Another night bus.

Trip Start Sep 28, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Panama  ,
Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I wake late and make my way back to the Luna's Castle hostel.  By all accounts this is one of the best and craziest hostels in Central America.  It always has a waiting list, and rarely can you turn up and get a bed for the night.  After trying very early this morning and having to settle for the overpriced hotel, I've decided to get my name down for a room.  Hopefully it won't take more than a couple of days.

While I'm at the hostel, I notice a sign for a party bus tour.  All you can drink for $15 and a two hour jaunt around Panama City.  I weight up the options.  Now I know this is potentially a really bad idea, but as I'm traveling alone again, it seems like a good option to meet friends.  OK, to meet girls.  You know what I mean.  I hand over the dollars and take a wander round the old quarter of the town.

I won't go into great lengths of description about places I visit, as the Lonely Planet and a gazillion other guide books are better written, with accurate information, but I should touch on how I feel about it.  Panama City has a striking layout.  Just outside the hostel you have a view across Panama Bay and into the skyscrapers pointing like accusing fingers into the blue.  It snakes round on what seems to be an arpeggio, brightly lit and smacking of money.  The old town and backstreets by contrast are smelly, dirty, poverty stricken and in disrepair.  It's just like any other big city in the world. 

"Excuse me; don't carry your camera like that please", says one 'helpful' lady as I wander the streets taking pictures.  How the hell else do I carry it?  I'm not stupid enough to stroll around like this at night, but it's the middle of a very busy day.  Also there appears to be a strong police presence here.  They're on every street corner.  Perhaps it's them I need to be mindful of.

Let's not labour the point about the party bus.  The twenty minutes I managed to stay on it were among the worst of my life.  What was I thinking?  Lucky I'm not alone, and a couple of guys near my own age jump off with me in the centre of town.  Calle Uruguay is meant to be the club district, and pretty much where everyone goes for a night out.  It's also hoaching with beautiful hookers.  If it looks too good to be true, it definitely is.  I spot one ridiculously old man with a girl forty odd years his junior.  It makes me sick.

We attempt to make it to this quarter of the city, but as our luck would have it, the cab driver that picks us up was either new, blind, drunk, high, stupid, or a combination of them all.  We a impromptu tour of downtown, as he can't find the most popular street in Panama City.  Added to this, he's tearing around like a blue arsed fly, busting a tyre and asking a dozen people how to get to our preferred destination.  It's a total shambles.

By the time I get back to my hotel I'm tired and starving.  I cram some horrible chicken into my face and go to sleep covered in crumbs.  I'm going to wake up smelling of deep fried poultry.  It's one of those few nights I'm thankful I'm alone.
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