Dinner with Max and Vittoria
At this point in our narrative, the decision about what to
do on the 4th of July began popping up. We had been hearing
of several boats that we know, KETCHING UP, WAHOO, and DELFIN
SOLO, on the SSB net each morning. They were at Isla Gamez,
only about 10 miles away, as the crow flies, and in fact close
enough so that we were able to raise them and talk to them on
the VHF radio. The consensus was that they were planning
a 4th of July celebration on Isla Gamez, on Friday, two days hence.
WAHOO, a motorboat with a 3' draft (and no mast) had pretty
much gone thru the same logic process as us and had decided
to come into Pedregal to check into the country on Tuesday.
In fact, when they went in, they passed within 100' of RHAPSODY
and we were able to talk to them for a bit. They said that
not only were they going to check in and get fuel in Pedregal
for themselves, they were going to fill up some jerry cans for
DELFIN SOLO and look for FIREWORKS for the party.
I asked them that if they found some would they please load
up some extras for me? They said sure, and in subsequent
conversations on the radio, we encouraged them to get
many more, rather than less, fireworks.
In the meantime, on Wednesday, a small motor boat approached
RHAPSODY and we could make out Vittoria, the owner of Cala Mia
on board. Skippering the boat was her Dutch husband Max, whom we were
introduced to. Since we were headed over to Bill and Ariana's
for afternoon cocktails at that moment, they came over and joined
the little party. The long and short of it is that they invited
everyone over to their house on Thursday night for dinner.
So, Thursday night rolled around and we took the dinghy across
the channel to Isla Brava where we hiked up the trail to Max
and Vittoria's house. It was every bit as beautiful, if
not more so, than the resort they had built, Cala Mia.
Being very nature oriented, they had built their house using
all teak wood from the island property they had purchased. The
wood work was exquisite, and the attention to artistic detail that
permeated the house made it feel a very warm, inviting, and
an interesting place.
Max told us that they had originally moved to Panama
from Costa Rica to set up a small Finca (ranch) to raise
cows and make cheese, and that the resort (Cala Mia) had
been an afterthought. In fact they were trying to sell
the resort, because, in Max's words, they moved here to
relax, not to run a business, and Cala Mia was becoming
too successful and requiring too much of their attention.
Bill and Ariana joined us at Max and Vittoria's for dinner.
Vittoria prepared a wonderful meal starting with a seaweed
salad, a main course of Indian lentils, beef, and rice that was absolutely
delicious (I had seconds!) and a dessert of ice cream and exotic
after dinner liquors made from lemon and rum.
The conversation proceeded well into the evening. Bill and Ariana
excused themselves and left at about 10:00 p.m. Max and Vittoria
invited us to spend the night rather than taking the dinghy back
in the rain to Rhapsody, which we accepted. The girls went to
bed at about midnight, and Max and I stayed up smoking and drinking
until at least 2:00 a.m.
When we awoke the next morning, it was like being in a tropical
paradise resort. Mind you, we had not slept on solid land
in over 3 months, so that alone was special. But their house,
and Max and Vittoria's hospitality, made the overnight feel like
a long, well deserved vacation. Vittoria made everyone a nice
breakfast the next morning, and since we had
made plans to go to Isla Gamez that day, we had to depart their
fine home rather early. We were surprised how quickly we
became close friends with Max and Vittoria. Perhaps it's just the
kind of high quality people they are, but after one evening together
we felt a very special bond with them. They told us to call
them when we get to Panama City and perhaps they'll come visit there.
We also invited them over to Isla Gamez for
the fireworks show (later that night). Finally we had to go,
so we hiked back down the trail from the house to their dock,
got back in the dinghy and headed for RHAPSODY.
On the way back to the boat we stopped by Bill and Ariana's house one more
time to thank them again for all of their hospitality and help thru our
time on Isla Ventana, and to invite them also to the fireworks.
Once again, we had originally planned to only stay a few days at
Isla Ventana and Boca Chica, but after meeting Bill and Ariana,
with everything that happened, culminating with meeting Max and
Vittoria, the time just flew by, and by the time we finally got
our stuff together to leave, we were surprised to find that we
had stayed there two weeks!
What a great place and what nice people!