When a Scary Experience Turns Into An Empowering One…

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Have you ever had to drive around a big, strange city at night, alone? If that doesn’t faze you, well I gotta salute you my friend, cuz I’m just a total wimp when faced with navigating a strange city, and add nighttime to it and Alone…. I’m tellin’ ya, I’m on the verge of tears! REALLY! I know this admission of wimpyness may have changed your vision of this wild, adventurous gal, but I gotta be honest, right? Well, I probably don’t ‘have’ to be quite so honest but , hey, it’s my blog, so I just gotta be me!

So, I’ve posted about this on FaceBook but I must expand on my evening escapades for those of you who aren’t participating in the social gathering that is… FaceBook. You see, this experience is all part of this grand adventure of mine! Learning the ins and outs of navigating a new city, and country, Literally, navigating, and sometimes, all alone, and possibly at night. I just hate driving in an unfamiliar place. I have a lousy sense of direction. Reading a map is not my forte, to put it kindly! I really suck at trying to figure out any map!! To be fair, my sense of direction is very likely effected by my panicky , nervous, frazzled mindset when faced with unfamiliar surroundings. My daughter can attest to my crazy bouts of sitting-up-really-straight-turning-off-the-radio-very-serious-face-moments while driving with me. How many times did she say…”Mommm, Chill!” With a laugh of disbelief while we tried to find an address in a neighborhood I was unfamiliar with.

So, while I embrace my lack of confidence in terms of navigating strange locations when I’m driving, I have to pat myself on the back for my grand achievement of surviving my Adventure of last nights “night-time-driving-alone-in David escapade”. So this is how it went….Scott had to take the all night bus from David to Panama City (6 hours a whole other escapade!). He knows how much I hate driving at night and of course about the panicky-navigating-strange-places situation, so he very generously (and to my relief) kindly, planned to take the bus from Boquete to the main bus terminal in David, (about and hour). Of course we neglected to check to see what time the last bus left Boquete at night (eye roll and slap myself on the forehead!) so when we showed up at the very dark and deserted bus stop at about 8:30 at night , my heart sank. I knew I was in for a drive to David…!@#$ I put on my brave face when he asked if I wanted him to drive down the hill,”No, I gotta get used to it, I got this!”. HUMPH! (to myself of course) So down the hill we went to the main bus terminal so he could catch the late bus to Panama City, he would be very early but I didn’t want to be driving down there any later than I already was.

Well, the funny thing is, we had never actually driven to the bus terminal and I trusted Scott to know how to get us there. Welllll my trust was not well founded! He didn’t really know “Exactly” how to get there, just sorta knew, approximately, kinda, sorta where it was. GRRRRRR! Well, at least I was not lost alone, not so bad! But suddenly, As I’m mildly nervously, driving down the street I notice two lanes of headlights heading right towards ME!!! YIKES!! I’m driving down a one way street THE WRONG !@#$ing WAY! To make matters worse there are men on both sides of the street yelling at me In Spanish (of course!) and waving their arms around to get my attention!! Scott began to shout at me to hurry and get to the nearby cross street and TURN RIGHT!!! Geesh!! Obviously I made it to the side street in time to avoid the two lanes of oncoming traffic but my gosh! I don’t know how that gosh darn street I was driving up suddenly became ONE WAY! I swear I didn’t turn onto a different street, it was just very suddenly all wrong! Deep Breath!

Now is when I pulled over and let Scott drive the rest of the way to the terminal. But first we got on my phone and attempted to use Google maps and Waze to see if we could ascertain where we were in relation to the Bus Terminal. Scott managed to get us to our intended destination only to see that the bus terminal was a madhouse! We could see through the windows of the waiting room that it was packed wall to wall with people and the line to the ticket window was around the building! Awwww Mannnn! Scott pulled the car over and I said I should wait just in case he cant buy a ticket. So he leaves his backpack and high tailed it to the end of the line. Meanwhile I begin to wonder how in the heck I’m gonna find my way out of this damn city alone, now it’s nearing 10:00 at night and my tummy begins to turn! Oh boy! Just as I was about to have a mild panic attack I got a text from my friend Margot Parker, in California ! Yea! A distraction from my woes! I can always count on Margot for a good laugh! She texted a photo of her new haircut!(which was darling!) So we began to banter back and forth as I was waiting for Scott, when I suddenly noticed that the battery on my cell phone was very nearly dead! “Oh Crap!” I can’t let me phone die while I’m on the road, lost , alone, at night!!! I quickly powered the phone off and then I saw Scott running frantically to the car….”Give me my bag! The bus is Leaving!” Huh! Okay…I very quickly threw his bag at him and he just said “BYE!” and was gone!! Just like that!! WHAAAAT???

