Yesterday was one of those special afternoons that come along every so often. I got to meet a couple of Statesiders who read my blog. John and Susan are fellow cruisers from Oregon who, several years ago, sailed from their home in the States down through Central America, passed through the Canal and ended up in Florida for a time. They liked what they saw of Panama and are now down here doing their ‘due diligence’ and exploring the country with an eye on retiring here. They have rented a house up near Boquete and are out meeting bloggers who live in the area. They came to visit me yesterday afternoon.
I showed them around my neighborhood and then we piled in their car and we went up into the hills to take the Ruta Sur over to the Branding Iron, a watering hole down in Dolega where the road branches out to either Potrerillos or Boquete. It was a chance for them to see some of the pretty sights that Chiriqui has to offer. One of them was way up in the hills probably close to a thousand feet above sea level where sits a 30 foot power catamaran up on blocks. The owner, also a gringo was standing in the shade of a palm tree and we stopped and talked to him for a bit. Then we proceeded to the Branding Iron where we could sit a place for for a couple of drinks and swap sea stories. It would leave them on the route back to where they’re staying and give me easy bus access to get back home.
It was kind of depressing to walk into the Branding Iron to find that the two t.v.s hanging on the wall were tuned to Fox Gnus. Yuck! They felt the same way. I told them that we shouldn’t be too harsh about Fox. It actually saved my life. I told them I’d been in a horrible car accident a couple of years ago that left me in a coma. I’d been in the hospital for several months, attached to tons of tubes and monitors when someone came into my room and turned on Fox News on my t.v. Naturally I had to get up and shut it off!
All too soon it was time to go our separate ways. They took me down to the bus stop in Dolega a couple of clicks away and in less than five minutes I was on my way down to the depot in David.
As I got close to my street I saw a about a dozen people standing around on the corner. What had drawn the crowd was that two of my neighbor ladies, Maíde and Francia, had set up a table in the caseta (the bus shelter) with a two burner gas range where they were cooking up almohábanos and smoked pork slices. Neighborhood residents were lined up to buy the almohábanos by the dozens which the two ladies loaded into paper bags which were quickly taken to houses in the area for cena (supper).
This was my first experience with almohábanos. Doing a Google search I see that it’s a popular Latin food. It’s made of corn flour and fried up in hot oil. Almohábanos is more of a kind of food product that takes various shapes and permutations. The ones being prepared by my neighbors looked like those large fritter-like things at the top of the plate:
I bought a plate with one almohábano and a slice of smoked pork for $1.25 and took it home where I downed it with a frosty bottle of Panamá. The almohábano was actually pretty bland and nearly tasteless but it was better with the addition of a bit of Pace salsa. Maíde and Francia were doing a land-office business, but at $1.25 a plate I can’t imagine they were making a whole lot of money. I almost suspect that it was as much a social event for them as it was a business enterprise. But so it is, here in Panama.