Ciudad de Panama
Hold the phone. Back this bus up. Because I am in Panama. Yep, you read that right. Panama. And oh my goodness, what a wild ride to get here. 
After a nice long and relaxing 2.5 hours of sleep Sunday night, I got to wake up bright and early at 2:30 AM so I could arrive at the airport in plenty of time for my 5 o'clock flight to Washington D.C.. After a three hour layover in the good ol' capital of Amurica, I finally stepped on a plane that would carry me off to a far-off-place, called, you guessed it, Panama. 

Now these flights went just about as swimmingly as possible. But then all hell broke loose. You see, I had sort of forgotten that this was my first ever time traveling to a foreign country by myself. Key word: foreign. This meant that I had to deal with passports, immigration, baggage, and customs, and oh yeah, all in a different language. So after freaking out about all of this and then realizing that my phone does not work whatsoever, I managed to...step off the plane. Phewf. So far so good. Passing through immigration also turned out to be no problem, but that was the end of the worry-free-travel experience. My first challenge? Finding my baggage claim. I dimwittedly realized I had no idea what my baggage claim number was. Luckily, a little common sense and the ability to read goes a long way, and I was able to locate it! But, I didn't get off so easily. Oh no. My bags decided they did not want to appear on the magical revolving thing that looks oh-so-fun to play on. With absolutely no idea of what to do, I made the educated decision to wait. And wait. And wait some more. And thankfully, after a mere 45 minutes of waiting, my bags finally decided to show up. The travel gods must be smiling down upon me. 

From there I decided to make a quick stop to the bathroom to apply some deodorant (I had begun to start to sweat), and to make sure that I was overall presentable to the group of people who were sure to have been waiting for hours to greet me. However, I was once again thwarted, this time by customs. After having several things on my form that I had left blank circled, talked at in rapid Spanish, and barred from exiting the airport, I started to panic. I had no idea what I was supposed to do. After asking a nice woman for help, she pointed me to the information desk. They were able to sort things out and I returned to customs, this time ready to be victorious. . .

And, I made it! Once I passed through, I immediately forced a smile on my face so I would appear super cool to my group, rather than a complete mess. As I stepped out the door though I lost my "cool" almost immediately. Overwhelmed by the large group of people milling around, holding signs, and being asked my multiple men if I required a taxi, I soon came to the realization that my program group was not there. Well. Shoot. After ten minutes and my panic levels reaching an ultimate high, I spotted a man decked out in board shorts, flip flops, a ponytail, and earrings, wearing none other than, a Rustic Pathways shirt. Thank the lord. Hallelujah. I'm saved!

So after that minor adventure I am now settled into our home base in Panama City with the eight other members of my group. Tomorrow I'm off to Bocas Del Toro to enjoy some Spanish, sun, and service! Cross your fingers that my flight tomorrow is a little less exciting...
10/20/2012 01:04:52 am

Glad you got there safely. Glad you are so resourceful! Hope your next adventures are not in an airport!


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