Playing Panamanian Catch Up

Travel

So I apologize profusely for failing hard at keeping everyone updated via my blog. On the road its hard with wifi being few and far between in cities or the outskirts of towns, coupled with just a lowly iPhone to type on, you have a perfect storm for someone as absent minded as myself to forget to write an entry (or 4).

So let me get yall up to speed on how my time in Panama went before I post any blogs about my time in Colombia so far (which spoiler alert – I’m absolutely LOVING already!)

I was working at one of the most popular backpacker spots on the Gringo Trail through Central America, The Lost and Found Hostel, which entirely earns its reputation because it is amazing. Set amidst the backdrop of Volcano Baru, the tallest peak in Panama, a hostel with a 15-minute hike uphill into a cloud forest, with everything you could need surrounding you and not much else. Trails surrounding the property provided hikes for solitude, river tanning, and agonizing mudslides downhill. Afternoons spent chatting with guests and checking them in, getting to know them and their lives over a cup of coffee. I felt parts of myself returning after lying dormant after a year at a desk. I got my chatting game back. I was engaging again. I fell in love with that delicious morsel that is human interaction and the emotional connection that accompanies it. This idyllic setting fed the duality of my personality – I had the solitary time to myself necessary for self-exploration but the social interaction I needed to reconnect with the sense of outer self I was still searching for while in Costa Rica.

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The thing I wasn’t prepared for while working at the hostel was the constant sense of loss when every new friend inevitably continues on with their journey. While extremely grateful to have met them, the regenerative nature of going upstairs every morning to a set of new and unfamiliar faces every 3 days was emotionally exhaustive. Although it did allow me to practice one of my major goals for the trip – appreciation without attachment – on the reg. I`ve gotten fairly good at it, but there still exists this aching pang when I think back to people who I hope to see again, accompanied by a sickening realization that most of them won`t cross my path anytime soon.

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Travel continues to be an evolving mistress whose love is both fulfilling and frightening. I’m developing into a different person, that’s for damn sure. But the type of person is still unresolved, floating in the abyss between cities, lying facedown on a train platform or free falling from an airplane are parts of myself I`ve shed in favor of new traits, new understandings, new quirks. The person reflected back through the eyes of the people I’m meeting now is different than the ones from my friends at home. I’ll admit I’m still on the hunt for who I am, still absentmindedly searching for myself, thinking I’ll stumble upon it like a delicious empanada on the side of some street, tucked in with the change from a street vendor, or hidden inside the folds of a hammock on the beach. Travel, that bitch, makes you face yourself every day while giving you ample opportunities to distract you with swaying palm trees or island hopping which make you wonder what you`re even looking for at all – with peace surrounding you at every moment you choose to let it.

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So Panama was about friendship, forests, and the free time to think about what it all meant. But here are just a few of my favorite memories: I had some great nights at the hostel bar, taking tequila shots toe to toe with an Aussie who would make me regret that decision instantly. I had two amazing weekends exploring Bocas del Toro, a Panamanian Venice with hotels built out onto the sea and boats to take you island to island, where I got lost roaming the jungle in search of an infamous beach. I went to a local brewery in Boquete and ended up drunk with 10 new friends by the end of the night, two of which would then be a part of my journey to Colombia via sailing through San Blas. My first motorbike ride through the Panamanian highlands. Treasure hunting and River canyon jumping. I met up with a friend from the LF hostel in Panama City and had an incredible time going out, getting brunch drunk at the buffet at Hard Rock Cafe overlooking the city, and ending up at Panamanian block party until 6 am with 7 new friends once again. Sailing over the San Blas islands, seeing deserted beaches and drinking rum in our personal infinity hot tub, swimming in the ocean at night and climbing onto a sailboat to eat fresh caught lobster pasta. Waking up and spending an entire day watching the endless vista of the ocean and its waves crashing against the ship for hours. Sailing into a new city, a new country, and tingling with the anticipation as the coast of Colombia came into view.

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I suppose that’s enough of an update for now. Expect an update on all things Colombian in the next few days!

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