One week before my trip to Panama, I freaked out.
I was reading the booklet sent with the trip’s daily itinerary and travel instructions. It didn’t look like the beautiful book Caravan tours sent to excite me to travel to exotic locations for very reasonable rates. There were no colorful photos of beaches, rain forests, and tropical birds. What I received after sending them a check had no colorful pictures.
Now there were warnings about mosquitos and sun poisoning and the need for an ample supply of repellent, sun screen, sanitizers, money belts and protective clothing. I would be traveling during the peak of the rainy season and the daily temperatures could rise to 100 humid degrees.
I was instructed to wear comfortable shoes for walking among ruins and on jungle paths, but told not to wander off the trail because of poisonous snakes and nasty monkeys. I was also informed that the walls in the beach hotel would have a damp and foul smell caused when the hot wet outside air met the interior air conditioning and to expect lizards and iguanas wandering about the tile flooring.
As I packed my $54 insect repellent REI pants and UV ray protected shirt, I was overcome with what felt like a fever and added more Tylenol to the immodium and pharmacy case with everything but snake bite serum. It was too late to cancel the flight on Con Air, the air line no one had ever heard of and with whom I was having a terrible time printing a boarding pass.
Of course I never travel without a few copies of my favorite book, and a handful of postcards and book marks, all shocking pink on the outside and inside.
I returned safely after eight days without suffering sun stroke, malaria, snake bite, a con air plane crash into the jungle or diarrhea. I was awed by my boat trip through the Panama Canal and the beauty of the rain forest and even the rain.
Most of all I was delighted with the new friends I met on the tour bus, at the pool, and over the many delicious meals we ate together. I got over my initial shyness about sharing “Confessions” with the people I met.
I took a picture of Gerardo Moreno, our very able guide sharing my book with a Saray Sepulveda. He’s been through the Panama Canal so many times he seemed happy to have a good book to read instead of lecturing about canal building. He did say he wished it was in Spanish.
Sandi Chetian kept her promise to buy the book on Amazon and sent me an e-mail telling me how much it made her laugh. Her husband, Bob will read it after cataract surgery. I took a picture of them going through the Panama Canal much more interested in my book than the locks at Mira Flores.
I could not resist placing my little book in the hands of two lovely mujeres I met at the Mercado selling their beautiful molas. It started out with my silly sense of humor always searching for a hidden book customer even at the beach with the jellyfish or in the Kuna Mercado.
But everything changed when I met Iguadinchligua, Sister of the Wind and asked her help at the Bio Diversity Museum with the names of the two charming Kuna ladies I met at the mercado.
I named my little friend, Maguiryai, Earth. Igua told me she was given a very American name because her grandfather worked for the U.S. government, but now preferred to be called Igua, short for Iguadinchligua and favored wearing the colorful clothes of her indigenes people.
Too bad my book wasn’t translated into “Confesiones de Una Rey de la Turistas.”
I always like to end a good trip and a blog with a little tropical romance. It would have been nice if John were older or I younger, but he was very curious about my book and me. I autographed the copy he bought and thanked him for making women of all ages feel desirable. He jokingly said that if the book was boring, he’d give it to one of the women in his church back home in Virginia. I warned him not to.
He invited me to visit him in Florida and said he’d push me around if I needed help. I think he meant in a wheelchair, but I hoped he meant on the dance floor.