June 14-15, 2004
Las Lajas isn't a beach resort of the Bahia Salinas class. In fact it isn't "class" at all. But it is one of the few beach resorts on the Panama coast west of the Azuero peninsula. No, that's not a mistake. The Panama coast runs more east west than north south as you'll see if you check the map. Lonely Planet mentioned it and so we thought it must be worth a stop. Had we been thirty years younger we probably would have agreed.
We left the interamericana at the appointed place and drove the 20 kms to the village of Las Lajas. A very small and rather unmemorable place, we looked in vain for a hotel just in case we didn't find what we wanted at the beach. Only five kms further on and the road petered out just before the beach. There were a couple of shacks and a dirt road running off in each direction, but no sign of anything remotely like a hotel.
We first tried to follow LP's directions to some beach cabins, but the dirt road and recent rains made the roads impassable for our little Escort. So back at the junction with the inland road, we found a gate, drove through it and there found a beachfront restaurant where we gave up the hotel search to eat a nice fish plate. At lunch we talked to yet another group of visiting missionaries, these from a church in Atlanta. We wonder whether official aid statistics ever include such donations of time, money, and materials when they compute the amount of aid given by the US. We guess not and so reckon that the aid numbers are understated.
But finally, we had to make some decision about somewhere to stay. The restaurant owner told us that rooms could be rented at his brother's house which was on the same piece of property set back a hundred feet or so from the beach. We wandered over there. The room on offer had two simple beds set on a concrete floor with electric light and a table fan but no air-con or window screens. The bathroom was in the back of the house and was pretty clean, so we plunked down our $10 and stayed the night.
The real attraction was the beach. Gerry wanted to go swimming and made that the first order of business. Then we spent the evening sitting on the house's deep porch reading until it it was time to retire. Just before we were ready to go to bed a rather unusual beastie came to join us on our porch. It was a rather enormous moth that for some reason kept battering itself against the wall. Gerry failed to get a really good photo of this lovely creature so went to bed a bit disappointed. The next morning, however, he got a very good picture because the moth had apparently battered itself to death. Can anyone identify it for us? Although the picture can't make it plain, it is about six inches across.
The next morning we took a long walk along the beach and finally discovered the beach cabins. They weren't any better than our current accomodations so we didn't feel disappointed. But it was time to eat breakfast and get on our way to Chitre.