Sunday, May 16, 2010

Day 7 of 10..more surf and cool weather

Day 7 started out with me feeling a bit run down...tired for sure...a little sore...old maybe?
The day before was my first surf in many months and although my work requires pretty serious physical activity, it's just not the same as surfing. Never the less we got moving a spot better than the day before and were readily plowing down old Central America 1 headed for Las Lajas for another surf. I spent a bit of time the night before researching the swell direction, the size, and the tides. As explained previously the tides mean everything in Panama when it comes to surfing especially. Low tide was around 8am and while the perfect show would have been between 8:30 and 11:00 we arrived around 9:30 and did not get into the water till just before 10am which as a result only gave us about an hour of the really fun 3-5 foot punchy peaks.

It was nice to finally feel the board under my feet, to not catch a rail on every turn, to sort of feel "right" on the board again. It's the free feeling of surfing and there is nothing like it. Kalum, Cath, JT, and myself took turns tearing apart the fun little peaks the best we could. Again, we were the only people in the water with the exception of a large group of Lifeguards doing some trading. It's one of the things I love about Panama, you can really find solace in what ever form it is for you fairly easily. In between surfs we took turns sitting on the beach front teak couches drinking beer, eating all sorts of great food like shrimp in garlic and butter, rice, beans...and beer..did I say that already?

Mid afternoon we took off and headed northwest to David to stop by a recently owned surf shop that a friend of mine owns. His name is Gary Saavedra and he is 16 time Panamanian surfing champion!! He is a consumate professional, a self marketing genius with sponsers coming from Corona to Nissan and of course Reef and other surf companies in the middle. I picked up some really nice Reef sandals for my wife...ultra basic and her favorite kind. His niece was working in the shop and after a short conversation with her we were off to TGI Fridays for afternoon snack...

Yea TGI fridays...silly as it sounds...they have free WIFI and it was a great break for JT and Cath's kids! Not too mention catching up on Sportscenter was nice. After the snacks we were off up into the Mountains to check out Boquete. I wanted to show the Temple clan what was only 2 hours from the hot steamy paradise where our property was. Everybody needs a break...even in the

Once in the mountains the scenery changed drastically and immeadiately from tropical palms, mango and papaya, cashew tree's, birds of paradise etc. to pine trees.......yes pine trees, and all sorts of tropical plants that survive in the high elevation very wet and cool climate. It' reminds me of being up in the mountains in the Hawaiian islands. The tropical steam turned into sub tropical misting rain and the 90's fell out of the temperature range and in place left very comfortable 70's. We got to the Panamonte Inn and checked our stuff into the quaint bungalows that are part of an old Coffee plantation from the late 1800's owned by the Jansen family. The halls are filled with rustic black and white photos of the family and it's workers on the plantation.

The Temple clan was quite pleased with the change and with that we set a time for dinner. We met for dinner in the main dining room around 7pm and began our evening feast. The restaraunt fare in Boquete is incredible, delicious, and affordable...a combination rarely found in my experience's. We started with cocktails, carpaccio, and shrimp coctail. Then moving on to soups and salads and following up with Angus filet's, brown trout, braised name it..awesome! We didn't have room for dessert but trust me the choices there are just as amazing as the rest of the dinner was.

We called it a night shortly after dinner and I went back to my room leaving the window open and enjoying the cool high 50's and steady but light rain throughout my sleep. What a way to get a rest!

Bueno Noche' from Boquete Panama!

Manyana we do fun mountain stuff and then drive to the big city once again!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Day 6 of 10...first surf

Day 6 started very slowly for most of us. Kevin was sleeping in trying to recover from catching a lot of fish....something he had not done in some time. The Temple's were out cold and not a sound came from there room until well after 9am! I on the other hand was up at 7am and on the computer checking email and itching to get my surf on. I had not surfed since November which is entirely too long for this old man to be out of the water. We had breakfast and finally I got the Temple clan moving. We jumped on the road around 10:30am and made the 45 minute ride to Las Lajas. Due to the surf in our area being boat access only we had chosen to make the drive to Las Lajas. As the crow flies it is only about 10 miles away, but you have to drive inland and around a river to get to it. The road is now paved all the way into Las Lajas which is nice and sped the trip up by 10 minutes or so.

