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  • Day72

    Bocas del Toro, Panamá

    March 28, 2017 in Panama ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Much R&R time and probably the last beach I'll see for a while! Gasp.

    Mike and I had a relatively stress free border crossing from Costa Rica although it was slightly like a treasure hunt at times, trying to figure out where the office booth was that we had to attend next as it was all a bit haphazard. I swear we ended up having to see about 5 or 6 different people, one for each stamp, each fee and passport check. Lucky there were many a kind local who pointed us into the right direction each time and thankfully didn't ask for tips. A couple of decent signs wouldn't go astray, just saying.

    Bocas del Toro is our first stop in Panama, which also happens to be our last country for this trip. Where does the time go? Panama looked very far away on the map back when we started in Mexico in January, but here we are, 10 and half weeks later.

    From the border it took a taxi, a bus and 2 boat trips until we reached Isla Bastimentos, one of the nine islands that make up Bocas del Toro archipelago. In all honesty we made a bit of a mistake by choosing to stay on this island in the beginning. Although the accommodation itself was nice, the surrounding area wasn't. We thought we would be able to swim off the jetties by our cabaña but it looked as though pipes from the houses were pumping some of their kitchen waste out there, potentially even the toilet waste too. In saying that the water was still mostly clear but it was still a firm no from us. With that we quickly realised it was going to be annoying and expensive staying there when most things we wanted to do or needed were on the main island - Isla Colon. Thankfully our cabaña was part of a group of 10 cabañas owned by the same people, so they were happy to allow us to move to the main island for the same price after our first night.

    Our move to Isla Colon gave us a smaller room but we had more freedom in terms of everything else, especially with the free use of bicycles from our accommodation. The island is actually quite large and the town itself is more built up than any of the other islands we've been to on this trip. Isla Colon has proper roads and all sorts of vehicles, hotels, guest houses, restaurants, surf shops and a weirdly excessive amount of supermarkets (really more the size of dairies).

    Much of our time here was spent lazing about reading and chilling out, living on island time. Mike and I are shattered at the moment from moving around so much and generally just not having a huge amount of downtime, so this was well and truly welcomed. Aside from a couple of nights in Ometepe, it is also the first time it had been just the two of us since we were in Mexico, way back at the end of January. It's crazy how at the beginning of this trip we thought we might be doing the whole time alone and it has ended up that we have had company from our friends more often than not!

    We did manage to the leave the hammock for a couple of adventures, one of which was taking the bicycles to Playa Bluff which is about 7km from where we were staying. The bike ride took us around the coast, past many smaller beaches and at one point the road turned to sand which certainly made things interesting. We reached Playa Bluff to find a huge stretch of beach at least two or three kilometres long, golden sand and clear turquoise water. And only one other person there that we could see. What! We were expecting this beach to be busy as it's one of the main beaches of the island, so I really have no idea where everyone who is staying on the island goes all day. Not that we were complaining.

    Rich and Cat have caught up to us again, or rather they are one day behind us so we are going to be playing a bit of cat and mouse with them for the rest of our time in Panama, crossing over at each stop. We met up and shared stories of our previous two weeks over a few cervezas at their cabaña which overlooks the airport runway and the soccer pitch that is right next to it. Who needs a TV? Cat and Rich sound like they enjoyed their extra time in Nicaragua and the fleeting visit they had through Costa Rica. The two of them are gearing up for the next stage of their adventure, which is to tackle South America. That one is going to have to wait until next time for us!

    Bocas del Toro was a good stop for some chill time but we are already missing the cleanliness of Costa Rica. It's such a shame people don't know how to look after these places well. Once again taking New Zealand's cleanliness for granted and the fact that people actually care about the environment. I feel like I talk about this a lot but it's sometimes just so hard to comprehend the mess that some of these people live amongst. You wonder if they realise or if that's just what they're used to. Either way I hope it will change someday.

    Anyway, enough ranting for now. We're heading back to the mainland, to the mountain town of Boquete and hopefully to a cooler climate!
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