Endless Banana Plantations

Trip Start Oct 10, 2001
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Trip End Feb 19, 2002


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Flag of Panama  ,
Monday, December 31, 2001

Yesterday, we toured the National Park Manuel Antonio. It has nothing spetacular, mostly overcrowded with tourists, only the native monkeys was worth the trip. However, the monkeys were pretty much a domesticated pet rather than wild mammal with all the flashing cameras around that they could have been descendents from "Planet of the Apes".

We left early today before sunrise to catch the bus back to San Jose. Juliette wanted to go to Boca Del Toro on the carribean side of Panama, while I prefer just to head straight to Panama City. The only bus that goes from Costa Rica to Boca, Panama was in San Jose, so we had to back track. Also, given I made Juliette cry yesterday, I was in no position to negotiate and after considering spending New Years in Boca was a much better plan and Panama City. The bus back to San Jose was not crowded in the early morning. After arriving in San Jose, we caught our transfer just in time. The bus to Panama (the only one of the day) was full. We did have our assigned seats though, so it was faily comfortable.

We were both tired, so we slept through most of the trip, including the passing through the Monte Verde Cloud Forest reserve area, which was suppose to be an out-of-this-world place. As soon as the bus refueled in Puerto Limon, the carribean port of Costa Rica, the view on either side of the highway was endless banana plantations. This area was populated with mostly blacks which has a very Carribean character rather than colonial Spanish culture. We didn't stop much, for once our bus was a real "Directo Expresso" bus.

A sea of green finally ended by the time we got to the border at Sixaola. We got our exit Costa Rican Stamp and walked across the international bridge easily. I couldn't say the same for our bus. It was almost stuck on the rusty railway bridge, given it was only iron rails and not a road bridge. I was afraid that the bus would hit a soft spot of the rusty irons and drop straight down to the river below. Quite a memorable border crossing. Our fear subsided as the experienced bus driver, similar to a brain surgeon, guided our bus all the way through. Our entry to Panama was smooth, and we got on the bus again and it took us to Changuinola. The light of day was slowly fading away. We hoped we would get to Boca before dark. We followed a nice Italian couple, who has been travelling around the world for 2 years, to Almirante on a collectivo bus. From there a boat ride to Boca del Toro, it was the last boat of the day, and we made it just in time.

Upon arriving in Boca del Toro, an island in the Carribean sea, we were again couldn't find accomodation. Seem like we couldn't buy a lucky break in the last few days. We followed a nice local gentleman who took us from hotel to hotel in the darkness of the night and finally we found a room in a unknown hotel run by a nice carribean family. I give our guide a nice tip for his invaluable service.

I could not describe how tired we were. Today's trip was the farthest we have travelled in one day. Put in perspective, this morning we were on the Pacific side of Costa Rica; tonight, we are sleeping on an island on the Carribean side of Panama! Perhaps we should have flown....but we would have missed this land of wonder and bananas.
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