When I first landed in San Jose, I was feeling predictably bummed out about not being able to see my boyfriend for a solid month. Turns out, I’m pretty into him. I tried to hide this as best as I could from my travel buddy Aslyn (I failed miserably, that poor girl had to listen to A LOT of whining.) However, as we mentally and spiritually adjusted to the Latin American experience, things began to lighten up. Then, randomly, in a shitty hostel in Panama City, everything got super cool.
Meet Ruben. A Dutch guy with great taste in music who was traveling solo (though he was never alone a full day, this guy is charismatic as all hell) around the world. When we caught up with him, he had arrived to the Americas fresh from South East Asia. He struck up a conversation in the hostel kitchen while making himself a questionable meal of packaged meet on toast.
Then there was Audra, who approched me while I lay, half dead, on a couch the next morning suffering a pretty intense hangover (see above picture). She began drilling me about things to do in Panama City, and asked if I had been to the Canal yet. Ruben entered the conversation. Turns out none of us had, so the day’s plans were formed.
Once we all checked off the mind numblingly boring and crowded Miraflores lock from our bucket lists, we spend a few hours waundering around Casco Viejo, the old historic section of Panama City. To our mutual relief, a beer stop was quickly agreed upon.
After a long hard day of being awesome and exploring an equally awesome city, we headed back to the hostel to enjoy some drinking games and Dutch lessons.
We all had such a great time together that the next day we decided to travel together to a place that Ruben wanted to visit, Boquete. First on the agenda: zip lining. Obvs.
It was an amazing experience, but it was cold up there, so things did get a little nippy. I should really learn to wear a bra.
After a day of ziplining, we opted for some intense hiking.
We got pretty lost on our way to find some hot springs, and ended up wandering around aimlessly for a while. (But when you’ve got a 6 pack in your hand, who cares if you’re lost?) After a while, and a tense situation involving Ruben alarming a monkey in someone’s yard, we found what we came for.
Turns out, sitting in hot water after getting really sweaty and drunk isn’t quite as pleasant as it sounds, so we decided to jump in the nearby river to pee/cool off.
Oh, and have a sexy photo shoot. Of course.
Since no one wanted to say goodbye at this point, so we figured we may as well head down to Santa Catalina with Audra, for free surf lessons and more drinking sessions.
This turned out to be a fantastic decision. The tiny town has no atms, questionable wifi, and some really awesome people.
Since my birthday was on a day Audra had to take a bus back to Panama City to catch a flight, we celebrated the day before. Ruben and Aslyn woke me up by telling me that Audra had a drink for me at the bar (causing me to love her unconditionally). It was wonderful. Afterwards the four of us and a random Jamaican guy named Morgan all rented kayaks and headed out to a little island.
We finally made it, where we proceeded to drink, explore, jump rope, and eat the coconuts.
It was a great day. I have no idea if the island even has a name, but I loved it there. There is a video somewhere (ahem, Audra!) of us trying to jump rope and me failing horrible.
My pre-birthday wrapped up with my group passing out, exhausted, leaving me to find a couple of Russians to drink with. They even built me a beach fire.
The following day was a sad one. We left Audra to go back to Panama City, and for the remaining three of us to spend the night in David before Aslyn and I headed back into Costa Rica, to the Osa Penninsula. We tried to convince Ruben to come with there us, but all he did was buy me beers and take us to a cockfight (which was admittedly pretty cool).
Saying goodbye to Ruben was tough. He was my drinking partner. You can always rely on Australians, Canadians, and Dutch guys to drink with you until the beer runs out. I like those sorts of people.
So Aslyn and I continued on, where we found the amazing little surf town of Dominical, Costa Rica. I fell in love with it, and the people there. But that’s an entirely different photo essay.