Making Our Way Across the Border

Most things that come with travel are enjoyable. Its adventurous, challenging, eye-opening, heart warming, and forces you to just be in the moment. After 20 days in Costa Rica we’ve really embraced this and it makes every day so exciting! We’ve been able to relax and unwind, yes, but then we’ve also had the opportunity to really push ourselves to appreciate a different culture– something we wouldn’t have the chance to do if we didn’t opt for travel.

There are also some things that we could live without, though, too. Let’s take bug bites, for example– you spend about 20% of your time [at any time] scratching your leg, your arm, or reaching & stretching in odd positions just for the chance to scratch that one tiny mosquito bite in the middle of your back. Or your toes! Ohhh when those suckers bite your toes.. that’s the worse. There’s also this issue with the internet.

Now, its really not a big deal to have the internet go out for a day, sure. But every time it rains? That’s when it becomes an annoyance. We obviously aren’t at home anymore though– we’re pushing limits, seeing what we can handle. And as silly as it sounds we’ve realized [quite quickly] the internet is a precious commodity amongst living in nature with bugs and humidity that doesn’t allow our clothes to dry– ever. So, this can explain why we haven’t been updating CyC! Sorryyy. Because we’ve missed almost a week! of updating, I’ll do a quick run-down, which will turn out to probably be not so quick because a week allows a lot to happen. [And I’m not very good at summarizing :)] …

We had a really lovely stay at Finca Tierra– Ian & Ana were so awesome to get to know. They shared a wealth of knowledge with us about fruits and veggies and medicinal plants indigenous to Costa Rica. I learned how to make bread with Ana [which we’ll taste test tonight!], that turmeric can take the inflammation out of a wasp sting just about immediately [I experienced this first hand], and that even after a week of sleeping in an open-air cabina with all sorts of bugs crawling around, a spider is not ok to find in the bed. We got some great exercise in walking the 4km into town a few days, getting caffeinated at our favorite cafes and running errands. Despite being a bit rained on once and getting stuck inside a cafe for about an hour until a, basically, mild tropical storm passed, we thoroughly enjoyed the movement after spending too many days in a row on our butts hooked in books that neither of us could put down.

Tree down after the storm on our walk back

Tree down after the storm on our walk back

Checking out more howler monkeys

Checking out more howler monkeys

We left Finca Tierra on Saturday after spending a short time in the late morning on a small beach with Ana & Ian, appropriately named Playa Chiquita. Ana took me on a walk and showed me the sea urchins, explained trees & plants along the way, and had me taste the fruit from an almond tree, which tasted just like a pear but with a dry aftertaste. Freddy, who was the same guy who brought us up to the farm, picked us up at the beach to take us back to Coconut Grove in PV town where we’d be staying for the next two nights. We were shown to our private room by the owner Heidi– a German woman with an accent so thick that even her Spanish sounded German– which turned out to be super clean and had a shower with so much water pressure I thought I’d gone to heaven.

We grabbed lunch afterwards at Puerto Pirata Deli, even though we’d been there a couple times before– its oh so tasty! We witnessed a parade with people of all ages– including some friendly faces who stopped to say hello [a perk to staying in a small town for a while and making some friends along the way] dressed in Carnival-inspired costumes dancing their way to a concert for the art fest going on throughout the weekend. We ran into Freddy there, actually.. as well as when we treated ourselves to a small dish at the ice cream shop down the street, and also at the restaurant where we had dinner that evening! Our stars must’ve just been aligned on Sunday to spend time with this sweet guy. If you’ve ever in Puerto you have to look him up– he does tours and with his old baby blue Land Rover is a convenient resource if you’re staying in a remote area.

Pita sandwich and coconut water for lunch at Puerto Pirata Deli

Pita sandwich and coconut water for lunch at Puerto Pirata Deli

Festival goers in Puerto

Festival goers in Puerto

 

Our lunchtime view

Our lunchtime view

Our dinner, however, at Soda Flip Flop wasn’t aligned with us. It tasted decent, but by the end of the meal I had a headache and Jason was feeling a little off as well. I woke up the next morning feeling the throngs of a slight hangover mixed with eating wayyy too much salt the night before– reminiscent of times when I’ve felt sick from unexpectedly eating MSG before. Between errands and packing our belongings, I slept half the day away– partly on the beach, so at least I got some sun. I thankfully woke up this morning feeling 100% better.

