After spending four wonderful days in Boquete, the end of our trip was fast approaching. We had set up an appointment with E again to look at some properties in Las Barqueta, which is a beachfront community about 25 minutes from David – meeting point ….. “McDonalds”. Yes, we ate at McDonald’s while in Panama :). E showed us the development of Las Olas Barqueta, which has a beautiful club house and pool and some beach houses for sale. This is a huge beachfront development with many beach front lots for sale to build your dream home. The stretch of beach in this area is about 13 km long and is the grey/black sand as opposed to the brown sand, so it can get very HOT on the feet – so hot that you have to wear shoes when the sun is beating down and the waves are not coming in to cool it off. The riptides in this area can also be quite dangerous so we decided that this just wasn’t the area for us.
So back to Las Lajas we went! We decided to take a second look at a beach house in this area…. the first time we were not able to see the inside … so an appointment was made with the owner to view the interior. After being back in Las Lajas a second time, it immediately felt like home to us.. The drive to Las Lajas is a beautiful scenic ride with an excellent road right up to the main beach (a little tricky getting to the house though as it was nothing more than a goat path – a road D and I would never have taken if it weren’t for E and C – lol). We drove to E and C’s home and walked the beach from their to see the house again. What a beautiful walk and beach – things were feeling good. We met the owner at the house and spent a good amount of time viewing the ins and outs of the home – and yes – we were smitten! D and I are the types of people who never make a decision on the fly and we need to think everything out very carefully before we make any decision and now had a decision to made – to buy or not to buy? and our time in Panama was fast running out as we were going to be on a plane in two days back to Canada.
We decided to walk back down the beach with E and C and eat a local little restaurant about a five minute walk away. We had a wonderful lunch prepared by a German lady who moved to Panama and was now running a local bistro/bar on the beach. D and I shared a hot spicy noodle dish and E and C shared a salad, whilst D and E each had 2 beer, C had a smoothie and I had a two coke and a bottled water – all for the grand total of $21.00! This would be the cost for just one person back home. We spent a nice rest of the afternoon again with E and C, discussing all the properties and our options. They were a wealth of information on the ins and outs of making the move to Panama and I couldn’t thank them enough for sharing and answering a lot of personal questions ….. we were technically strangers after all ….!
It was now time to say good-bye to E and C (for now) and make our way back to Panama City. We decided to spend a night in Santiago to break up the 6 hour drive and stayed at Mykonos. This is a fairly new resort-type hotel right off the Pan American highway where we had a nice dip in the pool and rested up for our drive the next day.
After checking out the next morning, we were in search of car wash in Santiago so we could give the rental car a cleaning before returning. This was one of the stipulations of our rental agreement. I am not sure if this is common practice with all car rental companies, but ours did have a fair amount of dirt on it and we felt it was justified. I had spotted a “Lava Auto” sign a short distance away the night before so we decided to check it out. Now car wash bays in Panama are not like they are in North America. Here they have Panamanians working in a covered car lot type of area with hoses and buckets where they wash vehicles by hand. We pulled in and asked “how much?”. The total cost was $15.00 for a complete detailing of the vehicle inside and out which would take about an hour. Due to the time restriction we had, we decided to go for the $5.00 quick wash. It took about 20 minutes and what a job he did. He thoroughly washed the exterior of the vehicle, even shining up the rims and tires as well as car mats, along with an interior vacuum and wiping of the dash board and interior. It was $5.00 well spent.
Now it was off to Panama City. D was very nervous about driving in Panama City and trying to get the rental vehicle back to the rental shop in one piece. We decided to call up Benny, the cab driver who escorted us out of the city when we picked up our vehicle to meet us and escort us back, then take us to our hotel room. A landmark area was set up. After crossing the bridge we were supposed to take the first right exit where there was a PUMA gas station and he would be there waiting for us. Sounds easy right? NOT! Once we exited there was no PUMA gas station to be seen. Uh oh – now what? Thank goodness for the Panamanian phone. I quickly called up Benny only to realize that we had taken the wrong bridge. Benny spent some time trying to explain to me how to get to the PUMA station to meet him but in the end we ended up at the Miraflores locks and he was kind enough to tell us to stay put and he would come find us ….. Thanks Benny 🙂
By this time it was about 3:00 PM in Panama – rush hour in Panama City – a situation we were so hoping to avoid! I know it would seem easy to just follow the cab in front of you to your destination – but not so in Panama City! Like I mentioned in an earlier blog, driving in PC, especially during rush hour, is NOT a treat. So after a white knuckle drive through downtown Panama we finally arrived at the car rental, with us and the vehicle still intact! What a blessing.
We decided to spoil ourselves and stay at the Trump Tower for our last night in Panama. When we searched on line to make our booking it came in at $149.00. $149.00 for a night in the Trump Tower?? Are you kidding?? You can’t even stay at the local budget places in Canada for that price? So book it we did… and we were not disappointed! We were on the 33rd floor overlooking the ocean with our own balcony and the room was something out of the movies. After a harrowing day of driving we decided to just get settled in to our room and rather than go check one of the many restaurant choices they had to offer, opted to just order in room service and relax for the night for tomorrow it was time to go home and start thinking and planning for our next trip to Panama.
Which brings me to today. We are now booked to fly back to Panama from December 7-21. We are planning on moving there next spring after all so need to find a place to stay. We have not discounted the beach home in Las Lajas yet, and since our last communication with E and C it is still for sale. D and I just feel that there are still many areas of Panama that we want to explore before making a final decision and one of those areas is Bocas Del Toro which we will be visiting on our return trip. In the end, when we finish our 2nd exploration tour of Panama and if we decide Las Lajas is the place for us and the house is still available, then it was meant to be. Wish us luck and let’s all keep our fingers crossed!