We had chosen our sailing base camp as Puerto Lindo due to the number of boats leaving to Colombia. What we didn’t know beforehand is that the town did not have internet and I had failed to let my friends and loved ones know that we were about to be out of touch for a week.
Did we mention that we arrived to the hostel to find out that the sailing trip is cash only? Our trip to nearby town Portobelo was a mandatory business affair.
The day started out a stormy one. It was Panamanian Independence weekend and the buses were running an hour late – if they had a schedule at all. The omens should have made themselves clear.
We found the nearest wifi point, did our online business, and withdrew the $900 needed for our sailing expedition.
I wasn’t taking any chances so I stuffed Shaun’s wallet into my underwear and pulled my baggy shirt over it.
After waiting for the bus for 2 hours we decided to share a taxi with another traveler. I was the only one who spoke Spanish and gave directions to the driver – hostel for us, Isla Grande for him. Money was exchanged and we left the taxi stoked that everything had gone so smoothly.
Or so we thought.
As we walked into the room Shaun tried to grab the wallet from my pants and I shot him a very confused glance.
“Dude. I gave it to you.”
I thought he was pulling my leg.
We stood there for a moment speechless.
THIS CANNOT BE HAPPENING. EVERYTHING was in that wallet for the day. Both our credit cards, our debit card, and about $1000 of cold hard cash.
Shaun dashed out of the room. I ran to the owner shaking and in tears. In disbelief and concern she screams for her husband Guido and he comes running out of his workshop in a panic.
I somehow sputter the previous events and he ran off in a scared, hurried manner – only to return with his motorbike. Seeing a manly man in such disarray made my heart drop.
He patted his backseat.
I threw my leg over and in a cloud of smoke we raced off.
It had been raining all morning and the roads were slick. Guido didn’t care. He was driving for our livelihood. He took the turns quickly and at such extreme angles I felt like we were in a race. We weaved in and out of country roads, passing cars, and driving into oncoming lanes. I was scarcely catching my breath.
Small grunts of fear escaped my lips.
Sweat filled my nostrils. Was it mine? I didn’t care, my adrenaline was pumping harder than ever before.
My entire body was frozen, holding onto Guido for dear life as he sped toward the Isla Grande ferry where our taxi mate was going.
We pull into the parking lot to see the taxi driver sitting waiting for a fare and I jumped off the bike.
I looked through the back window into the backseat.
I crawled halfway through the window, shaking, scouring every part of the car.
There is was, on the floorboards, still full of money and credit cards.
We had done so well the past 7 months, I think life was just giving us a heads up that shit can still go wrong.
We recovered EVERYTHING. Practically unheard of.
We arrived waving the wallet in the air. Shaun smiled. I let out a sigh of relief. We did a victory dance.
For the first time I wasn’t mad about something like this. I was just happy to have our monetary lives.