Sometimes when I am out on the scooter, I catch myself grinning like a loon for no discernable reason. It must be because I enjoy riding it so much. And I find there are two roads here in the Las Tablas area that are a special joy for scooter rides.
The first is the road from Las Tablas to Playa Uverito. Blessing ex-President Martinelli in spite of all his sins comes to mind when I’m on this road. Its current airport –smooth condition is his doing, as the road to Uverito was included in his push to improve the highways in Panama. Of course, since Uverito is somewhat off the beaten path, my inner cynic says he included it one of the vacation houses out there belongs to a high government honcho.
But who cares? Except for the bit that goes past the dump, where the vultures circle and the roadside is littered with garbage, the road is a joy to drive. It’s not only smooth, it’s scenic. Loaded with trees and meadows filled with grazing cows, glimpses of mountains, and very occasional peeks at the Pacific, it has just enough swoops and turns to make it gently interesting. And it’s not just scenic, this road has built-in entertainment for those not enclosed by steel. There are distinct temperature changes – the air is hot against your skin until surprise! There is a puff of cool air as you whiz in and out of miniature valleys that have temporarily captured a bit of chilled ocean breeze. It’s a lovely sensation.
The other road I really love to drive is, very fortuitously, the very one that takes me home from Las Tablas to Peña Blanca. The road from the fork into Cocal and then on to Peña Blanca is truly lovely. The huge trees that line it are old and shady, the homes that nestle among those trees are lemon yellow, orange, blue, pink and green, colorful and well-kept, and the smiling faces I see along it wave and say “Hola!” This road isn’t especially smooth, as it has a few potholes and a few more rough spots. There are places where I need to take care not to drive down the center of my lane so the wheel won’t catch in the groove there.
There are also two of the biggest speed bumps I have ever seen in my life, three feet deep and a good eight inches high, stretching all the way across the road. ALL the cars and trucks slow to nearly full stop before going over them. The photo shows you why. The first time I drove the road I went over the one with the slight muffin top a bit too fast and nearly got flipped off the scooter. That was a little too much “Whee!” for me. Now, like everyone else, I slow down to almost nothing on my approach and the bumps are nothing more than extra entertainment on the road.
When I ride home from the pool around 6:30, the sun is setting. (This is the tropics, remember?) That “golden hour” beloved of photographers is also the time when all the little Panamanian bugs that live in and around those trees I enjoy so much are out making their dinner run. Riding into Peña Blanca after the short open space between it and Cocal, I am always reminded of that old joke about how you can tell how much fun a motorcyclist has been having by counting the bugs in his teeth. I am also reminded of the predator jokes about dinner guests who become dinner, because if these bugs and I are not mutually careful, what the bugs intend for me will be reversed.
I just have to remember to laugh with my mouth closed.