Sol Y Sombre

 

“It is better to be alone than in bad company.”
 – George Washington

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It’s strange to think that this was only a month and a half ago. It seems as if at least half a year has past. In the absence of being able to take my camera out I’ve been sifting through my photos…

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Frustratingly the main things to see and do in this area are outside of the actual city, costing significant amounts in transport or for tours which I can’t afford at this point. Of all the places to be stuck in, that I’ve visited so far, I have the feeling that I’ve drawn the short straw.

I’m getting more than a little disgruntled by standing out like a sore thumb in this dodgy Panama city neighbourhood. I just popped down to the shop to get a couple of apples and a drunk Panamanian ran ahead of me and lay down in a puddle for me to walk over, pretending that I was the queen. Ok, granted that is a particularly amusing example. I found it very difficult to maintain a straight face as I walked on by. When he intercepted me on the walk back and repeated this episode, this time with his friend joining in, I couldn’t help but burst out laughing at how ridiculous the situation was. This did not help, however, as they then continued to crawl after me on their hands and knees until I managed to shrug them off. 

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I can’t seem to find a place to while away the time in the hotel either. I’ve been trying to soak up some last minute sun before heading back to the rain; yesterday, late afternoon, I went up for a dip in the roof top pool (more of a plunge pool really, but I can’t complain for the price I’m paying! Also it’s got a hell of a view to make up for it). There were not one, but two couples making out heatedly in the square metre of pool. That’s what your rooms are for you morons. Get out of the communal area. Anyway, standing there wrapped in a towel, I felt it would look ridiculous to turn around straight away and walk back down, so I determinedly got in the pool and awkwardly swam a couple of ‘lengths’. It didn’t take long before I couldn’t take it any more and retreated back to my cave room.

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Back in the days when I knew people here so felt comfortable taking my camera out, this poor planning error caught my eye. The elevated hands of Jesus in ‘Casco Viejo’ make the perfect perch for the local vultures. Not sure that’s the image they had in mind…

P.S. Warning to vegetarians. Panama city = not ideal. Went scouting round a series of cafés/street stalls/restaurants and could not find anything at all without meat. I thought Brazil would be bad but this is by far the worst place for it yet.

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Passing Stranger

“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.”

– Tim Cahill

It feels strange being suddenly so alone after having spent such a long time in constant company.

I have to admit that I found the popular ‘Miraflores Locks’ and the Panama canal pretty dull. There was just such an enormous crowd of people watching an incredibly slow and tedious process.

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Perhaps it’s because I’ve reached the end of my tether after travelling pretty much constantly since November, alternatively it could be the fact that I’m recovering from a nasty bug: Either way I’m not particularly interested in Panama city. The ‘Caso Viejo’ old town region was a little more picturesque that the usual mediocrity but I’m not particularly in a position to be wandering around the city by myself as the men are particularly relentless in their verbal affronts. It’s impossible to even walk a minute down the road to the supermarket without being hounded by at least 10 locals, even when reluctantly trading in my short shorts for more conservative attire. The record’s 25. Anyway, you can see that I don’t feel particularly comfortable whacking out a large camera in this rather dodgy neighbourhood so photos will be limited.

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Interesting graffiti in ‘Casco Viejo’. Love how the person trying to paint the walls has dodged around them.

IMG_2382The city does, however, have some great little spots to pass the time. You can get a taxi out to the ’causeway’, a couple of Islands in the bay with a great view of the skyline.

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I’m Lonely (But I Ain’t That Lonely Yet)

Time Flies

We’re led to believe

But it’s us that fly

Time sits on its hands

As we rush by

 – Roger McGough

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Apologies for the tardiness of this post; I’ve been largely bed-ridden with a horrific bug over the past week.

Panama has rushed past in a blur of alcohol and beaches. Our first stop was the Caribbean archipelago, ‘Bocas Del Toro’. It’s easy to hop on water taxis between the different islands, surf, walk through the national parks or just soak up the laid-back Caribbean pace of life which has now become so familiar. On ‘Colón’, the amusingly named main Island, there are some fantastic places to eat including a little sushi bar called ‘Raw’ with half price sushi and Martinis between 4 and 6. Ideal. I’d definitely recommend a lychee Martini if anyone’s not yet had the pleasure. They also had novel chalk-boards in place of mats which was a refreshing alternative to pre-dinner conversation!

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There’s also plenty of fun to be had exploring the rather eccentric island nightlife. Most bars/clubs (well, places to dance) have integrated the sea into the structure of their building, with large areas cut out of the decking for people to swim in the beautifully warm sea below. I particularly enjoyed ‘Aqua lounge’ on the nearby island which had swings into the water and ‘El Barco hundido’ (The sunken ship) with floating dance platforms over a shipwreck. It’s fantastically weird to be able to dive down and pick up a starfish off the sea-bed in the middle of a bar!

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I’m afraid I don’t have much to report on our next stop, Boquete, in the Panamanian mountains. To be perfectly honest I wasn’t particularly taken with the place. It was largely made up of a community of retired couples and ex-pats. I wasn’t overly disappointed that this was where my illness started to kick in. The nine hour journey to Panama city was somewhat less convenient.

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All of my travelling companions having gone their separate ways, I’m now alone in the rather daunting capital city…although it is nice to have my own room for the first time in three months!