So I decided I wanted to spend more time living and working in Antigua, but not without first achieving my ambition of travelling Central America :) So I booked a 4 week trip starting on the 13th May, visiting Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras, before returning to Antigua. Before leaving, I managed to secure a job working as a recepionist in a hostel for when I got back.
Well my solo trip started in Panama City...I arrived there on Friday 13th all on time and bags there. I then got the Panama equivalent of the chicken buses (Diablos Rojos, meaning red devils) into the city. This was slightly scary, as it was hard to understand the new accent when I was asking in Spanish where the bus was going and where I could get a taxi from! But with the help of a friendly local girl, I found my way to a hostel in the old town Casco Viejo. I spent the afternoon going round taking some pictures of Casco Viejo, and the bay of Panama City lined with skyscrapers. The next morning I went to see the canal which was very exciting as it's so famous, and saw
a boat go through the lock.
I didn't like the city much (so hot and busy!) so after seeing the canal I made my way to a place midway to Boquete (my next stop) called Santiago, and stayed the night there. This was quite an adventure, as there were no other tourists and it turned out I had to go to a different bus station to get the bus the next day! Although there are drawbacks to travelling alone (like the lack of companionship and the worry about the safety of yourself and your possessions), I found there are also good things about it...you can do whatever you want and you end up talking to the locals a lot more and travelling the local way. It's also much cheaper than group tours!
The next morning I got a bus to David and then another local bus to Boquete, a place up in the hills known for it's fresh, cool climate and beautiful natural setting. I did a coffee tour with a great guide called Feliciano, who took me for lunch at his house with his family first! The whole tour was done in Spanish so I was quite
proud of myself. We went to a coffee plantation and then to a factory, where we saw how the coffee was made. It was very rainy up in the mountains but nice and cool!
I had planned to continue on to Bocas del Toro, a group of large, mostly forested islands off the coast. But unfortunately I became sick and had to spend an extra night in Boquete. The following morning, I decided to continue straight on to Costa Rica. This was a long day's travelling involving an hour's bus to David, a six hour bus to the town of Changuinola, then a bus to the border and another once in Costa Rica. My guide book was also pretty light on detail about the border crossing!
We had to change buses en route to Changuinola, as there were people protesting on a bridge and no buses could cross. All the other tourists got off by the boat to Bocas del Toro, and I continued on. Once in Changuinola, I found the bus to the border was actually a group taxi. Squashed into the front seat with another lady, we were stopped on the way as a day's crop
of bananas were winched across the road! After being dropped off by the border, I was quickly allowed to walk over the river, backpack and all to Costa Rica. I couldn't believe it as I began walking over the rickety wooden bridge, with massive gaps between the wooden slats, often held up by rusty, broken metal!
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