So far it’s been an interesting study in contrasts between Peru and Panama. I don’t think we have been in Panama long enough to fairly compare it to a country that we lived in for six weeks but we just can’t help ourselves. I am feeling bad about this, like I am cheating on South America with Central America whom I just met (and is much prettier thanks to the sunshine, blue green ocean and lush greenery.) But, one area I know for sure where the Panmanians have the Peruvians beat is the way they drive and the condition of their roads.
Before we left New York Sean and I had decided that we would attempt the four hour drive from Panama City to Pedasi, hoping for the best but expecting the worst. Little did we know that we would also be driving in Peru and would test the best of our driving skills. We braced ourselves for another stressful drive. Monday morning we were in the car at 830a.m. heading out of Panama City. After a couple of wrong turns and one U turn (I blamed the Waze navigation app and Sean blamed me for not being able to read a map. Minor bickering ensued) we eventually found the Pan-American highway and cruised out of town. The roads were clear of litter, potholes, donkeys and people. The drivers were careful and courteous and the rules of the road were followed by nearly everyone. The traffic was manageable. Peruvians themselves complain at how horrible the drivers are in their country (though no one ever fesses up to being one those drivers themselves) so I don’t feel too bad for the comparison, I think most would agree there is some room for improvement in this area. Maybe the Peruvians are too busy making and eating delicious food to worry about driving. Just a theory. After one minor incident where part of the highway was closed due to students protesting we made it to Pedasi by the early afternoon. The drive was so beautiful. I’m not quite sure what to call the landscape here on the Azuero Peninsula but it reminds me a little bit of Ireland but with some Palm trees.
We stopped for sandwiches and Pizza at the local bakery which was conviently across the street from Pedasi Tours. Sean, Sofia and Oscar booked a half day of fishing for Oscar’s birthday. (Today Oscar turns nine. I am feeling like the worst mother in the world as the rest of my family are out on the boat while I am…gloriously…sitting alone listening to the waves crash. In my defense, there wasn’t room for me. Too bad! Hopefully they catch some fish for dinner tonight.)
After lunch we drove fifteen minutes out of town and down one very bumpy country road to get to our hotel, the Villa Romana. The hotel is set on a cliff above the Pacific overlooking several rocky beaches. The grounds are dense with vegetation and palm trees, so many that we can barely see the hotel property from our villa. Thanks to a low season discount we were able to rent the only stand alone house on the property, a two bedroom 2000 square foot villa. The house is huge and light and airy and more modern than our apartment in Lima. We can hear the waves and frogs and birds and insects buzzing. The beach is teaming with tiny hermit crabs and bigger red crabs that look like Mr. Crabs from SpongeBob. This place is alive! The smell of the air is almost indescribable: salty and earthy and sweet all at the same time. There are have been a couple of short rain showers and at dusk there are lots of tiny Mosquitos. But, it’s a small price to pay to be in an absolutely stunning and remote location.