It’s Heather Rose’s birthday and she decides on Starfish Beach for our adventure today. It appears to be a good beach day, so we gather our things and make our way towards the boat taxi.
Once arriving to Bocas by boat taxi, we could either take a bus or pay a few extra dollars for our own taxi. We see the bus pull up right away, so we decide to hop on. Heather, Warrio, Belo and I take our seats towards the back of the bus. Warrio buys some plaintains for us from the vendor right outside the window. We sit on the bus for about 15 minutes, as the bus driver waits to fill up all the seats including the aisle way. We ponder if we should jump off the bus and hire a taxi after all…
I begin to sing a song to Belo, who is starting to feel a little restless. “The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round, The wheels on the bus go round and round all around the town…The bus starts to move forward. Yay! The bus driver continues to pick up more people on the already overcrowded bus as he turns the corner and makes a full circle back to where we started. We stop again. I continue singing to Belo, “The wheels on the bus go round and round…” here we go again…The bus driver continues on…we now make a stop at a school…he then continues….then makes one more stop. That’s when we decide to hop off the bus.
As we jump off the bus, A taxi appears right away. Taxis in Panama are bright yellow trucks, with cabs built for 5 people. Three young Panamanian guys jump out of the taxi and make room for us to ride. Heather, Warrio, Belo and I find seats in the back. Just when we get comfortable, the driver calls me to the front seat, to ride between him and his friend. “You come up here…You ride in style, the taxi driver says ” We are gentlemen, we won’t bite.” I take the center seat, half of me on the seat and the other half, falling into the stick shift…true style…but I go with the flow, as they are kind enough to give me the front seat view. Plus, I am a guest in their country!
We’re off! The driver encourages me to hold on to the the guy next to me. I take my arm and instead of holding on to the guy, I find a spot on the inside part of the passengers door to hold onto. We start flying down the two lane road, passing cars, and dodging people in the road. Chickens, too! It’s one hell of a ride. The taxi driver and the guy next to me in the front seat yell profanities while flipping off our bus driver, as we make our approach nearly running the bus off the road.
From the back of the taxi, I hear Heather gently but firmly reminding the driver that we have a baby in the car and to drive more carefully. The driver responds with “I’m a good driver. I will get you there safely.”
Panamanian men love busting each others chops…and they don’t hold any punches, either! These guys had me in stitches. I had no idea what they were saying, but just the very nature of how they relate is crazy! They were kind, too…with a teddy bear quality about them.
Traveling tip. Sometimes, you’ve just got to trust and go with the flow, knowing that you are being held in the arms of the universe. It’s all part of the adventure. Always wise to make smart choices, too…of course!
Alas! We made it to Starfish Beach…well worth the ride!