Monthly Archives: October 2012

Bocas del Toro: Part 3, The FINAL segment!

Well, you’ve made it. You’ve read through Part 1 and Part 2, and you’ve stuck it out till the end! You deserve a good post for all of that reading and waiting, and I hope I can give it to you!

Let’s see, where did I leave off….Oh yes! I was about to start on our second full day in Panama. But first, I should mention that I woke up in the middle of the night to Monkeys playing on our roof. Of course then I became paranoid they were going to come into our room and steal our stuff….ha! It never happened. Just me being my usual, over-imaginative self.

These people in their canoes were pretty common. Also, notice how high the mountains in the background are. The clouds are hanging around their peaks.

Our plan for the day was to relax in the morning after breakfast, and head to Red Frog Beach for a few hours mid-day. This would be our third, and final excursion that was included in our package we paid for. I think we were all looking forward to a day of just relaxing on a beach after a full day of travel, and then another full day of excursions. Red Frog Beach is on the same island as Al Natural Resort (Bastimentos Island), but it was on the other side, so our boat driver shipped out with us around 10A.M.

Well, now we must be the luckiest people ever, because on our way to the other side of the island, look what we happened to run in to…

Dolphins!! It looks kind of like a shark here, but they were dolphins.

There were about three of them total, and it was hard to get a good picture because by the time you saw them coming up out of the water and snapped it, they were on their way back under the water. Our boat guide was the one who saw them first and pointed them out to us!

Another dolphin!

We spent a few minutes watching and observing them before we continued on to Red Frog Beach!

Once we pulled up to the marina we saw some amazing boats from all over the world parked. One was even from Oregon!

View of all of the boats in the marina.

Once we docked, we had to walk a short way to get to the actual beach area. It was completely worth it! The water was the perfect temperature and not even too salty! I have this weird thing with salt water…I hate it. But this water was not bad at all! The water was also shallow quite a ways out, so we all just hung out in the waves for a bit, or at least until we were all prune-y 🙂 After that, we got some nachos and a drink to enjoy on the beach!

Red Frog Beach

Red Frog Beach

My babe! He’s so cool. Although, a bit pale 😉

Yummy coconut drink!

After a while, it began to drizzle, so we headed back to the dock early. Look what we got to see along the way!

A sloth!

We also saw a few tiny jellyfish in the water around the boats. They were so cute! I was tempted to touch one, so I could see what it feels like, but I was too chicken.

Once our boat returned, we headed back to Al Natural Resort for a late lunch (by the way, all of the lunches every day were AMAZING!) and then decided to try out the kayaks! I had never been kayaking before, so it was a new experience for me. Peter and I shared one, while Josh and Emily took one each. We paddled out to where there were some waves, and then would paddle along with the tide coming back in so the waves would push us and make us go faster. I was freaked out though (of course, I think I may be the party pooper between me and Peter) because it was very shallow, and there was coral all beneath us, and all I could think of was Peter telling me how much it hurts if you are scratched by coral. So, we only did it a few times, and although it was fun, I definitely did not want to tip our kayak. Josh, however, did end up flipping over and falling out, but he got back on and wasn’t hurt or anything, but he did come up one item short of when he went under. His sun glasses were gone! I believe Emily called him the king of losing sun glasses, or something along those lines. Haha, learned something new about Josh!

After kayaking, we all went back to the room to shower, nap, and get ready for dinner. Peter and I decided to take a few pics in the ocean right outside our room.

Peter playing in the water!

Look at that!

Me, just gazing out at the view.

Peter, hanging out on our deck.

Enjoying his cigar.

View of the dock from in front of our room.

Me and my sugar! My hair looks so red here! Weird.

While Peter finished his cigar, I decided to head down to the dock area to take some pictures of the place.

This was the scuba/snorkel center. AND they had a ping pong table!

The water was SO pretty!

Can you see the two starfish?

There it is!

I actually picked one of the starfish up! I only kept it out of the water for a few seconds before placing it back in the water, but I’d never picked one up before and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. There were also tons of fish under the dock, and if you stood still long enough, some would come and nibble at your toes and legs!

Petey came to join me! And the starfish are in the photo, too. 🙂

Below are some fun photos I took of the main dock.

 

After the sun went down, Peter went to take pictures of the monkeys being fed bananas near the dining area (they were adorable! But we couldn’t get pictures without using a flash).

