Stinky stinky transportation

I had the best intentions of writing about all the migrainous adventures I had in Panama & Costa Rica, but that has yet to happen. This morning I was reminded of one element of my trip I should definitely describe: the stinky transportation.

You’re probably imagining fumes, exhaust, and dust in an overcrowded capital where there are no auto emissions laws, and you’re right. But dangers accompanied the swankier rides I took in private vans (for work) and in a big ol’ pickup truck that was all decked out (one part of the long journey between Panama & C.R.). The relatively comfortable passenger van that picked us up at the hotel each morning and dropped us off each evening was operated by a really friendly, smiling guy named Achurro (sp?). All the seat belts worked! There was enough room for everyone!

The problem? The car potpourri/deodorizer. I couldn’t see one of those obnoxiously overbearing scented cardboard trees hanging from the rearview mirror; in fact, the smell seemed to be pumping out through the air conditioner. Ugh. On a few rides, the smell didn’t bug me so much; on others, I held my hoodie up against my nose, as I am wont to do in a smoky bar before I make my escape.

I survived the flowery van stink, but since I was immersed in a sea brimming with Migraine triggers that week, it probably did me more harm than good to be in that van 1.5 hours/day on average.

Cue Stink Ride #2: Jim and I got a taxi in Changuinola, Panama to drive us to the Panama-Costa Rica border. This time, I could see the culprit: two of those stinky cardboard trees dangling menacingly from the rearview mirror. “Unwind your window,” Jim gestured to me. I did so despite the unpaved roads and the air conditioning the driver had generously turned on. The driver looked back after a couple of minutes and pleasantly asked in Spanish if I would roll up the window. I felt downtrodden and on the edge of tears (as I tend to feel when I’m getting a Migraine and feel there’s no end in sight for the next while), but I sucked it up and explained why I had the window open. The driver’s eyes lit up, and he explained to me that he, too, was sensitive to the smells–this, in fact, was the only one of the scented trees that didn’t give him a headache. He totally understood and we rolled windows down further to look out at the endless banana plantations. For that moment, I was safe again.

People sometimes shut you down, I know, but–for the most part–it’s rather touching how understanding others are if you just speak your mind.

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