Pana round-up

Central America Caribbean
October 16th 2006
Published: October 16th 2006
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Yes i am still alive, sorry i've not been bang on the blog but with so much going on it's dificult to find the time and a good internet cafe....
So, what have we been up to over the last month????
Well, we finally left Pana after being there for a full month. It was really sad to leave actually cos we got to know all the locals, fell in love with the lake and the town itself and just generally had an absolutely fantastic time there.
OK, this is gonna be tricky to write up actually cos we did so much, but here goes:
We arrived in Pana on a Wednesday evening, i think it was the 13th September. We were weary from carrying our rucksacks half way across Mexico and Guatemala. However we eventually found the school i'd signed us up with, after firstly arriving at the wrong one, and discovered that if we were to stay with seperate host families one of us would have to stay way out of the main area of the town - the other side of the river. We were feeling a little nervous about the whole thing to be honest so
On a pickup one night driving round PanaOn a pickup one night driving round PanaOn a pickup one night driving round Pana

We jumped on a pickup after chucking out time one night and went on a fun trip round Pana
instead we decided to all stay together for at least a week and then reconsider our options. We actually ended up staying there for just under 3 weeks after which we had to move due to a theif in the house, but that is something i'll come on to later.... We started our Spanish classes on the Thursday. We had 4 hours per day, from 8 - 12, learning Spanish with our own teachers. My teacher was called Gladys, whom i got to know over the 4 weeks quite well but it's really dificult at the start when you can't speak any Spanish. Answering her questions in Spanish is hard enough without having to fire those questions back at her! In total i think we had 13 lessons. We sacked certain days off due to the massive festival they had on Oct 4th, which lasted roughly a week and it was great!! Where we were living with the host family which was actually just an old lady, her maid (aka theif) and her son whom had seperate quarters, was just next to the church where all the festivities took place. We had a Gallo (beer) stand just by our front
One night after chucking out timeOne night after chucking out timeOne night after chucking out time

us with some of the gang one night in Pana down by the lake
door and there was a big fare all round the church with big wheels and the like. It was great! Anyway, back to the school, have to try and keep some structure in this!! It was really difficult and frustrating to begin with because i would have to ask Gladys to repeat herself so many times and speak so slowly. However, 13 lessons later i think we've progressed nicely. We can ask for what we need from people which is the main thing but trying to understand what they come back with or say to us is a whole new ball game and one which i feel will take us a long time to get. However, the basics we have will get us by and we can learn more each day...
So, on to where we've been living:
Well like i said we had a little problem with a theif in the house we were stying in first in Pana. After being there for just over a week we noticed that my phone had gone from my rucksack along with half my Arsenal top trumps(!), Mita's money had been had and Gem's necklace had been taken from a litle black bag in her rucksack. We told the school and Gregorio (the school owner) in turn passed on the info to Almalia (the lady of the house) who in turn confronted the maid and I managed to get my phone back at least. The money, neclace was not returned and she denied all of it saying i'd left my phone in the hallway and she'd just picked it up and was gonna return it. It was returned with 100 photos on it though which was rather interesting!! Anyway, until this happened, we were really happy with the house we were stying at. Almalia used to run a resturant and so fed us some fantastic food each day. Breakfast at 7, lunch at 1 and dinner at 6 each day. She kept us very well fed. However, a week after the theifing incident i went to open up my eye make up pack and the little cow had smashed up all my eye shadows!! Can't beleive how blatent she was. We told Almalia what had happened and she was agian very apologetic. However, that was it and we moved out 2 days later to an apartment recomended by the school. We stayed
Me, Gem & RobinMe, Gem & RobinMe, Gem & Robin

Not a particuarly good photo but had to show you the ridiculous size of the trophy....
there for 1 week, but couldn't bear it any longer than that cos the place started to smell really bad and i'm sure the beds were alive with animals that bit me. However, it was reallly nice to have our own place with our own kitchen so it wasn't all bad. And it was cheap. The last night we treated ourselves though and got a nice lovely and clean hotel room with a tele in it. Still pumped out cold water in the shower despite being told they have agua caliente. However, am getting vwery used to cold showers now and at least it leaves my hair and skin feeling good!
So, the festival and the locals:
After being in Pana for about a week and a half we stumbled across a 5 a side football pitch, just down our road and sat down to watch them play. 2 american ladies headed over in our direction and we got chatting to them. Turned out that they were both teachers in Pana and one of them, Lisa, was going out with Julio whom we were watching play. Think you had to be there but it was quite funny cos everytime Julio
Areil & their winning trophyAreil & their winning trophyAreil & their winning trophy

