Friday, June 15, 2007
Detour Through Panama
When Troy and I started our travels, we were both open to advice and suggestions from locals and fellow travellers of what cities and towns to visit that we originally had not planned on. That was kind of the point of our travels...to not have a plan. But the one thing we both agreed we would not do is visit a country that was not in our itinerary. Well, that just got thrown out the window last week when we took a detour from Costa Rica through Panama.
We wanted to get from the south Pacific coast of CR to the south Caribbean coast of CR. We thought we would have to back track all the way up to San Jose then back down south. But we met several people that said don't do that, go through Panama. So after getting a few tips of the route we needed to take and what scams to watch for at the border we headed off to Panama. We knew the border crossing was going to be a little tricky because we're suppose to have a return bus ticket out of Panama. We didn't have one and didn't want to buy one because we knew they only wanted extra money. So we played "Stupid Gringo." Everytime the immigration man kept saying "Bus Ticket" Troy kept saying "No, taxi." Troy kept this up for a good 10 minutes letting the line behind us get longer and longer. Troy's persistence held out. The immigration man finally stamped our passports and off we went.
Panama was just like CR, except for two big differences: Their currency is the USD and their roads are beautiful!!! Unlike the horrible, horrible roads of CR. Our destination was a group of islands on the northwest Caribbean coast called Bocas del Toro. We quickly found out this was a total surfer town and there were just as many westerners as locals. We didn't do much here, other then rent some bikes (which after 1 hour Troys chain broke and 2 minuts later I got a flat tire) take a tour around the islands and hang out on the beach.
It's funny. The reason we chose to go through Panama was to get to the Caribbean coast of CR. But after spending a few days in Caribbean Panama, we knew it was going to be just like Caribbean CR with very minor differences. So we decided to skip CR and head in land after leaving Panama. Our exit from Panama was much less stressful then our entry. The most interesting thing about leaving Panama was the border crossing into CR. We had to walk across this old, cranky, skinny bridge that was suspended above a river. The bridge itself wasn't scary. What was scary was when a huge 18 wheeler was coming at you on this skinny bridge. It is so narrow there is literally no room for pedestrians as the truck passes. So here we are halfway across the bridge with our big backpacks and here comes the next truck. We quickly found out how fast we are able to run with our heavy packs on!
Rafting Rio PacuareOur next and last stop was Turrialba. This is where everyone heads to raft the Rio Pacuare. This river is one of the best in Central America for white water rafting and is also known as one of the most beautiful rivers in the world. Rafting the Rio Pacuare was a blast! It didn't have quite the huge rapids as the Arkansas River in Colorado, but the rapids were much more consistent, more fun and quite hairy at times. The guide was a lot more adventuresome then we are used to in Colorado. He would try to back surf into the surge or take us backwards down rapids. We had so much fun, we actually did it twice. Near the end of the trek we rafted under an old railroad bridge where we had the chance to jump from it into the river. Troy was up for it but I said hell no! It was way too high. Troy was all for it until he got to the top and realized it was a lot higher then it looked from the river. He toughed it out though and did the 45 foot (yikes!!) leap into the river.
Costa Rica has been a blast and is probably one of the most beautiful countries we have ever seen. Next we are off to Spain and southern Europe for 2 months. Not sure how much we will be able to blog from Europe since it won't be cheap.
If you are interested, Troy has posted more photos from our Cocos Island trip, plus there are more from our last week or two from Costa Rica.
While most of us like terra firma (less terra, more firma), we none-the-less love traveling with the two of you, to places we'll never go and experiences we'll never have. Travel is usally 90% anticipation and 10% recollection, so we are lucky to be in this moment with you.
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