Tag Archives: Panama

Munich

Munich is absolutely lovely!!!  I was very shocked on how green the city is!!  Seriously they have so many parks in the heart of the city!!  I figured it would be much like every other city: drowning in nothing but buildings with a token park here and there.  But not so with Munich!  It is individual, full of history, character and very friendly and welcoming people!  There’s the synopsis, now here are the details;)

Before going to Munich, on a whim and on a promise, I shot off an email to Nikki whom I met and traveled with through the San Blas Islands in Panama.  In fact, she was the clever woman who coined “modern day pirates” to describe our sailboat crew:)

I say on a whim because though we had exchanged a few emails, we really hadn’t kept in touch a whole lot (I don’t Facebook) and since it had been so long since I’d emailed her, I wasn’t sure first whether she even had the same email, and second whether she would respond.  I had made her a promise long ago when we parted in Colombia however that if I ever made it to Munich, I would look her up!  So, about a week or so before going to Munich I wrote her an email to let her know I would be in town for the day.

I was humbled to hear back from her and even more tickled that she too had the day off and was able to meet me!!  The good in people never ceases to amaze me and it’s a blessing to know people who, even after years of no contact, extend a hand of friendship!!

I made it to Munich early in the morning and after calling Nikki agreed to meet her at a coffee shop near the Odeonsplatz underground station.  As I made my way out from the underground I could hear the joyous music of Oktoberfest celebrations and once out on the street was greeted by a lovely parade!!  I made my way along the road trying to get somewhere to take some pictures when a very nice group of people offered me a stool to stand on so I could get above the crowd:)  Thankfully one of them spoke a little broken English and I asked where the coffee shop was (all I could see was Starbucks and we weren’t meeting there!!).  Once directed and all the pictures were taken, I headed to meet Nikki.


Seriously it was as if no time at all had ever passed between us!  She looked just the same as she did before: fabulous!  And we had a great time catching up in each other’s lives and reminiscing on the good times we had during the San Blas trip:)  We hung out for a little catching up, then she proceeded to give me the VIP walking tour of Munich!!

First stop was just nearby, a place called Feldherrnhalle, which is where Hitler began the plotting of his Nazi regime before setting up in Berlin.  What is amazing is that as he began to take on more popularity and power, it was mandatory that people walking in front of this building had to salute to the soldiers standing in front to show that they were with Hitler.  If you walked in front without saluting you would get in serious trouble!!  So, for those who opposed Hitler, they would bypass walking in front of the Feldherrnhalle by walking down the street just behind called Viscardigasse.  Down this street today you will find a golden path laid out in bronze bricks symbolizing the path of freedom.  This path was walked by all who opposed Hitler.  It was their way of rebelling Hitler and what he stood for.

Across from this building is the Residence of Munich (Residenz Munchen) where the Royal Family lives and the lions statues guarding the entrance are rubbed by passersby for good luck!

The Residence of Munich leads onto the Hofgarten where there is a lovely little building topped off with a little monument.  Here they have many musicians who come to practice their skills and even monthly they put on a formal waltz dance event!!

From there we headed past the Art Museum and headed to probably the most interesting or at least shocking part of Munich… Surfers!!!  Yes, I typed correctly: surfers!  Apparently some very clever surfers wanted a way to continue to practice their skills and keep in shape year round without “chasing the waves” so they made their own!!  In the Eisbach river, just at the start of it where it flows under a bridge, several stones were dropped to the river bottom and eventually enough were planted in to create a wave!!  And due to the natural fast current through the river, the wave is large enough to basically simulate an ocean wave!  So darn clever!!!

This little surf spot is in a way the beginning of the English Garden (Englischen Garten).  The English Garden is the largest garden in Munich and it is even LARGER than Central Park in New York City!!

