Panama! Misadventures The Third (Fun) Part

[I just noticed that this is my 100th post since I started this blog back in August.  I don’t know what that means… maybe I like to blog?]

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Lest you think it was all a disaster, G and I managed to have a blast despite our initial misadventures. Once we got our passports and some emergency cash wired to us, courtesy of our very awesome significant others and parents (admittedly I felt like a bit of an asshole/spoiled brat going to various money sending establishments and trying to explain in Spanish that I needed for my father to send me money from the United States), we were off to Bocas del Toro, a popular archipelago in western Panama.

Bocas del Toro is located on the western Caribbean coast, which for Panama is also the northern part of the country.  There are beaches with turquoise waters and white sands, but also plenty of dark water and mangroves in the areas that are protected from the open sea.

We stayed for four nights on Isla Colón, where Bocas Town is located, and two nights on Bastimentos, a more sparsely-inhabited island about five mintes away by boat.  While Bocas Town offers many places to stay, eat, party, etc., Bastimentos offers a more mellow scene.  There are only a handful of restaurants, no cars, and not much of a tourist scene.  The downside is that the shoreline in the ‘town’ area is littered with all kinds of trash.  Parts of the island are pristine, but you need to take a boat from your hostel or hotel to the more scenic spots.

One day we rented kayaks and paddled from Bocas Town to Bastimentos, which turned out to be rather punishing. We had forgotten how difficult kayaking is, especially when the sun is strong and your sunglasses pinch your head. (Please keep in mind that all photos in this post are from a crappy disposable camera):

This is me with the worst headache of my life, wondering if I can make it all the way back to the rental shop or if I need to be rescued.

This is me with the worst headache of my life, wondering if I can make it all the way back to the rental shop or if I need to be rescued.

Much of our time in Bocas Town was spent photographing local dogs:
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As well as my interactions with them:
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One of my favorite days involved an epic bike ride (20 miles round trip over a sometimes-paved road) through tropical farmland/jungle to Boca del Drago, the other ‘town’ on Isla Colón.
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Once we arrived in Boca del Drago, we were exhausted and had to think about getting back, so we had lunch (the usual amazing and cheap fish, patacones, coconut beans/rice, and the ubiquitous Coca-Cola Light):
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Then it was time to head back. Our butts did not appreciate getting back onto those hard plastic bike seats, but we had no choice.

We had a few great days at various beaches, of course:
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And had an excellent time going on a boat tour that involved looking for bottle nose dolphins (we saw a few) and snorkeling (gorgeous) in the rain:

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All in all, it was a great time, even when I take into account the mugging.  The thing with getting your shit stolen is that even though you’re more of an easy target when you’re in a foreign country, it can happen pretty much anywhere, and it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep seeking out adventure.  I know I will think twice about going out at night in a foreign city the next time I travel, but my experience will not prevent me from traveling to countries like Panama.  I give the country five stars!

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3 responses to “Panama! Misadventures The Third (Fun) Part

  1. Looks like it turned out to be a fun trip despite your awful experience. I know this is NOT the lesson one is supposed to learn from things like this, but after I had a similar experience in a different third world country, I vowed to never leave the modern world again. I give to charities which provide international aid, but I’m just not willing to be afraid while I travel. Or to be robbed. Ha.

  2. Ha, I don’t blame you! I’m certainly not planning any more girlfriend trips to Latin American countries any time soon. One mugging was enough for me. I think a nice trip to western Europe with my husband sounds good right now 🙂

  3. It’s not the third world that was the problem here, it was the part of the city you passed through. You have to educate yourself on your destination. Would you avoid visiting the US because you might get mugged in the worst part of town at night in Detroit? Just get a guidebook next time, and check with your hostel on safety in the area as well. Latin America can be as safe as you make it. Seriously.

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