Life's been hard on our Panama holiday. My brother-in-law didn't get his internet installed until a little over two weeks after I got here. So I've been having withdrawals. I posted my first piece from Panama December 30th on the fly from an internet cafe - $1US for an hour! And I decided to leave my Blackberry at home. Anyway, let's continue with our adventures…
When we first arrived at my brother-in-law's place at the Bijoa golf/beach resort on December 21st there was nary a soul other than us here. We'd spend a lazy day at the beach, play a round of golf or sit in the late afternoon glow of "happy hour" with hardly a sound to be heard. That all began to change around Christmas when we noticed with annoying frequency the loud buzzing of what might have been over-sized insects but were really Kawasaki 4 seater ATVs. They seem to be the mode of transport of choice of the Panamanian well-to-do who live in the complex. My brother-in-law says the units here - condo apartments, town homes and houses - are basically used by well off Panamanians as their weekend and holiday beach residence. The rest of the time things are pretty quiet. Nobody here but us and the security guard ninjas.
Is it just me, or am I getting old? I swear the drivers and their passengers of these things ripping around the pathways here have an average age of 7! I'm not kidding. When I was a kid and my parents told me to go play i the traffic for an hour I knew they were kidding (I think). But not only do these kids play in the traffic they all have their own little vehicles! And speed. These things whip around here so fast I swear they'll soon need a traffic cop…or an ambulance. And it's the same thing at the beach. Kids on ATVs are everywhere roaring up and down the coast. When did beaches stop being for people. Well, I suppose things could be worse. Two years ago when we stayed at the Royal Decameron resort not too far from here, there were horses being ridden up and down the beach. The word to the wise on that beach was look before you step.
Over New Year's this place was jumping. I think the entire upper crust of Panama City migrated here to celebrate the holiday. And I think the average Panamanian family must be quite large. We'd sit on the balcony or at the beach and marvel at the pre-pubescent kids, crawling up and down in packs, all on their cell phones. Cell phones? At the beach? Who the hell are they texting? Their friends are all here!
But it's not just kids. Everywhere you go in this country people employ the salute known internationally. Right arm raised, bent at the elbow, cell phone implanted firmly in one's right ear. Let me give you an example of how crazy it is. We were at a party the other night, meeting some folks from Panama, Columbia, Sweden, us from Canada - a real United Nations affair. People sat at dinner tables in the back yard and animated Spanish conversations drifted to me from the different groups of people. The loudest voice of all was a woman at the other end of my table. I just figured she must be telling her seat mates an interesting story. I turned to see who was talking. Turns out her animated conversation was with someone on the other end of her cell phone. Most people go to parties to socialize with the people there. Not talk to someone who isn't. Don't they?
I am getting old.
My brother-in-law got his internet. I can post pics now. Yay!!!