Crossing the isthmus.
Today was a successful journey. It all started waiting in line for the ferry at 7:30. We were the first in line. However, when the ferry arrived they let other trucks embark first. I had to witness Alexandra using the full spectrum of the Spanish language before they would let us on the ferry. We would embark but then they would send us back and forth until they decided where we could finally stay for the passage. It was chaos and I was happy to travel with somebody who knows how to communicate. The ride went smoothly. On the other side we hurried to get up to the cloudy mountains. Although we experienced heavy rain and thick fog, everything went very well. Most of the ride was like a dream for me – I fell asleep several times. Sorry for not being a good co-pilot, Alexandra! I was simply too exhausted after everything we experienced during the first ten days here. This speaks for your driving skills. I absolutely trusted you. When I finally woke up we were already in the David area.
After driving for hours through the fog, rainforest, a surreal 3 months young highway (new Panamerican highway), and the touristy but quiet area of Las Lajas we made it to the hostel. We got a flat tire. Of course! So we exchanged tires in the heat being watched by 8 year old Eric, a knowledgeable local. His grandma offered her onion cutting board as a base for the gato (vehicle lifting tool). After this task was completed we drove back towards David looking for a gas station to fix the broken tire. We found a super helpful mechanic who sent us to the store (el chino – the politically incorrect way of calling supermarkets mostly run by Chinese here) to get a new tire and fixed it for us right away. The local people here are super friendly!
Right before it got dark we made it to the hostel [Casa Laguna Bed & Breakfast ]. A wonderful place! It is one of the only places in the area that meets all of our research requirements (space, fridge and freezer!). The hostel is run by an Italian couple. At the moment, her mother is visiting from Italy. When we mentioned that we were very hungry, the mother offered to cook us pasta for dinner, freshly imported from Italy with red wine and Turkish side dishes from the neighbor. It was fantastic. This is definitely not the rule for field biologists! I had been starving since the first night at Bocas del Toro… Alexandra and I enjoyed the meal on the porch talking about family and politics. The aftermath of a super blue blood snow moon eclipse was our only but wonderful light out there.
(no photos today because I am writing this post on my cell phone with Panamanian SIM card – I will add the photos later). (Note from David: Laetitia texted me some pictures and I added them, as well as a couple from my not-working-today below).