This post will probably continue for another few parts. My thoughts regarding the trip seems as long as the Harry Potter series, what is it up to now 7, 8, 11 books and movies? Anyway, back to the story at hand. Yes I know I haven’t mentioned threats, prostitution or the canal itself yet, but just wait its all coming… 🙂 … t o c o n t i n u e … One of the coolest things are (no not women of the night, well maybe) are these city buses called Red Devils (El Diablos). They look like school buses but the days of them being yellow are long gone. They’re decked out in various designs, portraits, saints, colors, neon, random artwork. Used for public transportation, very cool to see. Didn’t have a chance to get in one though, but from the looks of it, looks quite cramped.
A lot of guide books tell you people generally speak English in Panama City. Let me tell you something, that sh!t is false, the only people that speak English either work at your hotel or trying to get into your cab and what I find out later – take you to a sketchy masseuse parlor (I might have spelled that wrong). And that’s where the threat comes into play.
Meet Ricardo (for safety reasons, we did not attempt to take his picture)
A short dude with a Caribbean accent – who claims to be from a city in NJ. Fast talking chap. One thing I tell you, when you’re walking, even with your group of guys – you’ll often see some random dude you’re passing get up from the steps or from lounging and start following you. Sometimes they’ll yell and ‘pretend’ to help you out, often times, they continue to follow you even if you tell them you’re good. Which means you have to ‘lose’ them somehow. So Ricardo, fast speaking New Jersey Shore man wanted to show us a place to eat. We said we were good and continued on our way. Nope that didn’t work because he wanted to follow us, we said we’re good and got in the cab and start on our way. Well what do you know, he apparently knows the cab driver, hops in the front seat and tells the cab driver where to go. So we got man-napped without being napped. Very interesting. We tried to get out of the car, but the driver sped up and hit a left. We’re all thinking the same thing. “FUCK!! What the fuck just happened!” “No problem guys, we’re going to safe place, safe place, you’re ok guys” Ricardo keeps saying. That doesn’t help ease our concern at all. We’re waiting for the cab to slow down or get to a red light but the cab does 2 things: 1) Does not slow down at all and 2) Does not stop at red lights – takes rights / lefts / continues on. Finally, we get to our destination, ahem – I mean the destination Ricardo selected for us.
We get out and we’re walking – he’s says, ‘look man, look around, this is a good neighborhood’. I look around and I see a sketchy part of town – yea I know I said all of Panama City is fairly sketchy and this definitely was it. He claimed there’s a hospital here “see, good part of town”. Its obvious this guys never been to Cook County Hospital. In the middle of the day, this street had less than 5 people on it (excluding us), almost all the shops were shut down, boarded up windows, you know real shitty. That’s it. We continue walking, the 4 of us, 1 being our hostage tour guide Ricardo. He takes us in this building, We had to protect ourselves so 2 guys in, I stood outside just in case any shady shit happened and I can bang on the window. 3 seconds later they walked out and were like screw this, this neighborhood is shady as it is, we were worried we’d get jumped. We needed to exit quick. We leave without purchase and Ricardo is pissed. He demands we owe him money. We paid for the cab. HE WANTS MONEY!!! We refuse to pay him and he starts threatening us and on top of that, the guy that’s the biggest of all of us. Now, where the hell are we going to find a cab on this god damn street? We’re not. We keep walking as he continue to threaten us. ‘Come outside of your hotel tonight my friends, it’ll be your last night in Panama’ ” I will have all 3 of you killed tonight ‘ ’You don’t know who I am and who I know.’ It’s obvious he knows some people, after all he simply hi-jacked the cab we got in. He wanted his cash and this didn’t seem like the type of guy that’s willing to shell out change. Finally we get a cab after 30-35 minutes and get to our hotel. Guess what…. Ricardo is at our hotel before we are. ”FUCK!!!” He definitely see’s us and is pissed. We get change and we approach our fine friend from the shore. ‘I don’t want to talk to you, you wait, come outside tonight, just wait you think I kidding’ he says.
‘Listen man, you want your money?’ He turns and looks ‘We know you out here grinding all day man, it was a misunderstanding, we didn’t have the cash then dude. How much you want?
‘3 of you guys, 2 dollars, 2 dollars, 2 dollars. You owe me $6’
‘No, I said $6’
‘Keep the change, it’s a tip’
‘No, go get me $6’
I had to go find change because this mofo has morals all of a sudden.
Find a stand to get me some change and run back.
‘Ok man, we cool, we good you know I need to eat too man. I’m just working, and pissed me off – I show you some place and you won’t even give me a tip. We’re good though. You’re safe’
All this for over $6? Jesus Christ.
I still don’t trust this asshole. Regardless we need to do what we need to do tonight. We are going out. And that my friends, ends part Dos