Diving, Island Beaches and a bit of Yoga

Trip Start Feb 19, 2010
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Trip End Jan 31, 2012


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Where I stayed
mono Tuti

Flag of Panama  , Bocas del Toro,
Friday, January 14, 2011

Day 1 - Transit
Glad I paid for the shuttle since I had to have two buses and one boat transfer in order to reach Bocas del Toro. Also probably one of the more interesting border crossings due to the fact that you had to walk over an old railway bridge to cross it.

Arrived in town and once again full of american tourists. Headed down to the hostel which wasnt to big and had a nice balcony overlooking the street which seems to be typical of the hostels here. Weathers pretty crap still. Guess that while its the dry season further north, its actually the wet session south of Nicaragua.

Went for a wander to look around town and for a dive shop. Ended up settling on the third dive shop since while the first two places were a bit cheaper the third place owner looked a bit more enthustic. The first two places I tried were run by americans who really didnt seem to give a damn about to much.

Talking to the guy found out that Torres del Bacca had Tigers rock which was very much like sharks rock (pinical of rock in the middle of the ocean) in the Corn Islands. Unfortunately, once again couldnt do the dive due to the swell. appears that once again if I had arrived a few days earlier I would have been able to have done it. Oh well. Guess its just not to be.

Spent the afternoon drinking and chatting with people on the balcony and in particular five chilean guys on a bit of a road trip. Ended up talking about karate and given I was drunk got them to punch me, to make a point,  when talking about the difference between competition and more traditional arate. Called it an early night though when they headed down to the bar for shots.

Day 2 - Diving and Red Frog Beach
Ran into a ana who I had briefly met the night before. Appears that she was also doing the dive. given she is from Guatemala and given the amount of travel she has done I can only assume she must come from one of the wealthier families in the country.
 
After heading out to some cabannas that were located over the water to pick up a few more divers we headed out to the dive site which was to far away. Very different dive. Unlike other dives the water wasnt blue and clear. Still had fairly good visibility but the water was a yellow colour. at a guess I would say it was a result of rivers dumping their water into the nearby ocean. actually found the yellow diving in the yellow colour interesting and a nice change. Especially true when you looked up.

Coral here is also very different. Lots more sponge looking like coral with a fair bit of red and other colours. Rather than rocks and walls of coral it was more fingers of coral poking up from the ground. Also managed to find a helo cline where the fresh and salt water were meeting which sort of supports the idea that the colour is due to river water. 

In the end the best part of the dive was the fact that at a given depth a sheet of light appeared in the water. That is, when you crossed a certain depth level and looked up you could see a sheet of white above you. Go up a bit and it disappeared. Not sure why but it wasnt the helocline since my vision wasnt blurry so not sure what was trapping or reflecting the light.

Had planned to go to Red Frog beach but was reconsidering it for a while due to grey clouds and rain. In the end ended up heading to Red Frog Beach (since the sky cleared for a bit) with Ana and another american girl who ended up being completely stressed out about having to travel a long distance in order to reach a friend in Costa Rica. Guess she hasnt travelled on her own much.

To get to the beach had to catch a boat through the bay. Nice enough ride though it would have been nice to of headed to one of the further out islands (something I never ended up doing). Had a nice ride on the back of a pickup through the jungle to reach the beach on the other side of the island. Nice beach with quite a few people around.

Ended up deciding to wander up and down the length of it before going for a swim. Had great fun. While I've found lots of beaches in the last few months, none of them have had any surf. This beach did and I ended up doing some body surfing which was fun.

Gotout when it started to rain again and since the girls were getting cold we headed back to the dock to find a boat. In the end we completely forgot about the guy we had organised to meet back at the dock later that evening. As a result he would have come all the way out only to find us not there.

After getting back decided to do a yoga class which was fun. Nice thing about yoga in central America is that its a reasonable price ($5) rather than the ridiculous ones you get at home ($14-$18).

Day 3 - Wizards Beach, Night Dive
Rain, rain go away. Cant seem to get any sun. Decided not to get a bike and ride around the island due to the high chance of getting caught out in a downpour. In the end decided to do another yoga class that morning and when I got a bit of sun that afternoon decided to head out to Wizard beach which was the beach a short walk from Red Frog Beach.

Just my luck to get the same guy from the day before. He ended up wanting some money for the fuel he spent heading out the day before but since I normally wouldnt have organised to get a pick up (more the girls) I wasnt planning to give him any. My only problem was I needed to get back by a certain time for the night dive and given the weather I wasnt sure how many people (and so boats) would be out. Ended up giving him an extra couple of dollars in the hope he would show up when I arranged a pickup time.

Thankfully had already learnt my lesson and was wearing shoes and not just thongs. What would have been a relatively short walk ended up taking longer than normal due to the rain having turned parts of the trail into a bog and made other steep bits slippery. All in all a nice walk through the jungle with some bits along the coastline. Even lucky enough (since the frogs are becoming rarer) to find a few of the red frogs after which red frog beach is named.

At the end of the trail found a nice white sand beach that was pretty much deserted. Ended up walking the length of it and believe its possible to keep heading down the coastline but given the time and fact the trails are in the state they are in decided not to head any further down. On the way back decided to climb over rocks and trees along the coastline (to get a better view back to the beach and for the fun of it) before taking the trail back to red frog beach and catching the truck to the dock.

In the end found I probably shouldnt have bothered getting him to come back since the weather kept getting better and so a number of boats were on the island. After waiting 30mins after the arranged pickup time decided I needed to get back for the dive and took a boat when offered a ride since I wasnt confident that he was going to show. On the way back to town I did see him heading out but he would have arrived an hour late. also didnt feel to bad about him making the trip since he was taking people out in his boat so was getting paid.

Made it back in plenty for the night dive especially since one of the people diving were late. Headed out to the dive site which was by a small wreck and got in the water with our torches. Swam around a bit and saw the reef at night. Also ended up finding a sandy spot, knelt down and turned the torches off. We then waved out arms around to activate the bio-luminecence and could see bright green flecks in the water.

In the end the dive was cut short shortly after passing by the wreck. One of the divers was having a bit of trouble breathing out of a regulator and panicked could see his face as he was sucking his buddies oki and he looked stessed. Appears the regulator was getting a bit stuck so while still getting air it wasnt as much as normal. Must have been something to do with the way he was using it since the dive master was able to breath normally with it.

In the end the dive master tried to swap her gear with his so the dive could continue (maybe foolishly) but he was to stressed for that and we ended up ascending. Unfortunately it seems that somehow on the way up the Dive masters BCD floated away. she had assumed it was on the sea bottom but I saw it above me between two diver above me as I was surfacing. At that point it didnt occur to me that it might be floating free. I guess I was assuming that someone (the dive master) was still holding onto it and using the reg on it to breath. Guess she must have been breathing off of the reg belonging to the panicky guy.

After surfacing me and one other diver went for a look but given the amount of time between surfacing and heading back (especially given the currents moving us) I guess there really wasnt much chance of us finding it with torches. Would have looked longer (just for the extra dive time if nothing else) but the girl who came with me said see was getting cold.

Ended up floating in the sea at night with the boat a fair distance away. Thankfully wasnt long before they saw me flashing the torch in their general direction and we got picked up. Can only hope the dive master can claim it as an emergency situation and reclaim it on insurance. Anyways. Had an interesting dive regardless.


Day 4 - Town, Not much
Weather is crap again. Decided not to do much though I probably should have taken a tour out to one of the points across the other side of the bay even with the weather the way it was. Guess Im being lazy. In the end did another yoga class that morning and played around on the internet for a bit. Also wandered around town one more time but that was really just about it for the day
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