Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Panamanian Devil

Yesterday´s bus ride was fantastic. I had two whole seats to myself and an avocado. It was 14 hours, but pretty painless despite the frigidly cold temperatures. I got to the point in the middle of the night when I actually pulled the Parada (stop) cord a few times to let the driver know something was up in the back. I figured, it´s so dark, no one will know it was me. I was desperate. I was literally dancing in my seat from the waist up trying to drum up some heat. In my sleepy stupor.

I also saw a pretty terrible film. Can´t get through a Latin American bus ride without one truly terrible film I guess.

I rolled into Panama City at 5 in the morning with no other plan but to hang out in the bus terminal for a few hours until a normal time to show up to a hostel. But a taxi driver told me Zuly´s would be open, so we zipped on over and indeed it was. Much better alternative. I checked my email, practiced my spanish with the attendant guy, and then bunked down for a few more hours of sleep. (For anyone heading to Panama City ever, go to Luna´s hostel in the old city. SO MUCH BETTER. And it´s an artist´s enclave. Best hostel I´ve seen for a while.)

My previous post mentions what it was like waking up here.

I met a fellow lone traveling female, Kathryn, who´s traveled quite a bit in South America and answered a few questions for me. I settled on showing up some place tomorrow and seeing if a cargo ship was indeed going out. If not I could grab a launcha? Small speedboat going down the coast= pretty uncomfortable, long ride down to the Colombian border. I wasn´t feeling great about these options, and after spending most of the day chatting with Kathryn, I ultimately have decided to opt for a 5 day cruise she is taking to the San Blaas Islands and more, ending in Cartagena, Colombia. It is definitely over my budget, and it doesn´t leave until the 23rd, but it seems like a much safer, more plan-able option. I am getting to Colombia later than I would have liked, but I still think the pros outweigh the cons. I´ll be on the sea for Christmas! That sounds great. I´ll lie low for a week here to try to save money. You know what that means-- plenty of beach time because the beach is free!

Today I headed out to the Old City of Panama with a gaggle of randoms here headed that way. I liked it a lot more than expected. Some beautiful streets with some urban ruins tucked away alongside. Some nice architecture, with modern skyscrapers right across the bay. Street markets. I was pretty content sitting in the midst of the market with all the hustle and bustle of a 3rd world country city swirling around me. I think I may be growing more comfortable in my mighty female lone traveler shoes. I´ll embrace this yet.

I had a dream on the bus yesterday that I was on a bus back home. The feeling of relief to be heading back into my comfort zone where the arms of loved ones waited for me was palpable. And then I woke up. On a bus to Panama City. With 4 more months left to go. This is hard. I know that I wrote before I came that I was expecting it to be hard, but I did not expect it to be this hard, every day. It wouldn´t have been if things had worked out the way I planned. But they are now. And my feelings vascillate constantly between This is too hard to be worth it, let´s head home early, and This is fantastic let me stay here for a couple extra months. Talking with Kathryn today made me really excited to get to South America. I really fear I´m not going to have as much time down there as I want when you add in the work time I´m going to have to do since I´ll run out of money.

Today a friend asked how I wasn´t freaking out. This was when I was going to try for the cargo ship, granted, which had a wildly uncertain and possibly dangerous air to it. But she was also referring to my lack of funds. And all I can say is, right now I don´t have the option of freaking out. I´m not in a place where I can indulge in that. I´m not in a comfort zone, with people I could freak out to. I´m in a kind of scetchy hostel in Panama City with complete strangers, trying to pull strings to hoist myself to Colombia. Freaking out wouldn´t get me any closer to where I need to be as soon as possible.

Today I also saw New Moon. Dear internet, I am humiliated I am admitting that to you. I don´t want to talk about it. All I will say is it was the best of options at the movie theater, and it cost $2!!! You wouldn´t believe how badly I´ve been craving a movie in a movie theater. It was worth it. I still hate everything about the Twilight series, that will never change.

I also had Starbucks. The kind they sell in a grocery store, but Starbucks nonetheless.


MARIE said...

hehe, I saw Twilight in Antigua...and it was sooo familiar and nice. Oh yes!

Rebecca said...

I think the cruise option sounds FANTASTIC, and I'm glad you're doing it. As for working and money, I'm sorry that's an issue. I willingly admit I don't know anything (AT ALL) about Central or South America, so maybe this isn't even an option, but can you give English lessons? Perhaps that's not so big down there - I just know I had friends in Italy, Asia, and Eastern Europe who made money that way.

I'm glad your bus ride wasn't too bad and you didn't end up stranded at 4 am!

Amy-Alisa said...

Don't be ashamed, girl. No, they are NOT good films, but they ARE entertaining movies.

Anonymous said...

No need to freak out over logistics of how to get from point a to b (part of the experience), but I think you should consider freaking out about your "plan" to run out of money. That is just asking for a world of trouble.

It puts you in a VERY vulnerable position; not only would you not be able to leave (as in, back to the States) when you feel like it, but also when you just plain need to, as in if you were in danger or injured.

Also, while I applaud volunteering, of course, is it wise to do that if you are already low on funds? Volunteering is something people plan for and do at a point when they don't need money.

Is it even legal for you to work in any of these countries? Sure, Americans do, but those who do so legally are often hired back home for special skills, and those who do so under the table are making themselves a significant target for crime. Just like illegal aliens here in the US are hugely vulnerable, anyone there who is not totally on the up and up and who operates on a cash basis (and therefore is known to carry cash around) is a target for crime.

Think long and hard before you allow yourself to run out of money.