Puerta Viejo, Costa Rica is a quaint little beach town but the whole “downtown” only spans a few blocks. After a night of lounging on the beach and eating Carribean food we decided to continue south to Panama. We caught a shuttle down to Sixaola, paid our $8 Costa Rican exit fee and our $4 Panamanian entry fee, hiked all our belongings arcoss the long bridge separating the two countries, caught another shuttle to Almirante, then hopped on a watertaxi the rest of the way to Bocas del Toro, Panama. Overall it was between 3 to 4 hours to span a distance of around 60 miles. As far as boarder crossings go, this one was fairly uneventful.
Once we arrived in Bocas del Toro we dropped our stuff in Selina Hostel and went in search of a dive shop so Kevin could sign up for an open water PADI scuba diving course. As many of the shops were closing down for the evening we had a fairly easy choice of who to dive with. We found La Buga Dive shop. It is currently low season so they gave Kevin flexibility to start his dive course immediately (6 pm) or any day after and they offered to let Lisa dive for half price!
When we returned to our hostel after our mini tour of the town we discovered that Lisa’s bed at the hostel had been taken over by another traveler. We had reserved beds in a 12-bunk dorm room so the receptionist moved Lisa to a different bed. Lisa hung up her wet bathing suit on her new bunk and then she and Kevin left to meet up with some friends they had made on the shuttle earlier that day.
Our new friends, Olivia and Javier, are a great couple from Spain. Of note, most of the new friends we have made on this trip are couples from Spain where the female is a doctor. This has been helpful because even though Lisa’s spanish is quite elementary, medical language is pretty much the same around the world.
The night we arrived was the night of the lunar eclipse. Our view from Bocas was phenomenal. We were heading to dinner at the time of the eclipse. We found a small restaurant serving California-style burritos called Taco Surf owned by a man from San Diego who re-appropriated the name of the most delicious breakfast burrito spot in Southern California (according to Kevin and anyone who has ever eaten there, Lisa might beg to differ).
We found the best view on the island was from the street in front of the restaurant. To make the most of this prime viewing we ordered hibiscus margaritas and stood in the street with Javier and Olivia savoring our drinks and watching the eclipse.
After a delicious dinner we returned to our hostel only to find a young man in the bunk the receptionist had given Lisa. For his part, he had been a bit confused by finding a girl’s bathing suit in the bed he had been sleeping in for the past few nights. So once again we took a trip to the reception desk. The woman running the hostel was incredibly apologetic and decided to move us to a private room with AC and a private bathroom. In addition she let us keep the room for 3 additional nights for the same price as the beds in the 12 person dorm!!
Costa Rica and Panama seem to be huge fans of brightly colored bracelettes to designate everything from which hostel we are staying in to national park entry. After only a week in Central America our wrists proved that we are kind of a big deal.