Whistlestop Central America

Published: June 30th 2007
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For the last 6 weeks we have been in Central America. Firstly in Panama, then overland through Costa Rica and on to Nicaragua.

Our time in Panama was spent mainly on the Carribbean coast in the archipelago of Bocas del Toro. A stunning group of islands, with a real Carribean influence - extremely laid back locals, great jerk chicken and cool tunes. This is also where we started our passion for nature, after meeting up with a couple of naturalists from South Africa who had us traipsing up and down kilometres of beach in the middle of the night in search of leatherback turtles laying their eggs. This kind of paid off, although only in part as us amateurs managed to actually scare the giant beast off with our torch, much to everyone´s dispair, Simon actually nearly fell over her...needless to say we were not invited out the subsequent night.

From Panama we then travelled along the river inland to the border with Costa Rica, banana country, where we kayaked through the jungle, I had my first experience white water rafting down the most stunning Pacure river. We continued to learn more about the local flora and fauna, venturing into our first cloud forest and even admiring the lava flow by night of the Volcan Arenal. Costa Rica is so incredibly green, driven largely by the climate and the excessive amount of annual rainfall, which all seems to happen in about an hour every day. the result is that everything looks so lush and radiant.

About a week later we then crossed into Nicaragua overland, a mad border crossing which took about 3 hours of waiting for I am not sure what, mainly admin as usual I think. And we headed straight to Ometepe Island, dominated by 2 volcanoes, situated in the middle of Lake Nicaragua. This time we climbed the active Volcan Conception but only to the where the vegetation ended as it is both extremely hot and extremely dangerous. It nearly killed us anyway as it was a very steep climb and we ended up doing it with a couple of rock-climbers!

Our last stop in Nicaragua was Granada, wow, what a beautiful place. It sits just by the edge of the lake and is a very sleepy colonial town, with the most stunning old buildings, all either painted in bright colours or just crumbling away, growing beautiful with age.

We then travelled back to Panama and ended our central american experience on another real high in the San Blas islands, inhabited and ruled by the indigenous Kuna indians. We stayed with a kuna family on a very small island of just 200 people, a lot of them children, living a very simple existence with the locals and not another tourist in sight.

By day we would visit some of the other islands within the San Blas region inhabited by the kunas, sail out to buy fish, even lobster, for that nights´ dinner from the kuna fishermen far out at sea and by night we would watch ´kuna living´ as the sun went down; the locals chatting at the end of the make-shift jetty, the women, in their traditional dress gossiping and laughing watching the men pull in the last of the fishing nets. Talking with the all the children we had befriended, taking photos and playing cards with them and obviously enjoy the most delicious and defintely the freshest fish we have ever eaten.

We were very sad to leave, especially the kids, although in need of some creature comforts...there is only so much getting used to living a very simple life...

Additional photos below
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10th July 2007

Keep Photos Coming Pls
Unbelieveable...how different (and the same) peoples daily lives are. Absolutely love reading and seeing the pics...so vivid. You've likely picked up on the the local vernacular, "pura vida" or "all life"....in Costa Rica. You're living it.....enjoy and thanks for sharing your adventure with us. It's very fun to watch it unfold....

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