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Price of beer in a bar: US$0.50 for a 12 ounce bottle of a few different beers
Song currently stuck in my head: Back in the Saddle (Aerosmith)

I’ve been on the road too long. I don’t mean being away; I could keep doing this indefinitely. But between being in the states for 3 weeks, being fucked over by Delta for 2 days en route and being between towns in Panama for about 10 days I need a place to unpack fully and keep my toiletries on the sink. Periodic but extended travel scrambles the brain and decimates the budget. It’s the kind of thing you get used to, more or less, when you do it constantly, but we only do it occasionally. We’ve been trying to locate a rental in this region for about a week and we’re rolling snake eyes every time. We plan(ned) to leave today, but a strong lead turned up so we’re going to investigate and re-evaluate from there. The only option we’ve seen was a rental room here in town in a dilapidated and cluttered house for US$200/month. Naw, thanks. There’s a furnished rental unit in town that people keep pointing us to, but it’s rented out for 6 months. The local hostel is also rented out for a few months, in it’s entirety, so we’re paying almost 3X their rate for a hotel room. We like the hotel though, and I can recommend it.

As I mentioned, Delta severely screwed over my return trip, leaving me stranded in Atlanta over night. There are a few things I really hate about flying and they really demonstrate to me that the large airlines aren’t even trying (they’ll always be bailed out by tax money when they go bankrupt, so really, who bother). One is when you can’t go anywhere because the crew has been working too many consecutive hours. They’re an airline. They have the most mobile workforce on the planet. Fly some new people in, for fuck’s sake. You can see this situation coming from at least 6 hours away. I feel similarly about equipment issues; keep some planes and crew on call. It’s not that complicated, other industries do it daily. And no two people of the many I talked to told me the same thing. That’s the part that irritates me the most. Luckily the first of many issues that Delta chained together for me was equipment related, so I qualified for a hotel and some discount meals on Delta. After trying to change their story repeatedly in one conversation, they then consistently lived up to this obligation. I’ll sleep in airports when I have to, but I never enjoy it. I’m glad that I didn’t have to after spending all day at MDW and before spending all day at ATL, arriving in PTY after 3am, 30 hours later than scheduled.

Somewhere along my trip to and from The States my external wifi adapter stopped working. I just replaced it, moments ago, with a similar device I bought here in Chitre. It took me a while to track down and most people didn’t have any idea what I meant (“A USB thing for wifi”), but I decided to start asking in Internet Cafe’s and immediately got directed to an importer with some stock on hand. It seems to be working fine. I also left my sunglasses somewhere (why I’ll never own expensive ones) in The States and left my beloved headphones in the cab upon arriving at my guest house at 3:30 in the morning. That sucks, they just arrived in January.  Oh well, at least the pack’s getting lighter.

BTW, The Granada Summary is up: https://mondayorsomething.wordpress.com/2011/06/19/summary-granada-nicaragua/

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Price of beer in a bar: US$0.60 for 12 ounces of cold domestic brew
Song currently stuck in my head: Kompod (Mouse on Mars)

I’m back in Panama and we’re dipping our toes into the waters of a few towns out on the major pacific pennisula; namely Chitre, Las Tablas and Pedasi.  Panama appears to have free municipal wifi; I’ve seen the network in Chitre and am connected to it here in Las Tablas right now.  It sounds familiar, I’m pretty sure I read about it’s planned deployment years ago.  It sure hates The Pirate Bay, though, and is real hit or miss during this downpour.  Protip: wifi hates water, so anything with a lot of water in it (leaves, for example, or, in this case, sheets of water falling from the sky) tends to kill your signal.

We know we want to check out one town in this region, we’re just not sure which.  Chitre is the regional capital (with 40k people it’s about 1/3 or 1/4 the size of Esteli, our only other rural home on this trip) with a mall so modern it’s not finished yet and a 4 screen cinema.  Las Tablas is a smaller dot along the highway, though certainly a city and with some supposedly impressive beaches nearby.  Pedasi is an up and coming expat enclave, but neither of us has seen it yet so the less said the better.

While the girlfriend was trying on pants yesterday I went in search of a cup of coffee, as the local stuff is good, and found a friendly expat managing the cafe.  Joe, who’s been in town for a few months and in the country for a few years, proved to be a wealth of easy going information about the area and it’s costs, people and rental markets.  That’s lucky for us, because we were hoping to make contact with “Miami Mike”, an assumedly American hostel proprietor in Chitre, but his whole place was rented out for a few months by some private group, the best we could tell, and Mike was nowhere around.

The girlfriend is a little confused at the higher standard of living here in Panama.  Though Chitre is much, much smaller than Esteli, there are considerably more goods available.  Every hotel room we’ve rented has AC; that’s not my preference (I woke last night to find the girlfriend under a sheet and three layers of blanket, AC a blowin’) but we haven’t been offered the option of just using a fan.  This room has screens on *all* of the windows and, get this, they’re *intact*.  I haven’t seen that in a while.  Hell, as I mentioned, there’s no-cost public wifi.

A number of weeks back, these people came through and stayed at our guesthouse.  They all seem to be German (I can’t rule out an Austrian being in the mix, or a German speaking Swiss), which means they have great gear (everyone has matching shoes, toughbooks, tech polos, and the new pickup trucks that they’re promoting).  Much of this is from sponsors and specific to their gig, but in general I’ve noticed the German travelers have the best stuff.

Also, everyone say Happy Birthday to The Girlfriend.