A Belle in Panama: Isla Taboga

Isla Taboga, Panama  

I got up early this AM (Friday) and took a ferry to Isla Taboga. I left too early to grab free breakfast at the hotel, so I found a hotel on the island that was still serving it. The plan was to head to the beach after and do nothing. Yes, I have to plan to go blank. And I ordered a veggie omelette

While I was waiting with my coffee and for my food, a sneak storm comes. I look up from my book when I hear a bang of thunder, and all the sudden the sky is dark, the water is choppy, and the wind is whipping everything around. The manager is running from door-window to door-window closing everything and just when he finishes, the sky opens up. It's rainy season.

So I sit and eat my breakfast and watch the show Mother Nature puts on. And then I go back to reading my book until the storm passes. 3.5 hours later, the sky has stopped leaking and I have finished "Who Asked You?", which was a GREAT read.

I sling on my backpack and go exploring in the direction of the beach. It looks like something out of "The Beach". Remember that movie where young Leonardo DiCaprio goes HAM? Exactly like that. It's beautiful and I have one of those I-Can't-Believe-This- Is-Life moments. I take a bunch of pics, then abruptly stop. I took a helicopter to the middle of the Grand Canyon once and the pilot, a woman, told us about this guy who’s “a regular”, who comes to the Canyon and never takes pics. He spends the visit taking the view all in, and when he forgets what it looks like with clarity, he comes back. I want to be like that guy. I want to enjoy the moment and I want to come back here (again and again) and bring friends so they can experience all this awesome.

I put my phone away and I walk to the water. It's bath water warm. And I just stand there looking and watching folks swim and leaves blow and what looks like a film being well, filmed and these guys digging holes big enough to be graves in the sand and then I just stare at the pretty houses in the hills.

I don't know how long I stand there. But when I've had my fill, I go find a restaurant with $3 red wine, and I sit at the table and read "Lucky" with Solange on the cover talking about how she stopped wearing prints and likes solids and color-blocking now and I realize this wardrobe change is the entire hook of the story. "Elevator-gate" doesn't even come up. Womp.

I fall asleep for part of the boat ride back to the mainland. And I hail a taxi and negotiate the rate with the driver. He offered $10, I haggled him down to $5. I should have paid no more than $4, but... My Spanish is getting better, I see.

When I get Wi-Fi again, there's a text from Alex. In summary, we're renting a car tomorrow to go see both Black Jesuses in Portobelo and Isle Grande.

I'd tell you more, but now I have to go find said rental car place and extend my stay at the hotel/find another room. My goal is to stay here at hotel Tantalo. I came back from my trip today to find a note and a sparkling VIP band on my bed. There's a "battle of the pianos" in the lobby tonight, the letter reads. They, hotel management, hopes I will come down to join the festivities. As an added incentive, all drinks are on the house if I wear the band.


Other thoughts:

I'm amazed how long  the battery in my phone lasts when I'm not on text, Twitter, Facebook + AskFM. Like I can go a whole entire day without re-charging. I'm usually dead after 3 hours. I'm notorious for asking anyone (including strangers), "do you have a charger?"

I've spent the last three days listening solely to alternately The Best if Dionne Warwick and The Best if Luther. They actually make the same songs to different music. No, really. Warwick recorded "House is Not A Home" before Luther. She was actually a huge influence on him as a musician. (With all my downtime doing nothing, I looked it up.)

Single dollar bills (and to a lesser fives are more precious than gold. Panama is big on exact change. Twenties, also the most common denomination dispensed by ATMs here, are the devil. People are like that's A meal can be $13. You whip out $20 and folks are like, "Oooh! Nooo." I got a drink the other day for $6, whipped out a $10. The barista was like "ooh. Mmmmm." (She finally broke it.) I gave a cab driver a $5 for a $4 ride. He looks at me like O_o. I wasn't getting out to get change, so I just gave him the $5. Hmmm. Maybe he knew that was going to happen. Anyway, I don’t understand how I’m supposed to get change if no one ever has any. Conundrum.