I must say that this was one of my favorite trips so far, maybe because it was longer than usual (Sat-Wed) and so it felt like an actual vacation; or maybe just because it was absolutely gorgeous and incredibly fun over there. Probably both. Anyhoots, so Friday afternoon we left for Puerto Viejo, where we stayed the night. (otherwise the trip would've been too long!) We went to Johnny's place, stayed at Rockin Jay's... in hammocks! First time doing that one. Surprisingly, those things are quite comfy!
The next morning we took the bumpiest bus ride ever to Sixaola, where we had to fill out immigration papers, buy a temporary visa, etc. AND we had to walk across the scariest/ricketiest bridge ever. Big trucks have to travel on this too. Don't ask me how.
From there, we took another $5 bus ride to Changuinola, on the border of CR, where we waited for the water taxi to take us to Bocas!
That 45 min. ride was pretty awesome; it felt as though we were traveling through the rivers of the Jungle Book... first in murky waters with crocs (well I swear I saw one) and later through the clearest/most turquoise waters of the Caribbean.
So Bocas del Toro consists of about a hundred little islands, only a couple of which you're able to stay in. We decided to stay on the main one, Isla de Bocas, in one of the main hostels called Mondo Taitu. For our own mini dorm, with warm showers, laundry service, dvds and books, not too shabby for only $8/night. And apparently it's the hot spot for all the party-goers, offering hookahs and cheap drinks during happy hour (50 cent beers and dollar well drinks!), cocktail hour ($2 for suuuper strong drinks), and power hour (I'll explain later).
After settling in, we took a lancha (the water taxi) to another island, I think Isla Cabenera, for lunch at the Pickled Parrot, and a quick dip in the smallest stretch of beach I've seen. It was gorgeous, but we were literally eaten alive by sand bugs!
On our way back, we saw another gorgeous sunset.
After some happy hour drinks (here's the crew!)..
we ate dinner at some pirate restaurant, serving delish Mediterranean food! So I finally got my fix of hummus and falafels. :) That night was Reggae night at one of the places my friends were staying at, but no one was really there. So after some free drinks (for the ladies of course), we went to Barco Hundido, which was crackin! Here's Randi gettin her groove on to the electric slide.
The next day, we went on a snorkeling tour, which included dolphin watching and entrance to one of the Red Frog National Park, all day for only $15.
Check it out! The dolphins came soo close to our boat! It was amazing.
Here's a little medusa, or jellyfish. I got my first stings! They're beautiful, but man do those things hurt!
Here is Red Frog Beach. GORGEOUS.
And me and the girls.
So the reason why it's named Red Frog is because the park is abundant with these cute little critters..only about as big as my thumb!
That night we went to Iguana, where we met the super cool owner (half Thai and half Costa Rican..what a cool mix!), who gave us free tequila shots and mixed drinks! So this may sound pretty silly, but we actually decided to take 2 drammamine pills to knock ourselves out. If you can imagine, that's how badly we were itching and how much we were suffering. Haha, maybe mixing alcohol and drammamine isn't such a good idea, cuz we were feeling prettty crazy, but it did knock us out at least.
Okay, so the next day marked the craziest 24 hours of my life. Here's how it all started: the previous night we met a guy named Joey who co-owns his own catamaran boat with his uncle D. They charter between Panama and Columbia, which by the way, I was seriously considering going and skipping the rest of my classes. But we didn't.. So he invited us to take a boat ride to the other side of the island for the day, just the 10 of us. You may think it sounds a bit sketch, considering we had just met him, but something about him told us he was a good reliable guy. So we arrived to Mystic Wind, the name of their sailboat, which had the perfect deck for sunbathing.
And lucky us, the climate gods were with us, as it was hot and sunny alll day. Originally, they had told us it would only be a 1.5 hour cruise, but for some reason, it lasted 4 hours! Maybe it's because both of them were completely drunk the whole time, or maybe it's cuz they decided to let Charlie be Captain Chuck for the day. Here's crazy Uncle D, Charlie and Joey.
Man I love those guys. They are seriously the craziest men I've ever met, especially uncle D. He would tell us things like he had multiple girlfriends in Columbia and in Panama, one in which he put up on the sail (I forgot the term) naked! And then he said he helped smuggle a drug dealer out of Columbia one time...the list of crazy stories goes on. But I later learned that he had been in the Vietnam War, which definitely explains things. Joey was just a hilarious drunkard, with the funniest laugh. They may have been crazy, but they really took care of us.
Okay so after tanning all day and jumping in the warm salty waters here and there, we finally arrived at Starfish Beach, so named because the beach is covered with starfish..and huge ones too!
Siddie, me and Jamie with our newly adopted pets. :)
Since we hadn't eaten all day, we were starving, but apparently, there was only one restaurant in the entire area, about a mile or 2 away. We walked anyway, dressed only in our suits, due to the fact that we had to jump in the water to get to land. The food was delish (fresh fish) and the service was great. But by the time we were ready to go, it was raining and COMPLETELY DARK. We didn't even have the convenience of the moon to help guide us back! So that trek back was pretty darn scary. Imagine, 9 of us sopping wet wearing nothing but bathing suits, with all the guys completely drunk of course, in complete darkness, walking in the middle of nowhere for a couple of miles. Crazy right? Well the story doesn't end just yet.
So we finally made it back, safe and sound to Mystic Wind. By that time it was about 9 in the evening, and since the tide was really low, we were beached and stuck in the sand! Don't worry, Uncle D assured us, we'll just chill out and wait for high tide. So while we cuddled all together in some warm binkies, listening to more of their crazy stories, we ended up falling asleep outside. After about an hour, it started POURING rain, and we had to take refuge inside the cabin, where it smelled DISGUSTING. Something like rotten pee, a wet dog, or no, my friend described it perfectly: like a dirty wet diaper. So I refused to sleep downstairs on the beds, where it smelled even more like so, and so I ended up sleeping on top of a table! (No wonder my body was bruised and sore the next day). More and more hours passed, all of us sprawled either on top of tables, or squished together on tiny cushions, meanwhile of course Charlie and Joey were taking turns chugging from a bottle of rum. Even though the situation was far less than desirable, they were being quite entertaining, making the night easy to digest. Originally we had agreed to try to make it back before dawn, but even though the tide was high enough to "unbeach" ourselves, that night was one of the craziest storms I've ever witnessed, which would've been silly to try to sail back in. So, we stayed until the early morning and didn't arrive back until about 9 am...almost 24 hours since we first embarked the previous day! All in all, although there were certain points during the day in which I would've liked to avoid, it was a crazy experience that I will never forget. Todo fue una odisea! (All of it was just a super crazy adventure) And hey, at least we survived it to tell our grandkids haha.
That day, we decided to take it easy: rest, do a little shopping, visit the internet cafe, etc. Because that night was 80s power hour at our hostel! So starting at 9:30pm, they start playing a bunch of 80s music videos, and once a new video pops on, you're supposed to take a shot of beer. Oh and I forget to mention, everyone dressed in crazy 80s gear, except in our case, it was who can look the ugliest, grungiest and craziest. These are our roomies there.
Haha see, there are no limits here.
After that, we headed back over to Barco Hundido, where we danced the night away...or at least until they shut off the music. Basically, our last night there was crazy debauchery... but soooo fun! Bocas del Toro is seriously the place to meet fun loco people from all over the world, and just have fun and party! Had there not been so many bugs there, I would've seriously considered staying there and ditched the rest of my classes. But, my common sense took over and sent me packing back to San Jo...