Entering Panama

Today, we left Colombia ! In our case, second time’s the charm !

After a struggle again to find some breakfast in Sapzurro (they really don’t want to sell us stuff here), we slowly packed our bags and went to wait for Wai on the docks. He’s the one who brought us in Sapzurro and had (drunkenly) confirmed a trip to Puerto Obaldia, for 60 000 pesos, at 1 PM. Since we were early, we played some dominoes, read, talked with people on the docks… They offered us to take us to Puerto Obaldia for more money than Wai, so we refused. A few minutes before time, a nice guy teaching his son how to drive his boat offered us to take us too, but for the same price, and since we’re honest people, we also refused.

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The wait is unbearable !

But when Wai arrived, he looked barely awake and totally hungover, saying “In the end I couldn’t find any others passengers, so it will cost you 80 000”. You don’t say… If you look for passengers at the bottom of your nasty aguardiente bottle, your business is probably booming…

Evidently, we refused, but since he didn’t want to have risen up for nothing, he arranged us something : a bigger boat than his, booked by rich(er) tourists had just unloaded in a nearby restaurant and was going to wait for them while they did the hike for La Miel. We thought to understand the boat needed to go to Puerto Obaldia to drop off some stuff (though unclear) and Wai negotiated for them to take us there too. For sure, if we had known, we would just have given them the 40 000 Wai gave them, and not leave 20 000 for the drunkard willing to con us. Anyway, there was a long awkward time during which we didn’t know what would happen to us, but the guys who took us seemed way more awake and organized, and furthermore, the boat was really big and hade shade ! (some boats have a fabric roof and our sunburns appreciated it).

Finally, we arrived at Puerto Obaldia. Here, no one uses the wharf, we all largely prefer to go down in the water with our hiking shoes on and our backpacks in our arms, then walk on the pebble-rubble beach ! We encountered the immigration military force, who were very laconic but kind of nice compared to the Sapzurro’s catering personnel. They looked at the passports, asked 2-3 questions, and then searched us. We emptied the bags, explaining that these are toiletries, theses are panties (thank you sir), these, careful, they stink, they are dirty laundry from a tropical hike (you brought this one on yourself, sir). Then we arrived at the immigration office and witnessed how big our privileges are : a french passport is immediately stamped : we give the photocopy we prepared, aren’t even asked for the yellow fever vaccination certificate (damn !) and here we go, we’re all done !

Colombian people aren’t that lucky : their passport is photographed, sent via Whatsapp to Bogota (only thing that works here, great for security and sovereignty) and there they ask Interpol. If they have antecedents with the justice system, they are asked to go back on the boat and leave (this happened to our office neighbor who was nevertheless very nice). But even when it isn’t the case, the whole thing lasts at least half a day, and if they arrive on a Friday evening, we hope they enjoy the village, cause they aren’t leaving it until Monday noon !

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The village, let’s talk about it ! A military base, a restaurant, a couple hotels, almost as many institutional buildings as houses, but the only thing differentiating them are the signs on the walls. We spent the afternoon there, painstakingly : we found a few other tourists to talk with (the locals obviously didn’t feel like it), we watched TV, walked around the town, and again… We supposed it has around 1000 inhabitants, we maybe saw 20 of them and a dozen foreigners. Strange… When night finally fell, everything closed, we had eaten a late almuerzo, we went to bed early.

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To wrap it up, you probably noticed we didn’t have tons of fun today. I (Alice) actually write this post the day after. I really didn’t feel like writing after this lame day. But the day after isn’t better at all, so I’m angry and so you read me grumbling because it makes me also feel a little bit better. I’m sorry, thank you, kisses !

2 Replies to “Entering Panama”

  1. C’est ça le voyage !!!
    Ici à Pont les Moulins 170 habitants, il règne une animation folle ces jours ci. Comme il fait super beau les tondeuses , coupe haies et autres résonnent toute la journêe de leur charmante musique ( aujourd’hui c’était chez nous avouons le ), les cyclistes sont en goguette et se racontent leur vie en traversant le village, on a papoté avec la voisine et un méchant rapace s’est sauvagement jeté sur une de nos poules qu’il a déchiquetêe, bref si 2 jeunes voyageurs s’etaient arrêtês ici , ils n’auraient pas ête dêçus du voyage !!
    Allez bonne suite de voyage et achetez vous un beau chapeau… un panama bien sûr !!
    Plein de bisous

  2. Elle a raison Christine, c’est ça un voyage sac à dos…
    Il faut bien redescendre un peu pour bien profiter de la suite…

    Aujourd’hui, ma plus grande aventure a été de rentrer chez un fabricant de vérandas…

    Bises !

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