Monday, April 20, 2009
Bluff in the Buff
We're really starting to settle here in Bocas. The town is small. There are only a few main streets that are known by the gringos that hold the "higher end" restaurants and coffee shops. We live about three blocks away from the main street which basically means we live in no mans land for the gringo community. Our set up is awesome with our apartment being one in a cluster of four apartments in the back of a very well respected woman and her family's house. The woman and her sister are very helpful and someone from their family is always up in the front of the house to say buenas and wish us well on our day or welcome us home each night. I feel safe here, I feel happy, and for the first time I feel like I'm really living in a different world, getting to know how people live in less developed countries.
Alright, I said I was going to talk about adventures this blog. We've had some really cool ones so far. I think Playa Bluff, a beach six miles from town was so far the best adventure. Justin and I, last Thursday after class decided to rent bikes from our school and take the dirt/sand/pot hole paved road to the beach from town. People were slightly surprised when we said we were planning on biking there because of the conditions and the distance but at that point we were ready for a bit of a challenge. A challenge it was but worth it in the long run. Justin has this really strong desire to find an amazing sunset. I think us living on the MV Explorer for three months and seeing incredible sunsets over the big blue gave us both this obsession with light/colors/natural beauty. Well, Playa Bluff is on the East side of Bocas and a sunset over the water wasn't exactly what we got. Alright, I'm jumping around here...let me get back to where I was at. Bike ride! Ok, so it felt amazing to hop on a bike and get behind a moving vehicle after so much walking we've been doing day to day. I loved speeding down the road covering so much more ground than my measly little legs could ever do. It's an exhilarating experience sharing the road with the taxi diablos that zip through town like their getting chased by the cops. About a mile and a half into the bike ride was the first bit of terrain. Moist beach sand isn't the easiest to trek through but with the ocean next to us and palm trees swaying, the sweat drenching down our faces didn't so much matter to us. The rest of the 4 or so miles were quite hilly with some stretches of smooth paved parts but for the most part we were winding through sometimes foot deep of potholes filled with mud while dodging large trash trucks almost swiping us by everytime they sped on by. It was mostly beautiful scenery til we encountered, after climbing a pretty steep hill a huge plot of land that was filled with burning trash. It was absolutely disgusting. During the day I was freaked out driving my bike through, but the way home was a scene from a scary nightmare.
We made it to Bluff, after about an hour or so...we stopped a few times to take some pictures obviously. It was a really fun ride and difficult at times, (exactly what we needed). We searched for a spot on the beach.....which is easy to do when you are the only couple on a famous and gorgeous beach. After the long ride we were so excited to go into the water. Well, after getting about knee deep I realized if I was ready for the end, ready to meet my maker, I would have dove in all the way but something in my brain told me I've got maybe a little more time in my life before I do something stupid like that and get myself killed in paradise in Panama. I guess Justin didn't have that same feeling. I watched him for a good 5 minutes fight the ginormous waves that continuously wanted to sweep him in one by one. The way the undertow was too, I can't believe he stayed in as long as he did. Now, I don't worry that much but honestly, I've never been a lifeguard, I'm not the best swimmer, and know that if I had to go in there and save him, there was NO ONE around to witness or help. I was freaked. Thank god he had enough sense to come in when he did because he looked extremely exhausted after that bit, almost like he was just wrestling a bull.
We didn't go into the water again that day. Well, maybe for a second to wipe off the sand but it was definitely a relaxation period for the next few hours under palm trees while we waited for the "picturesque sunset." We had a great time chatting, napping, and practicing our Spanish while the sunny day turned into a beautiful dusk. The light was tender and sweet for a good while and quickly went from a shadow under the trees into bitch black blindness. I'm not sure if I just couldn't adjust my eyes after squinting all day from the sun or if it really was just THAT dark but I started getting the ibby jeebies being out there, just the two of us, on a beach, having to trek back home through a snake and spider invested jungle path. I don't know if I showed my terror to Justin as much as I was scared but I was REALLY freaked out. Luckily with me, I have this ability to talk to myself and literally get myself out of terror by just thinking everything is going to be ok. That took me a good five minutes but once that was up I really embraced the darkness. There was a quiet peacefulness that shot through my bones and the terror turned to serenity. We stopped our bikes, looked into the sky and the stars turned to spotlights illuminating the holes in the road saving us from toppling over on our bikes. The ride back was full of giggles everytime another chunk of mud would fly up into my hair or onto my white shorts.
Once we hit the firey trash dump I felt like I was in the scene of a movie set from a horror flick. I could smell the dump approaching and see the smokey air haze in front of us as we rode the hill to the path along the dump. With perfect timing as we approached the land fill a guy walking along the road appeared out of the darkness. It was almost like he was cued....I'm surprised I didn't scream and crash my bike into the sharp rusty metal fence that lined the narrow bumpy road in between the fill. Justin and I just had to stop and take in the scene for a few minutes once we neared the end of the path. There was broken old toddler furniture mixed in the road looking VERY creepy in the scene. Another great cue by the director of God or whoever was the ginormous sized cockroaches finding their way to my feet as I parked the bike. It was really cool if you can take something like that. : ) Maybe I'm crazy but I thought it was really fun. It's also really sad to see that the people of Bocas are not into protecting their environment by burning such horrible amounts of trash right along the beautiful water where many locals and tourists swim.
We made it back with incredible exhaustion. It was definitely a long day but one to remember in the Bocas adventure stories. Everyday we've done some sort of new thing while still trying to maintain a lot of our day to studying our Espanol. In my next blog maybe I'll just talk about some of the other cool stuff we've done with a little less detail. It's been some pretty busy times here in Bocas and I think I can speak for the both of us when I say that living by the beach is really different and such a cool experience to try out.