I was put into a car with a very kind man who barely spoke any English and to make things more awkward my Spanish was not up to par as I hadn’t spoke to someone in Spanish for over a year. They had split us up so that Ella and I wouldn’t just ditch them and try to escape but let me tell you, it was a little freaky. The man and I made small talk and spoke to each other in a mix of English and Spanish. He had the A/C blasting making my skin feel cool and refreshing. It was an hours drive, we arrived at the customs impound building and it there we learned they would be keeping the van until the next workday which was on Monday, meaning we would be homeless for 3 days. They said to be back on Monday morning when they opened up again to retrieve Dory. We got the paperwork sent in and was called a taxi to take us to a hostel for the weekend.

After unpacking the van of our essentials which consisted of our bathing suits, our small cooler with some food, Lelas food, our towels and surfboards. Not knowing where to go we asked to be taken to the nearest hostel on the coast. For our sanity and mental health we had to be by the ocean. The city air was clogging our lungs with fumes and the salt water was calling, not to mention our form of meditation was surfing and after this big debacle it was needed. The sweet taxi driver drove us around helping us find a safe hostel. We first stopped at one that was only accessible by boat and the only available way of transportation was a group of men who wanted something other than money in return for a boat ride. Ella and I were half asleep in the back of the small car squished with all our belongings and the two surfboards between us. The taxi driver came back to the car after hearing what the men said about us and told us it wasn’t safe for us to get a ride from them. We drove on and into the night, I dosed off for what seemed like only minutes and we had arrived at a small hostel in the little village of Las Lajas in Chiriqui. We graciously thanked the taxi driver who took such good care of us, paid our fee and unloaded our things. Before us stood a brightly painted and decorated hostel called Johnny Fiestas, owned by a young American from the West Coast. Half of the building was a bar with tables and chairs while the other half was the accommodation and an outdoor kitchen for guests. It was sitting right on the beach, we could hear the waves crashing as the breeze drifted off the ocean. We were exhausted and hungry as we plopped ourselves down in the hammocks strung up near the bar. The other guests came out and we introduced ourselves before ordering a well deserved cold drink.

The next day came and was spent on the beach and in the water with a new friend from Germany. This small quirky hostel was good for the two nights and the fun day at the beach but as the sun rose and our friend departed we didn’t feel as though we should stay another night. We were both ready to move onto the next hostel and find somewhere quiet. Once again we packed our things and walked to the end of the dirt road hoping to catch a ride with someone that could take us to our next destination.

After searching the web for a hostel closer to better surf we found one owned by a sweet woman set on a peninsula not far from where we were called Morro Negrito. We were given a ride to a small gas station where we waited for our ride out to the hostel. It was a long ride through thick mangroves and spewed out into the ocean with a cluster of islands spread out in front of us. It was the most magical view as the boat floated across the ocean back towards the jungle where a beautiful white building sat, built into the coast. The boat driver told us that after we settled in he would have lunch ready for us. He helped us unload and led us down a beautiful rocky path with palm trees and fruit trees scattered above us. The only sounds you could hear were the birds flying above and the gentle crash of waves. We settled into the empty hostel and reveled in the view that overlooked the islands and long coast of Panama. The ocean was every shade of blue imaginable and sparkled from the sun rays that danced across its surface. This was exactly what we needed.

The sweet man who gave us the boat ride was the keeper of the hostel. He lived in the small village deep in the jungle just behind the hostel with his family who would come with him to work as him and his wife cared for the guests that would come in and out.

After filling up our empty stomachs we got back into the little boat with our boards and puppy. He drove us through the large rock formations that rose up from the sea and over to a perfect beach break. Pointing out a lone palm tree on the shore he said to not go past it, as the mouth of the river was just a few meters away which crocodiles resided in. He told us that he would be just a few meters away fishing for what would be our dinner as we both leapt off the boat right into the empty lineup. The water was as crystal clear as a glass of purified water. He drove off with Lela at his side just as a perfect wave came right to us. It was the most magical surf session, with incredible waves all to ourselves. The whole time we couldn’t stop grinning ear to ear at each other. Not believing that this is our life and how unreal it is. After all the unfortunate events that happened to us it was in moments like that where we were incredibly grateful for it all because it led us to those times. Without the negativity we wouldn’t have felt so overwhelmed with gratitude and love. It’s taught me that no matter what goes on in life and no matter how many negative things you come across there will always be the most surreal, incredible moment that makes you appreciate every emotion you went through. Everything happens for a reason.

We could’ve stayed there all day if it hadn’t been for my broken wrist needing a break. We called our captain back over, Lela attacked us with kisses as we climbed back in and we slowly drove off with a line dragging behind for our catch. He took us over to a large rock arch where we climbed up and leapt off into the warm blue water. He slowly drove around the other large formations and gave us a chance to catch our dinner, Ella took control of the rod and reeled in a beautiful fish that would soon be used to make ceviche. We made it back to the hostel by sunset and watched the sun leave trails of bright oranges, pinks and yellows in the sky as it set past the horizon. Just as the sun was setting the full moon began to appear in front of our balcony and light the sky up. We went back down to the dinning table, played ping pong and devoured our big plates of ceviche, fried plantains, fish and a green salad. The next morning we rose before the sun, loaded onto the boat and headed back into the mangroves to catch a taxi into the city to rescue Dory. Little did we know how torturous this day would be after such a magical weekend.

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