Lost and Found

There is another hostel about an hour from here called The Lost and Found. Greg, the owner here, is good friends with the two owners there. I think their friendship goes back a few years when they opened their hostels about the same time. Because of this, if some of the workers here want to go there, they don’t charge for the night, and vice versa. I had wanted to make the trek up there on a Tuesday, but it started raining…. and it honestly did NOT stop for 48 hours! Thus, I left Thursday as soon as i saw the sun.

I took a local bus to the David Bus Terminal for about 50 cents, and then paid $1.25 for my bus ticket. Local busses are pretty fun (although not as interesting as the previously mentioned Diablos Rojos), because most of the local busses are decked out in Pimp My Ride material on the inside. There are those velvetty boas, bright beads, a nice CD player (because why make improvements to the bus when you could instead by a nice CD player), and colored lights on the inside. I know what you’re asking yourself and to answer your question, yes, Gangnam Style is an extremly popular song down here as well. I hear it everytime I’m on the bus or in a disco. I also think its funny that the driver always has his son or some young child who runs up and down the aisles on the bus collecting people’s money.

The Lost and Found Hostel itself is pretty well known. A lot of the online travel booking/review websites highly recommend it for it getaway, jungle experience. They offer a multitude of tours and trails so I was excited about doing some hiking in the mountains.

I knew it was going to be great when I read the directions to the hostel. It went something along the lines of:
“Take the bus to Bocas del Toro and after about an hour or so in the ride you will pass a toll booth. Three minutes after you pass through the toll booth look for our sign on the side of the road and yell “Parada” (stop) to the bus driver. The entrance to the trail is on your right. See you Soon.”
I love little adventures like that so I didn’t mind it at all. I could see it being a little bit overwhelming to some travelers though because when you get off the bus you are in the middle of nowhere at night. There is one little house on the highway and then there is a sign with an arrowing pointing to a trail saying “Trail to Lost and Found.”

So, I put on my headlamp and started up the trail. It is a true hike up to the hostel as it took me a good 10-12 minute walk up a mountain along this clear trail with signs along the way showing the turns. This probably would be difficult and dangerous if I didn’t have that headlamp, especially since everything was wet and slippery from the recent rain. Oh well, it’s all about the experience right? They also have several witty little signs along the route to keep you encouraged along the way. One of these I remember went like this:
Lost and Found Hostel: .25 km
David: 56 km
Bocas del Toro: 87 km
North Korea: Very Far

After the hike up the mountain, I found the lodge and immediately loved it. Its a nice complex, but its in the middle of the jungle. 5 steps one way or 5 steps the other and you are in the woods. It’s a very cool atmosphere that the owners have worked hard to develop. I said hello to the workers and owners i knew and went to the reception area to get checked in. She showed me to my room and gave me a tour of the place.

Some of the cool things they do there is give you the option of purchasing food from them. Because the hostel is in the middle of nowhere, you really don’t have any options about where to buy food. There certainly is not a restaurant or grocery store even remotely close by. Thus, they post a sheet for each guest on a big bulletin board that lists all of their options and it is pretty much an honor system to tally up what you use. It was like 25 cents for an egg, 5 cents for a slice of cheese, 50 cents for Ramen noodles, $1 beers, etc. I couldn’t see it when i arrived because it was dark, but they have a nice deck with a great view overlooking the mountains. They also have a rescued Kinkajou, or honey bear, which is an awesome, friendly nocturnal animal which looks like a mix between a small bear, monkey, and ferret. It would climb all over your shoulders, play with your hair, and bury its face in your hands hoping you held a few crumbs or a snack. Yea, it was pretty awesome. In addition to the Kinkajou, they also have a rescue monkey named Mono Peligroso or in English, Dangerous Monkey. Putting my college degree to use, I decided it was probably a little dangerous to try and play with it. It has about 60′ x 60′ space in which to roam. Its attached to a really long leash so it can’t reach you but you can get close enough to get a really good look at it.

