Panama: Where the people are cool and the buses are freezing

Im downstairs in the hostel with my cleanest clothes on, freshly shaved legs, and a hot cup of coffee. I am really stunned how three weeks have already passed. Time to say goodbye to Evi and Central America and start the next phase of my trip: Boyfriend lovin in Colombia.

Here is my quick wrap up of Panama. We walked across the border from Costa Rica to Panama, just a nice bridge with broken wooden planks across it. I wouldve been scared except I watched our guide, who was approximately 8 feet tall and resembled Hagrid, cross just fine. He might have been a wizard though.

Our first stop in Panama was Bocas del Toro where we stayed on Isla Bastimiento near Red Frog Beach. The main island of Bocas is Isla Colon, where the famous Bocas Town is located. Our island was a quick 10 min water taxi away. Bocas Town is known as a party city. Not partying in Bocas would be like going to Ibiza and not partying… Unfortunately for me, I have done both of those things. We ended up with crappy weather and a water taxi into Bocas town in a lightening storm didnt sound too appealing. We opted for lots of jungle adventrues and kayacking.

Our next stop in Panama was Panama City, just a 10 hour night bus away. The bus left at 7:00 pm and arrived in Panama City at 4:00 am. Our hostel didnt open until 8:00. We slept in the bus terminal. We looked and felt homeless.

After catching up on some much needed sleep, we explored the giant metropolitan town. I didnt have any expectations of Panama City…I didnt even know where it was on the map until we got on the bus. I wasnt expecting a metropolis. Panama City is filled with huge skycrapers, lots of industry, and people everywhere. Given the significance of the canal to international trade, it makes sense.

Panama City has been great. It is wonderfully cheap. I bought a six pack of Panamanian beer for $2.32 and an ice cream cone for 50 cents. What else could I need??

My favorite part of Panama City is probably the bus system. They are old US School Buses. These arent your average orange school buses. They are insanely decorated. Neon lights, crazy paint jobs, spoilers on the back. Some of them are themed. We ended up on a Jesus themed one…Complete with a man preaching the word of god. Exactly what I wanted to hear crammed next to 5000 of my closest friends sharing sweat and recycled air. The best part of the buses: they are only 25 cents!!

Even the taxis are cheap. They dont have meters, which I typically take as an indicator that I am about to get ripped off. Instead, they are ´name your price´. You get in, go to your destination, and hand the taxi drvier whatever amount you think is appropriate. Sometimes they haggle, but normally not.

One of the highlights of Panama City was our night on the town. We got all done up…put on tank tops, flip flops, brushed our hair, and maybe even used chapstick. When we arrived to the bars and clubs area, we were the only women without stilletos, tight dressed, and full hair and make up. Im pretty sure our blonde hair, despite being dirty, was the only reason we got in. We were the only Americans, and some of the only foreigners. It was a nice mix up from the tourist impacted Costa Rica. We tried to pretend like we intended to wear our less than stylish outfits and made friends with some sweet Panamanian girls who kindly informed us of the open bar we were at. Score.

I guess I should have started with the low-lights to end on a happy note, but whatevr. Deal with it. Apparently, Panama just discovered Air Conditioning. Everywhere inside is FREEZING: Our overnight bus to Panama City was roughly 20 degrees. I had to get my thick hiking socks, jeans, fleece, rain jacket, and almost every clothes item I wore out of my bag…and I was still cold.

The hostels have freezing AC too…unadjustable AC. Then there was our trip home from El Valle. We took a day trip to El Valle, a mountainy jungle town 2.5 hours outside of PC. It reminded us a lot of La Fortuna. We ended up getting caught in a tropical downpour before getting on the bus. We were soaking wet. We then got on the bus where it was 20 degrees again. They wouldnt turn the AC off. I think we cried. I am pretty sure I experienced hell.

In conclusion, loved panama. Hated the AC. Off to Colombia!!

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One Response to Panama: Where the people are cool and the buses are freezing

  1. mighty Joe 'Papa' of the Gods says:

    Used chapstick? I can hook you up with some new handcrafted Joes Mighty Slick. Just ask!

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