Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Hemingway Experience: Barefoot and Bill Evans

Thursday - Enough is enough; I have to get some history and culture in here beyond the Old City. I passed by Barefoot Panama's office multiple times, so I investigated as to any rainforest tours - as it happens they had a monkey island and indian village (their words, not mine). A 7 hour trip all in, with an English speaking guide. There are 4 others on the tour, so it stands to reason that, unless they're 2 couples, it'll be some new friends. 
I tried to get a taxi for near half an hour, but I must be doing something wrong, because there doesn't seem to be anywhere suitable to be picked up. Any driver I wave to just waves me off. I figured any taxi without a passenger is fair game, but that doesn't seem to be the case. 
I chalk it up to bad timing, and grab some lunch from Casco’s first deli, Super Gourmet. A great lunch spot that has the menu on the walls, so as you eat your (admittedly) delicious sandwich (Grilled Chicken fillets, Gouda cheese, avocado, roasted bell peppers, lettuce, tomato, onion, balsamic vinaigrette, mayo and Dijon mustard), you have all kinds of food envy and regret. Just a good reason to come back I suppose. 

By the way - I don’t have a photographic memory; I just found their menu online. Only $8 for quality lunch. 

Harp in a park. Sure.

I was supposed to meet up with a girl after she finished work, so while I waited I headed over to ZAZA - a little more on the pricy side for dinner, but to hell with it - I’m on holiday, and it’s only me that I’m paying for. I arrived shortly after 7, a time I remember from my days at Alta Bistro as prime dinner rush time. 

(Insider tip: never make a reservation for 7pm. It’s the sweet spot of “not too early, not too late”, and it’s a pain in the ass to try and secure a table. Shoot for 6.30 or 7.30. Your service will probably be a little better because the server won't be slammed all at once, and it's always nice to be nice.) 

The door was shut, there were staff at the door inside, and a group of 4 French people were confused. That may as well have been a sign on the door saying "Closed for a private function". I pulled the cord straight after that, and headed back the way I came.  
As I walked through the alley, I noticed a man wheeling a double bass into Damilo’s jazz club. Boom. There’s my night. The band played from 8-9, and played tribute to piano jazz hero Bill Evans to a mostly empty room, save some impressively drunk Americans, a family of 4, and myself. And holy shit - it’s a Miles Davis night on Saturday. 

Juan Carlos de Léon on piano. Trust me: watch the video below.
The waiter recommended essentially the same thing I had at Tantalo the first night - pulled pork on fried cornbread - so I gave it a shot. Well, Jesus, it was amazing. (I don’t take pictures of food. Sorry.) I had finished eating by the time the band came on, so it was time for a Maker’s Mark, and to bury myself in the music. 

To me, this is Panama.

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