Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A weekend in Panama

Hello everyone! Its rainy afternoon in San jose, a perfect time to
write another blog! Pollo and I have a bug, not feeling so hot, so Im happy for the rain and cool weather.

We left off with you all last thinking we were headed north up the
East cost, however when we arrived at the bus stop the bus had just
left, and there was another headed south to Panama's Bocas Del Toro.
So naturally we got tickets and piled on board not having much of an
idea at all what there was to do there other than see some tropical
islands and snorkel- which is if you ask me is reason enough.

The bus to the border was about 4 hours, and when we arrived it
dropped us in a small town much like all border towns I've ever seen,
to put it nicely a sweltering dust bowl selling little more than
bottled water, over priced food, and an endless selection of rubber
boots. I don't know, don't ask why, it just seems to be the rubber boot
capital of the world, would you like black, black,or black?

The crossing itself was very straight forward and easy, although there was a very rickety bridge we had to cross of
foot, that was a little bit scary. The planks were defiantly spaced to
far apart for comfort, and the 18 Wheeler trucks and other foot
traffic made it seem all the more daunting. On the other side we joined
a line of people waiting for the immigrations staff to finish their
lunch and stamp our passports. We were soon sprayed with a fine mist
as a truck passed and it was then i realized that we were directly
down wind of a pesticide sprayer that doused each vehicle as it
passed. YUCK! I retreated to the far side of the cement but poor Pollo
had to negotiate the line and our luggage while be sprayed with who
knows what- i hate to think.

Any way that ordeal was soon over and we were ushered into a taxi and
then a boat out to the islands of Bocas Del Toro. Here is our route . When I say ushered i
mean there wasn't even any time to eat lunch or pee, as we were always
the last to board and they were always in a hurry.

The ride out through the Mangroves was beautiful, tiny thatched huts
on stills lined the shores, and dug out canoes were the most common
mode of transport. The Water was Crystal clear and we could see
brightly colored fish swimming beneath us.

The town where we stayed leaves much to be desired if you ask me, and
is hardly worth mentioning other then to say there was no running
water or electric on two of our nights there which put a damper (or
should I say a drier?) on our 4 showers a day routine. We did have an
amusing evening however when the electric was out, sitting on our
balcony watching the street in the darkness. People on bikes and on
foot passing and even a 5 foot long tiny remote control airplane made
its way up the street with blinking wing lights! Nothing surprises me
any more.

The snorkel tour was really the highlight of this part of the trip. We
left early and made our way out to a place called Delfin bay, where we
watched dolphins play in the wake of our boat, spinning and twisting,
seemingly having as much fun watching us as we had watching them.

Then onto an offshore reef where we jumped over board to find waters
full of parrot fish, sea cucumbers, and a rainbow colored corals. It
was much better visibility then we had in Costa Rica and we swam
together for over an hour pointing to things under the water and
generally enjoying ourselves. Finally, we were the last of the group
in the water and they called us out for lunch. There was a resturant
over the water on stilts, and we lay out on the wood planks and had
sandwiches and water melon juice. They had trapped a shark in the
bamboo poles underneath us, exactly where we had just been snorkeling,
and we watched him circulating his small prison for a while. It would
have been some shock to see him a few moments earlier.

here is a map of where we went to see dolphins and snorkel, taken on pollos GPS click the pink s to see the satelite image. Red frog hike. Another spot we visited Here is the way back.

After lunch the boat took us to Red frog beach, where we took a short
walk through the jungle and met some local kids who had caught tiny
Strawberry dart frogs in lotus leaves. We talked with the kids a bit,
and I was happy that the rest of the group rushed ahead to the beach,
giving us time to really connect. POllo shared his coconut cookies
with them, for which they were grateful, all except the youngest one
who's face showed his disappointment, and who's older brother commanded
him to "JUST EAT!"

After the tour we decided we decided we had seen what we were really
excited to see in those islands and made our way back to Costa Rica
via local buses. Pollo figured out the route for us this time, and we
took the local bus with all the school children, which was much more
interesting than the tourist one we took on the way there.

In Cahuita we found that the camping is now banned contrary to the guidebook, so we took a
nice room with a big bed, a mosquito net, and a fan. The next morning we were up at 5.30am and the first ones to register in the national park that day. The howlers monkeys greeted us at the front gate and Pollo got his monkey wish. They pelted him with a small shower of mango pits,and we watched them playing in the trees. The animals were all happy to show themselves it seemed, a aqua blue dart toad, Orb weaver spiders, and even 2 sloths! We lay our sheet out under the trees and watched them ssssllllooooowwwwllllyyy eating leaves in the trees above. 8 miles later we looped back out to the main road and waved down a bus that brought us back to our starting point.

So now we are back in lovely senic San Jose, tomorrow is our first Dr. appoint here, and a metting with the midwife. We ae very excited to see our ultra sound and will post the pictures as soon as we can. Pollo works endlessly trying to get us online and updated. We are having a great time, getting fatter everyday, and enjoying the time together. Wish you could all be here with us!