A Travellerspoint blog

November 2010

Excitement on the Beach

Watching the net fishermen

sunny 84 °F

Monday, 11/29/10. I just had the most exciting experience. When I got to the beach this morning, I saw a boat out on the water. Then I saw a bunch of people on the beach pulling on a rope. My first thought was that the boat engine had died and the men were pulling it to shore. But as I got closer, I discovered that there was a large net in the water and they were pulling it in. I walked up closer so I could watch. It took them about 1/2 hour to get the net in and it was filled with all sorts of fish, sardines, puffer fish, a stingray, the largest angel fish I have ever seen and several jellyfish.



The stingray was beautiful. I could not find a picture of it on the internet but it was black and white striped. Very distinctive.

There was a gentleman there who spoke English and he was so excited to talk to me. He said he had lived in San Antonio and San Diego about 20 years ago.

Remember the Frigatebirds I talked about earlier? They were swirling overhead and the guy told me they did not eat the sardines, so they threw them up in the air and the Frigatebirds would grab them. He said these birds cannot land on the ground because their legs are too short to take off again. I asked him where they laid their eggs and he told me on the cliffs in the mountains. Of course, that made sense.

He explained that they would divide up the fish to take home to eat and some of the guys would take theirs to a restaurant and sell their portion. It didn't appear to me that this catch was enough to even divide up amongst all the fishermen, much less sell.

I have only once or twice seen another person on the beach in the whole month I have been here and on my last trip down there, I hit the jackpot. I only wish I had had my camera with me.

Posted by Jan Foster 09:48 Archived in Panama Comments (0)

Impressions of Sea Cliff, Panama

Thoughts on my month here

sunny 86 °F

Thursday, 11/25/10 – Sunday, 11/28/10. As I wrap up my month long stay in Sea Cliff, I want to pass on some of my impressions of this little area of Panama.

Sea Cliff is not a town, I doubt you would find it on any map. It is the name given to a beach. There are a lot of these here; Del Mar, Blanca Playa, etc. You turn off the PanAmerican Highway and within ½ a mile, you are on the Pacific Ocean Coast. It is a remote, mostly quiet (except for the occasional dog barking) little community of spread out houses. It reminds me of when I lived out in the country in St. Johns, Michigan. The closest neighbor there was ¼ mile away. The house I am in here is on a little grass covered path with three houses. It is called Calle Los Corrales. The road from the highway is not paved, but made up of hard packed sand and rocks.


It has rained here a lot. I am told that this is very unusual as November is typically dry. I’m not sure I believe them. It doesn’t matter; it has rained a good 60% of the time. I go nowhere but down to the beach without my umbrella. Several times I have started walking down the road toward the highway on a clear and sunny day, only to have a cloud suddenly move in and it start pouring. Most of the time, it rains for maybe ½ hour, and then is overcast the rest of the day. But a couple times, it has rained for days. However, it has been sunny enough for me to do my laundry by hand and hang it out on the line to dry, for which I have much gratitude.

I have loved communing with nature. Here there are beautiful flowers and so many varieties of birds I can’t begin to name them all, a lovely white sand beach, and nice, clean, attractively landscaped houses and friendly people. Even my walk to the beach or to the highway has been an experience in appreciation of nature’s bounty.


The bus rides into Coronado or Bejuco have also been a “trip” - literally. The buses are in good condition and clean. Most of the time, the bus driver was good, but once in a while, I got a crazy one who weaved all over the road and slammed to a stop. There was the occasional one who liked to beep his horn. However, frequently, they liked to blast fast paced Latin music over the speakers.

That’s my next point. Panamanians love noise. Music on the bus and in the streets, TV’s everywhere such as in the grocery stores, restaurants and in the food court at the mall. And loud! It’s like they are all slightly deaf and must have the volume up full blast in order to enjoy it. The only noise I generated was at night when I watched American TV on my computer - that is when the intermittant internet service was working.

As I have mentioned before; I specifically picked this secluded location to stay at so that I could do some inner reflection. It worked. I feel very spiritual and content. Now I’m ready for some action.

I head off for Panama City on Tuesday and then for an overnighter in San Jose, Costa Rica on Wednesday.

As I enter the last stages of my journey, I would like to thank my readership which numbers 100-200 at any given time. I hope my blogs have been interesting to you and that you stick with me as I complete my Latin American journey in Belize.
As much as I am looking forward to Belize, I also am getting excited about spending Christmas at my cousin’s place in the mountains of Los Gatos, California, USA.

Posted by Jan Foster 06:29 Archived in Panama Comments (2)

Panama Birds

On the Ocean Side

sunny 83 °F

Wednesday, 11/24/10-Thursday, 11/25/10. Happy Thanksgiving to all my North American friends and family. I hope you all have a fulfilling and grateful holiday. Eat some white meat for me, ok?

As promised, this posting is for the birds. Panama is home to many bird species. They are varied and some are quite colorful. The Pacific side of Pamana of course, has many types of coastal birds and watching them is one of my greatest pleasures when I hit the beach.

