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    Is This the Isthmus? Tour – Panama Part 12

    Thursday, July 27, 2017
    Bocas del Toro to David, Panama

    Taxi 25 heading from Bocas del Toro to Almirante, Panama.
    Taxi 25 heading from Bocas del Toro to Almirante, Panama.

    A white mini-van like the one I rode from Almirante to David, Panama.
    A white mini-van like the one I rode from Almirante to David, Panama.

    I spontaneously woke up early at 8:00 am this morning, and said auf weidersehen to the young German couple who had moved into my dorm room the night before. (The previous two nights, I had the whole room to myself, and I was pretty happy about that.) I checked out of the Hostel Heike and walked over to the Taxi 25 pier, where I arrived just in time, as the boat departed the island maybe 10 minutes later. Back in the town of Almirante on the mainland, I caught a taxi cab for $1.00 to the bus terminal. As soon as I stepped out there, a young man out front asked me if I was going to David, I said yes and he motioned for me to board a white mini-bus.

    The bus terminal in David, Panama.
    The bus terminal in David, Panama.

    For the next four hours, the teenaged driver drove way too fast, careening through curve after curve on the winding mountain roads. I thought for sure the bus was going to tip over and we were all going to get slammed against the pavement (or get flung off the edge of a cliff) and die, but by some miracle, that never happened. The bus stopped frequently, letting people on and off–mostly school kids. The same music that you hear everywhere these days–that pop / rap / hip-hop crap with autotuned vocals in the local language–played non-stop, much to my chagrin.

    What is it with taxi cab drivers in Panama and their t-shirt seat covers?
    What is it with taxi cab drivers in Panama and their t-shirt seat covers?

    We passed through some gorgeous landscapes that I missed on the night bus up here–mountains and ridges completely covered with bright green, thick jungles, dotted with the occasional rustic village. As we reached a higher elevation, the attendant shut off the air con and opened all of the windows. Not long after, I occasionally heard a loud “clack!” sound emanate from the back of the bus, where the engine was. I was really hoping the bus would not break down. As we came down out of the mountains, the windows were closed and the air con was back on. We finally rolled into David right on schedule at 2:30 pm–exactly four hours after we started.

    The entrance to the Bambu Hostel in David, Panama.
    The entrance to the Bambu Hostel in David, Panama.

    At the bus terminal, I saw a taxi driver who looked like a nice old man, so I jumped in for a $3.00 ride a couple of miles over to the Bambu Hostel, out in the “suburbs.” This place was founded in 2009 by a man from New York named Greg. He used to be in a touring band in the U.S., but when that ended, he decided to move to Panama. Greg is super friendly and helpful, freely dispensing advice and tips to travelers about how to navigate David and the surrounding area, as well as Costa Rica. Chock-full of rustic, tropical charm, the Bambu Hostel was built by Greg himself. Amazingly, the place even has a swimming pool.

    The swimming pool at the Bambu Hostel in David, Panama.
    The swimming pool at the Bambu Hostel in David, Panama.

    Without hesitation, I booked a bed in air con dorm room for the princely sum of $14, then I went out on a walk to look for food. I ended up at Warala Coffee Shop, where a couple of employees beckoned me inside. I ordered a shawarma, which was pretty tasty. Walking back to the hostel, I noticed that the traffic on the main roads in David is really hectic. Later in the evening, I recorded some frogs on the side of the road that produced a really unique, weird call that sounded like a ray gun in a video game. Then I ate some delicious potatoes in butter, French fries and fried plantains at Pizmaricer, a seafood restaurant directly across the street from Bambu. I guess you could say I got my daily recommended allowance of starch today!

    Psychedelic tropical art on the walls at the Bambu Hostel in David, Panama.
    Psychedelic tropical art on the walls at the Bambu Hostel in David, Panama.

    Lunch at Warala Coffee Shop in David, Panama.
    Lunch at Warala Coffee Shop in David, Panama.

    Words and photos ©2017 Arcane Candy.

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