Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hola a Padre Mickey y la hermosa Mona

Padre, thank you for being concerned about me, along with the other posters! I was going to say so on your blog, but you shut off comments to go on vacation. Oy!

Some of my best memories of Panama are of staying at a little cottage on the beach, way up the coast from the Canal Zone. There, you meet the true Panama and its wonderful people.

I don't know who owned the cottage - a friend of a friend of my parents. It sat alone on the beach. We had the dunes and the wide open spaces in which to play!

Some of my school friends would come with me. We had no surf boards, so we sat on our inflatable beach rafts and rode in on the big rolling waves, yelling "Cowabunga!"

An adult was always perched on the little bluff overlooking the beach, armed with binoculars and watching for sharks. We were ordered out of the water occasionally, and never had any close encounters.

At night, we built bonfires on the beach. Try doing that around here, and the Beach Rangers would be on you like fleas on a hound dog!

A couple of the locals brought their horses, one time, and offered them for our rental, which we accepted. Now, these were plow horses, and I doubt they had ever been ridden much. They came with no saddles or bridles.

I took horseback riding lessons in my youth, so wasn't afraid of riding them. The horse I got just wasn't into the spirit of things, though. I sat on him, said, "Giddyap, vamos," and other sundry commands to get going.

He just turned his head and looked at me as if to say, "What were you thinking?"

After coaxing, the horse would walk several steps, then turn to gaze quizzically at me again. We lurched down the beach. This went on for a little while, until one of the sudden afternoon thunderboomers came up, letting a good ripping boom roll up the beach.

That horse suddenly turned into thoroughbred racing material. He took off as hard as he could go, with me clinging onto him by the mane. I caught up and passed my friends, and my horse kept going.

Finally, I got him to stop. Then, he turned his head and looked inquiringly at me again. We plodded along.

Ah, the good times.

The cottage had no electricity. We used gas for lights and cooking, and it gave the place the feel of another era. We would read or play board games in the evening, in the glow of the gaslight, when we weren't out on the beach.

A special treasure in the cottage was a Victrola, with a number of Tin Pan Alley hit records to play on it. Some of the records were square. I'm not making this up. (The grooves on them were circular, though.) Those records were probably collector's items then, and would be worth a fortune today.

I wonder whatever happened to them, to the cottage and all the people.

Con mi amor,

Santa Patricia

P.S. - Sending camera money

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