Panama: So Far I’m Really Digging It

So last I spoke to you, I had arrived at Finca Bachita in Playa Coronado, Panama.  For those of you who asked, the house is named after my friend Cesar’s very cute mom, Beatrice.  Bachita is her nickname and Finca means farm/estate or plantation in Spanish.

The town of Coronado is about an hour and a half west of Panama City and one of the oldest private communities in Panama.  It’s huge…with over 2000 good sized residences plus a couple large and ugly high rises, a clinic, a horse farm, restaurants and a long grey/black beach along the Pacific.  Just outside the development on the main road (the PanAmerican highway to be exact), there are very American supermarkets, malls, spas…everything.  Look at this wine selection at the local market…and $5-$10 a bottle…

Panama is developing incredibly quickly and prices are rising quickly as well.  But to me?  Everything seems CHEAP!  Definitely cheaper than Costa Rica and much cheaper than Belize.

We woke up early the first morning to shop for a few things that Panama is known for…fresh produce and seafood.  It seemed almost silly to buy mangoes or even avocados…trees in almost every yard are BURSTING.  Even trees along the highway seem to buckling from the weight of so much fruit.  I do not exaggerate when I say that mangoes are everywhere.  But all are not created equal.  We stopped at a roadside stand that sold five or six different kinds of mangoes plus another fruit, the kinep.  Giant mangos…5 for $1USD.  You really can’t beat it.

From flip flop mangoes (the long flatter ones) to butter mangoes (the smooth delicious green yellow ones), we managed to filled 4 shopping bags.  Food discovery #1 made by me later after eating 2 mangoes.    The most beautiful mango is not always the best.

You’d think the one on the right…the yellow one would be the most tasty.  In fact, it has been my least favorite…very woody.  You could floss your teeth with the fibers.  All that glitters really isn’t gold.   You really can’t judge a book by its cover.  I guess others have made this discovery in the past.  Sigh…

Next the super fresh black clams, caracol…$1.25USD a dozen!  All plucked from the sea this morning.  Here is Cesar’s dad picking out the best ones.

And Cesar’s mom made a ceviche later than evening that was divine.  She soaks thin red onion slices in lime (in fact, she keeps the pickle in the fridge at all times)…add some of the onions, the opened clams, a bit of olive oil, lime, salt and pepper and you will soon swoon.  Eaten with white rice, this stuff is perhaps the best ceviche I’ve ever had.

Important food discovery #2 made by me:  all ceviche should be served with warm white rice.  It is delicious.  Makes me want to stop by KayDan’s Ceviche Stall in San Pedro for lobster ceviche as soon as I get back.

The day was not over, there are still things to do.  Though Cesar’s parents live in a relatively residential area, some lots are of good size…..big enough for gardening or even raising small animals.  His dad had taken advantage of an empty lot next door to grown lots of fruit trees (from banana, papaya and custard apple to passion fruit) and to raise a few chickens.

Though I am not farmer, it seems like a few chickens can quickly turn into a herd…a flock…and it was time to relocate the gaggle.   Send them to live at the farm where the family cow lives…about 20 minutes away.  It’s really not “the family cow”…more of a pet.   Cesar’s dad is quite the gentleman farmer in his retirement.
It was time for a chicken round-up…grabbing the fowl, tying their legs together in bunches of three and loading the birds into the back of the BMW.  That last step provided these poor chickies a bit of dignity during their relocation.  At least they could ride in air conditioned luxury.
Juan Pablo’s farm was their new home.  There they were introduced to their new family:  a bunch of turkeys, some geese, a posse of dogs, about 30 more chickens, a flock of sheep, a few pigs and a good sized herd of cows.
Oh yeah…and one GIGANTIC caterpillar.
By the way, if you run into any Panamanian customs officials over the next few weeks, the answer is NO, Rebecca was NOT handling any livestock or farm animals while in Panama.
We went to meet the family cow Bella.  She was a bit sad looking and stand-offish for good reason…she just had a still born calf very close to term a few days ago.  (A baby boy if you want to know.)  Poor girl.
At least she had plenty of friends nearby…
Okay…I’m getting to wordy.  Let’s wrap this up.
Danni and I went to have pedicures to end the day.  Why is this interesting you might ask?  $7USD!  At the salon, hair cuts are $4, manicures $5…fantastic.  Services in Panama are cheap.
Feeling lucky, we headed around the corner to the local mall-casino/bar.  Very similar to the set up I’ve seen in Mexico.  Maybe America needs to get with this trend.
 At the Winner Bar, I spun my $2 into $15!  That could buy me a whole spa day!  And why not treat myself to a $1.10 beer.  Heck…I deserve it.
Danni was not so lucky.  She walked out with 75 cents less in her pockets.  Maybe next time…
ENOUGH!  Tomorrow we are leaving for an overnight trip to Pedasi, Panama.  As you know…I’ll be reporting back.

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