Panama 2017: The Resort

For new readers, I stay at a high end resort four miles from the village. Minga would like me to stay with her. But her house has neither air conditioning nor screens nor window glass, and while I consider Zika/dengue/chikungunya a reasonable risk, that doesn’t extend to sleeping unprotected from mosquitoes overnight.  I also want a pool, and access to the ocean. After ten years, the villagers understand that some things have changed for me since the Peace Corps years, when I lived and ate and slept beside them.

You may wonder how they react to the fact that I now am a “rich American”. Remember that anyone who arrives in a rental car, has a credit card, has access through travel insurance to the private pay health care system, and who eats in a restaurant, is a rich American. We talk about it quite openly.  I explain to them that through an accident of birth, I was born in the United States where I had opportunities that were never available to them. I say I know they work hard, perhaps harder than I do. I know they want good things for their children, just as Jerry and I did. Upward mobility was possible for me in a way that it wasn’t for them in the 1960’s, and isn’t now. They nod and shrug their shoulders. Asi es la vida. This is the way of life.

For those of you who’ve come to the resort, there have been many changes. The large pool is now complemented by several smaller plunge pools, all with more shade than used to be available. The poolside restaurant that used to be shaded — badly — by umbrellas that kept destructing through the intense afternoon winds now has a thatched roof cover, although the eating area is still open air. The beach has more bohios that offer shade. Food is available right on the beach, although it can take forever to come.

The beach and pool area are still lovely and starkly underpopulated, even though this is high season.

There don’t seem to be the waves of small stinging jellyfish this year, so we’ve been in a lot. Why a ping from a tiny creature is more daunting than the thought of huge manta rayas, I can’t tell you. But it is.

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