Friday, December 18, 2009

Open up your plans and, damn, you´re free

Kathryn and I took off for Isla Taboga for the last two days. We are basically just treading water until the 23rd when we´re off on our cruise, though of course trying to fill these days up rather than wasting precious time.

Isla Taboga is an island south of Panama City. It´s where a lot of locals go for the weekends. It´s a very small island, tiny town, and one beach that gets swallowed up in the tides as the day goes by. Very calm, pretty, nice getaway. I swam, sunbathed, snorkelled, read, got stung by jellyfish. We meandered around looking for a cheap place to spend the night and ended up in this guy´s house basically. He has a few rooms I think only Panamanians generally use. I´m not going to say it´s the sketchiest place I´ve ever stayed, because I didn´t feel at all in danger. I guess I´ll say the poorest. Really nice people. As always.

Staying in this town overnight was great. The island is off the backpacker´s trail, and definitely way off at night when all the day-trippers have returned on the afternoon ferry. It felt like a more ´legitimate´experience.

We took a walk through town during the sunset and happened upon the island´s graveyard. The graveyards down here all look like little towns because tombs are built above ground. There are many, many flowers, especially now when it´s not too long after the Day of the Dead. There was a door cut out of the back wall, and leaning out we saw maybe 5 old coffins thrown out back there amidst piles of old and rotting artificial flowers. We think there may have been bodies in those coffins. And there were definitely bones in one of the tombs that was falling apart.

We sat by the waves, eating dinner and looked at the stars, water, and long line of ships waiting to get into the Panama Canal. I loved looking at that line of ships, perfectly qued up along the horizon, all lit up throughout the night. The line was always long.

Meandering home after dinner, we heard singing, and all of a sudden every single person who lived in that town turned the corner. They were parading through the town singing Christmas songs. So we tagged along the end. Everyone ended up parading through one house where they were given a drink, a muffin, and a bag of snacks. We of course tried to politely decline, and they of course pressed them upon us. That was a lovely, unexpected experience.

We spent today on the beach again, though talked a bit with a German doctor who invited us back to his place on the island for coffee, and then he gave us a ride almost back to our hostel back in the city. We have two places on that island we could stay at for free now if we wanted.

So. I am feeling pretty content. Being here right now beats being back in NYC right now any day. On the launch back to the city, Kathryn turned to me and said Aren´t you so glad you´re alive right now? Yes. Overwhelmingly yes. I am not saying it´s not hard, but I am saying I am back to having the time of my life. I am so excited to get on my way, and to get to Colombia. I can´t believe I have to wait til Thursday! The journey there sounds genuinely wonderful. I am so glad I am spending Christmas out on the open sea. That is perfect. And South America is just waiting for me.

P.S. Kathryn knows this guy who is taking a boat up the coast all the way to Oregon. Planning on making it there by August. She thought she could hook me up as crew. It was hard to say no to that.


Rebecca said...

Hard to say no as in it was hard, but you said no? Or as in you couldn't turn it down?

I'm so glad you're having a great time! Kathryn sounds like a great person to have met, and that parade sounds lovely. And I love graveyards - so peaceful, generally. And also full of potential zombies. Keep your eyes peeled.