We took another “staycation” in the tiny little surf village of Santa Catalina. It’s located on the west side of the Azuero Peninsula, about a four-hour drive from Las Tablas. The village is very small, and we visited during the off season, so most of the restaurants and hotels in the area were closed for the season. We intended to visit Coiba Island, which is a national Marine Park and a World Heritage Site, known for it’s world class diving, and a prison (now closed) but the tour prices were absolutely outrageous, so we chose to relax around our hotel for the three days. Perhaps if we were both still active scuba divers, the tour to Coiba would have been more attractive.
For this adventure, we chose Villa Coco, a wonderful resort – each of their 15 rooms are separate bugalows. The restaurant was only open for breakfast and was completely open so the incredible scenery can be enjoyed without the “distraction” of walls.
Speaking of completely open, the shower in our bungalow was outside.Here are some photos – it was spectacular, particularly at night.
Dinner the first night was at an Italian restaurant right on the beach. We’re not quite sure why or how, but several of the residents of Santa Catalina are from Italy. My meal was delicious – fresh shrimp and spaghetti. I also found the most amazing collection of seashells!
We headed back to the resort early. Getting around the area was an adventure all by itself, and we didn’t want to challenge the roads at night.
The next day, we headed into the tiny village to explore a bit. It took all of 15 minutes, including a stop at the only mercado to pick up some snacks. We did manage to find a little restaurant, owned by an Italian woman, that served the most delicious coffee and pastries. We saw that lasagna was on the menu for dinner, so we returned that evening for a great meal – we even took a pizza back to the bungalow. She took a liking to us (might have been my charming husband’s “chrome” hair) and agreed to open up for breakfast the next day, just for us.
The next morning, after breakfast, we ventured out looking for a restaurant/hotel called the Oasis Surf Camp, owned by – yep you guessed it – an Italian family. The location was described as just “across the river”. We were warned to not attempt a crossing at high tide, since the water got very deep. Since it was late morning, just past low tide, we decided to go for it. We parked the car at the end of the road and walked/waded into the water.
Jim crossed without much effort, but of course…I found what I’m sure must be the only “quicksand” in Panama. Within seconds I was down to my knees in the mud. Trying to pull one foot out, I lost my balance and…SPLASH…. into the river I went, purse, phone and all! After Jim stopped laughing and then took a picture, he waded across to my rescue, along with a surfer dude who was heading out into the waves.
It’s a good thing the margaritas at the Oasis restaurant were worth the effort it took to get to them 🙂 I had my revenge on the crossing back to the car…this time Jim took a mis-step and ended up wet.
We headed back home to Las Tablas the next morning. On the way, we drove through a little village that was having a celebration so we stopped to enjoy the festivities. We were fortunate to time it so that we could watch a traditional folklorico dance. The people were incredibly friendly – one gentleman even made his was through the crowd to shake our hands and say “bienvenidos”.
All in all, this was a very relaxing, entertaining trip, but not one I would repeat. Who knows where our next adventure will take us? The next post will chronicle the remodeling of our heaven on earth. Stay tuned!