Well, I suddenly stumbled upon some more time off (yeah, sometimes I work too, but that´s for another post), and so I decided to take off with my dad to Bocas del Toro, Panama. You can get to Bocas fairly easily from Puerto Viejo by jumping on a shuttle (one of those slightly embarassing “Tourismo” shuttles), which takes you to the Panama border in Sixaola. You then get off the shuttle, have your passport stamped in Costa Rica, and walk across a railroad bridge that is at least 100 years old, and has gaps nearly large enough for a skinny person to fall through. (Pictures coming soon!) For those of you familiar with Santa Cruz, CA, it´s much like the railroad bridge near the boardwalk, but with 10 times the length and 50 times the rust. Occasionally, tractor trailers drive across the bridge, and pedestrians must scatter to special areas on the sides of the bridge to allow the truck to pass.
Once you arrive on the Panama side, you board another shuttle, which takes you to a boat, which takes you to the islands. Most of the islands, superficially anyway, look like masses of mangroves with the occasional white sand beach. The island where we stayed, Isla Colon, had a main street and lots of touristy stands and resturants. We took an island tour on the second day, where we went to Dolfin Bay, Red Frog Beach, and some other places I don´t know the names of. We did some snorkeling in between, which was really nice. That night, we ventured to Isla Carenero by water taxi, which was exciting in itself. Imagine being one of many cars driving diagonally across a parking lot at random. Now, make it nighttime, turn off your headlights, cover the windshield, and floor it. That´s what riding in a water taxi at night is like. The boats are only lit by a small red and green light on the bow, and when the boat is nearly passengerless, the bow lifts up, creating a wall directly in front of the driver who sits in the back. Pretty exciting stuff, although apparently they collide far too often, and the results are tragic.