We decided to drive north to David & Boquete for the weekend, about 200 miles away. We still had to pay for the deposit & registration to “the Car Guy” Keith who found us our car. He lives in Boquete and there were some contacts that Mikkel had made through their blogs & forums who lived in David or Boquete he wanted to meet personally as well. So he emailed them and set up times to meet while we were in the area. On our previous trip in January, we had stayed at the Las Olas Beach Resort, about 30 miles from David, so we made reservations to stay again (nice old-style resort for $60 per night).
Anyway, we are about 25 miles past Santiago, the last main town, traveling through the jungle on the pothole-ridden Panamerican Hwy. when the back right tire blew. We got to an area to stop safely on the side of the road and luckily found a jack in the rear compartment (we had not checked for it when we bought the car). As Mikkel was working on jacking up the car to put on the spare, I look behind and saw an old man dressed in white pants and shirt with a machete in his right hand walking toward us on the side of the road from the top of the hill. I mentioned him to Mikkel, who looks up, but is really too busy trying to fix the tire. It took 3 tries to put on the spare because the hydraulic jack would not lift the car high enough. He had to use 2 blocks of wood, a rock from the roadside, and his sandals to finally lift the car high enough. I was standing by helping when asked, but kept looking back at this old man slowly approaching us. At one time he disappeared; I thought he may have walked off into the jungle. But a few minutes later he reappeared. He finally walked to about 20 ft. from our car and stopped. I looked up and smiled, but then resumed helping Mikkel on his last try to put the spare tire on. When I looked back, the old man with the machete was gone. I walked back behind the car where he had stopped and saw him walking through the jungle up over a small hill and disappeared. I heard some dogs barking, so I figured there must be a home or something back there to where he may be going. But when I mentioned him again to Mikkel, he said he never saw anyone walking toward us on the road, even though he had looked back several times, and he never head any dogs barking. I posted 2 pictures from Google images that kind of looks like him.
So what do you think? Was this man a figment of my imagination and I’m just crazy? Was he possibly an angel in disguise to help me remain calm and feel safe while Mikkel figured out how to change the tire? Or was he just an old man with a machete walking to his destination somewhere in the jungle near us and the machete (which is commonly seen held by many walking along the road) was used to clear the path; and Mikkel was just too involved in replacing the tire to really observe? I will leave that question up to you. I do know that God was watching over us during this time. It was even threatening to rain with thunder, but did not start until we were back on the road.
We did finally get the spare tire on, and made it safely to Las Olas that evening. The next day, we were able to buy 2 new tires, installed and had all tires balanced for a very reasonable cost at a tire center in David, per a recommendation from one of Mikkel’s contacts, Don Ray Williams, who we would meet later.
I will share our adventures of the rest of our trip on the next blog.