I awoke from a dead sleep with a terrible sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. It was four days before my flight was to depart for Panama, and I still had no idea what in Gods good name I was doing. The room shrank; and in the waning hours of the night pitch black somehow sank into a deeper and more menacing shade. Why had I devoted three months of my life to live in this place and work for this company? Neither of which I knew anything about. I felt as if a had put all my chips on thirty-three black and spun the wheel. For the first time in a long while I had given up the helm of my fate and allowed the rolling seas direct me to the nearest port. I did not sleep much that night or the following three, and when 4:00 A.M. came round on the fourth night I was wide eyed and nervous. It would take twelve hours three flight and one mad dash to make the final connection for me to arrive at the hub of the Americas, and in the midst of all this my mind raced to answer the nagging question of why the hell was I doing this. The closest explanation I could conjure was this: I read one too many books of adventure, watched Indiana Jones one too many times, listened to the stories of travelers too intently. My mind flooded with the image of the adventurous man. The one who wadded through the chaos of uncertainty with confidence. That tragic hero with his unwavering bravado and hubris. And like a baby bird on the precipices on its nest it was time to fly or fall.
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Touching down at Tocumen International Airport I was met by a wave of hot humid air, like the first step from a cool dark movie theater in the dog days of summer, it stopped me in my tracks. I filed my way through customs and baggage claim and into a torrent of chauffeurs with their crudely made signs bearing the names of unknown travelers. My eyes strained to see the one meant for me. None. So as an adventurer, joining the ranks of Huckleberry Finn and Robinson Crusoe, I produced a pen and hastily scribbled the name of park, by which my new residence sat, on the palm of my had and went out to find any cabbie who knew enough English or would be patient enough with my lack of Spanish to take me. Finally, through many flashes of my palm and a few intermediaries, I was on my way once more. The view was impressive, the glow of a metropolitan city, not unlike New York or Chicago, silhouetting the Palms and Kapok trees, all of which sat in stark contrast to the vast unending expanse of the Pacific dotted with lights of ships queued up en route to the Caribbean by way of the canal. I thanked my cabbie and paid him, though I knew the amount was outrageous. Grabbing my bags I set forth across the park the five story pink apartment building that would be my house for next few months. I came to the door and rang the bell of apartment fourteen. This was returned with a buzz signaling the door was unlocked. The roulette ball has begun its decent and is looking like thirty-three black.
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