During dinner, we chatted with our Mexican friends for a while. After dinner, we went back to playing some cards, when it started pouring rain! Emily and I ran, with only a flashlight for light, back to our cabins to pull the plastic curtain shut so that the winds and rain wouldn’t mess up our room. I mean, it was SOOO windy, too! We passed mine and Peter’s room and made it to Emily’s. Once the light was on, I started to run off to mine before my stuff was blown everywhere or rained on, but I heard Emily shout for my help and then heard glass break! So, I hurried back as fast as I could, helped her tie down the plastic, then cleaned up the glass from the cup that was knocked over and broken. Plus, we were soaked! Emily then came over to help me tie ours down, but when I got there it was already done! I have no idea who did it, but I was SURE thankful! We sprinted back to the dinner area (in the super strong wind and rain, with our small flashlight) and let me tell you, my heart was racing!

Once we got back, we had been sitting there a few more minutes when Vincent, the manager, told us that if we went out to the main dock, shined our flashlight into the water for 5-10 seconds, then turned the light off, we would see the plankton glow!!!  So the four of us decided to brave the pouring rain and head out to the dock! We shined our flashlight on the water, counted, then turned the light off and sure enough, the water GLOWED!!!! It was one of the most amazing moments I’ve ever experienced. It was moments like these that made me appreciate the place we stayed at. We would have never seen something like that if we’d have stayed at some resort, or somewhere more populated. Our whole trip was so personalized and fabulous. I can’t express that enough!

The Mexicans that were on the island had a 7a.m. flight the next day, so we were up and out the next day by 5a.m. and began our looooong journey home!

Whew! Thank you so much for following our story, and check back in for our next big adventure!

Pura vida! from Ticavida 🙂

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bocas del Toro: Part 2

Alrighty, in case you have forgotten Bocas del Toro: Part 1,  click here to check it out! Now on to Part two!

We arrived at the resort in the early evening and were met at the dock by Vincent, the manager of Al Natural Resort. He is from Belgium, originally, speaks French, English, and Spanish, is married to an Indian woman from Canada who also speaks all three of the same languages! We met their two kids, also. They were quite an interesting family. Vincent said he had been in Bocas for 15 years! The first thing we did after getting off the boat was get a tour of the Nature house we would be staying in!! I mean, I had seen pictures on the website, but there was no way Peter and I could have expected exactly what we got! It was incredible!!!

First, the dining area.

The Nature House Peter and I stayed in!

Another view of the Nature house.

Come in! Don’t forget to splash the sand off your feet in the tiny hole filled with water at the bottom of the stairs.

Hellllloooo bedroom!

Aaaannnd the porch…from standing near the bed….and looking out into the ocean!! Amazing view!

View into the bathroom. Notice you can see outside too, from the inside. Also, notice there is a tree growing through the middle of our bathroom! Totally cool. And the blue thing is the shower curtain.

Peter took this pic from the water outside our place 🙂

After the tour of the house, we changed into non-travel gear then headed to the dining area where the bar was! There were only a couple of people there, so it was really quiet and peaceful. We all got some wine, beer, and coffee to both relax us, and give us a little boost. It had been a LONG day so far, and I think we were all just glad we had FINALLY made it! Emily and Josh suggested playing Apples to Apples. Peter had never played before and I had only played once before, and I remember it being a great time, so we were down! They also taught us this other card game with a normal deck of cards (or, actually, with Peter’s Star Wars 3D hologram  cards he brought, lol) and it was really fun too. I’m not sure what it’s called, and it’s really difficult to explain, but we played it and it was fun!

Finally chilling out at the resort!

This was taken from the dining area. The dock is where we headed to next!

Josh found the hammock pretty quick.

My baby, relaxing! He’s so cute.

Beautiful view of the shoreline from the dock.

Apples to Apples + vino blanco + awesome friends = a GREAT time! And a liiiitle competition 😉

The GORGEOUS set up for dinner the first night!

~Dessert one of the nights~

The dinners every night were SO delicious every night! They were 3 and 4 courses, sea food, Asian cuisine  and yummy fruit desserts. Seriously, probably some of the best food I’ve ever had. It was hard to come back home and cook for myself after that. So much to live up to!

Later that night, as I was getting ready for bed, I decided to jump in the shower because I was all gross from travelling, sand everywhere, and the salty air. Well, where we were staying is simple, and based on nature. The resort uses all organic and natural soaps and shampoos, and there were no outlets in our room. There were three lights total, though. One in the bathroom, one in the main bedroom, and one small light by the bed. Needless to say, there wasn’t much light in the shower area (there was hot water though, yay!). Once I got in and shut the curtain, I notices a large black circular “thing” about the size of a half dollar coin on the inside of the curtain. First, I thought it might be a moth, then I decided it was a spider, so I jumped out faster than you could think the word ‘spider’, and hollered at Peter to come see and do something. I’m not sure what I expected him to do…but SOMETHING!

