This post is part of a Panama Trip series.


The Coffee Estate Inn‘s directions are precise down to the one-tenth of a kilometer. Jack and I arrive at the electric gate and announce ourselves. Barry answers and we enter with some trepidation. He and Jane, and Jack and I, square off, shake hands awkwardly, and we follow them inside. Barry graciously offers us a pour of their homemade coffee liqueur and takes the time to review some local maps with us.

Coffee Estate Inn View Day

The Coffee Estate Inn grounds are immaculately tended and gorgeous: lush with plants, flowers, and birds. Our villas (with views overlooking the valley and extending to the mountains beyond) are spotless and no detail has been overlooked, including a provision of estate-grown coffee beans roasted just-this-morning, tiny loaves of home-baked banana bread, fresh flower arrangements, and starched linens turned down just-so. Five stars, Coffee Estate Inn. We’re starting to like it here.

“The last time that we had people here like you,” says Jane, eyeing us, “it was a woman from New York and her bodyguard.” People here “ like us”?

Jane begins our Coffee Estate Inn schooling in the combined kitchen/living room. She demonstrates the toaster oven, the tv, the wine coaster, the room safe, and the coffee bean grinder. She pulls out the french press.

“You’re familiar with a french press?” Blank looks from the peanut gallery…

Jane freezes, recovers, moves on to the traditional coffee machine.

“You’re familiar with a coffee machine?” I nod vigorously, nearly raise my hand. Jack shakes his head.

“So what do you do for coffee?” she inquires, suspiciously.

“I go to Starbuck’s.”

Jane removes the mini-coffee machine from the cupboard.

“Oh,” says Jack, “just like in hotels.”

“This IS a hotel,” corrects Jane. First, he doesn’t request the Thrifty reservation in writing, now this! Stupid Jack. Stupid! Stupid! Jane turns away and I call him Stupid Jack (he can handle it, he has an MBA from Wharton).

Thirty minutes later, at the end of the tour, Jane asks if we have any questions.

“Can we get porn on this thing?” I ask, pointing to the tv. So tempted, so tempted, so tempted. But in reality I wimp out and say nothing.

We stop in front of the door prior to exiting, and Jane informs us that we must keep the door locked. A reasonable request…Then she hands me the keys, and instructs me to practice locking the door.

“Are you serious?” She nods. She’s serious.

I lock the door, unlock the door, and robotically return the keys. Jane hands them to (Stupid) Jack, who takes his turn.

We move to the outside doorstep. We stand here. We stand longer still. Jane holds out the keys to me and looks me in the eyes: she wants me to practice locking the door from the outside! But this is where I draw the line.

There she stood in the doorway;

I heard the mission bell

And I was thinking to myself,

“This could be Heaven or this could be Hell”

Read the entire Panama Trip series.

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