The Astounding Travel Adventures of a Miraculous Fellow


The Return of Yeff
June 19, 2008, 2:34 pm
Filed under: Do You Feel Panamá?

Que pasa?  Things are good here in Panamá.  My return has seen the subsequent return of one of my many Salvadoran nicknames – Yeff.  Spanish speakers just can’t quite get that J sound down.  

Panamá is just like you’d expect it.  When I got to the airport, I had to sing “Panama!” by Van Halen, word-for-word to be allowed in the country.  I didn’t know anything else other than the lyrics “Pa-na-muh-huh-huh-huh-HUH-huh, Panama!” So I just bribed the customs guy. 

It’s really hot and humid here, and I just sit around and sweat all day long.  I once heard that humans are made of 70% water.  It’s weird to see what you look like once you’ve sweated all of that out.  Have you ever seen Gremlins?  Kinda like that.

Work pretty much blows so far, but soon I’m heading out to the countryside and beach to do some interviews, and set up a pension program for the plantation workers for my company here.  It should be pretty interesting, especially when I can’t understand anything the locals say, and they can’t understand anything I say.  Panamanians have strange accents. 

Basically the interview process will involve:

1. Me asking them a question.

2. Them answering.

3. Me not understanding.

4. Me making up answers for what they said.

It should be terribly interesting for management when they see the (falsified) answers of one worker who states: “all the money in the company should be given to Jeff Wheeland, since he’s such a swell dude with a great ‘tude.”  They probably won’t notice that all the responses were given in English.

Nonetheless, Panama’s a cool country, the downtown is really nice and some people I know have compared it to Miami.  I’ve never been to Miami so when they say that I just reply “cool” or “No it’s not, you’re a liar.  My Dad is the mayor of Miami.  He thinks you’re a liar too.”

My roommate is Colombian, is most likely an alcoholic, and has a favorite sport which involves taking me to parties and getting me hammered.  He’s a super cool guy.  I live about a stone’s throw from the Panama Canal (well, at least a stone’s throw for me, and we’ve all doubtlessly been regaled by the stories of my amazing stone throwing abilities), which works out well because I truly enjoying throwing stones at passing boats.  This city is really international; I’ve met people from all over the world, including quite possibly the two dumbest Americans on Earth.  They love George Bush, and if I had a nickel for every time they blamed “liberals like me” for all the problems in the US, I’d have enough money to have them both killed.

Speaking of America, how was the fourth of July?  Mine was rather eventful.  The neighbors are American/Panamanian and their kids put on a frightful display of firepower with their fireworks.  I’ll start by saying Latin America doesn’t have a lot of the “fluff” laws that the US has.  In this regard, anyone can have, and launch, enormous fireworks from the comfort of their homes.  The neighbors took full advantage of this lack of regulations.  The kids were anywhere from 8 to 14 years old, and their Dad supplied them with fireworks then sat back and drank beer.  For over an hour, they fired off one after another huge airborne firework, until finally they must have gotten bored, and decided to just light them all at once…on the ground.  Imagine a decent-sized fireworks show you have seen in the past.  Now imagine it in your backyard; not in the sky above your backyard, but rather in the backyard.  I was 100% sure their house was going to burn down, so I did what any innocent bystander would do and ran to get some marshmallows.  Alas, it didn’t burn down, and that was that.  Happy Fourth of July, Latino style!

Other than that, not much is happening.  Lots of kicking it, no schoolwork (thank the sweet Lord), and remembering how lame office work is.  Panamá, all in all, is great; nice people, very international, and the fireworks are cheap and abundant.  Oh, and the beer costs 40 cents a bottle, so that helps…to…put out…the neighbor’s fires in their houses…yeah.

That’s it for now!  Hope all is well in the USofA!

Saludos, Yeff

Advertisements


I Got Crabs…
June 19, 2008, 2:34 pm
Filed under: Do You Feel Panamá?

