Last time I wrote, we were setting off blind (after waking up to the wrong time zone), looking for some luck to get us past the impassable Darian gap in Panama to find our destination Colombia, in need of some luck…
Regreso. We arrived at Bocas Del Toro, Panama via the Caribbean coast from party town Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica as mentioned previous. We soon realised it shared the same love of permanent partying, and this was amplified by the Carnival which was on when we arrived, out of the frying pan and into the fire it seemed!
Despite this we stayed at a fairly quiet hostel with a good kitchen and an amazing Israeli amigo come Chef, we spent our days productively, cycling to the beach around the bay where the reef was good, and shooting sea life with a spear gun for our dinner.
We were a group of five and our vehicle of choice was a jolly looking 5-person tandem thing, there´s no wonder the fish, crab and lobsters didn´t fear the sight of us parking up. But looks can be deceptive and the ´Seamaster 500´ effective, so we ate well.
The Carnival was massively overpriced so we joined the locals in a boycott and partied outside the gates to the music, and later elsewhere. Aqualounge being one of the places serving until 4am, encompassing a diving board above a cut out section of the dance floor, beer was flowing along with a free-for-all multi-person diving acrobatics competition, funny to hear only the British and Americans concernedly discussing Health and Safety laws.
After this it was the long slog to Panama City, even though we had a lovely guide to show us around, we still failed to find much inspiration in this sprawling city of high risers and malls, which we overlooked from our hostel in the old town.
We had to visit the Canal which was as I had imagined, but did have a nice Welsh conversation with Mr & Mrs Thomas visiting from Anglesey. The main highlight of the city was the incredible artwork on the buses, of which I managed to photograph a small album worth of photos after bribing the guards with sodas for entry into the depot, but was disappointingly ejected by the manager before completing a books worth. The other highlight was a 90cent Butterfly Kite I bought, let´s get out of this city.
We luckily missed our pricey Gringo mini-bus to a pre-determined expensively priced 5 day boat ride to Cartagana, Colombia through the San Blas Islands, which had never felt like the right thing to do, but the D.I.Y options were strongly advised against and we were too bored to differ.
And so we set out on our own, whoo, a local bus to deadly Colon (which admittedly was a little scary), then on to Puerto Lindo where we stayed the night at a German run hostel :Wonderbar:. There we were told there were boats leaving in the next 3-5 days. I may well have suggested that we may as well sit out and wait for these boats to be ready on one of the 514 idyllic Islands nearby. Awesomely Gido the Hostel owner (who had lived in the San Blas Islands for 2 of his 19 years on the sea) was glad to give us his friends name and number on Chichimei island who would put us up until further notice.
Oumberto the King, had his brother pick us up from Pourveneir, San Blas, an hour down the sea, and took us to Chichi mei. We stayed in an amazing authentic Kuna tribe outouse with him and the familia for $10 all inclusive from then on.
The most beautiful island I ever met. Full of great people.
Hanging out with Desaiano on the first day, trying to scrimp Radio waves from Metallicas Panamanian debut relayed from the mainland, the first of many amazingnesses.
I received a handcrafted personalised anklet from Desaiano. Not wanting to spend any money =) I decided to teach the dude to juggle, he took to it well, and within 4 hours was juggling confidently, quickly moving to loaded coconuts, imitating my only ever daily attempt at a work-out. Shipwrecked, as dreamed about.
Great Chileans adorned our island with a tent, from a Catamaran. We caught wind of an imminent departing expensive charter ship, but the guys spoke over volleyball of an economic super-direct deal Catamaran returning, which was clearly going to be better.
We lined up the crossing for a quarter of the RRP while baking on the island, on the $1.5 million Maxicat, the only snag was, it wasn´t leaving for another 6 days. !. Game on, St David’s day and many others days in paradise ensued.
Breakfast – Bread con egg
Lunch (when they could be bothered) – Fish and Rice
Dinner (At some point when it was dark) – Rice and Fish.
We then boarded the amazing catamaran and after a rough 35 hours at sea, a University of 20 dolphins (and the flying fish who flew 30m to avoid them) lead us happily, towards the now alien, earthy aroma of soil. A new continent.
Hola Colombia. Safe, xxx!
In other News
* Some dweebdog Australians kept us awake for 10 hours so their Vegimite now sleeps with the fishes.
* I´m homesick, but hoping to stay strong/away.
A la orden.