Mosquitoes and Balboa

Field Journal: Joey Arcisz | Photos by Bud Force

Day1: We arrive at Panama City airport at night and surprisingly we get through customs quickly. We take a taxi to Casco Veijo where we hold up for the night at Luna's Castle hostel. The hostel and the city are still buzzing with energy. We eat and drink and sleep.

Day2: We wake up explore the city for a bit until we decide to take a 2 hour stuffed cab ride to Isla Grande, an island on the Caribbean side of Panama. We meet up with a hostel owner who shows us around the island and gives us a cabin near the ocean to stay in for two days. The first thing we do is go swim in the ocean. After that we sit down and share 4 baby lobsters on the beach and a bottle of rum. We head back to the cabin to settle in for the night until we see the hostel owner again. He ends up taking us to a resort pool that has crashing ocean beside it all the while being surrounded by palms trees and a clear night sky full of stars.

Day3: We move sleeping quarters to the Sister Moon Hotel after bartering photos and video in exchange for a free few nights stay. After moving our luggage we decided to buy some cervases and swim in a shallow part of the Caribbean. We all were in complete relaxation mode. After our swim we decide to head back to the hotel where we run into the owner of the island, his girlfriend, and his son. We find out the owner's son is a recent film student graduate and we make an obvious connection. We do a bit of drone flying over some locals surfers right off the edge of the hotel deck that over looks one of the most incredible views I have ever seen. Some of the crew wandered off with the owner's son to capture some different scenery. The sun goes and we pack away the video gear and make our way back to the restaurant from the previous night. We get side tracked when we see the island owner again standing on the deck of a house right off our path. He invites us in his home and serves us beer and maple flavored sausage and bread on stick. It was delicious. We had to depart quickly though because we had made a commitment to eating at the restaurant. We again ate baby lobsters with rice and plantans and shared beers with the restaurant owner while conversing about personal values. We also happened to meet a music producer that lives on the island and has brought in top music talent to perform on the island, including Tiesto, Usher and more. After dinner we called it an early night and finished it off with a quick dip in the pool attached to the hotel deck illuminated by the stars.

Day4: We woke up at 5am to shoot a sunrise time lapse. The sky was illuminated red for about 30 minutes before clouds covered the sun. It was spectacular. We packed our gear and went back to the room where we had fresh brewed coffee waiting on us. We finished our coffees and headed down to Senior White's restaurant where we had scheduled a lift back to the mainland. After the boat ride over we hoped in Steven's SUV and drove 45min to the nearest atm machine, because we all had ran out of cash. The car ride was one of the most dangerous times of the trip thus far. Steven drove like a maniac. When we returned Zak, Scott, and I went snorkeling off the reef by a beached boat and followed a Spear fisherman around to see what he would catch. We headed in with him a different way and caught ourselves surrounded by sea urchins and at the same time the fisherman had just got an eel wrapped around his gig and thought it hilarious to taunt us with it after telling us it's extremely dangerous. The day was mellow after that. We drank a couple beers by the water at the restaurant and headed back to the hotel where we had scheduled a shoot on the pool deck. We got some great footage, the rest of the crew decided to go back to the restaurant and eat while stayed back and prepared my gear for tomorrow's adventures.

Day5: It's 430am and we're about to go to Sand Blas - a chain of islands where some native Indians of panama are. Not looking forward to the 2.5hr boat ride. The boat is small, there are six people going and the sea does not sound calm right now. It's now night time and we're back at the room. Turns out the islands we went to is its own nation with a customs port and building. Guna General. It's hard to believe it is a nation because of its size and it consists of only a few hand fulls of tiny islands. The long boat ride was totally worth it though. Everything looked like a post card. We ate octopus and snorkeled at the first of the larger islands we went to. The prices were not cheap but snorkeling a few hundred year old sunken ship right off shore made up for it. We shot as much as we could and had a unforgettable day. The boat ride back was a bit rougher the 2nd time. Scott threw up many times and I think we all need a chiropractor. The sea was very choppy for that tiny boat. We went straight back to Stevan's restaurant and ate more fish and lobster. We did run into a miscommunication with the fee for the boat service and that lightened our wallets and our buzz, but we snapped pretty quick after seeing what had shot and the stories we have to tell from here on out. Life was lived in full today.

Day6: We woke at 8 something which felt like mid day considering the time we woke up the morning before. We kept the day very simple. Not a lot of crazy adventures happened but we still got in s lot of filming and some pretty cool experiences. We met a musician on the pool deck of our hotel right after breakfast and later went to his gig a ways down the island from the hotel. We met some of the people he was with and they an incredible story to tell.