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2017 MARCH, NICARAGUA, SAN JUAN DEL SUR

TO THE PACIFIC COAST WE TRAVEL

sunny 34 °C

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DAY 53 THURSDAY 30TH MARCH

After our pancake breakfast (swear to god I will never eat pancakes again AFTER this trip, hey free breakfast is a free breakfast) we packed a small bag to take away with us and stored our big bags for when we come back.

Due to having a bit of time on our hands we are travelling backwards to San Juan Del Sur for 4 nights. Usually we would not go backwards, but we seem to have too many days left in Nicaragua to continue forward at this stage. Have heard mixed reviews about San Juan but I have booked a hostel will a pool so if the beach is complete shit we at least have somewhere to swim.

San Juan del Sur is a municipality and coastal town on the Pacific Ocean, in the Rivas department in southwest Nicaragua. It is located 140 kilometres (87 mi) south of Managua. San Juan del Sur is popular among surfers and is a vacation spot for many Nicaraguan families and foreign tourists.

Its population is approximately 15,553, consisting largely of families engaged in fishing or the tourism industry and foreigners from the United States, Canada and Europe. While the local economy was, for many years, based on fishing and shipping, it has shifted towards tourism in the last 20 years. In October 2002, to mark the city's 150th anniversary, it was formally designated the "Port of San Juan del Sur" and a "Tourism City of Nicaragua."[3]

San Juan del Sur, set beside a crescent-shaped bay, was a popular resting place for gold prospectors headed to California in the 1850s. Correspondingly, San Juan del Sur served as a hub for Cornelius Vanderbilt Lines.

Bus stop was a couple of blocks away and we had to walk thought the market street to find the correct bus station. Next bus to Rivas was at 11.30 and when we got there around 11.15 and the bus was almost already full. Still room for us as we took seats near the back. Chicken bus C$31 = A$1.37 and it took 2 1/2 hours to travel approximately 70km. The bus was full for most of the journey with local passengers coming and going, mostly gringos were on for the entire ride.

Just before arriving at the bus station in Rivas, taxi touts had boarded the bus and were trying to con tourists into taking a taxi instead of buses for the next journey. They tell lies like the next bus is hours away and try to con you into taking their taxi which is like 500 times the price of the bus. Must admit the prices they quote are cheap for a taxi compared to at home, but the chicken buses are soooooo cheap that the taxi fare is just ridiculous and they would have to catch a real green gringo to con them into a taxi ride.

Arriving at Rivas bus station we were asked where we were going next and were advised the next bus to San Juan Del Sur was due to depart in about 40 minutes. Just enough time for us to save a seat with our backpacks and then disembark again to sit in a café and have a beer.

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Bus conductors are very thoughtful here, he'd seen us sitting in the bar so gave a whistle when it was time to get back on the bus.
It took another hour to travel the 30km from Rivas to San Juan Del Sur.

On arrival we followed a little mud map I had taken a photo of on my camera to find the hostel. It was nothing flash but did have a tiny little pool which made up for the non descript room. Unfortunately, this place is like the most expensive place we have stayed at US$50 a night but it was the best I could find in this location that had a pool, cooking facilities and breakfast is included.
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We dropped our bags in our room, and went straight for a dip in the pool. It was tiny, but it was clean and it was nice and refreshing after our double chicken bus day.

Feeling a little cooler we walked the couple of blocks back into the centre to find something to eat. We soon realized there was not much to town and what little there was is expensive and not very interesting. We found a hole in the wall to have something to eat and then went in search of a supermarket of some kind to buy supplies for dinner. Again not much around and not much to chose from.

Best part of the day came when the sun started to go down. We found a waterfront bar that sold beer at a price we were happy to pay and watched the amazing sunset.

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As good as the sunset and the hostel pool was we made an unanimous decision to stay here only 2 nights instead of 4.
Back at the hostel Dolly cooked us poached eggs on bread for dinner which we washed down with a few rums and cokes.

DAY 54 FRIDAY 31ST MARCH

Breakfast was a choice of eggs, gallo pinto, bread and fruit or pancakes. No prizes for guessing which option we took, eggs and bread no gallo pinto, not quite up with rice and beans for breaky.

