The immigration office was a pill. They wanted us each to have $500 in cash on us when we crossed the border. If you have ever counted out $1000 at a border crossing you know how unsafe you feel. Also to prove when we would be departing the country. We have scheduled a sail boat ride through the Caribbean from Panama to Colombia. We have a confirmation email, it doesn’t look super official but we printed the series of emails anyways. Finally they approve us to enter the country with a strong push because we were riding on the TicaBus. Again we didn’t get our bags searched because we were at the end of the line from our bus, or our bags just look too difficult to look through. We are about 6 hours in now only ten more to go and we will have covered almost half of Panama. We find ourselves in Panama City at 5 am! Well, the rickety ride got us to the bus station at 1:30am instead of 5am. It felt like our bus had no shocks at all, when using the restroom feels dangerous you just avoid it. The bus wasn’t packed so I tried sleeping on a row across from Mateo. More than once I nearly fell from the seat on to the ground from the turning and stopping. There was not a single person in sight when we stepped off the bus. This station is like no other we have been dropped off at, it’s clean and feels safe. There were security guards roaming around, they kicked us off the stairs quickly while we were reading our guide book. The vultures were out, taxi drivers, staring at us offering us a ride. We were not getting on to a taxi. It is too late to catch a taxi to a hostel and hotels would be more expensive and we would only be there a couple hours. We finally found a location to sleep in the bus terminal. An air conditioned waiting area. I was scolded for laying on the seats, I guess only up right sleeping is allowed in this area.
Managed to fall in and out of sleep all morning. At least I’m not sweating, that is always a plus. About 7:30am we both are awake and decide to start figuring out how to get ourselves to the hostel. We head over the walkway that gets us over the freeway, and it gets us to the subway system. Not where we want to be. With this much exhaustion in our bones we fold and take a taxi to the hostel. Feeling more spry than at 1:40am when we got off the bus. Yet still groggy, we walk up to the hostel. Mamallena is a hostel with no rules there was no fine tuned sermon given when we enter about cleaning up after yourself or what time the lights go out. This is unusual for a hostel, normally there are rules at least a few, ahhh but yes we are all adults and are adult enough to travel the world and are still alive. Every one is really relaxed, the guide book spoke of this hostel as unfriendly, more so I think it is not the hostels responsibility to hold our hands as travelers. Isn’t travel about growing? It is for me at least at this point in my life. To get an education through the world and experiencing that world.
Our beds were open and ready for us to sleep and restart our day not in a bus station. Oh the beds here are not full of springs and do not have bent bed frames from large people, the ac gets turned on from eight to eight. It is nice to wear my pjs at night and not the more exposed modest sleep wear I have because of the heat. We both sleep a couple hours and wake up at noon, the time has changed by one hour, traveling through time zones is strange when it’s done by land. When you get on a plane it is like time travel backward or forwards. I was looking at places to eat in our travel book and quickly found a New York Bagel shop. Mateo said he wanted bagels the other day and rice and beans will not be making the cut this morning. From what I have seen in the bus station, Panamanians don’t eat gallo pinto for breakfast anyways instead they eat this condensed form of stew. We make our way to the the bagel shop, guide book in hand. It is a healthy hike away and we zone out on our phones after we eat our bagel breakfast. Mateo swears that this normal breakfast of bagels, country potatoes, and eggs makes him feel 100% again, he wasn’t looking good when I poked and proded him out of bed at noon. We search around the internet for what activities to do in Panama City. We found a park that is a nature preserve on the lonely planet web page. That’s when the rain started, the down pour session lasted at least an hour. It’s so hot here in Panama we were in shorts an sandals, the bagel shop was a good place to wait out the rain, how long could we wait, the park closes at 6pm.
We ventured out eventually and found a pharmacy that sold umbrellas. That will have to do, we are from Seattle it rains all the time. We catch a taxi to the entrance of the park. I read that we may see this creature I have been waiting on, the sloth. I’m not convinced they really exist, I have been told so many times you may see a sloth. No sloth, one of my favorite animals. I like the weird ugly animals that have strange character. As we begin our hike my glasses soon fog up, this is unhelpful in the sloth sighting experience. Every moment we stop the mosquitos invade our skin and we are attacked from every angle. I’ll be lucky to make it out of this jungle trail hike without feeling like I donated blood to the Red Cross. This is the mosquitos perfect breeding ground, warm wet covered by trees. We are their thanksgiving dinner. We arrive at the top, how amazingly beautiful it is. We get to see Panama City skyline framed by the rain forest. Eight degrees from the equator. The rain has only been at a drizzle this whole time. I mostly use the umbrella to hit away or kill landing Mosquitos.
We catch a taxi back to town, he kicks us out early and doesn’t charge us, but he leaves us with a big smile. We assume because where our hostel is located there is heavy traffic all times of the day. So we get out and start walking without rain, after locating a supermarket we go there and pick up all the snacking things we will need on the boat, this supermarket is like America town, everything is over priced and imported. Not Mateo and Emily friendly. On the boat they provide water and three meals a day. Snacks are on us, Mateo doesn’t like fish much so we get extra snacks, and our hostel has a kitchen. I have been craving a grilled cheese sando and some tomato soup. We get just that and get back to the hostel to make ourselves long awaited comfort food on the cheap.