It has been one year since I crossed the final border of Central America into its southern most country… Panamá. I stayed a total of 2 nights there with most of the daylight hours spent rushing along the Pan American Highway in order to catch a boat.
It was the way in which to get my motorcycle and me around the Darien Gap. After a couple days cruising around the San Blas Islands and 30 hours rocking on the open waters of the Caribbean Sea, I would land in South America. I remember calling a friend the night before I boarded the Stahlratte saying, “everything is going to change.” I didn’t know how, but I also didn’t know how right I was. I thought it was just my fears creeping up about passing where no roads go, and so there would no longer be any highway to lead me home. All I knew was when I reached Colombia, there was no turning back. Not that I really wanted to, but the option of availability was comforting.
I never could have imagined, that a boat ride plus 12,000 miles and one year later, I would be returning to Ciudad de Panamá. Even though I grew up in Southern California, this place is far from familiar. With a population of 3.6 million in the entire country, I left Los Angeles, which has more than that within its city limits. I used to complain that So. Cal. was limited on seasons… here I eat my words. Only 9 degrees north of the equatorial line, Panamá is reliable for 12 hours of sunshine and 12 hours of nightfall, every day, 365 days a year. It’s hot and humid, but has some of the best lightning and thunderstorms flash across the sky beyond its modern high-rise buildings. The birds that squawk in the morning hours remind me of the trees in Los Angeles that hosted flocks of wild parrots, but the diversity here is much greater than someone’s lost pet. And what about the language difference? Well, that is still a work in progress… besides, isn’t immersion one of the best ways to learn?
The idea that this nomad is settling down for a bit is a new one. I welcome the opportunities that have presented themselves within the last 6 months. Accepting the chance to explore a new place while continuing to work on ideas and projects of future adventures, only time will discover where this new road leads me. Because if it’s anything that the boat trip taught me: you can plan, but you never truly know where life is going to land you.
Bienvenidos a Panamá!