We took a taxi C$200 A$8.84 to get a closer view of Jesus today. Well at least to the statue of Jesus that overlooks San Juan Del Sur. Entry fee was US$2 for foreigners and US$1 for locals, which apparently pays for the upkeep of the statue.

The Christ of the Mercy is a colossal statue of Jesus Christ in the city of San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, to a height of 134 m .The statue is located highly above the northernmost seawall in the bay of San Juan.

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Fabulous views over San Juan bay and the town and also a little of the cliffy coastline.

Although we had taken a taxi up, we decided to walk the 3km back down into the town. The road was steep and lined with very expensive looking houses which all had magnificent views of the San Juan Bay.
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With the tide out we walked along the great expanse of beach which at high tide is lapping at the bars and buildings that line the beach.
It was hot work and we needed a vital refreshment break at an aptly named beach side bar.

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Lunch was back at yesterdays hole in the wall, then we returned to the hostel for a swim in the pool. Well a dip in the pool anyway, not really big enough for a swim, but sure did cool us down again. After semi drying in the sun we all 3 had a laze in a hammock for an hour or so waiting for the time to go out for our sunset beer.

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Dinner last night was so good we had a repeat performance and enjoyed poached eggs on bread with rum and coke chasers. A quick dip in the pool before bed and we are still happy with our decision to just stay 2 nights. There are shuttles that you can catch to so called nicer beaches, but they still are relatively surf beaches, good for surfing not so much for swimming in the ocean.

The white-throated magpie-jay (Calocitta formosa) is a large Central American species of magpie-jay.


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DAY 55 SATURDAY 1ST APRIL

Enjoyed an egg breakfast before we headed out to the road to try and find a bus to take us away from San Juan Del Sur. Yesterday we could not find out what time the buses go or where exactly they depart from, so we just walked towards the main street. It was not long before we heard some guy yelling out Rivas, Rivas, Rivas and around the corner was a big yellow bus. All buses here do have the destinations written on them, but you will always hear the bus conductor yelling out the destination before you get a chance to read anything on the buses.

So basically we are just retracing our steps to get here a few days ago. The bus was only half full so we were lucky enough to all get seats and only had to wait about 15 minutes before it took off.

Arriving in Rivas less than hour later the next bus to Granada was about to leave. First thought was great timing, but after I climbed in the bus and saw it was already full what looked like capacity and that we would have to stand for the next leg of the journey we decided to wait for the next bus were we would be assured to get a seat. Rivas to Granada can take anywhere between 90 minutes to 3 hours depending on the amount of stops so this is not a ride we want to stand up in a full bus for.

So we went and sat in the same café and ordered a nice cold beer. It was only 11am but hey, it was hot (good enough excuse I reckon,) Within 2 minutes the next bus to Granada pulled up so I took our small backpacks and put them inside on seats for us. Buses go every hour so we still had a good 40 minutes to wait. Best to wait with a cold beer than in a stuffy bus. Good thing we learnt from locals is that if you put your bag on a seat it means you have saved it and when we boarded the bus it was full bus our seats were still waiting for us.

We are professional chicken bus travellers now and just tend to sit back and enjoy the scenery. Dolly always manages to have a snooze (some people can sleep in any conditions). Sometimes we get to sit with a local that speaks a little English when we can have a little conversation, or a chat with another traveller from a different part of the world. Or sometimes just a smile and a shared seat is what passes the time.

Back in now very familiar Granada we made our way back to Oasis Hostel, which is turning into our home away from home. Some familiar faces still there, plenty of new faces and a welcome back from Maria the owner.

As we returned back a few days earlier we could not get a room with ensuite bathroom. But the room we did get was a little bigger and just as clean with the toilet and shower just a few steps down the hall.

DAY 56 SUNDAY 2ND APRIL

Finally we managed to get up early enough for a visit to the butterfly reserve just 3 km outside of Granada. After our pancake breakfast of course.

Not sure exactly where it was we took a taxi for just C$200 = A$8.86. The taxi driver did not speak any English so he was not able to advise us that before taking us to our destination he had to drive across town and pick up some young girl on the side of the road that seemed to be waiting for him. Not sure who she was and they did not even greet each other, but she was obviously waiting for him so it might have been his daughter and they had a pre arranged meeting agreement. So we got a bit of a tour of the town and then he turned up a dirt road just on the city limits and passed shack homes for 3 km to the entrance of the Butterfly Reserve.

