I'd like to fancy myself an adventurous sort of person. Most of my hobbies include rock climbing, snow and wake boarding; things considered "extreme" by many. Yet, nothing feels quite so extreme or unknown in it's possible adventure than going to a Central American country that I know little about in terms of language, culture, or geography and pursuing a whirlwind, country-wide buffet of sights and adventures. I am really not sure how or what we have gotten ourselves into this. Here are some things that might make the trip exceptionally interesting:
1. I know very little spanish. VERY little. I took Spanish one in High School my senior year because I didn't feel like doing any hard work. This poses a problem for me in a country where 90% of the people are not fluent in English. I know critical questions like, "Donde esta el bano (where is the bathroom)" or "cuanto cuesta la cebollas (how much are the onions?)" but I highly doubt being able to carry on any significant conversations with the native people.
2. There are two primary seasons in Panama; Dry and Rainy. It's rainy season. I am told by reliable sources that one minute could be sunny and clear and literally within minutes a deluge could ensue. We are traveling by backpack throughout the country as it is obviously the most reasonable for mobility. My wife and I have legit GoLite hiking packs and brand new raincoats (Thank you REI for Labor Day sales). However, I don't know how much of a beating my pack will take with the rain before it starts turning my bag full of clothes and my camera into a bath tub.
3. Transportation is a bit different than what I'm used to in small town America. While we are doing some flying, we are also going to have to take a bus and maybe a taxi to get from David to Panama and from there to Bocas Del Toro. Boquete is not really directly accessible by flight, so a half hour bus ride is necessary. I am assuming that we will be driving on mountain passes with dozens of other people on what some might characterize as dirt path type roads. This is a little nerve racking. I read a blog post about traveling from Boquete that said, "Be very careful on your drive to Bocas from Boquete. The roads are deteriorating to the point where you might lose an axel if you are not careful." Great. One of our friends and co-travelers, Emily, said that we can "get someone to drive us to Bocas for a hundred bucks". It sounds like high price, glorified hitch hiking.
4. We thought we would only need some Malaria medicine to make our innoculations complete for this trip. A trip to the doctors proved to be a bit disheartening. Yellow fever, hepatitis A, malaria, rabies, and many other blood/water borne pathogens are waiting to greet us in Panama if we are not adequately prepared. I plan to bring really strong insect repellent and hope that I'm not struck by "Montezuma's Revenge".
Nevertheless, we will soldier on. I cannot wait to explore the infinite biodiversity and exciting adventure that awaits for us. Will we have to bribe the police? Will we see the famed Hacienda La Esmaralda? Will I find that my Spanish is just enough to make me offensive and dangerous? Only time will tell.