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Costa Rica, Bocas del Toro & Boquete

Week 3/4

rain -28 °C
View CR, Bocas & Boquete on -inge-'s travel map.

My blog stories seem to be getting longer and longer, so I´ve decided to make this a fairly short one (purely to save you time... not because I´m being too lazy or anything...)

So, I´m back in Pedasi now and will be leaving for Panama City tomorrow.
Time is just flying by far too quickly & I can´t quite comprehend that I´ll be back in Holland in about a month... *gulp* ...and the fact that the last 1.5 week has been amazing doesn´t make the thought of leaving any easier.

When we left for Costa Rica, Maudy and I were extremely lucky as all the buses seemed to be leaving the moment we arrived. Julio dropped us off in Santiago at 8am and whilst waiting for the bus to David (waiting time: 3 hours), a man who was driving to David anyway, offered 4 people a ride in his car. Along with 2 other women, we decided to go for it (despite his dodgy `my little black girls` number-plate) and we arrived in David 2 hours later, well before the bus would have even left Santiago. From there, we got onto the Changuinola bus (which left straight away) and 4 hours later, we arrived in Almirante, where we got a different bus to the Panama - Costa Rica border. To cross the border, you literally just walk from one side of a bridge to the other, get your stamps and its done. Simple, but it got me very excited (especially as I now have an extra stamp in my passport, yay!)

In Costa Rica, we had to wait 1.5 hours for the bus to Puerto Viejo and when we arrived, it was dark. Rocking J´s (the campsite where we stayed) was easy to find as one of the guys on the bus was a night-watchman there, so he lead the way. The campsite was really cool- mosaic, graffiti & art everywhere, a choice of staying in a hammock/tent or in private rooms and the beach was literally at the other end of the garden. Very hippyish. We opted to stay in a tent and luckily all the tents were set up under a roof, as it rained the whole time while we were there!

We spent the next day walking around, window shopping and checking out all the little jewellery & gift stalls in Puerto Viejo. We were both surprised with how expensive and touristic it all was- no locals to be found, which was a shame. I imagine that in 10 - 20 years time, Pedasi will become like this (though I hope not...). After some reading and an attempted swim (a failed attempt, as the waves were wild & really high and the sea bed was made of rocks), we had some beers, dinner and once again, an early night as we decided to head back to Panama the next day.

That night, it stormed & rained...a lot!
We thought we´d have to stay an extra night, but around 8:30, there was a dry patch and we quickly set off for the bus back to the border. Once again, we were in luck and the bus left straight away. We crossed the border at 10am and on the Panamanian side, Maudy managed to make a deal with a shuttle-driver to have us dropped off at the Bocas water-taxi for $5.50 (by bus, it would have been at least $15 and about 2 hours longer!). 1 hour later, we arrived at the water-taxi stop (not the best first impression as the water was brown, full of sewage and polluted...nice) but, arriving on Bocas island 20 minutes later, it was a whole different story: gorgeous, clear blue water and fish everywhere. We found a hostel pretty much straight away (with TV, fan and private bathroom :-) and spent the evening in, as Maudy had a migraine.

The next day, we did some exploring (EXPEDITION FOOD).
First stop- the Surf Smoothie bar.
Next stop, American-style pancakes.
We then had a little food break, checked out a wicked little jewellery stop, and then resumed our food quest at Lili´s Cafe on the sea-front. Being a Sunday, it closed at 1pm, so we went to the next sea-front resaturant and had lunch (BLT and a melon milkshake... life really is so hard sometimes!). After a little TV and shower break in the hostel, we set back out again and had a Margarita at one of the restaurants, where we met a really funny guitar player who played us loads of Bob Marley songs and some random, made-up song about his love for bananas. We then had one more cocktail and called it a night.

The next day, we went on a boat excursion which left at 10am. First stop, Dolphin Bay.
Its the first time I´ve ever seen dolphins and they were really amazing! There were loads of other boats around though, and they worked together to chase the dolphins in one direction, so the tranquility of it all was a bit spoilt and I actually don´t think it is that dolphin-friendly after all, so it made me feel a bit guilty (also the fact that our boat reeked of gasoline!).
The next stop was Coral Cay, where we snorkeled (super clear water, lots of fish and coral)...then it started to rain...hard! I guess that´s what you get for going to a rain forest area during the rainy season!
We all got back in the boat and the next island was Bastimentos, a.k.a. Red Frog Beach, a conservation island for a rare tiny red + black dotted frog. We actually only saw two frogs (and a huge, sand-coloured scary spider) and spent the rest of the hour trying to shelter from the wind and rain with two (rather drunk) Spanish guys. Everyone in the boat then opted to skip the last island and head straight back to Bocas Island (it was far too cold) and on the way back, I saw my first ever sloth!!! This made my day :-)

After indulging in another pancake-eating session, Maudy and I decided to check out Playa del Drago the next day, which is on the other side of Bocas island. We got a collectivo van there and it was beau-ti-fullll! Gorgeous, clear, azul-blue Caribbean sea, white sandy beach... truly amazing. We met some nice Israeli guys there and, importantly, Pancho- a 5-week year old orphan Spider monkey. He was soooo cute and playful! Maudy and I starting devising evil plans to kidnap him and take him to Pedasi with us, hehe... We then decided to check out Playa Estrella (a.k.a. starfish bay), which was about 10 minutes away along the beach. Loads of starish everywhere, pretty funky :-) The Israeli guys joined us there and, instead of getting the collectivo back, we managed to convince a boat driver (is that what they´re called?) to take us back to Bocas by motor boat. Fun fun...
That evening, Maudy and I had an amazing meal on the sea-front... with Margaritas of course... and accompanied by the Bob Marley/Banana-song man playing in the background. Then we went to a bar where it was ladies night (i.e. free drinks for all women...best invention ever!) where we met 2 of the Israeli guys.

