I have been in Panama city for nearly two weeks now and hadn’t really been out on the town at all, so was rather pleased when a Canadian chef, who is also called Robert, arrived at the hostel because it meant I had a wing-man to take on the town with.
Our first port of call was the casino where we spent several hours winning and losing at the Roulette and Blackjack tables, not paying much heed to the advances of the ladies of the night that were circulating the floor.
Next we moved on to the bars of the Hard Rock Hotel where there was plenty of eye candy on show. It is also fair to say that as a result of the proximity to Colombia there was rather a lot of nose candy being enjoyed by many of the local patrons. In particular I will always remember one particularly manic young fella whose eyes looked very similar to those of this cat, who seemed to be having trouble staying upright. In addition to shouting how much he didn’t like the United States of America at the top of his lungs he would not let us accept anything less than the fact that he would definitely be the President of Panama in 2049. Bold worlds for a guy in his late teens but I suspect he may need to sort his coke habit out if he wants to make that happen.
We were getting raved at by a number of wide eyed people, so decided to move on to the bars of Calle Uruguay, which had been recommended by a lady we had met earlier in the evening. The fantastic street is lined with bars, and is full of the young and the beautiful. It was still rocking when we arrived some time around 2am. We bowled into the busiest looking club and with our very limited Spanish were soon attempting to chat with the locals.
I can’t really recall how we got talking to him but we were soon befriended by a half Spanish and Colombian bloke who for legal reasons I will call AJ (also for reasons that will become clear to avoid getting undue attention from the USA’s DEA!) His English was quite good and we got on famously with him, when at first he was telling us how he had recovered from having broken his neck in a MMA professional fight (That is Mixed Martial Arts or cage fighting for the uninformed.) The damage to his spine was clearly visible so we took him at his word on this.
His mates were pretty cool too despite deciding that I was the spitting image of Charlie Sheen, and they insisted we carry on partying with them when the bar stopped serving just after 4am.
There was nowhere close by still open, so we had to join AJ in his car to travel across town to the private members club he had in mind. He seemed alert enough to drive, but after he had snorted copious amounts of cocaine up his nose off the dashboard whilst driving down the road it was clear why that might be the case!
As if that wasn’t mad enough he then proceeded to tell us in a very off the cuff manner that he had previously been an enforcer for his dad’s drug running operation in Colombia, and that his preferred method for eliciting information from people had been an electric drill applied to the knees! He said he had recently stopped because he didnt have the stomach for it anymore.
I am something of a cycnic and wasn’t sure whether to take all this with a pinch of salt, but both the other Robert and I had already noticed the deferance with which everybody seemed to be treating AJ with, and the casual nature with which he passed all this information on was quite chilling.
Having seen Scarface both of the tourists in the car are now fairly certain we may be somewhat out of our depth. However we have by now arrived at the club which was not too dissimilar to that of Tony Montana’s in the film. AJ is greated like a king by absolutely everybody in there and despite a healthy amount of unease at the situation we were made very welcome.
No further tales of villainy were recounted to us, and we spent most of the rest of the night talking to all of AJs friends including some bloke called Alessandro Rodriguez Boyd Morgan, who could barely speak but was trying to convince me he was a direct decendant of a famous Welsh pirate. (More on that to follow at a later date.) He was also somewhat amused at the idea I was David Hasselhoff, and kept trying to fluff up my hair so I looked more like the Knight Rider. I was also having a fun conversation at the bar with the husband and wife OAP bar tenders from Galicia in north west Spain that were running the place. I have surfed in their neighbourhood and whilst I told them of the beaches where I had got in the water they kept free pouring unbelievably strong G&Ts into my glass.
After a few hours Robert and I decided we should probably be on our way, and unsurprisingly did not take AJ up on his offer of a lift home when we said our goodbyes. We left the club and caught a cab with surprising ease. Although once again there seemed to be an inappropriate amount of deferance being shown by the cab driver to the crowd from the club who had walked us to the street. A quick drive across town to our hostel later and we staggered through the door and past the restaurant where the other residents were by now having breakfast in the dining area long after the sun had come up.
A great night. Absolutely frigging bonkers, but a great night!