In Search of Salsa, Drugs, and Waterfalls

After visiting the Panama Canal, traveling to Boquete, and spending every afternoon trying to come up with primitive sounding Spanish and reviewing the imperfect verb tense, something wasn’t right.   I felt uneasy, and got the feeling that I was missing something in my life.  It dawned on me I hadn’t been out salsa dancing since I had been in Panama.

I was going through withrawal.

It was at this point I asked around for something to do at night.  I found out about a latin dance night at a local club, and quickly found someone to go with.   She was from the US also but had fallen in love with Boquete and went on unpaid leave from her job to stay there longer.  As we walked to the club that evening, it started to rain and the street lights went out.  We navigated the winding road on foot and arrived at the dark club wet from the rain.

DSCI0579

The crazy bird that ate my jacket

We greeted some familiar faces and found a place to sit by illuminating the room with lights from our cell phone screens.  Tired of sitting in the dark silence, I pulled out my blackberry and began playing the few salsa .mp3s I had saved through my weak speakers.

I was now officially the DJ.

As pathetic as all of this was, even more disturbing was the fact that no one could actually dance there.  The lights came back on and they started playing a mix of top 40, salsa, and reggaeton.  It was so bad a few students from the school actually recruited me for an impromptu salsa lesson.  It also seemed this was the only place in town to hang out, as the staff from the Spanish school, the waiter at the restaurant I went to every night to hang out and bum wi-fi, and the local business owners were all crammed into this tiny club.  The hookah didn’t help the ambiance either.  I started to regret not braving the streets of Panama City days earlier.

DSCI0592So the night life in Boquete left much to be desired, but I would find some daytime activities to enjoy.  I volunteered one day at an animal rescue facility.  I fed birds, rode a horse, and helped some local children pet the animals.  The goats were ready to eat any and everything I gave them.  Another volunteer and I, a woman from New Zealand, made a treat for the monkey that lived there.  We put holes in a tree branch and filled them with peanut butter and treats.

I also did my fair share of hiking while I was there.  I’m usually not an outdoorsy person, but you can’t help but be a nature buff when you’re in that environment.  I hiked a trail that ended in a beautiful waterfall.  I went on a tour of the city where there were waterfalls all over on the side of the road.  The tour ended in a restaurant nestled in the mountains with a beautiful garden with a hummingbird milling about.  There were so many flowers that I saw colors I didn’t know existed.Anyone that knows me knows I have an above average negative reaction to insects, but the huge bugs didn’t really bother me.  My allergies, however, did. 

Which led me to my search for drugs.

There was a farmacia in the town square where I went in search of allergy medicine.  I explained that I had alergias and asked what she had for it.  She asked me how many I wanted.  This was an odd question, as I thought I would have to buy an entire package like at home.  There, you can buy one pill at a time.  It’s probably not the best idea to go to a foreign country, waltz into a pharmacy where the pharmasict doesn’t speak English, and come out with unmarked pills.

But that’s exactly what I did.

DSCI0563I took the little clear capsules with multi-colored balls in them and hoped it would cure my allergies and not make me see things that weren’t there.

I would later learn that some of the short-term residents staying at the hostel a few doors down enjoyed the no prescription needed buy-by-the-pill policy of the pharmacy.  I guess some people don’t like to remember their vacations.

I knew I would never forget my trip to Panama, and was looking to enjoy my last few days there.

More on that tomorrow…

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