Panama is very tidal and when surfing beachbreaks it requires really being on top of changing conditions. I had origionally wanted to be on site around 9:00am to get the tide push but unfortunately a 11:00am arrival showed light onshore wind and the tide already pushing up pretty fast. This of course was flattening out the swell a bit, although it would really be fine to just get wet again.

The surf as expected was a bit wobbly and slow but this old man enjoyed it none the less. It was nice to have that dried salty feeling on your skin again, just standing on the beach with my feet in the sand soaking up some rays. Only thing that was missing was a nice cold one and luckily that was just feet away right on the beach. I sat back in a teak couch that was right on the sand under a thatched Rancho...perfect! After a cold one I decided to take some pics of the crew getting some little waves and just soaked up the energy of a tropical day at the beach.

Mid afternoon we made our way back to Kevins but stopped in San Felix at the mercado to pick up some snacks and stuff. Apparently during the previous night one of the local perro's (dogs) took off with one of JT's flip flops and also one of Kalum's. We picked them up some turbo new ones for $2.50 a pair...that's right..$2.50 a pair. Got some more sunblock, rum, and beer!

After getting back to Kevin's we packed up the truck and said goodby and headed up to Chad's to spend the night there. I called it an early night as I was exhausted at this point. JT stayed up to watch the Cannuncks in the playoff's and the rest of his clan hit the sack early as well.

Tomorrow is another day and surfing, a famous surfers surf shop, and a trip into the mountains is on the menu!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Day 5 of 10...Pandemonium!!!!!

Day five was a big day, it was the Temple clans first full day in the area and they were itching to do some exploring. In order to try and appease everybody we chartered a small boat for Kalum, Soleil, and Cath to go surfing, beaching, and exploring. We sent them with Jon, who is an artisan of building with wood. He is a surfer first though and he lives with his wife and son "mongo" right on the beach in the middle of's pretty amazing!

With the wife and kids on the way Josh and I got down to business......FISHING!!!!
It ended up being JT, Kevin, Chad, and myself fishing on one of Paradise Lodges 27 foot Contenders with Captain favorite Captain and his mate Ricardo who when not gaffing all matter of species of fish offshore handles the electrical issues at Chad's!

We all jumped on board around the same time as everybody else at the lodge was getting on their boats and pushed off from the dock shortly after 7am....The feeling never changes...there's nothing like hearing the motors come to life and the wind start rushing by as you race out of the estuary into the Pacific Ocean for what is as always an unforgettable experience no matter how much or what you catch! No traffic signals, no cell phones, it's just your experience and very little to get in the way of what it should be.

About an hour and a half later we were brushing along the North side of Coiba island about a mile or so offshore watching masses of birds diving on what we were hoping was a school of bait with Tuna's on it.....The first stop held tuna's alright...hundreds of them and in short work with 4 guys throwing poppers we put about 10 15lb schoolie YFT in the boat for bait. The big ones were not in that school so we chose to keep moving and searching for the "one"....Every 20 minutes for the next three hours a school of Tuna's would push bait to the surface and start mowing down everything in their way. For anyone who has not witnessed YFT feeding offshore on bait fish it is a truly exhilarating experience.

About the 4th school to come up we started noticing some bigger models crashing the surface...try to imagine a VW bug or a Toyota Prius hitting the surface of the ocean at 30 mph .....sort of like

Within a few short minutes on the bigger school we were all hooked up and screaming and laughing. My fish per usual was a 20lb'r and got the quick release, and JT also had a smaller one...Chad however was on a monster and it was doing the merry go round...errr..Chad was doing the merry go round the trying to keep up with it. Chicho also nailed a better model and so with 2 good fish on we all just started helping each other out to try and land the bigger ones.

