Here I am again, getting to Juanes’ this time at 2 a.m. on a Sunday, when the rest of the normal Panamanians get drunk and party in the clubs of Calle Uruguay. I made it early again!
This time our third crew member was Yahan who co-owns the local electronic-music bar “Puré” (according to Juanes). We filled the tank up to the beats of “Eso sí da dolor” (the gas price) by Kafu Banton, and left the Bridge of the Americas towards the country side of Panama at 2:47 a.m.
We made a quick pit stop at el Rey of Coronado, to buy some essentials: bananas, oatmeal juice, oatmeal cookies, gatorade and m&m’s. Here, Yahan’s female friend hopped into the car to come with us for the trip.
All of us had barely slept (less than an hour each), so driving for the next 4 hours was going to be rather interesting (or tragic?). Nothing happened though. This time I played my music at a higher volume so that the audience could get a better appreciation of the musical richness. I also modified the playlist a little bit including a full session of El Rookie (Panamanian roots/dancehall), Incubus and System of a Down. I could even play the Clash without any major protests from the crew.
At the crack of dawn, the scenery an hour before Mariato was really nice. Some hills populated by tropical jungle and a nice thick fog that made the landscapes kind of eerie (my kind of stuff). No politics advertisement! Nice for Veraguas!
We arrived to the surf break in Mariato at 6:30, half an hour earlier than Juanes predicted. He went right away into the water, even though it didn’t look all that nice from the shore. The water was all brownish because of the heavy rain and the swell look kind of non existent. The waves looked a bit unorganized as well. I guess it was the perspective effect caused by the distance though: when Juanes paddled nearby the point, the waves seemed to have a decent size (3~4 ft, or more like ~3 ft).
The morning progressed and the conditions got even better with a nice overcast sky. The nice offshore wind brought in a small crowd of about 5 locals + a gringo. The peak was breaking both left and right handed making a long and nice wave. I caught a couple of left handers, but then I realized the right handed wave had a bit of a wall so I paddled all the way to the right side of the peak. The current was kinda strong towards the left so paddling there and keeping right at the place was kind of a hassle throughout the whole session. Good training though!
The locals were not hostile at all and one of them along with the gringo were catching nice rides. Juanes and Yahan also got a few rides. Around 10ish I came out to the sand and passed out in the sun. I was too damn tired from the drive and from paddling against the current. It was a nice sleep. At some point I had to make some shade with my board because I was going to end up “red as a shrimp” as we Panamanians say.
An hour later, a kid (around 10 years old) woke me up and said to me: “Give me your leash”, I was like WTF! then I kindly told him to f*!k off… Just kidding. I told him that I might use my board later so I needed the leash, so he said “ok” and then left. When he was walking away I saw that he had his board tied with a very rough, worn-out rope. It look painful to me, but I guess that is the local style, gotta surf with what you have!
I woke up and witnessed the nice waves with a bit of sunshine, so I got into the car, got my camera and took some shots and videos. I am all about videos now that I discovered the wonders of iMovie.
When Juanes got bored (or maybe tired?) he came to the car and a local guy also joined. He told us the story of his short live. He told us how he studied to be a teacher in “La Normal de Santiago” but took a year off to surf, since he was affraid that the Government would place him in a school that was far from the ocean. He also told us about the beach town and how there is no agricultural produce, people only live from fishing. He spoke about the honesty of people and how there is no crime around.
As we parked the car next to a cantina (Panamanian, country-side bar), the locals cranked the famous jukebox that Juanes had told us about, playing the most random selection of music: Ballenato (Colombian folk music), Pindín (Panamanian folk music), reggae roots, rock, and even Madonna. We were really tired and needed to sleep, so we rolled up the windows, blasted Salmonella Dub and passed out with all of our surfboards in the back of the car, untied and unsecured. I guess it is true, people do not rob in this town! When we woke up a slight rain was going on, making the palm tree leaves move in funny ways when the wind hit. I also got some videos of that =)
In the afternoon Juanes and I decided to go for another session, but the wind was too strong on shore, making the conditions really bad. I caught only like 3 waves, very brief rides. Two other guys from Panama city also jumped in but they left quickly given the bad conditions.
For no particular reason I stayed out with Juanes until about 4 in the afternoon. I tried the right handed wave spot with no success and paddled for about 40 min to get to the left-sided spot, with no luck again. I just spoke non-sense with Juanes until I gave up. The session was over and we headed back to the city.
We stopped at Coronado to have some food (it was already 6 p.m. and we hadn’t had lunch yet). We stopped at the grilled chicken place in the entrance road, to check out their new fancy location. The place looked nice, they even had a random musician singing and playing the keyboard. The mosquitoes kept on falling on Juanes water and when the “grilled” chicken came in, not only was more expensive, but it was crap as well. Yucas al “Mojo” did not taste like “mojo” at all. We left all disgusted with a chicken-fat taste that lasted for a while. We ended up in “Queso Chela” to have some good cheese empanadas…