I am sore, I am tired, and I am beaten. The last few days have been rough traveling from Palenque, Mexico to now arriving in Panama City. The first leg of the journey was a 6am bus trip to the Guatemalan border, a short boat trip, and another long bus until we eventually arrived in Flores, Guatemala 10 hours later.
From here we had 4 hours to explore the tiny island of which we only needed 2 and spent this rest of the time drinking 1 dollar Cuba Libres and ordering salads for once. It was a nice spot and I was sad to leave but our next bus was leaving at 9pm that night so we left Flores for Antigua.
Like every mode of transport in Central and South America the air conditioning is set to maximum regardless of outside temperature. Luckily I decided to wear jeans and bring a jacket but this did little to protect me from the cold. 9 hours of climbing up bumpy roads with increasing altitude and decreasing temperature we arrived in Guatemala City just as I thought I might die from hypothermia.
Being so high up, outside was just as cold and a group of us stood shivering for 30 minutes until a final bus took us to Antigua. I instantly fell in love with Antigua and it seems that love is in the air, every person you meet has the same story. “I was just passing through, and now I’ve been here for a week/a month/ a year”. It’s a hell of a town. Beautiful cobbled streets and old colonial colourful buildings all surrounded by lush green jungles and active volcanos. Because of this we wasted no time sleeping and took a tour of the city, walked to the lookout and went on an 8km hike up a volcano. Followed by some drinking with fellow backpackers, I must admit I was sad to go, I could have stayed there for weeks if we were not on a deadline.
After 4 hours sleep we were back up again and headed to the airport in Guatemala City. Only to be told we were not allowed on the plane because we did not have a flight out of the country. After much deliberation and trying to tell them that we were sailing to Colombia not flying they agreed to let us on the plane but assured we would be deported by Panama Customs on arrival. This of course did not happen and I am writing, sitting comfortably on a couch outside in my hostel in Panama.
I’m absolutely exhausted, but at the same time so enthralled. In the last five days I have journeyed through 3 different countries mostly by bus; I’ve seen ancient cities; I’ve taken local mushrooms on Mayan ruins; sipped on dollar Cuba Libres; nearly died of pneumonia; smoked weed with an ex-US Marine on an old colonial church; watched sunset on an active volcano; saw a volcano erupting gently; and all with a total of 10 hours sleep. It’s been crazy, and wild, and fast but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I always say life is about experience and I have managed to squeeze so much experience in this last week and a half in Central America. I can’t even imagine what waits in the Caribbean and South America. I think I am succeeding in my goal, I am living, I am not standing still and I am growing stronger as a human day by day. I love this place, I love this world, and love being alive.
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” ― Dr. Seuss (Antigua, Guatemala – Panama City, Panama)