Just above the equator: Bocas del toro, you beauty! March 2014

I’m in Panamaaa!!

Since I began planning my trip to Costa Rica way back in 2013 (all those years ago), I read so much about these small islands off of Panama, each with a different name but known collectively as Bocas del toro. Every blog and guide book raved about these islands so I was determined to check it out and now I’m here I can finally see what all the fuss is about!
My week began in Cahuita, a small town North of Puerto Viejo, boasting a beatiful national park full of wildlife and amazing views. And it es exactly that. I walked the 8km trail and was thankful it was all flat and partly along the beach, given the hills I dreaded back and forth to the farm the  previous week!
Below: Cahuita National park. 8km trek in the sun wasnt easy but the views made it worthwhile
And on Tuesday morning I took the 8am bus to the border. I got talking to a friendly Canadian couple who were headed the same way, so it was nice to be with others who were new to the process!
Having read so many tips and hints on where to go and what to do while crossing the border, I was weary as to how it would go, but it took only half hour to get an exit stamp cross the bridge and get an entry stamp to Panama! Not bad at all. 
 
Don’t look down: the old railroad bridge is now the crossing to Panama!
 
The one thing bloggers were spot on about was the old wooden railroad bridge (pic above) I kept to one side as so many slats in the middle had disappeared and even the sturdier looking ones I walked on were creaking! I still managed to take some pics, but the Canadian woman I was walking with was so suprised to see me snapping away, she gasped “Oh! Don’t show those pictures to your mom!” 
Left to right: A little windswept on the boat, the view from my hostel on isla bastimentos, bocas town dock and the bridge picture I was told not to share!
My hostel ‘Yemanja’ was on Isla Bastimentos, about 10 mins and $3 dollars away from the mainland. This place has been described as anotherworld compared to Bocas town, and they got that spot on! There are only a handful of hostels dotted around this island, and the rest of the colourful buildings are houses of locals who have lived here for years.
One path leads through Bastimentos, with a few mini supermarkets and the odd bar. That’s about it. It’s so anti Bocas, it was great to be living in amongst the locals and really getting a feel of how they live. Everyone smiled at you and the kids said hello as you passed, I can’t say I felt out of place here at all.
Stunning: our view after snorkelling, the $0.50 delcious coconut water and some of the fish we passed.
Woke up to a beautiful day, and after meeting two other travellers ( and rench lady and an American guy at the hostel) we all decided to take a snorkling trip together. We tracked down a local and after some negotiating, he took us to Coral Cay reef almost an hour away by boat. Our trip to the reef was bumpy as the waves were choppy that morning, and the views of the other islands and the Panama mountains were amazing!
The snorkelling was so much fun,the waters were so clear and with the sun shining on us we could have swam all day! We saw lots of small and big fish full of colours and coral reef that simply swayed in the ocean. We ended the day on Island Solarte, 5 mins from Bastimentos, taking in the views and relaxing after a great but tiring day! And it cost us $15!
And so it’s now Sunday night, I ventured to the main land two days ago and have already met some great people! I like that wherever you go, there’s always someone to talk and hang out with.
I have one more day to take in this beatiful place and the I’m off to explore more of what Panama has to offer! I cannot wait.
Bye bye Bocas!
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