Published: March 12th 2012March 8th 2012
We arrived into Panama via a bridge which was a strange boarder with large gaps in-between some of the wooden slats. The heat you could tell was a bit more intense from the previous places and standing in the sun waiting for a stamp wasn’t too much fun. We then got our bus followed by the boat across to Bocas del Toro and Isla Colon to be more specific. It was a Saturday afternoon when we arrived and after checking in at the hostel we soon found out there was a big party happening in a place called the Aqua Lounge which is on another island but they provide a boat for $1 to it. We went for a walk down the main street then arranged to meet Laura ‘Jill’ who is a fellow Guern and has been living in Bocas for quite a while now, she named a hostel just out of town where she would be so we jumped in a taxi to get there...we must of just missed her as we arrived a bit later than planned so arranged to meet the following day instead. In the evening we went to the hostel bar which had a happy
hour offering $0.50 drinks so we stayed for a bit and bumped into the Swedish girls and Joe the guy from England so we all went over to Aqua together.It was strange because after paying our dollar to get across the guy started the engine and accelerated for around 5 seconds then we floated to the other island and we were there....easy money maker for them! Aqua Lounge was quite good and had a lot of people in it....there were swings outside where people were swinging into the water and also people jumping in off the wooden decking. The place really filled up during the night then people started leaving via the boats in the early morning.
The next day was an absolute scorcher and probably the hottest day I have experienced since I have been away...walking around was a bit of a mission without feeling pretty disgusting having your t-shirt stuck to your back. We decided to move hostels to a nicer one then hired push bikes to try and find a decent beach. The bikes were the last 2 available so we had lovely ones with a basket on the front...actually quite handy to put you bag
in! The first swimmable beach we got to we went in and messed around in the waves for a bit before continuing the bike ride around the coast. Around 10mins into the ride we passed a beach house bar/restaurant and a glanced to the left to see Laura Jill sitting there with her Mum and her Mum’s sister who were over visiting...I stopped and waved to see if she would recognise me which I think at first she didn’t with my now rugged look ha. It then clicked and she came over for a hug, then we walked in for a drink and a catch up after 6 months of not seeing each other, which was nice and found out they were coming to our hostel in the evening as there was live music. We rode back to the hostel to get some food and get changed and I met the Guern’s for a drink in the bar, it was a good night and quite a few stories were told mainly by Ali which were funny and interesting...she also brought me a new camera and ipod from home which I had ordered back there so it was like Christmas again
and I thanked her (through alcohol) for bringing them as im sure it was added space taken up that she didn’t really want. We listened to the band and had a good time then went to bed for some much needed sleep from the night before.
The weather took a turn for the worse after the previous sunny day and there was a lot of rain. We wondered what we could do....but after some thought me and Karl decided it was still quite warm and swimming in sea still wouldn’t be a bad idea for the day so we hired some bikes again and thought we would go a bit further to beach called Bluff which a lot of people had spoke about as being nice. It took a while for us to get there and when we did no-one was on it...the beach looked nice enough but the weather wasn’t ideal for it, there are a lot of beaches that you can’t swim in due to the rip tides and looking at this one it was safer to stay out of the water. We hung around for a bit then decided to head back to the beach we
had been the day before where we could swim. On return to the hostel I had a message off Becky one of the Jersey girls to say that were now in Bocas, so we arranged to meet them in the night and we happened to see some guys that were in Nicaragua too. A girl in the street gave us a leaflet earlier in the day promoting a bar that is giving out free Vodka to girls all night and also free shots to guys when they sound the hooter...we thought this was a good deal so after listening to some more live music at the hostel me, Karl, Jarrod, Dan and the Jersey girls went to this bar and made the most of what they were offering (hard to see that they make much of a profit) we danced a little and drank a little before making it home in the pouring rain and getting absolutely soaked.
After looking into sailboats to Colombia on the internet me and Karl thought it would be a good idea to make our way to Panama City on the night bus so we could arrange a decent boat. During the day we
happened to see Graham who I originally met in Rio and who also travelled with us for a while in Argentina, we had a quick chat and arranged to meet for a bit when the football was on later in the afternoon. We booked our bus for the night and I sent Laura a message hoping we could meet before I left...she got back to say she would be in 1 of 2 places so we checked them out but couldn’t see them, I then sent a message to say I would be watching the footy in Toro Loco which we did but left near the end to speak to Graham about his adventures and get our bags ready so somewhere along the line we had just missed each other as neither of us could find one another and without a phone it’s difficult to find out where they are...so was a shame but had to leave without saying goodbye but was nice seeing her along with Ali and her sister!
The night bus wasn’t a nice one with the a/c being on flat out and the bus stopping regularly...we arrived in Panama City at 5am and tried to
get into the hostel we wanted. We couldn’t get a bed at that time so had to wait in the lounge for a few hours till 2 beds were free. When they were we crashed out for a few hours before looking into the sail boats which all seemed to be sailing in a few days’ time or there was a sooner one but it was small and only carries 5 people. We decided to go to the big shopping mall to have a walk around and think about which boat and what date to choose, the mall was quite spectacular along with some of the buildings in the city which was quite a contrast to the area our hostel was in. When we returned to the hostel the guy behind the counter told us there had been 2 cancellations on a really good boat but it was leaving tomorrow....after a bit of thought we agreed to take the spaces but that meant we had to leave straight away for Portobelo to stay the night as the boat was departing at 10am in the morning. So after a short stay in Panama City we were on the road again and
after 2 public buses and 3hrs travel time we got to Portobelo, when we arrived in the same town we saw Codie and her sister Emma who I had met in San Juan and they were going on the same sail boat (weird how things turn out) and pointed us in the direction of the hostel everyone was staying at...we dumped our bags and grabbed some food there before getting some supplies (mainly drink) from the supermarket in preparation for the journey ahead. It was then time to meet some of the people we would be spending 4 nights and 5 days with on ‘Fritz the Cat’.
There are more photos below