The Chronicles of a Beach Bum
By Mateo Landau
I'm sitting here on a beach in the middle of nowhere. There are no people that I can see and there are no real signs of civilization around me. Out in the sparkly blue water, about a mile, is a small island--one where Noriega used to have his deliveries of cocaine dropped. The sand is hot, but not too hot. Behind me, palm trees and banana trees rustle in the wind and packs of stray muts loiter in their shade. Birds soar down near the surface of the water--I think they're sea gulls, or maybe pelicans. Very little has changed on this beach it seems. I can almost feel back to the days of conquistadores and pirates, of colonialism and no Tivo.
You may be wondering to yourself, how is he typing this on the beach? I would think sand would get in between the buttons. Or perhaps you want to know directions to this little piece of heaven so you can come and cover my eyes from behind and be silly and "guess who?" Well my friend, these are things I cannot reveal.
As I am sitting, picking elusive little lint curls out of my bellybutton, I see a man off in the distance. He closes, and soon he is only feet away. He's a raggedy old man, with ripped clothes, leathery looking skin, and a permanent squinty look on his face. He is pushing a cart--looks almost like a wheelbarrow. He's pretty jittery for an old fella--has got a spicy attitude. For effect, he begins cranking some sort of tin can sitting in the cart. He's pretty close when he asks if I am hungry. "Are you hungry?" he says in Spanish. I wanted to just tell him to LAY OFF! "No gracias" I reply politely and try to continue writing. He goes on to describe what he is selling: chestnut-sized cashews which he has been roasting all afternoon in his portable beach crank oven. I told him again that I wasn't hungry--because I really wasn't. But he was persistent. He reminded me of one of those Australian guys on infomercials. The ones who pronounce the "p" in raspberries. One bag of hand-roasted cashews for just 3 easy payments of $19.95. I finally gave in and paid him the $.25 cents he was asking. He thanks me graciously and continued off on his sales route into what seemed like no where. The cashews were delicious.
Soon thereafter a small boat motored by. Aboard, three grinning fishermen hammered out the metal links in their fishing nets. People are really happy here. It makes me feel good.
On my way back to the car, I pass a soccer game. Swarms of little soccer players following the ball around the beach like a cyclone. As I pass, the ball pops out to me and, having the instinct of a forward, I take it to goal. I ended up scoring a pretty nice goal, but the children said it didn't count. I continued playing for about 30 minutes after which one little player asked me if I wanted to join their league.
"When do you play" I asked.
"Every Saturday at midday."
"Are there any sign up fees or do I need to bring any shin guards?"
"OK great" I say. "What's our team called"
Before I get in the car, a jeep wrangler passes me by with its music blaring. My middle name being Doppler, I have a knack for identifying songs in fast moving cars. I continued the song after the jeep was long passed and sang the rest in its entirety.
I am not a writer. Nor a wordsmith. I am an international man of mystery. Read more about my panama travels at my website The Panama Report.
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Views expressed in the article are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of CaribbeanChoice, its staff or members.