I finished my trip to Panamá shortly after six p.m. last night when I unlocked the door to the house on the side of the mountain. I accomplished everything I wanted to do in a whirlwind of activity.
Sunday took the bus to the city and checked in to La Jungla House Hostel at the edge of the El Cangrejo (The Crab) neighborhood which is where I have always stayed when in The City. It’s full of good restaurants and it’s probably one of the safest areas there, too. I can’t find a home page for the hostel but just Googling it will bring up dozens of hostel booking sites where you can check it out for yourself.
Hostels aren’t hotels and you have to accept that by hotel standards hostels are generally dumps. However hostels have some advantages over hotels which is why I prefer to stay in them. They are generally less expensive than hotels, especially if you’re willing to take a bed in one of the dorm-type rooms which I’m not. Dorm room = $10 Private Room $28. But I had A/C and a ceiling fan. The bed was comfortable and being at the back of the facility it was quiet.
Downside: shared bathroom. It was very clean but only cold water shower and sometimes when you REALLY gotta GO, someone else is using the place so you search for one of the other bathrooms which might be empty.
La Jungla is on the sixth floor (5th by their reckoning) and on Monday afternoon and evening the elevator was out of order. HUGE bummer!
They have a big kitchen and a lot of the really budget guests cooked their meals there. They have a GREAT, FREE, pancake breakfast. A local girl comes in and cooks them for everyone between 7:30 and 8:30. There is also a cooler where you can purchase a variety of cold drinks, sodas, Gatorade, beer, at reasonable prices or you can go to one of the “super minis” nearby and keep your stuff in the refrigerator.
What I like most about hostels is meeting the other guests. In a hotel you get your room, and unless there’s a bar/lounge in the hotel you never get to meet anyone else, and I’m not a bar/lounge habitue anyway. At La Jungla there were people from all over the world, but only one other old fart like myself. Here’s the lineup of guests I met there. They came from Brazil, Argentina, Israel, Australia, England, Wales, Sweden, Holland, Canada and a couple of other gringos who were in PC studying Spanish. The Canadian had ridden a bicycle from the US/Mexico border all the way to PC. He had 25 flat tires on his journey.
I got the the bus terminal Wednesday morning a little before 8 a.m. to find the line to the ticket counter for David stretching, no exaggeration, more than a city block long. It took an hour and twenty five minutes to get up to the counter to buy my ticket. I was absolutely positive that with all the people in line I wouldn’t get on a bus that would be leaving before the middle of the afternoon but was pleasantly pleased to be leaving on a bus only an hour later. One thing to remember on these nice, shiny new buses is that they are air conditioned and they love to crank it up full blast. Knowing this from previous trips I always carry a small travel blanket and it saved me yesterday.
We pulled into David at ten to five. The bus for Potrerillos Arriba leaves the terminal on the hour and there’s only one each hour. Fortunately my bag was one of the first unloaded and I was able to scramble up to my local bus gate and get on board about three minutes before it took off and I arrived back home at just after six o’clock, tired but satisfied with my little trip.