Getting my life belongings into 3 suitcases seemed quite the challenge. But then 3 friends were traveling to Panama at the same time too so they each agreed to take another for me. How excited I was to now be able to take 6 suitcases. My excitement dwindled as my journey unfolded and began to show just how many times those suitcases needed to be moved from one place to another.
Many of the things I “learned” about Bocas del Toro proved to be just a little different than my understanding of them. The one thing I thought I was sure of was my friends’ apartment I was supposed to stay at. Upon arrival, the place wasn’t at all in the condition they anticipated (they’d been gone for quite a while) and in, from my perspective…a less than desirable part of town. I moved to a delightful Bed & Breakfast called Las Olas, thanks to an Angel assisting with the cost.
It was recommended that I take most of my money in traveler’s checks since I “wouldn’t want to be carrying lots of cash around”. Well, as of a couple months ago, no one in Bocas takes them any more and maybe no where in Panama. Beers were supposedly 3/$1 and your could take a water taxi anywhere around for 50 cents. Actually I don’t drink beer but, for the heck of it, every menu I saw had beer from $1 (happy hour) up to $4. The water taxi drivers seemed offended when we gave them 50 cents and insisted on a dollar or more.
I planned on scouting out property and working locally (which I was also informed would be no problem) while I worked on my Birth Plan aka Business Plan for the Spa Retreat. Prices quoted around $90 just to look at a property. People were begging me to teach fitness as they had no one around like me (fancy that). However, I was supposed to hire and attorney to get a work permit and proper migratory status to get that. We are talking around $2,000….maybe more. Heck, if I had the $2,000 burning a hole in my pocket, I wouldn’t be looking for the income opportunities.
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Now, of course, I expected things to be a little different but not the adventure of wandering around town for 3 days before finally being able to get a phone. Hadn’t anticipated the challenge of having all the instructions, prompts and recordings in Spanish either. What was I thinking? It seemed like I was running into a wall with every turn. In spite of the mailbox place being open from 8-5 daily, every time I went, they were closed.
Hmmmm, not supposed to get an address, my housing didn’t work out, people make way less around there (as anticipated) but groceries cost way more, I couldn’t assist those I desired to without compromising myself! Even the beach I desired to be at cost me money to go to. While I admit to having my moments of frustration, I know everything happens for a reason and I didn’t go to Bocas for nothing.
I was able, with the help of a legion of angels, to see some properties and a couple have potential for the Spa Retreat. I now have at least 20, maybe 30, new friends that I know I have touched in a positive way. Some of these people may also be able to assist me down the road. I did see plenty of Paradise with my breath being taken away a few times. Most people were kind and friendly and there’s no price you can put on those children's smiles. Having breakfast daily with exquisite fruits in the open air over the water was amazing. I strongly advise the “swinging in the hammock hypnotized by the waves” meditation!
Ok, I wasn’t getting to far quickly and spent 3 or 4 times the amount of money I’d figured on spending by then. While I got signs from the Universe regularly that I was headed the right direction (kind of like a treasure hunt), it was clearly showing me that this wasn’t the time to stay here. As I thought about returning to the states, turmoil arose inside me. So I put my situation out to a few friends. One was my dear friend Patti who recently moved from Canada to Costa Rica with her husband. Patti Angel graciously offered to host me and assist until I could get clarity about what direction Heaven wanted me to next go.
Taxi from Las Olas to Bocas Marine (5 minutes)
Boat from Bocas to Almirante (1/2 hour)
Taxi from Marine Co to Almirante Bus Station (5 minutes)
Missed first bus due to first being overcrowded and no room for one, no less, 6 pieces of luggage
Bus/Shuttle from Almirante to David (5 hours)….
Now I must comment on this trip. I was jam packed with a bus full of people that didn’t speak English and my luggage was strapped towering over the top. Fortunately one doesn’t need to know the language to play with a 2 year old child next to me. After the first few dozen stops, I lost track of how many we actually did. About halfway through the trip, my little friend moved on at the snack/restroom stop. At that point I scored a window seat.
The views were breathtaking – magnificent foliage of seemingly infinite varieties, dozens of gorgeous waterfalls, mountaintops playing peek-a-boo in the clouds and I even saw a huge, aqua blue butterfly…exquisite! Kinda felt like Alice in Wonderland. During the trip the radio played intermittent American Pop. For those who know the significance, Abba’s Mamma Mia is also played in Panama.
Ok, I thought I was ready for David from the descriptions I got from everyone. I got to the bus station where I couldn’t find anyone who spoke English. I could hardly find a bus station, heck with checking the numerous schedules I was told about. Found an office that held two persons….only info I could get was there weren’t any more buses going to Costa Rica until tomorrow morning.
The Universe was indeed having fun with me. I asked a taxi driver (who couldn’t speak English), to take me to a hotel. We ended up driving all over the place and, although he wasn’t too thrilled with me, was a fairly good sport. Thanks to angels intervening over my fast diminishing minute phone, I actually landed a lovely hotel. I went to the restaurant inside (which actually had linen tablecloths) and had a 5 course meal for $3.50! Now that was a drink only in Bocas!
Next morning blessed with an English speaking taxi driver who assisted me in finding the right bus for Costa Rica. Comfortable bus and beautiful scenery on the way. Was a little wondering how I would handle the border when one of the passengers saw how much trouble I had finding someone to speak English. The “do you need some help” from him was met with huge relief. They went through my entire luggage on the Panama side, had to get in another line to show documents and even pay to leave the country.
At least I entertained everyone at one point. Going through 6 suitcases so many times….I thought the guy re-zipped one of the big bags and heaved it off the counter flinging the contents including bathing suits and underwear all over the ground. Then we got to do it all over again on the Costa Rica side except without dumping the luggage. If my English speaking angel wasn’t there I probably would have thought the bus left without me since it crossed over the border through all the buses and cars and we had to walk.
Traveling on the bus again I was sending telepathic messages to the driver since the bus was headed to San Jose and he (if we communicated properly) was going to drop me off at Palmar Sur. As I did so, a beautiful butterfly flitted onto the bus around. Actually, all along the way animals positioned themselves to let me know they were angels too.
Thankfully, the bus driver did remember to stop and just as we unloading the luggage, my friend Patti pulled up in perfect timing. While she and I had never met in person before, it was like a long lost sister reunion. Her place in Ojochal is in the mountains with a lovely view of the ocean. The foliage and animals around are amazing. Even got to see fireflies that evening. It feels so good here. I am breathing refreshing air and eating food my body prefers more. Have some things in the pipeline already that I’ll probably share about later.
Panama awaits for my return some day. In the meantime, I am in a place I can play peacefully with my Spa Retreat’s Birth Plan and enjoy the journey.
If these musings have entertained, inspired or motivated you, please consider making a contribution to keep them coming. I am in the process of getting a website for the Spa Retreat & setting up PayPal too. In the meantime, you are welcome to mail a check payable to ”Michelle Hazlewood” to:
c/o Natasha Hazlewood
4207 Riverglen Street
Moorpark CA 93021
Until I can get the new website going, I will attempt to post some pics on Facebook. Attempt, because I am new at photography, uploading pics and not sure if current internet will accommodate. You can “be my friend” on Facebook…just add Michelle Hazlewood.
Muchas gracias all for your enthusiastic support….financial, professional contributions, advise, research, energetic, e-mails, FB messages and all. Without you, I couldn’t have gotten this far.
Blessings, Appreciation & Love ~