Thanks for the Banana, But Whose Livingroom Are We In?

We didn’t know what bus to take so we started asking. Bus drivers kept pointing us in different directions. It felt like we were ping pong balls, going back and forth, back and forth. Or maybe we were hot potatoes!

When we finally found the mini-bus that had “Parita” very clearly painted on the front windshield, we took our seat. Easy breezy. Not breezy at all actually, it was very hot.

As we were sweating it out in the back seat of the mini-bus, and as Matt was downing his Coke (for the caffeine, we weren’t successful finding breakfast) a woman started talking jibberish — I mean Spanish — to us.

I guess we looked like we didn’t belong. Or that we were lost. Or confused. She was asking us where we were going and when we told her Parita, she asked if we didn’t mean Las Tablas (a beach nearby).

No, no we reassured her. We were going to Parita.

A look of surprise and genuine curiosity appeared on her face, as if to say “What could Parita — a teeny tiny town basically unknown to outsiders and Panamanians alike — have for them? Surely, they should be going to the beach.”

In our best Spanish, we explained that we’re going to Parita first, and then to Sarigua National Park.

She told us we needed to take a taxi once we got to Parita. We knew that and agreed with her. 

“Si”, yes, as if those two letters, that one syllable could convey everything we wanted to say. 

Thank you so much for your help! We know we need a taxi but we don’t know where to get one. Could you let us know? Also, how much should it be? Sometimes people try to rip us off and we don’t have a lot of money. Where do we get off the bus? We’ve never been here before.

But, Si would have to suffice.

Even though we were able to get our point across, our best Spanish is pretty horrific. And as a result, I think the woman we were “talking” to was a little concerned for us.

When we got to Parita, she took us under her wing.

First she had us sit in an outdoor living room type thing. It seemed to be attached to her house. She told us how she had a student from Quebec living with her, so she must’ve been used to wildly rubbish Spanish (hopefully the student didn’t come equipped with a full Spanish vocabulary)…and also trustworthy…

She was really nice to us, and patient as we said “si” a million times to what I’m sure were not yes or no questions.

I have even more respect for people who’ve moved to Canada and are trying to learn English. It’s really hard to learn another language. And it’s really lonely and frustrating when you can’t get your point across – thankfully Matt and I have each other because a man oh man, if I was going at this alone…yikes!

As the woman arranged a taxi for us, she bought me a banana. How nice! 

Well, I’m not exactly sure it was a taxi she had arranged…after all, a silver car eventually pulled up and taxis in Panama are yellow with black and white checks.

This was more like someone she knew who had a car. 

Despite the very evident un-taxi taxi, we hopped in. The guy took us to Sarigua National Park after he dropped the woman at her home (whose outdoor livingroom had we been in?!).

Our driver was jabbering away at us like we could understand him. And maybe if we’d been studying our Spanish and practising like we were supposed to, we could’ve understood more than just his body language and laughter.

At any rate, I just kept repeating that I don’t understand. And he’d laugh either out of actual amusement or frustration.

I eventually just pretended like I couldn’t hear him.

– Cyn

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