He comes in with a flashlight and checks it out and says, “It’s a moth.” I tell him absolutely that is NOT a moth! So he looks again, closer……and he says, “It’s not a moth. It’s a scorpion.” !!! Omg, omg, omg. AND he tells me he can see a TON of tiny baby scorpions on it’s back, so he can’t swat it away, or else all the baby scorpions will scatter about our bathroom! Eeeeekk! Gives me chills just thinking about it again. Peter then runs off to tell someone at the main dining area about the “previous tenant”, while I stay there with the flashlight and keep an eye on him (or maybe her, if it’s carrying babies..) He  returns with a can of scorpion killer spray, but by then she has crawled down under our cabin via the hole where the live tree is growing in our bathroom. Let’s just say that when I woke up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, it was definitely an ordeal. Peter was woken up to assist in scorpion watch and about 5 minutes of searching all areas near the toilet for ANY creepy crawlies.

Getting to sleep was interesting. The waves were crashing right outside our cabin, which was very relaxing, but I am the type of person that likes to sleep in silence and darkness, so this became a little bit of a problem for me. I had barely slept the night before due to us having to catch the early bus, and now all I wanted to do was stay awake to listen to the waves and stare out at the ocean lit up by the moonlight. I couldn’t stop staring. It was so beautiful and I just wanted to soak up the moment for all it was worth. Ahhhhh…. 🙂

The next morning I was up early and Peter was still sleeping, so I decided to poke around and take a few photos!

This is me laying in bed, looking at the view I woke up to through the mosquito netting…so romantic and peaceful!

This was our other roommate I discovered that morning. I was ok with him, though. Spiders eat bugs, and I don’t like bugs biting me! Plus, he was way up in the rafters, and stayed in his web the whole time!

The view from standing on our porch in the morning.

Cool lizard outside our cabin.

Ok now, these crabs were so cool. I thought they were beetles at first, because you couldn’t see them until you saw them move to dart into their “hole” home. When I finally realized what they were, I noticed they have this one GIANT claw, but the others are all small. How funny. I wonder why?

***Sidenote*** All of the amazing, up-close critter shots are thanks to Peter’s parents letting us borrow their super awesome camera lens that is WAY better than ours. We have been wanting to get a nicer one, but they are SO expensive! So, thank you guys a bunch!!

Around 8, Peter, Emily and I all went to breakfast (Josh was enjoying a good sleep in with the sound of the waves) and talked with Vincent about what excursions to do over that day and the next. We decided to go snorkeling and dolphin watching that afternoon, then come back to the resort for lunch, then go out again for more snorkeling and another island that’s a national park! The second day, we planned on going to Red Frog Beach and just hanging out on the beach swimming and laying out. It was a long and wonderful day, and lunch was amazing (of course) so below are some pictures of all of the first day!

Snorkeling first! Glad we did it first because we were by ourselves, whereas later, two or three more boats of people were in the same spot.

Next, on our way to the dolphin cove area to see if we can be lucky enough to see some dolphins!

View along the way.

Well, we didn’t see any dolphins… and were pretty bummed about it. Until…………………………………………..

We saw jellyfish!

A bunch of jellyfish!! There were SO many! I had never seen one “in the wild” before, so I thought it was pretty awesome.

After our failed dolphin watch/successful jellyfish watch, we headed back to the hotel for some food and drinks! Oh, and I think maybe a nap for some us 😉

View from the ocean of the two Natural Houses that we rented out. Ours is on the right, and Josh and Emily’s is on the left.

Closer view of the houses. They look so tucked away in the woods from here.

After our mid-day rest, we packed up some beverages and headed out again for the Zapatillas Cays, which is part of Bastimentos Island National Marine Park. They are two islands with secluded beaches and we heard it is where the UK’s Survivor: Panama was filmed!

Zapatillas Cays Island 1

Cute islands off shore.

Sweet couple!

Cheesy pose! We love it!

Enjoying my beer in the beach. 🙂

Peter’s mad photography skills are shown in these pelican pics!

He’s so good. I’m so proud of him!

They would cruise sooo low and close to the water’s surface. Must be lookin’ hard for those fish!

