Trip Start Dec 30, 2013
21Trip End Mar 25, 2014
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Bus took 5 hours to the boarder from San Jose. From there we got a shuttle for 45 mins to Almirante. And from there we got a boat for 30 mins and voila - hello Bocas Del Toro!
We should have learned by now that weekends on islands are busy times, especially if we are arriving late in the evening. But we haven't!! No spaces at 2 hostels so we eventually set up camp in a double room, with private bathroom and tv around the corner from where our Canadian bestie was staying. This would do nicely. Hotel Casa Blanca you can be our home for the next 5 nights!
We went for a walk around Bocas and had some dinner at a lovely open air restaurant
Saturday, 8 February
We woke to the sound of rain...not happy! This was supposed to be paradise!! However we had more pressing issues to deal with...i.e. streaming the Ireland v Wales Six Nations game. After all that was why we were in Bocas a day earlier than originally planned...priorities!! We were happy out sitting on the bed with the laptop propped up infront of us watching a great win!
After the game we decided to brave the rain and meet up with Canada for brunch. She took us to a really cool cafe. It was basically a caravan with a kitchen set up inside it and tables outside. The food was amazing though. We went for a walk around the town and took shelter from the rain in a nice bar overlooking the water.
Saturday night is a big party night on the island when apparently 'everyone who is anyone' goes to Aqua Lounge! Canada had us warned to be ready so after some dinner we put on the travelling glad rags and went to meet Canada at her hostel, Hostel Luego for a few drinks
Sunday, 9 February
We woke with slightly fuzzy heads from the night before and went in search of breakfast down town. We found a nice little place but something tells me they were more hungover than we were!! It took three orders before Kathy got her coffee and as for Jen wanting peanut butter...that was just too difficult!
Our hopes of a nice sunny day were dashed when the rain started again. With little else to do we decided to start planning our escape to Panama City. Even with the rain Bocas still had a soft spot with each of us but we decided to leave Bocas a night early and take a night bus to Panama on Tuesday.
Surprisingly just after lunch the clouds started to disappear and now was our chance to hightail it to Playa Bluff Beach
Dinner that evening was some lovely seafood in a restaurant overlooking the water. We were feeling our age a little but we couldn't wait to get back to the hostel to relax and watch a film.
Well that's what Kathy thought she would get to do aswell except for when she was stopped by a lovely retired American couple who were just mad for the chats! All she wanted to do was go and get water from the shop! They did however give her a good history lesson about Central America and all the political influences that go with it.
Monday, 10 February
We were up bright and early to take a taxi boat back to Almirante on the mainland. We had booked a chocolate tour in the an give tribal village in Oreba. In Almirante we met up with our tour guide and we were taken by taxi to the village. There was another English couple on the tour with us. The guide was from the tribal village and he took us on a walk up to a cocao farm and explained all about the ripening of the cocao pods and the process involved in drying the beans etc
After some samples of chocolate we were taken for a traditional tribal lunch. It was surprisingly really nice. We had roast chicken and the leaves of a local plant were sautéed like spinach and the root was boiled like potato.
The boat trip back to Bocas was quite the experience...well for Michele and Jen it was! They got put in the last seats at the front of the boat (which is never a good idea with Jen's travel sickness) and Kathy was tucked in at the back. Everyone was then ordered to put on lifejackets...this had not happened on our previous two trips! Anyway off we went and the first five minutes were fine until we hit proper open water and the waves started. The front of the boat was pretty much an extended roller coaster! Let's just say, Michele with a broken coccyx and Jen with her tummy in her mouth, didn't enjoy that one!!
Jen and Kathy decided to enjoy the afternoon sun and headed to Packy Point for the afternoon
We had decided to give Bocas nightlife another chance so we got ourselves some takeaway pizza for dinner and made ourselves beautiful for the night ahead. We met up with Canada in her hostel and then went to Mundo Hostel for a drink before heading down to Iguana. We met up with two English girls in Mundo and had a good laugh with them.
When we got to Iguana we were soaking but sure that's part of the deal in Bocas apparently! We didn't care though, the tunes in Iguana were brilliant! We had an absolutely brilliant night...opinions on Bocas nightlife were much improved!!
Tuesday, 11 February
We woke with very fuzzy heads and little sleep. We had to check out by 11am so will pulled ourselves together put our bags in storage and headed off in search of breakfast. We didn't exactly choose the best cafe on the island but I don't think anything would have satisfied us!
Our night bus to Panama was at 7pm (the night bus was a great idea two days ago!!) from the mainland so we planned to get a water taxi from Bocas at 4pm. Not able for much activity we chilled out by the water in one of the bars for the day. Canada was spending her last few precious hours with us!!
After picking up some snacks for the trip we headed for the boat. After an emotional goodbye with Canada we were on our way to the mainland. We took a taxi from there to the bus station. We had been warned about how cold the air conditioning on the bus was so we put on plenty of layers. At 7pm we were on our way. We nodded in and out of consciousness for the journey and at 4am we arrived in Panama. Let's just say we thought we wouldn't get there until 6am and at 4am we certainly regretted that idea of taking a night bus!!