When our lazy author last updated his blog, he had just finished a treasure hunt through the cloud forest around Lost and Found Lodge. The seven clues – at locations including a labyrinth, river crossing, and cave – took about 5 hours to complete (with some liberal swimming time). Here are a few photos, and an update about the days that followed:
Our prizes, speculated about in my last post, were in fact drinks at the bar. But which kind of drink depended on the number you rolled on a die. I rolled a 5 and got a rum & coke.
The following day, seven of us decided to go on an excursion to a nearby waterfall.
After waiting on the roadside for 15-20 minutes, we caught a colectivo which we asked to drop us off at “the restaurant near the waterfall near the dam” (as per the instructions from the hostel). In Spanish, of course.
A local boy hanging out at the restaurant showed us the way over a guardrail and down a path to the river which eventually led to the falls.
We climbed around behind the cascade for as long as we could stand the freezing water, after rock scrambling through the mist and intense wind generated by the falls to get there. (Also the reason I have no closer photos.) From there it was back to the restaurant for some rice and beans and drying off time before catching the bus back.
We were informed, after missing two buses that whizzed by, that the bridge down the road was closed, and no more buses would be coming our way. No on knew why it was closed – the hostel later speculated that it was a protest, because apparently it gets closed not infrequently by protests – so we talked a local farmer into giving us a lift in his pickup truck.
We crossed back over the dam (where he stopped to let us take photos) before stopping again just around the bend from a police checkpoint. Hitchhiking and riding in the back of trucks are illegal in Panama, so the seven of us walked through the checkpoint before hopping back into the truck on the otherside.
When we told Juan-Carlos that we planned to head past the hostel and on into town to see the river canyon, he informed us that one of his properties abutted a great jumping spot along the river if we wanted to visit that instead.
We took him up on it, of course.
After 75 minutes of driving us around (including a stop at the grocery store), he took us AGAIN back into town, but not before explaining that he had some property in Bocas del Toro as well (our next stop), and telling us that we should give him a call if we had any issues making the trip the next day.
While waiting for the bus back past the hostel I saw a familiar sign on one of the passing trucks.
That night, after the 15 minute mountain hike back to the lodge, we watched the sunset over the mountains:
The next day the seven of us were together again, heading off to Bocas del Toro.
It was a 3.5hr colectivo ride to Almirante, where we took a taxi to the water taxi, and a $6 boat to the island of Colón.
Bocas del Toro is a mix of Caribbean and Panamanian culture, with a fair amount of English spoken and a large black population. We stayed at Hostel Heike for 3 nights, biking, snorkeling, and partying at an aqua bar.
After our time in Bocas, we caught another short boat to the island of Bastimentos, an equally large but much less populated island in the same archipelago. Bastimentos is even more Afro-Caribbean, and very undeveloped, with no cars and only one town.
We stayed in Hostel Puerto Viejo, a bright yellow hostel with great views of the town and water.
We spent just one day on Bastimentos, but it was full of hiking. First, to the organic farm/coffee shop at the highest point of the island (reached by trekking through farm fields and under barbed wire fences) and then a hour and a half through the jungle to Wizard beach and then Red Frog Beach. I lost my prescription sunglasses while bodysurfing the waves at Red Frog, which was a bummer. I didn’t really like them, but still – no job and no insurance means no new sunglasses anytime soon.
Bastimentos was an interesting place, and I’d have liked to stay longer, but one of our group of 7 (now down to 5) had some time constraints requiring her to move on, and Amanda and Ainsley wanted to travel with her more than they wanted another night on the island.
So we’re now back in Costa Rica.
I think most of my readers already know, but for those who don’t, I’ll be flying back home on March 27th. I had hoped to make it down to Colombia, but a few things conspired to make that a less than realistic goal. 1) South America is a huge continent to explore, and I think it’s best to leave it for its own trip; 2) I traveled the first time through Costa Rica slower than I expected, and have less time overall; 3) not being positive of my job situation upon my return, I want to ensure I have enough funds to get through whatever happens; and 4) Central America just hasn’t captured me the way Southeast Asia did. I love traveling, and will never stop, but I’m growing bored of beaches and rice and beans and, believe it or not, I miss Boston and the people in it quite a bit.
So this is the tail end of this journey. There’s a few days in Costa Rica already that I need to post about, and then another 9 days before I leave, but in under two weeks I will be back home, readjusting to all that comes with it. That’s crazy to think about.
As blasphemous as this sounds, though, I’m really quite excited about having some cold weather and then being home for spring.