Diary/Photo Journal

Week of January 04, 2004

We made it into Panama with little hassle and stopped overnight in David (Dah-veed).  Of course Dave enjoyed being in his town and we were able to get a few important things accomplished.  The most important of which was replacing my Ethernet card (internet access card) so I could finally upload this extraordinary literary piece of a website.

Our first order of business in Panama was to visit Bocas del Toro, an island off the northeast coast of Panama.  The drive up and over the Continental Divide was magnificent with amazing panoramic views and gushing waterfalls everywhere.

views of the
and a waterfall
into a reservoir

of the
and two
in the
Our Panamanian
flag raising
(or sticking)
Gerson needed
a little help
with balance

We pulled into Almirante, the harbor town from which the vehicle ferry departs, and was literally chased on a bicycle by a local that "it is his job to assist the tourists to get to the boats".  Carlos did lead us on his two wheels to the ferry dock and after hearing our debate on how we needed to stay with Cindy, he suggested we sleep on the incoming ferry.  In the time it took for me to look at Sherrie, we were enthusiastically nodding our heads and saying "yes, yes, yes".  So, we pulled Cindy up onto the ferry and Dave and Sherry pitched their tent alongside and there  we spent the night. 

A bit of a side note, the only thing that really dampened our experience, besides the inconsistent rain, was seeing the ferry workers dumping the large plastic bags of garbage over the side and into the harbor.  Also, we witnessed the nearby bar/restaurant dumping full ashtrays and other garbage directly into the harbor.  But, we were not in the United States and we had to grit our teeth and hold our tongues.  Swimming in the harbor became not an option.

Carlos and
Gerson with
Dave and
his fresh
coconut and

Our ferry
and its

Our campsite


Group picture
Bocas del Toro
Cindy trying to get
off the ferry

Once on Bocas del Toro, we looked for the tourist information office which when found, was closed.  As we started to debate where to go, we were kidnapped, literally, by a 12 year-old.  He hung onto Cindy and swore that he could take us to a camping area.  Well, as he hung on to the outside of Cindy while standing on the step, he directed us to a "road" along the beaches.  We did eventually end up staying in the yard of a family, but the pictures will clearly show what it took to get there.

Just a few of
the challenges
we faced
while looking
for this elusive
camping area

Hira and Keoni asking mom to light the fireworks and Hira hamming it up for the camera

(these kids ran around nekkid most of the day. 
I have altered the picture so as not to alarm anyone with frontal nudity of children)

We decided that with the inconsistent weather and the lack of  "swimmable" ocean (the waves were pounding one atop the other), we would go over to the other side of the island to Boca del Drago.  Gerson was tooling along when Cindy decided to step into a previous car's track and was misled into some very soft and wet sand.  Needless to say, Cindy buried herself up to her hips and it took a variety of vehicles to extract her.

Cindy and her big feet

Under the side door
is a pull-out step. This
was the only thing
damaged and a smack
with a mallet fixed that problem.

2nd, 3rd and final attempt.  1st attempt was from two taxi drivers

Successful/final attempt
was from a truck loaded
with the same sand that
got us stuck - ironic!

What I failed to get a picture of, was when the sand truck was pulling Cindy out.  Cindy rocked over to the extent that all the weight was on her back right wheel and thus, making Cindy "pop a wheelie" and lifted her front left wheel 2' in the air.  But, she triumphed and pulled straight out - fortunately straight because the ocean was only a few feet to the other side.

So, after that adventure, we looked forward to a little quiet and relaxation at Boca del Drago.  Unfortunately, the weather gods had other plans in mind and we endured two days of intermittent torrential rains separated by glorious sunshine (the best part of the stay was our marathon game of "Mexican Train").  Bocas del Toro was highly recommended in all of the tour/travel literature we read but the island is GREATLY OVERRATED.  Between the garbage dumps along the ocean and in the ocean, the biting bugs, the inconsistent weather, the lack of  "swimmable" beaches, etc., I rate this island and nearby Almirante as a "don't come back to". 

Playa Bluff
Beautiful but

the sunset at
Playa del Drago

Playa del
in between
the storms


David and Sherrie
snorkeling (in
middle of picture)
View to continent
Beach view and
view of "town"

Why did the parrot cross the road?
Rebecca, the town's nasty parrot
Cool hammock tent that works
even during the torrential rain
Gerson checking our escape route
after the rains

Next, we were back to the ferry to return us to Almirante.  Since we will be arrived in the evening, we again stayed on the ferry and headed back to David first thing in the next morning.

Return ferry
and coming into
the mainland

Views coming
back over the
Continental Divide
into the Pacific side

Bocas del Toro
Only small
examples of
what our legs
looked like

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