We were dropped at the reserve all wondering how we were going to get back into town as this was not a road where taxis are driving up and down. However we did see a couple of tuk tuks which we hoped would be some kind of transport for us later.

A little old man greeted us swiftly giving us very useful information all in Spanish. He soon got the gist we had no idea what was being said but we all smiled and said 'Si' when we recognized the word mariposa - Spanish for butterfly. He indicated for us to follow him as we walked to the back of the property. He pointed to a path that I guess was a walk around and then took us into the butterfly enclose. Again he prattled on for about 5 minutes and all I understood was that he grows the plants in the enclosure as they attract butterflys and then named the fruit that he feeds them. With that he left us to enjoy. There was a lot of butterflys fluttering around the enclosure including the big blue ones we had seen when in the jungle. These beautiful bugs were magnificent and in abundance for us to admire, but impossible to photograph. A video I took did a little justice but they were awesome.

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Before leaving we did a small lap around the surrounding bush and spotted a beautiful mot mot in a tree. We are getting good at seeing wild life everywhere now.

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Our only option was to start walking down the dirt road back towards Granada and hope we catch a lift. We walked for about 15 minutes which was not very far as I am travelling with EXTREMELY SLOW WALKERS. A tuk tuk passed us but it was full of passengers and again on its return. A second one came along that was also full, but on its return journey stopped to give us a lift. We had no idea how much it was and presumed he would only take us to the end of the dirt road, but that was good enough.

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Sure enough he dropped us at the main road and the fare was only C$30 (10 each) = A$1.33. We were more than happy with that and decided to walk the short distance back into town. Straight into Marcelos bar for a cold beer.

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Back out again in the afternoon, walk through central park to our favourite cocktail spot to finish off the day.

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DAY 57 MONDAY 3RD APRIL

Still in Granada as I did not hear back from Paradiso on the lake about our request for an extra night. They just did not answer my emails so we could not take the chance of just showing up there without knowing we had a bed for the night.

We are becoming part of the furniture here at Oasis Hostel Granada. The owner, Maria (originally from Puerto Rico) has sat chatting with us several times and has told us of her plans for the hostel. I think perhaps that we are closer to her age and honestly the young backpackers really could not give a shit what she is doing with the hostel. But she is nice and we enjoy having a chat with her.

It's hot today, correction it's hot everyday, but today is another lazy day for us. We spent the time hanging out in the hostel making use of the small but efficient pool.

We did head out late in the afternoon to catch the post office before it closed at 4.30pm. Stopped off for a beer in a different bar just for a change of scenery and walked back to the hostel via a roundabout route which took us through the poorer side of town. Now Granada is a pretty colonial town with lots of restored lovely buildings, but just 3 blocks off the main streets are the real people of Nicaragua living in much much less exuberant dwellings. They are in shacks of what looks like trash wood and rusted iron roofing. Still happy to say hello to us as we walk past, and the cheeky youths asking for one dollar. Such a contrast, we just happened on these streets by taking a wrong turn but I can guess most visitors would not dream that state of housing just blocks away from the beautiful grand Granada. No photos as I thought it would be an invasion of privacy, but just makes you think.

Filler:
On a lighter note I would like to give you an update on travelling with my short hair. As most of you would know I usually have long hair but after a few cuts at the beginning of the year. I left the country with the shortest hair cut I have had since I was 12.
I thought as we were travelling to hot countries and a long trip, it would be easier to look after and manage if I had short hair, compared to many previous trips with assorted lengths of long hair.
And my verdict:
Long hair is much easier to manage. With long hair if it's hot you just need to tie it up and its done. Or for any occasion, just tie it up and its done. Short hair is much more of a pain. The fact that its short means it really needs to be maintained and styled, something I am not prepared to do while travelling. So now that it has grown out a little and really should be getting some attention, its not. Which leaves me with a style that is crossed between Eddie Munster, Ray Martin and Scary Mary, as I'm sure many of you would have noticed from any photos posted. At what stage of growth will it sit down flat??? I'm currently supporting hair 5 -6 cm in length that still has the ability to stand on end with no assistance from me and combing it gives me a helmet head look.
In future please remind me to keep long hair when I travel and Scary Mary may not appear in so many photos. Just sayin'...

