For every sky-rise resort soaring into the clouds, there is a hovel tucked beneath that offers the real face of a country at a skinny fraction of the cost. I am at the beach in Panama, in a cheap hovel, listening to the reggae-tone music blare over a little community on Saturday-party-night. I am feeling fine. I smile for the sake of my four walls and corrugated sheet metal roof. $6 gets me on to the next day well rested and smiling.
The tourist towers and sterile bars of the wealthy could not touch the character of this poor little town that lays only one beach away. This is a good town. But it was a hike to get to.
I hopped the bus out of Panama City on the Ave. Espana route to the Albrook station. From here I boarded a bus to Playa Gordondo for $2. I rode this bus for around an hour and a half until the driver told me to get out. I guess I was at the place I wanted to be at, although it appeared to just be a bus stop on the side of the highway. But some of the other riders on the bus pointed out the way to the beach. After provisioning up with foodstuffs, I asked the Chinese clerk how far the beach was. She told me it was nearby so I began hiking in the midday sun. I hiked on and on. I cleared at least five miles before I began wondering where the beach was. Tried following a sign for a hostel off of the main road but it came to no end. Went back to the main road and carried on. Found the beach. I was very hot in my black jeans, boots, long sleeve shirt and vest. Needed some shade, found some. Drank a beer and looked out over the sea as my body cooled. Mountains broke into the sky out in the distance, the sea broke upon the earth. I breathed deep and smiled. This place is beautiful. Families played in the ocean, and couples caressed on the shore. I ate an orange and dug on the scene that played out before me.
I like Panama. The people are in the streets, everyone is laughing, and a greeting is exchanged each time someone passes in the streets. This place has depth. Panama is for real. The palm trees sway, the sky is warm, and little dark colored kids run around with big mad smiles on their faces and bodies covered with beach sand.
The beach is made up of volcanic black sand and the waves smoothly come in and out through the long, long day. The sun really shines here. And the people smile. I like Panama. This is a country to return to. Nay, this is a country to walk across.
I cannot say anything better about any land.
Walking down the beach watching the setting sun.