Sunday, 16 August 2009

Speak And Spell At the Panamanian Border

Just over the hill from Sapzurro lies the tiny village of La Miel in Panama. We'd walked over to Sapzurro one afternoon after a torrential downpour the previous night; Speckled literally had a mudbath, falling over on the slippery slopes a grand total of three times, while us steady-footed Lancastrians made it up and down incident-free. How we laughed.

We decided to make the trip by boat this time, and hike the steep path up to the border instead. Time was a factor, as were the bizarre inhuman roars we heard from the jungle on the first occasion. We certainly moved a little quicker after that, I tell you. A local diver I asked told me it was a bird. My arse.

We reached the peak separating the two countries, panting hard and pouring sweat. the guards at the top represented both armies, and we waited while they logged us out of Colombia and into Panama. We didn't get a stamp, which was a shame, but there you go. Then they told us to empty our bags and pockets for a search. I tipped out my few belongings and was cleared. Speckled had allsorts with him, and I glanced at Garfield nervously had as he upended his bag...fearing the bag of weed was about to drop out. Thankfully it was back at the room. The Panamanian poked through Jim's stuff, and I suggested he demonstrate the gadget he'd bought before flying out of England.

Speckled's struggling with the language a bit, but he is trying. We'd ridiculed him as a lazy, ignorant bastard for buying a little machine which looked like a cheap iPod: you can't type anything in to translate, it just has a selection of phrases you scroll through and press Play. Hilarious. And bloody useless: the sound quality is awful and features a nasal-sounding American woman guaranteed to alienate anyone you were trying to communicate with. The border guards loved it, Jim giggling as he scrolled through the most amusing featured phraseshad...the best of which being "Can I breast-feed here?" I think it made their day, to be honest...it must get boring up there.

We made the beach, and were the only non-locals there. Well worth the effort, the view is gorgeous. Clear waters in a beautiful bay, we spent a very pleasant afternoon. The Panamanian beer, Balboa, was a treat. I asked the old lady serving us if she knew the film Rocky, and made boxing mimes like pretending to punch my friends. She smiled patiently, not getting a word of it.

A drunken afternoon was rounded off with the inaugural Lancashire v Yorkshire Underwater Handstand Championships: myself against the ungainly, dexterity-poor Speckled Jim. Obviously, being from the same Lancashire town as me, Garfield was the unbiased judge. Lancashire had stormed to a 5-2 victory, when I offered Jim the first to 10. Not fancying his stamina would last, he suggested a best out of three. I smashed him 3-o on that one. Which was nice.

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