Panama!

Trip Start Sep 28, 2011
1
112
332
Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Panama  ,
Tuesday, January 17, 2012

There is the promise of a beach party tonight.  I realise with horror I'm getting drawn back into the seedy underworld.  When Sophie appears with all her bags packed and ready to leave, in spite of my hangover I make the snap decision to go with her and head for the border.  I'm awake, therefore I can travel.  As the day wears on, it becomes one of the best choices I've made in a while.

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A cat has just walked across my keyboard.  The above is her contribution to my work.

The journey and crossing into Panama is not an unpleasant one, primarily because I'm so elated I made the decision to leave and move quickly.  It also means I'm catching my friends up, and brings me a step closer to South America, which is feeling like the promised land as each day goes by.  I'm done with Central America for the time being.  Columbia calls.

We make it across with little trouble, and it is actually the easiest border crossing I've done since leaving home.  It is said that Panama requires you to have an outward ticket, so you need to buy onward travel at the border even if you have no intention of using it.  This would be something of a problem, as we need to make the last water taxi across to Bocas.  I have a feeling of dread as the disembodied voice behind the screen asks if I have a ticket to return to Costa Rica.  Ashen faced, I reply that I'm going to Columbia, but this isn't going to make things any different, as he's surely going to ask me to provide the date of exit and proof of my future travel.  "You're going to Columbia to sing!" he exclaims, noticing my guitar and making the universal air strum movement I've come to know so well.  I nervously laugh a response, and find the six strings have once again managed to smooth my way through what might have been a crap situation.  Music is a powerful weapon.

It's a slightly sketching situation as we're bundled into a 'shuttle' to drive the sixty odd minutes to the coast.  I don't know this guy from Adam.  He's got a 'tourism' sticker on his van.  I could slap 'taxi' on a canoe and pick up fares.  I'm on super high alert, clutching all my bags to my chest as I'm crammed in the back of the vehicle, my pepper spray ready to go.  As it turns out, he's one of the most friendly, cheerful guys you could hope to meet, delivering us as promised to the last water taxi to Bocas.  I feel slightly ashamed at my distrust, but I suppose it's that new found awareness that will keep me safe, alive and with my belongings intact.

It always feels like you're properly traveling when you have to change your modes of transport.  From walking, to bus, to truck, to boat, we make it to Bocas Del Torro.  The four stroke engine powers across the large body of water, with spray in our faces and wind in our hair.  I watch an undefinable bird fly inches from the water, scared by the onward rush of the boat.  My eyes strain to keep focus as is glides low to the horizon, with five swift wing beats, followed by a long, swift, graceful glide.  I wonder if my feathered friends feels as emancipated as me?







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