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Posted by Cindy Bruin 18:58 Archived in Nicaragua Tagged san del sur juan rivas Comments (4)

2017 FEB - PANAMA - MOUNTAINS TO THE BEACH

From the mountain town of Boquete to the Caribbean islands of Boca del Toro.

sunny 30 °C

DAY 17 WEDNESDAY 22ND FEBRUARY

We were up early this morning. Lyn was flipping pancakes onto plates by 7.15am. Today we are on a shuttle van that will take us from Boquete to the islands of Bocas del Toro in the Caribbean Sea. We have again opted for the easy, faster and slightly more expensive shuttle van rather than having to back track to David and get at least 2 buses to get us to our destination. Because we were staying at hostel Mamallena we received a US$5 discount so the transfer was only US$25 each.

Usually there is only one shuttle van per day, but due to high numbers the hostel managed to fill 2 vans. We travelled in the first one, while our luggage was stored on top of the second one. Both arrived at the same time so there was no problems with bag separation.

The journey was only 3.5 hours plus about a 20 minute toilet / snack stop about half way. We departed Boquete on time at 8am and arrived at the ferry terminal in Almirante just before 12 noon. The roads in the north seem to be less cared for than the roads we encountered in the south. Lots of pot holes and broken up tarmac made for a slower trip as our driver attempted to avoid a bumpy ride. I have to say the driving standard of these shuttle van drivers has been first class so far. They seem to stick to the speed limits and actually slow down to navigate around corners and bends in the road. Very impressed.

The road today was again hilly and windy, giving great views out over the very green countryside. Houses here are different to what we saw in the south also, here they are all little wooden boxes on stilts instead of ground level concrete block homes we saw a few days ago. Perhaps the different building material and structure type has something to do with the climate being warmer in the northern part of the country?

The vans drove us right up to the ferry dock in Almirante, where our luggage was loaded into long boats as well as all passengers from both vans. This was a load and a half I can tell you, but the boat did not seem to struggle in the least and as soon as we had cleared the docking area the captain gave it some stick and we were flying across the water towards Isla Colon. The boat trip took about 20 minutes, then we all unloaded, grabbed our respective luggage and went our separate ways. The price of the ferry was included in our shuttle ticket.

Home for the next four nights is pre booked Spanish on the Sea Hostel 4 nights @ US$30 per night in 2 bed dorm - which turned out to be a 4 bed dorm but we were assured no one else would be put in with us. So again we managed to score a bigger room which is nice. However this time shared facilities (shower and toilet) outside the room and shower is cold only. But I'm guessing that will not be a problem here as it is very hot, especially after our couple of days in the 'cooler' temps of the mountains. And we have a fan in our room. We are located a little bit away from the main part of town to be away from the night time party noise.

After settling in we went for a walk up the main drag to check things out. Must say Bocas Town looks a lot less 'developed' than I thought it would be. I had the impression that this was a real party spot, but it seems very sleepy and sedate during the day. It seemed that every 2nd shop in the main street was a supermarket so it looks like we will not have any problems getting any supplies for our self catering at the hostel.

As we had not yet had lunch we bought a snack of empanadas to try.

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An empanada is a stuffed bread or pastry baked or fried in many countries in Spain and Latin America. The name comes from the Spanish verb empanar, meaning to wrap or coat in bread. Empanadas are made by folding dough over a stuffing, which may consist of meat, cheese, huitlacoche, or other ingredients.

We found Mamallena hostel, the sister hostel of the one we just stayed in and it has a fabulous location over the waterfront. We ran into an American guy we've been chatting with the last few days and he was staying there. He actually came to Bocas to go surfing, but just like on the Pacific side the surf was not happening here either. We noted their happy hour was at 4pm and as it was only just 3.30pm we decided to continue on our walk and stop in on the way back for a US$1.50 beer.

Up the road a little further we came to a lovely white sand beach that was practically deserted, only about 6 other people on the beach. We needed to kill time and it was pretty hot so good time to have our first dip in the Caribbean Sea. (Actually, I had swum in the Caribbean more than 20 years ago when I visited Mexico & Jamaica). The water was lovely and warm, unlike the icy river water we sat in a few days ago. But here we had to walk out a good 50 meters before the water was actually deep enough for us to crouch down and get wet. Beautiful, and the water was crystal clear.

