Trip Start Jan 07, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Panama  ,
Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Well, as many of you know, I have been wanting to get to Bocas del Toro, Panama for quite some time. I arrived about 10 days ago and have enjoyed myself thoroughly. What a spectacularly beautiful area.

The trek across the border from Cosa Rica was VERY interesting. Border crossing in general are stressful, for many reasons. One for me is that I do not have an onward ticket which is technically required to enter almost any country on the planet. I cannot provide proof that I am actually leaving the country so I never know what I am going to find when I arrive. Second, is that there are vultures (usually disguised as fast talking men) vying for your confused and tired ass, hoping to coerce you into some outrageously expensive transport you really don't need. It is VERY annoying. I eventually get to the "shut the fuck up stage" every time.

This one in particular was difficult for me because I have a little vertigo. I can and have jumped out of a plane, but like standing on a ladder freaks me out sometimes. So having to walk across a very narrow and very worn old trestle bridge (with huge GAPING holes in it) that spanned a river created some "issues" for me. Needless to say, when I arrived at the other side and the little barking men started in on me, I wanted to hit one of them.

After various negotiations, a group of us got into a van and drove for about 30 mintues to Changuinola to catch a boat to Bocas. What a great boat ride. High speed through a waterway lined with the largest palm trees and bamboo I have ever seen in my life. Great fun. When we broke into open water you could see the mountains and big puffy white clouds from the mainland behind us as we crossed towards the main Bocas island of Isla Colon. Just terrific.

I landed an awesome room in a hostel called Hansi, and got settled in quickly. Bocas Town is compact and easily traversed on foot. If you don't like the sun or water based activities, DO NOT COME HERE. There is nothing else to do other than the beach, water and relaxing. I lied, you could rent a bike, but that is IT. The culture is a mix of indigenous folks peppered with a VERY STRONG Afro Caribbean population. I love to listen to that lilt.

I went on an amazing boat tour last Wednesday that rivaled anything like it I have ever done before. The waters surrounding this place are amazingly clean and clear. Visibility is outrageous. And, because it is still a bit off the beaten path, there are yet many signs of pollution and excessive harm to marine life. The coral and reef areas were like nothing I have ever seen and filled with amazing colors and textures. We hit two separate snorkeling locations, visited (and saw) Dolphin Bay, spent two hours at Red Frog beach, and had lunch at an outrageously beautiful and remote restaurant on docks over very calm waters. Paradise for sure.

I also have done a bus trip to Bocas del Drago to see starfish beach. See attached photos. Outrageous. When you look I the clear water as far as the eye can see are these amazing starfish. I also saw huge red rays come right up to the water´s edge. There is very little on this Northern side of the island, and during this slow season it feel like you have the entire place to yourself. The stuff travel magazines just love.

Life is live here out over the water. Docks abound everywhere. Some with restaurants, hotels and night clubs. Water taxi is the chosen method of transportation. I have ventured to Isla Carneros and out to Bocas marina using them and they are cheap and efficient.

But, the rainy season hits here hard in November and December so I think I will be pulling up stakes in the next few days and heading to the Pacific Coast where drier times await. I don't mind rain, but don't need two months of it. Besides, I think I am going to be here in Panama for a while, so before I decide where to land, I want to check some more places out.

I will be heading into cooler weather in the highlands when I leave here....David and Bouquete....for a few days then onto the Pacific Coast. Will update again in a few weeks.
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badnomad on

as always
YOU ROCK,,, let me know when we can start a biz,, if McCain takes office I am on the next plane!



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