Panama: Bocas del Toro

Looking back over my last few posts, I realize I’m quite wordy.  Once I get typing, I lose all control.  It probably doesn’t help that I tend to let entirely too much time pass between posts.  In an effort to shorten the length of my posts, and to avoid what happened in Costa Rica (letting everything build up for a month), I’m going to start posting more often.  (Looking over the previous few sentences, where I constantly and unnecessarily blabber about reducing my wordiness, I realize this will probably be an impossible endeavor.)

Pukulani Hostal, Bocas del Toro.

Pukalani Hostal, Bocas del Toro.

Anyhoo, after having a serious blog-a-thon for two days that didn’t even see me leave my hostel in Puerto Viejo, I was happy for an outdoor excursion.  On that Saturday, October 26th, I walked about 2km to the nearby Playa Cocles with Claire and Jove, a lovely English couple I met at my hostel (who also have a pretty cool travel-foodie blog: Prawns for Breakfast).  After sitting on my arse and doing nothing for the previous few days, not to mention being relatively immobile for the previous few weeks trying to heal funky toe, the long walk was sweat-inducing and a bit painful, to say the least.  By the time we reached our destination, I was exhausted and starving and quite happy to plop into the sand.  Jove was kind enough to tote me into the water for a cool-off swim, but a killer wave tossed me around like a water-logged rag doll and my new Wal-mart glasses were lost forever.

Coconuts.

Coconuts.

After we’d had our fill of the beach, the three of us hitched a ride back into town, had lunch at a Soda, and I took care of administrative work.  Namely:  buying a bracelet (I’ve gotten into the habit of buying a bracelet in every country I visit.  So far this romantic notion has been anything but, as my El Salvador bracelet broke [to-do on the 2nd chance tour!), I keep buying blue bracelets, and quite frankly my wrist looks as trashy as I do.  I’m hoping with more additions, I can class it up a bit; unfortunately all the shells on my new Costa Rica bracelet came off that night in the shower and the silver balls turned grey.  What was I saying about rambling??  I blame my mom for this character trait.), booking a bus for Panama, and printing out my fake flight itinerary (Some countries, such as Costa Rica and Panama, require proof of onward traveling before entering the border.  Since I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-panties kind of girl, I just doctor up an old flight itinerary, print it, and voila!  Illegal, perhaps, but hassle free!).

Sunset.

Sunset.

Sunday morning, I hopped on a shuttle that wound through banana plantations, bound for the Costa Rica-Panama border.  At the border, I had to strap on my backpack and walk across an extremely rickety bridge loosely covered with rotting wooden boards and rusty orange metal.  I thought surely I was either going to wedge a crutch into one of the many holes and face-plant or crash through an opening and thus end A Tale of Two Legs; alas, I made it, albeit soaking in sweat.  Back on the bus and then onto a boat, I eventually made it to my destination:  the archipelago of Bocas del Toro, a region on the Caribbean coast.  I found a hostel in Bocas Town, the capital of the Bocas del Toro region, and quickly set out for Gringo’s Mexican restaurant.  The owner was an American transplant who quickly plied me with tasty margaritas.  As the sun was setting, I lumbered precariously back to my room and passed out.  Classy.  I was soon awakened to the sound of knocking:  my friends Claire and Jove had arrived from Puerto Viejo.  Together, we went out for a delicious Indian thali.

Kayak.

Kayak.

The next day, choosing not to take a boat to one of the numerous islands of the Bocas del Toro archipelago, I taxied to Pukalani Hostal, located on the main island just 5km from Bocas Town.  I chose this place not only because of its proximity to the main town; I was instantly sold when the website boasted a pool, a dock out into the ocean (no need to beg or barter for piggy-back rides!), and free use of the kayaks.  I spent the following five days relaxing by the pool, working on my tan for the first time on this trip (since I turned 30, I have shied away from too much sun, but I realized I was looking quite pasty for a Central American traveler), and kayaking.  Unfortunately, on my first kayak excursion, I stupidly brought along my iPhone, which of course got drenched in salt water and stopped working.  Idiot.  On my second kayak excursion, I stupidly caught a wave  that crashed right into a rock reef.  I managed to come out of it wet and coughing and clutching the oar in one hand and my hat in the other, but without any blood loss.  Impressive.  Oh, and when unpacking on the first day, my Ziploc bag of swimsuits was MIA.  Damn.  I had to improvise with bra and panties.

Still purty.

Still purty.

Nevertheless, it was a great few days, and I considered staying a bit longer, but the city-bug started to bite.  So, on Friday afternoon I packed up my increasingly lighter backpack, complete with salty undergarments and a bag of rice ‘n phone, and caught a night bus to Panama City.

Okay, forget it.  I ramble.  I’m a rambler.  My posts will never get shorter, because I’ll always just find more to ramble about.  Ramble on.

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