Monday, January 23, 2012
Thursday, January 12, 2012
I finally made it to Central America. Panama has a lot more of an American feel to it compared to the places I've been in South America. Even the crack heads here harass you in English. I was really happy to see that they sell lots of paint in the supermarkets. They even have Rustolium.
The buses in Panama City are crazy. They are jazzed up old American school buses
After a couple of days I left Panama City and went the the second largest city in Panama, David. It's a bit of a hole but I managed to find a run down petrol station on a main road to paint. I was about to start when this old guy came out of nowhere. He told me that it was his house and he'd lived there for the last 6 years. He was cool with me painting it so I got us a couple of beers and had a good chat.
He started a fire and was cooking some strange stuff in some old paint tins. He told me that is was traditional food from Panama and he wanted me to dine with him. I've been crook so many times on this trip that I know when to turn down a dodgy meal. His hygiene levels had a bit to be desired. After a while a couple of his mates showed up and we all hang out and had some beers in the heat.
Posted by A at 5:12 AM
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
I've had a very interesting start to 2012 by being stuck in the Darian Gap which is the jungle that joins Columbia and Panama. There are no roads, a bunch of guys with machine guns, a few small towns and no banks which means no cash. I caught the worst boat trip of my life where I was stuck at the front of a speed boat where the driver tried to catch air off every wave. It was awesome for the forts 10 minutes but after 3 1/2 hours of jolting it gets a bit much. The boat ride ended at a little town called Capugana. There are no cars or motorbikes in any of the towns in the Darian Gap this one has a local cab which is a horse and cart.
For some reason almost every house had a sound system like this and they always had it cranked up to 10.
I moved to the next town called Sapzurro for new years. This place is even more isolated and even smaller. There are no banks for about 90km and after about a week the cash was getting low so I decided to move on to Panama. Just before I set off a really powerful Paramilitary guy got killed right near we were staying and the whole area was locked down. The streets were filled with Paramilitaries armed to the teeth. No one was aloud to open their shops or set off in a boat. So I ended up having to trek up a mountain to sneak across the border into Panama with a couple from Copenhagen and then we tried to bribe our way on to a plane, which didn't work so we got stranded in a really hostile town for 2 days with next to no cash. We even made fishing reels and tried to fish for our dinner. The people who lived there were a bunch of pricks. They hated us for being white and kept trying to screw us over. Out of nowhere a French guy lent us $200 before he jumped on a plane. It saved our asses. Without him we had no way of getting out of there.
Every time we tried to walk more than 3 blocks from in any direction, a Military guy would stop us holding his big gun with his finger on the trigger and tell us that we can't go any further because we might get kidnapped.
These missing person posters were everywhere.
This was the Air Panama office. They didn't want to help us at all, but I managed to score a whole lot of confiscated gas for my little stove. We used it to cook all our meals.
After being stuck there for a couple of days a couple from Argentina and a girl from Amsterdam showed up in the same situation. After asking almost everyone in town we managed to all get a boat to Panama City the next day. It was great to cruise past the San Blas Islands. There are over 400 islands. Some only have one palm tree going out of mound of sand.
Today I read about the Paramilitaries online and found out that they are pretty much the new drug cartels in Columbia. They are responsible for thousands of deaths where they almost wipe out whole towns using guns, machetes and chainsaws. If you're interested there is a lot more info on them here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paramilitarism_in_Colombia
Posted by A at 6:46 AM