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Published: March 4th 2012
Now we are on the second leg of our trip, and on our own. We shared a van with several other people which was nice, because we all went across the border together. Good thing, because even though I had read about this experience, it was still extremely strange. First, we had a very long ride from San Jose – about 6 hours with a short stop for a bite to eat along the way. The countryside is pretty, and the people live with very little – at least by our standards. The housing is sure different than what we are accustomed to seeing anyway.
Then, once we finally get to the border of Panama, the van driver tells us to take all of our suitcases and other stuff and get off. We follow him to a little building in front of this old rickety wooden bridge, that used to be for the railway (rails are still there in the middle). We stand in a hot line with all our stuff and fill out forms – this is for the exit from Costa Rica.
Once we all
legally leave Costa Rica, we have to walk across the bridge, dragging our luggage with us. Our van driver walks with us, but doesn’t bring the van across. The wooden planks are not all nailed down on both ends, and we had a couple of scares where the board came up when we stepped on it. You can look down through the boards and see the river running beneath you. If that is too scary, you can move to one side and walk along the pedestrian walkway, which is rusted sheets of metal – rusted right through in lots of places. Most people walk on the wooden part – it seems a little safer. But not by much!
The bridge is just barely wide enough to fit a semi truck which is waiting on the other side. I don’t know if they will clear the bridge of people first, or just let them jump out of the way?? In any case, we make it to the other side, then have to stand in another line to gain entrance to Panama. They take our $3 each, and put a small stamp in our passports.
There is a different van with a different driver ready to take us the next leg of the journey – through narrow winding roads to the coast. Our young driver cranks the regge/hip hop and drives about 100 miles an hour. Several of the passengers asked him to slow down, but he rolls his eyes and ignores us. We all white-knuckle it.
Finally we arrive to the water taxi stop, where we board a small covered boat that zips us across the water to Isla Colon – the main island in the archipelago of islands known collectively as Bocas del Toro. It is very pretty, but we notice the outhouses perched over the water and wonder just how backward it is here. Yes, it is that backward. Most of the sewage goes directly into the ocean.
Well, we aren’t staying by the mainland, nor are we staying on Isla Colon. We find the restaurant where we are to meet the owners of the place we are staying, and have a beer to celebrate the end of a long travel day. There is another 25 minute boat
ride to San Cristobal island where Dolphin Bay Hideaway is located. It is very pretty here, and very remote. And very hot and very humid. And with lots of bugs. And with no air conditioning. But, I digress……..Really, it is quite nice, and we are both looking forward to some relaxing here.
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