If at first you don’t succeed…get a massage.

I typed up a full account of my misadventure but it was remarkably boring, so I’ll give you the highlights.

-I tried to head for a national park which the guide book doesn’t quite specify the location of.
-Bus confusion (80% their part!) drove me in a complete circle before heading in the right direction, as far as I knew. Confirmed three separate times with the ticket-handler kid where I wanted to go.
-Found out an hour and a half later that we’d left my target far far behind.
-Made my way back to the starting point, wasting nearly four hours, which accounted for most of the day’s sunshine (it rains in the afternoon) and emptying my food battery (i.e. stomach).
-Spent first half of ride back standing in a minibus too small for me, enjoying the feeling of being tall (I love indigenous populations!) for first 2%, then spending the second half of the trip next to a large woman whose breath literally smelled like the little garbage cans they put in all the bathrooms for your used toilet paper. I am not exaggerating.

I tried to be all Zen about it, but it sure was hard at the time. I reminded myself not to be put off and generalize about all the people, since there were far more helpful ones than dipshit unapologetic bus guys with goldfish memories and punch-worthy smirks, and even that one, I tried valiantly to remember, is used to locals who know every bend of the road; he’s not used to helping clueless tourists, and was probably embarrassed.

Then I found some good food in an authentic backstreet 1-room eatery with a blend of Spanish and Ngöbe-Buglé, laughter, and a WC in the front corner of the dining room, and the day picked up considerably.

Singing a song, went for a walk up to the other park, through which one can walk to another good town, spending 6ish hours in the cloud forest instead of a slightly longer amount of time on buses. Saw a sign saying passage on the trail is forbidden for security reasons. Spent the rest of the evening debating course of action until an actual guide told me it is in fact not safe. Le bummer.

Consoled myself with an after-dinner massage in the hostel’s spa and slept better than I have in months.

Yesterday I tried for the park again, hitching a ride up with other hostel guests who were taking a tour. We drove up a rocky road in 4-wheel drive, then switched to ultra-4-wheel drive when it went from a road to more of just a strip of rocks through the forest, enjoying the bouncing immensely.

Moon boots.
In he goes…
and out he comes.

Found out we were not actually in the park, but sort of between the two. Took a walk with the guide and a Panamanian family (father and 3 sons, all of us in borrowed white galoshes) along a gorgeous creek with waterfalls, took a plunge into the icy water and took pictures of the absolutely gorgeous area, none of which turned out any good; it’s just one of those beautiful places for the mind’s camera to remember.

The guide was the one who put the final nix on the walk to Boquete, so today I’ll be back on a bus, just not the same on as before. Although…I have time to leave my bag in reception and try for the park one more time…

Third time’s the charm, right?