We were fishing with spinning rods (Fin Nor) and reels. Catching 100lb+ Tuna on spinning rods is not for the faint of heart I can assure you...but beat for beat the adrenaline rush with this type of fishing is heart stopping! Imagine 100lbs of tuna hitting your popper on top of the water less than 100' from you and seeing it all happen LIVE!! It is a rush like no other...

About 1/2 hour into the hook up of Chicho's fish Kevin had taken his turn and then passed off to me. I got lucky as the fish came to gaff about 10 minutes into my turn....that was nice!! This fish was a solid one going about 80lbs! SASHIMI!!! that's all I could think of.

Chad meanwhile was still battling his fish and not getting anywhere to fast with it either. We knew this was a 150lb+ fish and it was going to be a long fight on spinning gear. We all took turns..and I mean all 6 of us trying to best the beast and after about 1 and a half hours the line parted...POP....ARRRGGHHHH....a split second of frustrated defeat..followed quickly by a great big smile on every ones face! That's right, a see we didn't win that battle..the tuna did...and that is what makes the game so never know the ending no matter how good it appears to be!

Another 15 minutes and we were on the Tuna again and Kevin and I were throwing poppers at a nice school of fish...I remember thinking...yes I am going to get my first 100lb+ YFT by popper finally...not too be for me as I got blasted on once but it didn't stick! Kevin however, the guy who hasn't fished in like 2 years in Panama got smashed on and the sound we all love...the singing of braided line ripping off the reel at high speed ushered the response we all love to hear...."HOOKUP"..

After about 30 minutes or so Kevin bested the beast and I stuck the gaff into a 90-100lb class YFT! Wahoooooo! I love gaffing fish, especially Tuna more than catching them. We all decided we had two nice big Yellow Fin and with the other boat landing a 160lb'er we did not need anymore. We headed back inshore a bit more to look for some Pargo's (snapper). That didn't take too long either and within an hour we had caught and released a small white tip reef shark, a large 40lb Rooster Fish, and a perfect dinner size 30lb Cubera Snapper!

A fine job by everyone and the cold beers on the way in with light rain squalls and good conversation just summed up what a nearly perfect day would be for any fisherman!

Back on land we all told stories at Chad's for a little while and then went to Kevins to wash up for dinner. We had another great meal prepared by Anna and Delsi. Unfortunately the surf was pretty small that day so Cath and Kalum didn't have quite the fun we did, although they did some great exploring and enjoyed it very much.

The Temple's called it a day around 8pm and Kevin and I went up to Chad's to have cocktails and partake in all sorts of lies about fishing and everything else. A pretty amazing day in Paradise and Kevin and I finished it off with a glass if vino on his porch around 11pm....

Off to bed ....tomorrow we are going surfing and I am determined to find the Temple clan a few waves!

Day 4 of 10

Day four started perfectly....just me and the million or so species of wildlife making every kind of noise and call you could ever imagine first thing in the morning. It was perfect! I grabbed a bottle of water and drove up the hill to see how the contractors were coming with the soiltac test and it looked a bit "wet" still. They had it barricaded to make sure no one drove on it and decided to let it get some morning sun before applying another coat to seal it.

I drove back down the mountain and had breakfast...thanks' Delsi!!

Then took off to the marina site to just relax and cast a few spoons in hopes of catching something. When I arrived I immediately saw about a dozen small birds diving on a school of bait!!! Yes!! Then every so often there would be a big POP on the surface...not positive the identity of these feeding fish, but they moved very fast and I would have to guess rovalo (snook), or jacks! The only problem was that they were about 150yds away and I could not get a spoon or jig close enough to them to entice a bite! Oh well, maybe next time

After an hour or so I came to the realization that I wasn't going to catch anything I packed up and drove back to Kevin's house to take a shower and clean up. I then drove down the gravel road to Chad's Paradise Lodge to wait for my friends the Temple's to arrive. They had flown from Vancouver island British Columbia! It required them to take a 3 hour drive to a 2 hour ferry to another 1 hour drive just to get to the airport in Vancouver! WOW...Then after staying the night in Vancouver they flew to Los Angeles where..they spent the night again...then the third day they arrived in Panama City and yes...spent the night again.........

