Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

Our little visa extending trip can only be adequately described as a series of multiple culture shocks, and interesting travelling situations. Oh perhaps a couple days of quiet rest.

We got up and caught water taxi number 1, then waited for water taxi number 2. The second taxi left half an hour later than stated, "Esto es Panama". If you can imagine a crowded city bus and then picture it in a 25 ft panga and everyone wearing old style life jackets. Water taxi number 2 does not end there; now get that over crowded boat going 35mph in a good rough chop with less than 1ft of clearance from the gunwales to the water. It was pretty exciting.

Then we piled into a bus full of Israelis of who decided personal hygiene was optional before crowded hot bus rides. At least there was air conditioning, but one person decided to open their window. Oh well hot and stinky and tight. Luckily for us it was 1/2 hr to the border.

Unlucky for us the power was out at the Panamanian side. We paid three dollars to leave the country????? and had to wait for an exit stamp. Without power, the officials were without computers. We'll that stopped work for 3 hrs while 100 people waited and one of the two borders was closed. It made me wonder how they managed 5 years ago... Once they finally got a generator over there (they didn't have a backup) they got going and it was chaos. Stacks of passports filled their little office, and two guys were doing all the input (of the numbers) while 3 or 4 managed. The funny thing is that local Panamanians who cannot afford passports just walk across all the time without checking in. "Esto es Panama!"

Next we got to cross the abandoned railway bridge, they had a brand new bridge built right beside it, with no cars going across. We joked about how people think down here. I had to mention that I was surprised that hadn't build a bench for people to sit on. You know, because the power goes out and people have to wait. This instead of buying a backup generator. That is how things seem to work down here.

We reached the Costa Rican border and it was like going from a third world country to a first world country. 5 minutes we were stamped and in. We were greeted by our shuttle and drove a nice highway up to Puerto Viejo.

Puerto Viejo was a sleepy little Caribbean town if I have ever seen one. The main difference was everything had a bit more finishing to it. The stores were nice and organised, the food at the restaurants was delicious. It was just a cool hip and quiet place to chill.

Jennie is really good at finding nice places to stay. We stayed in a little cabina for $40 per night at the CocoLoco lodge. It had a porch with lounge chair and hammock, nice bathroom, vaulted ceilings and nice varnished woods everywhere. We noticed that Costa Rica uses a lot of natural wood used in building, it gave the whole place a nice warm feeling. Three nights in a queen size bed. we had sunny days and the evenings the rains came and we fell asleep to rain pouring onto the grass roof. We were on the edge of town maybe two blocks from the water and you could hear the town noises, dogs and roosters; accented by all the jungle noises, howler monkeys, birds, and crickets.

During the days we took it easy, we had managed to pick up some kind of stomach bug from the super yacht we helped out on. So we were taking the antibiotics to fix it. Jennie was fine, but for me the antibiotics were worse. I was not getting to enjoy the gastronomical delicacies we enjoyed each day as much as Jennie was. We took it easy and enjoyed the piece and quiet.

One interesting thing we got to witness was one local domestic on each of the days we were not travelling. The first one we were walking back from the Super Mega (grocery store) and we heard a bunch of yelling from a yard. The gate was open and we glanced in as we walked by. There was a tall topless Costa Rican woman and skinny man wearing shorts really having it out. We kept walking. Suddenly we heard a huge slap, someone really connected. Woah!

The next day there was a woman in the street yelling at a guy, and holding him by the balls, I guess you shouldn't mess with Costa Rican women.

The way back was a breeze. We walked to the shuttle, picked up one other passenger; a lovely lady from South Africa, and everything went smoothly all the way back to the marina. Dex was excited to see us, and looked to have put on a few pounds while away. Maybe we just forget how much of a tubby guy he really is, we did feed him a bunch of bacon fat before leaving.

It was a great little get away from our get away. Much needed after the drama. Back to boat work!

flying bumble bee