San Blas –
I wake up just after sunrise. Though the beds here are quite basic you can sleep very well by the constant white noise. It doesn’t take long befor I hear the conch-bugle call. Breakfast is ready. Ena wants to remain in bed though, stone beats scissors, scissors beats paper, sleeping beats hunger – besides, we still have lots of gluten-free supplies left. After breakfast, there is an option for a ride to another island for snorkeling, but everyone who has been with us on the small island the handful of palms yesterday doesn’t really feel like it. We rather want to spent the remaining time here and relax. It seems though that we have to get our stuff out of the cabin since the next guests are already arriving (wasn’t check-out at 16:00?). So we pack our bags and store everything into a big dorm hut. Again with all this tapping on the imaginary watch… This really starts pissing me off now . Well, it looks like everyone that was left for5h on the island yesterday don’t have the slightest desire for another trip. We lie in the hammocks and I chat a bit with a newly arrived French woman, which is travelling with her teenage son. She had booked a custom tour, from what she is telling me, the procedure is quite similar to ours. Somehow it doesn’t feel that special anymore. As the conversation continues she tells me that she emigrated to the States… and the experiences she had while having preliminary election. Yes, the conversation drifts off a little into a political direction, but remains pleasant . I finally get a understandable explanation of the electoral system in the States (perhaps because she could explain it from a different perspective). A boat arrives and drops off some new guests. Guestbook… signatures… hut… same procedure as with us back then… next stop is Isla Perro for them. The Frenchwoman says goodbye and joins the other group. I had kinda imagined it different here… having a little more contact with the locals. Perhaps the two volunteer girls have hore luck. Everything that I was told so far is that 4 generations of the same family are living on this island and the it is actually kinda “divided” between two family members (you can recognize the “border” by the different colored markings on the palms). Though hanging out in the hammocks is quite relaxing, it sure gets kinda boring – I would really like to go diving now. About 16:00, the boat from earlier this afternoon arrives – we get our stuff and are off to the pier on the mainland.
There are 3 SUVs already waiting for us with just enough seats for our group, but since our number is odd one couple having the same destination has to split up between two jeeps. Since one part of our group is already sitting in the first jeep and good to go, the driver gets in and they are off. The remaining people are divided between the 2 remaining jeeps leaving the 2 girls met yesterday having their stay in the hostel in Balboa. They seem to be kinda stressed about something and having quite a long conversation with both the drivers. Phones are unsheathed, some phoning done, again some talking…
After some back-and-forth that we (including Ena an me) missed (or should miss ( ? )) thanks to closed doors – doors had to remain closed – everything clears up when the 2 girls come to talk to us: Only one of the 2 drivers knows the route to the fairly new hostel. Logically, the two girls refuse to split up – being eventually dropped off at 2 different places and then having to try to get to the hostel on their own?
Though having both ride in the same car makes sense of course, this doesn’t seem to work out for the drivers: “Nah, in the cars are couples and you are just friends. Also, driving you back is a bonus, it isn’t part of your booking.” Right. “Either we do it our way or not at all” – Of course transportation was part of the deal. The mood of the others in the car doesn’t get any better this way . Ena switches cars – Mamallena is definitely well-known – and the 2 girls get in the car I’m sitting in. These guys have to really work on management and customer service. My car drives off first, Enas makes a turn and stops*.
Panama City –
After the hilly ride through the San Blas Hills we have a break at a supermarket. Bathroomvisit getting something to drink. Our driver, however got himself one of those Master Mix CDs. Just as he inserts it into the player and is about to drive on, the first track is already jamming – after quite some some heated conversation with the seller at the car window, he gets a new one. 3 tracks… work fine, from the 4th on there is some heavy stuttering. Wll, now it’s way too late to return. “Under my umrella” is jamming this heavily that the 4 girls in the back start singing the song themselves instead. The driver’s mood doesn’t seem to get better, but well – ours does now . One after one we arrive at our destinations. After arriving at Mamallena I sit down on the couch of the balcony and browse for accomondations. Not even 10 minutes later, the other jeep arrives. Strange, I haven’t seen it during the whole trip though it should have be right behind us. “The driver drove like a madman…”
We decide to spoil ourselves a little for the last day… The Mamallena may be quite nice, but also noisy. We book a room at Ramada Punta Pacifica, pick up our things, and after a taxiride and checking there jump directly into the pool **. After a long and refreshing shower, we just get to the hotels restaurant for dinner and fall into bed afterwards.
* Ena told me later that there was a single female traveler who was dropped off at the pier and though she was reassured that she would be picked up, she had to wait for quite some time there – before the other driver tried to organize another ride though, sorted out themselves after half an hour.
** Well, we first press the button for the highest floor in the lift, just to have the doors open up to a closed-off foil-sealed construction site (We thought the pool would be on the top floor, our mistake )