 

…in the shower of the hostel in Las Lajas where I stayed.  It’s a little town right on the beach, and they clambered up from the sea and invaded.  There were a few on the walls and one hiding behind the shower curtain.  They were, no doubt, ashamed of their manliness and left feeling insignificant after watching me bathe.

 

Panama is nice.  Las Lajas was very mellow.  It was there that I discovered a new, highly enjoyable activity: sitting on the patio of my cabana and drinking ice-cold Balboa cerveza.  This is only topped in enjoyment level by another highly enjoyable activity: sitting on the patio of my cabana and drinking ice-cold Panamá cerveza.

 

I got to travel around a bit recently – some for work, some in search of colder and colder Panamá cerveza.  I’m doing a project interviewing the local campesino workers for my company and evaluating their social situation at work.  Boooooooring.  Haha.  Actually, it’s pretty interesting talking to all the locals, many of whom are indigenous natives who live in nearby reservations.  These reservations, however, are not what we Americans have come to know and love as dens of firewater and blackjack.  Panama is very progressive and has given huge deposits of land (usually protected rainforests) to about 4 or 5 large indigenous groups, and let them govern it as they have for hundreds of years.  Some places are exactly as they were 500 years ago.  We’re traveling to one chain of islands called San Blas tomorrow, where the local Kuna Yala tribe governs the area.  There is only electricity for a few hours a day in very few places and you travel everywhere in boat.  It’s supposed to be paradise with tiny palm-covered islands and crystal clear waters.  I plan on introducing high-stakes baccarat and poker, of course, with a few dozen bottles of firewater.  I’ll be president in no time.

 

So now I’m back in the Panama City office again after traveling.  The air conditioning is broken and there’s no fan, so I just sweat and sweat and sweat.  I’ve been electrocuted 14 times by sweating into my computer’s battery.  If it’s not fixed by next week, I plan on bringing in a kiddie pool and a bag of ice to serve as my desk.

 

Life here is good; I work with a lot of Germans.  They are very nice, but strange people.  They complain when there is not enough work to do.  I’m convinced they are all robots.  I have busied myself testing this theory by putting magnets against their extremities to finally prove the existence of their metallic endoskeleton, but alas, so far none have stuck.  I’m guessing it’s due to some advanced, futuristic, polyfibrous plastic material that was elaborated to elude this test.  I will soon have to start pouring water in their ears to attempt to short circuit them…or just push them into my new “hydro desk/kiddie pool.”  I will update you on the progress of this test as it occurs.

 

I, on the other hand, embrace this lack of work to email all of you, manage my fantasy sports team to victory (or at least to mediocrity), and plan new ways to advance my robo-tests.  I need to watch Terminator 3 again, to determine how they decided who was a robot and who was not.  My co-workers so far lack the murderous rage of the terminators in the movies…maybe they’re just Office Work Terminators, programmed to eliminate all office work at any cost.  Yes, that must be it.

 

I had to move from my last house to one with a Chilean/Panamanian couple.  They are nice, but the woman is a school teacher and loves leaving notes.  The first morning I got one that detailed what I did wrong by showering, such as stepping on the bathmat while wet.  The next day I received on for not leaving the toilet seat up (women! make up your mind, up or down?!!).  Then I got one detailing that rent was paid on the first of the month – I hadn’t even talked to her until the 4th, and moved in on the 6th.  I think I’m going to combat this madness with my own note campaign, one that will truly surpass her insanity.  Here are some ideas:

 

  • “I put some bread into the toaster and it turned brown.  However, I have decided I like it better uncooked.  Where do you keep the un-toaster?” 
  • “I saw a bird outside this morning.  If it is yours, please leave me a note with further instructions.”
  • “What language are you writing these notes in?”  
  • Maybe just, “Please stop leaving me notes.”

 

Anywho, that’s it from here.  Hope all is well wherever you are.  I will send more pictures when I get them uploaded to the World Wide Web of Information. 

 

Godspeed,

Yeffrí



Journey Into the Heart of Darkness
June 19, 2008, 2:34 pm
Filed under: Do You Feel Panamá?

