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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

Into Panama

PANAMA | Saturday, 6 November 2010 | Views [1508]

As I walked across a bridge that seemed to be hastily put together, big-rigs were driving across yet there are holes that make it easy enough to lose your camera or passport forever! Hold on tight to your stuff and watch your step! This is how my travels in Panama begin; my first time here after my third time in Costa Rica.

As I approached the window where I get my Panama passport stamp, a tout was harassing me, asking me for a plane ticket out of Panama. When I explained that I was flying out of Costa Rica, he told me that I had to take his bus to Guabito for $10. It's a lie! No way would I do that. So I got my stamp and a special sticker and then walked through the area that's typical of Central American border towns: garbage everywhere, stores selling fruit or whatever people could sell. The only difference is that I didn't hear anyone yelling "cambio, cambio" because Panama uses the American dollar; it's called "balboa" here! What's ironic is that I live on Balboa Blvd. and now I'm in the land of the balboa. A taxi picked me up and drive me to Guabito for $1.25. There are Panamanian flags everywhere! Either the independence day was recently or Panamanians are just deeply patriotic. Anyways, a man from Costa Rica in the taxi told about how touts at the border will say anything they want to get people to buy their services. My plan was it either hitchhike or take a bus to Boquete, so the taxi dropped me off right at the bus station where there is a bus going to David: Panama's second-largest city. For only $8 I thought it's worth it. As much as I wanted to hitch, $8 for a bus ride is a deal. In a place like Panama, you hitchhike only for the sheer joy of it, because transport is already absurdly cheap. It was 4:30 and I was hoping to get to Boquete tonight. The CouchSurfer's house (her name is Ellen) is seemingly out of the middle of nowhere and I don't have a mobile phone to call her. As we continued, we drove past Bocas del Toro. I'd be a fool to pass up these islands but I wanted to get off the tourist track and see some of the real Panama. As we drove it got darker; I could see nothing, but a local sitting next to me let me use his phone so I could call Ellen. She told me that the last bus to Potrerillos (where she lives) leaves David at 8:30, and I wouldn't get there until almost 10:00. She recommended staying in Boquete for the night because it's pitch black where she lives. I told her I'd have a go at it but if need be I'll stay in Boquete. Approximately halfway into our journey, we stopped at a cafeteria but I figured I'd grab something to eat when I got to David, Boquete, or wherever. Toward the end of the ride, a local kept screaming at the top of his lungs at the driver for some reason; it reminded me of an episode in Belgium a couple of years ago when passengers were furious at a driver. I had no idea what the hell was going on but I just wanted to get up and stretch. After five hours on the bus I was in sweaty David. There is very little to see in David; it's just a pass-through city. Then I was going to try to hitchhike to Boquete, but I found out that the road to Boquete is quite a distance away and that there's a bus for like a dollar leaving, so I opted for that. As we drove up to Boquete it started raining again! It's been five days on this journey and I haven't seen the sun or a blue sky at all! It's sad and depressing because I haven't really shot a single decent photo yet. It rained and it rained some more as we rolled up into Boquete. At a little cafeteria I stopped and got some typical Panamanian fare before I checked into a hostel. The food here is OK but it's rather boring; much like Cuban or Costa Rican food. The rule is that the further north you go in Central America, the better the food. With the exception of having the US dollar as its currency, Panama doesn't seem to be as Americanized as Costa Rica. Definitely there are fewer tourists than in Costa Rica as well. The hostel, called "Hostal Palacios" is a basic place; nothing special. Although there are stickers all over the wall and the owner seems to be rather colourful. Even though I was tired, I wanted to go for a walk, so I went to the 24-hour supermarket across the street and got a cup of coffee. This area is said to have some of the best coffee in Panama. Well, it's night-time now so I'll tell all about Boquete soon. This is how my travels in Panama begin! I have now been to 19 countries and counting...

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