Anyway, they made it to Chad's and were happy to be there.

I had not seen Josh Temple in quite some time and was stoked to see an old friend in my little paradise. You see Josh is a Captain of several boats spread all over the place, he makes a living "managing" wealthy clients interests as they pertain to the water! He currently runs a beautiful Custom Carolina Dean Johnson 58' boat names the Maximo! That boat spends most of it's time in Puerto Viarta very near Punta De Mita Mexico where Josh and his family have spent the majority of the last decade. Josh lives in a bit of a paradise regularly and it was nice to bring him to ours!

Josh's wife Catherine and their two kids Kalum (10) and Soliel (12) came along for the trip and things were about to get MOVING!!

After introducing everyone to Chad and showing them around the resort the kids and mom decided to jump in the pool to cool off and JT and I decided to have a cold beer or two and catch up on things...basically lie about the big fish we have

Around 4 we decided to take everything to Kevin's where we would be staying for 2 nights so that Josh and his family could check out the land and the area. After a fantastic meal of spaghetti!! thanks again Delsi and Anna!! we were off to bed because the next day was going to be a BOOMER!!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Day 3 of 10

Thursday morning (day 3)...

I awoke to a much more relaxed....sort of settled in feeling I guess. It was a nice morning and we ran up to the road to see if the workers were ready for the test "soiltec" to be placed. They were not, but getting close for sure. After a short while we headed down for breakfast and helped the water truck owner get ready to add the solution for the soil tec test. Getting the containers that took a LONG ship ride from the states opened took a bit of "backyard" engineering...big 12" diameter caps made of some type of hard plastic or polyurethane that did not want to

We used a large screwdriver, a hammer, and good old muscle to get it loose and although it was in pieces it did in fact work! After loading the water truck with 1500 gallons of water and 275 gallons of the solution we were ready to head up the hill for the test. After an hour or so of measuring and re-grading to ensure proper thickness on the road the water truck began it's job of spraying 1800 gallons of solution/water mix on the 100 meter test strip of road. All in all it was a success and with that Kevin, and Kevin, and me went down to the river to the cantina for a couple of beers to fight off the steamy mid day temperatures.

The rest of the afternoon I spent over at Chad's place partaking in cubre' libra's and sashimi...meal meant for gods let me tell ya!!

The Internet had been down the night before and my cell phone works at Chad's so I took advantage of that time in order to catch up with my favorite lady and our little one inside her!!

Things on the home front were....shall we say

It was very hard for my wife Brenna to miss out on this trip...there's few trips that we take apart..That being said she was as per her usual self in control of everything blasting through nursing classes, eating for two, drinking 10 gallons of water a day, studying all night, and somehow still finding time to miss me....Love ya babe!!!

Later in the evening I joined some of Chad's clients for dinner, a few gentleman from Brazil, one whom I have met before named Mr. Beto. An incredibly accomplished and well spoken individual whom spoke Portuguese..his native tongue, Spanish which he said was easy for them, and English as well. He is a fishing "tour guide" and plans trips all over the world for groups and then goes with them...mmmmm...he's on to something huh!!

They had great fishing and we had baked Snook (rovalo) for dinner! It was outstanding. I spent most of the early evening trading stories with Brazilians learning the different cultures all at one table and drinking all matters of, rum, seco (seco is a Panamanian sort of vodka) until we all decided that the evening had peaked and the stories would get no better from here on out...certainly less understandable anyway.

Upon saying our good nights I jumped into the rental SUV and bounced down the old CA-1 towards Kevin's house to call it a night. Kevin had headed into David for business and to take the other Kevin from Soiltac back to the airport to go back to Texas. When I arrived at Kevin's I noticed a lack of uhhh LIGHT...uh oh...yep, the power had gone problem during the day, but third night in country with no A/C is no bueno (no I decided to head to the only cold place I knew of .....the cantina....that's right, cold beer cures all and I found out on arrival many of the locals had the same thought!!

