Birthday, bats and bicis

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Flag of Panama  , Bocas del Toro,
Thursday, December 8, 2011

We got a taxi to David, then jumped straight on a bus to Almirante, a taxi to the jetty, then a ferry across to Bocas del Toro, a town on the Caribbean island of Colón. We spent a week in a cabina with its own kitchen, which was very much appreciated after staying in countless hostels with one battered old saucepan to share between 15 other backpackers. Instead, we were able to cook proper meals and even make proper coffee. The place also included bike hire for the week and we spent a few days cycling around different parts of the island. On our first full day there we cycled out to Bluff Beach, which took about an hour down a pot holed road and sometimes travelling on the beach. It was a beautiful day and while we were cycling we saw monkeys and a few different types of bird. We didn't swim at Bluff Beach as it was very wavy, but instead stopped on the way back and snorkeled in a nice quiet spot and then spent a while sitting on the beach, enjoying being in the Caribbean. That afternoon we went for another quick cycle and we noticed a couple of guys had stopped and were looking at something. So we stopped to see what it was and realised that there was a three toed sloth climbing along the fence of the research station. We watched it for quite a while, as it very slowly made its way into the trees and started eating the leaves.

We went on a snorkel tour which took us to a bay with lots of dolphins, Coral Cay and Zapatillas Island. The scenery shots for Survivor are from Zapatillas, which is a national park. However, it was raining constantly while we were there, so it didn’t look quite as impressive. The snorkeling at Coral Cay was very nice, with lovely clear water and lots of different fish and some coral.

It was Andrew’s birthday while we were in Bocas and although the weather was again rainy, we had a fun day.

We cycled to Boca del Drago, which was only about 15 km, but it felt further going up the hills on our fixed gear, rattly old bikes in the tropical humidity. We were boiling hot by the time we got there, so went for a nice swim in Playa de Estrellas, where there are lots of starfish. We then had a tasty lunch before making our way back. Just after we set out the rain started yet again and it just got heavier the further we went. We eventually made it to a spot where there is a cave you can walk through to see bats. It was absolutely pitch black and you have to climb over some parts of it and cross streams in other parts. After a while we began to hear the bats. At first we were amazed when we saw a group of about 10 bats, but as we walked further along we began to realise just how many bats were living in this cave. We shone the torch up at the roof and it was completely covered with little bats that were twittering amongst themselves and occasionally stretching their wings and flapping about. It was incredible to see that many all together. After leaving the cave the rain hadn’t stopped, but it didn’t look like it would anytime soon either, so we decided to brave it and cycle the rest of the way back.

It rained constantly for the remaining days, so we didn’t venture out too far, instead enjoying reading in the hammocks and cooking elaborate meals while we still had the opportunity. Despite the weather we thoroughly enjoyed our first taste of the Caribbean.
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