Panama - Carnival, Santa Catalina, Bocas Del Toro

Trip Start Sep 26, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

When I think back on my time in Central America, it was about surf, cool sights, and traveling with 6 new characters which we picked up along the way. First of all, we met Johnny Twena in Panama city. Johnny is a signer songwriter fella, who was going to the same spots we were, and we glad to have him. 
Doug, Ben, and Reid were 3 ozzies that we met in Bocas Del Toro, and they were going the same way as us. Myself and Colin gave them rigorous interviewing in the Mondo Taiti par in Bocas Del Toro, most nights, and they passed the test, and we decided to take them along with us!!
Lauren is a happy go lucky chick from LA also, whose also on a round the world tour, and she traveled with us through Panama and then later in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. She was our professional surf photographer for the trip!
Mairead O'Donovan, is from Castlefreak, Cork, and we just happened strike up conversation in the pub one night cause I thought she looked like someone from Youghal. Imagine the shock I got when she had an Irish accent, and that she was friends with Rosey, the friend that we had traveled with earlier! Lovely girl, and a good surfer, feicin showed myself and Colin up anyhow! 
We flew from Cartegena to Panama city, and landed just before Carnival, and the crack was good. We got into this hostel, and got the low down for what was going to happen for Carnival, and got some lovely sounding stories about water fights, late night partying, live music, parades, and other general messing. This sounded good to myself and young Feeley, and we duely celebrated the opening night of carnival. Now, all in all, it was well organized and all that, and there was this massive band stand playing regeton (local music which is a mix of reggae and electronic music), so we sat around drinking alot and dancing and messing with the locals, a nice handy crowd of us now... the crack was good enough, but to be honest it was a bit tame. For carnival like. I was thinkin I'd be coming home when the sun was up with no clothes and soaking wet, and with beads, after a world of divilment, but there was no messin to be honest. So, myself and Colin decide to up the ante a small bit. Now, I'd been falling alot already this night, on purpose, so we spotted a nice handy looking hedge outside of MacDonald's, and over we wander. So Colin rugby tackles me into the hedge, and that went well until we crashed through the hedge, and realized that there was a 4 foot drop behind the hedge to the concrete street.I think we both landed on our heads, I blacked out for a few seconds, and woke to this black girl helping me up off the street, looked over to see Col with blood coming down his forehead. So we were grand after a few minutes, but I say we scared the life out of the poor locals! So myself and Colin, spent the next few days licking our wounds in Panama city, managed to go to the cinema about 3 times, and the only other major achievement of being in Panama city was the fact that we managed to watch Rambo 1, 2, and 3, much to the delight of everyone in the hostel. Here, we met Lauren and Johnny, and we made plans to meet up with them in a few days, somewhere along the road.
When we finally got out of Panama city, we headed for Santa Catalina, a famous enough break on the pacific side of Panama. Santa Catalina is a lovely quiet, surf town, which only recently has a paved road leading into it, and boasts a world class reef break which can hold some big waves. Of course myself and Col luckily only saw the small days. We stayed in a hostel with a family of locals who minded the house, and cooked for us too. We got the chance to go snorkeling with the kids, (caught my first fish with a spear! ended up stabbing the fish about 9 times, over a 30 minute period, the poor fella!) and we surfed when we could. Johnny arrived from Panama city to join us, and provided the night time entertainment in the form of his guitar, and it was a lovely few relaxing days down there on the coast. We stayed there for about 8 days, and then made our way to Bocas Del Toro, the more famous break on the Caribbean side of Panama. 

Bocas Del Toro is a group of Islands, which is renowned for having a few world class point and reef breaks, was our next stop in Panama. Myself, Johnny, and Col arrived there and had plans to meet up with Lauren, our buddy we'd met from Panama city. Now, myself and Colin were a bit raw and tired from the traveling, so we decided to take it easy that night. So we went into the most popular bar there, Mondu Taiti, and decided just to have one, but within about an hour, we were both dressed like women! Yep, Women. Sure we just got caught up in the whole fancy dress night there! That was the start of a very messy few days in Bocas.
In bocas, you have to get the boat each time you want to get to the surf breaks, and sometimes this worked out expensive, like for example, Paunch, one of the breaks, was like 4 dollars to get there each, and 4 dollars back, so if your surfing twice a day then it can be expensive. But it was worth it, the waves were very good. It tended to rain from time to time in Bocas too, I remember one day being out in the water, and it rained Hard, it was really cool. Visibility was restricted, and all you could see was the waves coming at you though this haze of rain drops. Hard to describe, but really cool. Lauren came out on the boat with us and managed to get some good shots of us surfing. My first ever shots of myself surfing, sure I was delighted with myself! We met up with these 3 cool ozzies fellas there in Bocas too, got talking to them, seemed like nice fella's so we decided that we would take them under our wing for a while and take them with us to Costa Rica and beyond! So it was like the wizard of oz leaving bocas, our group was growing all the time, we now had Johnny, and the 3 ozzies with us as we headed for Costa Rica.

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