Monday, March 16, 2009

PANAMA PART 4 "Riders in the Storm"

"Adios, Ulysses....Wish I'd Gotten to Know You Better"

Fifty Bucks? Why I wouldn't pay fifty bucks... I gave the man fifty bucks. Keep in mind that it is still pouring and the water's rising. I should be thankful he didn't ask for a hundred. OK. This gracious taxi driver was the proud owner of some unknown brand vehicle that was made in China about the same time they were making The Wall. The age and make of the taxi wasn't near as relevant as it's size. It could easily have been called "The Mouse Mobile". Maria had her backpack the size of the Goodyear blimp and I had my Hefty overnighter(which had all this time, been double wrapped in Hefty trash bags). The two pieces of luggage would have fit nicely had it not been for a HUGE guitar (maybe a cello) and A big black bag of "stuff". The black bag looked suspiciously like a body bag, but I wasn't about to even think like that. With a crowbar and help from the townspeople, we scrunched it in. That left Maria and me for the front seat...a front seat that is roughly 12 inches wide. We managed though, by Maria molding herself somehow on my lap. Uncomfortable wasn't the word. Actually, I thought it was quite cozy. OK!!!!...I was in hog heaven.

The winding 22 miles of road to Changuinola is beautiful. But the driver said we ain't going to Changuinola..the road's out. OH MY. Then where we are we going? Almirante, he said. OH, I said, I've never been to Almirante. Now it's 24 miles to Almirante and I'm sure the drive is quite scenic...a beautiful sight to behold with it's hairpin turns and thousand foot sheer drop offs into dense tropical foliage and other things. But not pitch dark in the pouring rain. "We gotta hurry...the last boat for Bocas del Toro leaves Almirante at 8!!" Just what I wanted to hear..."We Got to Hurry". My fears for breakneck speeds were unfounded when I noticed that the little overstuffed, Chinese made in prehistoric times, Mouse Mobile could barely make it to the top of each hill. I found my fears again when the taxi driver kept yakking at us, trying to ogle down Maria's blouse. "Shouldn't you be watching the road?" I politely questioned. "Why? I Know The Way" I was soundly assured. I continued to pray.

Prayers are answered. We got there. I kissed the ground again. My lips still bear abrasion marks. We unloaded and the driver disappeared into the void with his guitar, body bag, and my fifty bucks. It is still raining, but here we are at the boat dock and it's only 7:45. Bocas, here we come!!! Nope. The friendly guy at the dock (he sleeps on his boat) told us we were crazy if we thought we could get a boat ride to Bocas in this weather..."got fifty bucks?" Fifty Bucks?

Be back for Part 5.


  1. Hey James, I've been getting caught up on my reading here. Wow, what an adventure to say the least! At least I know you survived...but can't want for the next chapter in the series!

  2. Yep, you must have been the loco gringo to attempt that trip - course, what choice did you have at that point. Glad you got back and able to tell the tales but know how hard money is to come by down there.