The Panamanians are not great about going into the ocean. Most of them don’t swim, and there are various drop-offs as you enter the water — not dangerous, but alarming if you feel yourself going from waist-deep to chest-deep water in one fell swoop. And, to be fair, Gloria’s twenty-something nephew drowned up the beach from the hotel when he stepped into a drop off, got in over his head, and panicked. By the time his friends got him out, he was dead.
They also know tales of fishermen who have fallen overboard, then washed up several days later with bloated bodies and their noses and ears and lips and eyes eaten away. They firmly believe that just below the surface of the water lurk fearsome creatures.
They don’t think of an “ocean swim” the same way we do.
BUT… Gloria has made great progress. At Pippa’s, she joined everyone in the water.