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After our swim we meandered back to Mamallena and stopped for a happy hour beer while lounging on their deck furniture admiring the view. Hey we didn't have to pay the extra to stay here we can just come and enjoy there happy hour and suck up their view for free. We also found some ladies selling goodies on the side of the road, so we bought a couple more empanadas & cat fish cakes to enjoy with our beers.

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We continued our walk back down another street checking out the hostels and bars with views and happy hours we may want to attend in the next couple of days. We found another bar offering 2 for US$3 beer so stopped again to wet our whistle. Another nice view of the ferry side of town, lots of ferry boats, taxi boats, kayaks etc criss crossing each other across the water going to the other islands or dropping people off directly at their waterfront accommodation.

We bought some supplies from a supermarket and Lyn cooked spag bol back at the hostel while we each enjoyed a can of cuba libre which we were happy we found in the supermarkets.

Yep reckon the next couple of days we are going to enjoy it here!

DAY 18 THURSDAY 23RD FEBRUARY

We had a bit of a lie in this morning, no great rush to get up early. When we did we had breakfast at the hostel, left overs from last nights dinner on toast. No breakfast included here, and we are both a little over pancakes - although Lyn was becoming expert at making them.

Today we decided to head over to the over side of the island to Drago beach to have a look. I had read online it was supposed to be a nice beach and there was another beach nearby that we could walk to that was called Star Fish Beach, presumably because there were a lot of starfish. I also read online that the starfish had all but disappeared because of the crowds of people and boats upsetting their habitat. We thought we'd go have a look anyway.

Short walk into the main square in town where we were advised we'd be able to get a bus (aka minivan) to the other side of the island for US$2.50 each way. Sure enough there was a van just about to depart, but it looked like it was already full. The guy called us over saying Drago Drago and promptly evited a lady and a couple of kids out of the van to make room for us. Not quite sure what happened as we could not understand what he said to her, but she seemed happy to vacate the seat for us. Odd. Within minutes we were on our way through the interior of the island. The drive to the overside too about 20 minutes.

As soon as we stepped out of the vehicle we could see the crystal clear water and pristine white sandy beach. The beach was only narrow but enough room for us to set up under the shade of a palm tree.

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After our swim we walked along the beach / mangrove track that led to Star Fish Beach, this was about a 20 minute walk. Once at the beach we could tell why all the starfish had disappeared, due to the noise and crowding of this beach area. It was awful. Lots of boats had just pulled up onto the beach so surely the noise and movement from this would keep the starfish in deeper water out of sight. There was a row of shack type food places that were serving just about anything you want. Some of these restaurants even had live lobsters in cages sitting in the sea water so you could choose which one you wanted. I guess at least they were fresh. Some the shacks were playing loud annoying music which not only kept the starfish at a distance but worked to drive us away also. We did go in the water quickly and saw a handful of star fish so we were happy with that.

On the way back Drago we decided to walk along the waters edge instead of on the beach track. As we walked along the waters edge the further away we got from the actual starfish beach the more star fish we started to see in the water. See my facebook page for the video I took of the starfish in water.

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Before heading back in the bus we stopped at one of the beach side restaurants to have a cold beer, and I must say the beer is served cold here in Panama - everywhere we've had it. And drinking a icy coldie beachside is even better.

We had to wait 15 minutes for the next shuttle bus but the view was pleasant so we were happy to wait.

Back at the hostel I cooked an egg sandwich for us to have for lunch. (I think perhaps Lyn is already sick of cooking - not good this early in the trip!).

After 5 we headed out to Mamallenas for our happy hour beer and we wanted to book a boat trip for tomorrow. Again an icy cold beer to enjoy with the sunset. The shuttle transport we used to get from Boquete to Bocas gave us a 10% discount voucher on any trips booked with the same company. We only had enough cash to pay for one person, but after a trip to the ATM we were able to get some more cash. Relieved that the bank transfer I did yesterday had gone through to the right account already.

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Walking back down the main street we had decided to have dinner out tonight (Lyn seemed to jump at the chance a little too quickly when I suggested it lol). We stopped at a place where we picked up the empanadas yesterday and I had a huge plate of chow mien and Lyn had chicken, with rice and beans both for under US$8.00. Bellies full, we headed back to the hostel to shower and so another great day ends.

