Tuesday, January 19, 2010

central america: revisited

All Good Things Must Come To An End


Up before dawn, Jackie and I were stoked to make our way back to Panama. Luckily, I had set my alarm for the wrong time and Jackie and I were up and ready to go by 3:35 am. According to the guard at Rockin' Jays, who seems to be the only Spanish speaker with whom Jackie can communicate, it was too dangerous for us to walk to the bus station at that hour, so we chilled in the magical beach-side hammocks until the sun rose.

Fortunately, this waiting period allowed me to see my future baby daddy, Jay, canoodling with an unidentified blond during the wee hours of the morning. They appeared to be retuning from a beach tryst. I know I should be offended, as our commitment to one another was solidified the moment I wrote 10 people in the US about it and said nothing to him, but I was instead turned on by the fact that he behaves inappropriately with those he houses temporarily. Y´all know what a sucker I am for a bad boy.

We headed to the bus shortly there after and bus did we do. First a bus from Puerto Viejo to Sixaola. Then a truck driven by the portly Pappito (his real name!) to Changuinola then a bus to David and THEN one to Panama City. 14 hours later Jackie and I rolled into our favorite bus station and hopped in a cab back to La Jungla hostal. Marcos, our tour guide/friend from the start of our trip was there to greet us and we proceeded to pass out.

Today consisted of a day at the beach on an island 12 k from PC. Tanorexia has seriously set in and I did my best to get some rays and chat awkwardly with the Panamanians on the garbage infested beach while I still could.

Casco Viejo is next where the cobble stone streets and dilapidated buildings I have been craving were to be found. Once a man holding an automatic weapon told us it was dangerous to be where we were we headed in a bachata filled cab back to the water front for Jackie´s last meal as a 27 year old.
Tomorrow is a birthday breakfast and a flight back to the states.

2 Girls, 2 Countries, 2 Time Zones

Jackie and I are now in Costa Rica and have finally found the (almost) perfect weather. Bocas got better after my last email and we went to some LOST-inspired deserted island for the day with some fellow travelers, including Ron, our Bocas roomie from Australia and our young tour guides who, of course, I chose to focus most of my attention on.

To practice my Spanish, of course!

Our last night in Bocas Jackie and I officially became the cliche of youthful travelers and chilled at the hostel and I continued to chat up Eduardo (our boat captain for the island) while watching the horrific Haiti coverage on CNN. We made cocktails that consisted of strange strawberry ice cream, fresh pineapple, and strawberry daiquiri Boons, the only alcohol we could locate that was within our budget. This is not a concoction I would recommend.

Jacks and I departed the following morning and got a beautiful view of the isles of Bocas as we headed to the Costa Rica with the most gregarious Kentuckians who were dying to talk politics, a pretentious Australian who has set up shop in Central America and who seemed to be the good will ambassador to the country after her 6 months of time here, and an amorous Argentinian couple who chose to use their mouths for besos as opposed to actual conversation.

A windy road and a couple banana plantations later and we landed in Puerto Viejo where I believe I will live out the rest of my days. This sleepy little surf town is filled with colorful houses, tropical air, and local surfers.

Dad, after hearing and Antony and the Johnsons/Bjork duet coming out of one of the local eateries, I decided you needed to move here. I think I am going to look into buying a house, so I will let you crash, as you and Mom did the first 18 years of my life.

Per a friend's suggestion and at the insistence of the woman at the boat dock we landed at Rockin' Jays, a hostel with mosaics and hammocks and a bloated middle aged proprietor whom I have decided might need to be my permanent object of affection.

Despite the fact that after shooting a local named Dennis the Menace I got into a confrontation about cultural differences, essentially, Jay calmed my nerves and will soon be whisking me off of my feet, whether he knows it or not.
Jackie will be planning the wedding in Panama, so stock up on sunscreen now!

Tomorrow morning is a bus back to the border so Jackie can relive her goal of walking across it (which we did just days ago) and then several more buses to head back to Panama City for our return.

Just in case any of you were jealous of my travels, thinking it was all fun in the sun, allow me to run down my list of injuries/ailments incurred whilst on this adventure:
A bump on my head painful to the touch from banging it on the night bus
A bruise on my arm swollen the size of an egg and blue from gripping the boat too tightly
Big, open wound blisters on my feet that make it almost unbearable to walk
A sun burn that left me shivering under the covers my last night in Bocas
My monthly bill with no tampons in sight (sorry gentlemen)
A cold that looks as though it will last just the duration of the trip, making my wipe my nose like a coke head every 5 minutes
AND what are soon to be full blown dreds, and washing does not seem to be a priority here
So, just when you think I am in a tropical paradise, think again..

Although I do believe I saw one of the most beautiful bare asses I have ever seen today....
But I digress...
Hope you all have a great weekend and Jackie and I will be back in the office on Tuesday...
Monday is her birthday, so I am sure well wishes will be welcomed.

