So…need to take a bus somewhere in Panama? Here’s some tips on how to make the journey much more fun, and interesting, and…uh…fun.
As you may recall from a previous episode, my wife and I just did a border run at Sixaola, and in doing so, we rode many a bus from our hometown of Pedasi. Sometimes you get lucky (no, not that kind of lucky), in that you can get a movie on your bus. But more often than not, you’ll get music videos of scantily clad women gyrating while Puerto Ricans, Panamanians or Colombians “sing”. I’ll be brutally honest, taking the bus kind of sucks, but hey, it’s cheap, it’s affordable, and it’s inexpensive. Hey, did he just use three adjectives that pretty much mean the same thing?
Anyway, here’s an ocho list about…
8 Tips For Taking The Bus In Panama
- Guess why the bus has stopped. There’s a myriad of possibilities. Our drivers have stopped for: food, to sell potatoes, to pay a buddy some money, to take a leak, to chop down coconuts…just to name a few reasons. And here’s an actual conversation between my wife and I:
WIFE: Looks like we’re stopping.
ME: Maybe the driver has to take $#!T?
WIFE: Fair enough.
…and about 15 minutes after that…
WIFE: We’re stopping again? What now?
ME: Maybe the driver has to take a pi$$?
WIFE: Why couldn’t he pi$$ when we stopped the last time when you said he was taking a $#!T?
ME: Maybe he forgot. Haven’t you ever forgotten to take a pi$$ when you’re taking a $#!T?
WIFE: Fair enough.
- How many Pana-a$$es will brush my shoulder as they get on/off the bus? Conversely, you could play the A$$/Crotch game…when someone passes your seat, they have to turn sideways, so the question is, will they give you either the a$$, or the crotch? Odds are at least 4-1 you’ll get the a$$, so if you get the crotch, feel honored!
- Guess how many people will be forced to stand on the bus because they need to pack another person on so they can make 80 more cents.
- Pick a shortest drive distance. To do this, you don’t have to be exact. These buses will pick someone up, then drive literally 15 feet, stop, and pick up another person that was just standing there waiting as well. You may need pen/paper to record wagers and distances. This game doesn’t end until your journey does!
- Play “What’s touching me”? Could be someone else’s a$$, could be their purse, could be an elbow, fat roll, hand, or…it could just be your own paranoia.
- Will we leave on time? If you’re Spanish is good enough, you could probably get wagers from everyone on the bus. Buses in Panama have “schedules”. Some leave every 15 mins, some every 30, others every hour, the thing is, they don’t want to leave with two people on the bus, and I can’t blame them. So, take bets. Most coaster busses have a clock at the front, and I believe that clock’s sole purpose is so that people can place bets on what time the bus is actually going to depart. It’s kind of like a game of roulette.
- Play a sensory game like eye-spy with my little eye…or better yet…I hear with my little ear…cuz there’s some weird sounds that arise from those buses. Ya gotta love that nasal sound when you want to hork up something nasty. And hey, if those fail, there’s always “What’s that smell”?
- Play on the Waze app. If you’re lucky enough to get a signal on the road, leave your fellow road warriors a trail. Tell people about check-points, protests, flashers in trench coats, road kill, a good place to eat, traffic jams, accidents, street buskers and more!
Taking the bus in Panama is actually a great way to see the country. It truly is affordable and you can go from one end of the country (mas o menos) to the other in less than a day (mas o menos). So if you have any recommendations or tips on taking the bus in Panama then please, do share!