Journal Entry 33
-There are 10 types of people in the world. Those who understand binary, and those who do not.
I have one thing to say. Panamanian buses suck. They keep them at icebox levels of coldness, and the windows don’t even open. Meaning that every time I had the urge to puke, there was nowhere to do it. The bathroom is also locked. I ended up having to mentally (and literally) talk myself down from the feeling of upchucking the measly dinner I was able to stomach.
The mom came into the room yesterday while I was packing. She stood a moment, then burst into tears, begging to know why I was leaving. It was a really emotional hour or so, while I comforted her, and allowed myself to cry. A lot. I used google translate to reassure her, the dad, Nataly and Juan Diego. And I felt like a total shit the whole time. That feeling has been with me since then, and may be contributing to my stomach issues as I worry about it all. It was basically very emotional and depressing. Especially when the family thought that I was returning to America. And in the rush to pack, I forgot my surge protector. Which I’ll have to get back somehow.
So. I’m trapped on the bus. Yay. (If anyone cares, this is all stuff I jotted as notes and filled in later, once I was off the god-aweful bus. I hate buses. Buses are evil. Stupid fucking evil.) Freaking out, trying to sleep, trying not to vomit. And while I am trying to sleep, the little kid in the seat next to me keeps kicking me in the face! He is sitting on his mother’s lap, swinging his legs, getting off, running around, rolling onto me. I’ve taken the shady teenager look, legs curled up, jacket on, hood up and partially covering my face. It’s working. Once the mom and her kid got off, no one else has sat by me. The guy behind me has his own tactic to keeping personal space. He just glares at everyone who comes near. He’s kinda odd looking, blonde dreadlocks, cargo parts, big backpack. He doesn’t look Panamanian, but other than grunting at the person who was sitting next to him for the first hour or so, he hasn’t spoken, so I don’t know where he’s from. He might speak English. Which would be nice. Yeah, I’m traveling alone, which means panicking every time we stop somewhere and I have to use the bathroom, terrified the bus is going to take off without me. Because, obviously, that would suck. This is so weird. I know all these places we are stopping at from the first time I came here. Sure, I was going the opposite direction last time, but I was also more conscious at the end, so I remember more. I’ve decided against buying anything to eat, just drinking water makes my stomach feel really really bad. I’m just going to be a shady teenager who listens to her I-pod and cries a bit. No one notice me, no one notice me. Great. One of the women left her kid behind on the bus. Now we are just hoping he won’t wake up. For one thing, everyone wants me to deal with him, and I don’t even speak Spanish. Also, shady teenage look. You really want me to take care of the kid? Ok, who am I kidding. I’d adopt him in a heartbeat. He’s adorable. Disaster averted. The mom missed the bus, but apparently she made enough of a fuss at the last stop that someone drove her to meet us at the next one. Good thing too, because as soon as she got on, the kid woke up. He luckily didn’t start crying, just looked really confused until she picked him up and squeezed him. Then he just looked bug-eyed.
Ok, it’s been five hours now, five or so hours left to go. There are only about twelve of us on here now. And the guy behind me just swore as he tripped over someone’s backpack. And ‘fucking hell’ is English enough for me. I engaged him in conversation. And that’s how I spent the next five hours. He moved into the seat next to me, and noticed my treasure. Now, let me once again remind anyone who cares, Panamanian buses are fucking cold. As in, teeth chattering and…parts… freezing cold. I had a blanket. We shared the blanket. I got to know my companion pretty well. Firstly, he was from Miami Florida. Second, he lived in Bocas for eleven months with his buddy who owned a sailboat. He had met this buddy a few years ago in the Caribbeans, and joined with him. They traveled to Cuba, which he did not advise, and sailed around for a while. When he got the chance, Austin, the guy, went back to America, sold his apartment, his car, and everything else, then joined up with his buddy again. They had been in Bocas waiting for hurricane season to pass or something like that, but Austin had decided to take a few days and visit his folks in the States. He showed me photos of some of the places in Bocas I never got the chance to see. There is water there, in the ocean, that is so fucking clear it looks like the boat is floating feet above the sand. I also saw pictures of the boat and the little reservation kids who would paddle out to see the funny Americans in their sailboat. Also, lobsters can get fucking huge! Like, giant! Austin and his buddy caught a few, and these guys were ginormous. The last five hours passed quickly with us talking and catching short naps in between. Also, the blanket was a great help in keeping warm. Although Austin learned quickly that one does not take off their shoes in a Panamanian bus. Your feet with freeze, and then you won’t be able to find your shoes for a while. I was still sitting on my feet, so I was plenty warm.