Speaking of monkeys, one of my best memories from this visit was the next day. When I got done hiking, I took a break and sat there enjoying the view. One of the workers at the hostel was sitting on a little ledge holding a banana. She put the banana down and absently-minded walked away. Not 15 seconds after she walked away, a monkey swung in from the trees, swiped the banana, and swung back into the trees. To make it even more awesome and to add insult to injury, the monkey perched itself up on a tree branch only 10 feet away and ate the banana right there in front of us!

The main reason I love this hostel so much is that not only are you secluded from other people because you are in the woods in the middle of nowhere, you are also technologically removed from the world. They don’t have wifi, computers, or even cell phone service there. This produces a great social atmosphere as everyone sits around a big, wooden table. What else are you going to do? I love the vibe of the hostel I work at, but at times, guests isolate themselves and sit on their computers for hours. There is nothing wrong with this, but there is just something cool about the experience at Lost and Found. Its a perfect place for a one or two night stay to really enjoy the wilderness and get away.

That being said, I don’t know if I would want to work there, and I’ve seen signs of that talking with their workers. Being secluded is cool for a few days, but to me, sooner or later you are going to want some internet. And often times it is very slow there during the days so it can get boring. You can only hike the same trails so many times. BUT, for travelers passing through for a night or two, it is great!!

When, I got there, there was a group of 8 people that had arrived the day before and were leaving on the next. There were two girls from Australia, a guy from Germany, two girls from Germany, a girl and her father from Canada, and a guy from France sitting out there hanging out. Everyone was sitting around a big wooden table just exchanging stories. It is simply great; I don’t know if I’d ever get tired of meeting new people. Conversations consist of great places people have been, good stories they’ve heard, or my personal favorite, discussing similarities and differences about the culture of different countries.

These people were already really good friends since they had already been there for a day, and it had been raining the whole time. Nothing like being secluded in the wilderness with nothing to do except sit around and watch movies to get to know someone.

One thing I’ve noticed that has surprised me is the amount of girls who travel by themselves, particularly when they don’t even speak much Spanish. I’ve asked several of them if they are ever nervous or scared, but they all said they were nervous at first, but the nervous quickly went away.

I went to bed that night and woke up the next morning about 6:30 when the sun came up. I drank a cup of coffee while watching the sun rise and shine on the mountains from their look out point. It was a clear day and absolutely gorgeous. It was one of those things where the views are so beautiful everywhere you look that you can’t even take it all in. You just become numb to the scenery.

After a little breakfast, I packed some water and snacks into my bookbag, grabbed a hand drawn map of the trails and headed off. I hiked for 6 hours along their trails that morning/afternoon. It was a great hike that highlighted several lookout points along the mountains. There were countless, beautiful streams flowing into the river that we hiked beside and several spots to rock hop along the river.

After hiking for about 6 hours I was exhausted; I almost even fell asleep waiting at the bottom of the trail for the bus to take me back to David. Finally, I saw it coming around the corner, and motioned that I needed a ride. Before I left the lodge, I grabbed a beer for the 15 minute walk down the mountain thinking I’d drink that, and it would give me just what I needed to take a solid hour nap on the bus. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

As the bus came to a halt I saw a man standing at the entrance. I asked if the bus was going to David. He said yes and motioned for me to come in. As I got on the bus, I suddenly realized there weren’t any open seats. My first thought was that I wouldn’t be able to sleep. My next thought, which occurred when the bus started to speed away, was where was I going to sit or stand. The doorman motioned to a bar on the ceiling and we took off…. with the door still WIDE OPEN. We were probably going 50 mph around tight turns down a mountain and here I am holding on for dear life. To make things worse, I was standing on the lowest step, about 2 feet from pavement, and about 5 feet from the cliffs the highway went along. And lastly, as if it wasn’t dangerous enough, there are potholes all along the road – perfect. I felt like I was on a video game. It was like when my brothers and I used to ride around on our golf cart and one of us would stand on the side and hold on to the top for support. The only difference is that golf cart went straight at 5 mph whereas the bus was going around sharp turns down a mountain at 50 mph!

