Not impressed with Bocas

Trip Start Jan 22, 2006
Trip End Jun 23, 2009

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Flag of Panama  ,
Friday, April 21, 2006

The border crossing into Panama was pretty uneventful, which is a good thing. I did meet an Icelander (named Collin) who is traveling around... that isn't something you do everyday, since there are only about 300,000 people in Iceland. It is like meeting a Wyominite... we are a rare breed. Anyway, we got too Changuinola, after driving through miles and miles of banana plants on the Chiquita banana plantations... I always wondered where they came from. When we finally arrived at the dock, where we had to catch the boat to the Isla Coló® ·here the town of Bocas del Toro sits. However, there was full boat ready to leave, so we had to wait around for 2 hours for the next one. Which wasn't so bad since there was a nice breeze off the water. When our boat finally took off, we went alone a river before opening up into the ocean. It was a beautiful trip and I really enjoyed it. Once we got to Bocas del Toro, we headed off to find a hostel. The one we had planned on going to only had one bed, so I got it. However, when I went up to the room I wasn't so happy about what I got. The room was about 110 degrees! From now on ALWAYS look at the room first! Collin then met me for lunch and a nice walk around town. As we walked we ran into some of his old travel buddies from New York. They started talking about playing basketball with some of the locals. I was all over that! So we got ready and headed down to the gym. Of course as I walked in I got the usual "what the heck is a girl doing here?", but there was the added "what the heck is that Gringa doing here?" We had to wait a few minutes before it was our turn to play, but I was ready. The first time I caught the ball I hit an 18 footer! There was a nice hush through out the gym and everyone was a bit surprised. I had a few lay ups too, but the best was my defense. I was guarding the best player on the other team, and he wanted to score on me so bad, that he missed everything! Every time he caught the ball he would shoot or drive, but I could tell he was trying so hard that it had no chance. It was great, I was in his head and he was so frustrated. We did however end up losing because this big guy, in a Dennis Rodman jersey, on there team who whined just as much as Rodman and would make up his own rules... like if you are throwing the ball in bounds after a made shot, and no one touches it, it is still your ball. I couldn't believe this guy. I guess the rules are different in Panama. However, the best was toward the of the games. Rodman had a fast break lay up, however, I caught him right at the end and as he brought the ball down to his waist, I SLAPPED it away! The gym went crazy! Everyone was OOHHHH, la GRINGA!!! It was awesome! I was laughing so hard. After sweating out about 3 gallons of water (it was really hot) we got a bite to eat before I went to bed in the sweat box!

I got a horrible nights sleep due to the heat. So I packed up my bag and changed hotels before heading over to the dive shop for my day of scuba diving. That is where I ran into Jason and Becky (the couple I met on the beaches in Nicaragua... the Colorado couple). Jason was going diving too. So we headed out... my group was a guy from Seattle, a girl from Cali and a father/son team from Canida. Our first dive was at a ferry wreck that our Diver Master (DM) said might have tiger sharks around it. That freaked me out so much I couldn't even really enjoy the wreck. But once we got away from it, I realized there wasn't much to enjoy. Due to all the boat traffic, all the coral was covered with a thick dirt, so you could hardly see the colors. I did have fun swimming up to the little coral animals that would suck back into their homes when you got too close. We also saw a group of squid, but I was so mad at my DM when he made them feel so threatened that one of them inked. You aren't suppose to bother any of the sea life... cause then they will become afraid and not want to be near divers at all. Anyway, the dive was nice, but nothing compared to the Bay Islands. At the end of the dive before getting back in the boat, the Cali girl saw a star fish below her and said she wanted to hold it. So the Seattle guy swam down and picked it up and brought it too the surface. She held it out of the water looking at it for a bit before dropping it back down in the water. I couldn't believe what just happened. YOU ARE SUPPOSE TO TOUCH ANYTHING!!!! AAHHH! It was nuts. During our surface interval, we went back to the dive shop and I talked to Jason about how let down I was by my dive. He too was a little bummed. We were then off again. We had a different DM and he was suppose to be my buddy and check to see if I had all of my gear on correctly... but didn't, so the other DM got in and did. So we go down and this dive spot was a bit better. The coral was a lot brighter and the colors were really nice. We swam a bit before the DM stopped everyone while he pulled a skinny legged starfish off of a piece of coral so that everyone could hold it. I was in shock! They just passed this poor little animal around so that everyone could get all of the hand oil on it. When he tried to pass it to me, I declined... I just couldn't' participate in the killing of this animal. He then, just dropped it down again. We saw some sting rays that were pretty cool to watch swim along the bottom of the ground. I also saw my first NURSE SHARK!!! It was hiding under some coral sleeping (they hunt at night)... but instead of just letting the little shark sleep in peace, the DM had everyone reach underneath the coral (which meant they had to touch the coral) to touch the sharks tail. IT WAS CRAZY!!! I couldn't believe they were doing that... and I couldn't believe the DM was encouraging it. UG! After returning to the dive shop and cleaning all my equipment and all that, I got lunch and worked on the Internet, before it was time to get ready for a nice dinner with Jason and Becky. We rented a boat and captain to take us over to one of the near by islands for dinner. We all ate lobster with garlic sauce... for only $15. It was so good and Jason and Becky are great people (not only because they bought my dinner... which by the way mom and dad, you need to repay them with a dinner in Carbondale sometime :). We talked about Colorado and Carbondale, where Jason grew up. Turns out he still has a lot of friends and family there... some of which are in the construction industry. So it looks like I might have some contacts when I get back. YIPPEE!! We then headed back to Bocas del Toro and had some more drinks and chatted the night away.

I was up before my alarm went off (which wasn't going to go off, since I forgot to reset it from the time change) in order to catch my boat back to the mainland and head down to Panama City.
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