We are winding down our final week in Panama. Things have been busy but not always as productive as we’d like. The government agency tasked with managing the Covid vaccination program was supposed to send a follow up email with the next date and time for the second shot. We waited and waited but heard nothing. I tried calling but it was as hopeless as dealing with bureaucracy anywhere. Our card said the next shot was due on the third so we headed off for the hour and a half drive only to find the site shut down. We did manage to get the car serviced at the Hyundai dealer so the entire trip wasn’t in vain.
Chitre is a lively town. Kind of the Liberia for the Azuero peninsula. This is the zone where there are major stores and government offices to get things done. We passed the time walking the city and having some lunch at the buffet style panaderia in the center of town.
By the time the car was ready and we got in a few errands on the way home, it had turned into a full day out on the road. It was good to be home and lounging while watching the weekenders playing in the pool.
Unfortunately during the week, a young man drowned out in the bay after going for a swim after partying with his friends. It took four days for them to recover the body and boats and paddleboards were criss crossing Venao.
People come and go, families, hip kids and oldies like us. Spaniards, gringos, city slickers and euros. I am really going to miss this idyllic little stretch of sand. There had been a catamaran parked up out front for the past few days gently rocking with the tide. Venao rocks!
Monday, we braved the drive again and we’re rewarded with full vaccination by the powers that be in Panama. The lines from the highway into the fairgrounds was backed up quite a way with people trying to enter from both directions onto the narrow side street. It resembled getting out of a concert or a ball game. Just a matter of patience which a few of our fellow innoculees apparently lacked. A Panamanian Karen was going off on the poor guy guiding the cars in for allowing someone to get ahead of her. But finally we snaked our way through various stops and verification points and got our second shot.
One misconception I think people have is that the supposed “Panama Hat” seen on actors like Bogart is a representation of something people might wear in Panama. Such is not the case. That style of hat is actually from Ecuador. Here in Panama anybody wearing one is most likely a tourist. Real locals, especially cowboys, are going to be wearing a round straw hat with the brim bent up at the front. Those with a few additional Balboas in their pocket will definitely be sporting a pintao whose famous stripes of woven dark bands of dyed fibers are the primary feature, all hand made in Panama. So, don’t be fooled. I thought about picking up a pintao but the cheapest one I found was around $45 with others going as high as $300. Not the $5 Chinese “Panama hat” on every corner of the capital. The local cowboys either save up their allowance or know somebody on the inside to get the bro deal. Just my bit of trivia for the day.