A Journey and a Half

Trip Start Jun 29, 2010
Trip End Apr 07, 2012

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Flag of Panama  ,
Saturday, January 15, 2011

We woke at 5.30am and got ready to face our longest day of travels so far! Today we headed to Panama City a journey which would take us all day and we mean all day...still at least we would be getting away from the terrible weather.  Today we also had a travelling friend with us to add a bit of difference to the conversation.  Charly was from Devon and was heading to David in Panama before looping back to Costa Rica, as the journey was long we were glad of the company!

We caught a bus from Puerto Viejo at 6.30am to Sixaola for only US$3 each which was the border town with Panama.  En route we passed by some of the many banana plantations that cover this side of the country, the largest were Dole and Chiquita both names we have seen at our local Sainsburys!!!  The fields themselves went on for miles, the distinctive banana bunches standing out as they are covered from an early age with a blue mesh cover to stop insects eating them before picking.  The farmers here also have an interesting overhead pulley mechanism (similar to a ski lift) that cuts through the fields allowing them to pull the heavy banana bunches all the way back to the packing factory.  Buying bananas here is unbelievably cheap, they only cost around 5-8 pence each, something we will be painfully reminded of the next time we buy them at home. 

We arrived on time and had no problem signing out of Costa Rica in about 5 minutes (a record breaking border crossing) before taking the walk over the bridge and into Panama in the pouring rain.  On the Panamanian side we had the passports stamped, paid the now very reasonable $3 each to enter and then received our stamp in the office next door.  We then managed to get into a taxi to Changuinola for $8 which was shared with Charly and an older couple from Hawaii.  After 20 minutes or so we arrived in Changuinola and jumped into a $16 bus headed for David at 10am.  This journey took us up and over the Parque Internacional Amistad and then over the Cordillera de Talamanca mountain range.  The scenery was very beautiful and some of the waterfalls made us wonder why we ever hiked for 4 hours to see one on Isla de Ometepe?  The general surroundings were tropical rainforest and the size of some of the plants and leaves is amazing, all struggling to catch as much rainfall and sun rays as possible.

We arrived into a very busy David 4 hours 20 minutes later and headed to the very end of the terminal to buy the tickets for our last leg to Panama City at 3.45pm for $25.  Luckily this time we got a proper looking coach which had a toilet and air conditioning!  The coach was one of the more comfortable we had been on which was a god send after travelling all day and considering the journey to Panama City took us a cool 7 hours 10 minutes.  We stopped half way at a service station with possibly the best food we have ever had in a services, it really put England's to shame! 

We slept a little before arriving into Panama City around 11pm.  We then jumped into a very reasonably priced cab which took us directly to our hostel before checking in, unpacking and buying a beer!  To be sat in the garden with a cold drink by midnight was the best we could have hoped for, now we could have a good night’s sleep and a couple of stress free days in Panama before our flight to Brazil...  
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