Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Tres semana en Panama!


So this is the beginning of my third week in Panama. I'll try to give a short update, day one, I arrive at Panama airport and get outside around 21.oo, I got a taxi to Luna's Castle Hostel, which is a massive hostel in Casco Viejo (Old Town) Panama City, although they didn't have a bed for me, I paid $10 to sleep in the cinema room, I had wash, put earplugs in and had a good sleep.

After a short burst of worrying I went out down Casco Viejos main road and bought some flip-flops and some cigarettes (I dunno why - I always buy them when I am abroad!!). Callum and Esther's Panamanian mobile wasn't working so I waited and checked my FB to see IF they would reply...they did and we went for something to eat and then took my bag to their hotel.

The carnival was on that evening so we went of the traditions is to throw small white paper confetti (mainly circles of paper you get from a hole punch) and water over or at each other.....not everyone does it, mainly the younger kids to young adults and them some adults. We bought some of the confetti and joined in a bit, although it was a bit annoying to have water thrown right in my face!! We had to show our passports to get in and have a weapons search to try and keep the carnival a bit safer I suppose....alas glass bottles are still for sale inside, and, loads of tasty food, chicken and rice, sausage on a stick, empenadas etc etc. Music varied from folky salsa music to reggaeton which is a bit like dancehall.

Monday came quickly and we mulled around Panama City in the morning, looking for breakfast (I had beef liver with corncakes and something else...) and an internet cafe, we then started making our way to Gamboa which is were I rented the apartment. Buses to Gamboa are rickety old buses, also known as soccar buses and red devil buses...they are full to the brim, drive fast, and like other Panamanian drivers seem to beep for no reason. Fun, cheap ride. The bus took about 45 minutes and initially we got a bit lost (where sent the wrong directions!!) but finally found the apartment.

It is beautiful and directly opposite the national park Soberania (I can see it now!!). There are hummingbirds, monkeys, falcons, eagles, pelicans, racoons, and many many more....

Since arriving here I have mainly studied Spanish with a local Spanish teacher (she's Panamanian) who lives ten minutes away, cooked rice and beans with chicken or tuna for myself and settled in rather nicely. I thought I wouldn't be able to survive without Callum and Esther, but even I have surprised myself! The week after they left I visited a small Isla Taboga....which is a beautiful island with loads of flowers and wildlife, been to Playa Blanca on the south coast.

I have even been on a frog collection trip! We went to the MamonĂ­ Valley Preserve which is run by Earth Train, a lovely place...composting toilets, bamboo houses you can sleep under the stars in (well under a corregated iron roof). The couple currently running it are very friendly and are very enthusiastic to help and have a chat! We collected about 40 frogs, one of which was female and about 5 juveniles. I have also been volunteering with the amphibian rescue project at Summit Zoo around 15 minutes from Gamboa (by bus..) who organised for me to go on the was hard work hiking up a very steep hill (I say hill, but it was more like a mountain..) in the humidity, we saw scorpions, a red viper, fishing spiders and my favorite a hummingbird nest, with 2 eggs in!

My tasks at Summit include making the food for and feeding the tadpoles, helping to set up clean tanks for the frogs when they get cleaned, mediating the infected frogs and sorting and feeding the insects (frog food!), I really enjoy working there...its hard work! I also love being able to go and visit the monkeys in my break!

This week I'll be visiting the old town market to try and get some leather sandals, a new mobile phone and a card reader at bargain prices....and on Sunday I will be eating at my friend Angies house to try a traditional Panamanian family meal.....

Next week I will finish my rent in Gamboa and I am going on to a small town above David to stay in a cloud forest for a night at the Lost and Found Hostel and then I am onto Bocas Del Toro for a couple of nights and then...drumroll please, onto Cartagena via boat and three nights and days in the San Blas Islands!!

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