Hello everybody, and a belated Happy New Year to all. Patricia and I just wrapped up a month of entertaining my 82 and 77 year old father and mother in Panama. It was the first time I spent a month with them since I was 18 years old. We spent so much time bonding and sharing feelings, it would have brought tears to your eyes. Actually, it was quite fun – in spite of their rather advanced ages we managed to fit in fishing, horseback riding, waterfall exploring, shell collecting, and numerous other activities. Check out the photos of their visit.
It’s been a fairly quiet holiday season, but here are a few topics to cover:
1) Mariato update. The mayor, Angel Batista, says that the new hospital in Mariato will be started in 2013. He also is very proud of the new sidewalks that he had put in all along the main road (see photo). We told him that sidewalks are nice, but what we really need is asphalt on the main road around the project, and some good gravel on the side road. He promised that both of those things would be done this year, and you know that politicians never lie!
There is a holiday tradition around Mariato that I think you’ll find amusing. People dress up dummies and put them in the front yard, and they can be pretty creative. Here’s a pic of Patricia standing next to our favorite one; the sign says “Sugardaddy, take me to the beach.” Cute, huh?
One last sad note about Mariato; I think that most of you have had the pleasure of dining at Maria’s, the best little restaurant in the area. Maria had a stroke last month, and isn’t doing very well. She’s in rehab, trying to learn how to walk and talk again, and her restaurant is closed indefinitely. Luckily we still have Patricia’s Café on the Hill, my personal favorite.
2) Freedive spearfishing. I understand that most of you probably don’t care about this, but hey – it’s my newsletter, and I think it’s pretty cool. In freedive spearfishing, there are no tanks involved. You simply snorkel around, dive down as deep as you dare, spear a fish, and try to get back to the surface before your air runs out. It’s loads of fun, and just dangerous enough to keep Patricia as nervous as a preacher at a Black Sabbath concert. Here are some pics of the unique and tasty fish that you can get this way.
3) Critter update. Big news at Paradise Ranch – after three years I finally saw my first snake. He was around seven feet long, and rambled through the pool area last week. Never fear; it’s a nonvenomous Tiger Rat Snake (Spilotes pullatus, if you must be technical), and even though they can grow to 14 feet, they only eat rodents, birds, etc. A friend who was visiting wanted to kill it, but I wouldn’t let him. I like all of the critters out there, even snakes.
That’s about it for this edition of The Ocean Ridge Report. I’ll leave you with a photo of our house during the holidays. We’re very excited, because we won the “Best Decorated House in the Neighborhood” contest. Of course, until somebody comes down here and builds something, it’s a pretty good bet that we’ll win every year.