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.