A Visit To La Rosa De Los Vientos in Panama; a Place Apart From The Hubbub World

La Rosa de Los Vientos Pedasi front outside view – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingRobert and Isabelle Shahverdians found the place that eventually became La Rosa de Los Vientos in Pedasi, Panama after they had traveled Costa Rica and found it wanting.  They then moved around Panama, to see if there was something better.
In the environs of Pedasi, they found a  place where the road had few inhabitants and came to a bit of land that faced the Pacific, around a small bay lapped by quiet waves.  It was there that they made their spot at the end of the world, and from where their porch could catch the blue line of the ocean from beyond the pasture where a horse now gallops in its paddocks and the pink blossoms of the trees are spicy and warm.
One finds a destination in Panama by direction and landmark, because addresses are mostly nonexistent and are just descriptions of what is nearby, like using signs of other significances, shapes and colors of distinguishing buildings or eye-catching plants. To arrive at one’s intention is mostly through guessing or prior experience, or by luck emanating from the mystery of it all.
We were at the telephone booth on the main drag of the surfer town of Pedasi, calling to find La Rosa de Los Vientos after having traveled the Panamanian Highway until it split at what the locals call “The Divisa”, through the road construction work that left us time to admire the trees that sprung from the fence posts that grid the cattle country, panic through the maze of the commercial frenzy of  Chitre and Las Tablas, until this little hamlet with actual street names, we were told by the innkeepers to look for their sign at the crossroads of town and drive until we were finally just there, as another sign would indicate.
We had traveled coastally without a view of the sea for an hour, and now through the main thoroughfare, which reminded me of Haleiwa Town on Oahu, by the traditional plaza.  Then, as the houses thinned to acreages, we finally made a sharp turn onto a gravel driveway with and a hint of the alluring sea further down the dirt road we were traveling.
Robert with a horse at La Rosa de Los Vientos, Pedasi, Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingRobert and Isabelle greeted us warmly to their Zen home set amongst the vigor of tropical succulents and climbers.
The inn is one room deep , so that it breathes with the breeze, the sliding glass door open to the back garden, pasture, and sea, the windows high above the front door, taking the air ushered out by the ceiling fan on its cooling path through the white room.  A horse gallops in its grassy paddock, its mane the movement we watch over coffee from Boquete on a porch whose view of the ocean is just beyond the curling sound of the waves. The Pacific is down the dirt road, where on either side of the path, crabs with red claws in the thick vines clack loudly, and once down to the water, you see a tiny bay, the warm waters of Playa El Toro, with a rocky ledge on one side and on the other, a small resort and houses near the sand, ever near the ocean’s embrace.
Their inn is rectangular building, clay tiled and of single room depth, the couple’s private enclave at the end with three adjacent lodgings side by side.  It is simple and classic, timeless and modern, and in tune with the moderate humidity and heat through overcast skies that met us there those few days in May.
Upon entering our room we noted the high windows that were open to catch the breezes that are delivered through the ceiling fan around the low bed to the opening of the sliding glass doors to the green belt that gives space to relax, away from the jungle that you know was once there, exchanging cool breaths with the near ocean air.  The walls and the bedding are a classic white.  There are chairs with broad leather backs, end tables of quiet demeanor and lamps with uncolored shades, wall decorations embroidered and woven to punctuate the peace, a bathroom sparse and clean; nothing excluded, when combined, everything neutral  but rich.
Cows on the road near Pedasi, Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingWe drop our belongings and head for El Toro Beach on the path that we would walk for just a few minutes. There is little resort right across from the water with thatched roofed tables.  The sand is pocked with holes, where crabs scampered into, disappearing with the foam. The waves are even and methodical and the shore curves gently.  There is a rocky outcrop on which to watch the march of the breakers, and no one around but occasionally, Isabelle, lost in her thoughts, with her dog, walking besides the homes just out of reach of the surf.
My husband in the water delights in its warmth. Was this a beach once enjoyed mainly by bulls as the name suggests? And would their beef be salty from the spray off the beach?
In my correspondence with Isabelle, I had asked if she needed anything for her outpost, and if by her last name, was she Armenian. She replied that her husband was Armenian and she was French-Swiss, and no, they did not need anything. I pressed her and told her that I would bring her bulgur wheat and dried apricots, and was she sure that there was nothing else? She admitted her husband had a sweet tooth, and would love halva.
 Before we left, we had tried to find halva, but could not source it. So instead I filled a bag with the whole and ground spices that were rare but customary in a good shish kabob like fennel seed and I think paprika and cumin.  I presented Robert and Isabelle with them with this gift, and another of chocolates as a fair runner-up, little packets of caramels, raisins and peanuts all covered with chocolate that I thought might please instead.  They rejoiced at this and the bulgur, planning to be used in a dish of Robert’s grandmother.
Eating utensils outside La Rosa de Los Vientos, Pedasi – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingWe had mislaid our Panamanian cell phone and, ever the resourceful host, Robert helped us find it by calling it. He offered us use of his Lonely Planet Guide to find the hidden beaches further down the coast. At night, the light attracted flying insects, so he attached a mosquito net from the ceiling, a simple arrangement of an ancient act. It surrounded us like a bridal veil. We saw lightening bugs out past the screened door.  Nearby sparks and distant lightening danced in the darkness.
Robert speaks with a deep voice that we admire; he knows many languages and was a caterer in Los Angeles, from where he chose to remove himself, unhappy with the pace. He serves the coffee and identifies it from Boquete, the finest in the land. Isabelle makes homemade marmalade and tells us of the best places to eat, introduces us to her neighbors, explains what it was like to settle their property, the difficulty to find help in a country that is nearly fully employed and the opportunity they leapt upon to buy their place before the true value of the area was known to others.
The thunder of the night gives way to a dawn of clacking birds that my husband’s percussive ear finds to be a great way to enter morning consciousness.  It was wonderful to sit upon the Shahverdians' porch, with its posts spaced for hammocks, imagining what it was like for them before Robert put in the electricity, and all Isabelle had was the well for water and the resolve to live tranquilly with the land, the climate, the energy of the giving soil within the reach of the sea at Pedasi. 
Life seems remote at La Rosa de los Vientos, adrift from the hubbub world, though Pedasi with its alfresco dining spots and ex-pat community is close, and the competition surfing spots at Venao are not far. Here the day awakens with the clattering of birds, proceeds with clouds buffering the heat, and ends with creature and celestial luminescence, as it was when only fishermen and ranchers made note of these pleasing occurrences.

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