>Panama City

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Alright, so Yojaira and I made our way out of Costa Rica on a 16 hour bus ride to Panama City. Hells Bells, these buses will be the death of me. It was raining when we arrived, we grabbed a taxi which brought us to a great hostel that we caught word of along the way, Lunas Castle, it is by far the coolest place that I have stayed on the whole trip (apart from the Green Rooms in CR, but they are entirely different indeed). They play 3 movies a day in their movie theater, every morning there are free pancakes, coffee and bannanas, the water is safe to drink (a rarity on this trip), if you arrive late (after they have closed) you are welcome to sleep in the movie theater free of charge and there is a bar downstrairs called relic, which is reminiscent of any bar in SF but is far different than any other bar in Central america. The presidential palace is directly across the street, which you can see from the balcomy, this is the view from the balcony:

While the balcony in the front looks out at the presidential palace, the top floor, where i would brush my teeth every morning looked out over the regular peoples houses:


We stayed in a section of the city called Casco Viejo, a beautiful, crumbling mix of old architecture some of which is well preserved or being renovated and the rest of the buildings are decaying with a post apocolyptic look to them. Crumbling facades painted in peeling blue and sea foam green, half doors and roller coaster balconies, concrete white and subtle blue shades of pink break through.

While the president resides in this section of the city, which is called the old city, just blocks away is the red zone, a gnarly ghetto, full of people living in despair, we took a couple of taxi rides through the red zone and man, it is dreery. I saw an amazing book while I was there called Beauty of the Fight, a book o photgraphs documenting the red zone, very nice black and white photos… check it out here= www.beautyofthefight.com

One of the most peculiar and fascinating things about Casco Viejo was this juxtapozition of old and new, rich and poor, remembered and forgotten. I would often find myself thinking that it seemed alot like what I imagine of Cuba. Casco Viejo was a really amazing place that held us in one spot for about a month.

While I was there I was met by these two crazy gringos living out of their bizzarre trailer, painted with the mystical Chupacabra beast running like a derelict with drink in hand, tongue wagging. The plan for these two wierdos was to drive this piece of #### down to South America… While they were on their trip in Casco Viejo they were caught in the middle of a shoot out, and the trailer caught a bullet. The kid that shot it was so thankful that they didnt turn them in or testify to the cops, that they were invited to Christmas dinner at the gang leaders house… you can check em out here: http://www.benandjoe.com/about-hunters.html#

(I didnt take this photo)



The highest point of the city allowed us a chance to see the city in a different light, there are so many scyscrapers being built slowly growing fingernails to reach the clouds and scratch that subtle itch, but most of them are left half built, just skinny skeletons looking out over the people walking about in their shadows. Word on the street is that most of the buildings are ways for the cartels to launder their money…
From up there on that hill you could just make out the Panama Canal, you can see it in the distance of this photo=


One of the reasons we stayed in Panama for such a long time was that I was invited to participate in Relic bars Live painting night that happens once a week, I was excited to have the opportunity to unleash some art fury upon the people of Panama… they supplied me with materials and I went for it, I had a little help from The Beatles friend, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. One of the owners ended up buying it. Thanks for that.


Rigth after the night of painting we met a nice couple that had been travelling for ever and a day, there passports made me froth at the mouth with jealousy, they had been invited to go to Panama Outdoor Adventures (http://www.panamaoutdooradventures.com) and camp out for a while in exchange for some manual labor (fixing some roads and clearing some hiking paths of debris) they were kind enough to invite us along. It was a beautiful spot, the zip lines were super fun, seated right upon a river , it was a great experience and where I spent my 32nd birthday.

Punk rock tree
And Finally this guy is one of my new heroes, his name is Pauno (but I called him Fin) he hails from Finland and he radiates peace and love in a way I have never encountered before. He told me “If you never come to win, you´ll never leave a loser”
And that´s all for now folks, next up the sailing trip from Panama to Colombia.

Pura Vida
JTG

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About jason tyler grace

I've been tattooing for 12 years or so and traveling the world for around 17 months. I have tattooed in Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, Germany, France, Holland, and Australia. www.jasontylergrace.com
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