Blogs from Panama, Central America Caribbean - page 7


The San Blas islands are an archipelago located in the Kuna Yala district in the Caribbean sea off Panama, however they do stretch all the way down to Colombia. Only around 15% are inhabited, with the rest comprising of a small piece of sand and some coconut trees, just above sea level. They represent to me the typical picture post card snapshot that you have in your head of the Caribbean, with aquamarine water, eye-burning bright white sand and the green of coconut palms. Underneath the water lies the world's third largest reef. On our first stay in Panama City a few months back, we had found a good company to do a trip with out to the islands, and it made it easy for us to arrange as we burnt our way down south from ... read more
Isla Achutupo
Mojo enjoying the sun at Isla Achutupo
One of the many small islands

The sloth was languid in the tree, curled up on a fork in the branch structure, preventing its fall with one long, vertically outstretched arm wrapping its three fingers around an overhead tree-limb. This was not what I had expected when heading to the idyllic island archipelago of Bocas del Toro, Panama. The islands are located in the Caribbean Sea, a half hour boat ride from the mainland town of Almirante and only about 30kms from the border with Costa Rica. We travelled there on an overnight bus from Panama City, having seen the ships pass through the famous canal and wandered around the old town, which is somewhat reminiscent of Havana in Cuba. Bocas del Toro consists of numerous islands; however the real gems are the uninhabited keys, known as Cayos Zapatillos. These ... read more
Cayos Zapatillas
A typical view.
Our transport for exploring the islands.

"I should never have listened to you," said Angela, my wife. "I knew this would happen. I just knew!" I wiped the sweat from my forehead and shook my T-shirt. A smidgeon of wind to cool myself down would be a welcome distraction from the heat and humidity of downtown Panama City. The street was busy, full of shops opening up for the day. I looked at the map and then at the street names around. Nothing matched up. We were lost and it was all my fault. Forty minutes earlier, after finishing breakfast, it had been my suggestion that we head outside for a quick wander around. I wanted to take a photo of a skyscraper I'd seen the previous evening. From the back seat of the taxi, the skyscraper had seemed close to our ... read more
Not the best look I've had...
Panama City
Panama City to Rio de Janeiro by Jason Smart

Central America Caribbean » Panama » Panamá » Panama City September 30th 2013

Weil man nie weiss, wie lange so etwas dauert: frueh aufstehen, 8.00 Abfahrt zum Frachtflughafen, dort werden die MR verladen fuer den Flug nach Bogota. Kaum weggefahren: RG, der nicht aufhoerte, bis zir im Hotel zurueck waren. Ich hatte nur die undichte Regenjacke dabei, unten nix (die Hoffnung stirbt zuletzt), war voellig nass, Hose, T-Shirt und alles andere drunter... Waren nur etwa 20 km, aber es ist erstaunlich, wie lang das ist im stroemenden Regen. Kevin verschwand, um herauszufinden, wo wir hinmussten, nachdem die MR aus dem Pass ausgetragen waren. Gebaeude 1: Nein, hier nicht. Gehen Sie in Gebaeude 2. Gebaeude 2: Nein, hier nicht, gehen Sie in Gebaeude 3. Gebaeude 3: Nein, hier nicht, gehen Sie in Gebaeude 1. Gebauede 1: Ja, hier sind Sie richtig. Und da soll man nicht verrueckt werden. Darran hatte ... read more

Central America Caribbean » Panama » Panamá September 29th 2013

Langer Fahrtag, fruehe Abfahrt, 8.00. Den ganzen Tag die Panamericana langgerutscht. Zuerst war sie eine ganz normale zweispurige Strasse, die sich Huehner, Kinder, Hunde, Erwachsene auf dem Weg zum Feld (Machete), ganze Familien auf dem Weg zur Kirche (Sonntagsstaat), Ross und Reiter, Fahrrad, Motorrad, Auto und LKW recht friedlich teilten. Diese wichtige Verbindung zwischen den zentralamerikanischen Staaten und auch Nordamerika schlaengelt sich wie ein wildgewordener Wurm durch die Felder und Berge, konsequent mitten durch die Doerfer. Der Strassenzustand entspricht der der Rosenheimer Landstrasse in den 60er Jahren - mehr Schlagloecher als Sekunden im Jahr. Hin und wieder eine Polizeikontrolle, wir zeigten verschiedene Dokumente und ich uebte mich in Small Talk in Spanisch (sehr small) und dann ging's weiter. Die Sache mit der absurden Hoechstgeschwindigkeit (80 kmh) konnte ... read more