One of my favorite pictures of Peter and I!! Thanks, Emily!

The view, walking back to the boat.

Many different shades of blue.

We headed back to the resort after this and showered and got ready for dinner. That night we were celebrating Vincent’s wife’s birthday!  There was champagne and a four course meal that was incredible. Eggrolls, grilled Mahi Mahi with mashed potatoes and veggies….man, my mouth is literally watering just thinking about it! The people we ate with were from Spain, Mexico, and Switzerland, and all spoke at least English and Spanish. We continued that night with more wine and more cards. I had so much fun getting to know Josh and Emily more, and really get unplugged from the world. I think this was the night I got a little too into Apples to Apples, though. Whoops! 🙂

This post is actually taking a bit longer than I thought, so I’m going to go ahead and make this a Three-parter! Stay tuned for the third, and FINAL (I promise!!!) segment of our Panama trip. It was just so much fun, it wouldn’t all fit into one post! Or two…lol.

Pura Vida!

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Bocas del Toro, Panama, Part 1 – Getting there.

It was a perfect Saturday afternoon here. The sun was shining and it was about 80 degrees until around 2pm. That’s when the clouds come most afternoons. It’s nice though because everything cools down, and you don’t feel bad about curling up on the couch and watching the most recent episode of Grey’s Anatomy with a warm cup of Cost Rican coffee..Can you tell what I did today? Of course, that was after a morning of picking up, sweeping, mopping, loading the dish washer, starting the 17th load of laundry, and wiping down the counters. It’s been a productive day! I might mention too that we hang dry 98% of our clothes here. Gives the term “doing laundry” a whole new meaning. Although, I do have to admit, it is a practice I plan on continuing after our return to the U.S!

Ok, enough of the day-to-day. I want to tell you all about our AMAZING trip to Bocas del Toro, Panama. Every 90 days, in order to renew your travel VISA, you must leave Costa Rica for 72 hours. Over the last year we have been home to the States twice, and to Granada, Nicaragua once. I wish I had a link to send you to a blog post of mine from the Nicaragua trip, but I wasn’t blogging then! Shame on me! Let’s just say that while eating dinner one night, a poor man came up to our table after we had finished and asked us if he could have the rest of our chips and salsa. Obviously we said yes, and so he helped himself and was on his way. It’s mind-blowing how poor that country is, however, it is extremely beautiful!

It looks like I took another “bunny trail” above. Whoops! We found out about Bocas through this couple that taught at the school I work at. They had been multiple times and raved about how pretty and relaxing it was there, and how cheap the drinks are! $1.00-$1.25 for a beer…yes, please! By the time we left Bocas, Peter and I both agreed that we felt it could be the next travel destination for tourists from all over the world. And not just backpackers! We knew our border run was coming up, and decided that now was the time to make the trip to Bocas and see what all the hooplah was. We also invited our friends, Emily and Josh to come with us. One, they had to leave the country too, and two, we wanted some company, and three, they are just an awesome couple! Also, about half of the pictures are from Emily. She was so good about taking them! Thank you, Emily!!

We decided to take the public bus provided by the great nation of Costa Rica :-). The bus was scheduled to leave the station at 6:30am. Peter went in a few days before to buys our tickets ($14 per person) so that we were guaranteed to have a seat on the bus. We got a cab just before 5am and headed to Escazu to pick up Emily and Josh, then on to the bus station!

On the bus in San Jose, headed for the border!

Josh and Emily, our travel buddies!

The bus station in San Jose

The bus left on time, and we were on our way! Our next stop would be in Limon, about 2 1/2 hours away and the stop was for 10-15 minutes for bathroom or food. We partook in both 🙂 Even better, I bought breakfast (it’s almost 9 by now) that consisted of gallo pinto, eggs, and sweet plantains, YUM! I gave the lady a 5,000 colones bill and she gave me back 2 2,000 bills and a 1,000 bill which all adds up to….5,000 colones! Free breakfast is always a good way to start the day. I should also mention that I was already back on the bus when I was counting my change, so I wasn’t able to be an honest visitor and go back to pay. It was another 3 hours until we got to the border. We stopped twice along the way to let people off. Once in Cahuita (shout out to Catie, John, Jeffrey, and Joshua!) and then in Puerto Viejo, which looked so pretty! Made me wish we could have squeezed a trip in there sometime along this journey. Oh well, can’t see it all, I guess!

