Panama City, PanamaWhile traveling there are day to day occurrences that you take for granted at the time but look back on and smile when it’s all said and done. Of course that jungle hike, volcano trek or night of partying was great but those afternoons of aimlessly walking around in markets or long days [...]
Panama City, Panama
While traveling there are day to day occurrences that you take for granted at the time but look back on and smile when it’s all said and done. Of course that jungle hike, volcano trek or night of partying was great but those afternoons of aimlessly walking around in markets or long days bus travel grow fonder in the mind and come into stark contrast when you arrive back home. Now that I’m out of the ‘Chicken bus’ zone I realized I have no pictures or writing to remember what I considered a frequent and mundane experience of hopping on a bus. So, here is my attempt.
The old American school bus rolls into the bus station. Pimped out in bright green and orange. ‘Cristo Vive‘ is printed on the front window below the buses destination. Stickers of Jesus and Mary are plastered above the window. The latest Spanish pop song blares from the speakers…repeatedly.
I step off the bus and am hounded by Taxi drivers. “No! No necisito una Taxi!” Now leave me the hell alone.
The station is thick with black diesel exhaust that deposits a fine layer of grime on all visible surfaces. Plastic bags and random pieces of fruits and vegetables are scattered on the ground. Cell phone companies make their presence known with walls painted in ‘Tigo blue’ and ‘Claro red’. The bus Aydantes are screaming final bus destinations.
“San Pedro! San Pedro! San Pedro!”
“La Entrada! Directo! Directo! Directo!”
Mixed in with the diesel exhaust is the smell of wood burning fires and women cooking chicken and tortillas beneath multicolored umbrellas. I turn to the right, then to the left looking for any sign that will point me in the direction of my connecting bus. As I stand there men, women and children try pushing sodas, fruit, fried goods or whatever random items they think might be of interest to me.
Further screams of “Taxi!” and honking horns add to the cacophony of noise.
Another ayudante screams “Va a San Pedro? San Pedro!” as he points to a dilapidated American school bus with ‘Jesus es el Señor‘ plastered across the window. He tries pushing me into the bus. It matters little to him if I’m actually going there or not.
“No. [Insert destination here]” I reply
Realizing that I have no desire to go where he’s going the ayudante points me in the needed direction and continues his task of herding people onto his bus.
I find my bus and maneuver my way down the aisle with a forty pound pack on my back halfheartedly saying “Lo siento” to every person I hit along the way and take a seat. The two person capacity of the seats are constantly exceeded by one and, unfortunately, two others also want to join me on my journey.
Women and children with high pitch voices run onto the soon to be departing bus selling food and drink. “Agua! Veinti cinco!”
“Chickles y ducles Quire?”
“Bananos, manzanas y naranjas!”
The old school bus rumbles to life and expels a thick cloud of black smoke. The food peddlers file off and we pull out of the station.