Current Location: Apartment, Boquete, Panama
Price of beer in a bar: US$0.75 for 12 cold ounces of Atlas
Song currently stuck in my head: Two Princes (Spin Doctors)
One thing I’ve learned while traveling is that you never discard a clean shirt. Every extra day between laundry loads is a gift. When clothing reaches the point that even a backpacker has to let it go, you go through several stages of denial. For me one of those steps has been “I’ll use that shirt for the beach”, which is kind of the attire equivalent of the funeral before the internment. The beach means dirt and sweat, but most of all it means lots of sunscreen, which, when later put in contact with laundry detergent, discolors clothing in unfortunate ways. You don’t want to wear an otherwise viable shirt to the beach.
I now have about 4 shirts for the beach, meaning they aren’t really suitable for public interactions that take places out of the sand. Here in Boquete there’s no beach, so these are getting filed away for use in Bocas del Toro, where beachwear will probably be fine all the time. And you never discard a clean shirt, especially when you’re on an island, where water prices tend to make laundry especially expensive.
The cycle that keeps me from putting a given shirt or pair of pants in the trash goes like this: Well, it’s clean, so I’ll wear it. You never throw away a clean shirt when you’re traveling. Well, it’s dirty, I’ll just put it with the dirty clothes and decide later. Well, it’s laundry day, I’ll just do the whole load and figure it out later. Well, it’s clean…
It’s time to reevaluate my clothing.
The Girlfriend and I have now taken two trips to the local hot spring baths, one the hard way and one the easy. The hard way was a bus at 10:45am from downtown Boquete to the turnoff about 45 minutes away for US$2 per person, then an hour or so of walking down a country road and then up and down hilly and confusingly marked terrain. After the road becomes a trail it will become a yard and there you can find the caretaker to pay your additional US$2 per person to use the springs. There are 3 small shallow pools to lounge in, each in 3 different temperatures and each described in Celsius so I have no idea what they were other than “nice and hot”. You can also jump in the large river right alongside the property to cool off between shvitzes and in preparation for the one hour walk back to catch the last bus at 4pm (I’m not sure if that’s when it leaves it’s origin or passes the turnoff where you’ll be catching it) which should cost you another US$2 per person and take you back to town. We ended up caught in a torrential rain on the walk back that made footing very difficult on the inclines, though we did get a ride in the back of a passerby’s pickup. He took us out to the turnoff, but no further because riding in the back of pickups is illegal for some people in Panama. The bus we got was heading toward David, not Boquete, but kind of misrepresented that to get our money. Those routes have overlap, so we weren’t heading the wrong way, but we had to catch another bus to make it the rest of the way.
While The Girlfriend had a friend visiting we hired a “tour”, which meant for US$30 or US$35 per person someone with a 4X4 drove us within about 10 minutes walk of the springs and drove us back. It was considerably more leisurely.
We also took a half day trip rafting near the Costa Rican border. It was great fun, about a class 3 run, and I fell out of the boat twice, once being then run over by the second boat in our group. I had a moment’s worth of thinking to do when I noticed the other boat was nearly on top of me; do I grab a hold and ride or just bounce my way under? It went something like this: Helmet. Depth. No rudder or propeller. Fuck it. It was an exhilarating decision, though hardly an uncommon occurrence in that sport. I didn’t even lose my sunglasses.