We made our way past the Japanese Teahouse (Japanisches Teehaus Kanshoan)

to an area where if you choose you could sit out nude

English Garden Nude Area
English Garden Nude Area

finally to the Monopteros.  This monument was once overrun by drug addicts but thanks to an increased presence of cops wandering the streets, the momument was abandoned by the addicts and spruced up for locals and tourists to enjoy:)

From the Monopteros it was on to the Chinese Temple (Chinesischer Turm) where a little beer garden was conveniently located, so of course we had to stop for a BEER!!!!!  It was here during a bit of a passing thunderstorm where I learned the history of beer gardens… Long ago when there weren’t any refrigerators, companies cleverly decided to put kegs of produced beer under trees that provided lots of shade (hence natural refrigeration).  So much beer was being made that companies would invite people out to these “gardens “with kegs of beer under each tree to drink the beer while it was fresh and cold!  All they asked was people paid for the beer, but otherwise you could bring your own food, etc.  So these beer gardens began to gain popularity as almost a social or fun day in the park so to speak with cheap, delicious beer, your own picnic and tons of other people to socialize with:)

After a few pints we walked our way to the Siegestor, a triumphal arch that has a statue of Bavaria on top leading 4 lions!  It was originally dedicated to the glory of the Bavarian army but today it is a monument and reminder for peace.  Absolutely love it!!

On we went past the University to perhaps my favorite building of all I had seen that day: St. Peter’s Church (Peterskirche)!!  Just absolutely stunning in my opinion and so playful!!  Notice the dragon climbing up the church and the timekeeper…

I could have spent hours looking at the church just discovering new things about it but alas we were getting a bit hungry, so we headed to a great restaurant, had some delicious local food then headed to Nikki’s where she graciously allowed me to crash for the night:)  However, NOT before helping her to fix her anklet!!  We had both purchased one in the San Blas Islands from the Kuna Indigenous tribe but sadly hers had fallen off.  She kept the beads and the strand however so I helped to affix it back on:)  Good times!!!

Repaired San Blas Anklet, yay!!
Repaired San Blas Anklet, yay!!

 

On to Berlin

Back to Europe

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Hostel Culture Shock…

Quickly here I wanted to share a few culture shocks I experienced (aside from the prices, lol!!).  Really the only time I had ever before done the whole backpacking hostel thing was when I traveled through Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia.  So really my only basis of comparison was with hostels there…

What I had gotten used to from hostels in Latin America was places where basically younger people (early 20’s to 40’s) would go to sleep cheap.  It was a place for singles or couples of friends, but not large groups per se.  Everyone was also very inviting and curious of the newcomer.  You would tend to meet several people and hang out with them from the hostel.  It was like meeting a new member of a family at each place.  You always had someone to do something with if you wanted and everyone seemed very chill as we were all in the same traveling boat so to speak.  You exchanged information and traveling tips with fellow hostel goers.  It felt like an underground society in a way…  Places where the backpackers would convene nightly to exchange stories and dos and don’ts…

Hostels in London have a completely different feel!!!  First the age range literally included children all the way to senior citizens.  Entire families stayed at the hostel!  And groups of people booked into the hostel.  I’m talking for Stag parties (aka bachelor parties) or gangs of girls wanting to party it up in London.  I was shocked at the dress that people were coming out of the hostel with!  No more sensible travel clothes anywhere to be seen on people, except for a few random ones, but rather short skirts and tall heels!!  These girls are traveling???  No, hostels in London were definitely not for the traveler.  They were simply (at least I believe) the only cheap way to go since I don’t think many people can actually afford hotels in London!!  Or if they were travelers, they weren’t long term, they were just away for the week or weekend on a holiday.  Because of this there was no real camaraderie among the people.  Everyone was out for their own business and no one would really acknowledge others since they had basically all come in their own group anyway.  Personally I didn’t really care if I met people to talk to or not because I’m perfectly comfortable doing what I want on my own anyway, but it just gave such a “cold” feel to the place.  So uninviting.

So, needless to say this aspect was quite a shock to me.  I was very curious at this point how hostels all across Europe would be in general… If they would be what I was used to from my previous travels, or if they would be like the London hostel…

 

On to London Walking Tour

Back to United Kingdom

Colombia Myths and Truths

I thought I should put in an area for Colombia where I only talked about the myths and truths since one of the more frequent questions I get when telling people I’ve traveled there alone is “Isn’t it dangerous???”.