We finally made it to the border before noon! It felt so much later than that. It was also beginning to get HOT! San Jose normally stays really cool, especially in the mornings, but along the coast is hot hot HOT! Josh made the unfortunate decision to wear sweat pants. Let’s just say they were doing a good job of making him sweat! The bus dropped us off on the Costa Rica side of the border so we could get out, get our passport stamped, and walk across the bridge to Panama!

The yellow thing is where cars can drive through. This is still the Costa Rica side.

It was here that we met this girl, Lotta, from Germany! She was alone and meeting her family in Almirante, so she asked if she could follow us through customs to make sure she was doing everything right. I’m not sure why she trusted us because we were just walking around asking what to do next. This was a first for us. But, she was really nice and I’m glad we got to get to know her!

Josh and I waiting on our passports to get stamped. This line was SO much shorter going in to Panama than when we left a few days later.

About to walk across the really cool bridge/border to Panama

Had to be careful not to step in between the boards and fall through!

The view while walking across the bridge.

Customs in Panama. Real official. 🙂

Paying our $6 to get in to the country

After finishing with customs, we were ushered into a white bus/van with some other people (including our German friend, Lotta!). This bus was $10 per person and was about a 30 minute ride to Almirante. Almirante is where we catch a water taxi to Bocas town. The bus ride was really cool because I spent the whole time talking to Lotta, who is majoring in Clinical Psychology, about her internship at a psych ward, and the government differences between Germany and the U.S. It was all very interesting and enlightening! One of the perks of travelling is expanding your knowledge. This was a great example!

The boat we took to Bocas town cost $4 per person, $2 if your a local… >:-/

Peter getting his wallet out ready to pay

Apparently, people have a problem with cutting in line, too. Peter and Josh said that like, three people cut in front of them when it was OBVIOUS they were in line…hmph. This is also where we parted with Lotta! She was suppose to meet up with her family somewhere near there and they had no cell phone and knew almost no spanish….not a good combo.

We took a boat similar to this to Bocas Town.

We spent about 30 minutes waiting for our boat to arrive and get ready to leave again, and then it was about a 30 minute boat ride to Bocas Town.

This guy’s life jacket may not save him if he goes overboard..

The waters were so pretty as we got closer to Bocas Town!

First sight of Bocas Town! Almost there!

After we arrived in Bocas town, we had to make our way through the town to get to the Al Natural dock. It is here that we got on another (final) boat that would take us to Isle Bastimentos where the resort is located

Josh carrying is super cute bag through Bocas Town, looking for our dock so we can ride to the resort.

Last stretch of road before we got to the Al Natural Resort dock

Made it to our meeting place, and look how clear and beautiful the water is! Ahhhhh.

We had about 45 minutes until the boat was going to leave, so we went to take advantage of the cheap beer in town and had a drink or two. Panama is an hour ahead of Costa Rica (CR is on Mountain time and Panama on CST) and it was now about 4-4:30 and it was NICE to have a relaxing drink and really just a moment to chill. It felt like we had been going all day! One last leg until we were where we needed to be. We left the dock about 4:30 and we were actually riding with the man who manages the resort, Vincent, his wife and her family who were all “Indian”, but were from Canada. Vincent is from Belgium, and both of them could speak French, Spanish, and English! Wow! The benefits of marrying someone from another country, and then living in a country neither of you are from.

we saw the Coast Guard along the way. Vincent’s wife (I cannot remember her name!) said they stop in about once a month and all the men go to shore to party, lol

Chatting along the way to Al Natural.

Cheese!

The boat ride from Bocas Town to Al Natural took about 45 minutes, and we had to stop for gas along the way!

Gas station!

The whole day was both exciting and exhausting , but when we finally made it to our final destination we realized how worth it the whole thing was. Our rooms/ “nature houses” were incredible, the staff was so nice and helpful, and the food was 5 star quality.However, I will have to get into the rest another night because just getting there was a post in it’s own, obviously!

Stay tuned and by next week I will have the rest of the story posted! My best friend and her husband are flying in tomorrow from Dallas and will be here for a few days, yay! This will keep me pretty busy (while also providing me with more fun blogging stories!) so I might not be posting until they are gone. We are going to Manuel Antonio National Park. Peter and I haven’t been yet and it’s so close to us! Sigh. But we will remedy that by Monday.

Thanks for reading and be sure to check back in over the next week to hear the rest of our Bocas del Toro adventure! Definitely one of mine and Peter’s top destinations to date.

Pura Vida!

Categories: Travel | 6 Comments

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