Monday, 12 January 2009

Café con Leche

Back on my own again — they call me the lone wolf, the dark raven, the bringer of light, the wizard’s cup, the crab botherer…. Oh yes, the open road beckons and the sea whispers (one of) my name(s).

Two features consistently epitomise my various global wanderings. Coffee is the first. At home I don’t really do any caffeine so hot drinks tend to be pond-water derivatives. Yet once I leave the motherland’s shores letting my hair down and drinking coffee must act as some kind of emblem of freedom for me. I’ll only have one or two cups a day, mind. The second is The Age Game. I meet a lot of folk and they tend to be younger than me, typically early to late twenties. The meeting banter tends to take the following course at some point: What do you do? > How long have you done that for? > [a puzzled look crosses their faces] > Errr, so how old are you ? > What! > I thought you were in your late 20’s, 30 at most! > {I try to suppress a smug smile}. My decaying ego’s fire is fuelled once again and my account for eternal youth is put down to over two decades of hard slog at the coal-face of disco…. That or good genes. My sprightly 75 year old paragliding father is testament to that.

The car hire place at David airport cocked up once again, but this time in my favour. I got a top-end 4x4 for the price of the cheapest one they did and felt like the king of the road as I headed down the InterAmericana (Panama’s primary road and the one with the least potholes) looking for thrills and danger. A quick nose at Playa Las Lajas was disappointing so I hoofed it back down to Santa Catalina to catch the end of the swell. I surfed the point and the beach break at Estero until the swell had pretty much said farewell at which point I saddled up and headed for Los Santos province to 4 hours to the east. This state has been almost completely deforested yet the infinitely undulating verdant landscape is spectacular. I arrived at Playa Venao an hour before sundown and leapt into the sea for a surf before dark in this wide crescent shaped bay. It’s a really great beach-break with plenty of room and a range of peaks to choose from and the surfers I met over the following couple of days told me it holds size when the swell’s right and yet it’s almost completely undeveloped… thus far. There is so much surf potential in this region with beaches facing from due east to south west with points and reefs dissecting them and there’s even talk of an outer reef with 100ft monster waves for the foolhardy. Yet despite this there’s not much surf development, perhaps because the U.S. grey dollar invaded the area a while ago pushing land prices up. I really like it in this province yet the lack of challenging waves and my impending departure persuaded me to surf my remaining time out in the consistent Caribbean Bocas del Toro. A pre-dawn departure from Pedasi enabled me to catch the 10am land-hopper from David to Bocas. The Caribbean surf forecast predicts it to build and hold until my departure. Let’s hope I’ve got my surf pants on.

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