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first week travelling panama

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It has only been a week since we left the volunteer house but it seems like we have done so much, so here goes trying to remember it.

After the overnight 10 hour buys to Quito we relaxed in the airport, but when I say relaxed I really mean killing serious time. In total we were around 6 hours around and in the airport, not fun especially as I had lost both my mp3 and my ukulele on the bus. So eventually we took the plane, around a 2 hour journey up to Panama City. The view coming in was reminiscent of New York, loads of high rise buildings, really densely packed together, quite a site. After negotiating the bus and a taxi we eventually caught up with Rosie and her friend Danny. We stayed there for 2 nights in somebody’s house, sleeping in the hall, part of the couchsurfers idea. The next night we went to see the carnival in town. This was basically like a music festival but in the middle of the city, involving lots of music, beer and cheap hot dogs, so altogether not too bad. The next day involved a lot of walking around the city, all the way over from Casco Viejo, to Calle Uruguay, a rich area near the banking district. We then planned to check out the carnival, then return later once wrighty had arrived. However this hit a small speed bump.

The first time we came to the carnival it was a pretty secure deal. They had police on the door doing searched and checking id, although they didn’t check ours. Anyway I took my old passport with the corner snipped off as a form of identification when we went back i8n the afternoon. Even though none of the others had a passport they all got through without any problems while I actually got detained. Because I didn’t have the entry stamp into the country they thought I may have been an illegal immigrant. so in the end I had to wait in their care for about 2 hours on the side of the street waiting for the others to fetch my actual passport. by the time we actually got in only had about 30 mins before we had to go back.

That night we returned with wrighty and had to face a mammoth queue to get in. After 1 and a half ho0urs waiting we finally got in and were just in time to see the procession. There were numerous floats and people dancing on them etc. after a while we wandered over to a stage hearing the song te amo by Makano, a Panamanian rapper we like. it turns out it was actually him, so we stayed and listened to his set which has really good fun, mainly for me and Sherwin because we knew his songs, but i guess the others found it fun y to laugh at our enthusiasm. After finding another music place we danced for a bit, eventually leaving around 2 in the morning.

The next day, our last in Panama City, we visited the canal, around half an hour outside the city. After seeing a huge ship pass through the locks and then wandering through the museum we headed out. So we headed up to the summit national park and zoo. here we saw crocodiles, monkeys, tapir, harpy eagle, but we failed to see the alleged jaguar.

That night we took the night bus to David, panama’s second city. After arriving at 5 in the morning we headed straight to Boquete. After looking round the town a bit we got a hostel where we shared a 4 person room with a little cooker. Me, Sherwin, wrighty and Danny then thought we would try out this walk that I had read about in the guide book. after going completely wrong we ended up just wading through the river for about a kilometre. i8t basi9cally involved running around all the rocks then having to climb through what were at some points rapids up to shoulder heights. After getting back to the hostel we all headed out to the pozos de caldera, some hot springs outside of town. After a bus drive, and a walk we luckily got a hitch and were dropped off nearish the springs. We ended up just staying in one of the hot pools for a while even though there were a few more. Finishing up around closing time we were worried about the huge walk back we would have to make. Luckily there was one car left outside the springs and they agreed to take us all the way back to Boquete. In the back of the pick up we were packed like sardines, but couldn’t complain about the free ride, despite at times being driven by the guys 3 year old son. After stopping once for beer, then once to play an arcade game, we got back to Boquete and enjoyed some nice spaghetti.

Today we rented 3 mopeds and explored the area around Boquete. There was great scenery although at first I was more concerned about mastering the moped as I had never driven anything with an engine before, unlike all the others. Eventually the day passed with only 2 major incidents. After staying at a waterfall for lunch we were going along, me on the bike by myself and I was slowing down and so Wrighty and Sherwin on another bike, passed. As they did this I was totally not paying any attention to driving and a few metres later I just veered off the road onto the grass bank and crashed. Luckily I was unhurt and the bike not damaged but it was slightly embarrassing, first crash of the day. Around an hour later after going up the wrong path we had to run back and Sherwin’s and my bike wasn’t working very well. We were stopped at it wouldn’t start even though revving it too the full. However suddenly it came to life and bolted down the road, Sherwin held on for a bit but they both crashed to the floor. Sherwin cutting his knee quite badly, and the bikes mirror broke and the side scraped. After cleaning up we continued for a while, memorably hitting 90km and hour on a long downhill straight.

Other than that not much else to report. The damage only cost 4 dollars each so we were very pleased about that. Tonight we are trying to walk up a volcano. So keep checking for the next journal, it should be a good one!


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