Our arrival at the airport in Bocas del Toro.
Our arrival at the airport in Bocas del Toro.
This was the fine aircraft that got us safety to Panama.
This was the fine aircraft that got us safely to Panama.

Though we are loving our house sitting job in Costa Rica, the owners returned and we have two months to head south and explore Panama. Our itinerary is not set yet, but we are starting in Bocas del Toro. Our journey started with a bus ride from Quepos to San Jose. This in itself is a bit of an adventure.

Karen waiting for our bus to San Jose at the Quepos bus station.
Karen waiting for our bus to San Jose at the Quepos bus station.

The bus station in Quepos is in the middle of town and a very busy place. There is no signage as to which buses are where and the drivers are not prone to be super helpful. The best we found was a gruff shake of the head and turning the back and walking away when we enquired whether the bus he was driving with “San Jose” on the front was our bus. Eventually, with the help of an english speaking local we got the info we were looking for and boarded the correct bus. The three hour ride to San Jose was thrilling. Driving in Costa Rica is an adventure at the best of times. Passing is a game of chicken and tail gating the norm. After a dozen close calls we arrived safety in San Jose and found a helpful taxi to take us to our hotel.

The next morning we caught the shuttle to the airport and were greeted with a massive line stretching out the front door of the International departures. It turned out this was for the mandatory departure tax from Costa Rica. It was the most efficient setup I have seen in a long time. We ripped through the line in no time to pay our $29US/person tax and head off to check in. For this trip we flew Nature Air, a small local airline. There were twelve passengers total and the co-pilot took care of the safety briefing. We had an inkling of what was to come when he ended with “Make sure you do up your seat belts tight, it is pretty windy out there” smiled, turned and sat in his chair.

I could actually watch the sudden drops in altitude on the altimeter from my seat during the flight. Not sure whether that was a good or bad thing.
I could actually watch the sudden drops in altitude on the altimeter from my seat during the flight. Not sure whether that was a good or bad thing.

The take off and first 20 minutes of the one hour flight were similar to riding a bull in slow motion (not so slow at times). I was very glad I had had a chance to digest my lunch before we took off. It was interesting to be able to watch the pilot’s shoulders tense up as we would head into a bank of clouds to be tossed around. Eventually though we arrived in Bocas del Toro, with the pilots receiving a spontaneous round of applause on landing.

This is the map from my GPS of the trip from San Jose to Bocas del Toro.
This is the map from my GPS of the trip from San Jose to Bocas del Toro.

The arrival in Bocas was quite entertaining. The first thing the officials do is collect everybody’s passport, hand them to a young fellow who walks out the front door with them. Apparently the photocopying equipment is off site. A $3US Municipal tax, a look through your luggage then a 20 minute wait for our passports to return. Then each of us got to go in to see the Immigration Officer to answer some questions while he manually copies down the information that was just photocopied. He also managed to see if we were in the market to rent a house from him in Boquete.

Once clear of the airport we had a 5 minute walk to our hotel where we found out the manager had just rented our room to a couple of young fellows. Fortunately he reads body language and tone of voice very well and had them moved out within 10 minutes and we were settled in.

After a tiring day of travel we treated ourselves to a dinner out. We found an excellent curry house right on the water with live jazz music. The staff were excellent and the food outstanding.

Welcome to Panama!

A fantastic restaurant we found a short walk from our place. Great live mass and the tastiest curry I have ever had.
A fantastic restaurant we found a short walk from our place. Great live jazz and the tastiest curry I have ever had.

 

Welcome to our travel blog. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to say, "I'm out of here?" Well we did, and in 2013 we made it a reality. We sold or gave away all of our possessions other than what fit in our luggage and we set off on an endless adventure. Part of our goal is to share our experiences with others and hopefully provide some information, motivation, or just a moments escape. The general idea was to look for a place that would be ideal to settle down in. However in the meantime it is about experiencing life in different countries amongst different cultures and learning how to understand and appreciate each other. A large part of our time is spent housesitting which provides an excellent opportunity to experience more of the "normal" neighbourhoods as opposed to the tourist locales. Though we make sure to enjoy those as well. So through plenty of photographs and a running commentary come and share with us our life on the road.

5 comments on “Welcome to Panama

  1. how do you find house-sitting jobs?

    • Good day. We are registered with some on-line sites where potential house sitters post their resumes/profiles and home owners post their properties that require watching. It nearly always involves looking after pets, but not always. Great way to see parts of the world that are just a little off the main tourist track. Fantastic way to interact with others we have found. A couple of the sites we use are Trustedhousesitters.com and Mindmyhouse.com

  2. Peter the bus ride would have done Jim in, nevermind the plane ride…. We took a bus to Laughlin Nevada once and you could wring the sweat off his hands. He had a full on panic attack as the driver was nearly 90 and had to take the long way around because he did not have a drivers licence in California. We had a near miss head on collision and the driver had to pull over to we presume change his shorts in the washroom. By this time everyone on the bus was pleading for Jim to just drive. Needless to say we just couldn’t do what you and Karen do so well.!

  3. I should edit my babble … I meant we just missed a head on collision….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: