I have a confession to make. I can’t hide it any longer.

It seems like everyone here in Panama City already knows. On the streets, in the restaurants, at the clubs… no matter where I go, I can’t escape.

Last night, Tynan and I were doing a 5k on the way to get some dinner, and people screamed it from balconies and car windows. We kept running, but today I have to be honest with you and, more importantly, with myself.

Apparently, I am El Pibe.

El Pibe

Carlos “El Pibe” Valderrama is the most celebrated Colombian soccer (football) player of all time. What an incredible compliment!

He’s also recognized for his “enormous dyed blondish-orange bush of hair.” Here’s how we looked on International Superstar Soccer ‘98 for N64.

El Pibes - video game

There hasn’t been a day in Panama City I haven’t been called “El Pibe.” I don’t mind it at all. In fact, it’s pretty nice not having people call me Will Ferrell.

Most people try (without success) to blend in when they’re traveling, but looking different is pretty useful. People are interested in the unfamiliar, and more interest equals more opportunity to create relationships.

Plus, if you don’t look like a local you get a little leeway to do things that aren’t normally done. It also gives people a great excuse to reach out to you.

Wonder who I’ll be in Japan!