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Overboard in Panama

Bocas Del Toro, PanamaI would like to thank the Ohio Department of Taxation for making my Advanced Open Water course in SCUBA diving possible. Without them returning money that belongs to myself this course would have cost me 8-10 days of travel funds. In a couple of months I will also be thanking the Federal [...]

Bocas Del Toro, Panama

I would like to thank the Ohio Department of Taxation for making my Advanced Open Water course in SCUBA diving possible. Without them returning money that belongs to myself this course would have cost me 8-10 days of travel funds. In a couple of months I will also be thanking the Federal government for returning enough of my money for a trip to the Galapagos Islands.


With some extra money expected to come my way I left San Jose at 5:00 am on Sunday for Bocas del Toro, Panama. This is my first impression of Panama and I have to say it leaves me thinking that the island is really an American province. Americans have overrun the place.

Normally this type of over-touristy crowd would bother me but I’m here for one reason and one reason only; diving. While looking for a place to stay I stopped into the Dutch Pirate dive shop and was given an offer to sleep in the dive shop for free as long as long as I watch the boats at night and bail out water if it rains too hard at night. Luckily, it hasn’t rained in a few days.

Comfort Zone

At this point I’ve found that I like to exist just outside of it. A job, security in the future, and knowing what I’ll be doing a week from now is just too mundane. Travel is appealing for this reason. If you ask me where I’ll be next Tuesday I’ll tell that I don’t know and then rattle off two or three possibilties. “Probably in Panama. Maybe Panama City, David, San Blas…?”

Mexico was a similar story with the general pattern being that I would arrive in a town at the crack of dawn after an all-night bus ride. I wouldn’t know where I was or know where I would be sleeping. I would jump in a taxi at the bus station not understanding a word he was saying only to repeat a random hotel or hostel over and over again until he understood. That was how I moved from place to place for the first month and a half of travel. Overtime I learned some Spanish making travel easier but moving me back into my comfort zone.

Diving puts me back outside of that comfort zone. Weightlessness, fish, coral and breathing under water are not normal daily occurrences and great things to see and feel. Since late November I’ve been on fifteen dives and am always searching for more. In the last few days I’ve seen a wreck, dived at night, have better breadth control, navigation techniques and have increased my allowable dive depth from 60 ft to 100 ft.
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Filed under: Cubicle Ditcher, Panama

About the Author:

Sam Langley left a comfortable and profitable job with an insurance company in the USA to travel the world. He has been going for years, and has not stopped yet. Keep up with his travels on his blog at Cubicle Ditcher. has written 147 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.