Crossing Borders

Trip Start May 01, 2010
Trip End Apr 30, 2011

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Where I stayed
Los Quetzales Ecolodge

Flag of Panama  , Chiriquí,
Tuesday, June 1, 2010

We have just arrived at the lovely Los Quetzales Ecolodge up in the Talamanca Mountains in Panama, nestled under the flanks of Volcan Baru. It is located between the villages of Cerro Punta and Guadalupe, picturesque villages with verdant sloping valleys and market gardens.

We crossed the Costa Rica/Panama border a couple of days ago. We took the bus from San Vito to the border town, Rio Sereno. We couldn't find the border crossing so walked with all our stuff down the main street. We noticed that many of the local indigenous population were dressed in traditional clothing that we hadn't seen previously in Costa Rica. Then we spotted a branch of the National Bank of Panama and realised we had crossed the border accidentally! We walked back up the hill to where we had got off the bus and then noticed a couple of official looking buildings which were the emigration and immigration points. According to our guidebook, crossing the border here can be a bureaucratic nightmare and take ages. Don't know what it was talking about as it took us about 5 minutes!

Having crossed the border properly this time, we walked down the street again to the bus terminal and waited for the bus for David.The buses in Costa Rica were large, coach-sized buses but in Panama they are more like large mini-vans called Coasters. For the first half hour of the journey the driver drove at an agonisingly slow 20mph, leaving us very confused as to why this might be. Then suddenly and for little reason he sped up and the remainder of the journey was spent hurtling round bends at high speed! Got chatting to a friendly man on the bus who was a teacher. Unfortunately the combination of my poor Spanish and the fact that I can currently only hear out of one ear due to an ear infection meant we couldn't get past the basics! Very frustrating!

After about 90 minutes, we reached David, the third largest city in Panama. After the unfortunate stolen bag incident, we had had decided to lux it up a little and so booked into the Gran Hotel Nacional, complete with swimming pool, for 2 nights. In David we managed to replace some of the most important stolen items which made us feel better.

We left David this morning. We jumped in a taxi and asked him to take us to the bus terminal but when he offered to take us all the way to Cerro Punta for $30 we readily accepted. The journey up into the mountains past Volcan was very scenic. We could see the top of Volcan Baru soaring up into the sky. We might do the hike to the top in a few days time although at 3475 metres, it looks rather tough so we'll see!

We have just settled into our homely room at Los Quetzales Ecolodge where there are birds everywhere, including lots of hummingbirds, and are about to go and visit Finca Dracula, an orchid farm down the road. 

We have just returned from Finca Dracula which was a wonderful place, set amongst lush water gardens. The owner has lived here for 30 years and has amassed a world-class collection of over 1200 species of orchid from Central and South America.
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Scott on

I have been to Volcan. What this writer has missed is the bag after bags of garbage thrown into the roadside culverts and hidden by the dense foliage. You will see this as you travel up the road toward the summit on the Volcan road. The locals cannot either afford home garbage pickup or it is not available in Volcan so they use roadside culverts for dumping. So sad!

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