Santa Catalina, San Carlos, Un Amigo Nuevo, Y San Blas
08/19/2011 - 08/23/2011
Sorry for the gap in communication, been without internet for a while.
So I didn´t end up leaving David until a day later than expected, as the haul is pretty long and I missed the last bus. Although the next day in David had to be in the 90´s, it was good and eventful. I got to spend another night talking to My Dear Friend and Zenaida, the columbian senora I was translating for. Her and her husband left columbia 30 years ago and came to panama to start open a book store. Now they run the largest publishing company in Panama for lawyers and are very important people here, they also own a very large Teak wood farm. She was telling me stories about the history of a place in panama and how the people hold onto their culture to this day and it ended up being one of my future destinations here, San Blas. I told her I was leaving soon and wanted to go to San Blas before then but was trying to avoid Panama City. She offered to let me stay at her house and I accepted. I´m so excited as that was one thing I wanted to do on this journey, stay with a family and get a taste of the real Panamanian (/columbian) lifestyle.
In the morning I awoke to news that the hostel owner had an argument with the staff and fired them all at 1am! I kind of felt like offering to stay and help but realized that he needed to handle his own business. I caught a 1130 bus out of a blistering David and wasn´t really keen on the journey ahead. After about an hour drive, we picked up a couple leaving Boca Brava whom I recognized from the Lost and Found. Two hours later , we arrived in Santiago. I decided to tag along with the couple, who were from Greece, traveling for a couple weeks in Panama. We grabbed some food and caught another bus for an hour to Sona, then a cab for another hour to Santa Catalina. I did a little research but apparently not enough as the hotel I got dropped off was the wrong one. I walked for about a quarter mile, backpack and all, and found myself at the Surfers Paradise. I was planning on splurging $20 on a room with a/c but they didn´t have any so I settled for a dorm room for $8. I settled in and headed down, only to run into 6 people there that were also at Lost and Found. It was nice to see familiar faces again. The views were amazing and we just sat on the porch outside their rooms and watched the sunset, amazing! I was exhausted from 2 weeks of no solid sleep so I called it an early night and ended up sleeping for 13hours! I woke up to a good breakfast and some great fresh shakes they all made. John, a cool guy from California, offered to let me move into his room with a/c for $15, YEAH! Most of them surfed but the waves weren´t good so we chilled for a while and headed to the beach. The water was warm and we had a blast. There isn´t much to do after dark so we played some dominoes and watched some movies, the place had satellite tv.
There wasn´t internet so I headed into town to find a place John talked about. I was expecting a sign or something, but after walking for a while down a long road I didn´t see anything. On a whim, i walked up a couple flights of stairs to a restaurant and asked if this was the place, and it was. The guy, from Portugal, told me to wait a minute and came back with a computer bag. He pulled out a little netbook, plugged in his mobile card, and signed me in. He explained that the town was too small so the phone company would never install phone lines. I tried to order a sandwich but he said they were closed. He was cooking for his family and offered to make me a burger and I couldn´t pass that up. The computer was too small to write a post so I did a few things and demolished that burger and made my way back to the hostel. Later that night we went to a restaurant in the middle of now where, literally, and had some pizza. Probably one of the best days of eating for me here so far!
The next day, Monday, I decided to head out but wasn´t sure where. The hostel owner, who drove me to the bus, told me to check out San Carlos. I headed back to Sona, then to Santiago and found a bus headed to Panama City that would go through San Carlos. About an hour in, I figured out that they weren´t going to tell me where to get off so I had to pay attention and try to figure out the cities we were in as we passed them. San Carlos came and went and I wasn´t sure if maybe there was another stop or something!? I almost gave up and went all the way to Panama City, but took a risk and got off at one of the next stops. Decided to get some lunch and get on the internet to figure out what to do. An hour and two $2 beers later, I still didn´t know what to do so I caught a bus heading back to San Carlos. It was only $.30 and I got into a cab. Wasn´t sure where I was going but told him to take me to a surf camp, didn´t care which one (slightly remembered that from the hostel owner.) He drove me to Rio Mar Surf camp. There was one guy there who greeted me and told me they had a room for $18, which was a little more than I planned to spend but it had a/c and no roommate so far, so I obliged. Got situated and went back out. He spoke no english but my spanish kicked in and we chatted. He said I was the only one there and everyone just left. We watched baseball and talked sports. He also said that he was a native of the San Blas islands. He pulled out some pictures of his kids and family and showed me some of their native clothing. I told him I was heading that direction in the next few days and he offered to take me with him to stay with his family! YES!!! Normally you have to pay all these fees and cab rides and pay $25-50 a day so I am pretty excited. I´m staying another night there and we are headed out tomorrow afternoon.
I emailed the columbian lady so I hope to be able to stay with her at least a day or so when I get back from San Blas. Just over a week before I leave to Atlanta and I plan on taking advantage of every minute.
My time on the net is up but I do plan on explaining some more about my decision to head back to the states in a future post.
Thanks again for all the support in all the ways you give it!!