Today, another sunny day in paradise, brought with it a somewhat clearer view of the city in the distance. The giant skyscrapers are like eerie ghosts showing partly through the mist in the distance. We are told that the clearest days come after a rainy day in the wet season.
I thought you might enjoy some bird pictures from this area so after some futile attempts to attract birds to our big stone deck I packed the camera and headed down the road to talk to the expert, Antonio. He has a small feeding station set up off his upper deck and the birds are used to being fed there. A ripe banana, in the skin, is all it takes. There is a large pine tree close to his deck so the birds can gather in the safety of the tree and make the short hop over to the feeding station when it is their turn. There is a definite pecking order! Here of some of the characters that came to breakfast with us. I love the vivid colors and wide variety, although I was told that this is a small sampling.
We headed into town to get some gas for our Toyota and on the way back, we decided to explore what was behind a large statue of three concrete horses by the side of the road. We have passed it many times and always wondered what was down the road through the large archway, so today we headed down the road. Shortly, we came to a gate house with a security guard. Now our normal approach to these kind of things is to press on like we owned the place, which is what Andrea tried with the non-English speaking security guy. There was lots of motioning and finally, he stuck a clipboard through the window indicating we should put our names on the list. I noticed something that seems to becoming a trend on this trip. Any time a name is required by security people, it’s always my name that gets given. Hmmm. We handed back the clipboard and the gate was opened to us. We drove for several minutes on a well paved divided roadway before we could see a structure in the distance. It was a massive sprawling one story structure that looked very opulent from the distance. We continued to drive for several minutes more before coming up to a large covered driveway and entrance to the building. We parked the Toyota and walked in trying to look like we belonged not tourists. It was a massive open structure with fountains, archways, an open air restaurant and some offices. Andrea went into the office and came back with Josy, the English-speaking Events Coordinator for the Hacienda Country Club, that we had just crashed!
This beautiful place was empty, except for a goodly number of staff tidying up tables, fussing with the landscape and preparing food in the kitchen. Off in the distance, under a huge tropical shade tree, stood two brown horses, seemingly enjoying the cool of he afternoon breeze. With them was a large white crane. Josy gave us a tour of the facility, pointing out the only polo field in Panama, a show jumping ring that gets used for rodeo from time to time, a beautiful outdoor pool area that will accommodate functions of up to 2,000, stables to house the horses, numerous banquet rooms that can be rented for special functions and a golf driving range. Josy told us that there are now around 70 members but they hope for more in the future as they complete the 18 hole golf course and the kids pool area. In the future, you will be able to buy lots to build a house, or mansion, inside this gated complex. Want to join? It will cost you $8,000 for a 20 year membership and $100 per month dues or you can go month to month for $300 per month. Josy explained that the Guatemalan owner of the property had a vision for this place 18 years ago and that it has just come to reality over the last year or so. If you like polo, there is a match on Saturday at 5PM.
There was nobody around except us and the staff so we had a late lunch before saying goodbye to this fascinating place and heading back home for a dip in the pool.