Volunteering in Bambu Hostel, David, Panama

The day starts about like this:

6am Roosters and dogs start a competition “Who is louder”

6:15am Wake up and get dressed

6:17am Go for a run (if and only if there weren’t too many fun people in the hostel and I didn’t have to run a bar the night before to be able to wake up for an actual athletic run)

7am Come back to the hostel after a neighborhood run and talk to our 37 y.o. cleaning lady Ara.

7:15 am Take a shower, make a big pot of coffee for everyone, a huge pan cake with honey for myself, and check computers for any reservations. Then the morning passes by talking and saying goodbyes to travelers who are taking off either to Bouquete, Bocas del Toro or Panama City; getting their e-mails and facebook info to be friends forever and ever…

12pm Lunch time. There are a bunch of restaurants where a plate of rice and beans with chicken and a small salad cost around $2. I have also been buying food in a supermarket but since it’s such a shared environment here, it has been stolen by a hungry tourist a few times.

The main duties during the day are: answering phones, ordering beer and soda, going to the supermarket, making sure we have the reservations under control, and we have enough drinks to run a bar at night, the area and swimming pool are clean… feed the dog and cat
When in the afternoon people start arriving, there begins my favorite part of the job: “Making best friends.” 

For the past 5 days I met so many people that they start mixing up like peas in a pot. I start seeing the likeliness and can shortly write a PhD paper about “Reasons behind traveling.” When we open the bar, 3-4 hours go by unnoticed talking about other countries, travel stories, left behind routine lives, playing music and sipping brown rum of Panama.

Starting next week I will be promoted to be a manager which means I will get some money to cover my $2 meals J

Crossing the border: From Costa Rica to Panama

I am in Panama!!!!

After a day of getting cleaned, unpacked and re-packed after Cuba I took a bus to David, Panama. It was a 6 hour ride to the border with Costa Rica and 2 hours ride to David.

On the bus I met a very nice Tica who was going back and force between Costa Rica and Panama for medical treatments.

When we got to the border I was shocked. It was the most informal border I have ever seen!!! It looked like a big market place with a lot of fried chicken, fruits and hats.

When we went to get a stamp for Panama they didn’t ask me any questions and just stamped my passport. At the luggage claim, we all got into a big room with our bags, laid them on a big table and waited for a border representative. When he entered, we handed him the registrations. He asked me to open my backpack that was tightly packed with space bags full of clothes. Since it was too much work to take everything out, he touched it all throughout and let me go.

In David, I took a taxi to Bambu  hostel where I was meet by the managers and the owner.

TIPS: **Print out a 24 hour reservation on Copa.com from Panama to any other country. You might be asked for an exit ticket from the country and if you don’t have it, you would need to pay for a return bus ticket that you might never use.

** Taxi from the terminal to Hostal Bambu is about $2 (in 2012)