Bocas del Toro

Trip Start Sep 30, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Hostal de Hansi

Flag of Panama  ,
Sunday, November 13, 2011

Waking up on Sunday morning at least it wasn't raining so as we had spoken to one of the tour guides the night before to confirm that we would do the tour if it wasn’t raining, we got up and got ready. We went quickly to the bakery to get bread to make sandwiches but when we saw the yummy sandwiches they prepared fresh we just got one each to go for our lunch. We were picked up at the hostel at 9.30am and got on a speedboat. First stop was a dolphin bay, we saw a few dolphins but they seemed sedated, they barely came out of the water at all and swam super slow. Anyway, since we had seen them in the open sea on the way to San Blas it was no big deal. Next stop was to see the starfish, not very impressive either, the water was not at all as clear as San Blas. By now the sky was getting really cloudy and things were looking a little worrying for the rest of the day. As we got to our stop for snorkelling we happily jumped in to explore, only to discover that it was full of jellyfish. Half the people of the boat didn’t even get in because of this and the snorkelling was cut short. Anyway we spent most of the time avoiding jellyfish rather than checking out the bottom. A bit of a disappointment really. After lunch we headed to Red Frog Beach to have a swim, the currents were so strong that we were only able to go in knee deep not to be pulled out in the sea. The bar on the beach seemed like a better idea and by now it was drizzling. We were also supposed to see red frogs and sloths, which turned out to be one sloth well hidden away at the top of one tree. On the way back we were supposed to stop at Hospital Point to snorkel again, when we left the guide told us we would not be able to because it had been raining the last few days. However as we went past there were other people from another boat snorkelling there, so to not get into trouble and get complaints, we stopped for about 15 minutes. This time even less people got in. All in all, the tour was not very impressive. But we had only paid 15usd each which kind of covered the whole transportation cost so we couldn’t really complain. In the evening we went for dinner with our new found Chilean friends, Paula and Franco, we all agreed that it was time to leave Bocas and head to Costa Rica and hope for better weather. We arranged a transfer for the next day to take us to the Costa Rican border crossing and the get picked up again after crossing by foot and take us to Puerto Viejo in Costa Rica. Sounded like an easy solution to us for only 25usd.

On the Monday morning we were leaving at 11.45 by boat from Bocas and having breakfast in the hostel we see Angela and Steph passing outside, they were just leaving Bocas too, together with Jenn and Adam. Even though they were planning to go by themselves they decided to join our transfer at last minute. Adam went along to the border and then said goodbye and headed to San Josť. The 3 girls came with us to Puerto Viejo. The bus ride from Almirante, where the boat from Bocas dropped us, to the border, was lined of banana plantations belonging to the Chiquita banana company. I don’t think any of us eating bananas as children and peeling of the Chiquita stickers, did we think we would see the real plantations. The bus dropped us off right by the border crossing and we went to pay our departure tax and get the visa exit stamp. Then we had to cross a really old bridge by foot which took us across a river to Costa Rica. On the other side there was the immigration for Costa Rica. We had been told that they would be really strict with having an onward ticket, so thanks to I got a flight itinerary printed to be able to show them (Thanks David!), but in the end they didn’t even ask for any proof of onwards journey and happily stamped our passports for 90 days. Back on another bus we went and realised that the weather seemed to have changed as we changed country, nice, finally the sun was shining again. We went along more banana plantations and then saw the Caribbean Sea in front of us again, with beautifully white sandy beaches and palm trees. Angela, Jenn and Steph had decided for one hostel and Paula and Franco went for the same choice as us. Unfortunately it was full so we had to get an alternative at least for one night.
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