Six weeks in the highlands of Panama, one of the most bio-diverse areas on the planet. The climate is nothing short of perfection, a crisp chill lingering in the air, similar to the beginnings of fall in Texas, or summers in Colorado. This climate welcomes a sense of coziness, like feeling at home. While it was warm at the end of a gentle rain shower bringing humidity, or on a more rare day with cloudless skies, it was possible to break the tiniest bit of sweat. Or of course, when rock climbing.
Boquete has a small but talented climbing community. The feature photo shows me perched in my Kammok hammock connected to a climbing bolt of the rock face on one end, and a tree root protruding out of the earth’s soil on the other.
Best view to observe all the climbing action going on, and get a rest hang between climbs. It’s been a few years since I’ve been climbing seriously, and Boquete got me back into the climbing spirit. Something about the relaxed environment, I felt no pressure to ‘be good’ I just made due with my capability, and had a support of the local crag crushers feeding me beta up the wall (I love rock climbing slang).
I didn’t make it to the climbing wall as much as I would have wanted to, but thank goodness they just opened a bouldering gym. Basically a glorified shack with 45-degree walls and overhangs, it is the perfect spot to get your daily climb in, conveniently located right across the street from the Boquete Brewery in the center of town.
In regards to teaching yoga, Boquete was a completely different experience for me compared to teaching in Bocos Del Toro. In Boquete I didn’t teach as much yoga as I would have liked because it’s super low season here right now. I was on the schedule at YiA Yoga 4 times a weeks, but maybe taught twice a week. Looking on the bright side, it was good for me because I had more time to focus on other interests such as rock climbing and practicing my Spanish, and was able to contribute my skills in social media and marketing in exchange for accommodation. But I gradually began to notice an energy shift within me.
This experience of not teaching as much amongst my travels, really made me realize how much I love it. It makes me whole, makes me feel complete. Sharing this part of my life with others makes me feel purposeful, excited, and combining it with travel, energizes me beyond belief.
My last couple of weeks in Boquete I started reading the book, Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, borrowing it from my host, Kaytee, I stayed with. There was something Tolle said in the book about why people do extreme sports or exhilarating activities, such as skydiving. I knew I always love to try new things, sometimes intimidating and extreme sports, rock climbing for example, but now I completely understand why I do it. Tolle said people put themselves in these fun, yet risky and potentially dangerous situations because it forces them to become completely present to their surroundings.
Majority of my days in Boquete consisted of working on my computer, walking, doing yoga, sleeping, and eating more than my average consumption. This was a wake up call for me. I was becoming non-present, I was too caught up in the thoughts in my head, and became inauthentic to what I taught as my intention in my yoga classes so passionately.
So my last week in Boquete I did all the exhilarating activities I could do, taking me outside my comfort zone and forcing myself to become completely present. I did an ATV tour through the mountains, went ziplining through the cloud forest 200 feet above the ground, toured a coffee farm (exhilarating in its own way), and went climbing almost everyday. By putting my intention on staying present and enjoying the moment, I was able to see that I was not doing what I wanted to do.
The later half of the month I was in Boquete, I became stressed over the fact that it’s slow season in Central America and not finding my next teaching job. At the beginning of the month I didn’t worry at all because I assured myself that I would find my next gig within a month easy. As the days quickly dwindled down, I soon realized it wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought. This ate me up, the thoughts in my mind were screaming at me, telling me to panic. I started having constant thoughts about my past coming up, even doubting my decision about even traveling for a moment.
I was so thankful to be reading Power of Now during this time in my travels, because it served as a great reminder for me. Two more quotes from the book really eased my anxiety about this situation. “Your outer journey may contain a million steps; your inner journey only has one: the step you are taking right now.” (Pg. 88) And, “The past cannot survive in your PRESCENCE. It can only survive in your absence.” (Pg. 91)
I didn’t come here to be stressed out about not having a plan. I came here to release myself from my need to have a plan, and instead be in the moment and allow things to fall into place, let life happen. I put myself out there, I did the work emailing numerous hotels and studios across Central America in order to create the possibility of receiving opportunities, and then I had to let go and let life fall into place…
…And when that didn’t work, I took matters into my own hands. I told Kaytee that I wanted to leave one week early to go to Panama City. I never intended to go there, but after the week of forcing myself in situations to be present, something was telling me to go. I would still help out with marketing YiA in the big city, so she was totally fine with it.
As of last Friday I’ve been in Panama City, staying in this great hostel called Luna’s Castle in Casco Viejo, the scenic and historic area of the city. I crossed paths with my German friend Anne, and we spent a day in the city together. I noticed when I was with her that first day, I still felt the weight on stress consuming me. Even though I was in a new city, I couldn’t get excited because I was at such a loss about what I’m doing here. I felt as if I didn’t serve a purpose…and then the light bulb went off. I felt like I didn’t serve a purpose because I wasn’t doing what I intended on doing while traveling, a piece of me was missing. No yoga studios in Panama City responded to my emails about teaching, and I could no longer allow myself to be in waiting of other peoples’ time schedules. I knew I needed to teach.
I made a flier in the hostel about donations-based classes I would be teaching everyday in the park across the street. I created a Yoga Trail profile (follow me!), posting publicly about my donations classes. Every studio in Panama City charges $15 or more for a yoga class, and I knew that was just not feasible for backpackers, myself included, so donations made sense. The first class I had 10 people show up, the second class I had 8. I cannot believe the turnout, and how open people were to participating in my classes when it was so spur of the moment. Life happened organically in this moment, everything just fell into place as it should be.
I’m now in a place of feeling so good about the present moment. I have no clue how long I will be here or what I’ll be doing next, but I’m happy because I am present. I’m not worried about the next moment because I am living in this moment fully. I’m sharing my love of yoga with people who would not otherwise be exposed to it, connecting with people from all over the world, and exploring this incredible city.
And that’s all I want out of life, doing what I love and sharing it with others. Don’t ask me what my plans are next because I have no idea. Until the next blog post….