So.  Fourth day in.

As a heads up, I cannot for the life of me figure out where the apostrophe is on this keyboard, so you are going to have to enjoy every apostrophe I write until I get back stateside not so secretly actually being an accent stuck in between two letters that don´t need an accent.

So.  Two things to think about and then I will actually talk about what I have done so far.  One:  Traveling as a thing.  Two:  the virtues of traveling alone vs. not.

It is kind of funny how much actual travel is involved in traveling.  And how boring that gets.  I love the part of traveling where you get to a new place and walk around for hours, figuring out where the streets go and scouting out cool places to eat.  I like leaning against the counter in a hostel and chatting with someone for a little while, figuring out where they are going and what they are doing and trying.  I try to like the part where you see a cool thing and take a picture of it, but I always have a little bit of trouble with it.  Will I really want a picture of that onion field in a year?  Tomorow, even?  And then I definitely do not like sitting on a bus for seven hours staring at my kindle and wondering how I have read so many pages of Path Between the Seas to still only be 14% through it. 

When people say that they like traveling, the implication, I suppose, is that they like going to new places.  Travel itself is a drag.  Sitting in a bus station is boring as hell.  Riding on an airplane feels exactly the same as riding on a bus.  Taxis are essentially the same, even when they are broken down as hell and have seats covered in what I am pretty sure is the same floral pattern that covered the seats of my family´s couch when I was growing up.  It all feels exactly the same, which is either adulthood speaking or early childhood reasserting itself.  Remember how bored you got on roadtrips?  That has been me for the last couple days.  But I also remeber the days when riding on an airplane was as good as it got.  I reveled in takeoff.  I listened to every word the flight attendants said and could not contain my grin during takeoff.  Airports felt like portals to adventures and I loved them.  Now they make me antsy.

Like I said.  Adulthood.  Or reversion to childhood.  Either way, yesterday as boring.

A question I have gotten a lot on this trip, and have gotten a decent amount on previous trips, is why I am traveling alone and whether or not I like it.  In the past I have always been able to confidently say that hell yes I like traveling alone. I like the independence and the quiet and the flexibility.  I like being able to move easily between hanging out with new people and by myself.  I like how easy it is to just not do an activity because I don´t feel like it and how easy it is to figure out what I want to do and do it.

There is something wonderful about putting a favorite album on and listening to it while wandering around a new place or getting lost up a residential street somewhere and not having that gut-reaction of “whoops.  i got us lost.” or “dude. you got us lost.” and instead having that tiny thrill of OMGWHEREIAMI.  Instead of feeling guilty or annoyed you get to feel exhilerated.  Maybe I have just traveled with the wrong people in the past, but I think all of us are more likely to enjoy an unforeseen hiccup if there is no one else nearby to blame.

ImageBUT.  Turns out that it sucks to go places where you want to do things like tours and outdoorsy activities because they usually require a two person minimum.  Now, yes, I am staying at a hostel, so I could probably pick up a few extra compadres and jump on a tour with them.  And yes, that is probably what I am supposed to do, but it is very easy to feel like a third wheel in those types of situations and there is a surprising dearth of other solo travelers.  So I walk by the tourism desks and am like, “Yo.  I want to go on this tour,” and they’re like “cool.  go make a friend,” and I’m like “$#%&$/) I want to go BY MYSELF.”

So.  If anyone feels like coming to Panama and being my fucking plus one.  Be my guest.  😀

That is not to say that I haven’t been doing some cool stuff (like FINALLY FIGURING OUT THE APOSTROPHE ON THIS KEYBOARD).  I have taken a bunch of really nice walks, one of which culminated in me finding this place with street side café negra y fresas con crema.  Which is exactly as delicious as it sounds…especially when you are just about to reach the point in your walk where you turn around because you are uncertain of where you are and almost out of water.  (I PROMISE THAT I AM BEING SAFE, MOM.)  Excuse the book in the photo.  It is my Travelosity gnome for this trip.

ImageAaaand.  I´m lazy, so here is a snippet from an email I sent that describes my yesterday. 😀

Yesterday was a long day of fumbling with the language and slow, slow travel. It was not at all exotic. The best part was probably the cab ride from the bus to the hostel after I glanced out my window and then remained glued there for nearly the rest of the ride.

I always forget how many different degrees of star cover there are. There is the almost entirely black sky that hangs, lonely, over cities at night. There are suburbanite night skies that feel impressive in comparison. All of the recognizable constellations are there and a few extras are dotted between them. There are the skies in the country that overwhelm with star cover. And then there are the skies in the middle of nowhere that have more stars than you ever remembered were possible, stars
so bright that if it weren’t for your astronomy class you would probably not be able to tell the difference between them and the planets.  Other stars so small that they look like powder thrown up into the sky. Stars that make it nearly impossible to fathom that every single minuscule speck is its own gigantic fireball.

It is…amazing…to be here.

The majority of my day, though, was spent in a bus. It wasn’t even a cool bus. Just your typical double Decker, air conditioned piece of shit cross-country bus whose distant relative I’ve ridden to and from Chicago many times in the past several years. The only off-putting part of it is that there are literally zero announcements. The bus rolls to a stop at a gas station, the light blaze on, and hopefully you can discern this diesel station from its many identical siblings dotted along the road because it is literally the only landmark and the bus driver ain’t talking.

Also there was a Slovakian couple who spent a significant amount of time making out underneath a sweatshirt. It was gross.

I spent a decent amount of time trying to speak the language, though. Part of this was out of necessity and part of it was because I spent so much time the day before not being able to communicate with people that I just pushed myself extra hard to cobble together sentences that I knew didn’t sound good but got my point across. 

#yup  #bugsboneyexit

Oh, this is what my hike looked like:


And this is how tiny my hostel’s shower is:


And this is what I look like enjoying the sunshine: