Beach Paradise!

Trip Start Jul 31, 2012
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14
24
Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Panama  , Bocas del Toro,
Saturday, October 20, 2012

Well last weekend we had a long 4 day weekend and I was able to make an escape to Panama for the weekend. Myself along with 3 other teachers all made the trek South. We had a private shuttle that took us there. The way it worked was the van shuttle drove us to the border, about 5 hours, and then the dropped us off at the Costa Rica/Panama boarder. From there we got in a line where we got our passports checked to exit Costa Rica. Then we had to walk across this death trap of a bridge to cross into Panama, reference the picture. I had it easy because I just had a backpack but 2 of the girls traveling with me had rolling suitcases and it was a little more of a struggle for them. Once we survived the trip across the bridge we then needed to get in the line to enter Panama. This ended up being a little bit more of an experience. The line was long and it was moving at a snails pace and it didn't help that it was sunny and HOT out. We ended up standing in line for an hour and roasting. We thought we were going to have some relief when we got to the window but then we were told that our proof of exiting the country (our shuttle ticket out of Panama) wasn't good enough proof and we needed to buy one of their bus tickets. This was an obvious scam on some part, but we paid the $14 so we could enter the country. After crossing the border we got in another shuttle for about 45 mins that took us to a dock were we got in a boat taxi that took us to the main island of Bocas Del Toro. It was a beautiful ride. Once we got to Bocas del Toro we decided to grab some dinner because the island that we were staying on we very quiet with not much on it. Pretty much just our hostel and a beach. After eating and getting some goodies for the rest of the night we hopped in another boat taxi to get to the island of Bastimientos. Luckily we had some other travelers we had met along the way with us because it was dark and luckily one of them had a flashlight for us to find out hostel. Otherwise we would have been stuck using cell phones to navigate our way. We finally made it and got checked into our Hostel, Bocas Bound. Our room was pretty nice by hostel standards. We settled in and then the 4 of us spent the evening enjoying some drinks and playing games. 

The next morning we set out on a tour. During the tour we went dolphin watching, though we didn't see any dolphins. Since we didn't spot any dolphins we went in really close to some of the mangrove forests and ended up spotting 2 sloths. From there we went to the island of Zapatilla. This is one of the islands that was used in a couple seasons of the show Survivor! It was an amazingly beautiful island! It was my perfect beach! The water was crystal clear, and completely calm. The beach was made of soft, white sand. And the best part was it was empty except for the couple boats of tourists. We hung out there for 3 hours and it was so relaxing! I love it! After spending some time relaxing we went snorkeling. The water was nice and clear and we were able to see some awesome coral. There were also lots of starfish all around too. Though, we did see my least favorite things while snorkeling, jelly fish! They just freak me out. They were some of biggest that I have seen while in the water. Needless to say I stayed away from them! After snorkeling we went to a restaurant on a dock and I had fresh fish and rise for lunch! It was a great day. 

We were dropped back at our island and we went back to the hostel and rested up and cleaned up so that we could go out for dinner and dancing that night. We headed to the main island of Bocas del Toro to find somewhere for dinner. We picked this restaurant that had a cool vibe with outdoor seating under tents. It turned into quite an experience. Our server was terrible! He got orders incorrect and took forever! It seemed like a common theme with other guests too. The table behind us even left without paying because they waited so long for the bill and it never came. It was not the best dinner experience. After dinner we sent across the bay to a nightclub called Aqua. This was a pretty cool looking place that had an open area to swim, a trampoline and swings over the water. It honestly looked like a place that they would have for spring break in Mexico. We got there pretty early but later in the evening the dance floor came alive and we danced until about 1:30AM and then hoped into a boat taxi back to our hostel. 

The next day it was cloudy and raining off and on so we had a pretty relaxed day. The clouds cleared up enough that we were able to go to the beach on our island for a while. It came no where near comparing to our beach from the day before but still nice to relax on. We spent the rest of the day bumming around, doing some shopping and relaxing. 

The next morning we started our journey home. We went to Bocas del Toro to catch our first boat taxi back to the mainland. They originally said to meet there at 11:30, but when we got there they said we had until noon. So 2 of us went to a couple shops, only to return at noon and find out our boat left at 11:45. So we had missed our taxi. We were very lucky because there was one leaving at 12:00 and our van shuttle was going to be waiting for us. We caught our shuttle and arrived at the border. This time we hoped into the Panama line, that was even longer than the first time. We were very patient and had gotten down our system to stay cool and entertained in line while waiting. We used our bags and seats, umbrellas to keep the sun away and had books to read. After exiting Panama we thought we were in the clear but after crossing the bridge into Costa Rica realized that the fun was only just beginning. The line on the Costa Rica side was even longer! We set up camp and pulled out our books. We sat in one spot for about 1 hour. By then we were losing our positive attitudes and just wanted to get home. We sat reading and luckily we had snacks and water so we didn't get hungry. But our annoyance was growing. We then remembered that we had a bottle of wine in our bags so we decided to crack that open and we enjoyed a bottle of wine while in the customs line. The people in line behind us took note of how prepared we were and they decided that next time they travel they wanted to travel with us. Finally after an hour in one spot the line slowly began to inch forward. We finally completed crossing the border after 3 1/2 hours of waiting. From there we then needed to get in another shuttle and finish our ride back to San Jose and then a cab to Escazu. It was quite an adventure crossing the border on the ground rather than flying in but the beaches and the relaxing in Panama were totally worth it. We had a great weekend! 

Enjoy the pictures! 

Hasta Luego! 
Ashley
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