I was scanning all the Panamanians’ faces on the bus thinking maybe someone would also show a face of concern! First scan of the passengers, nothing. Second scan, nothing. Ok, I thought Id do a second scan and look for a mother or grandmother because let’s be honest, if a grandmother doesn’t sense any danger for you then you’re not receiving sympathy from anyone. Third scan, still nothing.

Luckily this only transpired for about 10 minutes as we hit another bus stop that 4 people needed to exit at. I took the closest seat and sat down next to some little kid. He proceeded to use the seat as his trampoline for the rest of 45 minute trip. So to answer your question, no I did not get to take that nap.

For anyone who reads this and is wondering what I’m doing in Panama don’t worry because I’ve asked myself that a few times. Im currently in a work abroad / work exchange program in David, Panama and am loving it. I’m working at a traveler’s hostel and in exchange for the work, I live for free. It’s a pretty awesome setup! Check it out at bambuhostel.com

I’m starting to finally get a grasp on life down here. It’s very different from what I’m used to but I guess that was to be expected. My role here at the hostel is to essentially be the English speaking face of the hostel as well as performing other minor chores. I check guests in, give tours, answer questions, etc as well as help with the cleaning and painting whenever it needs to be done. My Argentinian friend Diego and I stay around the reception area from about 3 (when most of our travelers start to come in)until late at night when we start to shut down. Throughout the day I’ll also clean in the kitchen, keep the pool clean, and any little maintenance things that need to be done. Cleaning the pool is a never ending battle because the pool is surrounded by all kinds of trees and stuff so leaves constantly fall from these trees into the pool. Overall, however, the work is pretty lax, but I stay busy throughout the day.

There are 3 others working here along with the owner Greg. Greg has been here 5 years and is a really nice guy. He’s also an unreal guitarist and played in New York City for a long time with other bands like Blues Traveler and Pearl Jam (he said others but those are the ones i remember). He also speaks English, Spanish, German, and Cantonese. I think he’s leaving the hostel in April to record an album with a guy in Lithuania or something. He mainly makes sure the place is running correctly or assigns various tasks. Diego and Cabeza are two of the other workers and both are from Buenas Aires, Argentina. They came thinking they would stay 2 weeks and here they are 6 months later. Diego’s responsibilities are similar to mine while Cabeza is the bartender and helps with landscaping. If you want a visual of what they look like, Diego looks exactly like Tarzan. Long, lanky, long dark hair, beard….. They might’ve actually used him to create the animated version of Tarzan. The last worker is Duke. He’s from Colorado but has been on his own traveling/working all over the world since he was 14 (crazy right?) He got here the same time I did and is probably going to stay for a few months. Its a pretty awesome group and we have a good time. We also have Aras who cleans the rooms for an hour or two a day and Miguel who is the nighttime security guard. It’s great having a security guy at night, but he, like most Panamanians, is about 5’5″ and weighing in at a whopping 140 lbs on a good day – not ideal qualities for an enforcer. We might as well have my moms yorkie Millie out here guarding the place. Oh well. We also have a dog named Kimba, a cat named Cata (classic Spanglish just put an a at the end of the word), and a random German Shepherd who runs around and stirs up trouble during the day when the gate is open. It’s a good group of guys though.

