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Current location: Apartment, Boquete, Panama

08.08.11

Price of beer in a bar: US$0.60
Song currently stuck in my head: Two Against One (Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi)

The Girlfriend and I are starting to put together preparations in earnest for next week’s trip to San Blas. San Blas is a few hundred impossibly beautiful islands over on the Caribbean side of Panama, autonomously run by the local pre-spanish natives. I’ll be out of touch for a little while, so pre-scheduled posts will continue to post, but new comments will sit in a queue until I return (wordpress demands my okay for each comment by a new poster).

In Panama you can flush the paper. This is a rarity in Central America; usually, after you’ve wiped, you’re expected to place the evidence in the trash can next to the toilet. It’s an unpleasant piece of business and even after you’ve become accustomed to it you still never really get used to it. After months of cultivating this habit, it feels like a luxury to dispose of the “papel higienico” in the western manner.

The reason for this limitation elsewhere is narrow sewage pipes. Sometimes you can buy really lightweight toilet paper, like marine grade stuff, that could probably be flushed. But that’s a big “probably” and you’re stuck using toilet paper that about as substantial as fog; best avoided.

Not that any of this will hold true in San Blas; to the contrary, I don’t think we’ll have running water. At least I didn’t the last time I was there, and I don’t just mean the service was out. There was no infrastructure. One of our lodging options has electricity, though, so things may be different on this particular island.

I’m trying to come up with food to take with us, since the last time I was there it was atrocious, and I’m missing the sealed envelopes of refried beans that were ubiquitous in Nicaragua. They were the perfect travel food, the Powerbar of Nicaragua. You didn’t have to worry about bugs or heat (the warmer the better) and when it came time to eat you could just cut the corner off the envelope and squeeze it right onto your bread, spoon, tongue or what have you. They were like some crunchy hippy reimagining of The Jetsons, a foil packaged, nondescript lump of indestructible nutritional win. I would love to take a few to San Blas, but we’ve been in a lot of grocery stores in a handful of Panamanian towns and have yet to see a single pack.

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