The Rural Experience
It is now Sunday morning and we're resting at what will be our lodging for the next 11 days, Hotel Finca La Guindavela. It is rural, part of a farm some few minutes drive outside Ocú. This means I woke up to the sound of cows this morning. Three very sweet dogs, pitbull mixes, are roaming the common area where we had breakfast and are now working. This morning, they had a bath and they did seem to enjoy it more than my own canines do.
We arrived very late here yesterday, after 9 pm, so this is the first time we actually see our surroundings in daylight.
Yesterday was busy. We met for breakfast, picked up our rental car, and drove towards Ocú, actually passing the town and continuing to nearby Santiago where we interviewed a gentleman who is a major resource on Panamanian folklore, having published several books and been part of the Manito festival since his high school days when it was initiated.
We had a joint interview with his adult daughter, teacher and tourism professional, who lives and works in Panama city. She teaches tourism studies, and it was such an interesting and illuminating experience to have the joint discussion where their different perspectives came out. While they had significant agreement on the value and purpose of the Manito festival, they did diverge somehow of the potential for tourism to have not only positive but also negative impact on a community. On our way back, we stopped in Ocú for a quick sandwich dinner. What struck me was the center of the town: a street with several small squares run through it, lined with various small shops and restaurants. While much was closed when we arrived, some restaurants were still open and families were hanging out on a playground with the kids playing. I cannot wait to see this in daylight.