It’s been a very emotional week for me and Nettie here in Casco Viejo, Panama. We arrived Friday for what will be our last week in Central America, and learned Monday morning that Annette’s dear Uncle Hal had passed away. He’d been ailing for some time, which is to say his death was not completely unexpected, but he was in many ways a father to Annette and we were very close to him and his wife Lilly and our distance from the family of Annette’s cousins and the heartbeat of own children was wretched.

Hal

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Uncle Hall was 92 years old and his life was rich and fulfilling; it was in fact the kind of life filled with love and family and laughter and children and grandchildren and nieces and nephews that all of us would gladly care to reflect upon as our own life. Fortunately, Nettie and I saw him quite recently and spent a lovely few days recalling family histories and joking the long voyage down memory lane.

A couple of years ago, I posted a blog commemorating Hal’s 90 birthday. I’ve just re-read it, and I wouldn’t change a single word. Click here if you care to see Birthday at the Meadows.

Now…here’s the post I had on tap for this Monday morning…

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Okay, the title’s a bit of a trick. I wasn’t actually the one doing the fishing here in Panama City, but Uncle Hal sure was with us in mind and spirit as Nettie and I went to the Mercado De Mariscos (Seafood Market) here in Casco Viejo (Old Town) where we’re staying across the bay from downtown Panama City, Panama.

When we travel, we typically like to stay in houses or apartments so that we can be in the middle of the local community, shop with the locals, dine at the typical places locals dine, and most importantly, cook the local cuisine in our own kitchen for some of our meals.

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Panama is a country barely 50 miles wide with the Caribbean/Atlantic on the East and the Pacific on the West, so as you might imagine seafood is virtually everywhere.

Panama City

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Our own seafood market is just a gentle ten minute walk from our apartment on Panama Bay, past the Presidential Palace, with a view to the modern city a few miles away.

The market is bustling by 7:00 a.m. when the small fishing boats come in with their catch of the day. Everyone shops here…neighborhood families, restaurant chefs, fish distributors, and us. With a huge selection of the freshest wild caught fish imaginable and great prices ($2.50 a pound for crab or calamari and $7.00 a pound for huge wild caught tiger shrimp, langostino and lobster), it was hard to stop ourselves from buying enough to last a month.

When we first arrived a week ago Friday, Nettie planned a menu beginning with shrimp appetizers and then what you might call cioppino if you were visiting Positano, Italy, or bouillabaisse if you were in Bordeaux, France, or paella if you were in Madrid, Spain, but here in Panama, they call it cazuela de mariscos or seafood stew. Not a sexy sounding dish, it’s true, but man was it ever delicious!

Here’s a photo link to our visit to the seafood market and the meal we made from what we “caught” there:

Mercado De Mariscos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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