Posted by: robinson2000 | January 10, 2011

Panama – The Land of the Canal

3rd January – After an excellent couple of days in Puerto Veijo soaking up the rays and the Caribbean style of life it was time to move onto Panama. We caught a chicken bus which is essentially an American yellow school bus that has been repainted to the border. As usual like most border points anywhere in the world it was a depressing run down town full of litter, graffiti and dodgy money changers. We excited Costa Rica with out too much trouble and walked over an old rickety bridge that separates the two countries. On the Panama side we were held in a queue for a couple of hours whilst the immigration officials went through everybody´s documents with a fine tooth combe but with patience and a limited grasp of Spanish we were waved through. Panama is well renowned for its love of paperwork and bureaucratic red tape. We were aiming for a group of Islands on the northern side of Panama called the Bocas so we caught a small shuttle bus to the docks and waited patiently for a speed boat to take us across the bay. Finally we arrived around 8pm in Bocas Del Toro and settled in for a curry and a few beers. The local beers (Atlas, Panama & Balboa lager) were only a dollar each and tasted just a cheap.

4th-5th January – The sun was beating down for the time we spent in the Bocas. On the first day there we lounged on Red Frog Beach and splashed about in the waves attempting to body surf them and not get drowned at the same time. The rip currents were incredibly strong and we saw one poor fellow dragged out of the surf by his friends and quickly whisked into the back of an ambulance. The next day we got up early and hired a 45ft Catamaran for the day. The captain was a crazy German guy who had spent the last 20 years sailing around the oceans. He had crossed the Atlantic 3 times and his boat had sailed the equivalent of 4 times around the world. We think he had been drinking a bit too much salt water as we was very paranoid about us messing up his boat. The day was excellent thou and we saw several schools of bottle nosed dolphins pass the catamaran at close range, did a bit of fishing (but failed to catch anything) and had a couple of snorkelling sessions over the coral reef´s. The reef´s were like underwater flower beds, full of amazing colours and containing hundreds of species of tropical fish,  jelly´s and starfish. The day ended with an excellent mexican meal and a bunch of free shots & drinks from the hostel barman who was on a mission to drink most of the bars stock!

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