When I wake up and climb out of my sarcophagus berth we have already anchored. We’ve arrived at mainland Panama. Mainland! We stuff our luggage in the dinghy, row to the dock and strap our backpacks back on. I talk to a strongly tattooed girl on a big Katamaran. She has just introduced herself overzealously friendly because I am from Holland.
“Do you happen to travel with Marihuana?”
It’s the common question. The one and only thing that makes a Dutch person interesting is the dope he carries around wherever he goes. Sssst, don’t judge them too quickly. You might have the first impression you are interesting for the possible stimulants in your pockets, but maybe your first impression is wrong. Maybe the marihuana question is innocent smalltalk and you are the one judging too quickly.
-“No, unfortunately I don’t. And where are you from…?”
Meanwhile, the others have arrived at the dock and we are ready to roll. Re-entering our dominion of overland traveling makes us feel firm and confident. From Portobello we hop on a bus to the city of Colón at the Caribbean end of the canal. The city has a very bad reputation, crime rates are beyond imagination according to Lonely Planet, and a stay here equals suicide. The filth and the persistent beggars at the bus stop confirm this reputation, and we catch another bus to Panama City. It’s business as usual: we get dollars at the ATM, have lunch in a food court American Style, share a taxi to a German owned hostel where we hang out and make extensive use of the internet.