Wet season sure puts a dampener on things – days 282-287

Although I didn’t have any plans for my time in Central America I did go to Boquete with the intention of climbing Volcan Baru. It’s the country’s only volcano, totally inactive, and from the top you can see both the Atlantic and Caribbean coasts. In theory.

When I arrived in Boquete I was told it was the bad season for it. People leave at midnight and hike the 14km up to the summit for sunrise, much like we did at Kinabalu in Borneo. But the likelihood of sunrise, or seeing both oceans, was slim. The hike was difficult and a lot of rock face. If I wanted to challenge myself this would do it, but nobody was overly encouraging. For these reasons, and nothing to do with laziness, I opted out. I’m starting to regret it already.
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Instead a big group of us hiked the three lost waterfalls walk, I swam in the freezing cold waters of the second and the next day I took an overpriced but interesting coffee tour. I learnt a lot about the process of growing and making coffee, why instant coffee tastes crap, and other such gems. I guess I was expecting something more like a vineyard tour, but there are only so much tasting opportunities they can offer I guess!
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Either way it was nice to chill out for a few days, meet a huge group of people, and allow myself to be convinced I had to head to Bocas del Torro – i.e. The beach. Well if everyone insisted…

Unfortunately my experience of Bocas del Toro was a victim of circumstance. It’s rainy season in the Caribbean but it actually rained the entire time I was there.
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Added to the fact that I’d accidentally checked into a hostel with no other guests. (everyone else had taken the expensive shuttle to Bocas and I’d DIY-ed meaning I arrived separately) led to two days of relaxing with a book but not really seeing anyone or any of the beautiful scenery people rave about. I was about to leave after two washed out days when I actually saw tons of people I’d met over the last month. I was convinced to switch hostels and stay one more night to indulge in football and beers. I’m glad I did because drinks with your feet in the ocean is pretty cool.
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The day I left the weather had broken. You could see it improving from the taxi back to the mainland. I’d have loved to have stayed one more day, explored the other islands, gone dive boarding (which sounds absolutely awesome), but I just don’t have the time.

Panama seems to offer a lot of expensive transfers between tourist destinations, like in Thailand. I’ve been saving about 50% by doing it myself, though always alone. Boquete to Bocas was a bus to David ($1.50), bus to Almirante ($8.40), taxi to the port ($1) and then a water taxi ($6.00). Getting to Costa Rica was a little more longwinded. A water taxi back to Almirante ($6.00), a taxi ($1) to the terminal, a bus to Changuinola ($1.45), bus to Guabito the border town ($1), walking over a disused railway bridge that seemed to be rotting away with new planks nailed on top, and I was in Sixaola in Costa Rica where I borded by final bus of the day to Puerto Viajo (1,670). Totally rewarding, on a tourist a minibus I wouldn’t have had a local show me he’d found one of my hairs and then watch him put it in his pocket now would I?

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