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Driving from Serene and Quiet Boca Chica to the Artistic Disorder of David

Country Road Leaving Boca Chica 2

We experienced  tremendous relief after finding the rental car key.The stranded feeling was gone, and the series of problem solving  clutter of strategies was lifted. We were given one key and I tied it to a large and heavy object.

The scenery on the way out of Boca Chica is very beautiful with gently rolling hills and big fields for cattle with shady trees for them to rest.

 

Country roads leaving Boca Chica

We did a quick stop at a local Mini Super outside of Boca Chica on a quiet country road to stock up on water and plantain chips and we were on our way. This was the grocery I wish we had of discovered earlier. There is an archway as you can see in the distance.

Quiet town outside of Boca Chica

Getting lost past David 2

We prepared for our trip by studying the road map we had bought in detail so that we could arrive smoothly at our next destination of David. We looked for ( mostly non existent ) road signs to towns, rivers, streets etc…..then check that against the map to establish where we were. Without signage and the benefit of altitude to spot rivers and towns it can be quite awhile before you get a sign or a clue. We saw a town La Concepcion, and then continued not seeing a David sign.

Getting lost past David

We stopped in Santa Marta and asked for directions at a local beauty parlour, and they redirected us to turn around and go back. Looking at the map a second time we had completely missed David, and if we had continued would have reached the Costa Rica border. We turned back and kept our eyes peeled for a David sign after passing again La Concepcion. We noted that that junction was our important turn to Volcan which was our next stop after David. Still not seeing a David sign, we spotted a large Reys market,and a truck crushed against a hydro pole with wire hanging and police on the road, and decided that this was David. There were directions on Booking.com to Hotel Ciudad in David which I had booked. It looked like a turn of from the main highway, but we could not find a sign with the street name. We stopped at a corner gas station and asked if they knew Hotel Ciudad and bingo! We got directions, and it turned out we were sitting right on the correct turn off.

We headed down the road, however we were not prepared for the quagmire of confusion and bewilderment.

 

You need fast reflexes when driving in a Panamanian city, as it is a kaleidoscope of busy where anything could happen at any given moment, so eyes need to be peeled at several things at once. In driving school they say “keep your eyes moving”, and this puts it to the test. As you can see the driving creatively flows at intersections in David and somehow works. I kept my eyes peeled for the hotel as it had very distinctive appearance with a large square red shape. We pulled over to ask directions from a local man and he did a left right left gesture with his hand, and we were on our way again, discovering a one way street. Glenn handled the drive with expert pilot skills!

I saw the beautiful sight of the red square building in the distance! We pulled over again to look at it, which was not an easy maneuver. The building looked like a department store with no hotel sign.We asked an expat where the hotel was and he said “It’s right here! “He explained that it looked like a department store with the mannequins but it was the hotel. The expat was a Canadian and Glenn had a nice long chat with him. We found it had underground parking by guessing, and drove under, and security guided us to a perfect parking spot. Glenn checked us in, and a staff took our bags and showed us to a beautiful hotel room with down pillows and comfortable mattress. We had spent many nights with sparse foam pillows, and made extras by stuffing tea shirts with our clothing. We took a moment to breathe and have complete gratitude for arriving safely. There was a spectacular breakfast included in the room price of 95 USD. It felt extremely safe, and it was a gloriously comfortable nights sleep. From the hotel there is a view of the University.

 

David university

Glenn patiently went shopping with me to buy a light cotton dress and sandals. My sandals broke, we glued them and they kept breaking.The bounce and rattle of the city was upbeat, and the Panamanians were friendly and welcoming. The journey into the shops was a delightful fun adventure.

