Monday, January 25, 2016


It was a strange feeling, getting on a bus. Even though almost everyone I'd met or traveled with in the past few months was riding buses constantly, I'd only been on a few. And more, each time I'd been on one, it was to go somewhere and return, not to actually get somewhere.

But now, I was bike-less.

After catching the bus back to Panama City and running errands in the cab, I spent the evening at Mamallena's hostel relaxing and slowly becoming more and more sore as a result of the accident the day before. But I made some plans and bought a few plane tickets so I could get over to Cartagena and meet the bike.

I still had one more night in Panama City though, and while Mamallena's was a nice place, it was kind of away from the main center of town and was booked up for the next night, so I found a place closer to the historical center and moved over there. Of course, as usual, I hardly spent any time at my hostel, because Clement had arrived in town as well and was just down the road from me. And as it turns out, there were also two girls and a guy (all from Holland) who I'd met in Boquete there as well, so I was bound to spend a bit of my time there.

But first I spent the afternoon searching out a place to get a massage. While I'd been okay just after the accident, it had ended up causing quite a bit of soreness in my back, neck, and arms - while I hadn't come off the bike at all, I'd taken quite a shock when I hit the back of the truck and the soreness had gradually grown over the two days since then. I found to my dismay, however, that there were pretty much no places nearby to get a massage, so after some lunch and wandering around town, I made my way back over to the hostel that Clement and my other friends were at and spent the evening hanging out there.

Some Panama City street art.

At night this "building" was lit up with purple lights and there was a free concert inside.

Combo of broken down building and street art.

The Panama City skyline across the water.
Clement and I spent a little bit of time relaxing at the hostel and playing a few games of ping pong, and then I headed out to dinner with the Dutch crew (Clement stayed behind to cook something at the hostel). They'd heard something about the best pizza in town, so we went on a search for it. After asking at a few places and not finding it, two of us were ready to just settle for one of the pizza places we did find - , but the other two weren't ready to give up. We finally asked around and got a clue from someone, and sure enough we found an Italian pizza place with absolutely delicious pizza.

After dinner we made our way back to the hostel which had a pretty nice bar downstairs for a few drinks and a great happy hour deal, but my soreness and fatigue had me heading home pretty quickly. After a really good sleep in a nice bed, I woke up and headed to the airport to make my way to Colombia.

I'd booked my flights through Viva Colombia, which is the budget airline - cheap flights, but extra fees for everything. I had to pay $20 just to check one bag, and would have had to pay for my carryon as well, had I not convinced the woman at the counter that it was small enough to fit under the seat. But as I finished checking in at the airport, she informed me that the flight was already delayed four hours. Well crap. I'd arrived quite a bit early for the flight since it was an international flight, which meant it would be at least six hours before I was able to fly out. And since this was the budget airline, it was flying out of the smaller airport outside of town which had no restaurants, Wifi, or... well, really anything, except three vending machines, two of which were broken.

The next eight hours in the airport were not super pleasant. I hadn't eaten much for breakfast, thinking there'd be something available at the airport. I very quickly exhausted my change for the one working vending machine, and the people at the counter wouldn't give me change. The chairs were all hard metal. So I sat and wrote a bit (without internet), and read some, and played some video games. The only consolation was that there was an outlet on the floor near my seat so I could keep the laptop and phone charged and occupy myself, though if I'd known how long it would end up being, I probably would have left the airport and come back rather than staying.

We did get one (airline) meal around lunchtime from them, but I was still super hungry when we finally boarded. I ordered a snack on the plane, but everything was really expensive so I didn't eat much. When I finally landed in Bogota and took a cab to my hotel, I could hardly think straight I was so hungry. I was led up to the hotel room by a bellhop (I wasn't paying much for the hotel, but they were very professional), and asked him if he knew a good restaurant nearby, and he asked me what kind of food I wanted. I said typical Colombian food, and he gave me some directions. Then he picked up the phone, made a quick call which I couldn't understand (I was quickly discovering that Colombian Spanish was far more difficult to understand than any Spanish I'd heard so far), and then told me to let him know if I was going to leave the room, which I found kind of strange. But not ten minutes later, he knocked on the door and showed up with half of a chicken, potatoes, fries, arepas, and fried plantains in a carryout box - clearly enough food for two people at least - and said it would be 14,000 pesos, or about $4.50.

Greasy, delicious food. I only ate about half of what was here, despite my hunger.
After a rather cold night (Bogota is at a pretty high elevation) I woke up and spent the day walking around Bogota a little bit. I had a few plans, but most of them got thwarted. The hike I wanted to do was closed, and the only other way to get to the top of that hill was a super crowded tram. The climbing gym I'd looked up was closed that day. The other things I wanted to do would have required taking a cab quite far away. So instead, I sat down in a coffeeshop and relaxed for the day, and prepped for the things I'd have to do to get the bike out of the container at the port in Cartagena.

Sorry, no hike.

There were some cool looking buildings in downtown Bogota though.
That night I caught a flight to Cartagena - while some of the guys I'd talked to on the other side were flying to Medellin and then taking a 13-hour bus ride to Cartagena, I found a $30 flight from Bogota to Cartagena and took that instead. When we landed, I split a cab with three Australian girls who I'd heard practicing their Spanish on the plane since their hostel was nearby, and settled into Cartagena.

I didn't know at the time that I'd end up spending the longest there that I had any place so far.

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