Trip Start Oct 05, 2009
177Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
Its very, very hot and my rucksack feels very heavy and we wait for quite a while with other travellers. A couple get sent back to Costa Rica and another couple have to do a bit of arguing about return flights and such like. The immigration guy is a right old grouch and gives us a hard time about having to have proof we will be exiting Panama but it seems to be a bit of a scam with him and the bus companies. We don`t understand and a very helpful couple sort things out for us and its "welcome to Panama" time
A tourist bus takes us through sketchy Panamanian port towns as we pass through miles and miles and more miles of banana plantations, with Chiquita banana boats waiting to be loaded up for export. We are speed boated to the town of Bocas, one of the Bocas del Toro island group, called a modern day Galapagos. Not sure about the Galapagos bit but it is absolutely beautiful - scores of densely forested islands. We catch another boat to the tiny island of Bastimentos home to wild beaches, nesting grounds for turtles, poison red frogs, mangrove islands and coral reef. No swimming on this island though, due to highly dangerous rip currents.
No cars, only reached by boat and the main highway is a simple concrete path which can be walked in about 20 minutes. Its an unspoilt heaven. The main settlement is the historic West Indian town of Old Bank which has its origins in the banana industry. Wooden houses on stilts, a couple of places to get good fish dinners in caribbean sauce . We stay in the rambling Hostal Bastimentos which is empty except for one other couple - Jean and Pauline from France. Its pretty wild and unspoilt here as we trek through jungle mud to spend a day at Wizard Beach watching a couple of surfers try the waves.
Having watched our French friends take the hostel canoe across the bay to Hospital Point for snorkelling we try our hand
Bocas is Panama`s principle tourist draw with a small-town Caribbean feel. Plenty of Americans have settled here and locals tell us of a huge mega resort thats due to be built which will change the whole face and feel of the place. There are "for sale " signs everywhere and we are glad to be here before it all disappears. Elsewhere on the islands the Colombian version of "I´m a celebrity" is being filmed ... on a prime turtle nesting site. says it all really.
Meanwhile, Sean is scuba diving and I go shopping to try and find him some birthday presents among the Bob Marley hippie pants and shell necklaces!!