26 June 2010
Panama - David Express
So we are in the last two rows of the bus in the isle seats. You would think sitting next to the bathroom on the bus that I would be the one to smell urine the entire ride. I never did notice a urine smell from my seat, but apparently Michelle did. She asked me later if that was bothering me during the trip because it was very strong where she was sitting. The only thing I notice was that it seemed like a lot of heat was coming from the guy next to me and I felt nauseous the entire trip. I later found out I was getting hit with exhaust from the motor and smelling diesel fumes the entire time.
So one major tip for riding the Bus from Panama City to David. DON'T sit in the back of the bus!
The guy I was next to was sleeping almost the entire trip, so he kept the window curtains closed. I had a difficult time seeing out the window on my side so I kept looking out the opposite side of the bus. I think this one lady thought I was staring at her because she kept looking at me funny. What I was able to see absolutely blew me away, it was so beautiful.
The guy next to Michelle kept their windows open almost the entire time so she had a much better view. We were on the right side of the bus, and when you are going from Panama City to David you want to be on that side. Most of the really amazing views are on that side of the bus, such as waterfall off of a cliff in the middle of nowhere.
After about 2 - 3 hours we stopped and everyone started to get off of the bus. We were really confused because we expected a longer trip. We also didn't know what to do because we had never paid for a ticket. So as we were exiting the bus the driver told us how much we owed, $13 per person from Panama City to David. We didn't know where we were and this didn't look like the 3rd largest City in Panama. I noticed that most of the people were not getting their luggage off of the Bus, then the bus helper held up ten fingers twice and pointed back to the bus. Apparently this is a stop for food and a bathroom break that last about 20 minutes.
Not for the squeamish: The bathrooms there are not what I would call clean. In the men's several were taped up with apparently out of order signs. I noticed none of the stalls had toilet paper in them and then I noticed a sign for toilet paper $.15. So it is not provided for free to the men, Michelle said the womens did have toilet paper but you might have to buy refills. Oh, the best part is when you go to wash your hands. There is no soap! It wasn't out of soap, you didn't have to buy soap...there was no location for soap! All you have is tap water, and no towels or dryers to get your hands dry. So everyone comes out of the bathroom drying their hands on their clothes. So you kind of just realize everyone has dirty hands.
We used hand sanitizer. :)
So back on the bus everyone just sits back in the seats they had before and we continued on to David. Another hour or so we came to the boarder between the Veraguas province and the Chiriqui province (where David and Volcan are located). Here is a large checkpoint where the National Police stop everyone and check your legal documents. Show me your papers! (That one is for you dad). The officer just goes from the back of the bus to the front and everyone shows their identification, Panamanian or Passport/Visa.
When we got to the bus station in David,we got off the bus not knowing where to go for the bus to Volcan. But there was a guy with a dolly that was trying to talk with Michelle and at first we just ignored him. I did hear him say "Boquete?" So I turned around and said no Volcan. At that he jumped into action, getting our bags from under the bus and loading them on his dolly. He then quickly took us over to where the bus going to Volcan was located. We tipped him all of the small bills and change that we had (about $3.50) and he seemed fine with that. I was actually very glad for his help because it was on the other side of the terminal and the actual bus we needed was labeled Cerro Punta and not Volcan.