Puerto Lindo
Central America, Thoughts, Travel

A Lesson of Humility: Puerto Lindo, Panama

panic

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.”

“What?”

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.

VROOM VROOM!

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.

Nothing.

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.

29 thoughts on “A Lesson of Humility: Puerto Lindo, Panama”

  1. It’s incredible how hard you can work for something and then in an instant, it can vanish. Obviously 1000 is not all of your savings, but still that’s a significant amount. So glad to hear you recovered it!!! This story had my heart racingg 😉

    1. @Phil: Since we are on the last leg of our savings right now, the $1000 freaked us out to no end. I’m sure we could have had money wired to us no problem but they thought of having to wait in Panama until our credit cards arrived would be excruciating.

    1. @Amanda: It was really weird how calmly I handled it all. The adrenaline took over and I just took it moment by moment. Believe me, I have crazy Latina temper and poor Shaun has to take the brunt of it under situations like these. But this time – completely different.

  2. AH! You guys are SO lucky!

    I just left Cambodia but while I was there I caught a child no older than 5, stealing about $50 from my bag! It was an IN-TENSE situation and I still get shivers thinking about it!

    Glad all is well on the monetary front! 🙂

  3. WOW that was a close one! I’m so glad you recovered the wallet and found that exact same taxi driver. I would have been balling my eyes out too, that’s such a scary situation to be in. I think you guys deserve a drink!

    1. @Patricia: Luckily the town we had driven into was only like 1000 people but still – the tears were flowing for sure. (Note: I did drink myself stupid that night.)

  4. Wow – what an amazing story. I have to add it is amazing the kindness of strangers – the fact that the hostel owner would “risk his life” for you is pretty fantastic. I’m so glad you were able to recover your wallet!

  5. What an incredible story! You wrote it so well too, I’m sitting here reading it in suspense hoping you found it in the end! It’s so hard to keep in mind that even when you plan things to a T, things can still go wrong. On our trip a few weeks ago from Croatia to Romania, we had triple and quadruple checked prices and legs of the journey and times… and it still ended up costing way more than we thought because someone had misquoted to us. Fail. Glad you found it in the end, that would’ve been awful.

    1. @Dayna: I can’t even begin to tell you how sick I was after this whole ordeal. The amount of adrenaline that went through my body probably aged me 10 years alone. I’m usually super anal about making sure things go as planned (when I plan things) and it is the worst feeling in the world – knowing you have no control over a situation like this.

    1. Just thought you should know that I now have MC Hammer in my head and has been there for a few days thanks to this post. /sigh

      <3

  6. What a story! I bet your heart was in your throat the entire time. I cannot imagine loosing that much money during such a crucial time!

    I am making the trip to Panama and Colombia starting next week, so your blog has provided some great inspiration!

    Thanks and Happy Travels!
    Lacy

        1. Bocas del Toro – good for some diving (depending on weather), beautiful beaches, and GREAT parties. There is even Starfish Beach where they are all over!

  7. I made the trip to Puerto Lindo looking for a boat to Colombia. I stayed at Wunderbar Hostel. Since I would not book a ticket with the German owner of Wunderbar, I was asked to leave. I went to the port area, some 100 yards away and booked a ticket. The Colombian captain returned my $20 deposit because he had an informal agreement with the Germans from Wunderbar. The woman at Wunderbar was taking $150 per ticket!!! You can find a NAZI just about anywhere these days. I flew to Colombia rather than dealing with such a corrupt situation.

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