Another Border Crossing!

Trip Start Nov 13, 2010
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16
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Trip End Jul 20, 2011


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Flag of Panama  , Chiriquí,
Thursday, January 27, 2011

Taxi to Puerto Viejo, minibus with 4 Danes and two Israilis to the border.....walk from Costa Rica across a very rickety bridge at Sixalo into Panama - no muss, no fuss....    It definitely was quicker and easier than our previous crossing at the much bigger crossing.  We decided to splurge and do they minibus route - $30 bucks for the journey rather than bus it to the border and then bus it to Almirante.  the rest of the gang were doing a few days trip to Boco de Toro Islands so we got dropped off at Almirante Bus station....actually a cafe on the highway and waited with another couple from Britain who were also headed to Boquette..  All was good when the next van pulled up.  We did a collective sigh as the van/mini bus looked comfortable and roomy.......uh huh.....that lasted about one second as we noted the van was already overflowing - I got a seat in the very back with a few guys...problem was I had to have my daypack on my lap with my bag bag and that left not one inch of room and my pack was sooo heavy it was cutting off my circulation.......ahhh......and we kept stopping to pick up more and more people.  A young father in the seat in front of me had two children on his lap as he didn't want to pay for more than one seat....price from Almirante to David - $7.00...3.5 to 4 hours.  those poor little kids were so squished and hot that I could not even whine about my numb legs.  We finally pulled over for our one and only break after about an hour and a half.   
I was so thankful to be able to stretch my legs and hope that some of the others were getting off.....nope - when I got back on, a fat guy was now seating where I had been in the back row.  Seeing no other option, I headed back there and realized there was no room for my ever expanding bum - only room for my pack.  So that left me standing, both legs straddling his big knee, for the next 2 hours of hairpin curves and steep descents over the continental divide.  We were packed in so tight I could not move my feet as our packs were under the seat.  It was a bit of a Cirque du Soleil routine as I flailed back and forth as the bus swung and swayed.  The great thing was the scenery as we went over the mountains - leaving the Caribbean coast, over the continental Divide and then winding our way around massive volcanos and then back down towards David.  For anyone reading this blog thinking of coming this way - it is a spectacular journey. 


The road is not great in areas - the bus drove on the wrong side many times to avoid large holes in the pavement and many trucks use this route, but the vistas far made up for the discomfort.  I felt so bad for the kids in front of me I entertained them by taking their picture and showing them which delighted them immensely.  Can you even imagine two Canadian kids not complaining after being basically tied down for over 4 hours, unable to move.  The bus would stop and drop one off and pick up 6, drop 2, pick up 4, swing and sway and nobody complainig.  The scenery reminded me of the beauty of Laos and the crammed transport of daliy commutes in Cambodia. 
These are the best days, starting in one country, the excitement of obscure border crossings, wildly diverse landscapes and beauty everywhere.
When we finally reached David, we shared an equally squished taxi ($25) with the Brits for the one hour ride up into the mountains to Boquette.  Found a Hostel and some dinner with a boring guy who moved here 6 years ago and then crashed.  Nice day. 
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Comments

Lana Hohn-Martens on

I know two kids who can sit in a collectivo for hours! Of course we had two laps and sometimes a little Gravol! I miss Central America so much!

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