We thoroughly enjoyed our one night stop in David before our trip to Volcan,Boquete Isla Bastistomos and Colon in Bocas Del Toro. The next morning we were headed to Volcan, and we already knew exactly where our turn was!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Aerial photography Boca Chica Chiriqui Marine Park and Archipelago Driving in Panama Expats in Panama Go Pro video on island in Panama Howler Monkeys Isla Boca Brava Renting a car in Panama Roxy's Fishing Club Boca Chica snorkling in Panama travel to panama White sand beaches Panama

Chiriqui Marine Park and Archipelago,Losing the Car Rental Key and other stories

It was time to pack up from our beautiful location on Isla Boca Brava. We took our last hike said our goodbyes to our wonderful hosts on the island,and watched a huge troop of howler monkeys hop from trees immediately in front of our cabin.Glenn said he had misplaced the keys to our rental vehicle. We had driven from Pedasi to Las Lajas, then  to Boca Chica(Parked for 3 days while on Isla Boca Brava) and were on our way driving to  Volcan and Boquete.The plan then was to bus to Bocas Del Toro, after dropping the vehicle off in Boquete. The beautiful vistas were put on hold , and we looked in every possible place taking our packs apart, with no luck. We were given one key with no spare in Pedasi. After a final search we found the key that Glenn had carefully put in the “special” place of my camera cover.

Sunset Boca Chica

 

We journeyed by boat back to the mainland Boca Chica, and stayed in a rustic hostel that was cleaned and well maintained. Here are some town photos that we took during our walk.

 

Our hostel was clean and friendly and close to the dock.The little fan in the room with little ventilation made it difficult to sleep.The owners were very courteous and helpful. Our next location that we booked was “Roxy’s Fishing Club”, a family run hotel close by. Glenn did  aerial photography for them as you can see in the video below.Their hotel’s staff will take very good care of you when touring the neighbouring white sand islands.

 

We took a small boat with one other couple who travelled from David. They were from Germany. The boat took us to three snorkelling spots away from the white sand beach. It was a bit daunting as while everyone was jumping into the depths of the ocean from the boat that was rocking full of waves, I was awkwardly putting my flippers on backwards and gingerly dipping my toes then flopping in limbs flailing.. I am not at this point at all embarrassed, just grateful ! Although I did did snorkel in Costa Rica and Belize in previous years,my expertise was still at beginner level.I did notice however  I swam faster once in the water and did not swallow sea water as often. It was a colourful beautiful sight once underwater, and flowing with the turquoise blue, incredible colourful fish.

The exquisite island  that we had the privilege of visiting is located inside Panama’s Gulf of Chiriqui National Marine Park and part of the Paridas Archipielago, a scattering of over 25 nationally protected tropical islands, 19 coral reefs, and abundant wildlife that is 12 miles off the Pacific coast. A one hour boat ride from Boca Chica brought us to this beautiful uninhabited island with a white sand. It is either Isla Ladrones and Islas Secas or Isla Montuosa.

The dark blue tones which surround the mangroves near the shore blend to shades of turquoise and emerald wrapping white-sand beaches on islands lined with coconut palms.

 

We later took an evening walk and there were horses at the gas station, with one horse bucking out of control. There is no need for movies here, the entertainment is right out the front door!

Two HorsesGas station

Our next stops, we will be driving our rental car(now that we found the keys!) to David,Volcan, Cerro Punta,Boquete and surrounding area. We then drop the car off in Boquete at Thrifty’s and we will be taking a bus to Bocas Del Toro, both Colon and Isla Bastimentos. We have decided not to plan the rest of our journey after that.

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Aerial photography Boca Chica Driving in Panama Howler Monkeys Isla Boca Brava travel to panama

Boca Chica,Isla Boca Brava and Beyond

We left the small town of Las Lajas early the next morning. We gazed, pondered and smiled at the size of the turtle shown on the mural wall of the quiet family run motel room. There are certainly large turtles here in the Chiriqui !

