The Zipline to Peru

Panama – February 17, 2017

Zip line day today!

After breakfast we went out to the pool for some sun and reading, as usual. Headed to the lobby at 11:20 (about 10 minutes early) and our driver, Miguel, was there waiting for us.

We got on the Panama-Colón Expressway and were at La Granja (“The Farm”) in an hour or less. It’s a working farm and adventure camp where groups of adults and kids go for various camps and activities.

Our transportation up the hill was a trailer with bench seats pulled by a tractor. At the top was a platform and a thatched-roof treehouse right out of “Swiss Family Robinson”. We didn’t get to go up in the treehouse, but instead went through a thorough orientation on a pair of cables before getting on the short platform.

The first of five runs was the shortest—maybe 150 yards. The second and third were a bit longer and a lot faster; I could smell the leather pad burning on my braking glove. The fourth was the longest, at around 750 meters (close to half a mile!), and took us right over Gatun Lake. The fifth also took us over the water, but a little slower and about half the distance.

Our expedition complete, we hiked up the hill to the camp’s restaurant for a simple lunch of chicken, rice and salad, and an ice-cold Balboa Ice (which was pretty much as crappy as the “ice” beers in the States, but tasted like heaven after zip-lining on a hot day). A fantastic experience!

On the way back to the hotel, we were talking about restaurants and Miguel recommended a little Peruvian place right across from the hotel. He said it was a place where a lot of locals went, and it was good and reasonably priced, so we decided to go there for dinner.

After the requisite nap and shower—we had gotten pretty sweaty on the zip line—we strolled across busy Calle 50 to the strangely named Perú Chicken.

The wine was pretty cheap—house wines $12 a bottle—so I picked the Borgoña, which I assumed meant Borgogne/Burgundy/pinot noir. Turned out to be a sweet red served chilled…not our favorite, but it went strangely well with the food.

Peru is known for ceviche, but so is Panama…and we’d had quite a bit lately, so we went with the tiradito de pescado—also raw, but sliced very thinly as opposed to cubed, and marinated in a sauce of lime juice and ají amarillo (which was only mildly spicy). It was fabulous!

For the main dish I figured I should have the house special: pollo a la parrilla con papas. The grilled chicken was perfectly spiced, and the fries were awesome. (The salad was just OK.) It came with three sauces: ketchup, a creamy mustard/mayo, and a mint chimichurri which was perfect with the chicken. The star of the show, though, was Lisa’s chupe de pescado. It was a thick, creamy bisque loaded with fish and potatoes in a rich, tomatoey broth. Fantastic!

The dessert carousel looked tempting with a pie, flan, and some little puddings in footed bowls. The waiter said the pudding was called Suspiro Limeño (“sigh of Lima”). This dessert was named by the poet Jose Galvez, who likened it to the soft sweet sigh of a limeña (girl from Lima). Sold.

It’s one of the best desserts I’ve ever tasted: sweetened condensed milk, eggs, sugar, some port wine and a little cinnamon…super sweet and rich. Lisa tapped out after a couple of spoonfuls, but I cleaned the bowl.

It was probably our best meal in Panama, and the cheapest (for dinner, anyway). We may even be back for our last meal here…which will be tomorrow.

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