What´s the price to Paradise? - $4 Balboa
Trip Start Dec 14, 2007
300Trip End Nov 04, 2008
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The bus trip was in a small bus for 20 people, with a very good driver (they dont beat the speed limits in Panama) and comfortable seats with air conditioning...if it wasnt due to the fact that locals love squeezing 5 or 6 passengers in the row of 4 at the back...just where we decided to sit. Adding insult to injury the local guy that sat next to Marcos fell asleep and kept falling on top of him (see pictures)
Anyway, once we arrived at Almirante we squeezed with 5 others into a 4x4 taxi made for 4 passengers. The taxi took us to the local boat taxi station. Our destination: Bocas del Toro or Colon Island
Our first impression was that the Northwest of Panama is completely different to the rest that we have seen up to now. It is very similar to Jamaica or other carribbean islands. Its all very chilled out - relaxed and with lots of afro culture around the place. As a matter of fact most of the locals in the Islands seem to prefer to talk English (although we certainly dont understand most of what they say due to the mix of criolle with English and Spanish).
A couple of videos reflect the area:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzZ3uIzpBag (click on top)
Video 2 (Click on top)
Jokes apart. The taxi ride from Almirante to Bocas del Toro was fantastic
We checked into our hotel (Dos Palmas) with the manager being a lady exactly as the one that appears in the Malibu advert 1 above. The hotel is built on top of water and has a great terrace at the end where we can sit and read, have a swim, watch the water creatures or just indulge in some "free" coffee (very important...). All for $28 which is probably the best you can get for such luxury...close to Paradise carribbean style.
We had a little walk around the town of Bocas (where most of the hotels and restaurants are) and had to laugh at the comment on our travel book which states it will be the next Galapagos. They really need to get some work done in the area for this to become Galapagos. It has all the elements, but most of the houses are falling down, the roads are inexistent and the place is full of hippies (first species that should become extinct!)...but that is the great thing about this place...its not developed as much as it could, so prices are very good and apart from the hippies and the surfers the island is great.
We filled the afternoon with a long walk along the closest beach and then a delicious seafood dinner at one of the local restaurants. Talking about local beaches...local people have a huge disrespect (as we saw in all South America) with regards to keeping their beaches and public places clean. It was Sunday when we went for a walk and the beaches were full of empty beer bottles, cans, food, etc. They just dont get that clean beaches will make them all much, much richer...anyway if you walk away from the areas where the locals have their bars and terraces it gets cleaner.