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A bus-stop tennis clinic

We were stuck in rural Panama. Then kids began throwing rocks at us.


Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters

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During the winter of 2002, I had the opportunity to teach tennis at a luxury hotel in Nevis, an idyllic spot in the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean. My experience teaching and staying on the island was awe-inspiring. The island was sublime and the clientele, employees, and Nevisians could not have been more gracious. But it was also hard work!

After several weeks of teaching eight to 10 hours a day, I was the one ready for a vacation! I had anticipated this and had planned a surfing outing at a surf camp in Panama with my lifelong buddy, Clayton, after my teaching stint. I flew into Panama City with all my tennis bags, and off we went to the remote Bay of Chiriqui, on the western end of Panama's Pacific coastline.

To get to the camp, we had to load Clayton's surfboards and my tennis gear on and off several buses and boats. After eight hours of travel we finally arrived.

The camp was perfect for a couple of bachelors used to camping in Baja California, Mexico. The accommodations were sparse, but ample for what we required. The rooms had thatched roofs, and aside from the giant scorpion we found, they were ideal. I rented a board from the camp and we had an unbelievable week surfing good, uncrowded waves in warm water.

On our return trip, we made the boat connections, but when we got to the bus depot we learned that our bus back to Panama City had been delayed by 2-1/2 hours. The tropical sun was beating down on us, and the only shade was under a canvas canopy over a six-foot-wide slab of concrete with some chairs, next to the bus terminal attendant's office.


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