Rain Rain Go Away

Mother Nature is playing a dirty joke on the poor American girls as rain has just begun yet again. We thought we were in the clear, but alas. Jackie and I roamed the streets of Bocas yesterday afternoon nearly jumping for joy at the first sight of blue skies only to be met by rain once again. Weather is big talk on the island, and luckily something I know how to discuss in Spanish.

My most interesting encounter yesterday was a 13 year old boy who continued to circle me on his Schwinn in Espanol asking to take me to bed and telling me I have a beautiful ass. I have to admit, I respect the kids chutzpah and we all know the ass comment is just a fact, but despite the fact that I think such indiscretions are legal here in Panama, I used my better judgment and resisted the nino's come ons.

Jackie and I tried to get off of the island yesterday, but missed the last bus so we changed locations to another hostel that is far less rustic and far more hygienic. It is also FILLED with Argentinians, as they are on some sort of winter break. Luckily everyone on the island seems to think I am one of them, so I am a happy camper.

We had booked tickets today to go to Costa Rica on a shuttle bus and try to get away from this weather but when we ran outside to check the sky at 730 am like five year olds rising on Christmas morning the skies looked blue, so we postponed to go on a sailing trip that I had been planning. Unfortunately, the captain decided to make other plans without informing us and we have since booked a tour through our hostile. Moments later, it began to rain again. I can take comfort in the fact that my new Argentinian language coach, Julien will be escorting us and I can practice my lispy accent while being soaked to the bone.

Wish us luck, with weather and under age foreigners.

Bocas Del Toro Is A Deserted Island

Wow. It feels already like we´ve been here forever.

Of course, we befriended a local who took us to all the hot spots yesterday and dropped is at the bus station, to make sure we were safe and sound. It would have been so gentlemanly if only he hadn't insisted Jackie and I basically check in with him before we take a leak because, while in Panama, we were his (Marcos) and Ulysses´ (our driver for the day) responsibility. Needless to say, this didn´t go over with us so well. I tried to explain the culture of American women. Not sure how much really sunk in. Needless to say it looks as though I need a slightly Americanized Latino with whom to procreate, because the last time I checked in with somebody to go to the bathroom I was in elementary school, and I wasn´t a big fan of it then either.

In true native form, I got to experience my first time at a race track in Panama City and found that if a dark skinned man is wearing a Yankees cap and a white t-shirt and listening to reggaton, I feel as though I am at home. Shout out Washington Heights!

Our night bus from Panama City to Bocas Del Toro on the Caribbean coast was artic and as Jackie and I cuddled for warmth I cursed the bus Nazi who would not allow me to get my boots from under the bus when stopped at one of our many middle of the night pit stops.I attempted to break the rules and sneak my stuff out, only to slam my head so hard on the bus door that I now have a huge knot. I suppose listening to authority has never really been my strong suit!

We went from bus to cab to boat in the wee hours of the morning today, watching the sun rise over the Bocas del Toro rain forest.
I sat next to a young local wearing a New Orleans' Saints hat on the boat.

It took us a while to find Dona Oti, out pad for the next couple of days. Once in our RUSTIC hostel, that had been coordinated for us by Marcos, my new Panama City boyfriend, we crashed for a couple hours being awoken around 9 am to noisy Chileans and a tropical storm that kept us indoors all day. Talk about cabin fever.

The crackers and cashews we had stashed from the bus station in PC were not enough to tide us over and after being too scared to venture out in Tropical Storm No Fun all day (needless to say we were not prepared with rain gear) Jackie and I made a run for it, garbage bag rain jackets in tow. The run was not so far, as we discovered an American themed bar literally across the street at which we paid exorbitant prices for foul food and beverage.

I cannot express to you how beautiful I feel after not brushing my teeth or changing my underwear for whole days. I should def include that on my eharmony profile!

Since we were land locked, and by land locked I mean room locked all day, we are hoping to go sailing tomorrow as planned with Captain Marcel.

These places have been a little touristy for my liking, but hey, I am in Panama. I am not complaining!

Safe And Sound In Central America

Jackie and I landed safely in Panama City this afternoon to a balmy, if not unimpressive day in PC. Nothing like getting up to near freezing temperatures in New York City and landing in sweat central. Not that I am complaining. Like many big cities it is dirty and industrial. There seem to be countless mid-construction projects that have halted mid way, like my nephews playing with their legos, only to be distracted by a shiny object or colorful light and running off mid project. We are off to see the Panama Canal (ill be sure to get some shots for your bucket list, Mom) and check out the rain forest before hopefully heading to Bocas Del Toro on the Caribbean coast on a night bus tomorrow. For any of you that remember my encounter with the guerrillas of Peru last year on my night bus, wish me luck! And send me a bullet proof vest.

They accept American currency here and maintain American prices. Guess all of Latin America is not cheap! We are living tonight in a hostile name La Jungla that is very ex pat and full of Nordics and women with lax hygiene. Luckily, we have an older Argentinian with questionable fashion sense, and questionable intentions in our room. He rose from his nap today to find me and Jackie changing.
Am I getting too old for this shit...

On a serious note, so glad I am here.
Will check in soon.

january 2010