Panama: Round Two

Reunited With Trucky!

Fluid check after 3-month hybernation

Our time without the truck went by quite quickly, but were very happy to have the 3 months pass so that we could head down and pick up our vehicle (our home) again. Since we had to be out of the country for 72 hours anyways, we decided to have a relaxing getaway in David, Panama, one of the larger cities in the north of Panama, complete with going out for dinners, to the movie theater, and perhaps even the discoteca. It would be a minibreak to remember. Continue reading

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Panama Run

Starfish beach in Bocas del Toro

After a nice and calm 3 month stay in Costa Rica, it was again time to do some traveling as we had to renew our Costa Rican visas. We opted to go to Panama — I was super excited as it’s a country that I have always dreamed of going to (I’m not exactly sure why, but something about it just sounded so exotic and idyllic). We decided to go to Bocas del Toro, an archipelago on the Caribbean, a place that allegedly had good waves, snorkeling, swimming, and a variety of other things to do. Gibran’s mom was visiting us so we figured a multi-purpose place would be better than a just-surfing place.

Off On An Adventure

Wizard beach Panama

Fast Caribbean waves

We left for Panama early(ish) on Wednesday, Febuary 22nd (how late am I in writing this post?) and got to the border at a decent time. There awaited our first unpleasant surprise. We checked ourselves out of Costa Rica and then went to check the truck out. The man at the customs desk asked us what our plan was, and we told him that we (and the truck) were going to Panama for 7-10 days, and then we (and the truck) were coming back. He informed us that we couldn’t bring the car back, as once you had a foreign vehicle in the country for 90 days, it had to be out for 90 days before being able to come back in. This was complete news to us; when we did our research last summer before leaving the general web consensus was that the car could be in for 6 months out out of a 12 month period, and that it just had to leave for 72 hours with the driver after the 90-day visa expired. So with this new information, we continued onwards to our destination point (a supposedly quaint B&B in the mountains, halfway to Bocas del Toro), deciding to figure out the car situation during our time in Panama.

Lodge-That-Must-Not-Be-Named

Get us out of here.

The next disappointment was the place we were staying, though it was more of a horrific “how the eff did we get ourselves into this situation and how the eff do we get ourselves out of it” type of scenario than an actual disappointment. We picked the place out of Lonely Planet’s Central America On A Shoestring book, which has, on occasion, lead us astray (something about that shoestring budget, probably). But it described this place, a certain lodge halfway between David and Bocas del Toro in the mountains. I won’t get into the details of the place — of which there are many. Suffice to say it’s a weird ass scene that I wouldn’t recommend to anyone, and as soon as we got there and understood the general “vibe” of the place (the “wrong” kind of hippie: drug-f**ked, condescending — kindof “The Beach” movie, actually), we locked ourselves into our room and didn’t come out for the entire 13-hour night. When we finally did come out it was to eat a quick breakfast and flee, so unfortunately we didn’t get to take advantage of the bird watching and hiking in the area; a small loss.

Bocas Del Toro

Caribbean style!

We made it to Bocas del Toro (pretty much) without incident (not counting the giant pit bull that tried to kamikaze itself and the owner attached to its leash under our fast-moving truck), and I immediately got into the island vibe. We dined at what would end up being our favorite restaurant (we ate there over 5 times) called El Chitre… it served a delicious Panamanian-style buffet and cost about $3.50 per person for a huge plate of food and a bottled fizzy beverage of your choice. The next day we checked into our new home… a dilapidated wooden structure perched precariously over the Caribbean sea, on the north end of Bocas Town. It was literally falling apart and cockroach infested… and yet we felt right at home there.

The Good, The Bad, and The Weird

The weird

Over the next week, we had some good times (Gibran surfing epic waves, swimming in the beautiful clear water, galavanting around the 3 islands via water taxi) and we had some bad times (Gibran snapping his board cleanly in half, getting poured on and freezing our buns off during the only tour we participated in). However, we decided that a perfect trip was not one worth taking, as it is the bad, the weird, and the ridiculous that keeps you on your toes and makes for an exciting adventure.

Last Leg Of The Journey

Panama success!

The final chapter of the trip consisted of us making a wild dash up to the Panama-Costa Rica border on the Caribbean side, trying to see if we could fool them into letting us back in with our truck. However, we had no luck there and we had to go back with our tails between our legs. On the last night we stuffed our faces with delicious Chinese-Panamanian fare and bakery treats, and watched some quality cable television in our “high class” room with air conditioning in David. We ended up saying goodbye to our truck, leaving it with a friend’s dad who, conveniently, ended up being the owner of a hotel right at the border. So the sequel trip will take place at the end of May when we have our glorious reunion with trucky. On the whole… Panama trip was a success!

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Latin American Openness

Being completely open, not fazed by the curious guy on the left creeping into our "personal space"

Latin America is known for its openness. A classic example you hear from anyone who spends a longer amount of time in the region is the, “someone we just met took us into their home, fed us, cleaned us up, treated us like family” scenario. For many of us who come from the cold weather/cold people areas of the world, this is a very welcome change. Here are some of the things I have encountered during my time spent in Latin America, and how it has changed me. Continue reading

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A Rant About Beans

We have nearly 3kg of beans to eat in the next few months

This rant is going to be directed at non-bean-eating societies (most of which are Western). I don’t understand why people don’t want to eat beans, and I feel like there is some kind of stigma towards them. I have had conversations with close family members, friends, and acquaintances in which I literally find myself either defending beans to the death and/or trying to convince these close family members, friends, and acquaintances to give beans a chance.

But why?

Beans are healthy, and sure they might not have too much taste on their own but they can be made to be so delicious with some very simple spices and ingredients. Maybe it’s because beans have a reputation of giving people gas. But people: so does cheese — and it just happens to be considered one of the “classiest” foods around (paired with wine, it has it’s own kind of party/soiree). Hmm, do I see a trend here? Maybe class = gas. And honestly, everyone gets gas (though many try to deny it). Note: expect a post on other things that everyone does and many deny doing, in the very near future. Well, I’m calling everyone out right now: if you are reading this post, you do fart. Yeah, I said it.

Could it be because beans are hard to cook? Note: if you’re going to eat beans, you really ought to cook them yourself — anything that comes out of a can has little to no nutrients. I always thought it was really complicated to cook beans, but it’s really not true. The trick is to cook a big batch when you are home and have the time to cook them, and keep them in the fridge. Then they are ready and available to be eaten with any/every meal.

What Does It All Bean?

I will end this post on a serious note. We as humans are very rapidly depleting the resources that we have left. At a certain point, we can either make the decision to have less impact — by doing stuff like eating simply and locally — or we can have the decision made for us. Either way, it will happen. So I am advising everyone to get some good bean recipes ready for the post-apocalyptic era.

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Gibran’s Birthday Sale: Zevi Media

My dear husband, Gibran, turned 31 this week.  I asked him what he wanted to do for his birthday, he said “surf”. I asked him if he wanted any special treats on his birthday, he said “ice cream”. And finally, I asked him what he wanted for his birthday, and he said to build a bunch of websites for people at a very low cost. Yes, for my husband’s 31st birthday he is asking very little from me, so I thought the least I could do was to try to help him out in acquiring the work.  Continue reading

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