Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Walk Back In Time...... To Noriega's Forgotten Beach House

Our day yesterday took us from the Pacific Coast beaches of Farallon though the majestic mountains of Santa Fe, Panama. Just down the highway from our area lies several of well-known pricey resorts that cater to the tourist looking for an all inclusive Panama experience. 

Nearby the famous resorts sits the remains of what used to be the weekend getaway for former Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega.  After driving by the compound and asking a few locals for directions, we managed to find what was once a majestic beach-front dwelling.

Side View Into House
These Are The Stairs We Climbed To The
Second And Third Floor. They Didn't Look Safe, But We Made It Up
 Clyde Went First On All Fours, So I Followed

Made It Up But Going Down Was Even Scarier......
Clyde Went Backwards But I Sat Down And Scooted Down Step By Step

 These Were A Breeze Compared To The Other Stairs
Pole Dancing? 

Beach View From House

Notice The Three Levels Of The House

Another View

A Skylight Perhaps?
Waiting For A Drink At The Rooftop Bar?

Balcony Overlooking The Pacific Ocean
Another View Of Rooftop Deck
 And Another

An Island In The Distance With A Cross On It

Local Artist's Rendering Of Noriega. 
Perhaps He Was Commissioned To Do This Piece?
This Place Went On And On.....Even More Dwellings
Across The Road, Perhaps For The Help?

As we entered the eerie old place we had to climb over rocks, rubble and trash.  Our minds wandered as we imagined what life used to be like in Panama under the rule of the ruthless dictator. Surely it wouldn't be a place for foreigners like us to spend our retirement years, so we're thankful that he's safely tucked away in prison.  We bravely climbed up the rickety steps on all fours, and even made our way to the third-level, outdoor entertainment area for a view of the ocean.

It was eerie walking through this house wich once housed the notorious dictator who was later brought down by the United States.  During his reign, it was reported that many soldiers and civilians were put to death in this very dwelling and it's picturesque grounds.  Although we were walking among concrete ruins, we could still feel the awe of standing in the middle of what was once the upper end of luxury.

The Yard

And More Of The Outside

Notice The Barbed Wire On Top Of Wall

A Tour Bus Sat Empty In Driveway, But We Saw No Tourists
Maybe They Were On The Beach?

Across The Road More Houses And A Watertank

Just down the road from the Noriega home and fancy resorts is the "real life" Panamanian village of Farallon.  Dotted with small, brightly colored cement block homes with hammocks swaying in the tropical breeze, this showed what life here is really all about.  We noticed a few brave tourists that left the comfort of the resorts to experience the small town life.  With it's stores, churches, restaurants and other simplicities the town also featured several shops that sold touristy items as a means of support.

An Internet Café/Real Estate Office in Farallon, Panama
Hammocks And Other Touristy Items For Sale

Local Home

Massive Windmills Along The Highway
These Suckers Are HUGE!

After exploring the beach area we headed up into the mountains of Santa Fe. Located in the Veraguas mountain range, the temperature dropped about 10 degrees as we made our way up into the clouds.  Surrounded by national parks, streams, rivers and hiking trails it appeared to be a natures lovers paradise. But even in the dry season rain comes in the mountains and it poured hard as we stopped for a cup of mountain grown coffee at a local restaurant. But since it was already late in the day and our trip was not at all planned, we decided to head back home.  Although it would have been great to spend the night, I didn't even have my purse with me which meant that I had no contact lens supplies to take care of my eye care needs.

Mountains Of Santa Fe

And More Views

But we did snap some photos along the way and managed to borrow others from other online sources for your viewing pleasure.  Enjoy them if you will and come with us on a walk through time......along the gringo trail.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Golf Course In The Mountains.......Who Knew?

Last weekend we spent a day hiking in the mountains of Altos del Maria with friends who live nearby.  Altos del Maria is a gated community that covers over 7000 miles of land that's scenic enough to be something found in a national park.  The terrain climbs well over 3000 feet above sea level as the lush landscape changes to cloud forest with spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean.  With hundreds of miles of hiking trails, waterfalls, rivers, lakes, observation decks, parks and even a mini-golf course, there's always more to be found. 

