Originally published on facebook –  April 27, 2009.

From Dominical, Jon and Josh and I headed down to Pavones (still in Costa Rica). Pavones is a REALLY small town which is renowned among surfers for it’s incredibly long left hand break, apparently second longest in the world. I of course have no idea what that means, even though it’s been explained to me a couple times now, really, why would I care? I’m not a surfer. While we were in Dominical I chatted on F.B. with Dusky (who I had met previously in La Fortuna) and he was nearby in Manuel Antonio. He is driving from California to South America in an old Jeep Cherokee. I convinced him to come down and drive us to Pavones and he agreed! So we got a fun ride on some crazy roads.

Made it to Pavones, a lovely little town, with amazing sunsets. Very low key quiet vibe, which was nice after the tourist packed Dominical.

I stayed in Pavones until Monday and then decided to take the epic bus ride down to Panama city. Epic. 14 hours. I said my goodbyes to my buddy Jon and left at 5:30am and was lucky enough to meet a girl on the bus who spoke great Spanish. (I seem to keep getting very lucky that way, maybe it’s not lucky, my Spanish is still pretty atrocious). Anyways we took a couple buses to get to the border and then spent 2 hours dealing with the paperwork to get across the border and finding a bus to take us into Panama. She wasn’t headed to Panama city but we were on the same bus together for a while.

I arrived in P. city around 8pm, and felt pretty overwhelmed at first buy the speed of everything and the crowds of people. Cars everywhere speeding around and the infamous “Diablo Rojo” buses spewing black exhaust and blaring music, drivers yelling the buses destinations etc…was hectic. Kinda a culture shock being in a big city after all the little places I have been staying in.

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Made it by cab to my crazy hostel called Luna’s castle which is in Casco Viejo (the old part of Panama) The hostel is an old colonial mansion that has been converted into the hostel. 12-13 foot ceilings and big tall wooden double doors lead into every room. Huge place and party central for kids.

I stayed in Panama city from Monday night until Saturday afternoon. My first full day (Tuesday) I spent walking all around through Casco Viejo and up Avenida Central. Avenida Central is a long boulevard that leads up out of Casco Viejo until it reaches Plaza Cinco de Mayo (which is much smaller then I thought it would be). The avenue is pedestrian only and is full of huge stores selling really cheap clothing (think hundred of stores just like the Army and Navy) and the street is packed with all different sorts of people, from teenagers dressed to kill to down and outs to families to women from the Kuna tribe dressed in their traditional outfits (very difficult to take a picture of as they are quite camera shy). Neat place, teeming with humanity. At one point I decided to wander down a side street and promptly got myself lost in a somewhat sketchy area, I didn’t feel nervous but figured I should get myself out of there so I innocently asked a wonderful woman how to get back to Avenida Central. She looked at me like I was crazy, took my arm and escorted me about 10 blocks until I knew where I was again. the whole time telling me that this was a “muy pelligroso” (very dangerous) part of town and to hold onto my purse tightly! Don’t worry about me guys I felt safe and have wandered worse neighborhoods at home!

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Casco Viejo is an old part of town that is being reclaimed and restored quite beautifully. There is construction everywhere and seems to be a concentration of Architectural firms in the area as well. I saw a couple beautiful churches, one of which has a massive elaborate alter made of gold, very rococo, very ornate. I also saw the Plaza of Indepencia, which is where Panama declared independence from Columbia.

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Back at the hostel that night I was on F.B. and lo and behold Dusky was in Panama as well! We decided to meet up the next day…

We started walking from the hostel and went up to Ancon Hill (Cerra Ancon) which has sweeping views of most of the city as well as of the canal. It was a hot and muggy walk up there but worth it.

While we were up the hill I noticed a cemetery and we decided to go find it as we came down off the hill. We worked our way down towards it and as we got near we realized that we were headed into an area that might not be so good, we decided to go for it anyways. We got about a block away and a policeman came up to us and asked what we were doing there. We told him and he warned us that this was a very dangerous part of Panama, we promised to be quick and to catch a cab to get us out of the neighborhood. We went into the cemetery and I managed to get a few pictures before more policemen came in and insisted that we leave. They escorted us to the street and waited with us until a cab came along which they flagged down and we got into. They were quite concerned for our safety apparently! The taxi driver told us that we had been in an area called Chorrillo, probably one of the worst areas in the entire city! He said he would never have stopped for us if the policemen hadn’t flagged him down. Gee, it’s fun being a tourist!

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After this adventure we took our cab to the Minaflores locks, part of the famous Panama Canal! We had a very expensive buffet lunch ($24 US dollars) and watched boats go through the locks for about 3 hours, eating pretty much the whole time…making sure we ate our monies worth! This was one hella long day, we must have waked for miles and miles.

The next day we went to Isla Tartoga about 20km off the coast of Panama city, it was a pretty little island but kinda boring, not much to do except to lie on a very small stretch of beach. We did find another cemetery and I took some pictures and then we noticed a little archway leading out the back way of the cemetery, we went back there and there were a couple of old, USED, empty coffins, one of them even had a pair of pants inside it that had obviously been worn by the deceased….CREEPY to say the least!

I had heard about a circus (Circus Tihany) in town so we made our way to that for the evening. Was a total throwback, kind of a Vegas showgirl act, mixed with cat and dogs tricks, mixed with performances by some contortionists, trapeze, 2 guys doing acro-yoga type poses (these performances were the best parts) there was also Tihany himself, a 60ish year old magician, who essentially performed the same trick over and over again with minor variations (watch him disappear a motorcycle, watch him materialize dogs, cat, helicopters etc….). Anyways it was entertaining and cheap and a good thing to do at night.

I’ve been getting a lot of attention from the men here, Dusky nicknamed me the PanaMANian Magnet!
Nothing threatening though, just lot of hisses, just wondering…who told these guys that hissing at a woman was a good way to impress her?

Last day we went to see the ruins of Panama Veijo (Old Panama) was moderately interesting and I booked my flight to come to the Bocas del Toro the next day, where I am currently. Left Dusky in Panama as he is planning to have his truck shipped down to Columbia to continue his journey down to Chile.

Am happy I have finally reached the Caribbean side!!! There is a different vibe here, very mellow and English is spoken with a wonderful accent. I am staying in Boca’s Town on Isla Colon, there are about 4-5 different islands here that make up the Bocas, every beach is different. Yesterday I went to Isla Bastiemos and hiked a long muddy path to get to Wizard Beach, stunning! The sand is super fine and so golden and the water was aqua blue-green. Crazy rip tides and waves so stayed really, really close to shore, but had a wonderful time. Last night was another rum night, met some people here in the Hostel I am staying in (I splurged and got my own room with my OWN BATHROOM!) Anyways it was another night of rum craziness, we’re all feeling the effects today. I have laid pretty low as I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle a water taxi today! Think I will spend tomorrow here, see another island and another beach and then will head for the Costa Rica border and Puerto Viejo, Manzanillo and Cahuita , probably with a woman I met by the name of Steph, possibly some others as well. Have to start heading back to Montezuma as the yoga training starts on May 9th and I have to be there a few days early to figure out my housing situation and read some of the books I need to do the training.

Hope you are all still enjoying these updates, I know they are becoming pretty long, hope you’re not bored.

Love to all! xoxoxox

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