I’m living in a thatched bamboo hut out back which is pretty awesome. There is no a/c but we keep the windows open all the time. Part of the reason for this is that we like the breeze and partly because by windows I’m referring to cut out holes in the walls that we couldn’t close even if we wanted to. It feels pretty good at night but can get hot in there during the day. It has 10 beds via 5 bunk beds in a big open space. 3 of the 8 are occupied by me and 2 other workers and the rest are available to travelers. So yea, I’m sleeping in close proximity to other people. No better way to get to know someone though right? Don’t worry mom, I have all of my valuables locked up in a locker. Aside from a night in the hut which costs 9$, we have 7 private rooms. They all have a/c, and it’s costs 30$/night for the one with its own bathroom and 25$/night without a bathroom. Those rooms are pretty nice, relatively speaking. That being said, I don’t know if my beautiful Mema (grandmother) would be quite so generous in her assessment! Hostels are cool because they cater to travelers on any type of budget. If you can afford the private air conditioned room, you got it. If not we also offer rooms in the hut or other dorm style room for cheap.

This really is a cool hostel. There are probably 10 hammocks dispersed throughout the place, an open thatched hut to hang out in, a nice pool, beautiful garden, and an outdoor bar. There is an avocado tree, papaya tree, coconut tree, something that produces the Latin American version of bananas, and something similar to plantains; our garden is full of native species of plants in all different colors. Most nights here turn into a social time with sounds of music from all over the world filling the air and everyone hanging out telling stories by the pool and bar. The owner really did a good job of producing the vibe of a bambu jungle oasis. The music situation is pretty much anyone who wants to can hook up their iPod and play music from their country. Cabeza opens up the bar and sells 1$ beers, cokes, and rum drinks. It’s such a great, fun thing to be a part of. I’m loving it.

Oh yea, one other thing about the avocado tree. Avocados are constantly falling and we keep the avocados and offer them to guest free of charge which is pretty cool. The only problem is that the avocados are pretty big, pretty heavy, and pretty hard so when they fall at night and hit the tin roof above my hut it sounds like a revolutionary war cannon is shot off. It’ll scare you a little bit the first time….. And then every time after that as well.

We also have roosters who contrary to popular belief have absolutely no problem crowing at 3 or 4 a.m. You have to take the good with the bad right?

I absolutely love the guests here at the hostel; meeting new people is definitely my favorite part of being down here. David is in a very central location for the travel hot spots in central America and is located a baseball throw away from the Pan-American Highway. We have travelers from all over the world, most of whom are backpacking around Central America. Most people are just passing through for a night or two, but some will stay here for a week or so making money in the city performing their trade whether it be selling jewelry, dancing, juggling, or playing an instrument. So far I’ve met Americans, Candadians, Nicaraguans, Colombians, Costa Ricans, Argentinians, Brazilians, Germans, Irish, Englishmen (I guess that’s how you refer to them) Spaniards, French, and someone from Italy. Not bad for only being here a few days! You get to know these people pretty well since there is a communal kitchen, living room, and outdoor patios where people hang out. Everyone is unique and fascinating in their own way, and I love hearing their stories.

On a sidenote, I kind of felt like I was stepping out of the box a little by traveling down here to live a month in a foreign country. I’ve quickly realized, however, that my travels are simple in comparison to alot of the people I’ve met! No worries though, I’m living it up while I’m here.

The town of David is pretty awesome as well. It is a big city (i think around 100,000 people) that isn’t overrun by tourists at allthus. The town doesn’t cater to tourists and consequently, not a single person I’ve met in David outside the gates of this hostel speaks English. This fact makes trips into the city so much more fun though. This and another less popular hostel are actually the only spot in town tourists can really stay. We are right on the outskirts of the main city area. It’s about a 5 or 6 minute walk to get to the market and then another 3 or 4 minutes to get into the heart of the city. I’ve walked around downtown a few times now and it’s pretty unique. There are a lot of venders on the side of the road selling little jewelry and fresh fruit, and I’m excited to explore them again. They also have movie theaters, a cool little park where there are always musicians playing for money, and a little league baseball field that always has games going on throughout the day. The amount of baseball talent in Central America amazes me. There are young teenagers out there on the mound throwing cheddar, and flashes of talent all over the field. I thought about going out there and helping them out until i realized they throw harder than I do…. There also is a professional winter ball team not too far away. And there is cock fighting that takes place every Friday night down the street….

