Friday, September 30, 2011

Costa Rica & Panama - Part 3

Wednesday, Sept. 7th:

Walking over the Costa Rica border into Panama
Packed up and ready to go to Panama! We ate a quick breakfast at the reception room and said bye to Jake and Maureen :(. It was about a two hour drive to the Panama border. There were only two other people in the van with us, two girls from Germany. Once we got to the Panama border we had to go through customs and physically walk over the border (via an old rickety bridge)…it was neat! Panama basically looked the same as Costa Rica, but then again, we were only about 100 miles away from where we were before! Once we got over the border, we switched to another van with a CRAZY driver! Pedal to the metal the whole way, but I guess that’s just the way they drive there. It was a little rainy and we were driving through some mountainous areas, good thing we didn’t flip the van! Haha.

Almirante, Panama…we arrived here to take the ferry to Bocas. The ferry to Bocas was fairly short, maybe 15-20 minutes at the most. We arrived in Bocas Town and grabbed a quick lunch. Bocas Town was on the main island of Colon, we decided we wanted to stay somewhere a little more remote/off the beaten path, so we scoped out the other islands on the internet (thank goodness for iPhones and free wifi!). A guy from Bocas Town recommended Caremero Island, and we ended up spending the first night at a place called Buccaneer Resort. It’s not really a resort, just about 3-4 cabanas on the beach. The island is pretty remote, very close to the main island, but there’s not much on it…2 restaurants or so…a few places to stay, and that’s about it. It was really pretty and quiet.

We spent about an hour or two exploring the beaches (saw a HUGE spotted eagle ray!) and talking with some guys who were also visiting Bocas, but grew up in Panama City, Panama. We had an awesome dinner literally steps from our cabana at a restaurant called Bibi’s on the Beach. I tried some really yummy ceviche, (of course, had a passion fruit margarita), Frank ordered lobster and I had a really good shrimp dish. Our server was super friendly. Our cabana was nice in that it was about 10 steps from the water, and when you woke up in the morning you were greeted with a panoramic view of the ocean. I slept really well that night, we had AC for the first time in 4 days! At about 5 AM that morning the electricity went out because of a thunderstorm. It was very relaxing…the sound of the rain and thunder, and the ocean wave...and total darkness.

Thursday, Sept. 8th:

Bastimentos Island - Red Frog Beach
 Frank really wanted to go scuba diving this day and we had booked a dive trip for the morning. I wasn’t really feeling it, though. I just wanted to relax a little. We’d been on the go a lot and I didn’t really feel like getting on a boat that morning…plus, it was really cloudy and misty outside…not that it affects diving too much, but it will a little. I couldn’t really make up my mind what I wanted to do that morning…so naturally Frank got frustrated and I told him to cancel the diving. I don’t think he was very happy about that, but I told him we’d try again tomorrow. I know how much he really wanted to dive there.

Frank hung out at the cabana that morning and read and I went to Bibi’s on the Beach for some breakfast. I was the only person at the restaurant that morning and had fun chatting with a guy from Argentina who worked there. He spoke Spanish the whole time and I spoke English. We could sort of understand each other, enough to get our points across, anyway. It was actually the most I had been able to practice Spanish while I was there, and he helped me with some words I didn’t know and I was able to help him with some English. It was pretty cool! Sidenote: I’m pretty sure he was doing a drug deal on the side because while he was on the phone later on I heard something about dollars and kilos…not sure what else he would have been talking about…ha. Frank came down shortly after, had some breakfast, and we decided to venture off to another island for the day and stay the night there. Bastimentos Island was next on the list. We'd heard good things.

Bastimentos was so different than Caremero. It was further away from the main island of Colon, and even more remote, covered in rainforest. We booked a private room at a hostel called Bocas Bound. Seemed like a good place to stay with younger people hanging out. Once we got there we headed to Red Frog Beach which is a short hike from the hostel and the nicest beach on the island. Grabbed a drink at Punta Lava cafĂ© on the beach and then decided to hike over to the rest of the beaches. We thought the trails to the beaches would be a little more worn and an easy walk…oh no…not at all. We were basically climbing through the rainforest the whole way, over trees, under bushes…it was pretty remote, and I was wishing we had a machete! We were definitely the only ones out there and I don’t think that trail gets used much at all! Some of the trail was on the beach, but most was in the rainforest, which was fine with me since it was still raining lightly…it did pretty much all day on Thurs. My husband sure is the little explorer! He was all about finding out what was behind the next point on the beach…or the next turn in the “trail”. It was good fun, though…something I will definitely not ever forget.

Once we decided to turn around we noticed a boat pulling up behind one of the points, 3 guys got out of it with a long rope and several machetes…Hmm…I wonder what they were going to do with that!? They tried to talk to us but we acted like we didn’t hear them and let them walk past us (they also had a dog…he looked pretty mean!). I think they were heading to the nearby beach to try and rip some people off. There had been reports of muggings and things getting stolen off the beaches recently (why else would the hide their boat behind a rocky point?). When we got to the next beach we noticed the guys using their machetes to make coconut drinks for some people on the beach. There was a larger group of people hanging out there, we wonder what the guys would have done if it were only a girl or two?  Guess we’ll never know. We hung out on that beach a while. Later on we saw people who were at the beach the same time as us, and they said a sloth was hanging out in the tree above us…we never saw it! :(.

That night we went back to the hostel and showered up. We ate at the hostel restaurant that night and met some people who wanted to dive the next day, so we booked a 2 tank dive for the next morning. The hostel had a ping pong table, so of course we had to play some pong for old time’s sake! I owned Frank, by the way. Well, he probably won’t say that...but I did pretty well if I say so myself. Playing ping pong with Frank brought back lots of memories from when we first started dating. He had a ping pong table at his apartment in Wichita Falls and we would play all the time! I remember playing pong with some of his friends and looking over at Frank sitting in the living room on the couch, thinking to myself “I really like that guy!” Haha…good times. It seems like so long ago…just over 5 years now. I think we need a ping pong table at our house…

Around 9 PM the hostel set up a projector in the common areas and everyone that was there (I’d say about 30 or so people) watched Source Code. Then we headed back to the room for the night. Long day - we were tired!

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