No, Colombia is just like every other country in the world I’ve been to so far as far as danger is concerned.  If you don’t go looking for danger, and you are at least semi-smart about your actions, there is no danger.  I know that in the past Colombia has had a pretty rough time with drug dealers and cartels, etc that made much of the country unsafe to travel through apparently, however that was quite a long time ago.  And as I’ve heard many others say, basically the drug dealers are now in the business of protecting tourists instead of making the country unsafe to travel through as they’ve apparently learned that tourists can be their clients too!  And it would certainly be bad business to scare them away!  Now, whether this is the actual case or not, who really knows.  I’m just sharing what I’ve heard others say as their opinion on why it’s now so safe to travel around Colombia.

Because of the rocky drug past Colombia has had, people I’ve talked to also seem to have a preconceived idea that everyone there too is somehow involved in drugs or are dealers or are dangerous.  This again is quite false.  Honestly I ran into more people on drugs throughout Costa Rica and Panama than I ever did in the more populated Colombia.  People there are quite nice, respectful and are just living normal life like others do.  I’m not saying no one there does drugs, just that it wasn’t in your face the way I too thought it would be before getting there and hearing the testimonies of others who had already been there.

What is becoming more popular in Colombia are the higher class scams.  All over the walls of each hostel I went to in Bogota at least, there were stories of scenarios to avoid.  What criminals were now into doing was watching for people in vulnerable positions and taking advantage.  It’s best I just describe a scenario:

Say you had to go into a bank for business.  When coming out of the bank, you could be approached by a professional looking person (dressed well, etc) claiming to work for the bank telling you that you forgot to fill out “X” form or sign “Y” form.  However, instead of taking you back into the bank (as it would make sense to do) they would say that it was only possible to finish the business at their other location… then they would basically take you around the corner, down an alley and rob you of all your possessions.  Why anyone would allow a “bank” employee to escort them anywhere other than back into the bank, I’m not sure…

Another scenario involved people claiming to be police officers.  They would be dressed in street clothes claiming to be undercover police and they would claim that you needed to come with them because you were found doing something wrong or there was a problem with “XYZ” somewhere.  Then they would walk you around the corner, down an alley and rob you.

Basically the best defense of any of these scenarios is #1 don’t follow strangers anywhere and #2 there were cops on the streets of Bogota literally everywhere.  They were always in pairs and in full police gear so if there was any doubt whatsoever in a conversation that a stranger had with you, simply walk toward the police to ask for whatever help and chances are if the person who approached you (false banker or false cop) isn’t legit, they would literally run away.

Enough said!

 

On to Back in the States

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Back in the States

I flew back into the States from Bogota, Colombia after almost a full year of traveling between Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia.  I had spent most of my time in Costa Rica in the sleepy small Caribbean town of Puerto Viejo on the Southern Caribbean coast.  Coming back to the States was a bit of a shell shocker from a few perspectives.  First the amount of technology blaring in your face in the form of TVs was one thing I definitely noticed that took some getting used to again.  The second thing was the blinders were put back on.  You know, those blinders we tend to put on walking down the street, not saying hi to a soul unless you know them.  Not being present to the outside world while moving through it yet just keeping to your own world.  Those blinders… When first going to Costa Rica it literally shocked me that people would say good morning to me and acknowledge me as I walked down the streets.  Then I got used to doing the same to others as I went from place to place.  Then back in the States at first I kept my newly adopted persona of acknowledging people but was met with strange looks and no responses or people literally making a wider gap around me as they walked past.  So eventually the blinders went back on… Oh well…

Coming back to the States was a choice I made primarily because the bank account was starting to get a little low and because where I had been traveling in Colombia was getting too cold for my taste and the travel enthusiasm was just dwindling.  I went back to Houston to help house-sit my sisters place (and her two adorable dogs) as she was away quite often.  I got a job there as a bartender and server (a trade I picked up for the first time ever in Costa Rica) and stayed about 6 months or so.  Once my sister was back from her work obligations and I was no longer needed as a dog/house sitter, I moved to Key West, Florida.

