Friday, 25 November 2011

Day 19: Las Lajas, Panama

We hit the border around 8:30am heading for the beach at Las Lajas, Panama.

Peter wrote extensively about the border crossings earlier in this space, which helped us greatly. That said, the crossing are alway unpredictable. Take entering Panama, for instance. There were the two typical steps (immigration, customs), plus the relatively common third (mandatory insurance). Usually the third step is rapid: a private company with a conveniently located office issues insurance for a week or a month at a nominal fee. The customs/aduana requires proof of this before issuing the temporary import permit. When crossing into Nicaragua, the insurance agent walked beside me through the immigration process filling out information on her clipboard in parallel. In Panama, for some reason the insurance took about an hour for the two of us.

Another feature of borders are trucks. Usually there are long queues of them. I suspect the trucks waiting to enter El Salvador might have been waiting for several days. In most places the truckers go to a dedicated kiosk, but in Panama they were like second class citizens; the photo show that the immigration agent would see one trucker only after having served three travellers.

Las Lajas is apparently the longest beach in Central America. According to the guidebook, it is busy at the weekends with Panamanians, but deserted during the week. That's about right. It was like we had the whole 14kms of paradise to ourselves. The only complaint was that the large waves seemed wholly unsuitable for body surfing. Perhaps it was the surfers.

Our cabana was simple, so we walked up the beach to a higher end resort for dinner. This was preceded by an epic game of bocci in which I came back from a 9-2 deficit to win with 9 unanswered points.

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