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Rugged beautiful green mountains, banana plantations, sugar cane, cascading rivers, green pastureland, and many parrots darting is what I saw on the drive toward Boca Chica. The Chiriqui drive to Boca Chica for me was a sight to behold. Chiriqui is an ancient word meaning “Valley of the Moon”. There are many remote villages, many who live in a comarca or a reserve. The Highway from Las Lajas turn off to Boca Chica was a beautiful smooth wide piece of highway compared to what we drove the night before. There were no signs that said Boca Chica. I followed the small town turn off signs. The turn off to Boca Chica was actually was a left at Horconcitos which was a small town but the road looked like it was going to Boca Chica on the map.I followed the map and looked for clues, as the road was going down to the water. There did not seem to be any other road to go off the highway.Boca Chica is a fishing village 18 miles south of the highway. Hornconcitos,where you turn left.It is a small town known for its saddle makers.

Man on horse 2 The road used to very rough, but is now paved. It was a very scenic drive and we saw a cattle round up on the road,and many horses grazing in lush green fields

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We were awestruck at the beautiful scenic views.We arrived at a fork in the road without signs that said Boca Chica, however there were restaurant and accommodation signs and we decided that that must be the turn!

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We arrived at another small town.We knew that Boca Chica was on the water,so we kept going,following our nose from the map. We arrived at a boat dock where there were many small boats and a local man. There was one restaurant but it was inaccessible to get any information.I asked the Panamanian standing near the boat about how to get to Isla Boca Brava.He said he could take us there for 3 dollars each. I asked about where we could park the rental car.He told us for 3 dollars a day we could leave our rental car with a lady just up the road. Her son just happened to be riding his bike to the dock, and the boatman asked the boy in Spanish to lead Glenn to the house. I waited near the boat with our belongings. Glenn came back and he tucked away our vehicle key in a special spot, as we would be leaving the car on the mainland for three days.

 

 

We were on our way! We took a very scenic boat ride through islands. We arrived at a dock.Howler monkeys hollered their beautiful basal jungle sound as we pulled up to the island.

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We pulled our packs on to the dock and Glenn said”Wait here with our packs, I will go find out where our place is”. I thought that sounded reasonable. I waited on the dock with a fisherman shown here.

Fisherman

I waited, listening to the howler monkeys happily, and watched big fish jumping up out of the water. Then I started to sweat profusely in the hot sun with no shade as it was about an hour and Glenn had not returned. I had water with me, and entertained my self by having a conversation with the gentleman shown who did not know English and found me to be an amusing crazy Gringo. Finally Glenn returned. “I am sorry you had to wait so long,but I had to climb the stairs from hell and then at the top of the stairs is a guys house. I thought it was our place, instead it was a very agitated angry Panamanian. He pointed to our Howler monkey place down the trail, which goes right through his place. I found our place and met the manager,but be prepared for these stairs.”

Glenn on stairs

We did the gigantic feat of carrying our packs up the stairs,sweating bullets, tiptoed around the angry Panamanian, had to go down his porch, and found our cabin which was the most beautiful spot imaginable on Isla Boca Brava.

Better hammock photo

 

There was a gorgeous open air cabin with a hammock and a deck open to a spectacular view! Inside was a bed with a private bathroom.It is called Howlers Bay Hotel with 2 gorgeous private open cabins to a view and tents are available.There was a shared kitchen and common area where we met two women from Sweden who were scientists working on a project for climate change.

We could hear parrots and howler monkeys close by. You could see for miles with many jungle filled islands in the background.

Isla Boca Brava view

We went for many hikes around the island on the island’s jungle trail, and heard an incredible chorus of tropical birds.

Hike through Brava

We saw many, many beautiful colourful butterflies, all different shapes and brilliant colours.

Butterfly clip

Earthy, isolated, beautiful rustic beaches, dot this exquisite island,and there are several on the island to hike to. It was quiet even though it was Christmas season. Glenn did beautiful ariel photography  of the island and surrounding area. I will post clips of this when we have a good internet connection.

Glenn on Isla Boca Brava

We saw a family of howler monkeys while on one of our many hikes.It is always a beautiful experience to see and hear them in their natural environment!

Monkey clip 2

Monkey Boca Chica

There is a restaurant on the island called Isla Boca Brava Restaurant which makes a great big green salad. Most of our meals which we made ourselves have been vegetarian with rice, chick peas and black beans with curry and hot spices.