I lived and worked in Key West for 10 months, saving all my pennies as much as possible (though of course I did have a little bit of a life too!) and then packed it all up and headed out traveling again.  This time the destination was Europe.  My time in Key West I’ll never forget.  And who knows, one day I may still return.  Though it isn’t the kind of place I could see myself living at permanently (there are no beaches on the island itself and it’s a little too much of a party town for my taste… If you don’t like to drink to oblivion on an almost daily basis there’s not much of a life to be had there really) I had so many amazing opportunities and met many people I consider life-long friends. It took a while to find some of these people, but I’m blessed that I did.

Key West really is a drinking town with a fishing problem.  It’s no wonder people get way too carried away there.  Tourists come for the party and as a person in the service industry we were there to provide it.  Mind you, we only dealt in the LEGAL party!  Though many tourists did come to Key West literally thinking they could do anything (it’s amazing, I seriously think people thought Key West was no longer part of the States and they could do whatever they wanted!!) and we were sometimes asked for drugs at my work from tourists, but they were always turned away.  Yes, Key West also has lots of drugs.  Go figure.  Until having lived in Costa Rica I never really realized how prevalent drugs really are.  Then from there on they literally seemed to be everywhere.  Sometimes I miss my rose colored glasses, but just like everything else in life, you can choose to be involved or you can choose not to be involved.  Everyone has a choice.

You know, as I type this up I can’t help but think that even though I really couldn’t wait to get out of Key West at the time (since there were a number of things I didn’t really like about it) it somehow grew on me and now I can say I have a little strange spot in my heart for the place.  Perhaps its also because I really enjoyed my job.  I know that’s an odd thing to say, but I really enjoyed bartending and serving; creating a positive vacation experience for tourists and such.  Anyway… that’s enough nostalgia for now!

So after leaving Key West, surprising my mom in Houston for her birthday, taking a trip out West to see family and friends in Arizona and New Mexico, then a trip to Mexico (Puerto Penasco aka Rocky Point) with my mom and finally seeing my Tennessee family back in Houston, it was time to hit the road again.  July 30th, 2014 I landed in Heathrow airport in London…

 

On to London

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Capurgana, Colombia

So we made it!  “Smuggled” into Columbia through the San Blas Islands on a sailboat captained and crewed by what Nicki (my German companion on the sailboat) so eloquently named “modern day pirates”.  That they were indeed, modern day pirates!!  We actually arrived and docked in the water on the Panama side in a little inlet that had the teeniest towns nearby.  From there a local took all of our things and put them in a little motor boat, squished us all in (we finally got to get our shoes back, mind you!) and motored us around the inlet bend and into the Colombian side of land and dropped us off at the dock of Capurgana, Colombia.

The first thing I remember thinking about this place was how colorful it was!  It was so Caribbean and the vibrant colors of each building just added to that cool Caribbean vibe of “come as you are and chill, man”!!  Just adorable and quaint and just the place that was needed to go and relax after the onboard adventures of the previous week on the sailboat.

We all disembarked from the little motor boat on the dock and went our random ways to find hostels/hotels for the night.  I chose a place not too far from the dock and stayed the first night in a room fit for several people (though I was the only one) then moved to a smaller, better suited room on the second floor for the next week.  Now, one must remember that after being on the sailboat for 6 days certain things hold true… First and most important, I had to get my land legs back!  Even though we had been on land for little bouts throughout the week on the sailboat, my sea legs were still well intact.  Hence why I chose to stay for several days in Capurgana… Not only because it was so vibrant yet chill, but also so I could fully recover from the crazy sailboat tour we had just come from.