Friends Paul & Nancy Pose Near A Waterfall
Views and More

A Scenic Bridge Over A River

A Creek
Lovely Flowers
A Mountain Lake

The mountains of Panama are way to chilly for our comfort but still a nice getaway for a day of hiking to discover new horizons. Las Nubes Adventure Park is aptly named for the clouds that surround it yet seemed to be abandoned some years ago.  Situated near the famous "castle" weekend home of the Melo family, perhaps the mini golf once entertained their family before it was let go? Unfortunately for us the clouds rolled in once we reached the top making it nearby impossible to view the famous castle.  We could make out a bit of the outline ensuring us that there is indeed a castle there, yet it wasn't visible for us to enjoy.

Yep, It's For Real.....Or Once Was?

We're All Shocked.....Mini Golf In The Mountains!

And More Golf In The Background.....Nancy and I Stop To Play

Strange Fuzzy Flowers

The well-to-do Melo family are known throughout Panama.  They made much of their fortune through poultry farming and since Panamanians eat a whole lot of chicken, there's a huge need for it here. The family owns other businesses throughout the country some of which bear the family name and cater to the needs of animals.

A Swimming Hole?

Waterfalls Everywhere......

Just a note worth mentioning is that Altos del Maria IS a private, gated community that restricts access to the public, unless they have a reason for entering. But since our friends know many of the residents we gained legal access into the development with their help.

I think it's best to just let the photos speak for themselves of our day out cloud-tripping through the mountains.....along the gringo trail.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Little Hug For His Hose........

Summertime in Panama is also known as the brown season since it's the time of year when all the grass, plants, shrubs, and trees dry up from the lack of rain. The four month dry season usually runs from December through April with little to no measurable rainfall to be seen.  Clyde enjoys this time of year since the need to mow the grass ceases, as the green plush landscape changes to hues of brownish yellow.  On the other hand what also dies are the decorative plants around the house along with anything else that we planted.  Since neither of us is good at remembering to water the plants and shrubs, this year Clyde decided to put in a drip irrigation system.  By burying a system of pipes attached to a timer, the plants can receive water each day for a set amount of time keeping them alive until the rains begin again.

So my industrious hubby has been shopping for all of the necessary parts both locally and in Panama City.  In nearby Coronado there is only one normal type of "gringo" store that sells hardware.  It's a store called Novey that displays hardware products on the shelves just like a store would back in the states. They have hoards of helpers standing around ready to pounce on customers to assist them in finding items. But when Novey doesn't have what he needs, Clyde is forced to visit a "chino" hardware store where everything is behind the counter, similar to a pharmacy here.  In this case Clyde must ask the clerk behind the counter for whatever it is he needs in Spanish.  Sometimes that's harder than it sounds when it's something he really doesn't know a name for in English.

A Hose Clamp, This Is What He Needed

Yesterday Clyde was out looking for a hose clamp but Novey was out of them.  He went to another small hardware store and attempted to ask the clerk for the item.  Although he does pretty good with Spanish he was having difficulty explaining what it was that he needed.  He explained that he had a "tubo" a tube (pipe) with a "manguera" or hose over it and needed something to go over that. A clamp is what he needed in English but didn't know the word in Spanish.  Finally the girl figured out what he was asking for and grabbed a box with one in it.  He read the word "abrazadera" on the box which means "clamp."  The next day he realized he needed another one and went back to the same store.  The clever clerk asked him in Spanish if he remembered how to say the word. Clyde admittedly said, "no he didn't remember."  The girl jokingly gave him a hard time telling him in Spanish that she could not write up the ticket and sell him the item, until he could say the word. Eventually she used her arms to simulate a hug "abrazos" in Spanish and reminded him that the word is "abrazadera."  I guess we could say that a "hose clamp" is nothing more than a hug for a hose, and a word that will never again be forgotten.......along the gringo trail.

A Pre Carnival Tent Set Up Alongside The Highway Selling Cases Of Beer

Haircut Anyone?  A Barber Shop In La Chorrera

Extra Police On Patrol......Is He Real? 
It's A Cardboard Standup Placed Along The Highway