crazy milkshake flavours at the bus stop
We said farewell to San Jose, thankfully for the last time and jumped onto our public bus that would take us to Panama border. Apparently there are only 2 land borders into Panama on the west side from Costa Rica and luckily we were taking the path less traveled.
We had managed to download the latest episode of Game of Thrones this morning that aired in the US only last night. As I said yesterday, amazing wifi! It was done between 5am and 5.15am when we had to leave!! So we caught up on the latest from Westeros and that took us up to the first stop. We had 10mins to stretch our legs and use the bathroom. There was a random little fresh juice shop and we thought that would be the best option for breakfast. We looked up at the board and they had the most bizarre juice names including the 'Constipation', 'Sore Throat' and the 'Premenstrual Syndrome'. We weren't suffering from any ill-effects so we settled on just plain juice smoothies. But they were still awesome, one final juice in Costa Rica before we crossed the border!
We arrived at the border around 10.30am, grabbed our
border security...train bridge across to Panama
bags and looked around for something that resembled an official looking place. We didn't spot anything, just random little shacks and an old rail bridge crossing the river. We followed our tour guide and walked up to the bridge. We got our selves stamped in, said one word 'Panama' and we were clear to leave. We picked up our packs and proceeded to walk across the dodgiest border crossing ever. It was an old rickardy rail bridge with rotting slates and big gaps to the river below. Before we crossed, Rach thought she'd pop our passports in her pocket. I was very quick to repel that idea, and quickly packed them safely away inside my backpack. I didn't really feel like going for a swim in who-knows-what invested water in order to get into Panama.
We safely made it across the other side and were met by the rudest border inspectors ever. We paid our $3 entrance fee into Panama and got the hell out of there, but not before using the dirtiest bathroom facilities (which cost us $1!) ever.
Our drive to the boat dock was only about 1 hour when we arrived, we hurled our bags
into our waiting speed boat, jumped on board, threw on our life jackets and took off out onto the Carribean Sea. It was only about a 20 min journey on the flattest ocean ever. You could've easily water-skied on it it was so flat.
We docked at Boqus Del Toro, which is a little island about 10km out from the mainland, and completed our big travel day on foot. We wandered through town which is basically one main street lined with tour companies, a couple bars/restaurants and about a hundred supermarkets all run by Chinese people. Apparently all these Chinese have a monopoly on the grocery trade and have rigged the supply chain to prohibit anyone else from opening a convenience store. We got to our little hotel called Hotel Delfines around 3pm and got excited when we saw the chef firing up the wood-fire pizza oven on our arrival. We spent about 5 seconds in our room and hurried back downstairs to be sure our order was the first one into the oven. Our Pizza Mafia (ham, salami and onion) was awesome and really hit the spot after spending the last 9 hours travelling.
We took a
filling out our customs forms
more pleasurely stroll back into town (this time without having to lug our massive load with us) and walked around the Artisan Market and souvenir shops. That was when we found it!! After searching all through Central America from Guatamala to Panama, a hammock finally jumped out at Rach!! We managed to haggle $5 off the price from the shop girl who frankly just wanted to get back to her telephone conversation instead of serving customers. So we rolled up our blue double person hammock and walked out of the shop, thankful that we can finally stop looking for bloody hammocks!!
We were going to have a group dinner tonight however the place where the guide wanted to go was closed so we ended up strolling through town in search of a different place. He settled on a bar and grill which just sounded like pub food so Rach and I went next door to a restaurant called Lemongrass. The menu sounded ok and was a Thai-type restaurant. We walked up the stairs uncertain given that nobody else was there. We were served by the nicest Panamian lady who was so funny and we had a lovely meal. I
Out to the island we go!
ordered off the specials board, coconut-lime chicken curry and Rach opted for safety into the pad-thai. It was a really nice meal and our table overlooked the ocean (although it was already pitch-black by this time).
We were buggered after our long day of travelling and went home to bed, considering whether we'd sleep in our double bed or attempt to hang the hammock...hehe.
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