After getting settled in the first afternoon of our arrival (oh and of course getting our entrance stamp from immigration, which was closed for the first several hours we were on land so had to wait a while to actually be legal in the country) Nicki and I headed around town to find a cup of coffee.  Now, honestly I’ve never really been a big coffee drinker in the States.  Maybe because all the famous blends and roasts come from places like Costa Rica and Colombia.  Or rather especially Colombia… So we thought it would be quite easy to find a place that sold coffee since we were afterall in one of the countries that was best known for their production of coffee… No.  Not at all. It literally took us the better part of an hour, plus going into dozens of stores before we actually found a place that begrudgingly made us a cup of coffee!!  And to boot, it wasn’t even anything that special.  Apparently, as we came to learn quickly, coffee in Colombia is served only at breakfast and is really not available at any other time!  Ok, now perhaps I really shouldn’t generalize for ALL of Colombia, so I will just say for sure in Capurgana:)

Anyway, all in all the time spent in Capurgana was quite nice.  One day was full of hiking through the surrounding jungle, others just wandering the small town watching and experiencing life.  The evenings were spent passing time with card games with friends from the sailboat.  Oh and one afternoon was spent watching the opening ceremonies of the Olympics in England (just to give a time stamp of when I was there:)).

To be honest, though I knew I had to move on, I really wasn’t looking forward to it.  The only way out of the town was either on a teeny tiny plane literally fit for two people and luggage (that could not weigh more than a certain amount) or to take a motor boat from Capurgana, across the bay to Turbo, then catch a bus to the next destination.  After having spent so much time in the simplicity of life, between Puerto Viejo, the San Blas Islands and now the tiny town of Capurgana I wasn’t looking forward to getting back into the “hustle” of the faster life.  Honestly, I don’t even recall vehicles in town, only horse drawn carts.  That’s how isolated and simple Capurgana was.  No roads actually lead into it, only a small airstrip and dock for boats connected this small Caribbean town to the rest of the world.

Alas, I did have to get back on the road again however and booked my trip out of Capurgana via the boat.  Nicki, the Aussies and the British fellow had already or were soon also getting on with their travels too.  We each went separate ways.  Though I had wanted to go to Cartagena, Colombia, oddly enough I had gotten an email from my brother saying he was in Bogota for work.  So I altered my plans to try and catch some time with him in Bogota and opted to head first to Medellin.

 

On to Travel from Capurgana to Medellin

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Kuna Tribe Story #2

The second time we spent with the Kuna tribes was actually never supposed to happen…  I’ve already written about the storm that I thought would literally claim my life and that we ended up having to stay an extra day on the islands, taking shelter nearby one because of the storm.  Well, it was because of that storm that we got to have some more time with the indigenous tribe.

In the morning after the storm I remember waking and getting out onto the deck.  Circling the sailboat in canoes were tribesmen.  I went to alert one of the crew and after a chat with them, we all learned that we had been invited onto the island for a look-see.  Apparently not far from where we had docked for the night in the storm another boat had been, but sadly had suffered a different fate… For it ended up sinking and having seen this occur the Kuna people had been busy all morning going back and forth from the sinking boat collecting goods aboard it.  Since we were on the way, they stopped in to say hello!

The funny thing here is that unlike the previous island and tribe, this second island was much more advanced!  The first island only had a few shelters in the “town” which were basically just the homes of the tribe.  The second island by comparison basically had a proper town with a school, several houses with yards, shops of sorts, and even roads (albeit unpaved:))!!

We canoed our way onto the island where we were invited on by a very chatty native.  He was young, only about 20 but was already married with a couple of kids.  You could tell this guy really knew business and how to work people!  He was charming and proud of his home and his village and he knew how to get what he needed or wanted to support his family and village.  He showed us around the village and even showed us inside his own home.  Now, in order to take pictures even of the people or the village, we had to ask permission.  It is considered very rude to take pictures of the people and their homes or villages without their consent first.  So while I did ask permission to take pictures and was granted permission, I won’t include any that may have people in them to respect the tribes people.  However, I do really, REALLY with I was able to take a picture of the inside of the guys house… The outside was basic, just cane tied together to form walls and leaves as a roof… However, when you stepped inside you noticed a dirt floor, several hammocks hanging (one for each member of the family) a chest of drawers and on top of the drawers…. A 50″ flat screen TV!!!!  Not kidding either!!!  The place was absolutely basic to the bones in every respect and then there was a brand new flat screen TV…. Seriously made me laugh!!  And once again supported that the guy knew business!!  Apparently he would go onto the mainland of Panama every so often and pick up supplies for the village…

Anyway, that was that.  We wandered the island and village, had some coffee at the house of our host then got canoed back to our ship so we could travel on.