Eating lunch and dinner here is incredibly cheap. The currency here is the US dollar but a dollar here goes a lot further than it does in America. I ate lunch my first day here for 1.75$. Even better, I ate a huge dinner that consisted on snapper (head, tail, and all), fried plantains, some type of cucumber soaked in something sweet, and salad for 3$. The average beer in a bar costs about 40-50 cents and Panamanian rum which is really good cost about 5$ for a bottle…… Not too bad. And if you’re wondering what the most popular beer in Panama is, it is called Panama. (real original)

That being said, I really cooking here at the hostel. Its a big communal kitchen that is always full at night. Because we have such a vast array of people, a lot of the food cooked stems from different cultures. Most times when people cook stuff, they’ll offer me a taste because they’re nice or they finally get the hint after I stare at the food with my mouth open long enough. Ive had some Argentinian tea called mate which was pretty cool, some Argentinian bread with a sweet taste to it, some phenomenal vegetarian-ish style hamburgers (I really don’t know what it was) a girl from Colombia cooked, and an absolutely disgusting concoction of a soup a German girl made amongst many others dishes. I wish I could cook better and contribute to this, but I keep it pretty simple. I am, however, going to make sweet tea for everyone to try, South Carolina extra sweet of course.

Alright I’m done, my brain is starting to hurt and some guest just rolled up. I can’t wait to talk to him.

FYI the guest I just checked in is from Hong Kong and has a name I can’t even begin to pronounce. He said just to call him Justin. Haha alright man….

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Well I made it. Sort of. I’m currently sitting in the waiting lounge (the word “lounge” is a stretch) of the Albrook Terminal waiting on my 3:45 bus trip to David. I was a little worried about my bag getting there ok and making it through customs etc, but that was a breeze. The customs agent really didn’t seem to care. I don’t know if he could look at me and tell I wasn’t a terrorist or if he was ready to get off his shift because he left as soon as I did. Whatever.

I hopped in a cab with my now good buddy Joel and for 26$ he gave me the 30 minute ride to the other side of Panama. He didn’t speak English but it was good enough to weed through my attempts at making coherent sentences.

Panama city at first glance is gorgeous. There are huge skyscrapers and construction going on everywhere. They even have a Trump tower and 5 Star hotels. After driving through the city, I still think it is gorgeous but with a healthy dose of poverty. It’s like you jumbled Miami and Detroit together as there was a bit of slums outside of the skyscrapers. I did notice that everyone had a satellite dish on top of their houses though: good to know. Joel made sure to point out what everything was as we drove by. I shook my head in understanding to everything he was saying but really only completely grasped about 75% of it.

I have seen two completely crazy things thus far on day 1. One is awesome, the other I’m a little sketched out about. I’ll start with the bad. Joel and I encountered a good bit of traffic within panama city which he said was unusual (again not his words, just the understanding I arrived at). As we creeped along we saw the root of the problem: a traffic jam. No big deal right? It looked like a motorcycle had crashed into the back of a taxi just from the way the cars were positioned. Then we drove past the taxi which had been rear ended, and saw what appeared to be the driver of the motorcycle lying on the ground amidst a lot of broken glass. Now I don’t know if he was hurt, catching his breath, dead, or what, but Joel and I were both in a bit of shock. Regardless, he was just laying there with a lot of people standing around and pointing at him. I have no idea what the deal was. Hmmmm I don’t know. Let’s move on to the good: the Diablos Rojos. I am absolutely fascinated by these things. From what I can gather, there are three forms of public transportation within the city: taxi, metro, or Los Diablos Rojos. (red devils in english) These things are awesome. They are just old yellow school busses that weren’t acceptable in the US or something. The drivers paint all kinds of pictures and psychedelic drawings all over. I saw some that were hot pink, some were tideye and one in particular I remember had nothing but pictures of Shakira on it.They speed down the roads in and out of cars so much so that Joel referred to them as Formula 1 racers. They blare music and always have the windows down pretty much forming a 24/7 party bus for grandmothers, teenagers, and children alike. I’ve got to try one sometime. I’ll just have to get really tan and maybe people will think I’m a local. It could happen.