The next morning, Maudy decided she wanted to get her lip pierced (!). We found a surf shop that also did tattoos & piercings and made an appointment for 3pm. In the meantime, lots of time to get nervous and excited. We got to the shop at 3pm (en punto!) and Maudy got pierced. It looked wicked! :-) To celebrate, we went back to the bar we´d been in the night before but unfortunately, it was empty. We found out later that the nightlife in Bocas works in rounds- i.e. every night a different bar does happy hour/free drinks for women, so people only concentrate in those bars... we´d been in the wrong bar, on the wrong night. ¡Mierda!

We decided to leave the next morning and, whilst munching on yet another round of American-style pancakes, we bumped into one of the Israeli guys (in my opinion, ´un hombre muy guapo`, hehe...) who managed to convince us to stay one more day and join them on a boat trip to Cayo Zapatilla, a conservation island. We went there with a Dutch couple and some more friends of the Israeli guys and it was, till now, probably the most beautiful beach yet (google it!). We spent the whole day there, roasting in the sun and once back on Bocas, we all went out for a meal together, played pool and had some drinks in another busy bar- this time, the right bar on the right night.

At 08:30 the next day, we left the island (just in time to miss the massive rainstorm in Bocas) and headed to David via Almirante. Once again, we were ridiculously lucky and our bus seemed to be waiting for us before it left. I slept most of the way there and we got to David around 2pm. From there, I headed to Volcan (1 hour away) as I wanted to climb Volcano Baru, whilst Maudy headed back to Pedasi. Once I´d arrived in Volcan, I realised that I was a little less prepared than I had thought as Volcano Baru is apparently much better to climb from the Boquete-side of the mountain, not Volcan. So, I headed back to David and from there, I took another bus to Boquete- a lively little town in the mountains. Also, cold! I arrived there around 7pm, found a hostel pretty much straight away and went to sleep as I was feeling ill.

I spent the whole night coughing and still felt ill the next day, so I decided to take it easy and spent the next day watching tv (good old Bridget Jones), e-mailing people and sipping tea & honey. I still felt ill the next day, but wanted to make the most of my time in Boquete, so I walked around the town and tried to sign up to do the zip-line tree trek adventure in the mountains, but unfortunately the office was closed as it was a Sunday. I guess after all the luck I´ve had on the trip so far, it had to change at some point. So, once again, an early night for me.

The next day, I STILL felt ill, but decided to just do the tree-trek anyway. It was raining so much in the morning that the 8am trip was cancelled, but luckily the weather had cleared up enough for the 10am one to go through. We all got into a van and headed to Palo Alto, where we got into our gear and were taught what to do. Then, we were taken to the top of the mountain (in the same van) and we arrived at platform 1. This was when I started to think that may be this was slightly too adventurous for me... but there was no turning back, so I went for it and absolutely LOVED it! I didn´t expect to like it that much and was so glad that the height (30-60m above ground) didn´t bother me. Most of the cables were suspended over the waterfall below and it was incredibly beautiful there.
When we reached Palo Alto again (after 13 platforms), we all had lunch and headed back to Boquete town, where i checked my mail and continued my tea-drinking session as I was still coughing loads. I then decided to not do the Volcano Baru hike (gutted) as I just wasn´t feeling well enough, and the hike would have been an all-night hike in the rain (starting at 23:00 in order to reach the top before it gets too cloudy to see the two oceans). I guess it also gave me an excuse to come back to Panama someday :-)

I left Boquete at 8am the next day and headed to Pedasi. After 4 bus rides (Boquete - Santiago, Santiago - Chitre, Chitre - Las Tablas and Las Tablas - Pedasi), I arrived there around 5pm and, getting ready to take a shower, I found a scorpion on my bag! Being the chicken that I am, I freaked out and Maudy had to get rid of it for me. I was all jumpy and itchy for the rest of the evening. Andreas, the sushi guy, cooked for us that night though and it was A.-MA-ZING!!! Fried oysters...steamed lobster... then Grilled lobster (all caught in Pedasi an hour or two before)...then ice-cream. Sooooo good!

The next day (yesterday), we decided to be lazy and I spent the day doing my laundry and having a film-watching marathon (´Zoolander´, ´Love Actually´ and ´Into the Wild´). In the evening, Andreas came round & offered to cook again... obviously we didn´t object and yes, it was, once again, incredible. Octopus risotto. And for dessert, we got take-out mango ice-cream & chocolate cake from the Italian restaurant. I love life. So much.

Today, I´m finally feeling a bit better! I made some milkshakes in the morning (fun fun) and the kids of a friend of Julio´s came round, so I spent the afternoon making necklaces, rings and bracelets with them. For my ¨last supper¨ in Pedasi, Andreas, Julio, Maudy and I went to the Italian restaurant and had linguini carbonara. Yummy! I managed to restrain myself, but the other three had TWO meals... seriously, its a good restaurant!

So...that´s the update once again. Tomorrow morning we´re going back to Panama City as my flight to Mexico is on Sunday, so my time here is slowly coming to an end (nooooo!). I´m actually feeling quite sad about it all, but at least I know I´ll be back someday as I really do want to climb Volcano Baru! And, Maudy´s been trying to convince me to stay & start a smoothie/cake shop with her...so who knows, may be I´ll end up living here! haha...

Oh, I now realise that I seem to have written far too much again (I guess I like details) so I´m sorry if you had to read all of this... the next one, will be a short one (or at least I´ll try).
Till then, night night, have a good weekend & ciao from Panama! x

Posted by -inge- 06:45 Archived in Panama Tagged backpacking

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