...Answering a friend, lightly, whether or not I would be in the "Peace Corps". I would consider a Peace Corps posting handing out condoms and donuts in the Alameda (D.F., Mexico) to the prostitutes. I'd do aids and STD talks too. Mexicans are grateful to receive something for free so its a pleasure to give to them. They don't turn down food, and it seems like americans often do.
The inevitable 1 to 2 hour hotel search with my wheely suitcase in each new city is something i could do without. Finding a cheap hotel is hard, and saying its difficult to do in some of the poorest countries, may mean im not being realistic about what i want to pay. 15 dollars a nite really isnt enough to budget. 25 dollars a nite is about the price of the 3rd world Americas these days. You would have choices and could arrive to one hotel populated neighborhood, spend 20 minutes and get something nice. Getting the deal is too much work. I do have a place for 15.40. that took 2 hours wheeling around Panama City and visiting perhaps 15 hotels plus 2 hours prior research on web. Same routine in more than one place ive been. I have shared bath no tv but do have weak internet signal which means more to me than tv or even a private bathroom. On the bigger benefit side, the place is full of foreign hipsters and it gives me a feeling of safety I dont have at the local hotels that rent by the hour. I found one of those for 12 with tv and bathroom but they were playing hard to get and I felt like a leech asking for a room, when the successive clerks had little patience for me. After a wasted wait and what had seemed like an ok from one young clerk i was told to come back in a few hours because it was too early to offically rent to me, by another, and here it became ridiculous the impediments to making the deal for a 12 dollar room that was available at that moment ON A MONDAY.
Panamanians failed hotel school as far as i can tell. But if you want to work as a hotel clerk, this would be the place to do it. In my actual hotel my request for a table in my room was turned down. I needed it to put my borrowed fan on. Told it couldnt be done, that no way the table in the next room could come to my room as the fan had. It was a decision that required friends in the Kremlin and just workers on duty. Eventually I got it by pleading heart and now have a trashpicked table with wobbly legs from next door. I work magic on people.
Hopefully no more 16 hour bus rides like the last 2 days from San Jose. in fact i did enjoy it but not the following hotel search.
Panama City in old town looks like old town in Mazatlan, Mexico but the surrounding area here is much more lush vegetation. The newer, bigger downtown looks pretty cold and hard times. San Jose is cuddly in comparson. But old town charms.
Costa Rica landscape is uplifting to watch and although san jose may be ugly it does seem friendlier and safer than all the other CA cities.