July 13th, 2011 5:56pm—Gonzales OUT

From Bocas del Toro, Panama, I had planned on taking a chicken bus north to the border of Costa Rica.
From there, I'd continue north to more crime-ridden countries, like Nicaragua and Honduras. I don't give in easily to peer pressure, and though various people staying at Aqua Lounge revealed a myriad of reasons I should return south with them, if I want to do something, I typically do it. Gonzales (a Cali girl with Mexican parents), and Lynn, a Canadian with five siblings, sat me down one night.
"You should come back through Panama with us," Gonzales said.
"Na, I need to go north. I want to get to the Bay Islands and get my scuba diving certification."
"Do that after Panama. We're going to an international surfing competition."
"If you come south with us, we'll watch surfers for a week, spend the 4th of July in Panama City and then I'll go north with you," Gonzales reasoned.
"Surfers," Lynn smiled.
"I'm in!" I yelled.
The ninth beer I was on told me this was a good idea.
The rest of the Aqua Lounge crew went to Panama City to see off the Canadian girls, and then planned to meet up with me, Gonzales, and Lynn in Playa Venao.
We took a water taxi from Bocas del Toro to Almirante, and a 4.5 hour bus ride from Almirante to David. Gonzales awoke Lynn and I the next morning by sitting up in bed and screaming "Tent!"
"Tent?" I asked, blinking my contacts into place.
"Tent!" she repeated.
"Camping!" Gonzales yelled.
Backpacking around Central America was clearly improving our vocabulary and use of multiple-word sentences.
We split a three-person tent for twenty-two dollars, caught a bus to Las Tablas, a taxi to Pedasi, and we were almost to Playa Venao.
At this point, I knew maybe ten Spanish words, three of which were mas cerveza and baño. Those words go nicely together, so I was content. Though both Gonzales and I grew up in California and Gonzales grew up with Spanish-speaking parents with English as a second language, combined we still knew less than Lynn. A Canadian had better Spanish than we did. She was basically fluent and a goddess. Her foreign language skills were the primary reason we got to Playa Venao. I couldn't have negotiated two bus rides and a taxi. I barely knew the name of the place we were going. I just knew that there were surfers, and we had a tent.
I do have skills in locating English-speaking people. When we arrived in Pedasí, the girls sat at the bus stop while I went on an adventure to find out how to get to the beach. We didn't want to pitch our tent in the middle of the street in the town of Pedasí. We had fantasies of sleeping in our tent on the sand, poking our heads out of the tent, and watching surfers. When I say surfers, I mean professional surfing. And surfers. 
I wandered around the streets and found a woman. She told me that most of the surfers stayed in Pedasí and took the half hour ride to Playa Venao in team vans. Gonzales, Lynn and I caught a cab. We rocked up onto the beach with our tent. It wasn't until we pitched it that we realized it was a three person tent for tiny little Central Americans. In North American terms, it was a one or two person tent.
We had stocked up on bottles of rum in Pedasí, so we were still happy. When you're drunk enough, it doesn't matter where you sleep. We figured we'd pass out on each other. Gonzales and Lynn both have massive boobs, so I knew I'd at least have a pillow.
Our first night at Playa Venao, we drank. One would think that because I'd been drinking heavily for the better part of a decade, I'd know my alcoholic limits. One would think the same of Gonzales. At 8pm, Gonzales announced that she was going to the tent to pass out. We were a quarter of a mile down the beach at one of the three beachside restaurant bars. When Lynn and I checked on her at 10pm, we found her halfway in the tent.
"Well, at least her head's inside," Lynn pointed out.
"She couldn't quite make it all the way in? What'd she do, bend over to crawl inside and then collapse?"
"Gonzales is OUT!" yelled Lynn.
"Gonzales OUT," I agreed.

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