So, I was lost in Panama. Sounds frightening, right? It was. And this isn’t me being dramatic, I was genuinely afraid.
Let me start from the beginning: I was travelling around central America, after flying more than 5,000 miles to escape the smog-filled bubble that is London.
I was used to travelling alone and honestly enjoyed the freedom. Don’t get me wrong, I am a sociable person, but to have the ability to go where you want, whenever you want, without having someone by your side, is all I have wanted in life.
After two weeks of sunbathing (burning) on the beach and drinking too much (alcohol) in Costa Rica, it was time to cross the border into Panama.
A few people had recommended a remote hostel, aptly named ‘Lost and Found’, that was hidden in the western hills.
It’s a steep stretch to reach the hostel, but the view from the top is so worth the mid-morning hike in the sweltering sun. I dared to lie in the swinging hammocks, overlooking the stunning mountains. It was breathtaking.
A while later, I started to feel peckish and headed out on my own in search for food. ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’ – *sighs* Aaaah, I’m glad I can now look back and laugh at that thought now.
The nearest store was a 10-minute walk away once you reach the bottom of the hill, and after a 15 minute walk, it was clear, that I walked in the wrong direction. Or the shop had moved. Either or, I guessed.
So, I had no idea where I was, I was tired, my feet were aching and I had no water or food on me. It was only late in the afternoon but I was scared. More than scared. Where was I?
I was out of my depth, with no idea what to do, I slumped down not the ground, and all the confidence I had previously felt about ‘travelling alone’ was starting to fade away. After what seemed like an eternity, I saw a glimmer of hope driving towards me in a white van. I held out my thumb, and closed my eyes in fear it wouldn’t stop, or worse still, in fear it would stop.
A short man with the biggest smile on his face, stepped out of the van, took one look at me and we stood there in silence.
He gestured me into the van, and so I took a chance. I breathed a sigh of relief as I sat in the passengers seat, with the cool breeze of the air conditioning and smiling family pictures posted all around. I told him where I wanted to go, and he just handed me bottle of cold water and turned the engine on.
I was starting to feel better when I heard the Spice Girls singing on the radio. Viva forever? Oh yes. I was going to be ok.