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Published: April 6th 2011
From the view point on day 1
When I was in Nicaragua, Baptiste, one of the Swiss guys I met, had told me about a place between Bocas Del Toro and David. It was called “Lost and Found” and was some sort of eco hostel in the middle of the jungle, with amazing views over the hills and great hiking opportunities. I had been sold on the idea and was leaving Bocas to go and discover this amazing place. I had the flyer in my pocket, with the instructions of how to get there. I caught the 8.30 water taxi back to the mainland. The boat was full, mainly with other backpackers. There I started talking to a group of 4 people who were heading to a town called Boquete, not too far from where I was going. This meant we were going to catch the same bus and do part of the journey together. As we were trying to catch the bus, they asked me where I was going, so I pulled the flyer out of my pocket and showed them, saying “This is where you should go instead of Boquete...” Cut a long story short, they all decided that it wasn't a bad idea and all
Our first clue to the treasure hunt
of a sudden there were 5 of us descending on Lost and Found. After a massive haggling failure with the bus conductor (he charged us $7 for a 2h journey, which was the same price as going all the way to David, an extra hour away) and a pretty uncomfortable trip (on the aisle of a minibus which wasn't high enough for me to stand straight for nearly half the time), we finally got to where we had to stop. From there, it was a 15 minutes hike up the hill with our rucksacks. With just 10-12kg on my back, I was moving a lot faster than anybody else and we were commenting on pack sizes and how I had managed to go away with so little.
Seeing as I will probably mention them a few times over the course of this blog, here is a brief overview of my travel partners: our little group consisted of the following members: Ana, 28, from Argentina, married to Luka, 30-ish from Estonia. They had been travelling for the last 20 months and heading for Buenos Aires by June-July. The other two were 2 young Swiss (German speaking) girls called Angelika and Anina.
Me and my treasure hunting buddies
They were only away for a few months and were coming from and returning to Costa Rica after their Panama visit.
We eventually got to Lost and Found and were shown around the amazing “3 storey” dorm (ie triple bunks) and the “mini supermarket” (because you're in the middle of the jungle, they have all sorts of food they can sell you). It seemed like a really cool place and we were all happy to be there. At $12 a night, it wasn't cheap, but with a "stay 2 nights get the 3rd one free" offer, I was going nowhere in a hurry. They offered all sorts of tours (for a fee) into the jungle, to coffee plantations, to hot springs but you could also follow some simple trails by yourself, including a treasure hunt. Because it was already mid-afternoon by the time we had settled down, on our first day, we only went for a quick 30 minutes hike up to the view point, but this was stunning enough: both the view and the trail. After that, we returned to the hostel for some food and an evening in the bar, where there was a table football tournament for
all the guests and staff and a few drinks consumed (mmmm... Rum!)
The next day we had decided to go and hunt for the treasure. But I was up early, as per usual and I wasn't expecting anyone to be rising at that sort of time, so I decided to go into the closest town, about 30 minutes bus ride away. “Town” was a bit of an overstatement, as all it had was an internet café, a broken ATM and a couple of supermarkets. The supermarket was what I was interested in, as I wasn't too happy to pay the inflated prices at the hostel. So I stocked up for a few days and even managed to get a free lift back to the hostel. As I returned, it was nearly 11am and my 4 travel buddies, along with 2 German guys were about to leave for the treasure hunt, so I just had time to drop my bags and follow them.
The treasure hunt started in a labyrinth, where we had to go and find our first clue. From there, we had to keep guessing where to go next based on the clues we got and using the jungle
Celebrating solving the riddle
map we had been given. The trail took us through the cloud forest and along the river where we stopped for a while for some lunch and/or swimming. After about 4 or 5 hours (much longer than we should have been, but we were having too much fun), we finally got to the caves where the last clue was. This sent us back to the hostel to assemble the last pieces of the jigsaw. The trail had been really interesting and pretty, well defined but not really marked, so you almost felt like you were just having a random walk around. Back at the hostel we eventually (we struggled a bit) managed to solve the final riddle and got recompensed with 2 small bottles of rum. We had a great day out in the jungle and all got on really well, so sharing the drinks at the end was a nice ending to our day.
The next morning, quite a few people were leaving (including all of my treasure hunt buddies). Angelika and Anina were going back to Costa Rica, so we said our goodbyes. Ana and Luka were going to Panama City, where I would be going a day
Rocky, the pet kincajoo
later and it so happened that we wanted to stay at the same hostel there, so it was only a temporary goodbye for us. Another couple of guys: Rob, a 20 year old Canadian who had cycled from Vancouver and Gerald, a 33 year old Austrian were also going in the same direction, so we all agreed to meet at the hostel in Panama a couple of days later.
After everyone had gone, I decided to go for a big hike in the jungle. With nobody really wanting to join me, I set off on my own. It wasn't as pleasant as the day before because there had been some rain overnight and the path had gone muddy and slippery. Still, I enjoyed the walk, through the jungle, down the river, to the banana trees and into the fields, before rejoining the road.
I was back at the hostel by 2pm, just as the rain started and spent the afternoon chilling out, doing laundry, reading and blogging. It wasn't the most exciting day ever and the hostel felt pretty empty, with only 4 of us left in the dorm (compared with about 20 the day before). So I had a
quiet and early night, ready to go to Panama City the next day, where I would hopefully rejoin some of the people I had met over the last few days...
The next morning, everybody was up early and someone spotted a tarantula near the bathrooms. We all went and had a look. That was my first encounter with one of those and my last experience at the Lost and Found.
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