Panamaniac – To Bocas and Back

Lara, Alex, and I’s journey to Panama began with an overnight in Puerto Jimenez to catch a 6am boat to Golfito. We woke up at 4 to walk to the pier and got to watch the sunrise over the bay littered with sailboats and taxis. And that was the only calm of the day. The day went a little something like this. Water taxi to Golfito, Collectivo to the Panama border, and hour and a half in line to exit Costa Rica, 30 minutes wandering the small border community, and then 5 hours waiting in line to get into Panama.

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Waiting in line to get into Panama, we had two choices. One; get moody and let a long line put us in a bad mood and start off the trip being pissed off, or two dance. Lara and I chose to dance our way into Panama, put on some tunes and shook our booties. We probably looked crazy, or drunk, or both, but laughing at ourselves, listening to music, and dancing was a much better way to welcome the start of a new journey. Once finally making it through the border, shouting touch down Panama, and taking my first steps on Panamanian soil, we immediately hopped on a bus to David, got to David thinking we would have some down time. We had about enough time to pee and then hopped on another bus to Changuinola, and finally a boat to Isla Colon to Bocas del Toro.

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Riding on the bus to Changuinola included a winding 4-hour ride through the Panamanian mountains while kicking it in the front seat next to the driver. All three of us included the two very tall beautiful women I was traveling with Lara, and Alex were squished into what can only be described as the cab of the bus. Alex ended up snuggling with the driver for half the ride until someone left a seat in the back, which happened about 2 hours in to the ride. Lara and I ended up opening a couple boxes of wine, and I got to kick my feet out the big bus window, sip wine, listen to music, and watch as the sun set behind the green Panama mountains.

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Crossing the border took much longer than expected so when we got to the port most boats were already done taking people to the islands. Luckily we found one boat, which given the time of night totally overcharged us, and whose captain had enjoyed a couple sniffs of the white stuff. Riding in a boat, enjoying the first breeze of the day, the water lit by moonlight, and the shores littered with glittering lights of distance parties was the perfect way to meet Bocas del Toro and I was happy to finally be reaching our destination.

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Arriving in Bocas I had no idea where I was going to stay for the night, and Lara lost her reservation as Casa Verde, so we had our first experience with trusting the universe that something would work out. We wandered a bit until finding a hostel with two open bunks, threw our stuff on our beds, changed, grabbed a bite to eat, and went out for our first epic night on the town. Aqualounge is a bar that looks exactly as the name would imply. It’s a bar on the water with open “pools” which is really just squares cut out of the floor that let you jump into the ocean, equipped with swings over the water, a trampoline, and a really fun first experience of the archipelagos of Bocas.

 

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