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November 30th 2006
Published: December 22nd 2006
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Ok, so we left Isle De Ompetepe and headed for San Juan del Sur. God, feels life ages ago! Stayed there for almost a week and had a great time with the guys we´d met on the island. We did some beach time, boogie boarding and a fair few big nights out, which usually ended up with all of us paddling in the sea chatting some kind of rubbish enjoying the feel of the warm sea inbetween our toes. We also managed to get a room for $10pn for the 3 of us!

After San Juan we went to San Jose for 4 nights. Nice city, most developed one we´d come accross, and most expensive. Hostel was OK though and we watched a fair bit of telle in between the downpours and whilst one of several of us were feeling a bit under the weather! We discovered our first club dedicated to house music but it was a Tuesday night and quite empty, was good fun though, yet expensive and Gem pulled a cutie! After the night finished at 4 Gem´s man drove us on to an all night bar where i ended up playing table football with a bunch of men who kept saying, she knows what she´s doing, she´s English! OK! Not that i´m actually any good at playing table football. One of them was a taxi driver and i´ve never seen such a pimped up taxi in my life - hilarious! Not much more to say on San Jose, Mita and Gem visited the zoo when i was being ill one day and we did a fair bit of walking round the city, not too much a night though as our roads seemed to be surrounded by ladies of the night blatently offering their services. Is prostitution legal in Latin America?? It seems very blatent in many places we´ve been now, but never more so than in the club we live above here in Cartagene! It´s quite funny actually, they all know us there and the other night we sat in there for a few bevvies and watched these European guys have various ladies bought in for them, the watched the guys / pimps making the deal for the ladies and then when it was all agreed i overheard one of the guys ask, in English, so do i pay after?? Haha!!!! It´s funney as well cos the club is called Miami and the hotel they go to round the corner is called Las Vegas, where they mostly go, so they meet their ladies in Miami and then take them to Las Vegas. Anyway, enough about prostitution!

So we, left San Jose and travelled for about 6h by bus to get to Puerto Viejo which is close to the Panama border. This was our first visit to the carribean coast and you could imediately tell the difference. The people were mainly black the sea was different and everything seemed a bit strange to start with given what we were used to. Soon, managed to adapt and had a very chilled time there for 4 days. I don´t think we ever went in the sea though come to think of it. Puerto Viejo was good for a night out, even more so if you love reggae and rastas! Though to be honest we did very little here.

After that we headed for Panama and went to Bocas Del Toro. We stayed there a week and loved it. It was absolutely beautiful and we learnt to dive there. There was a great nightlife scene and the whole
Lincoln & JeremyLincoln & JeremyLincoln & Jeremy

In San Juan
diving experience was amazing. We also bumped back into Cassie and Danielle and Cassie´s boyfriend who was visiting, so that was good, and a bit mad cos we just assumed we wouldn´t cross paths again. So, basically we arrived there and met this young guy called Rigo off the boat who took us to all the cheap hostels, to find that everyone was full except the cheapest and worst one, so we had to take that. Mita had clothes stolen, they never once changed the sheets and the room had no windows, just 7 beds, but we took the room over and managed to make the room ours, along with a few coachroaches!! However, you could hear the sea lapping at the shore underneath us as we slept which was nice. So, as soon as we dumoped our bags, we headed out for the happy hour they had at the other hostel and had a few beers, then it was coctail happy hour so we had some of them too We then hit the disco and by 3 am we were a bit worse for wear, however, Gem had started chatting to these guys and turned out that they worked in a dive shop as instructors and they offered the 3 day PADI course to us for $150, but the catch being we had to start at 9am the following morning, as they already had 3 girls signed up for it. Needless to say the first morning of our course wasn´t good but all we had to do was watch a video then do some tests. Them in the afternoon we put our gear on and got in the water - very scary! More so for Mita though as she can´t really swim!! Anyway, we did a few breathing excersises with all the gear on and sat at the bottom of the sea for a bit, all very wierd and to be honest i really didn´t know what i was doing, but the guys teaching us were great and looked after us well. So the next few nights over the 3 day course we read our books and had early nights. The second day in the course we had to get our gear on imediately and we set off for our first proper dive. We were crashing through the ocean in this boat, the six of us and 2 instructors and their young helper. The water was really rocky and i remember turning round to Gem and saying - jesus, imagine if they stopped right here and we have to dive in this! The next minute that was exactly what they told us we had to do. You should have seen our faces. Anyway, the water was too choppy in the end and we ended trying somewhere else but again with no luck. However that afternoon we tried again and got down to 12 meters swimming amongst the coral reefs - it was wicked and our only real proper dive of the course. The problem was the weather. The next day we tried to do a ship wreck but you just couldn´t see anything due to the currents washing up all the sand from the bottom. Anyway, the Thursday was the last day of the course, we all passed - i got 98% on my test btw, and it just so happened that that was the day of Bastimentos - the island down the road, and there was a big party that day/night. So we headed over there by boat, but turned out the island had no electricty, so it
Me, Mita and i´ve gotten his name!Me, Mita and i´ve gotten his name!Me, Mita and i´ve gotten his name!

