A Belle in Panama: The Art of Doing Nothing

It's an art. You know what is my biggest issue being in Panama? Stopping me from me.

I keep looking for things to do to keep me busy: a walk here, a ferry there, a cab here, a look-see there, etc.

I set my alarm this morning for 6:30AM planning to head to Isle Taboga, a little island with a beach-- Panama City proper doesn't have one— about 60 minutes off the mainland. There’s only one ferry going and one returning, so I fancied myself to have a day trip of exploration and getting up at 6:30 AM on my second day of vacation. I’ve been in Panama City for 36 hours, and I’m already trying to run off when I need to just be still.

I forced myself to turn off my alarm and actually get some rest, especially since I was up til 4AM the “night” before. Folks told me Panamanian coffee was good, and it is. “They” didn’t say how strong it was, but now that I think about it, that could have been what they meant by “good”. Hmmm.

Anyway, I’ve made plans to do nothing today—or nothing major. I’m headed to Armador  Causeway later this afternoon to ride a bike and the plan park myself under a shady palm tree and put another dent in Terry McMillan’s “Who Asked You?”, which I’m really enjoying. That’s my plan for the entire day. Oh, and dinner. Somewhere fancy. Maybe Italian?

I don’t like to be still, but I NEED to be. Being in another country, especially one where I don’t speak the language well, has its challenges, to put it mildly. It's frustrating not to be able to communicate effectively and I get lost a lot. I didn’t realize how unrelaxed this was making me until I welled up with tears at the sight of a toothbrush.

In addition to draws, I left that at home too, so I spent all day Wednesdayy with dirty teeth. It’s not like I didn’t try to find a toothbrush, just no one knew what I was asking for and my wi-fi (pronounced here as “we- fee”) outside of they hotel was sketchy and I couldn’t look up the word, and… you get the drift. Anyway, after spending three hours at the mall alternately chilling, shopping, walking in circles and searching for a toothbrush, (ie, asking various shop girls if they knew where I could find one, ie, Me: “Emm…. Donde esta..." *makes brushing motion with hand *) I finally found a woman dressed for a store promotion in about the same outfit Rose wore to board the Titanic who spoke enough English to know “toothbrush.” This was right after I’d left the mall to walk aimlessly around it searching for anything that looked like a drugstore and came up empty. Defeated, I was headed back to the mall to catch a cab, spotted a Courtyard Marriott and popped in to ask the guy at reception in English if they sold toothbrushes. He in turn asks me, “did you try the mall?”

Anyway, chick dressed like Rose pointed me toward perhaps the fanciest drug store ever and there I found a plethora of toothbrushes on display and tears came like Lenny Williams in that “oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh” song, except he had a better reason.

I tried my luck to look for Black hair care products since I left my black gel at home too. (Yes, that black gel. The old school kind. What you know better that holds down black girl edges in humidity? Exactly.) That was just me being ridiculous though. No gel. Not even anything for silky haired folks. Plenty of perm boxes and products to maintain a keratin treatment though.  :-/

Random: my hair is going to look like Pure D sh—in 2 more days. I am solely hair- equipped with a bottle of oil lotion and a can of oil sheen. And rubber bands. Oh, and no Black girl brush. Don’t expect IG pics of me after Saturday.


I was out all day yesterday (Wednesday) so I showed up to a much-anticipated dinner with my favorite writer  (Alex Hardy) with edges that looked like a Black girl who’d been at play all day. He was kind enough not to notice, or better, not say anything. Bless him.

I was kinda nervous to meet him because so many people aren’t in person who they are online. He is. And that – and dinner at Black-owned Caribbean restaurant (the owner went to HU, ha!)— was awesome. We talked for two hours about life, and writer ish.

I planned to go for a walk when I got back to my hotel. Instead, I knocked out my second column for The Root so my editor wouldn’t be mad at me for missing deadlines. After this, I’m actually on vacation…. at least til Tuesday. Now to learn the art of doing nothing.