Pura Vida! The pure life, for all you gringos ;)

Published: February 22nd 2013
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18/2/13: Red frog beach was gorgeous for a couple nights but kind of expensive and very remote. I really wanted to check out aqua lounge on Isla Careneros before we left Panama, so we decided to find a room on the smaller island. We never got to check out Old Bank, the town on Bastimentos, but I imagine we didn't miss much. We started hanging out with this awesome couple, Ina from Vienna and Geo from Greece. Their plans were up in the air as well so they decided to come with us to Careneros. They were both members of AirB&B which is like vrbo.com and tried to find a house for all of us to rent but there weren't many options and they were mostly on the main island.
We got the last double bed available at Gran Kahuna an Eco conscious hostel right on the water. I was a cozy little place that ran off of solar panels and rain water. They had a really pretty garden and used old canoes for planter boxes and recycled jugs to grow herbs. They even built a ladder golf set our of bamboo and golf balls. The most creative thing I saw was brightly painted birds fashioned from used tires, holding potted plants. I really liked the hostel and the island. It was really small but had just enough stimulus. Aqua Lounge definitely didn't disappoint. It was spacious inside and surrounded by decks with open swimming holes. One of the decks had three swings that you could leap off into the water. Justin, from lost and found, met us there for a drink after his Scuba class ended. He was also staying on Bastimentos at the Palmar tent lodge; but unfortunately we had already moved on to Careneros. By day people sunbathed on lounge chairs and swam in the Caribbean; and by night they threw back shots and jammed during open mic night. Kevin led random musicians in a few Marley songs and strummed along to their tunes. We had dinner at Bibis, a low key restaurant with a deck on the water. As far as I know the only choices for restaurants on the island other than our hostels small menu, were Bibis and the Cosmic Crab Cafe. I wish I could've tried the Crab cafe because we could've shared a three course meal for $7.95! We've been in Bocas for five days now and I still haven't had good seafood.

19/2/13: Puerto Viejo, Costa RicaAfter a month and 3 days, we're finally leaving Panama. Before we came here we didn't know anything about Panama except for the canal, the Zeppelin song and Bocas Del Toro. Now we have seen Panama City, David, Chiriqui, Boquette, and three islands in Bocas. My only regrets would of been to see Santa Catalina and San Blas islands, but we're going to hit so many surf towns in Costa Rica, and I don't see how any beach could rival red frog. We had breakfast at Bibis, and spent a little more time with our friends Ina and Geo. Ina is going to New York in a few days then down to Argentina, and we might be seeing Geo very soon. After we told him about Envision he applied last minute and actually got accepted to volunteer. He might meet us in Puerto Viejo if he can pry himself away from Ina. They just met six days ago and are very infatuated with each other. The bus ride was surprisingly short and the border was a breeze. Luckily everyone in line was going to Panama so we zipped right up to the window for Costa Rica. Cabs at the border tried to offer us transportation to Puerto Viejo for $35 but luckily we made it to the bus station in time to catch a $7 ride. The shady cab driver tried to tell us there wasn't any more buses leaving that day, but at least he pointed us in the right direction.

When we got into Puerto Viejo we had no idea where to get off for Kaya's place, our hostel, but luckily we happened to be traveling with someone who worked there. She told the driver when to stop thankfully because there wasn't a big sign that would've made it evident. After checking into our private we walked along the black sand beach to check out town. The sand looked like it was covered in soot, Playa Negro was more than self explanatory. Everywhere in town had two for one drink specials so we finally caved and splurged on mojitos at a Thai fusion restaurant. They were so worth it! God I can never get mine to taste that good back home. I think it's the real sugar that makes the difference. While we were savoring our drinks the waitress told us about a big party at the tasty waves bar a little outside of town. We had already planned on going there because of an encounter with the bar manager in Bocas. We started walking there early since we heard it gets kinda sketch on a dark stretch of road, and joined a group in the same direction. Tasty waves was dead when we arrived, but then again lady's night didn't start for an hour and a half. They prided themselves in their tacos but we had already enjoyed a typical Caribbean dinner. We played pool and sipped on a few beers to kill time. "Killing time" is such a harsh word when there's never enough of it...unless you're on the Caribbean. I started taking advantage of lady's night and we chatted with the really friendly bartenders. The party started pouring in around 11, and they got a raging bonfire started. We hung out for a little while then cabbed it back to our hostel to avoid any shady activity.

After two nights at Kaya's place we decided we would try Ruccas near tasty waves, because they had the best rates in town, and we met the owners the night before. While walking with our bags to reserve our room we were interjected by an older man raking...something. Kevin started to ignore him because our second rule is "say no to solicitors" but when he started talking about beachfront rooms for $10/ person I was all ears. He showed us the Lazy Mon, right in town, on the beach and had live music nightly. For five bucks more than La Rucca, Hell yes! This place was prime location and had a kitchen and free coffee. Hey, we gotta take any hand outs we can. Besides we had our heavy ass back packs and La Rucca was in the boonies compared to here. Best decision ever! Thanks to that old guy we were hesitant about talking to. If we could turn back time and spend the last two nights here we would in a heart beat. Not only do we have our own personal swimming hole in the ocean (secluded by the reef) but the restaurant below us has great food and fooseball, ping pong, volleyball, and pool. The balcony runs along all the rooms and has great views of the beach. I'm so glad we have another night here, it's amazing. It's the perfect place to not feel guilting about doing nothing, because you're taking it all in at the same time. We decided to spend a couple nights in Cartago, which used to be the capital of Costa Rica. It's a city so we can buy supplies, and it's on the way to Dominical, where we will spend a couple nights before traveling to Uvita for the festival. Apparently this poor city narrowly survived a volcano eruption and what was left got leveled by two earthquakes. If that doesn't sound bad enough the final volcanic eruption rained ash for three years! I can't even comprehend that! Due to a civil war, San Jose is now the capital. You're welcome for the brief history lesson ( not in that order necessarily). Yeah, clearly we have a lot of time on our hands. It looks interesting enough with ruins and beautiful churches, plus it's a nice pit stop from the Caribbean side to the pacific. Tomorrow we're going to check out the Jaguar rescue center, though they don't have Jaguars they do have baby monkeys, sloths, and exotic birds. I've been so jealous of Kevin playing with Cloud that I'm dying to get my hands on a monkey! Lol that sounded bad. Bikes and animals tomorrow, excited! Hopefully the rain holds out for us! Buenos noches xoxo


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