DAY 19 FRIDAY 24TH FEBRUARY

Today we have booked a snorkel tour: Zapatilla Adventure US$45 less 10% discount as it was with the same company we did the shuttle transfer, so ended up US$41.50 each.

Pick up point was just a short distance from the hostel at 9.30am so we had time to have breakfast before meeting the boat. It looked like it was going to be a good day weather wise, but it seemed everyday here looked good.

We were at the office at 9.15 as requested and another couple turned up for the tour also. It was almost 9.45 by the time they loaded us on the boat and we still had to go around to Mamallena Hostel to collect another 4 passengers. This only took about 10 minutes and soon we were on our way to the first stop of the tour.

Sloth island. This looked liked a mangrove island (which apparently sloths love eating) and we were assured there was a 95% chance of a sloth sighting. The tour guide offered a free beer to anyone who spotted one before he did and sure enough the German guy in front of us spotted one high up in a tree. Now I have to say, these animals were a lot smaller than I had imagined. The sloth we saw in the park in Panama City was a 3 toed sloth and it was approximately the size of a cocker spaniel dog. The sloth we was here was a 2 toed sloth and was the size of an average adult cat. The guide claimed this was an adult so the little critter is small to try and find in the tree. I was expecting an animal the size of a chimp, but live and learn. I could not get a very good photo but our guide did and said he was going to post on their facebook page but had not done it as yet.

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The sloths are apparently flourishing on this tiny island as there are no predators here to get them. Sloths main natural predators are jaguars, boa constrictor snakes and harpy eagles, however the biggest killers of these little fellas are dogs and humans. But, on this island they are safe from all these and apparently sloths are excellent swimmers. Who says we don't learn anything while on holidays?

Next stop was at the restaurant where we are having lunch so we could pre order for when we come back after snorkelling, we ordered a seafood medley and a whole fish, and also a toilet stop. Hello, like who doesn't just pee in the ocean??

Everyone overboard for a snorkelling tour. The water is amazingly clear but to tell the truth there was not much in the way of coral or not a lot of fish to be seen either. There was a huge lobster under a rock where we got off the boat but the tour guide was not up to collecting it for lunch, would have been a beauty. We snorkelled for about 30 - 45 minutes which was hard work considering they did not supply fins. We had our own snorkel and mask thinking we would get fins but no they did not supply so we had to kick like hell to keep up with the guide who by the way did have fins! We saw a few little coloured fish but not like a wow amount, but just before getting back into the boat there was a pretty big grey nurse shark that was hiding under a rock. By pretty big I mean not as big as me, but big enough that if it had moved from under the rock I would have done a Jesus impersonation and walked on water!

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It was during this little snorkelling jaunt that my underwater camera decided to shit itself and shop working. Unfortunately, I seem to be having a rough time with electronic equipment on this trip. Passion fingers - everything I touch fucks up!

So back in the boat and back to the lunch stop. You would have thought that since we pre-ordered that they would have out meals ready, but we still waited long enough for the fish to be caught and cooked. When the meals finally did come it was way too much, so Lyn & I shared one meal and we ended up taking the whole fish home and eating it for dinner. Sorry, no photos of the great food as camera was dead.

After lunch we boated out to Zapatilla Island - meaning shoe in Spanish due to the shape of the island apparently. The leatherback and the hawksbill turtles come to lay their eggs, in season, on these beaches. It is beautiful! It is also famous for being the location for the filming of one of the Survivor TV Series, which funnily enough our guide said was 50% true and 50% bullshit as there is always enough food as the island is in national park and there are fish and lobsters galore.

Anyway this island looked beautiful, but before we were to grace the snow white sandy beaches, included in the tour was a 15 minute Anfibia Board ride. What is anfibia board you ask?

Anfibia Board is the new way to enjoy and explore the underwater world through a semi-circular hydrodynamic board. It allows you to experience the sensation of flying effortlessly under the sea without the need of knowing how to swim. Bocas del Toro is one of the few places in the world where you can try this brand new aquatic sport.

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OMG this was the best fun, unfortunately Lyn could not do it due to her bent wing. But I had a go and it was awesome. (Lemons, when you are here you MUST do this activity.) Essentially, you are pulled behind the boat holding a perspex board that allows you to skim across the top of the water or with a downward tilt allows you to duck under the water to view the fishes and coral etc. The rider, wearing a dive mask, controls the board with a tilt up or down - it was awesome and I saw many more colourful fish than when we were snorkelling. Although, 15 minutes was way enough as the muscles in my arms knew I was doing something new.

