I spent another two nights in Panama on the Bocas islands but I’m going to skip over it because to be honest I didn’t enjoy it! It rained most of the time and the two night I’d booked at Bambuda Lodge on isla Solarte turned out not as great as I’d hyped them to be in my head. A combination of most of the good people apparently leaving the day before, issues with the chef and the fact that there is literally nothing to do there in the reason made for a pretty boring time. The saving grace were a Canadian guy and German girl who saved me from getting full on cabin fever!
I was relieved to get up at 6am on the last day, catch a $5 water taxi back to the mainline and hop on my shuttle to Puerto Viejo just across the border in Costa Rica.
Although it was only 3.5 hours, the border crossing from Panama felt like it took years. I thought about trying to do it on my own to save money but I’m so glad I didn’t! The shuttle cost $28 with Caribe Shuttle (you get a bit of discount if you book at Bambuda, full price is $32). To do it alone you could save about $10 but you have to take a boat, 2 buses to the Panama border then I think a taxi from the Costa Rican side. Not to mention the confusion of the whole thing and the fact that it was pouring with rain the whole time! I was feeling sorry enough for myself in the soaking that I already got.
Apart from the rain it was an uneventful journey. They dropped me at the door of the hostel, and although the border man made me redo my immigration card as it had got torn up in the rain be asked no other questions. He didn’t even want to see my exit ticket even though he asked the people in front so I think how easily you cross is mainly down to luck!
I got a warm welcome at my hostel (Cecilia’s) and was surprised to find I had a double room with private bathroom all to myself. As soon as I started walking around town I knew I would like it here and I’ve now “accidentally” spent 5 days in town. Its full of good food and the beaches are beautiful. Its been cloudy so the pictures are a bit gloomy but it’s stunning, rivalling Cape Tribulation in Oz as my favourite beach. The surf is large and as you look into the distance the spray creates a musical sheen over everything.
The beach stretches for miles, only broken by the occasional stream meeting the sea. The closest beach has black and which I think is amazing as I’m imagining it comes from volcanoes and I LOVE everything to do with volcanoes. Further along there are white sand beaches with a smaller surf (you can’t swim far ok my part of the beach as the waves are too big).
Along the beach is a fair amount of jungle and it’s just so alive. Swarms of leaf cutter ants coat the paths, huge prehistoric looking birds swarm above, there are reports of sloths just sitting in the road and on my second day I spent an hour just watching crabs do their thing. They really are amazing. I watched as they dug their holes deeper and retreated at the slightest sign of danger, it was totally mesmerising. You can’t see him but there’s a little guy hiding in the hole here.
Other than time doesn’t exploring the beach I’ve been doing a lot of reading and not going to lie, internet time! I just finished reading The Miniaturist. I thought it was ok-easy historic beach reading but the story was a bit unsatisfying, I was expecting some amazing twist that never came.
Food here has been excellent. A lot of people have told me it’s more expensive than Panama but I haven’t found that, and there’s definitely far more choice and better quality. My favourites have been Bread and Chocolate which has plug sockets, Twinings tea and sells huge sandwiches with a choice of salad, fried potatoes or fruit salad on the side for about $6. I also tried a brownie for $3 which was sooo rich. It was really good bit I think one could happily serve 3 people!
I also love Como en mi Casa. I’ve been back a couple of time for breakfast and their gluten free wraps (made of chick pea flour I think). I usually hate omelettes but the one I got as part of their set breakfast deal was amazing. I’m not sure what they did to it but it was awesome.
Sandwich and salad at Bread and Chocolate
Breakfast (with the amazing omelette) at Como en mi Casa
Hostel wise, I didn’t the first couple of nights at Cecilia’s enjoying the private room and wifi good enough to stream yoga classes from yogaglo (I’ve been trying to go to an actual class here but somehow always seem to seem to choose ones that aren’t happening!). I decided to move as the place has a tin roof and rickety construction which made for some very strange noises in the night and completely terrifying sounds in heavy rain. It sounded like the end of the world had come! A lot if people had recommended Pagalu. It doesn’t take bookings so you have to arrive early. I got there at 8.30am on my third day and managed to score one of the $12 dorm beds. Its a very quiet place but the kitchen is well equipped, the wifi is good and the bunks all have their own fans. I managed to find enough people know my first night to go for cocktails so I’m happy. One of the girls just finished a stint in London working on the PR for Crossrail. We had lots of Transport for London things to talk about!
Today I’m going to try to rouse myself from the lazy days that have taken over here and hire a bike to cycle up the cost. Hasta Luego.