So I finally arrived at the Albrook Bus Terminal, tipped Joel a few dollars for all his help, and headed to buy my bus ticket. This was the only time Ive felt overwhelmed thus far in my trip as the lady behind the register did not speak a lick of English nor did she care to slow down her 429 word a minute pace so I could understand what she was saying. After about two minutes of asking her to slow down, someone in line behind me who spoke a bit of English helped out. I don’t know why but the Latinos I play baseball with who taught me Spanish for some reason forgot to include how to buy a bus ticket in their lessons.

Since I had an hour and a half to kill, I headed to the food court where they had the options of any American food court – subway, McDonald’s, KFC, Popeyes, burger king, and taco bell. But seriously, this was my first day in Panama…. No chance I’m eating something I could eat in Sumter. I went to the lone place with a Spanish title and just asked the girl to give me her favorite meal. It was typical Latin food: some type of meat (probably cat), rice, beans, and plantains. As I sat down to eat with my book bag, guitar, and suitcase close beside me, it finally hit me that I was actually in Panama. I was getting some weird looks and there was not one person who looked like they had any English vocabulary. Oh well.

Here are a few other notable differences I’ve immediately noticed since being here. Panamanians are short, really short. I haven’t seen a single person, male or female, over the height of 5’10. Yea, I doubt I stick out at all….. There’s also a certain stereotype in America about Mexicans packing as many people into a small truck as they can; here, they do the same and then load as many as they can I’m the back of the truck as well. It’s pretty funny to see. And what is even funnier to see is the few times the back of the truck isn’t full and the few back there are asleep in the bed of the truck with a pillow. Another fun fact, I had to pay a quarter to use the bathroom. Yeaaaaa. Oh, and people drive like maniacs, but I guess that was to be expected.

Aside from Joel, I have made a few friends. I talked to a guy next to me on the fight from Miami to panama a good bit but nothing too interesting. He made himself out to be a millionaire real estate tycoon off to panama to buy some property. He had me going until i remembered that he was riding coach next to my broke self. My second and third friend were the only two whites I saw the whole time I was in the Albrook Terminal. I didn’t know what to think about them at first because they were dressed in outfits that reminded me of pilots. After talking to them, however, I found out they were Mormon missionaries from Utah (figures) in their way to Bugaba, Panama. They were really nice and cool. They even tried to help me with the pay phone to call home which was unsuccessful despite all my attempts. My last friend is Maria. She was (is as i write this) my seat partner on the way to David on this surprisingly nice double decker bus. We struck up a conversation quickly and she even let me borrow her cell phone to call my nervous wreck mother and then refused to let me pay her. Oh yea, we were also lucky enough to sit in the first row of the second floor if the bus so we could see out the window. Maria was awesome too!

Whelp, that’s all I got so far. I know that was a long recap but I’m on a seven hour bus trip with nothing to do since maria fell asleep (or she is faking it so ill shut up) except stare out the window. Next stop, David!!

P.s. I had to add this in here… We just about ran into the back of an 18 wheeler cause it was driving at night with no lights! 18 wheeler, no lights, are you kidding me?!?! Haha

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I quite often think about the duality of minor league baseball players. Ok, maybe duality isn’t the best word for it. Oh well, I’m in the middle of a grueling 6 month season right now and my brain doesn’t need to strain too much.

