Ever feel like you are moving through an hourglass? The MacAllen brothers have made it to Panama, a place Simon Bolivar once declared to be the future commercial center of the world. And it's easy to see why, Panama is connected to everything by virtue of being so narrow enough that a guy (the founder of the evil corporate giant Halliburton, oddly enough) once swam through it from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific via the legendary Panama canal.
Because the Americas are shaped like this all overland travellers going through the Americas come through it. It makes it a fun stomping grounds for all manner of travellers. From hardcore Peace Corps Veterans working their way home up North, to the savy travelling Arwen who navigates cities by giggling.
A couple weeks ago Tyler and I decided that we were far more interested in South America than Panama and expected to blow through it on our way to Colombia. We should've guessed it wouldn't be that easy. We should have learned our lesson in Costa Rica, a country we thought we were going to stay in for a few days because we'd heard it was expensive. Over a month and a half later we barely summed up the will to leave that fabulous place and zip to Panama city and out. But then, faced with the prospect of an 18 bus hour ride from San Jose to Panama city we decided to break it up with an overnight in Panamas Bocas del Toro, a carribean island on the way. Three days later it was all we could do to leave that lovely and laidback beach paradise to go the city. We didn't know what to expect, but we certainly didn't think we'd come into such a vibrant and bustling international metropolis.
This city, like a breath of familiar air, stopped us dead. We found miles of neon, explored colonial ruins, went to stores so big they're overwhelming (forgive me, our perceptions have been skewed in the small cozy scale of everywhere else on this journey) and stayed in a skyscraper. We were initially delayed because it was difficult to book a yacht trip to Colombia, but before long we were having so much fun we weren't exactly banging down any capitans doors. So several days later, blissfully happy and comfortable, we've lost our southern inertia and are looking into backtracking a little bit to see some turtles.
Before we left home Tyler and I worked out a vague itinerary that generously gave tiny little Central America two long months. Well, we crossed the four month mark a few days ago and it still feels like we've been rushing through this wonderful isthmus.