In the Andes, especially in Bolivia, mate de coca was a great option. It is basically a tea of coca leaves: as the Bolivians say, “la hoja de coca no es droga” (Coke leaf is not a drug). Maybe not a drug, but it is supposed to help with soroche, altitude sickness. I’m a big tea drinker, especially of green tea, and I did like the taste of the beverage.
In, Central America, as well as in Peru, you just need to know three words to order food: arroz (rice), frijoles (beans) and pollo (chicken). Makes life easy, doesn’t it! However, the food may be quite basic, and at one point, you’ll be desperate for something other than chicken. I mean, how much chicken can one eat???
We both loved our trip in Central and South America. And now that we are home again in Canada, we thought about it: what were the best places, the best cities that we saw… and what were the worst experiences?
Observing people in Central America is really interesting. First of all, there is a true melting pot of cultures: Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, indigenous people such as the Kuna in Panamá…
We went to Panamá (in Panamá City, David and Boquete) and then to Costa Rica (in Quepos, Playa Coco, Playa Tamarindo, Liberia, Monteverde and San Jose). We tried to cross to Nicaragua but could not make it.
There is no way we are coming back to Canada now. So we bought a plane ticket to… Perú. We will arrive in Lima, and travel in South America for quite a while.
But busing around in Central America is not that straightforward. First of all, we have to agree on the definition of a bus. If it has no windows and no doors, it is still a bus? What if it is painted in flamboyant colors, like bright red and yellow, and has words of wisdom such as “no pain, no gain“, or “dio bendigo mi alma” written on the windows? And if it takes 5 hours to drive 20 kilometers? Is it still a bus?
On Tuesday morning, we boarded the bus, barely awake. It took us just an hour to get to the border. There, we had to take our bags (stored underneath the bus) and go to a small round room, with tables. We put our backpacks on the tables and waited for what was coming up next. Sure thing, a custom officer arrived 30 minutes later and searched us.
The streets are just a mess of cars stopping, cars trying to turn, to reverse, to park, all at the same time and at full speed. “Diablos Rojos” (city buses), cars, motocycles, trucks… just ram into each other constantly and never ever give way.
We left Panamá city for David, and now we are in Boquete, about 1 hour 1/2 from David.
Panamá is a strange city, somewhat a bit schizophrenic. Half of it is old, half of it is new. Anything in between is either demolished or in construction.
It’s a different world here. Palm trees and coconuts, food stalls in the streets, people hanging out chatting at 3:00am, military and policía with machine guns at every corner, tinted windows and bullet proof doors…
I’m looking forward to packing my bag and go. I haven’t practice the art of packing in a while though, and trust me, when you go traveling for a few months… you need to pack right.
We didn’t do anything. Just tried to do some laundry. And yet, we ended up at the police station… and got into a big mess.