Month two: Crossings

Month two has been wonderful. I’ve met many more travellers from all over the world, improved my Spanish and made an ocean crossing. I am still scared of bugs.

Places visited: Peru (Cusco, Machu Picchu, Lima), Colombia (Bogota, Cartagena), Panama (San Blas islands, Panama City, David, Alimarante, Bocas del Toros), Costa Rica (Puerto Viejo, Cahuita).

Currencies: Nueve Soles, Colombian Pesos, Dollars/Balboas, Colones.

Time differences: -5, -6, -7 GMT.

Modes of transport: Plane, taxi, car, bus, water taxi, sailboat, chicken bus

Favourite things: Spanish lessons in Cusco, the Inca Trail, stepping onto a deserted island, everything about Panama City, seeing a sloth.

Worst things: Colombian immigration, waking up in Bocas to a powercut in the sweltering heat.

What I should have brought: Litres of insect repellent.

Items bought: T-shirt, necklace, book, sundress.

Items lost: Pants. Very upsetting.

Books read: State of Wonder, Born to Run, The Handmaid’s Tale, A Thousand Splendid Suns, How to Travel the World on $30 a Day

Illnesses and injuries: Sunburn, seasickness, carsickness, general vomiting, scrathes, insect bites of all types.

Strange/ Interesting food: Lobster out of the shell, Dairy Queen

Best food: BBQ fish on an island with coconut rice, Jamaican jerk chicken

Coming up in month three…Costa Rica and its rainforests, Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala. Expecting a lot of volcanoes and beaches!

Take me home to paradise city

Panama City is fantastic. It seems to be the perfect mix of Latin American playfulness and more modern development. Good public transport, trees and parks everywhere, and an abundance of choice when it comes to food, shopping and bars – I can’t think of much I would change about this place.

I’ve been staying in the old town – Casco Antigua – which is so beautiful I just want to wander around staring all day. It’s a world heritage site, with clean pavings, cool artwork and stunning white churches in amongst the older rubble.

You can walk or cycle along the waterfront (I did both), taking in the view of the city on your left, with skyscrapers in the most interesting formations and colours. They have strange public art everywhere (example: a statue of frogs, with smoke coming out of the bottom) and fashionable locals.

There’s a fish market not far from here, where you can try the traditional cerviche, or some fresh fried fish. Some streets bustle with noise and crazily-painted chicken buses, a row of barber shops under a bridge – and then others showcase major brands from around the world and trendy rooftop bars. It’s international and you see and hear people from all over Latin America here, with many signs in English.

The city is gearing up for elections at the moment, so there is a lot of hubbub in town, and scaffolding being elected for some kind of public gathering. People wear T-shirts and hats featuring their preferred candidate, and there are posters all over the city.

More than anywhere else I’ve been, this feels like home. It is exciting and comfortable at the same time, always with something interesting going on. While the Americanised bits might put other travellers off, as a States lover these only serve to enhance the city.

Sailing the high seas

The Independence sailed from Cartagena on the 19th – we started with a full day crossing the open sea, before travelling between the San Blas islands. The islands are almost too beautiful, with white sand and clear blue water, complete with coconuts and palm trees.

Our captain was fairly crazy, but the other travellers were a really nice group of people, who I‘ve still been hanging around with now we are in Panama.

We ate fresh lobster and drank rum, jumped off masts and went snorkelling. Stepping onto some of the smaller islands felt really deserted; it‘s something I’ve been fascinated with for so long, actually being there was quite surreal.

I‘m really glad I got a taste of life at sea – although it has made me reconsider my future calling as a sailor. 

Meanwhile, I am busy falling in love with Panama City. More soon!