 

On to Capurgana, Columbia

Back to Islas San Blas

Nail Fashion

Not a huge story here… Just a little fun story about how the regular crew of the sailboat sometimes killed time on the boat… They had actually quite the impressive array of nail polishes!!  And to busy themselves when nothing else was really going on they would paint their nails!  So on one day when myself and the German woman were also looking to kill time, we asked if we could join the fellas in painting our nails too:)  They shared their loot of polishes with us and we began the fun times of painting our nails colors and designing random images or symbols on each nail.  At one point I painted one of my nails black with a white skull and crossbones… The crew noticed this and each ended up wanting one of their own!  So for the next, at least half hour or so, I was busy painting skulls and crossbones on fingers and toes of the crew boys, lol!!  Just a fun time!  You can see pictures of the nail “art” in the pictures section:)

 

On to Time with the Kuna tribes

Back to Islas San Blas

San Blas Islands

I’ve never seen phosphorescent water before.  Not until night time did we board our 38′ sailboat barefoot (no shoes allowed anywhere on board) and headed out of the harbor waters into Caribbean waters to the San Blas Islands.  We headed out at night so that in the morning we would be near to one of the islands and would be able to spend a lovely day there.  What seemed like light glistened from the ocean in the otherwise absolute darkness.  Only when disturbed did the water glisten and glow, so as the sailboat motored its way through the harbor it left sparkling and shimmering water in its wake.  Absolutely mesmerizing!!  Nature always seems to find a way to shock and awe me around every corner, and on this night once again it raised the bar!!  I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the beauty that stirred in the water as we coursed through it.  Now to be fair, it really is the algae in the water that actually make the water glow with light, not the water itself.  The algae soak up sun rays during the day and in a sense emit the light caught by the sun when they are disturbed.  So amazingly beautiful!!!

The San Blas Islands are 380 plus islands that run from the southern Caribbean coast of Panama to Columbia.  The people that inhabit these islands are called Kuna.  The Kuna indigenous tribes are and historically have been known as peaceful people.  Being peaceful people, only once did they ever in their history rise up and fight.  And that was a while back now when the Panamanian government tried to claim the islands as part of their government.  Up until that point, all the islands and the law of the islands were governed by the Kuna people.  A bloody battle ensued over rights to the islands, however when Panama tried to take control.  Ultimately Panama lost and left the islands to be governed by the indigenous tribe.  To this day, no other government has any rights or control over the islands.  They are simply governed by the Kuna indigenous tribe members.  There was even talk that the Kuna people were known for “harboring” drug smugglers on the islands; for as long as the smugglers were invited onto the island they were safe from any other marine government agencies waiting on the water in hopes of catching them once they left.  Permission granted was a huge deal there too.  No one was allowed to ever stay or sleep on any island overnight unless invited by the Chief of that island.  Just about every island had its own Chief.  Sometimes a single Chief would be needed for a cluster of smaller islands close by to each other.  And every so often the Chiefs of the islands would get together to discuss affairs.

Kuna fishermen could be seen going around in their wood canoes around the islands in search of conchs or lobsters or other fish to catch and consume.  Their way of fishing however only involved a homemade spear “gun” and being able to swim to very deep depths!  They were very adept at their trade however and the funniest thing to me about it all though was the bucket they each had in their canoes.  It wasn’t for holding caught fish but rather to scoop out water from their canoes!  You see, the canoes were wood and untreated wood at that, so they were constantly taking in water… hence the bucket!  Women of the area went around in their wood canoes (bucket in tow) to each of the tourist sailboats selling bracelets or homemade woven cloths with various images on them.  I eventually did buy an anklet from one of the women when we were invited for a lobster dinner that I wear to this day because it still hasn’t fallen off!!  But I’m getting ahead of myself…

