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  • Writer's pictureJoanna

Life is Life

I left the San Blas Islands… a day earlier than I had paid for.

I packed up all my rain-drenched belongings and hit the sea…

Maj Lis and Danny had originally planned to stay in our tropical paradise until 3pm, but they, like myself, had had their island oasis spirits dampened by the storms.

Life is life was still Danny’s motto… but perhaps somewhere more dry.

I hatched my wagon to their star, and quickly climbed aboard their water taxi, departing the island at 7:30AM.

In my rapid-fire escape… I forgot my earbuds on my pillow.

the bad luck continues

I do have to quickly make mention of the Guna Yala flag. First glance, I was overcome with the sensation of pure evil… as it is almost identical to that of the Nazi flag. But… it is a central, left-facing swastika, whereas the Nazis used an angled, right-facing one.

Adopted in 1925, after the rebellion against Panamanian suppression, the symbol is seen to represent the four sides of the world or the origin from which peoples of the world emerged.

Our ocean journey was a little rough, and the sea was still wild in the aftermath of the evening’s disturbance. To make matters worse, our boat ran out of gas, and in the middle of fairly turbulent waters, we all had to transfer vessels. It was difficult enough getting in and out of these water taxis when they were docked… let alone trying to navigate between the two, as they rocked back and forth, bobbing and weaving between the violent waves.

Back on land was as equally confusing as it had been when we first arrived, though this time, there was more puzzled people under the small rain shelter. The man who appeared to be in charge, looked overwhelmed by all the chaos, and just kept saying, “cars will come.

It was not a particularly consoling declaration.

Cars came.

Cars went.

We all just stood there, evading the chronic drizzle and trying to exercise the art of patience.

Finally Danny took matters into his own hands and, wallet open, approached one of the drivers.

$50 per person.

We were off.

The journey back took another 3.5 hours and when we eventually came back into cell service, I booked The Princess Panama for the night. It was 3 stars… reasonably priced, right in the heart of the city… and came with the promise of all the simple luxuries.

Towels, toilet paper, soap… running water…

i felt like I was over-indulging, and as I stepped into the room, I was singing “Movin’ on Up” and doing a little jig.

I would not have survived one more full day and one more long night of terrifying storms in the San Blas Islands.

I was still angry about my entire transaction with Paola… and decided to dive deeper into our previous conversations. Upon investigation and a closer look at my invoice, I discovered I had already paid for vehicle and boat transportation fee.

It was time to demand a refund.

Our correspondence had already hit an all-time low, but it was time to fall off the floor. I told her I was disappointed with my accommodation, the weather, the boat of children, her professionalism, her complete lack of attention to detail, her insufficient communication… and most importantly, her customer service.

Of course, the weather was 100% no one’s fault… but this woman had literally raped and pillaged at every angle. The world‘s top worst travel aide… she won.

She continually shot back at my verified accusations with apathetic defence, ludicrous excuses and nonsensical protestations, which only served to annoy me further.

She tried to side-step her way out of absolutely every allegation, but when I proved how she tried to swindle me out of payments on more than one occasion, I had her backed into a corner and there was nothing more to discuss.

I got my refund.


I probably should have received more, but I had already wasted enough of my energy on this woman.

Ciao, Paola.

It felt good to be back in a hotel that actually had some of the personal amenities I’ve grown accustomed to receiving when I dish out an absurd amount of money.

I wandered around the city that evening, comforting myself after a few wearisome days… and prepping myself for what lay ahead…

Bocas del Toro! A tropical paradise…

I treated myself to a couple glasses of wine and then headed back to the hotel, for an early night. I made the mistake of turning on the TV, thinking I might enjoy a little music. Much to my dismay, as soon as it was on, it wouldn’t do anything… let alone turn off!

I had to go down to reception and arrange for a maintenance person to come to my room. Before the visit though… they both kept asking me if I had tried pressing the Power Off button.

Seriously… people.

First TV attempt in 6 weeks. Also my last.

My Panama Princess had a mini bar. Actually, it was less of a mini bar and more of a concession display. Desperate for something sweet and a burst of energy after a long day, I grabbed the Hershey bar and shoved it in my mouth. After a 5 day feast of fried chicken, octopus and plantains, I appreciated the temporary substance… and the sugar.

Little did I realize it would set me back $5. In fact, every single one of these “not-so-complimentary” provisions was horrendously overprice.

If you were playing The Price is Right in my room, you would lose miserably.

Chocolate Bar $5

Shampoo $3.50 (equal in amount to that of a free ketchup package)

ONE Condom $12 - … no words

Razor blade $5

Candy $4

That means you could get 3 packs of candy for the same price as ONE condom. I was staying at a hotel that, quite clearly, promoted obesity AND babies!

A tiny tin of Vienna Sausage? $25.

… and WHO doesn’t want to nimble on some delicious Vienna Sausage after safe sex?

No one.

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