 

Hola amigos, que tal?  Pretty dramatic email title, no?  I sure thought so. 

I made my final voyage to do my social interviews with the field workers for my company, this time I heading out to Darién.  Darién is the only place where the Pan-American Highway has a break in its 29,800 miles from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, Argentina.  The road passes straight through the middle of the Panamanian jungle then suddenly disappears – where it is either swallowed up by tropical rainforest, snorted up by narcotraffickers, or kidnapped by Colombian paramilitaries.  This place has been called “the most dangerous place in the Western Hemisphere” by the guy who writes “The World’s Most Dangerous Places.”  He’s kind of an authority on this kind of thing as he got kidnapped there by Colombian paramilitaries.

 Luckily for me, I was nowhere near this part of Darién.  But, it did make for quite an interesting trip.  At 5AM we woke up, hiked through shin-high mud and arrived at the plantations.  On a related side note, I recently have developed a strange obsession: seeing a monkey.  I’ve done two jungle hikes recently to achieve this goal and all I saw was a crappy sloth (although it was a previously undiscovered four toed sloth which was heretofore discovered by me – I thus named this marvelous new species “The Terrifying, Mouthwatering, Spine-Tingling, Tree Bunny”…I was going to name the species “Jeff Wheeland” but I will save that name for when I am the first human to discover aliens on Earth – then my dream will finally be realized, and the phrase “Bow down before the all powerful Jeff Wheeland” will be commonplace).

 Uh…where was I?  Oh yeah, monkeys.  So all I’ve seen so far are a crappy sloth, a stupid toucan, and a bunch of idiot turtles, but no monkeys.  Alas, my luck was about to change, as up in the trees on the plantation, sitting just above my head were four howler monkeys!  I yelled to them “Where the hell you been, ya stupid monkeys!  Where you been hiding?”  To this they replied by flinging a fistful of feces in my face, then fleeing.  Fuckers.

 Darién is pretty amazing.  Some of the workers caught a six foot long Boa constrictor on the plantation the day before, and were showing it off to me.  As soon as I saw it, I shrieked “Ohmygaaaw Snaaaaake!!!!!” and roundhouse kicked it back to where it came from.  Actually, I just stood there, took a picture, smiled, and kindly said “please take it away before it kills us all.”  I realize now I blew the perfect opportunity to emulate my childhood hero, Ice Cube, and should have said “Ders snakes out der dis big!?”  Damn it.  Sorry, Mr. Cube.  I let you down.  I let myself down.  Sigh.

 Anywho, today is my final day of work, or should I say “work.”  Tomorrow three of my friends, Colin, Wack Bammer, and Wrinkle (that sounds like a bad 80’s boy band, no?) are coming and we are watching the Cal game at a casino.  Luckily for us, across the street there is a cigar shop that’s full of Colombian prostitutes.  Halftime should be interesting… 

Alas, friends, I have done all I can here.  I have finally seen a monkey, I saw a bar named “Beer Town”, and heard the “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” theme song in Spanish (Llegue a la casa a las siete o ocho, y dije a la taxista, senor, huele mal!  I pulled up to the house about seven or eight and said to the taxi, yo holmes, smell ya later!).   

The circle is complete.  I can return home.  

I just have a quick vacation to Colombia to deal with first.  Please begin to pool together some money for the kidnappers…



Colombia
June 19, 2008, 2:34 pm
Filed under: Do You Feel Panamá?

Hello everyone.  

I am in Colombia.  I need a few addresses for people because I have a few “packages” to send.  They each weigh exactly one kilo.  Wink, wink. 

I have been kidnapped 14 times, but that’s just because this is the preferred way of getting from one place to another.  If I need to go to the store, I just walk out to the street, and they kidnap me to go there.  Need to go to the airport?  Just cross the street, the airport kidnappers go in the other direction.  They call them “taxis” here, but that’s just Colombian slang for “Kidnap Transit Service.” 

It’s weird here. 