I pulled up to the cantina and inside were one of Chad's favorite one..Chicho, a couple of the mates Arturo and Chico, and most of Chad's construction workers...many of whom had worked on our house last year. I was met with yells of "Yewww" and "Loquero" (crazy). I stayed listening to Panamanian salsa and meringue for an hour or so and washed down the muggy evening with a few cold ones. Then the second good night of the evening took place and off we went. I again bounced down the old CA-1 towards Kevin's...almost groundhog

The best news was pulling up to the house to see the street light working....AC!!!!!!!!

Off to bed after another action packed day in Panama!!

Day 2 of 10

Believe it or not after being up for 21 hours straight and drinking way to much vino I was still up at 6:30am bright eyed and bushy tailed.......o.k. maybe that last part is a stretch but it points to yet another thing I love about rise with the sun and go to bed about an hour after it's the way people are suppose to be I think.

Day two started with a great breakfast that Kevin's house helper Delsi kindly served up. Juevos, hamon, papaya, and pan'...followed by a large glass of jugo de naranja! (eggs, ham, bread, orange juice).

Then shortly after I joined Kevin and a road coating representative from the states that was testing out an application for the Vida Nueva roads that looks and feels like asphalt for 60% of the cost and best yet doesn't leech into the environment! Up the mountain we went and to the test site. Like anything in Panama if you put a deadline on it you will be a little
That being said the roads look great and are very drivable even in the rain. There were 5 dump trucks, 2 graters, 2 excavators, a compactor, a water truck, and about 20 workers running around like there was a deadline...impressive in what many see as the middle of nowhere!

Kevin's road crews also recently finished rough cutting of the road to their marina site. I drove down there several times just to have a beer and listen to the peaceful sounds of birds and all manner of wildlife found in tropical mangroves carrying on the way they must have for a thousand's awesome!!

I then ran up to Chad's to pick up my surfboards and fishing gear that I had left...of course my wife will tell you the most important thing was the shells she has saved from the trips down there...shells that will one day be a part of our home in Panama in one form or another.

The grass on our piece of property was a little more aggressive than I had expected...LOL
Lets say it's about 15 feet high..LOL the house is still in basically the same condition we left it in and shows little weathering which is nice.

The afternoon brought about an hour of hard rain and Kevin and I headed up to Chad's place for dinner which as per usual included a large plate of yellowfin tuna sashimi!!! I love it sooo much!!
After a few drinks and a lot of telling lies as per normal routing we headed back to Kevin's for emails, and then to bed.

day one of 10

Day one started at the bright and early hour of 4:40am as I raced down the empty highways of Tampa headed to the airport parking area. Car parked, shuttle to the airport, short line which was nice and through security with an hour to spare! Move forward an hour and I am now in Miami waiting on the LONG OVERDUE flight to Panama. I cannot believe it's been 18 months! The best part was the plane was on time and I got moved up to the cabin divider or first row of coach class! We touched down amid scattered thunder storms at the Tocumen International Airport just a tad before noon nearly 10 minutes early!

There's no replacing the feeling of walking up the jet way as the air has now changed from Florida's warmish 70's to Panama's steamy 90's. I love it!!

I actually went through immigration and got my bag and through customs and into my rental car in under 35 minutes total!! That was very nice!!

Now with the tocumen toll road (cuota) in front of me and Panama cities (Manhattan like) structures waiting beyond that I jumped right into defensive, no signal using, Frogger like driving in Panama traffic...It's like a video game and for those who know fits me

There is a new "bypass" called via ducto that takes you around the stoplights of balboa ave in downtown to the ave de martires and onto the puentas de americas (or point of the americas bridge)...the giant bridge that spans the entrance to the Panama Canal system. It always amazes me when driving over this bridge the marine traffic jam of very large cargo and oil tankers patiently waiting their turn to squeeze through what is truly one of the 7 wonders of the world..the locks of the Panama Canal. It's also a bit crazy to realize that the average tanker pays nearly 245K for passage ONE WAY...

