Lesson #1... If you use your Western brain to make an assumption about Panama, you're going to assume wrong.
The drive to the farm started on the Pan-American Highway, a nicely paved 4-lane highway. We then turned off onto a smaller street, which became bumpier and curvier. With every passing twist, the road narrowed, had more potholes and eventually lost the paving. Long before we reached the farm, we were on a rocky, unpaved dirt road. Several hundred meters up--when I thought we'd left civilization far behind--we came upon a soccer match in the middle of nowhere. The players had on bright new uniforms and it looked like an entire village was there watching. The funniest part is that the soccer field encompassed the road, so we watched a few plays while we waited for an out-of-bounds ball before continuing on our journey.
The road continued through a stream. Yes, it's a good thing we had 4-wheel drive because there wasn't a bridge... we actually drove through a stream... and then up a rocky incline that make the steep streets of San Francisco look like mild rolling hills. On the passenger side was a cliff with a sheer drop off. I was face-to-face with my mortality, and somehow, I was okay with it.
When we finally got to the "'farm," it wasn't what I expected. Instead of nicely manicured rows of crops, it was raw land with dozens of humpback cattle. I took one look at the uneven ground, the high grass and the prominent cow patties, and I knew that trying to traverse the terrain with bare legs and $100 flip flops would end badly. Sometimes you take the less painless road, which for me meant staying in the car.
David was wearing a bright red shirt. He and a bull had a testosterone-filled moment that got David's adrenaline in high gear, but other than that the guys were able to tour the farm uneventfully.
We stopped at a little local market on our way back down to the beach town of Coronado, but that market didn't sell beer. They ended up with a local version of Gatorade and some freshly made bread sticks. Fresh bread at a little Panamanian market? Go figure. Since lunch had consisted of an apple and a cheese stick, the bread was delicious.
A few minutes after we finished our bread sticks, we pulled up behind an ice cream truck... the kind that has blaring music and attracts kids of all ages. After the hot and sweaty trek at the farm, ice cream sounded like manna from heaven. We chased down the ice cream truck with our horn and ended up with Styrofoam cups of freshly scooped ice cream. The cherry and chocolate flavors were both incredibly good.
My first trip to a farm in Panama was much more of an adventure than I'd anticipated, especially since the farm was only 2 hours from the chic cosmopolitan playground known as Panama City. To be honest, this farm was what I had originally expected from Panama before I came for the first time, and it was a nice adventure ...and it even had a cherry on top. Well, at least cherry ice cream.