Finally my feet were resting on the northern continental part of America. Before starting my 40 kilometers walk on the jungle road I had to fight with the bloodsucking Kuna. As we disembarked, a Lancha was instantly waiting for us. To my surprise the captain and other crew members joined me to the coast. It was impossible not to take that Lancha. And my hope of it being for free was of course for nothing, it cost $5. Captain only had to pay $2. I startet to haggle, asking why it was more expensive for me, but the only answer I got was that it was more expensive for foreigners. Well…
Upcoming my 40km walk via the only road there was. It was still hot and abnormally humid, like at the border before. After 2 kilometers of walking I found my car, I wouldn’t have been able to walk the full distance. Not with that weather. The road was very compact and plowed through the hilly jungle terrain. Many curves and even more gradients that I hadn’t seen before. The road is existing since about 5 years. Before that the driving time was 10 hours. Walking you could do it in 8. But I think that is an urban legend. After an accident where my former captain (thanks) pulled us out I was standing on a nice, paved road towards Panama City.
A hurray for the busdriver!
As I was standing there a group of pupils gathered at a bus station. They were fascinated by my appearance. They sent out a delegation to ask me some questions. At some point the “school bus from hell” arrived. You could hear the roaring bass drums from far away. The bus was colorful painted with spray paint like everywhere in Panama. The two exhaust pipes were fixed vertical at rear of the bus reaching over the roof. As it came over the hill top everything on its front was blinking. Some windows were open. The beat sounding through the streets. As if Busta Rhymes himself was driving the bus.
Without my choice my head started nicking with the beat and my body started swinging on the street. Also the kids were very happy jumping into the bus like a horde of Lemmings who found a gas chamber. The bus turned, drove another 150 meters, stopped and the pupils jumped out again walking back to the bus station. Well, maybe wrong direction but the music was superb.
My last Dollar I spent for 30 Minutes of internet and hitchhiked to Panama City. Hitchhiking through Cities is always kinda tricky. First I caught a bus. The ratcatcher (people that make you get on the bus) introduced himself as Mr. “Panama Kanal”. Thanks for the ride “Panama Kanal”. A woman helped me to jump the Metro with her ticket and I went until the final stop. Easy navigation with only one metro line. Several small rides and I was at the other end of the city. Well, that wasn’t hard.
The slowest ride of my life
Day was already at dawn. I was smoking a cigarette as that small Toyota truck started to drive away. I had to run a little to catch it and asked where he was going. 400km towards the border? Neat. I could come with him? What a nice night ride. Henry, the driver, told me that he has to go slowly because there was a problem with the tires. Well, I have no problem with going slow. I never declined a ride because it was too slow. And then we started. Going 40 km/h. 40… damn that really was slow. Henry couldn’t go faster but the situation got really bizarre as he told me that he was going to the 2500 kilometer distant El Salvador and will arrive there in 5 days. 2500km and 40 km/h. Took some time to settle in my head. You have to know that I had to go to El Salvador, It was on my route. I thought that sounded like a safe ride. Through Central America with a single ride, relaxed, easy. It sounded nice.
Soon we came to a police checkpoint. I had no seat belt because it was broken. The policeman, a mirror image of Kojak himself, leaned through the window. Why I had no belt? That was illegal. We palavered a little. After some time: wondering faces. How should we handle that? “How about a coffee?” the policeman asked. “Coffee?”, Henry asked unbelievingly, “for one Dollar?” “Yes, for one Dollar”. So we paid one Dollar and went on. Bribery seemed like a funny business in Panama. Henry told me later that he had a police check where he paid with a pack of sweets to get further.
After a short snoozing break it was time to continue at 5am. Long road ahead. My inner unrest made the decision to not drive with Henry for the upcoming 5 days and that 40km/h were slow anyway. At the border to Costa Rica I took the chance and continued hitchhiking. 2-3 hours later I was standing somewhere at the coast. Had a ride with an American pensioner living in Costa Rica coming home from surfing. Besides that it wasn’t easy to hitchhike. I received my perceived first middle finger since Spain. From some old fart. My impression was, that worse than the USA can only be a country full of retired US Americans. At least for hitchhiking. After some time Henry showed up again with his bumpy tire. The little Toyota bumped towards me with his 40 km/h and collected me again, like a safety car at Formula 1.
We were going to drive until it was late at night. Especially the last 60 km (2 hours) were really unnerving. Friday night, everybody not amused of us crouching over the main road. Henry wasn’t even able to change lanes. Everybody was passing us on the right, a lot of screaming and ranting, Henry was going 30-35 km/h sometimes to let the others pass. As if they couldn’t do it on their own. He was a nice guy but driving like a sissy, I had to get out of that car. I was going crazy. I wanted to use the night to get to the Nicaraguan border. And then another episode of “Your journey will get you what you need” opened up…
Satisfying needs on the street
I hadn’t eaten so much in the two days with Henry. No money. Not drinking much either. I was in a desolate condition but again to lazy to stop and get organized. There was traffic and I had to get going, I still had cigarettes against the hunger and for my nerves. I asked a truck but they were full. As I waited one guy from the truck came over and handed me the equivalent of 3 Dollars. I was very pleased since I could buy some water with that. In the end the money was saving my ass at the border since I had to pay the famous emigration charges without having money. After a minute my comrade came again handing me a pack of chocolate cookies. Wow. Food.
Then I went on. I hitchhiked at a construction exit beneath a very bright light (it was night already). A chauffeur took me with his limousine bringing me to the next city. As I had already closed the door exiting the car he asked if I needed some water. Of course. Exactly what I need. He gave me three bottles of water. Spare change, food and water. So I was standing at the end of the village and was in general pretty pleased. In general. Then I found the real kicker.
Strong wind was blowing, the street again brightly enlightened by lamps of a construction site. There she was standing. Fulfilling my last wish. The porta potty. The door was wide open, swinging in the wind as if it was talking to me: “Come over and shit on me. I am here just for you.” The revelation. Adams apple. Seductive. Nicely ventilated by the opened door. Paradise was opening in front of me.
The night was super, I would be reaching the border and even find the time to sleep a little since the border would open only after 2 hours after my arrival. Although, I couldn’t say that I was really happy arriving at the immigration seeing at least 100 people standing, sitting, sleeping, waiting for the gates to open. 2 hours of waiting became 3 hours of sleeping until I finally went towards the border.