We woke up quite early today to pack our remaining clothes and toiletries. We made breakfast of oatmeal and coffee in the Moka pot [fail– it turned out to be more like a really strong espresso] and eventually were picked up by our shuttle driver, Carlos, for our trip to Bocas del Toro, Panama. We joined a nice couple from Barcelona, and headed to the Costa Rica/Panama border, where Carlos would drop us off to meet another driver on the Panama side. The trip to the border was rather quick and we were there in no time.

Ready for our trip!

Ready for our trip!

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When you do research on crossing the CR/Panama border you read about lines that last hours at immigration and the amount of dollars you’ll need to pay off an immigration officer if they feel like being stubborn, but our trip through was seamless– we gathered our stamps, paid the $3 entrance fee, and continued on our way with no questions asked. Once through immigration on the Costa Rican side, you have to walk over the Sixaola River which separates the two countries. The bridge that connects them is a rickety old train track that has gaps offering a sneak peak of the flowing brown [supposedly] crocodile-ridden river below. We watched our steps along the bridge and were able to get to Panama in one piece.

Of course we each need our picture with the bridge.. :)

Of course we each need our picture with the bridge.. 🙂

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River view

River view

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We met our driver on the other side after getting our passports checked at immigration. He drove us in a fully packed 12-passenger van to the dock where we’d catch our water taxi to the main Bocas town, and also where we met two Swedish ladies with whom I spoke a little Swedish [I was so proud!]. The ride across the water was beautiful– I saw a sting ray jump out of the water, which I’d never seen, and we passed countless mangroves– a form of land that was new to us too. When we got to Bocas town we grabbed lunch right away at a natural food store called Super Gourmet— recommended to us from Ian at the farm & our Bocas host Lazar. Our sandwiches & salad was so delicious– a good meal is always welcome after traveling all morning.  We then went grocery shopping there and at another shop down the street. We got everything we could possibly need for a week secluded on an island– exactly what was ahead.

On the water taxi

On the water taxi to Bocas town

Super Gourmet

Super Gourmet

We sat at the table outside the store to relieve our packs for a bit until Lazar was going to be in town to pick us up. After a bit we met Colin & Sarah, a Canadian couple from BC who is staying for a few months in the main house on the property that the guesthouse we’d spend the next week is located. They brought us to the boat that they came out on to get groceries themselves. Shortly afterwards we met Lazar and we were on our way again. Bocas is made up of an archipelago, so they pointed out the different islands along the way as we soared across to San Cristobal island, stopping halfway there in Dolphin Bay to catch a whole pod of dolphins swimming around the boat– so cool. There was also tons and tons of jellyfish in the water as far as we could see– water I would certainly not want to fall into.

Dolphin tail in the distance

Dolphin tail in the distance

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We arrived at the dock of the property, located on San Cristobal, and unpacked our things in our room above the water [no, really– we can dive into the ocean from our room!], only to find our shampoo completely spilled out into Jason’s bag. Thank goodness its shampoo so it washes out, and we were able to salvage at least half of it.. enough to last us for the next two or three weeks at least. But that was the least of our worries, seeing as the caretaker of the property came to show us a giant [dead] snake that he found and killed on the property shortly after our arrival. We spent the evening trying not to think about being eaten alive by snakes and making coconut curry for dinner and baking bread which, as it turns out, didn’t taste too bad. The rains came in and brought a nice coolness to the air, as well as some strong winds that blew away one of our travel towels. But hey, it might make for a fun snorkeling find tomorrow morning.

Giant snake-- eeek!

Giant snake– eeek!

Listening to the fish jump just beyond the pier and crickets singing in the distance, I’m completely ready for a peaceful night’s sleep. So, I’m signing off. In the meantime, I promise to not make you wait another week for an update 🙂

Sep 30 2013 Emily Spaeth Category: Travel Updates

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1 COMMENT
  1. wow! sounds crazy and downright adventurous! Hope all your bites heal quickly and no more reaction to foods…
    The ocean is always a surprise and I’m sure you’ll settle in just fine. Looks like the mother of all snakes is gone! Yikes! Great read and good pics Emma!

    10-01-2013, 5:40 pm Reply
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