I had thought that Scott would be able to tell me how to get out of there and back onto the main highway back to Boquete. Damn it!! Okay….this is when I began to calmly talk to myself….”your okay Holly, don’t’ panic, and don’t’ cry!” “You got this!” Breath! Seat belt on…Doors Locked…you got a full tank of gas….and this isn’t New York or anything…It’s just David, Panama! (And I can always call Kris & Joel, they will know how to help me! they live very nearby!) I remembered Scott had told me to head North. So I did that and went straight on the road that I had been parked on. That road was dark and no other cars were anywhere around….Okayyyyy…..I just kept going straight. I came to a fork in the road, looking left and looking right I decided to go straight….. Then as I went around one corner I could see a busy street up ahead!! Could that be the Inter-American Highway(which is exactly where I wanted to be!)? Just Straight??? ….It WAS!! It was exactly where I wanted to be!! BIG SMILE! Holy Crap!! Nooooo Sweat!! I totally got this!! Boy, how quickly I went from being terrified to being sooo thrilled and feeling so good! All that drama for nothing!

Seriously, I gotta learn to relax when I don’t know where I am! It really does make everything so much worse when I get myself so worked up. What’s the worse thing that could happen? Well, I could have kept driving until I would eventually have come upon the right street. But believe me… I would’ve been super cautious about those “sudden” one way streets, that’s for sure!! As I drove up the hill with my music cranked and a big smile on my face I began to feel soooo empowered by my success at driving all alone in a foreign country at night and maybe next time I’ll be a little less panicky! It’s really a good thing I had that experience last night. So often in my life I’ve ended up being put in situations where I’m very uncomfortable but end up realizing that I’m more capable than I actually gave myself credit for. I may be a bit of a panicky gal at times but you know what …I don’t crumble and I don’t give up and most importantly, I’m always game to just move forward and give it a try and see what happens! Usually what happens is, I surprise myself and have a great big smile! Like right now….I gotta say, I do love an Adventure!

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7 responses »

  1. You are the brave one!! Go you!! 🙂

    We won’t do it, not at night. We’ve seen wayyy too many people driving without headlights on and let’s face it, even the glare from the headlights that are on, bother me.

    We just call a taxi and then we know we are both safe.

  2. Good for you!!
    I know what you mean. I can get lost in my own backyard. And, I can make NO sense whatsoever out of the map of David. Thankfully it isn’t that big so you can’t stay lost forever. I think I know which one say street got you too. That’s a crazy area. It’s a bit nuts all over downtown and you did wonderfully to tackle it at night.

  3. Way to go Holly. We are all so proud of you. Gives us confidence that we too can navigate around in a “foreign” country 😉

  4. Way to go finding your way home! Tell me, did you really just close your eyes and click your heels three times 😉 And where is Scott! Inquiring minds want to know! Did he make it to Houston? I hope all is good, Holly. I am concerned about the quiet…..

    • Laughing…Oh Allison, your funny! Yes, Scott is back, I actually made it to the bus terminal all by myself on Tuesday with no problem! He needed to fly to The Panamanian Consulate in Houston to have all our visa documents Authenticated. But, as fate would have it, his connecting flight was cancelled and he never made it out of PC! So while stuck in PC he went ahead and at least got the docs Notarized at the Embassy. Apparently only the Consulate does the Authentication so now we are scurrying around trying to figure out how to mail it all to Houston , I’ll tell ya, my tranquilo is really being tested….trying to find a place to purchase a money order and a prepaid self addressed envelope to send is about to make me very UN-tranquil! Ha! I’m just in the process of writing a post…I’ve been very happily busy lately! Cheers!

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