Central America Caribbean » Panama September 29th 2013

Natürlich frühes Frühstück, weil´s wieder ein border crossing day war. Zuerst der Küste entlang, dann wurde es hügelig und es gab kleinbäuerlichen Bananenanbau, dann wieder in den flachen Küstenstreifen - Bananenplantagen, so weit das Auge reicht. Sobald Früchte angesetzt sind, werden blaue Plastiktüten über den Stiel gezogen, an dem die Früchte wachsen -darunter wachsen die Bananern dann ohne von Insekten oder Vögeln etc. belästigt zu werden - Schönheit ist ja wichtig beim Kauf von Bananen... Lange bevor die Bananen reif sind werden die ganzen langen Stiele abgeschnitten (Plastiktüte bleibt dran), sie werden an Haken gehängt und mit einer kleinen Seilbahn ins zentral (und an der Straße gelegene) Verpackungszentrum gebracht. Dabei gibt es keinen Motor bei der Seilbahn, sondern die Arbeiter schieben die Bündel einfach voran - immer noch leichter als Tragen. Zuerst e... read more

Who would have thought that a 10 minute boat ride would bring you to such a different place, but Isla Bastementos is very unique. The thumping sounds of reggaeton at night heard back on Isla Colon, are replaced here with roaring howler monkeys, deafening frogs and thousands of birds. Everyone is super laid back, dozing in hammocks while listening to Bob Marley and speaking Gali Gali, a Creole language that combines Afro-Antillean English, Spanish and Ngöbe-Buglé. Crazy characters are abound, and when combined with the natural beauty of the place, it really does feel like a totally different world to the one we have been travelling through. Shane said the place has a touch of Looney Tunes about it, and it is a perfect analogy. We stayed in Isla Colon until the Sunday in order to ... read more
Red Frog
Beach south of Red Frog
Boat back from Red Frog

From Cuba we flew into Panama City late on a Sunday afternoon, and a good part of the day was spent in long queues. After getting grilled by an immigration official on our arrival in Havana, we ensured that we got to the airport the specified 3 hours prior to the flight out of there, in case we had a repeat episode. We were greeted with the most disorganised check in process I have experienced. The airline told us that we needed to be there 3 h. ours early, yet they did not have anyone manning the desks for the first hour. By the time that they started checking people in, the queue was over a hundred metres and nearly out the door. We had about 50 people in front us, which took 40 minutes to ... read more
Boat ride out to Starfish Beach
Starfish beach
Snorkelling in Coral Cay

Central America Caribbean » Panama » Panamá » Panama Canal September 3rd 2013

Getting my exit stamp from Colombia was a sad moment. The country that had been my home for 4 months, had given me so many amazing experiences and memories, and of course best of all had been where I met Erika, was now sadly behind me. My exit point was Sapzurro, a tiny coastal village on the border with Panama from where I walked over one of the most relaxed border crossings I’ve encountered, a tiny military hut on a ridge separating Sapzurro and its Panamanian neighbour La Miel. My method of travel to Panama proper would be a 4 day boat trip through the San Blas islands, a beautiful chain of palm lined, white sand beaches and aquamarine waters inhabited by the Kuna people. But before starting the tour we were given a free night’s ... read more
Kuna village
Call of nature Kuna style
Lobster time

Central America Caribbean » Panama » Panamá August 2nd 2013

Up bright and early this morning 5.30a.m. to see our entrance into the Panama Canal, this is one amazing engineering feat, into our first lock at 6.30a.m, the Gatun Locks. It was an all day job with us descending into the Pacific Ocean at around 4.30p.m. We went through three sets of locks of a total of 27m up into Gatun Lake ,first then onto Gamboa and passing under the Sentenial bridge, then Pedro Miguel Locks then sailing through the canal to the Miraflores locks where we were descended down 9mt and then another 17m. Lots of construction along the way as they are making another set of locks that are bigger so that they can take super ships. Our ship had only 2ft either side as we passed through the locks, it looked a lot ... read more

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