Saturday, January 19, 2013

Santa Catalina - Hidden Paradise of Panama

"Hammocks - yeah" yells my seven year old as he jumps in and swings it as high as the window.

Sherlley has chosen us the "Pink Cabana" at Cabanas Sherlley.
All are colour themed, right down to the hammock.
The bedding all matches and is clean and fresh.
She has pride in what she presents.
My son sets to work to make a chocolate mousse in the kitchen.

It is spacious, clean and has air-conditioning.
There are only 3 Cabanas and an end kitchen and external extra toilet and 
even an outside shower to wash off the beach sand.

I am pleased as my son has decided he needs to catch up on his times tables.
I regret not buying more of these books in USA.

If anyone would like to help.
I really need Year/Grade 3 books sent to me.
The learn / study / exercise / write practical kind.
We then can rip the pages out and lighten the load as the assignments are completed.
If anyone can assist, please do let me know.
I would be ever so grateful.

He has managed to catch up on his English.
And has completed last years level successfully.
However, studying and travelling is difficult.
It is impossible to follow a 'normal ciriculum'.
However, I find many other factors where he would be way ahead.
So I tend to be a bit light on it.
He doesn't get standard school holidays.
We take days off where it works.
He often studies on weekends - if that works.
Which day is it anyway?

Studying and learning should be fun.
So we head to the beach to explore and to see what we can turn into this.

We talk about direction, geography - where Fiji is from here.
Why the sand is mixed colours from the volcano etc.

then we start a scrabble learning game.
It has a twist.
It is in Spanish - well some letters are - e.g.: "LL"
So we count and repeat the scores in Spanish.
This is great and we have fun.
We both learn a lot!

Next day - it is beach time.
We head down at 8 am.
We collect wood and make a TeePee of sorts.
Suddenly I find people are using it as a beach marker.
The rest of the beach is deserted, and slowly we are gathering small groups.

Normally I hate to swim in the ocean.
It is always too cold.
But today this Pacific Ocean is so warm!
Sherlley in her kindness has dug out a "boogie board".
We head out to the ocean and I teach my son how to body surf.
It works well and well we forget time.

We head back to the Cabanas and change for dinner and a walk along the town beach.

As we pass locals I can't help but feel for this baby.
It has two tattoos on his centre chest.
The locals seem poor. They hang around in dirty conditions.
They don't do much.

We investigate quite a few cafes.
We soon find that the tourist prices are close to USA prices for food.
We have been told Jammies Pizza is good.
It is a bit pricey.
But the owners are Spanish and Italian.
They are so very helpful, we settle in for the night and have a great time.
I am so sunburnt - drat on that!

The next day we head out just after 7 am.
My son wants to body surf and boogie board again.
We decide to use the "Rancho" on the beach.
But before we have even got to the water, we are invaded by about 15 locals.
We are pushed to a corner.

My son is so upset about this.
He is yet to learn about personal space.
We head off for a beach walk.
There are very few shells - but we find a few.
We love the ripples of the sand.
There is also a whole section with thousands of worm wiggles.
As we head into the waves I nearly step on a Sting-ray.
That ends that!

We wander along to view other hostels.
This one is only passable through the river.
You get dropped at the end of the road and carry your luggage - over your head if need be.

Hammocks and coloured houses are everywhere.
I love Panama so far.
I just wish they would turn the music down.
It seems to be a song played in and out as they talk.
It really does give you a headache....
...and I love my music.

Pedro comes along and offers my son a horse-ride.
He has been out to buy vegetables.

This is fine until he walks over to a tree and proudly shows his privates
as he relieves himself.
I get  bit nervous and want to head for home.

He leads us to private beaches and to watch the sunset.
OK Pablo needs to get us back now - Giddy-up Pablo!

There is a cute restaurant right across the lane - well next door really.
We head there for dinner and find the prices a little more tame.

I am still feeling the effects of yesterday's sunburn.
We do have a great dinner.
Wine is $2 a glass if I recall.

We end the night talking to local workers who have moved from other countries.
This is a bit of a trend we find.
These is the smallest pool table ever.
It is also on ever such a lean.
We nearly clobber a lady in the head with a couple of shots.
It has been a great time - real quality time with my son.
He never got much of this when I was working.
So he is really enjoying it.
And he is getting better at pool too!

As it is the weekend, the only draw-back is the locals staying are many and are noisy.
Sherlley crashes out in a hammock out the front.
She has been a God-send.
She drives us back to town.
I help her clean up the cabanas.
Make or "dress beds" as they say.
I want to help as she has been so kind.

There is a fabulous local family next door.
My son gets along and speaks a few Spanish words with the 4 year old.
Technology knows no language barriers.
They spend the day playing.
My boy decides he wants him as a brother!
We wait as Sherlley takes in some campers.
She cleans like a trooper all day.
There seems to be locals coming and going she is always helping.
As she drives us back it starts to feel like Groundhog Day.
She gets a call and has to head back as the fuses have tripped.
She fixes that.
We stop for a toilet break.
We stop to pick up tow lots of hitch-hiker local families that get into the back of the truck.
Then we stop to help a broken down Landrover.
Sherlley is just a helper.  What a kind person she is!

As we head back into town it is 8 pm.
We will stay at her home again and head off early tomorrow.
We share dinner with a new friend.
A customer she has made friends with that has returned.
Why am I not surprised - it is her birthday and she chose Sherlley to share it with.

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