Current location: Room at the Hotel Piamonte, Las Tablas, Panama
Price of beer in a bar: US$0.60 for 12 ounces of cold domestic brew
Song currently stuck in my head: Kompod (Mouse on Mars)
I’m back in Panama and we’re dipping our toes into the waters of a few towns out on the major pacific pennisula; namely Chitre, Las Tablas and Pedasi. Panama appears to have free municipal wifi; I’ve seen the network in Chitre and am connected to it here in Las Tablas right now. It sounds familiar, I’m pretty sure I read about it’s planned deployment years ago. It sure hates The Pirate Bay, though, and is real hit or miss during this downpour. Protip: wifi hates water, so anything with a lot of water in it (leaves, for example, or, in this case, sheets of water falling from the sky) tends to kill your signal.
We know we want to check out one town in this region, we’re just not sure which. Chitre is the regional capital (with 40k people it’s about 1/3 or 1/4 the size of Esteli, our only other rural home on this trip) with a mall so modern it’s not finished yet and a 4 screen cinema. Las Tablas is a smaller dot along the highway, though certainly a city and with some supposedly impressive beaches nearby. Pedasi is an up and coming expat enclave, but neither of us has seen it yet so the less said the better.
While the girlfriend was trying on pants yesterday I went in search of a cup of coffee, as the local stuff is good, and found a friendly expat managing the cafe. Joe, who’s been in town for a few months and in the country for a few years, proved to be a wealth of easy going information about the area and it’s costs, people and rental markets. That’s lucky for us, because we were hoping to make contact with “Miami Mike”, an assumedly American hostel proprietor in Chitre, but his whole place was rented out for a few months by some private group, the best we could tell, and Mike was nowhere around.
The girlfriend is a little confused at the higher standard of living here in Panama. Though Chitre is much, much smaller than Esteli, there are considerably more goods available. Every hotel room we’ve rented has AC; that’s not my preference (I woke last night to find the girlfriend under a sheet and three layers of blanket, AC a blowin’) but we haven’t been offered the option of just using a fan. This room has screens on *all* of the windows and, get this, they’re *intact*. I haven’t seen that in a while. Hell, as I mentioned, there’s no-cost public wifi.
A number of weeks back, these people came through and stayed at our guesthouse. They all seem to be German (I can’t rule out an Austrian being in the mix, or a German speaking Swiss), which means they have great gear (everyone has matching shoes, toughbooks, tech polos, and the new pickup trucks that they’re promoting). Much of this is from sponsors and specific to their gig, but in general I’ve noticed the German travelers have the best stuff.
Also, everyone say Happy Birthday to The Girlfriend.