It's five o'clock in the morning and Panama City awakes. My parents and I separated ways two weeks earlier. It's still dark when we park the jeeps in front of `Luna`s castle`, the most popular hostel in Panama City. The group is waiting on time. With a big grin I walk towards them, 'Hey, good morning, are we all excited?’. A half awaken `yes` comes here and there from the group. I count the people and divide them over the jeeps. My eye catches a fun, spontaneous guy. I give him a charming smile: “Do you have a jeep?” `No, not yet.` Perfect`, I think to myself `you can go in a jeep with me.`
When all chicklets with their overloaded backpacks are crammed into the jeeps I send a quick whatsapp to Renèe, the coordinator, we are complete and good to go. The jeep is (coincidentally) full of boys. ‘So Sanza (a nickname I have kept from my stay at hostel` Lost and Found` see same-called blog), tell me honestly, as a tour guide, you must be doing well with the boys?`.
It is another great trip. Awesome group, everything very quiet, nice weather, calm sea, good vibes and a work willing team of Guna captains. The third day of the trip I suddenly don`t feel well. I'm freezing cold, which is strange when it`s 35 degrees Celsius. I wait a bit, but after the daily boat trip, I feel 10 times worse. Half awake, I help Jean with preparing the lunch and when everyone is happily munching on their sandwiches, I dive into my hammock. Senora Rosa Linda, the owner of the island, an old Guna woman, comes in my hut with the eternal charm of her traditional clothing and colorful jewelry. "I have some warm blankets for your Sanne, to keep you warm.” I thank her, throw two ibuprofens down my throat and fall into a deep sleep.
My hammock is suddenly swinging back and forth. It is Mogui, one of the captains. “Sanne it is Patricio on the phone.” (Patricio is a Guna with great respect, he coordinates the captains and all contact with the islands). “Sanne, please go to the hospital now while it`s still daylight, Mogui will take you together with Cesar. Mogui called me worried that you could fry an egg on your forehead. Let yourself get checked by a doctor and please let Jean take care of the group.” Yacob, a guy from Israel offers to come along. He was drunk, but he speaks fluent English and Spanish and since my Spanish with my feverbrain was pretty far away, it seemed for the best to take him.
After a burn-out it was time for a change. I quit my job, sold my stuff and bought a one-way ticket to the Dominican Republic. What was supposed to be a 4 month adventure turned into 2,5 years and counting......
Photo by: Vanessa Marques Barreto