival food.  Love it!  Another difference was the lack of enthusiasm for the fireworks.  In America, we stop, gather around for the main event which is always the fireworks.  In Panama people walk around and seem to hardly notice.  Of course the night was not nearly over because they party until dawn so the fireworks were merely an interlude.

Anyway, for us, it was time to return to the hotel and we met up with the other Canadians who wanted to hear about our experience at  Carnivale.  We enjoyed telling them all the highlights.  They were wide-eyed as we told them, in great detail, the story of  how Vince was chosen from the crowd and  asked to dance with the queen on her float.   Hmmmmm if only we had pictures.

Such fun!

Welcome to my World (part II)

 

When last we met, I was relaying anecdotes from my daughter Lindsay’s recent trip to visit us in Panama.  The thing about having a visitor is that you see your surroundings in a whole new light and discover things you thought you already knew.

Eager to visit the Pearl Islands and without time to visit my first choice which was Contadora Island, we made a return visit to Toboga.  It’s fun, its cheap and its beautiful.  So we took the 11:00 a.m. ferry and arrived with the usual locals carting all sorts of supplies on to the island.  This adds to the non-tourist vibe that we have grown to love.  So, we have been to Toboga a few times but Lindsay’s reaction reminded us of our initial impression which was awe.   She said it reminded her of those little villages on the coast of Italy.  Of course, none of us have visited the coast of Italy but we have all seen those pics and it seems to fit.  Along, the way we found a secluded beach for Lindsay to practice her “Toboga Yoga”.

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We were excited to show her around and explore.  It is truly beautiful and sort of like a fairy tale.  Flowers, butterflies, roosters and chickens.  Small, brightly painted houses with well-kept, uniquely decorated trims.  The American owner of Calaloo, a charming little restaurant, shouted out to us as we passed and we assured her we would be back for lunch.  Every place you turn is a photo op, and we took full advantage of that.  We took in the sights and did return to Calaloo for a delicious lunch of fresh ceviche and beer.

We met a really cute couple who looked fresh out of college, they turned out to be commercial pilots and spend their vacation time and free air fare visiting all the places they usually only see from airport terminals.  Definitely a “don’t judge a book by its cover” moment.

A couple sitting in the back of the restaurant overheard our conversation with the pilots and came up to us when we were leaving to say they were from the same area that we grew up.  So Sam began to talk with them and discovered he knew the woman and had double-dated with her and her boyfriend in high school.  Truly a small world.

Then off to the beach.  We had fun getting our feet wet, talking with our new found friends, shelling and weirdly discovering a fresh bunch of broccoli washed up on the beach, clearly rejected by some passing ship or restaurant in Panama City and not appreciated by the fish.  A great day in Toboga.

For Lindsay’s last night we visited the Cinta Costera (coastal ribbon) which winds around the outside of Panama City.  We started at the Mercado de Mariscos for dinner exploring each fonda’s menu until Lindsay settled on one selling grilled coconut shrimp.  I settled on grilled shrimp in passion fruit sauce while Sam chose pescado frito and patacones. Everything was delicious.  The Cinta Costera comes alive at night with food and souvenir vendors and Panamanian families meeting friends, playing pick up games of basketball, working out in the outdoor public gym and generally having a great time.  We enjoyed the great people watching but panic set in at the lack of public bathrooms.  We found a cool Panamanian diner and noted the location for a future dinner.  I insisted Lindsay try her first raspara, which is the Panamanian version of a snow cone enhanced by a covering of sweetened condensed milk.  Her choice of passion fruit was sweet but delicious.

We reluctantly said goodbye the next morning but had such a great time sharing our world with someone we love.