Apologies for the tardiness of this post; I’ve been largely bed-ridden with a horrific bug over the past week.
Panama has rushed past in a blur of alcohol and beaches. Our first stop was the Caribbean archipelago, ‘Bocas Del Toro’. It’s easy to hop on water taxis between the different islands, surf, walk through the national parks or just soak up the laid-back Caribbean pace of life which has now become so familiar. On ‘Colón’, the amusingly named main Island, there are some fantastic places to eat including a little sushi bar called ‘Raw’ with half price sushi and Martinis between 4 and 6. Ideal. I’d definitely recommend a lychee Martini if anyone’s not yet had the pleasure. They also had novel chalk-boards in place of mats which was a refreshing alternative to pre-dinner conversation!
There’s also plenty of fun to be had exploring the rather eccentric island nightlife. Most bars/clubs (well, places to dance) have integrated the sea into the structure of their building, with large areas cut out of the decking for people to swim in the beautifully warm sea below. I particularly enjoyed ‘Aqua lounge’ on the nearby island which had swings into the water and ‘El Barco hundido’ (The sunken ship) with floating dance platforms over a shipwreck. It’s fantastically weird to be able to dive down and pick up a starfish off the sea-bed in the middle of a bar!
I’m afraid I don’t have much to report on our next stop, Boquete, in the Panamanian mountains. To be perfectly honest I wasn’t particularly taken with the place. It was largely made up of a community of retired couples and ex-pats. I wasn’t overly disappointed that this was where my illness started to kick in. The nine hour journey to Panama city was somewhat less convenient.
All of my travelling companions having gone their separate ways, I’m now alone in the rather daunting capital city…although it is nice to have my own room for the first time in three months!
Unfortunately, so far I have been rather frustrated by the tourist industry in Costa Rica. The raw country itself is simply beautiful but is spoilt by the high price tags on activities/entrance into ‘natural’ areas, not forgetting the large numbers of tourists. In comparison to the rest of Central America it has the highest number of tourists and (undoubtedly as a result of this) it is by far the most expensive.
Another thing that greatly frustrates me is the ridiculous obsession with health and safety concerning any activities, for example rafting, rappelling, even walking! I personally get frustrated when I’m told what I can and can’t wear in my free time. They are my toes. If I want to run the risk of stubbing them (which I have already done) then I will bloody well do so. This stubbornness runs back to my childhood when I would refuse to wear a raincoat out, insisting that I had the right to risk getting cold if I wanted to!! Of course, though, they have to introduce these obligations to prevent people from suing them when they injure themselves – the whole system is just ridiculous.
Anyway, on arriving into La Fortuna I decided against any organised events and did not particularly relish the idea of paying to see a waterfall so I went out for a walk into the countryside where I stumbles across this magical little place:
A large waterfall pool off the side of the road where the illusive locals were out enjoying themselves. The pool was incredibly deep, perfect for diving into and, what’s more, they had tied a rope swing onto one edge resulting in a terrifying but adrenaline pumping ‘Tarzan’ swing into the water.
The bovine locals looking inquisitively at a sopping wet gringo heading back towards town with a smile on her face…
My last night in South America did not pass particularly smoothly. Two girls in the group were getting the same early morning flight as me so we decided to share a room in the hotel. However when we came down to meet everyone at reception we discovered that they had already left so ended up wandering around La Paz for two hours trying to find them in order to say goodbye! Bye some miracle we did eventually stumble across them but it was a bit of a nightmare in one of the most reknowned paces for crime targeted at tourists in the dark and rain!
After three hours sleep I embarked on my bizarre day of flights: Firstly flying to Lima then El Salvador, Guatemala then finally Mexico City with absolutely no room for error; one of the connections was only 25 minutes long! As you could imagine I was highly dubious that this erratic series was going to flow smoothly, but miraculously I arrived in Mexico city last night in one peace AND, far exceeding my expectations, with my luggage! Hallelujah!
Flying over the beautiful snow-capped Andes.
Flying in over Mexico city was fantastically exciting. Had to get a shot out of the window but this doesn’t quite capture the city’s competition with the stars as much as I would have liked!
My flight to Cancun leaves this afternoon so on arriving, I headed straight over to the airport Hilton where Mum had kindly booked for me to stay for a night as a treat (and also to avoid the highly dangerous city!) It was such a fantastic surprise! I was so excited at the unprecedented luxury that I was running around the room taking photos of the king sized bed and complimentary shampoos.
Refreshed by the best nights sleep I’ve had since I left home (thanks Mum!) I headed out into the city the following morning. My airport ‘authorised’ taxi was extortionately expensive. Apparently there are a large number of assaults occurring in ‘non-official’ taxis so the airport get away with charging an arm and a leg. My taxi back in a local perfectly reasonable-looking taxi cost a quarter of the price. Anyway, I went to the main plaza which is the third largest city square in the world. Unfortunately it had large marquees set up in it completely ruining any photo opportunity. The cathedral was particularly stunning, whetting my appetite for the historical sites to come on my trip!