We were warned well in advance about sea sickness.  We were all instructed to take sea sickness pills the night before departing and the morning and night of taking off.  While I believe we all did adhere to that advice, sadly the sea sickness pills did not quite work for all…  I was not a victim of sea sickness thank goodness though after a few beers and passing out in the front bunk for myself and the German woman, I did wake up feeling a little queezy… I made my way to the open air and just had to focus on my breath REALLY hard… and thankfully the nausea went away!  I could not say that is how it went for the rest of the crew…

Well, of course the crew themselves (3 brothers) were just fine.  But the new crew were struggling!  I honestly blame most of it on the booze consumed because as mentioned before there was quite a bit on board and the drinking started the second we got on board!!  After having my near sea sickness episode I opted to stay on the top deck in the fresh air just in case another episode arrived.  People seemed to be just fine that night.  Lots of jovial drinking around me and star gazing.  It was the next morning that the real “damage” began…

 

On to Warning!!

Back to Isla San Blas

 

Panama City

I made my way from Puerto Viejo back to David where I once again stayed at La Casa Marada (the purple house) and after turning down a temporary job there as the hostel receptionist, I made the long bus ride to Panama City, Panama.  I didn’t stay there long and honestly don’t have a ton to say about it… Like every other large City, it was hustling and bustling with activity and modern buildings, sky scrappers, and lots of business.  This sort of scene doesn’t really interest me quite frankly, especially after having lived in the serene and quirky small town of Puerto Viejo for so long.  I’d easily grown accustomed to the laid back beach life and wasn’t terribly impressed to be back in such civilization.  To each their own!  In any event, I did spend one night there before booking it back to the small town of Portobello, Panama.

 

Back to Panama Quicklinks

Arriving in Puerto Viejo

Perhaps one of my favorite moments of living in P.V. actually happened when I arrived.  I took a “tour” from Bocas del Toro, Panama to Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica for about $25, which covered all costs of transportation to get there except the $1 needed at the Panama border for the exit visa stamp.  Again, I was asked by the driver on the Costa Rica side “where in P.V. do you want to be dropped off?” and my reply again was “I don’t know, somewhere in town will do!  So he dropped me off near the soccer field in town, just a block or two inland from the main road that runs through P.V.

Now, I mentioned earlier that I happened to arrive on a Holiday weekend… What this meant was that all the locals from inland of Costa Rica had an extended weekend and were on the coast themselves… which meant that all the accommodations had been taken!  yes…

In any event, I was making my way along the soccer field when suddenly an old rasta man came riding up on his bike behind me.  And what follows was our conversation:

Rasta man: Hey Baby, how you doing today?

Me: Great, how are you?

Rasta man: Good baby, good!  You just arrive baby?

Me: Yup.  Every place seems to be full.  Do you know anywhere that may have a place to stay for the night?

Rasta man: Yea baby, there’s that Rockin’ J’s baby.

Me: Oh ok, where do I go for that place?

Rasta man: Just down that street baby, like 10 minutes baby

Me: Great, thanks for the info!

Rasta man: No problem baby, can I get you anything? Meth, smoke, coke, weed…

(and the list literally continued for  several seconds with him naming every known drug on the planet in both formal and street name version…)

Me with a slightly shocked face: No… Nope, thanks I’m good!

Rasta man: Ok baby, you have a great day now!

And away he rode… Definitely made me chuckle!!  Now I should also mention that I had heard of Rocking J’s from a fellow traveler in Bocas del Toro, so when the Rasta man mentioned it, I knew he wasn’t giving me misinformation.  So I wandered down the road until I came across Rocking J’s and rented THE LAST HAMMOCK for the night… Joy!  Normally this wouldn’t be such a big deal, however Rocking J’s sports over 350 hammocks!!!!  As well as dorms with beds and even private rooms with private beds!  Yes, the place is enormous and right on the water.  Rocking J himself is quite the character!  He’s working on building an arc and selling spaces on it for himself and whoever else wants for the coming storm…

 

On to Starry, Starry Night…

Back to Puerto Viejo