Bocas Del Toro


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Published: February 13th 2007
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Well, I didn't expect to be here, but sometimes you just end up on a tropical island. Your chances are better when you're travelling thru central america without much purpose. So, I was in San Jose, and I had a good feeling about the place, like I could live there. I started taking doxycyclin because I have had some crazy health lately, and I think I have pneumonia. Anyway, it's been helping and I hope I'm feeling better, but the progress seems really slow. One night I had really high fever in San Jose. Basically, i was sick and weak the whole time there, so I did almost nothing, and still managed to like the place. It was really clean and seemed like a nice city compared to the other countries I was coming from. Not much garbage, noise, or pollution as far as I could tell. It was pretty relaxing. The superbowl was on, and I watched some of it while restringing my guitar, but wasn't too interested. More interested in my guitar.

See, all the time now, my voice has been pretty weak, so I have to be quiet a lot, and it's really weird. I don't like losing my voice because that I how I communicate, so it's made things pretty hard. I'm just really mellow all the time...anyway, I decided to take my guitar out on the streets in San Jose. I did, and played, but they were a real tough crowd. I didn't put my shoes out or anything, but it was hard even getting a smile out of these folks. Of course, I was just playing, and couldn't sing. And then I noticed people walking around didn't smile much or look happy, and I liked the place a little less maybe. I just had my ideas that it was nice, with nice people, but I don't know. Actually, I liked how whenever you said gracias, people say, "con mucho gusto" instead of de nada. They say, with much pleasure, that's really nice. And they really do say pura vida a lot, and it really IS pura vida there...

I had a real nice meal on the street in a cafe on the main walking strip in san jose. I just watched people walk by and ate some typical food, and it really had a european feel. I guess I can't say people weren't nice there, because I just didn't have the energy to really meet people, that's what sucked. Usually I'm really outgoing, but I've just been so exhausted! Still I met some really good characters, as always. It always sucks when it hurts to talk. And I think I use my voice a lot because I'm a musician, and I thought, what if my voice got really tired from this job, and it became a chore like any other, wouldn't that be ironic?
I love to do it when my voice is well, it's just when it hurts. But you're not suppossed to sing then anyway. I just feel lame when people are like, Can you sing us something? And I say, well, not right now I'm sick.

Anyway, finally I got enough strength to leave. I have to say, I wasn't feelin too hot, and my recovery has been really slow, which has taught me a lot, and makes me think it was pneumonia. I was in san jose 5 days. I wanted to get to panama, to make it to columbia. At the same time I had an idea in the back of my head that some beach time would help my lungs recover. I asked the girl at the dest where the bus station was. She found it for me, with much pleasure, and then told me there was another one close, because I told her I was lazy, and didn't want to take a cab. So I walked to the other, she said it went towards panama. Good enough for me. But then I found it only went to the caribian side. I thought for a minute, because the bus when right to peurto viejo de talamanca, which was highly recommended by a friend, but I told her I wouldn't go because I was trying to get on to South America (man this is the endless central america trip!) To make a long story short, I thought, hey why not go!

And suddenly I was swept away to a tropical beach. I have to admit, it was really cool! I slept in a tent at this happenin hostel and met these two great guys from virginia, and we kicked it a lot--as much as I could, though I was always so fatigued. I could walk down the beach a little, then I'd have to go have some hammock time. But it was perfect for that! Me and Daniel and Joe had some good times. At night they would crack me up with a real good redneck bit they did:
"See them lights over there? That's florida. I'm perdy sure. Could be wrong but, perdy sure. HHHHAWK SPTUI!" Then he would spit.
Joe says, "Yeah, that's Florda sure. Else it's Coobah!"
They were the best cause they cheered me up. I have to say I was really bummed about my health. I want to go out and have fun adventures like usual, but instead I had to control myself, because that is not how you heal from pneumonia! But it sure bummed me out because man, the world is my oister, but it really isn't when you can't go and get it. So I felt weak and powerless, and it was quite an interesting experience. Often I had a symptom which I called, feeling like I was hit by a train. I would get it when I awoke or times in the day. I slept a lot during those days.

But we saw giant tree spiders, I climbed a tree overhanging a cliff over the sea that they were too sketched to do. You sat up there and watched the wave crash under you some hundred feet down. It was a rush! But it was really safe actually, with good holds. I would never do something reckless...though I was tempted to climb up the cliff. But I knew in flip flops, it was a bad idea, though it looked like a simple enough climb. So I never done it.