After crossing the puente de America's the scenery drastically changes from bustling city life and traffic to farming and endless kilometers of small towns and rolling hills butted up against towering mountains. There seems to be a river flowing out of the mountains towards the sea about every 10 minutes on the drive...I often ponder what type of fishing could be done in these rivers given the time...trout maybe?

I still had an old Panamanian cell phone, but did not have a charger for it so I stopped in Santiago to buy a new cell phone....lets see...LG cell phone for $15.00 and comes with $5 phone card...Then I purchased another $10 phone card to add to it. I called my wife and spoke with her for about 25 minutes and that only cost me about $2.40...why anyone pays international $2.00 a minute for phone calls in Panama to the states is beyond me.

Fast forward about 4 hours and I am getting really close to the turnoff where everything takes on a new perspective for me.....only thing was the jubia (rain) came down in biblical amounts for about 30 minutes reducing my normal 65mph or so to about 30mph with visibility reduced to mere feet....The power of the tropics and the energy in it is what brings me back over and over again.

Finally at the old CA-1 road heading towards our good friend Kevin's house I noticed that many of the Captains that Chad uses were cleaning up the boats and gearing up for the next day of fishing. I stopped off and was offered a cold Balboa and gladly accepted...Of course!

After 20 minutes of chatter about the days fishing and "where the heck have you been Gringo Loquero'?" I said manana and headed further into Cuebrada De Piedra and up to Paradise Lodge to say hello to Chad and his workers. Paradise Lodge is a world class fishing resort in a world class fishing location..simply put!

The progress Chad has made is incredible in the last 18 months...3 new hotel rooms built, a 1500 meter concrete pier for the boats, a huge new dining and kitchen area, amazing!

It was a bit sad to hear that Maggie, Chads faithful Golden Retriever had passed away a few months ago...bummer. However, with each loss of life there seems to be new life as well and that held true as his two Rottweilers had just given birth to 2 beautiful puppies...there second litter in 18 months! Now there are Rottweilers running around all over the place from 4 weeks old to 3 years old...Chad calls the little ones his future security squad and judging by the boy down at his pier they take there job seriously....Chombo is his name and he will eat you for going on that pier without

After a nice cubre libra' at Chads I headed down the last 2 miles of dirt/gravel road to Kevin's House. It was nice to see an old friend and to have dinner and drink wine....lots of wine while catching up on the progress of their project. Kevin's project is called Vida Nueva and his 1100 acre project surrounds our land. It's a great thing for us as we have very legitimate, serious, well funded neighbors who will provide an exceptional social clientele that will fit the area perfectly. Our area is not a Waikiki, it's more of a sportsman's, surfing, kayaking, diving, spearfishing, etc.

Day one finished in grand fashion after being up nearly 21 hours and piling through nearly 4 bottles of excellent Chilean red wine.......Kevin and I have a habit of doing this when we are together...Hey's ALL YOUR FAULT!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Panama truly is the most amazing place I have ever been to fish! Square miles of breaking Tuna from 10lbs to 200lbs gourging on baitfish. Assisted by porpoise and birds in gathering up the massive schools of bait. With each detonation the school of Tuna's grows more vivacious in their quest for food. It's astonishing to see hundreds of Yellow Fin Tuna smashing the surface in reckless abandon....there's nothing like it...Jurassic Park type stuff

Enjoy the low resolution video below!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Return to Paradise

Well, after 18 months of "restructuring" I am making a trip back down to Panama next week to check on things and see about what the future will bring. While we have applied the brakes, Panama has continued to shift gears and is moving along quite nicely especially considering the state of the world economy the last 2 years. Check back in a week or so as I will post a few updates along with photos etc soon!


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Almost forgot to put up this picture I took of Brenna yesterday on the panga ride. Pretty Pretty as they say in Panama!