Tag Archives: thunderstorms

Storms, glorious storms! And a sparrow?

Another reason I’m quite glad we really didn’t have any days really going way out into the ocean was because of the storms… aside from the night that we left Portobello, we pretty much had a storm every night thereafter.  Now personally, I absolutely LOVE thunder and lightning storms!!  It’s actually a criteria of where I live!  If the place doesn’t have sufficient thunderstorms year round, I won’t survive there long.  But I digress…

The first storm that we traveled through is where the sparrow comes in… The Captain of the sailboat (the American) absolutely cracked me up!!  As the winds whistled violently through the air sloshing the boat one direction then the next he stood at the helm, legs wide so to have a solid stance.  His bandana over his head flapping in the wind.  As the rain came down on our heads he held a cigarette in one hand and a glass of rum in the other all while he held the wheel and jerked it this way and that against the force of the wind!  Periodically he would release one hand from the wheel to take a drag or sip of his booze, then on again he went.  He literally looked like a scene out of Pirates of the Caribbean with Captain Jack Sparrow at the helm through the storm!  I couldn’t help but just watch him in awe and absolute humor!  Seriously wish I had a video of that!!

So that was one of the storms… Other storms we had while simply trying to stay off shore of an island for a night.  But with the currents and wind we had to keep moving around so we wouldn’t get pushed too close into the shore.  The lightning and thunder was absolutely glorious and I never felt any fear whatsoever until one particular storm…

It was on the night before we were supposed to be in our docking area to get “smuggled” into Columbia.  Because of this storm we had to pull in to another island area that was more protected from the ocean.  It worked in our favor after all because we got to spend yet another day/night in the islands.  Anyway, I had gone to bed before the storm struck but was woken at some point during the night by the sounds going on around me.  As I opened my eyes, the first thing I really noticed and registered was the severe rocking of the sailboat.  The German woman and I were given the room at the very front of the sailboat and in the room, aside from small windows along the side was a window on the roof that essentially went on the top deck.  Essentially what I saw was nothing but rushing water through the side windows and at times the windows were completely submerged.  The top window, as the nose of the boat dove deep into the water from the waves, had a steady stream of water rushing back and forth over top.  The whooshing sound and the up and down rocking as the nose dove over and over again into the ocean was already quite a concerning feeling.  Then the sounds from the living area started to register.  I looked behind to the living area to see one of the crew members holding on to any surface he could to stay standing.  Plates and pots and pans and food and literally all other contents of the cabinets in the living and kitchen area started clashing and clattering to the ground as the violence of the boat movement was simply too much for the cabinet latches to keep everything shut.  The crew member tried over and over in vain to rig the cabinets to latch closed…

At this point, a very real realization came to mind.  I thought honestly, that this was it.  We weren’t going to make it.  There was no way this little sailboat could make it through what sounded such a violent lashing from the ocean.  As I thought about how this could literally be the end, a thought occurred to me.  I had no control over the situation.  There was absolutely nothing I could do.  So if in fact it was to be the end, I wouldn’t be afraid but simply would think about those I loved.  The fear of the situation then subsided and I fell back into a deep sleep.

The next morning I woke to another day.  We docked near another island not too far from the Columbian border and spent the day visiting the Kuna indigenous people of that island.  I will certainly never forget that particular storm…

 

On to Nail Fashion

Back to Islas San Blas

Boquete, Panama

After a boat ride, taxi and two separate buses I arrived in the cool (literally) little town of Boquete.  Nestled between mountain ranges, this adorable town was quite a sight to behold!  I can still recall sitting on the bus, completely surrounded by nothing but the view of mountain sides, when all of a sudden the view opened up and ahead was Boquete.  It literally reminded me of some little obscure mountain town in Europe, quietly slumbering, hiding its secrets in the valley.

I stepped off the bus at the main square and started my hunt for a place to stay.  There were several hostels along the main “highway” that looked quite nice, but a little out of my preferred price range.  I had immediately decided to stay in Boquete for 5 days to a week so I wanted to find somewhere that I could get comfortable in for a bit.  Off the main road I came across a house that had a little sign hanging on the front.  The building to the right looked like a personal home, while the building to the left had 2 doors with numbers on them.  I wish I had taken note as to the name of the place so I could share it with future travelers to this area, but sadly I did not.

After speaking with the family living in the main house about accommodations in one of their 4 apartments, I paid for 5 nights at $8.00 a night.  That $8 a night bought me my own private room with queen size bed, little kitchen, private bath and even a little TV.  Sadly the television only got a few channels and of course all were in Spanish, but at least it made for some entertaining distraction when I needed some.

Not a whole lot of excitement occurred in Boquete for me really.  I used my time there to unwind a bit and get some essential things done before traveling on.  For example laundry and a very much-needed pedicure!  Hey, a girl still has to keep herself up regardless of where she goes:).  I spent my days walking around the town and exploring new areas of the town each day, which also served as a good way to get exercise.  Every day, and on some days all day, we had thunderstorms, the kind that rattle the very core of you shaking you from the inside out!  Now I absolutely adore thunderstorms and was quite happy to be somewhere with consistent ones for  a bit.  During my lunch and dinner I would turn on the television and watch Spanish Soap Operas, which let me tell you are quite dramatic and funny in how dramatic they are.  The days basically passed like this with a walk everyday for at least a couple of hours, otherwise killing my time with books or thoughts of where to go next.

What was interesting about Boquete was the great extreme of people present.  It is obvious that Boquete has turned into the American Retiree place to go.  For one, it’s cheap and in Panama in general it is quite easy to become a resident.  All that is required is proof of steady income, which if you have your social security check, you get in immediately.  What was funny to me though was the great divide in the town.  You had your Panamanians, your Panamanian Tribe people who were easily spotted due to their traditional clothing that they wore daily, and then you had the Gringos (i.e. the expats living off their Social Security checks out of the Country where the cost of living is lower).  It was humorous to watch as the Gringo gang walked around the town.  Their dogs were all on leashes (every other dog was street smart and ran around free), they all walked in packs (the people, not the dogs) and English was the only language spoken or attempted (at least in all those who I noticed).  I did find it quite sad that these people didn’t seem to make an attempt to learn the language.  For if I were to permanently move to another Country, at least I could try to show respect to them by learning their language.  Especially since I was in effect there taking advantage of their cheap standards of living…. But I digress.

Along this point I did myself look into a Spanish school in Boquete.  As I probably mentioned before, I only spoke conversational Italian prior to coming to Latin America and while it was slowly changing over from Italian to Spanish, I thought some school would probably be a good idea to help facilitate and speed the process of speaking Spanish better.  Boquete though was not somewhere I wanted to be for a long period of time though.  It served its purpose well as a relaxing and quiet retreat, but knowing myself I knew there just wasn’t enough of a life there to keep myself busy for an extended period of time.  Plus it was chilly there at night and sometimes during the day when the sun failed to make it through the cloud cover and I’m really a warm-weather kind of person so staying in cold climates can only be tolerated for so long!  Interestingly enough, the school in Bocas (Habla Ya!) had a sister school in Bocas del Toro, Panama on the Caribbean coast.  I had heard a lot about Bocas so thought perhaps I would check out the school there and if I liked the town would stay there for the classes.  So after my 5 nights in relaxing Boquete, I moved on to Bocas del Toro.