After 4 nice days there, it was time to go to panama. Just hopped on a bus and whew. I had a rendevous with a tropical island this time. Figured it would make a country give you a good first impression. IT worked!

While waiting for the boat to come in panama, I pulled out my guitar. There were lots of kids standing around the boat dock, and about 5 of them came over and sat down when I started playing. The littlest one was this little girl who was so cute. They said, she sings! So I played a little, then she stood up and gave me a kiss right on the cheek! It was adorable, and a nice welcome to the country. She sang a little, then left to go somewhere, and I had my three trusty students left. I had them pluck the strings while I did the chords. Then I had the oldest try some chords himself. It was a good way to pass the time. I never look at a watch much, so time just passes in chunks. Someone asked, how long did you wait for the boat? I said, I don't know, but it was an agreeable time.

Finally we got the boat, which seemed to come fast. Then we went thru a river jungle to get to this island. I stuck my head out the boat like a dog. Big palm leaves overhung the river.

The island is really nice. Today I just got a bike and went on a little ride. It feels good to do something! I have just 2 more days left on antibiotics, then that's it...I am starting to feel better, and I hope I will be for real this time. I'm gunna guard my health now. This has been quite the fiasco.

They are already starting the carnival festivities on the island. Looks like I'll see carnival in panama, but they're suppossed to have a pretty good celebration. I hear some songs outside and think there might be something going on, like a parade. Yesterday they had people in demon costumes, and what they do is, they have a stick with a string attached to it. They wip this at a guy dressed up like a priest, but a funny priest. He has a stick to block. It was really neat, the costumes. THe kids practice too with these weapons. Tonight, we'll see! I had the brilliant idea to go to rio, but it didn't pan out. I would've had to get a visa and have lots of strength, instead I'm just barely getting by! I feel like now I have a little more energy, but I don't want to overdo it, which sucks because I like to overdo it! Anyway, if I can only make it to that big continent down there....What I'll do is take a sailboat over the carribean to columbia. We stop at some islands, and it should be really cool!

Thoughts:
I have to say, costa rica is really nice. It was a super tourist trap though. The place I was at, I'd never seen so many travellers, maybe! Always drinking, partying, havin fun. And the whole town was really touristy. I didn't mind so much. Now this island is also really touristy, and I'm wanting to get away from it a little. I know columbia will be the opposite!

Panama is great too. They use dollars for money, did you know that? But central america, man you could spend a lot of time here! It took me a bit longer than I thought...I've almost been gone 5 and a half months, and it just flew. Whenever I tell people how long I've been going, my trip is longer than their whole one already, and they think, man, their trip isn't so long. But it's all relative, you know? Like how I thought san jose is nice, but others think it's dirty and loud. I know dirty and loud, and that's not it! We'll see how long I can make it, because lately the trip's really wearing me down, I won't lie. But if you think about it, this is a good place to be getting better. Well, it's never fun to be sick, so I guess it's made me realize how important health is to me. It's hard to be happy and enjoy the life without it. Also, having my notebooks lost makes me realize how important my work is to me, so I have to be more careful with it. So, I won't make that mistake again, and maybe it'll keep me from losing even more important stuff.

one thing my american buds said to me that stuck was, "man, we thought we were crazy going to costa rica for four months and working on a farm. We would tell everyone at home and they'd say, whoah, what? But what you're doing is on a whole different level, going to columbia and all."
And then this other guy pointed out, "Anybody who breaks away from the American norm no matter how, is really doing something. Because so few do." He's right, it's not about how you do it, but that you do. In america, most people are set in a certain mindset, and there are all these assumptions, and those are what you lose when you travel. You mind opens to a million opportunities and you can envision hundreds of ways to live in many countries, with lots of job opportunities, because you always hear about things.

So anyway. What I do isn't even that crazy, it's nothing really. So many have been thru central america, and for someone who has travelled the world, they would just laugh at me. Yet relatively, I've travelled a good bit...but that's how it's all relative, you know?

Anyway, I'm just rambling on now. Some day what I hope to do is travel around the world. I'm gunna go to asia, india, africa, and eastern europe. Those are the big places I want to do. I will get an around the world ticket and do it! But it's so far away, because I wanna see south america first. After that, of course I'll need a rest! If I ever get out of latin america! It's a bit of a time warp, because the time passes nicely.

