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Currenty Location: Panama City, Panama, just returned from San Blas

05.28.07

Price of beer in a bamboo hut in San Blas: US$0.50
Song currently stuck in my head: I was sitting in white sand staring
at the Caribbean Sea with dollops of sand and tree dropped throughout
listening to It´s All Around You (Tortoise), though I don´t know any
of the song names.  ¨Stuck in my head¨ seems a little soft as a
description.  Let´s say ¨will now be unable to forget¨.

I´ve just spent the last 3 days without running water or electricity
on a beautiful archipelago of islands run and populated entirely by the
Kuna Indians (native to the area).  Each day was a new perfect
white-sand-and-palm-tree island chosen from amongst the hundreds
available.  Mostly they were 5 acres or less (some considerably so).
I´ll include some pictures next time, but my camera is out of juice at
the moment.

I paid US$25 each way to San Blas, a 5 hour 4WD kind of ride, and
another US$30 for each day I spent.  This included a hut to keep me
dry, a hammock to keep me from sleeping, and 3 meals a day consisting
of rice and fish, though they substituted SPAM for fish last night.  I
guess they didn´t catch much yesterday.  Oh, and a ride to and from a
different plot of sandy paradise every day.  I have trouble believing
that it gets any prettier than where I´ve been this week.  Days were
sun soaked, nights were rum soaked, and I cleaned up at Texas Hold´em.

So anyway, it was reasonably priced and worth it… and I got ripped
off.  The guy who coordinated the packages (and they were ¨packages¨,
all-inclusive ones, though in an incredibly laid back way that made
the later realization a little startling) was taking a heavy cut (20%
or so) for himself that people booking at other guesthouses weren´t
paying.

Still, worth it.

I hope to book my flight for south america either today or tomorrow.
I´m just waiting on some scheduling info that I probably don´t even
really need.  I intend to visit the Pearl Islands here on the pacific
side of Panama next after taking a day here in the city.

Did I ever tell you guys how I feel about Panama City?  You know what
i love about this place?  No one has flinched about breaking a US$20
bill, even though the cost of living is about that of Honduras.  No
one has asked me to leave and make my own change.  I bought a beer
yesterday on a 2 acre island, population 7, from a hut with a sign
that said ¨cool soda cool beer¨ for fifty cents and the old guy
handing me the brew didn´t even look at me odd.  Here´s you change in
American bills, thanks, enjoy the beer.   I like going into a clothing
shop with shirts that I like for US$8 and being offered a cup of
coffee on a tray while I browse.  I like that the 24 hour diner near
my bed has a good gyro with better french fries, damn good tiziki, and
mind fuckingly great coffee.

Yes, I am very much a city mouse.  I´m unashamed.  I loved San Blas
and believe that I could have stayed a week.  I barely noticed the
lack of power or running water.  I appreciate every grimy Pan American
Highway truck stop buffet and order the Emperadados with excitement.
But I also love a proper city and Panama City is one of your only
options in this part of the world, though I think it holds its own
against the majority of North American cities.

I´m hungry and I want to buy stuff.  I hope I don´t end up in the
electronics store again.

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