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?`.
I grin back at them, and give them a wink, “Don`t you guys worry about that.” "And ... what`s the Colombian situation? Is there a job opening?" I burst out laughing. “Well, there just happens to be a vacancy. My boyfriend from Capurgana left to Medellin. Oh, what reminds me boys, Jean is about to quit, so if you enjoy the trip, I'm looking for a new assistant”.
The trip goes smoothly. Here and there a tourist drinks too much, some of the Guna captains or Jean. There is a girl who is bitten by a monkey, so off we went to one of the charming Guna hospitals. But as always, I did not have too much time to hang out with the group. Something I was quite moody about, given that I'd like to spend some time with that charming Australian. Fortunately on day three of the trip nothing special was going on and after I finished the dishes I made some time to get into the sea. Many come in to join. One of the guys has bought me a beer. “Here Sanne, because you work so hard for us.” I give him a wink and cheers my bottle against his. There is laughter and talking, and after a while the conversation ends up at the `job opening`. Grant, the charming Australian boy, says he is interested and promises to write an application letter that same night.
That evening he puts, right after supper, a letter in my hands. “Which opening does it concerns?” I ask. “The most important one”, Grant replied with a wink. I take the letter with an open grin. When my eyes fell upon `qualities` including charming smile, good hugs, etc. I knew enough `hired`.
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