Not a particuarly good photo but had to show you the ridiculous size of the trophy....
had the ball they'd shout "Julio, Julio, Julio" but not anyone else's name when they had the ball. Anyway, i think that this was the pinacle point for getting to know the locals. We became good friends with the americans Catlin and Lisa (though it took us 3 weeks to break Lisa - don't think she liked us 3 girls appearing on the scene to start with). By the end of that week we seemed to know loads of people. I think that always being out and about every evening helped!! Also the fact that we spent almost every night in the same bar for at least one drink helped. A couple of local lads DJ'd there and worked the door and we became friendly with the owners as well whom we aim to meet in Panama as they're moving there next month. I got a little friendly with one of the locals too. He was beautiful, an international dance instructor and also the captain & goalie of the winning football team in the Pana - they had a tournament around the time of the festival. Think it's probably fair to say that i tempoaraily fell in love for a couple of weeks. Oh dear!
The festival, like i said was great - it seemed to be neverending for 5 or so days. We sacked off school for most of that week and just had a fantastic time. Loved every minute of it. Like i said, we were living slap bang in the middle of it. Also, i year previous, during the feista, they had continual rain for 5 days. This was mixed in with huricane Stan and wiped out loads of houses that were on the river that runs to the lake. So, last year there was no feista, instead mass destruction which was really quite terrible. This year they had fantastic weather and everyone was determined to have the best time. And we all certainly did....
We did manage to leave Pana a few times whilst we were there. We did a Sat night in Antigua, the following Sat night in San Pedro which was the other side of the lake. It was totally different from Pana and was basically a hippy hangout with a lot of pot smoking going on there. We preferred Pana!! However it was a good weekend trip. We also got invited to a
Mita & CucoMita & CucoMita & Cuco

In Aleph, where we spent a lot of time!
full moon party at this guy Jesse's house. His house was set back against the lake with loads of grounds. We arrived there at 3 in the morning and left at about 9 or ten. It was rather insane. They love there psycho trance, which i do not, but luckily the place was big enough to escape the continual bang bang bang. There was one good DJ at about 7 in the morning thouigh who played some more housey style stuff. It wasn't with uhuundreds of people, probably about 50 i recon. But it was an experience, i can tell you that!!
The lake is the next thing i should tell you about. It was beautiful. I'll try and load some pictures up fopr you shortly. We spent many hours sat on the shore of the lake, either during the day or at night watching thunderstorms that were the other side of the lake. It's a real shame about the lake though because they are pumping all the sewage directly into it now without treatment. This is due to the damage done by the rain last year and the hurricane and it's not been fixed yet. Surfuice to say, we
Me Gem & JokarMe Gem & JokarMe Gem & Jokar

Jokar owned another of the bars. this is on his birthday, 2 days before Gem's....
did no swiming there.
So, that's all i'm gonna say about Pana. there's so much more but i can't remember it all and get accross how great it was, plus think it would take all day to try....
So anyway as i said we left Pana on Saturday. We went to this place called Feuntes Gorginas. It's a natural spa up in the highlands of Guatemala. We were that high up that we were actually in the clouds!! The water was amazingly hot and we spent many hours in the first proper hot water we've had since we arrived in C.A. We also had a very basic bungalow for the 3 of us where we were supplied with fire wood. I was the fire starter and think i did a fantastic job considering we were working with damp logs. Anyway, that was an experience in itself and the perfect way to detox after our month in Pana. I have some pictures of the spa which i'll try to download later so you can see.
So, now we're in Xela, the 2nd biggest city in Guatemala and will be leaving tomorrow morning, We're gonna head south where we find the coast
Ariel & his AbuelaAriel & his AbuelaAriel & his Abuela

The Abeula made us many a meal. The best being for Gem's b'day lunch
road and then head east through El Salvador and Hondorous, where we then hit Nicaragua and head for the massive lake they have there. We're hoping to settle somehwere for another 3 weeks or so so that we can hopefully have as much fun there as we did in pana.
Congratulations if you've managed to get down this far, hope to try and kepp it more updated going forward, but you kow what i'm like!!!
Takle care all,
Jo xxx

Additional photos below
Photos: 14, Displayed: 14



Wearing Mita's headband!!!!! Don't think we ever got it back either!!!!
Me & NegroMe & Negro
Me & Negro

Negro owned one of the bars. We had Gem's birthday bash there when all the other places shut. Was a bit scary actually cos loads of military/police came in and we had to pay them to keep the place open! Another cutie!
Fuentes GeorginasFuentes Georginas
Fuentes Georginas

The mist is a cross between cloud and steam!

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