I would like to start with a photo of my friends, the Bananaquits. These are the fellows who periodically come to tap on my windows and roof. Well, pound is more like it. I think their beaks must be made of steel, because they will poke at my house for hours (usually when I am trying to take a nap). These are the birds that were mentioned in an earlier post:

The bird below is called a Frigatebird. They fly along the coast in gliding lazy circles, moving slowly along the treeline. They can stay up in the air for weeks, rarely landing (maybe just to eat). Watching them gracefully hover overhead is very tranquil:

This little feller is a Willet. He looks like he's playing when he runs up and down the coastline, running up just ahead of the waves and down toward the water when the wave recedes. But he's really working at grabbing the insects that the sea washes ashore. Up and down, up and down - it's mesmerizing:

There are lots of birds that look similar to the ones in North America that run around in my yard too. And another bird I have seen many times are huge vultures. These are the size of turkeys and scary looking but they serve a very special purpose and that is to clean up dead animals.

There are many websites that list the Birds of Panama if you are interested in learning more about them.

Posted by Jan Foster 08:58 Archived in Panama Comments (1)

Panama Flora

As seen on the Pacific Side

storm 85 °F

Saturday, 11/20/10-Monday, 11/22/10. I have been asked several times what plants and animals are here in Panama. Well, Panama in general is a very diverse country when it comes to those things. So, all I can tell you is what I've seen in the area of the Pacific Ocean side. Today I would like to tell you about the flowers, plants and trees. The Panamanians love their flowers and since it rains a lot here and the climate is tropical, they grow in abundance. One very common plant is the bougainvilleas.

You see them in pots:

Growing thru walls:

and used as hedges:

Other flowering plants are used as hedges also:

Some flowers grow right on the beach:

Trees grow in abundance here and they get very tall. Here is a picture of an avocado tree in my backyard:

I don't know what this one is, but these trees grow to well over 100 feet:

And naturally, palm trees are abundant:

There are no jungles here, but the rain forest that comes right up to the beach:

Next entry is for the birds!

Posted by Jan Foster 09:10 Archived in Panama Comments (0)

Lessons I have Learned

Passing them on

rain 80 °F

Tuesday, 11/16/10 – Wednesday, November 17, 2010. I have discovered so much on this trip that I wanted to share five lessons I have learned so that when you go on your overseas or out of country trip, you might want to take advantage of this knowledge:

1. Plan ahead. Now it goes without saying that you must decide where you are going to go, how you are going to get there, and where you are going to stay. What I am talking about here are the day to day details of living in another country. Like, check the weather before you go into town. I failed to do this today. I started out on a bright and sunny day and before I was halfway to the bus stop, it had started raining. Of course, I had my umbrella so it wasn’t a bad trek but if I had known it was going to rain, I would have waited for another day. Another thing I did was not burn the trash last night. I should have because now I have to wait until it stops raining. In addition, I have one towel and I decided to wash it this morning, so of course it is hanging limp and wet on the clothesline. Guess I’ll have to wait another day for a shower too!
2. Be flexible. One day I went to the Mailbox, ETC. store in town and it was closed for a holiday. So, instead of getting upset, I waited until the next day and called with my question. Another example; today when I was shopping, there was no ground beef in the meat section. I think most Latin Americans go to the butcher counter and get it there. So that’s what I did even though it was different than my norm. Finally, I had found a good website to download my TV programs. The only thing bad about it is that it takes forever to download one show and the waiting was making me crazy. On a whim, I decided to check out the network sites. Did you know that you can watch pretty much all of the popular shows online and streaming so that you don’t have to download?
3. Be disciplined. Now I must say that I am not good about this. Sometimes, especially with the language barrier, it gets frustrating. But just keep your cool and don’t act like the “Ugly American.” These people are already jealous of us because they think we are all rich and probably in comparison, we are. Sometimes they will act like they don’t understand what you are saying. Like today I stopped at McDonald’s to have a sundae. At the counter, I said, “Chocolate Sundae, por favor.” I think she was trying to tell me they didn’t have them. So I asked her what did they have and the second one she named was chocolate. Now, I think she understood me the first time and was just messing with me. But I have learned that a smile goes a long way.
4. Be teachable. This is muy importante! The way I figure it, these Latin Americans have a lot to teach me and I need to remember that. Whatever I am doing or wherever I am going, I do so with an open mind. Everything is different so leave your expectations at home because they aren’t going to be met. For example, I hate the phone I bought here for emergencies. All the instructions are in Spanish and since I can’t remember my number, I put it in my contacts. Well guess what? When I went to access it today, the number wasn’t there. But, I let a local give me a lesson on how to use my phone. Simple, everyday stuff can make you crazy if you aren’t willing to learn to do it the way the locals do. One thing I haven’t learned is not to overshop. Dang, it’s like I have to put that one more thing in my basket then I end up suffering on the walk home carrying too-heavy bags.
5. Enjoy! You go on trips to have a good time, right? So enjoy yourself and go with the flow. I have had some pretty bad accommodations on this trip because I have a budget I have to stick with. Did I let that spoil my venture? No! I spend most of my time outside my room anyway. Even the lovely house I am in now has its shortcomings. There is no hot water for showers, there is no washer for laundry, the dogs next door sometimes get into a barking jag and I am a looong way from the grocery store (or any kind of store for that matter.) But, I look at it as an adventure I will never have again and enjoy the days as they come. Remember, wherever you are, there you are. In other words, the place doesn’t determine if you have a good time, you do.

Well, I hope you benefitted from my little message today. It helps me to remember these things when I put them down on paper too. Until next time, hasta luego!

Posted by Jan Foster 12:04 Archived in Panama Comments (1)

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