This thought first hit me day 2 of spring training as I was laying out by the pool enjoying the warm weather associated with spring training. I sent a buddy from my offseason job a picture of us laying out trying to inflict some harmless jealousy knowing he was cooped up inside of a cubicle. He of course responded with a little jealousy along with the question that sparked my thoughts. “Man, you’re living the life of a rock star aren’t you?” In my mind, the answer was of course yes, a very affirmative, exclamatory yes. After giving the question more thought, however, I realized that maybe I wasn’t quite so sure about that answer.

Being a senior signed ball player with the consequent signing bonus, money for me and the majority of minor league ball players, is something we still have to think about. I’m not struggling, but I certainly didn’t receive the multi-million dollar signing bonuses that seem so common when you watch ESPN or read Sports Illustrated.

In fact, I bet if I told a complete stranger the basics of my current situation but left out the part about professional baseball, they may consider me to be homeless. All kidding aside, let me divulge a few of the facts of my life. I live out of a suitcase. In-season living arrangements consists of cheap air mattresses, crammed apartments with minimal furniture, and hotel rooms that are so crappy they don’t even register on the 5 star scale (that’s a bit of an exaggeration). People receiving welfare checks probably make as much as I do during the season. Seriously though, during spring training and extended spring training, everyone in minor league camp got 16$ a day; that includes first rounder, 51st rounders, and everything in between. This may seem reasonable until you consider the hours put in. Most people get to the park about 7:00 A.M. and probably won’t return to the hotel until 5:00; thus, we have a 10 hour work day and a consequent hourly wage of a whopping $1.60/ hour. I must note that this money doesn’t include the hotel they put us up in, but let’s be real here, $1.60/hour? Although it varies among the ranks of the minor leagues, during the season minor leagues earn roughly $1100 – $1600 a month which doesn’t leave you with very much when you take out taxes and clubhouse dues. Let’s move on. A lot of people like to say, “At least we have a good, secure job right?” FALSE! My job is about as stable and secure as the price of gas. At any given point in time I could be fired or forced to move locations within 24 hours; I also have no clue where or what I’ll be doing in the next 2 weeks, 1 month, 6 months, etc. It’s hard to keep up relationships with friends and even harder to keep a girlfriend happy. Not quite the glamorous lifestyle you hear about is it?

But here is the crazy part: I’m living the dream. I’m living the dream that millions would love to live. I have to sign an autograph at least once a day, often times more. People line the fences watching us practice. Thousands of people a night pay to watch us play. Why they want me to sign my name to a piece of paper I’m not sure, but its sure does feel good when a complete stranger asks for it. You can just look into a kid’s eyes and know that they think it is the coolest thing in the world. When we go out, we certainly act like stars; all it takes is someone to mention we play professional baseball and its goodbye waiting in line and hello VIP. My daily routine merely consists of working out, running, throwing, and playing this great game, and I get to hang out with the guys all day long. So maybe it is glamorous?

Anyways, let me get back to my original topic: the duality of baseball players. It is crazy how I (using myself as a microcosm for minor league ball players) can be on such far ends of a spectrum: hot and cold, black and white, winter and summer. I can be a bum and a rock star all in the same day. I am a professional athlete, but make little money and sleep on air mattresses or in sub-par hotels. I can be a health-nut at times but still consume regular meals at the oh-so-nutritious McDonalds and Wendy’s. I crush weights all off-season long only to have minimal sleep on an overnight bus trip and then be forced to perform at an optimal level on the field several hours later. Locker room and bullpen conversations range from left and right wing political viewpoints, foreign policy, and other complex subjects to things as simple as who can pee the furthest distance. There’s also a definite language barrier on most teams so one would think people on both sides would try and bridge this gap. Nope, not even close. The first and oftentimes only words most care to learn are those with some sort of vulgar meaning. We have experienced athletic trainers waiting to help out with any type of pain or soreness, but when it comes down to it, most simply resort to ibuprofen and a Red Bull. So here I am – a bum, a rock star, and everything in between. And the best part is there’s no shot I’d want it any other way.

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