After an exhausting but successful tech week, the majority of our group decided to take advantage of our first free night and head to the beach. Based on the recommendations of other volunteers, we chose Las Lajas, a small beach town on the Pacific Coast in the Province of Chiriqi.
Since we had some issues getting in touch with the hostels/cabins ahead of time, we decided to head straight to the beach and walk until we found a clean, cheap room. After a week in the Comarca, pretty much anything would have been a step up in living conditions, so we weren’t too concerned.
After a few minutes of walking along the water we ran into some local boys who referred us to a string of cabins a few minutes farther down the beach. Sure enough, a gringa woman was relaxing in a hammock outside a small blue cottage, so I decided to ask her (in Spanish) if there were vacancies. When she responded by asking if I could speak in English, I figured we had hit the jackpot as hardly anyone speaks English outside of Panama City… However we soon learned that the woman identified herself as being a “child of the world with no one home,” preferred to go by her spiritual name, was disgusted in the fact that we ate non-organic foods and drank beer, and generally looked down on us in every possible way. On our last morning, she even accused us of running around naked all night! Seeing as though we were in bed (fully clothed) by 10 pm, I’m still not sure where she got that idea.
Other than our interesting neighbor, the cabins turned out to be a great find at $10/person. And they even had running water! Though there were some cheap local restaurants that served a typical Panamanian meal for $4, there was also an American hotel and restaurant that offered free wifi and delicious American food. Blueberry waffles, cheeseburgers, brownie sundaes, oh, the food!
One of my favorite parts of my new job is the ability to travel and explore Panama, and Las Lajas was certainly a great beginning. Now to make my way through the rest of the country…