Now I´m in a chill mountain town of panama. carnival starts today, but I don´t think there is a big celebration here. Yet panama, I´ve heard, is one of the only places in central america that celebrates, so I guess Í´ve lucked out. Tomorrow I may go to where they have the biggest party, las tablas, but good luck finding a place to sleep! So I´m not really sure. Soon I´m going to panama city and going to find out how I will sail to columbia.

Back in Bocos Del Torro, these tropical islands, I had a really good time. I was suppossed to go on a tour with a friend who I met in puerto viejo, costa rica. We were to meet up at 850, adn do a boat tour with snorkeling and beach time. I got up and everything, and got to the place at 8:45. No one was there...it was strange. And the clock said 945! It´s an hour later in panama, I had forgotten. So I was bummed out for a bit, but it worked out because I needed to relax that day anyway.

The next day I made it for the tour, because it sounded really cool. So I was gunna do it then leave the next day. I met these two really nice french canadian girls on the boat so we hung out on the beach and stuff. The snorkeling was awesome, and we saw dolphins and went to this incredible beach. In between places, we would just cruise around between the islands, so it was realyl relaxing. Also it was the perfect clear day.

As I was walking back from that, I saw my friends from Virginia on the street playing soccer. I wasn´t expecting them to be there! They had to go to a farm to work, but I told them, who cares if they´re late, it´s central america! They took me at my word. Besides, when else are you gunna be that close to panama? So, there they were. They gave me warm welcome hugs. Then also, there were some girls from canada that came with them. They all came in a big group, and it was a bunch of people from the last town, so it was cool. The girls didn´t have a place to stay, so I took them to my place and they got some beds. It ended up being really cool because the hostels on the islands were pretty lame, especially this one Mondu Tatu, which is supposed to be the happening hostel, but instead it just attracts people who think they are happening, but really aren´t. Also, it is so muggy in there, and closed in, literally and metaphorically. You´re in panama, but you´re actually in gringo ville. I went in a few times, but never liked the vibe. My place had puppies, cats, dogs, kittens, chickens, babies, children...it was a family run place. We had a dock where you could jump in the ocean. I had my own room with a double bed and ocean view. So it was pretty much awesome.

The next day, all the people who showed up were doing a snorkel tour, they said to like 7 spots. I was hoping to get out on the water again, so when they asked me to come, I said yes. It turned out to be pretty much the same tour as my other, but with a different snorkel spot. For a while we had to work it out with the guides, because there was miscommunication, and it was really disorganized, but it turned out well. So it was interesting to do the tour with friends when I had done it already. It was kinda like dejavu or something. I got to think about how it is to do stuff twice. It was definately a different experience with my friends. Also, when we went to the beach, we did some of the best body surfing I´ve done yet on this trip. Without doubt it was the best!

It was valentines day, but we hardly ever thought about it. I asked the canadian girls about it, and they said, they don´t really celebrate it at home even, because it seems stupid to need an excuse to be nice to who your with. I thought they had something to that, and I think romance is overrated and sometimes cheesy. Ha ha ha. Besides, I got to spend the day with two very nice and beautiful women, and a few good friends, and catch some awesome waves so I couldn´t have asked for more.

When I went out snorkeling the last time with Joe, a friend from VA, he found this awesome jellyfish! It had these lights changing all different colors, and it was the craziest shape. We just stared at it in awe. the lights kinda went in a line. It was small, like the size of a cherry, but one of the coolest things I ever saw. Also, we saw schools of parrot fish, big ones, and those are my favorite. And the choral there is all the different colors of the rainbow, and really bright, like neon. The shapes of it are amazing.

So, next day I spent travelling to boquete, this mountain town. I got up here and who did I see but the girl I was suppossed to go on the tour with the first day! So I stayed at her hotel, and we had a nice kitchen. We cooked up a fat pasta and drank some red wine. It had been so long since I had wine--havén´t had much this trip. The wine was from chile, and I think s america will be different. The next day I went with her to these hot springs and we had a picnic by the river and swam in that, and the hot springs. So it was great...then she left and here I am. THat was yesterday.

THe main thing I can say is I never know what I¨m going to do tomorrow, and it´s 1230 and I still don´t know what I¨m going to do today. I guess I´m off to a good start using the internet writing a blog and I LOOKED at my pics too. So...what´s to come? YOu just never know, that´s just how I live my life.

Everyday I wake up and only have ideas, but really anything can happen, and i try to be open to whatever does. So, now to see what today will bring. My only guess is maybe a little excursion in the mountains here. But you never know what you´ll discover.

Until later!

Peace
Colin



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