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Published: November 17th 2010
Having some problems uploading the pictures so I only have about half of them up so far. Enjoy.
This past Wednesday I awoke before the sunrise to begin my mini-vacation to Bocas Del Toro, Panama. I was instructed to be at the airport in Tamarindo at 6:30 AM which required a 6 AM taxi and $30 of my precious dollars. I arrived at the airport and waited for an hour and a half until the plane arrived. The plane was small, it fit about 18 people if I counted correctly. The trip was two legs. A 45 minute ride to San José, where I had to wait for 2 hours before the 50 minute flight to Bocas Del Toro. The flights went well, although it took me a few minutes to get used to riding in small, prop-planes. The ride is a bit bumpier and the seats are smaller but the view was amazing as you can see from my photos.
I arrived in Panama to warmth and partly cloudy skies. I proceeded to a hostel recommended by a friend of a friend and was pleasantly surprised to get there cheaply and without hassle. Aqua Lounge is
located across the bay from the main town in Bocas, with a great set-up including a pool and swings off the dock. The prices were reasonable, the rooms clean, and the people very friendly. I spent two days at the hostel without doing much. Drinking a few beers, swimming in the water, working on my tan, watched The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly and slept a lot.
On Friday I decided to change hotels because I wanted to actually do something during my trip and found a nice hotel on the main island located away from the bars and partiers. I also met up with my friend from school in Flamingo, Emma, and her friend from home. We traveled to Bastamientos Island, about 15 minutes by boat, to visit Red Frog Beach, named for the strawberry-poison-dart frogs that inhabit it. Unfortunately we didn’t see any frogs but the beach was beautiful despite being hit by a recent storm. We spend 4 or 5 hours there and got a bit too much sun. We then headed to the little town on Bastamientos to grab a late lunch. In my pictures you can see the restaurant with the reggae theme,
that is the old town of Bastamientos, North Bank. We then headed back to the hotel (Olas de la madrugada) to try and catch the sunset but it was too cloudy to see much. We grabbed dinner at a faux Mexican restaurant run by and expat from Texas. The food was surprisingly good and during our dinner it started to pour. We hadn’t even considered this possibility and had to wait a bit for a break in the rain before running back to the hotel. We played some cards and then called it a day.
Saturday was full of rain. All day long. We went for a late breakfast and then decided that we would not pursue our plan of going snorkeling on the far off island of Zapatillo Cay. We ended up just hanging out and playing lots of cards. I learned two new games and had a relaxing time. We treated ourselves to a “nice dinner” which included a bottle of white wine, main entrees, and dessert. All for the whopping price of $60. While expensive for Bocas Del Toro, an equivalent meal in the US would probably have gone for around $85+ so no bargain, but
well worth it. After dinner we got another bottle of wine and played some more cards but the wine was quite appalling warm and we had no way to chill it. We were kicked out of the deck at midnight when the guard turned off all the lights and nudged us towards our rooms.
I slept really well that night and was a bit sad on Sunday morning when I realized that I couldn’t do much. We grabbed breakfast at a café and then said our goodbyes. The girls went to go snorkel while I went shopping for some trinkets and then had to pack my bag and check out of the hotel. I contemplated finding something to do until 1pm (my flight was scheduled to leave at 1:30) but I ended up getting to the airport about 12:45 and am glad I did. There was an unexpected exit tax to be paid, some customs/immigration forms to deal with and a slow check in process. The flights home went fine, however I had a little bit of trouble reentering Costa Rica because I didn’t have proof of exit. Luckily the Nature Air people had printed up a fake itinerary
for me so that solved the issue and I had about 10 minutes to use the restroom and grab a snack before boarding my flight back to Tamarindo. I landed in Tamarindo around 3 pm and walked the 300 meters to the main road and only had to wait about 5 minutes before the bus to Flamingo came. What luck! Instead of paying $30 for a taxi, I had to pay $1.50 for a bus to Flamingo and then $6 for a taxi to Potrero. I immediately missed the cheap and large number of taxis in Bocas Del Toro.
All in all, the trip was great. I’m glad I splurged on the plane ticket and went through with it. I get to mark another country off my list, and added another shade to my tan. I also have an awesome hammock that I can’t wait to put up in my new house.
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