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!

Un Día en La Vida Caribe

Travel

A Day in the Carribean Life


I´m trying to find a way to relay to my loves back home how life works here. Not just what I spend my days doing, but those small, refined details that highlight the different way of living here, pura vida if you will.

More of a yoga girl anyhow

Yoga every damn day. 

Riding a bike, for instance, is really a testament to how little effort you can contribute to peddling while still managing to stay in an upright position. (Which if you know my history with bikes, this is proving to be interesting.) Boredom is something completely created – a word to describe the simple act of living and being – so hours are spent just simply being on the beach, being at the bar, being with friends, instead of clamouring to get to our smart phones to tell people how busy we´ve been with being. Meals here are engulfed in silence while everyone gulps down every morsel on their plate with a vigor normally reserved for ravenous animals. Everything takes a bit more patience here and it´s refreshing to look up at the sky from a hammock and simultaneously realize how lucky I am to be right here, how happy I constantly feel, and where I last set down my daiquiri.

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La Playa de Manzanillo

So during my time here, I´ve been living and working at Se Ua B&B and Aventure House.  I´ll try and walk you through a typical day here for me. I wake up around 7 am every day where I venture downstairs to a group of hardworking Costa Rican men and the other token gringo de Francia. Among them, my boss, usually shirtless is cooking breakfast with a joint in hand. The flood of morning Spanish wakes me up, in addition to my cup of coffee, and then I´m immediately bombarded by four dogs and two cats looking to also say buenas dias. We all eat breakfast together and then they begin working on different projects for the building. They´re in the process of redoing the hotel and literally have made, piece by piece, every inch of this beautiful place, almost for free. All the wood is gathered from the woods by taking a chainsaw into the jungle and cutting fallen trees (which I´ve learned are some of the heaviest, most durable, and prized woods in the world) into carryable blocks that weigh outrageous amounts but are effortlessly put onto the barebacks of the hombres. While they are off exerting more force in a day than I ever truly seen a man work, I clean the lounge area, help with laundry or getting rooms ready, or sitting dutifully at my computer helping them to get their social media up and running, sending out email blasts, and helping to create marketing materials for their adventure tours.

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Typical day at the office.

When los muchachos return from working, it´s my unofficial job to get lunch or dinner ready. You would think my feminist nature would be offended by the ultra-traditional gender roles in Costa Rica, but truly the machismo culture is just one more thing I am getting used to. Surprisingly, I find myself not being bothered much by it – in fact I support it. These men work harder than anyone I´ve ever seen and if my responsibility to to provide food for them – then that seems fair at the end of the day – especially since the work is literally too strenuous for a woman to do. At least this woman, anyways.

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Then once I´ve finished for the day, I go to the beach for a couple hours and go through a yoga flow or go to the local bar and have a few beers (some things never change). That´s actually how I was able to pick up a few shifts at Maxi´s – a nice change of pace from the work at Se Ua and another avenue for me to keep learning Spanish and meeting people from around this big beautiful world. It doesn´t hurt that it is set against the backdrop of the sea, with the breeze rolling by as I open beers and pour micheladas por las touristas. I´m reminded of my time working at the winery and I once again appreciate all the steps Ive taken so far in my life, remembering that every decision is taking me in a direction and that´s exactly why I find myself here. Here I am learning, learning about myself, about others, about languages – both from hearing and seeing. I´m also learning that my American idioms do not translate. Whatsoever. Until next time, mais. 

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Behind the bar at Maxi´s