But funny guy from San Juan
was pitch black except in 2 clubs where they had generators. I got jumped on by this guy called Roberto, whom apparently i´d danced with on the first night (who knows) but he was really sweet and had a bit of a fling with him over the remaining time in Bocas. After we did the course we stayed an extra 3 or 4 days and just had a really good time, though didn´t see an awful lot of daylight!!

After that we went straight to Panama City and spent just under a week there which was also good, yet hot and their downpours were something else! We got a hotel room for 7$ each with AC, private bathroom and tv. Our hotel even had a pool! Panama was again a lovely city, with lots of different areas. One day we went to the ol town to do some shopping, and my god the clothes were sooo cheap, so we picked up a few bargains. There wasn´t a great deal to do at night cos again the drinks were really expensive and we were there from a Sunday to Friday, but we had one night out which was quite good fun. The best thing about Panama was the cheapness of the food though. For 4 dollars total we had a full meal each! Traditional plate with was lentils (yum), rice, some pasta and some kind of chicken in sause or meet balls. The street hotdogs were the cheapest and best we´d found too.
We also took a trip to see the panama canal and watched a few ships pace through. Nice to say we´ve seen it but not that interesting really, sorry Dad - it was a great engineering feat though, that i can appreciate!!

Then, we packed our bags, went down to reception to get a cab to be told the airport was 2 hours away, with our flight being in 2! Must have been something lost in translation though as we made it and it only took 20 or 20 or 30 mins!! And that, is Central America over!! Gutted we didn´t see more of Panama, absolutely loved Guatemala and El Salvador, though didn´t see that much of El Salvador. Can´t really say we did Hondoras though we slept one night there. Costa Rica was travelled through very quickly, but basically it was an amasing first 3
Panama Border CrossingPanama Border CrossingPanama Border Crossing

And Darryl from Felixstowe
months and en excellent start to our trip. If you get the opportunity, it´s a must!!!

Jo xxx

Additional photos below
Photos: 26, Displayed: 26


Me and RobertoMe and Roberto
Me and Roberto

Awful picture of me though...
Gem and guy from Dive ShopGem and guy from Dive Shop
Gem and guy from Dive Shop

At Bastimentos party
Night out in BocasNight out in Bocas
Night out in Bocas

Guy on the left is called James Bond Ponce - hahahaha
Scary LadyScary Lady
Scary Lady

She told me she was a lesbian, has a gun and a few other shady detils, then started eyeing up Mita - hahaha!
The dive shopThe dive shop
The dive shop

After we qualified - smiles all round
What we did on our first dive dayWhat we did on our first dive day
What we did on our first dive day

That´s not us though....
Panama City, old townPanama City, old town
Panama City, old town

And a beloved chicken bus
Panama City New TownPanama City New Town
Panama City New Town

As seen from the old town

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