6 september continued…
I am in Santa Fe. It is a quiet mountain town which has a ghostly, half-abandoned atmosphere. There are horses tied up outside supermarkets. Incidentally, the fact that every Panamanian town, no matter how small or remote, has a Chinese supermarket, is something that baffles me. A lonely wind blows over cloud-covered mountains. Even the moon seems lonely, hanging in the misty cornflower blue sky.
Today I discovered “Chichas”: essentially a fresh fruit juice slush. I had passionfruit. I am noticing a penchant for extreme surliness in women working in cafes and shops. Also, a penchant for dramatic drawn-on eyebrows. A combination of surliness and drawn-on eyebrows can prove terrifying for a mild-mannered British tourist.
I saw a sign today that said:
I WILL EXPLAIN
with a phone number.
I like it when women (it seems to be just women) cross themselves and say a prayer before boarding a minibus. It makes me feel like we are covered, and I don’t have to bother.
I am treating myself to a private room as it is my birthday. Dorms are great for socializing etc. when you are travelling but good god I am looking forward to a night of uninterrupted sleep without midnight fart worry.
Travelling alone is peaceful and fulfilling and special. It can have its lonely moments but nothing you don’t get used to quickly, leaving so much space in your head to really process what is going on around you.
Breakfast is freshly-made “hojaldres”, fried floury things with cinnamon. I squash a boiled egg into them and eat them with lovely fresh mountain coffee, whilst thinking about how focussing on an end-point or a final result can often destroy the best aspect of a really creative phase. It is difficult to find that balance between productivity and freedom.
I made my way to Maria and Cho’s organic farm, on the outskirts of Santa Fe, for a wonderful afternoon. I listened in rapture as Maria described how she had raised every orchid in her orchid garden, even the miniature ones which were so small they were hard to see. I talked about politics with Cho, who believes most of the human race will die out within the next twenty or thirty years, leaving a small group of people responsible for whatever the next step will be. Maria cooked me delicious food, “toda de la finca” and I had the best fun of my entire life feeding chickens. Chickens are hilarious creatures. I would recommend a visit to this farm to anyone.
Hostal La Quia, Santa Fe. Gorgeous place. Peaceful, right in the mountains. Some top-quality hammocks, although the one in the ranch house can get a bit breezy. Just warning you.