My next post will be about our accommodation on the mainland of Boca Brava and the beaches there, as well as the spectacular snorkelling and island adventure, a one hour small speed boat ride off the coast of Boca Brava. This was the highlight of our trip to Panama!

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Aerial photography Boca Chica Bocas Del Toro Boquete David Expats in Panama Isla Bastásemos Las Lajas Pedasi Playa Venao travel to panama

Playa Venao or Never!

This post finds us in Volcan,Panama. I am back tracking as internet connections have been challenging. We did an entertaining jaunt with Pedro from Coronado to Playa Venao. We went through Chitre and Las Tablas as well as other small towns. We should have been taking notes on Pedro’s expertise with the one ways in Chitra as we rented a car later and ended up in a chaotic one way(more later!) The land opened up into beautiful vast range land and farms,trees and jungle along the way. I am very excited at how different the land is here toward Playa Venao.It is isolated beauty, and can feel the beach approaching. We got lost and asked where Venao Cove Hostel was at a local beachside hotel. We needed to travel further. We pulled up to the location, and I could hear howler monkeys close by. We made sure we had our room, and then said our goodbyes to Pedro. One of the staff showed us to our room. It was two shared rooms and bathroom with a big kitchen and an outdoor shared area.We met the people that we shared the kitchen and bathroom with. She looked like Halle Berry, and worked in the fashion industry in Germany, and he was a surfer. We quickly changed to go to the beach.As you can see in the pictures the beach was astounding, with not a soul on the beach, and I ran down to the water dramatically tossing my hat and sandals.

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The drive from Pedasi was at least 5 hours with one quick grocery stop, and it felt fantastic to be on the beach. The water was warm, and the waves very gentle and easy for swimming.

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We hiked along the beautiful isolated beach.As you can see I found a beautiful set of lime green glasses at a local store.

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Glenn found a spot to do an aerial video. See below the pictures for his video.

We spent 2 nights at Venao Cove waking up to the sound of ocean waves,howler monkeys and tropical beach. I woke up early and decided to do yoga on the bed listening to the tropical sounds outside the window. I stretched up doing a sun salutation and put my left hand right into the low ceiling fan in the dim light.I screeched loudly looking at my bloodied and contused hand.Glenn had a fully equipped first aid kit with him, and cleaned and bandaged my hand.That was quite a lot of pain for a moment of not thinking. I was grateful that nothing was broken, and it gave me an opportunity to have a caring conversation with a Hungarian woman who offered us assistence. A lifetime of learning!

Wisdom comes from life experience; life experience is the result of repeatedly taking corrective action while courageously learning from mistakes.”
― Ken Poirot

I love quotes that are just honest and state the obvious!

The next morning at 9 am we took the local bus to Pedasi for 35 cents each,for another incredible adventure.

Next blogs will be about Pedasi,renting a car ,driving through Las Tablas, Chitre,Santiago, driving the Pan American Highway, Las LaJas Chiqiri,Isla Boca Brava,Boca Chica, David,Volcan,Bambito,Cerro Punta, Boquete, Bocas Del Toro(Colon) and Isla Bastisimos. I have a feeling that internet will improve once we leave Volcan and go to Boquete.

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Boca Chica Bocas Del Toro Bouquet Cariboo Stories Coronado David El Valle Expats in Panama Golfito Horses Isla Bastásemos Las Lajas Panama City Pedasi Puerto Jimenez Santa Fe travel to Costa Rica travel to panama

Our Strategy for Adventure to Panama and Costa Rica

Trip planning to Panama was a kaleidoscope of many incredible possibilities. I have had ideas rattling around in my mind for 6 months! Although it was no where near like planning the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, this had it’s challenges.With not knowing a country it was a chess board of information with different squares that needed piecing together.The biggest piece missing in the puzzle is transportation. I did stumble across a site called thebusschedules.com which has Panama bus routes. What I do know is Panamanians take the bus often and there is a bus I am told to just about anywhere, as well as shuttles. We will know more about this once we are there.