Panama time...

Trip Start Nov 15, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Panama  ,
Saturday, March 3, 2007

Today we were planning to stay in Costa Rica and do some hiking and camping in Corcovado National Park which we had heard great things about.
Things donīt always go to plan...
Left our hotel at 5am in the morning for one of 2 daily buses out of Uvita, got attacked by a swarm of bees outside of our room and escaped cursing and with Anna sporting 2 decent-sized stings.
20 minutes down the road, the bus stopped because of an accident only 2 vehicles in front. There was a dead guy lying in the middle of the road who had come off a motorbike after colliding with a truck. No helmet, so you can imagine it wasnīt a pretty scene.
First thing our bus driver did was try to drive past the body through the streams of blood (tyre tracks showed he wasnīt the first one to do this). He was stopped from doing this, so he parked up the bus, yelled "vamanos!" (letīs go!) to the passengers and they joined the growing crowd staring at the corpse.
The police arrived and covered the body which was an improvement, but people were standing all around the accident scene as if they were watching a movie. It was grotesque. Later, the mother was standing there crying too.
The whole experience went from bad to worse as the police dragged the body bag onto the back of the pickup truck. One of them fell off the back of the truck and just about hit his head on the road - luckily his colleagueīs quick reactions saved him.
Over 3 hours later (very hot and bothered), we were on the road again. By this stage, we didnīt know if we would make the ferry connection to the National Park, so having had an awful day in Costa Rica we decided to go to Panama instead!
Easy border crossing, and people so much friendlier and more helpful in Panama we felt that we had made the right choice immediately. We were also cheered by the shared minibus complete with a pink feather boa draped around the windscreen and pictures of Jesus, Mary and an anonymous blonde with very little clothing.
Stayed at a friendly, dilapidated, cheap hotel in an excellent location in David. Our double bed resembled a hammock more than a bed, but Anna still had a great sleep...
The city had a beautiful climate and we really enjoyed watching a movie and of course dinner!
Caught up on some banking and other administration in the morning, and took a bus to some hot springs in the afternoon. They were situated on a private farm where the farm owner was suggesting we might want our picture taken with his prize buffalo for a small fee. thanks, that thing weighs more than my entire family so Iīd rather keep my distance.
The springs were in the shallow of the river, hot water bubbling up to mix with the refreshing cool, clear water of the river. Fantastic after a hilly and dusty walk in a landscape resembling outback Australia. A local guy talked at us for about 30 minutes, and as listening wasnīt really in his skill set he probably doesnīt know to this day that we had little idea what he was on about.
Managed a visit to nearby Boquete in the highlands outside the city of David on the way home. A nice enough place, but it is in the process of being taken over by American and other retirees. You can imagine that this changes the character of a place immensely.
Our highlight of the day was hearing Panamanian popular folk music for the first time. A unique blend of Mexican melodies, salsa-type rhythms plus a distinctive vocal style which resembled yodelling at times, we found this the most original music we had heard in all this trip to date.
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