After the wedding we all got back into our clothes and just as we got into the canoe the rain really started. Of course we had left our waterproofs in the van so we sat in our shorts and t-shirts and wrapped ourselves in towels to try to protect ourselves from the rain. We had been told to keep ourselves dry for as long as possible for the paint to work before we washed it off. I could imagine what it would look like with rain splashes in it so tried to cover up where I could. I still didn’t really believe that it would last long. It went on like water and as I had suncream on before Lucila had put it on, I was sure it would wash right off but as we spent an hour on the canoe I could see the paint on Alex’s face getting blacker and blacker. Gaby and Hiske had their backs to us so we couldn’t see what was going on with their paint but as we got off the canoe and I saw Gaby’s face I couldn’t stop laughing! On the way back to camp we stopped to pick up a bottle of wine, poor Alex had to go into the shop wit his face painted, we couldn’t work out whether people found him scary or just thought he was insane. We laughed and talked about the day and how amazing it had been all the way back to the resort. We had left all of our things there thinking we could sneak there for another night but as we arrived we found a note pinned to the tent saying we had to leave TODAY! We packed up and moved out…towards Panama City. We found Colon first and tried a hotel there. As we drove through the town we felt less and less safe, people hung around on the streets seemingly with nowhere to go and all eyes were on us as we passed through the urban streets. We found a hotel and enquired about the price. It was expensive and would mean leaving our vehicles unattended in the ghetto! We decided to head out of town (35miles) to Portobello where surfing and diving is popular and therefore probably a little safer. The drive seemed to take forever and then after driving around for an hour to find a place to stop we were well and truly done in. It had been a long, wonderful but exhausting day. We found a cheap divers hotel right on the water and as their electricity was out they offered us a good deal for the night.
We ate dinner and drank the wine and laughed at our painted selves. We showered and scrubbed and soaped and scrubbed and soaped but to no avail. The pattern was getting blacker by the minute and as we got tucked up in bed I wondered what on earth I would wake up to.
As I had anticipated the paint was as black as night on Alex and I just looked like a dark smurf. We got up and went to meet Gaby and Hiske and they were the same. The sun was shining yet we all sat in our long trousers trying to hide our blue legs. By lunch time the boys decided to go snorkling, they donned their masks and took Alex’s spear out on its first real hunt. The divers told them to walk out from the beach 100 yards and there would be wonderful coral. They vanished out and within 30 minutes Gaby was back telling Hiske and I that we must go in as it was amazing. I tried my best and managed not to drown and made it out a little way and I did see some pretty fish but I just don’t like
it. Its just not natural and it takes me all my time to remember not to breath through my nose that I forget to watch where I am going. The waves pulled me along, close to the jagged coral as it rose to the surface and then disappeared again. One minute It was skimming the surface and the next there was a drop of 10 meters. It panics me and I set off back to shore to watch from dry land.
We spent 2 days there scrubbing in the shower and preparing for packing Peggy and Ravy onto the ferry to Colombia. We finally felt that everything would be ok, we had a plan to get ourselves to Colombia, we have Peggy and Ravy booked on a crossing and we were just in limbo waiting to get back on the road
Little did we know of the difficulties we would face over the next 9 days. We drove into Panama city with our instructions and a plan. We would go directly to the offices to get our police checks first thing. We would be there by 8am instead of the recommended 10am! That should guarantee a good start to the proceedings. We left sunny Portobello with a spit of fuel left in Peggy and set off for Panama. We made a plan if we ran out of fuel, Gaby and Hiske would take their drum and bring us the fuel back. We turned a bend in the road 5 minutes into our journey and joined the back of a huge queue of traffic! We sat for 5 minutes thinking it would soon budge but as people started to get out of their cars and walk we turned Peggy off and gave up on our early start. Alex made himself and Gaby a coffee and we sat for an age and waited it out.
Eventually we got on the road and filled up with fuel, we might be able to get there by 10 am if we found our way straight there!!! Hahahaha not a chance in hell. We got so lost so many times I lost count. We were so close the whole time but just couldn’t get there! Lack of road signs and a decent map had us stumped. We drove into every official looking building in the area and they all pointed us in a different direction. When we finally made it we felt so deflated. The queue of people lined the building, the car park was packed full and it looked unlikely we would get to the front of the queue that day. It was lunch time and the boys trooped to join the back of the line (with their tattoo’d faces and requested long trousers and closed shoes). Hiske and I stayed with our vehicles and started (rather optimistically) to pack our bags just in case a miracle occured and we had to hand our vehicles over that afternoon.
The boys soon came back and told us sadly that the office stopped accepting vehicles for checks at lunch time and that we should come back tomorrow!
Day 1 wasted.
We drove until we found a little cheap hotel with a carpark and Gaby and Hiske checked in. We decided to stay in Peggy to save the money. The rooms were $15 for the night or $12 for 3 hours so you can imagine the kind of place it was! We set up a table and chairs in the car park, made dinner and had a bottle of wine before bed and dreaded the day ahead. If we couldn’t get our police check the next day we would risk missing our ferry and having to stay in Panama City even longer!!
Find out what happens next on our travelling wedding adventure!
Or you can skip to Part 2 of the Darian Gap series!