Actually, Colombia is really nice.  I’m in Cartagena, which, loosely translated, means “City Where Everyone is a Hooker.”  I think just by flying in, I officially am now a hooker.  $4 an hour is what I charge, but I might alter that, cause I get fucked over all the time.  Pun intended.  Da da dun, ching! 

We got to Cartagena a few days ago, and were, of course, picked up at the airport by my personal Panamanian taxi driver’s mistress’s uncle. 

Or so we thought…

After picking us up, and continually referring to us as “The Sailors” we drove to a really nice apartment that my Panamanian taxi driver set up.  It was really nice, but had a weird feel to it.  Maybe that’s because his “mistress” and “The Uncle” came upstairs with us.  Then, after thorough confusion, they “accompanied” us to the grocery store, then “accompanied” us back to the apartment again, where she told us we had to pay a 50% fee for her to “accompany” us back to the room.  Being the truly astute individual that I am, I told her “Nope, I think we got it, you already ‘accompanied’ us to the apartment, and ‘accompanied’ us to find some eggs at the store.  I think were good.” 

I didn’t quite get it. 

So, she looked at me, then at The Uncle, and said “Ok….”  Only later did I realize that by “accompany” she meant “to engage in illicit sexual affairs” and not “come with us to the grocery store.”

Wow. 

They’re all hookers. 

You go to McDonalds and they ask “If you spend 1400 pesos more, we can upgrade that to a large fries, large drink, and large hooker.”  At the internet place I ask, “Can I print something?”  they reply “Yes, of course.  If, that is, by ‘print’ you mean ‘purchase’ and by ‘something’ you mean ‘hookers.'” 

They’re all hookers.

Cartagena is actually really cool.  There’s a perfectly preserved Old City that is completely surrounded by a wall that the Spaniards built to keep the hookers in.  It still functions to this day.  It’s not at all dangerous here, just really touristy, although we are the only Americans here at all.  There are a few other foreigners, but most are just Colombians and hookers on vacation.

I wrapped up Panama in style, by watching the mighty Cal Bears trounce the hapless Tennessee…um…what’s their mascot…let’s just say Hookers, to maintain a theme.  Then we went back to San Blas for a vacation in paradise, where we drank rum and stared at a billion stars, until the crabs entered our cabanas and attacked us in our beds.  And, to break the hooker theme, I’m talking about sea crabs, not the hooker kind.   We also went out to an awesome jungle tour on an island, where we saw 3 different species of monkeys, one of which urinated on us.  That was the end of that species, as my rifle firing skills have sharpened in recent weeks.  We also, as good Americans are wont to do, went to a shooting range in Panama City.  We just walked in, flashed a picture of GW Bush, and they loaded the guns for us in glorious fear.  Then we fumbled around trying to figure out how to turn off the safety and actually fire the gun for about 30 minutes.  Finally, we all took turns on the target with a picture of a man holding a women hostage with a knife.  The woman was repeatedly killed, as was the camera in the shooting range, and the cars out front, and the restaurant down the street, and the box of bullets.  We have breathtaking precision.

 So, that’s that.  Colombia in a nutshell.  On Friday we go to Medellín, then I finally make my triumphant return to the USofA on Wednesday.  Please feel free to bring out a red carpet, marching band, clowns, pole-vaulters, and a donkey.  Don’t worry about providing the hookers; that, I have seen plenty of.



I’ve Died and Gone to Medellín
June 19, 2008, 2:33 pm
Filed under: Do You Feel Panamá?

Ok gang, strap yourselves in, this is where shit gets really interesting…

So, I’m partying in a Colombian rainforest, when one of the 7 gorgeous Colombian girls I’m with comes over and asks me a question in Spanish.  This is when the living nightmare begins: I realize I am completely and totally incapable of speaking Spanish in this mind state.  I try my damnedest to say something clever like:

  • “I’d be doing a lot better if you were sitting in my lap”
  • “Maybe it’s the psychedelic drugs I consumed, but you look like an angel”
  • “Galileo was wrong – the planets don’t revolve around the Sun, but rather they revolve around your supple bosom.”

