Bocas Del Toro to Panama City
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999 Days Around Africa: The Road Chose Me
Bocas Del Toro is a seriously popular island just of the Caribbean coast and is a very popular stop along the backpacker trail. All reports say it’s a must see. I pay $3 USD a day to leave the Jeep in a secure parking lot on the mainland and pull a couple of fuses from under the hood for the extra piece of mind. We catch a water taxi out to Isla Colón, the biggest and most developed island in the archipelago.
We really have no idea what to do on the island, and quickly sink into the party atmosphere for a huge night. Nursing immense hangovers the following day we notice an abundance of SCUBA diving centers offering really good prices. After asking around the entire town we sign up for a PADI open water certification at “The Dutch Priate”, a course of six dives over three days. As part of the package we stay on Isla Bastimentos, a tiny island just a few minutes away from it’s bigger neighbor. The community and vibe are really different here – there are no roads and only very basic shacks for houses. We see only one or two tourists in three days, the polar opposite of Isla Colón.
The rain we had in Costa Rica has followed us down and it pours endlessly for days, not the best conditions for SCUBA diving. Our first few dives are all about skills where we sit on the bottom of the ocean practicing different things that need to be mastered like hand signals and buoyancy control. A big part of the course is paperwork and study, which we complete in the evenings. Once the basics are under control we move out and explore the coral and sea life, which is absolutely stunning. On one dive we go down to 18 meters for a few minutes, another we explore the wreck of a ferry and yet another we swim along a rock shelf that has all manner of creatures living in, on & under it.
The constant rain means the visibility is never great and we are constantly cold, though we’re both grinning like mad every time we come out of the water. I haven’t been SCUBA diving for quite a few years and I’d forgotten how amazing it is.
I’ll be going again soon, I’m sure.
Upon arrival back at the Jeep the only problem is the family of very determined little ants that have setup camp inside. Every time I kill off a group of a few thousand and think I’m finally done, another few thousand crawl out of a hole and keep me busy. It turns out the Jeep has a lot more little hiding places that I realized.
Luckily these ones don’t bite.
We camp a night at the beautiful Playa Las Lajas on the Pacific coast before a big day of driving to Panama City. At the edge of the city we drive over The Bridge Of The Americas which spans the Panama Canal and can clearly see enormous container ships coming and going. It’s hard to imagine the heat and humidity could get any more intense, though that is exactly what has happened.
I am extremely excited for adventures to come, more so than any other time of the entire trip.
What might they be?
All will be revealed soon, while impatient readers should checkout this Wikipedia article.