Entrance to the estate

When we set the dates for our visit to Panama Lyn didn’t realise that 4 of those days would include Carnival or Carnavales Panama.

When we arrived and she told us this suggesting that it would be a problem, we didn’t understand but rather thought that it would be fun to be there and see the Carnival. Most of us have seen pictures of the annual Carnival in Rio and just looked like something really special. Actually, we didn’t get to see any of the activities and found that our experience of the Carnival itself was not such fun after all. Do go to the link to see some wonderful photos of Carnavales Panama.

As I mentioned a couple of times, there is just one highway in Panama, the Inter Americana. It carries traffic right up and down the country from very heavy vehicles to motor bikes and this traffic goes 24/7/365. In addition, right outside Vista Mar, where we were staying, there was a reasonably steep hill and the big trucks would use their air-brakes to control their speed as they went down making a deafening noise. Our bedroom faced on to the highway so it took a few nights to get used to that noise. The photo below has been used in other blogs but I have included it here to show that it was not even possible to get a picture of the entrance to Vista Mar without including a huge truck!  If you go tothe link for large map of Panama, you will see the Inter Americana wind its way right along the Pacific Coast. 

Entrance to the estateHundreds of these trucks travelled up and down the highway at all hours

Being the only road between Panama City and the coastal towns and villages there were daily long queues going into the city in the morning and out again in the afternoons. We discovered that at Carnival time this was multiplied exponentially because Carnival was 4 days of Public Holidays and schools were closed for a week. The annual dates are always the 4 days before Ash Wednesday (Sat – Tues) and EVERYONE leaves the City to go to holiday homes or other accommodation. Vista Mar quadrupled its population over this weekend. So this was why we did not get to enjoy Panama Carnival. Lyn told us of how the Panamanians, being good Roman Catholics, went to church on Ash Wednesday morning to receive the sign of the cross of ashes upon their foreheads. Sadly, many had partied too well and were not quite sure of procedures and then they went straight back to partying. 

As with the other roads, the exit from Vista Mar Estate is directly on to the Inter Americana where the traffic was bumper to bumper for kilometres. We could see the slow-moving traffic, when it did move, from the balcony of our condo. The Carnival happenings are in 12 different towns in Panama, including El Valle and some of the beach towns not too far from us, but if we had even thought of going to one of those places it might have taken hours and then there would be nowhere to park. We even considered going by bus but that would probably have taken even longer. No it was best not to go out.

the 2 towersWe were on the 9th floor of the tower on the left. The highway is behind these

We did try twice though. One we weren’t giving up on and that was to attend church on Sunday. Going to Coronado was not too difficult as we were travelling towards the City but coming home was a different story. Panama has the system that when traffic is extra heavy on one side of the highway they do what is called an inversion. One of the lanes for the other direction is coned off for some hours to, hopefully, create better traffic flow. In addition, most of the Returnos are also closed so getting to travel home was a bit tricky and frustrating but we managed.

Our second attempt was just Lyn and myself wanting to attend a Bible Study on Ash Wednesday afternoon. After travelling less than a km we decided to just return home at the first possible opportunity. As the schools were closed many people did not return to the City immediately so it was pretty busy for a while.

So what did we do for those few days?

Well, on the Saturday we drove up to the Caribbean end of the Canal about which I shall write separately.

On Monday Tyrone returned to work so the 3 of us drove down to the Vista Mar Marina and walked along the beach. It was very low tide and there were lots of rocky areas visible. As it was really hot we followed our walk up with a swim in the Marina pool.

Low tide at the MarinaLow tide at the Marina. We were able to walk a couple of kms

Low tide with mountainsShowing the low tide level from the other side

Sand and water patternsThese patterns made by the sand and water fascinated me

Pool at the Beach ClubThe pool at the Marina

Tuesday was the last day of the Carnival and we could hear very loud music being played a few kms away in San Carlos town. It was very audible as we were on the 9th floor of the tower block so the sound carried very well. We went down to the Marina again in the late afternoon as it was high tide. This had brought out hundreds of birds including Pelicans and Terns. What a difference it was. We walked along to Lyn & Tyrone’s Catamaran which was at the end of the boardwalk before returning home.

Beach housesThe tide comes in and all the rocks are covered

Sea meets riverAt low tide this river is completely cut off from the sea

Rocks at high tideThe tide right in cutting off our low tide path to the rock above

Pelican stands on rockThis Pelican kindly stood still for the photograph

Wednesday we spent quierly at home and walking around the estate

We may not have seen any of the Carnival but we did have alovely few days together.