After everyone had a go at the anfibia, we had a relaxing 2 hours on the beautiful beach on Zapatilla Island. I swam out to a rocky island about 100 meters offshore while Lyn sat on the beach and read a book. At about 5pm they served us tropical fruit: ie pineapple and pawpaw - nice. then it was just a quick 30 minute boat ride back to Bocas Town while the sun was setting. We arrived back just in time for a happy hour US$1 beer at a restaurant nearby the boat stop.

After the boat dropped us we realized we had left our cooked fish on board, so a quick phone call and it was brought back - lucky this was our dinner. While enjoying our happy hour beer we chatted with a Canadian couple from Vancouver (woman originally from Adelaide) who had been travelling on their yacht for the last 4 years. Amazing the people you meet! They said we are going to love the countries we are heading to. Nice to hear.

We returned to the hostel, ate our fish dinner. Another great day in Panama!

DAY 20 SATURDAY 25TH FEBRUARY

WOW, let me start by saying what an awesome last day in Panama!

Since we are travelling tomorrow we treated today as Sunday and had a sleep in. Well I had a sleep in and Lyn had a lay in reading a book.

Poached eggs on toast at the hostel then we headed out to the beach. We had considered hiring a kayak today but with my arms feeling the workout from yesterday decided a trip to the beach would be better. We hopped in a US$1 water taxi to the nearest island to Colon which is Carenero, we almost missed the stop having no idea where we were going.

It was 11.30 by the time we found a shady spot on the little sandy beach. Again the water was crystal clear and we went straight in to cool off after our 5 minute boat ride. The water is a lovely temperature that we like so much, tepid so you can sit in in all day. Which is what we pretty much did. Not long after our arrival lots of locals and familes were taking up position on the beach. We had a nice family next to us Mum, Dad, young Son and younger daughter. Mum and Dad lazed in the shade while the kids played in the water for hours. We noticed Dad had an esky fill of ice with a bottle of rum and a bottle of juice which he mixed drinks from into thermal cups. Happy family.

We spent a lovely last day in Panama lazing on the beach enjoying the sunshine, warm weather, beautiful sea water with some other tourists (who were mostly in the over the water restaurants) while the locals, us and a few choice tourists sat on the beach or in the shallows of the calm water.

We went for a bit of a walk around the island, saw just a few accommodation places ranging from hostel type to flash over the water bungalows. On our return to our little part of the beach, we thought it was time for a beer. to cool our insides. Lucky for us a hostel at the beach was selling Balboa (our pick of Panamanian beer) for just US$1.50. How awesome was this, sitting in the calm waters sipping cold beers, now this is a holiday.

At this price we decided to have a second as we had enjoyed the first so much. Lyn returned with the beers and we sat contemplating our last 3 weeks in Panama and also throwing around ideas for holidays in the future.

By this time Dad (from our family sitting next to us on the beach) was pretty well sauced from his many trips to his rum enclosed esky asked me if I spoke Spanish while Lyn was up getting beers. No, I answered, pequeno? (little) he asked, zero I said. He was happy to smile and said salute (cheers) to our drinks.

A little later Dad come walking up to us while we were still sitting in the water and handed us a couple of cold beers. Wow, how nice is that!

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We chatted with another family who's little girl was trying to talk to me in the water, but of course I told her I only spoke English, she relayed this to her parents to told her to say Welcome to Panama to us. So cute. We chatted a little with the parents and grandparents (who did speak) English and they were so happy to hear that we had enjoyed Panama so much.

Ferry boat back to Bocas Town at about 5pm we returned to the hostel to shower, relax a little then head out for dinner. We returned to the same restaurant that we visited the other night that had cheap local food. We had chicken (cooked in a yummy sauce) with vegetables, potatoes and pumpkin and we shared a soda bread roll to sop up the yummy sauce, US$9 for the both of us.

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It was a great day today and a great way to end our adventures in Panama on a high.

Tomorrow we take the ferry boat back to the mainland and shuttle van into Costa Rica to start our travels in a new country.

Posted by Cindy Bruin 19:04 Archived in Panama Tagged del bocas toro Comments (4)

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