“Another champagne?” the waiter asked….

“Another champagne?” the waiter asked with courteous attentiveness. The captain had joined our table for dinner. We were dressed in our finest attire as we sat at the pristine white tableclothed table, silver cutlery and crystal glasses clinking as we chatted about our day of leisurely activities. By contrast the portholes revealed a drastic contrast to the serenity we were enjoying inside our cruise ship. A raging storm had come from no where as the rain pelted against the glass.

I was day dreaming of course.

It was bucketing down with rain though. And yes I was in a boat. But there were no portholes. And this boat had no white tableclothed tables and served no champagne. The captain was steering the boat and was getting as drenched as the rest of us. We were making our way from Columbia to Panama along the coast. It was a long open boat with a couple outboards on the back and just a sun canopy. As we were being pelted with rain, I looked around the other passengers to see how they were weathering the storm. There was one poor guy taking the full force of a water like jet streaming off the canopy roof. There was a couple young Aussie girls who took an innovative approach. They put on their snorkel masks. As the rain pelted through the boat, oblivious to the roof, I pulled the hood of my poncho firmly over my face. I wondered what it would be like to be in that mental picture I’d painted of that cruise ship.

Bugger that I thought as I smirked to myself. I was on an adventure. There was no comparison.

I was one of twenty one doing the crossing by boat. Just about all young Aussies with a sprinkling of a few other nationalities. Nice group of young people. The trip is over four days with three nights staying on a different island of the San Blas island archipelago. Two of the islands are spent staying in the native villages of the Kuna people. How they got there… well it’s those Spanish again who back in the 1500’s drove them off the mainland.

The last island was almost to ourselves. If you think of your typical idyllic tropical castaway island, the San Blas islands couldn’t fit that description any better. Pristine white sand, palm trees, crystal clear water with perfect temperature. The only hazard is the possibility of a falling coconut. A hut with a room full of hammocks provided the beds for the night. But it was party night. So any concern about getting a good night sleep in a hammock was irrelevant. Not that I intended to, would be capable of, nor did I, keep up with these young partying castaways. But amongst the star lit night glistening a reflection over the water, a flickering fire and a few odd questions like “what was it like in your day?”, the last night of this very memorable trip quickly slipped by.

After over five months of backpacking my way around Central America, Cuba and the top part of South America, I was back in Panama City. And what a great part of the gap year it has been. The places, the people, the experiences. Solo traveling but never really alone. Like now back in Panama City I joined sixteen locals for a day long hike to this picture perfect water fall. Last week it was a day hike with a group from Medellin in Columbia.

Adios Latin America. Hasta la vista.

 

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