At Panama City Austin and I said goodbye, wished each other luck, and then parted. Or in my case, stood around looking like a fucking idiot with a giant suitcase, purple flowered blanket, and a jacket that I had gotten myself stuck in. Yes, stuck in. And once off the bus, I wanted nothing more than to rip the sucker off. It’s hot, even at four in the morning. After fifteen minutes of struggle (not counting the time in the bus), I finally freed myself, and went back to looking like an idiot with a giant suitcase, purple flower blanket, and a jacket tied around my waist. Amed, my AFS person, had yet to show up. Not knowing where I was supposed to meet him, I went down to the main level of the bus station, which at four in the morning was unsurprisingly deserted. I was noticed by an inevitable taxi driver, who tried to get me to let him take me anywhere I wanted. By that point, I was tempted to get in and tell hime Hotel Roma, the only hotel I know of in Panama City, the one we all stayed at when we first got to Panama. Instead I just politely waved him off, and remained, looking like an idiot, and thoroughly bored. At about four thirty, I decided the best course of action would be to use my AFS emergency number. And who might be on the other end? Amed! Who informed me that he would leave to get me immediately. Great. I just set myself in a corner with my suitcase and tried to stay awake. Hey! It was four thirty in the morning at that time!
Anyways, Amed showed up, treated me to breakfast, then took me to the store to buy some soap, which I was out of. Then it was back to his place to ditch my suitcase, choose some things to take with me to orientation, which was to start today, and then it was back off with a new guy, another AFS volunteer, to pick up some snacks for orientation. They let me be useful and carry a lot of bags. Then we headed back to the bus station, which I had left about two hours previously, to meet with the rest of the AFS students from this chapter. There I chatted with a few of them, and tried to fit myself into the group with the other American, Madeline. Unfortunately, it was doomed from the start. She was one of those really popular girls who likes to hear herself talk, and doesn’t mingle well with those of the lower class, both in status and economically. But I tried.
We all piled into another bus (I fucking hate buses….), and drove off. Apparently, AFS Panama had been offered a nicer place for the same money, so we were to take a two hour bus ride to Costa Blanca, a totally schmancy golf course/resort/villa place. We played bonding exercises for a few hours, swam in the pool, and sent some of the volunteers out to get snacks. It was pretty fun. I appreciated the Oreos. Apparently there weren’t enough rooms in the main house, so I, along with four other girls and the male volunteers all took off in a golf cart for the second house. Where I was presented with my own private bedroom. With a queen sized bed. And. A. Bathtub. With. Hot. Water. I think I died. This is so much better than heaven. A bathtub. Hot water! Does anyone realize how bleeping awesome this shit is?! I AM IN LOVE WITH THIS PLACE!!! So what if the drain cover doesn’t work? I’ll use my shirt to block the drain. So what if my shirt is wet? There. Is. A. Washer. And a. Dryer. In this house. I am alive again! I live!
Well, after all that, I kinda got depressed. I still don’t know anything about my new host family. In two days I will have to leave this heaven and return to real Panama. I don’t know if I can do that. Basically I took a bath and then curled up on the bed with my I-pod, playing ‘Far Away From Home’ by Groove Coverage. Yeah, not the best song choice. It kinda just drove the point home. I am so screwed. On the other hand, I started reading Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares, a book suggested to me by my amazing Australian friend. And tomorrow we are going to the beach! I can swim again! It will be so awesome!