Alas, all I can come up with in my present state of Spanish is something along the lines of:

“Cows are blue.  However, I’d prefer coffee.”   

So, as you can probably guess, my relationship with these goddesses was merely cordial.  I did manage to talk to one in Spanish for awhile, so that made me feel slightly better, and she probably felt all warm and fuzzy because she was nice to the retarded American kid. All in all though, it was quite the experience.  There was techno music and crazy lights bumping and glaring, all the while we’re sitting in the forest, trying not to think that we were breaking just about every rule that they tell American tourists to follow while in Colombia. That, and that I probably looked like the most foreign person on Earth, because of my shimmering blond hair, my dashing blue eyes, and the fact that I was the only person who was dumb enough to be wearing shorts in the mountains at night.  However, the Paisas (women from Medellín) made it all alright. 

So, a little about the Paisas.  Three simple words can describe them: Oh. My. God.  Or maybe this is more appropriate: “Oh my!” (Statement of pleasant surprise) and “God?” (Questioning the fact that, most likely, the female resurrection of the Lord Almighty just walked past).  

Me and my buddy Patrick got here to Medellín on Friday night, were picked up by a Colombian friend, Felipe, and we were off.  After dining on a giant plate of fried pig meats while overlooking the entire city, and polishing off a bottle of Aguardiente (Colombian fire water) we went to Felipe’s house where he was letting us stay.  “House,” however, is an understatement.  He let us into the penthouse apartment of a 12 story building overlooking the whole city, and I nearly broke into tears thinking how much the 14 Paisas I was bringing home that night were going to enjoy this view.
So, then we hit the bars in a place called Parque Lleras.  This place was unlike anywhere I have ever seen in my life.  The scores of bars, clubs, and untz untz discotecas were packed to the rafters with amazing Paisas.  I fell in love so many times, that now, I feel I have no more love to give…(God that was poetic – a single teardrop just rolled down my cheek). Next, we made our way to a place called Oz, whose name is so incredibly apt.  There was no wizard in this Oz, but in his place there was a club 75% full of probably the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen.  The other 23% were just simply really cute, while the final 2% of homely women had been imported from elsewhere to keep clubs ego slightly grounded, so as to avoid a perfect 100% ratio of hotties.  At this club, I met “La Mujer Mas Guapa del Mundo” (The Hottest Woman on Earth) and chatted to her for awhile until I had a wet daydream.  Then I proceeded to drink more Aguardiente and stare at gorgeous Colombians until I went cross-eyed.

But, alas, no hanky panky for this guy.  Paisas are not as loosely-moraled as their Cartagenan counterparts, but were unbelievably friendly, and seemed genuinely disappointed when we said we were only there for a few days.  Fret not, my goddesslike, soon-to-be concubines, I shall return!  And, like Pablo Escobar in the 1980s, I will dominate this city, but instead of using violence and drugs, I will instead use blond hair, blue eyes, broken Spanish, and…well…maybe drugs too.

So, that’s Medellín.  This place is unreal.  There’s no violence, the coke doesn’t fall from the sky, I haven’t been kidnapped, and no car bombs have blown my ass from the rest of my body.  I’m pretty f’ing serious about coming back here; this is one of the greatest cities I have ever visited.  

But, don’t tell anyone.  I don’t want this little secret to be spoiled…at least until my Paisa free agent harem workers have inked their lifetime contracts to toil in my new brothel: Wheelandville.

And that, my friends, concludes my summer in Latin America.  I feel I have done all I can this time around.  I partied with Manuel Noriega’s nephew, was on Panamanian television, was urinated on by a monkey, danced with legions of hookers until they found out I was broke, and of course done psychedelic drugs surrounded by Goddesses in a Colombian jungle.  The latter, of course, each of you is free to utilize when someone tries to one-up you in a game of “So I knew this crazy guy once who did…”

Ciao.  Adios.   Saludos de Colombia.