Planet Hiker
2004-09-23 It's donuts time in Panama City, Panama

John and Katey (British tourists), Gered (tall gringo from San Diego) and I spent nearly a week at Rio Mar, indulging in the mosquito-free environment (I particularly like the absence of ants). Actually, there were lot's of things that we enjoyed there. For one, the reef-break was excellent. Getting to and from it was a pain in the feet, as every visit marked more and more cuts and bruises, but the ride was long and a lot of fun. Then, after a day of surfing we would always fire up the grill and have a BBQ feast. I even showed the art of preparing eggplant along with tomatoes and green peppers.

I also enjoyed my stay there thanks to a beautiful camping site - it was a high wooden deck, overlooking a river that flowed into the ocean. One could sit and dangle the feet over the edge, while observing birds race over the gorge. There were also couple of hammocks hung under a rustic hacienda, where I would recover from surfing while reading a book.

I guess, all of this is what vacations are supposed to be all about - enjoyable environment, good surf and tasty food. All of this came to a test when the owner of the camp approached me and offered me a job. He wanted a custom hotel management software, in exchange for free stay for as long as I want. So I could surf whenever I feel like and then work whenever I felt like. It was an intriguing possibility and I considered it seriously. What was really exiting to me was the possibility of keeping the rights to the software and then selling it to the hotels that I stay at as I am traveling around. There were other pluses and minuses to the proposal but in the end, I decided that I am not ready yet to get back to working. However, the idea of developing and selling such a software package is something that I am going to take with me.

After 5 days at Rio Mar, the swell went down, and so Gered and I decided to hit the city. Before I knew it, I was back in LA. Or that's what it felt like being in Panama City. There were all the familiar chain stores, lots of traffic with frustrated drivers, high rises, people wearing latest twists of fashion. And for a little while, I actually really liked it! After almost 6 months of living in small villages, it was strange yet pleasant being in a city. I went to a movie, bough a bunch of stuff, and once when passing by a Dunken Donuts, bough a box of donuts and ate all of them in one sitting! That night I also signed up for a week long gym membership.

Of course, no visit could have been complete without checking out the Panama Canal. What can I say, a bunch of big ships, some carrying Japanese tourists, others carrying containers, do pass through it. The containers aren't particularly friendly but the Japanese do take pictures and wave at you.

On Tuesday, I woke up and decided that it's time go. So I packed my bag, went down to the airport and caught the next flight to Ecuador.