The two relatively quick flights took me from St. Louis to Miami then Lisa and me to see our friend Julie in Panama City, Panama last week. Once we touched down, the warmth touched my skin, the sunshine filled my heart, and the FUN and girlfriend-time filled my soul.
I haven’t seen these girlfriends in a long while. We met when we lived in Abu Dhabi and our kids attended the American Community School. We have so much in common: we’re all from Texas, we love movies, champagne, to have FUN, and being together. So, of course, this week was destined to be great. And as I sit here, back in my apartment in St. Louis, on this 34ºF day, I reflect on the past week and share.
Panama is a lovely place; a country on the isthmus linking Central and South America. I’ve seen both of the two seasons there: the rainy and the dry. I prefer the dry season. My Spanish was rusty, but returned when speaking to the locals, albeit briefly.
After stopping by El Rey supermarket to stock up on food, drinks, and necessities for the week, we made our way to the beach house. We settled in and set our “relaxing mode” to ON.
Throughout the week, we ate fresh red snapper, prepared* as ceviche and fillets, amazing grilled steak fillets, Hebrew National hot dogs, and wonderfully marinated chicken. We drank pineapple drinks, freshly picked coconut water, and fresh squeezed orange juice. We ate passionfruit, papaya, and plantains. Everything tasted so fresh, pure and delicious. *Bernie and Julie were our chefs, creating delicious and magical meals out of everything in the fridge and introducing us to Panamanian delicacies.
One day we toured the city of El Valle: we walked up and down the aisles of the Mercado municipal, walked inside a beautiful old church that celebrated the Pope’s visit there one week prior, and ate at a pizza place that cooked the pizza in a wood-burning stove al fresco. No, I didn’t eat the pizza; I ate salad.
Every day, morning and late afternoon, we walked the gravel road to the beach to swim, walk along the water, and sit in the tide pools. One day I took a boogie board (my NDB) and paddled out into the waves. After checking the tide chart, we determined those outings.
To further my love and faith in the power of Facebook, one afternoon we met up with my friend Yoli, whom I met in 2008, and have kept in touch with over the keyboard, for a Panamá style Happy Hour: champagne and canapés outside under the canopy of a guava tree.
On our final day, Lisa and I toured the Miraflores Locks Museum of the Panamá Canal. The Panamá Canal, a famous feat of human engineering, cuts through its center, linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans to create an essential shipping route. Reading the placards and watching the IMAX movie, we learned all about the building of the Canal and the ecosystem it encompasses. Truly a fascinating marvel of ingenuity and vision. We even saw several cargo, party and cruise ships go through the locks right in front of our eyes!
My overall impressions of this place: relaxed, innovative, welcoming, and historic. I recommend this destination.
Until we meet again, Julie, Bernie and Lisa, ádios.
Bring it on! It’s cold, windy, and snowy here in St. Charles, MO. So tomorrow I’m heading south to sunny (79ºF) Panama! So long polar vortex.
I look forward to the gentle tide in the morning, and playful waves in the afternoon. Between the gravel path and salt water, I will enjoy seeing green trees and tropical flowers. The delightful pool, hammock, yummies, friends, and the bohio will fill up my heart, soul, and belly.
Invited for some ‘fun in the sun’ by my high school & college friend, Julie and her terrific hubby Bernie, I gratefully accepted. What’s a girl to do, say ‘no’ to this wondrous, generous invitation? Uh, not this chickie! So I will (responsibly) soak up some sun and warmth and deep, meaningful chats with soul-sisters while snowflakes blow and the winds howl in St. Charles. A girl’s got to find her own fun, right?
So, I need a ‘time out’. I’m clicking my red flip-flops together three times and saying aloud, “There’s no place like the beach. There’s no place like the beach. There’s no place like the beach. “
The first big project I wrote about in the last blog post-http://www.alohadenise.com/2019/01/31/camino-2020/ states I am walking/hiking/trekking the historic Camino de Santiago with my friend Allison, whom I played soccer with when I was in 7th grade. Since high school graduation, we explored different life paths and reunited a few years ago. Thanks to social media, I follow her adventures and jumped into one of her posts about this trip. She invited me and I gratefully accepted. Our journey will begin in April of 2020, and we’ll cover 500 miles in 40 days, so I am prepping for a little over a year. From the moment I said, “YES!”, my prep began. Now I’m living into that future, that experience, that life event.
My second big project will come to fruition this year: In March of 2019, I will travel to Tampa, Florida where I will study, learn, practice, and achieve the certification of Master Scuba Diver through PADI. Since my books are in the mail, my studies begin soon, so my prep as begun.
My dad, a PADI and NAUI instructor, taught me how to scuba dive when I was eight years old and the word SCUBA was an acronym for self-contained underwater breathing apparatus. This sport has progressed exponentially. My Mark (my HH) and I have been dive buddies since 1978, and our daughters are certified Rescue Divers.
Here’s what PADI describes as Master Scuba Diver: Join the best of the best in recreational scuba diving and live the dive life as a PADI Master Scuba Diver. The Master Scuba Diver rating places you in an elite group of respected divers who have earned this rating through both significant experience and scuba training. Fewer than two percent of divers ever achieve this rating. When you flash your Master Scuba Diver card, people know that you’ve spent time underwater in a variety of environments and had your share of dive adventures. The path starts with earning a PADI Open Water Diver certification, followed by PADI Advanced Open Water Diver and PADI Rescue Diver (or qualifying certifications). You also need to earn five PADI Specialty Diver Certificationsand have logged a minimum of 50 dives.
I will pursue these five (5) specialties: dry suit, wreck diving, drift diving, fish ID, and propulsion vehicle. This experience will include some NDBs and some “never thought of before”s.
I look forward to my newest adventurous projects with gratitude and delectation. I enjoy challenging my body and learning new skills.
My resolutions continue to drive me forward. My new mantra is don’t just dream it, do it. As I always say as I enter the water at a dive site, “Happy Bubbles!”