A Travellerspoint blog

March 2019

Adventures in Beautiful Boquete


View 2019 on mrb430's travel map.

IS BOQUETE FOR YOU?

We leave Boquete today for Panama City. It's been a great visit in a great small town. Scott says I was too hard on Boquete in my last post so let me clarify. It is easy to see why so many expats call Boquete home. Pleasant temperatures year round, gorgeous plants, flowers, and birds. Green mountains all around you. It really is an oasis. In addition, the expat community is friendly and welcoming. There are fun bars and restaurants with live music, American sports on TV, and good selections of beer and spirits. So, while it's not big enough, diverse enough, or warm enough for us - not to mention no beach - if you're looking for a retirement haven, it would definitely be a place to check out.

CELEBRATING SCOTT'S BIRTHDAY

We had a great evening listening to the band and hanging on the couch at Boulder 54, so named for the giant boulder they built the bar around.
It happened to also be International Whiskey Day so Old Fashioneds were the order of the night.
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We hung out so long they eventually brought out a desert and the band played Happy Birthday. Fun!
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BIRD WATCHING IN BOQUETE

If you've been following my Instagram and/or Facebook posts, you will know that I have started up a new hobby of bird watching. All it takes it two feet and a pair of binoculars! I am using the Merlin BirdID and eBird Apps. They seem to have most birds I see or am looking for and have some nice features. If Scott and I had a six month consulting contract and a small team of developers, we could easily make some improvements but...they work.

Boquete is a birding hot spot so we splurged for a guided bird watching tour. I was really glad we did because we saw so many birds and the guide was so knowledgeable, not only about birds but about the area and plants, too. It was a beautiful hike up into the jungle. I've finally found a way to get Scott to go hiking!
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The highlight of the trip was viewing a Resplendant Quetzal. It'a an elusive bird that is the holy grail of birding here. We were lucky enough to see this one, which our guide took a picture of for us through his sighting scope, and again the next day on our hanging bridges tour.
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We also saw these amazing birds, thanks Merlin for the photos as well as 12 others.
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These two were definitely my favorites!
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We've also seen beautiful birds around town. Here are my favorites.
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THE HANGING BRIDGES OF BOQUETE - BOQUETE TREE TREK

We did an awesome tour that included hiking up 6300 feet into the cloud forest and crossing six hanging bridges.
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We crossed over rivers, passed waterfalls, marveled at trees that were hundreds of years old and were worlds unto themselves of plants and animals they supported, saw amazing flowers, and had breathtaking views of Volcan Barú. Definitely a must do trip if you ever visit Boquete.

The Bridges

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The Flowers and Plants

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The Trees!

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Volcan Barú

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Streams and Waterfalls

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Boquete is an outdoor-lover's paradise. Besides all of this there are hiking trails all over, you can even hike to the top of the volcano at over 12,000 feet! White-water rafting, zip-lining, ATVing and on and on. Highly recommend it as a destination unto itself or a stopover on a tour of Panama.

Keep up with us on Instagram @arrradventures!

Posted by mrb430 11:13 Archived in Panama Comments (0)

Bocas to Boquete - Two Sides of Panama


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FROM THE BEACH TO THE MOUNTAINS

We made our way from the Caribbean coast of Panama and Bocas Del Toro over to the small town of Boquete in the mountains above David, Panama. It's nestled in a valley that sits at 6,000 feet in the shadow of the massive Volcan Barú, which rises to 12,000 feet.
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Our shuttle bus ride was really fascinating. Coming up the Caribbean slope, there was rain and fog most of the way. The vegetation is lush green with plant leaves the size of dinner tables, bananas, palms, and riots of flowers. Didn't get great pics but this gives you an idea of how green it is.
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As we rose up the slope, the temperatures dropped and the winds came up. At the top you cross the continental divide and the vegetation changes to a high elevation cloud forest with stunted trees and copious ferns and moss. After crossing over to the Pacific side, the sun came out shining on blue skies.
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The Pacific slope is dry this time of year and has much more agriculture and cattle grazing. It looked a lot like this until we entered the valley that Boquete sits in.
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BOQUETE

A GARDEN PARADISE

Boquete is the opposite of Bocas in many ways. Where Bocas is hot and steamy, Boquete is cool and, at this time of year, dry. Where Bocas is all jungle, Boquete is a diverse ecosystem. In the valley, everything from drought-loving plants like cactus and eucalyptus coexist with tropical plants like palms and bananas. There are many, many species of plants, some introduced by the Europeans that came to settle here such as Pine, Juniper, and Teak and many flowers. They all mix in with the native plants to create a truly lush garden of a city.
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There are creeks and rivers flowing down from the mountains all over. The Rio Caldera is the largest and flows through the center of town.
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Smaller streams pop up everywhere and make the scenery so pretty.
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We even have one beside our house. Here's our lizard friend hanging out by it.
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EXPAT CENTRAL

Due to the cool climate that varies only by a few degrees all year and the relatively low cost of living, Boquete has become an Expat haven. Named one of the top five place to retire by Forbes in 2005, it has grown to where 25% of the population is expat retirees, mainly American. As a result, it feels a lot like "America in Panama". Unlike Bocas that is a destination for young and old from all over the world and as a result a vibrant melting pot with a stable local population, Boquete is dominated by the expats. Everyone speaks English. While there are locals and even a few of the indigenous Ngöbe (pronounced no-bay) people in town, few of them can afford to live here anymore. There are American style bars and restaurants and gated enclaves of huge homes with golf courses. As a result, we like it less than Bocas.

One interesting aspect of the early European influences on Boquete and the continued expat influence is in the housing styles. Sometimes referred to as the Switzerland of Panama, it gets this name because of the peaked roof houses that resemble those in the Alps.

COFFEE-LOVERS PARADISE

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Much like Medellín, Boquete was really "discovered" when coffee came to town with Europeans settling here and displacing the native populations. Today Boquete is home to many small coffee estates that raise wonderful coffee. One boutique type called Geisha sells for over $800 a pound! We went to visit one and learn about the coffee production process. Finca La Milagrosa is in the hills above Boquete and raises ten different varieties of coffee. We were able to see the trees as well as the production process from peeling away the hulls to washing, drying, and roasting. One fascinating aspect of this farm is that the owner built all of his machines from spare, recycled, and reclaimed parts.

The berries are very pretty. They were pretty well finished harvesting but there were still a few on the trees.
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This is the peeling machine, peeled beans "fermenting" in buckets to remove their "slimy layer", and then the hand washing of the peeled berries.
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Here are the drying racks. The dark beans are drying naturally and will have their husks peeled after drying. The light beans are pre-peeled and then dried.
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And a small roaster where our guide showed us the roasting process. Here you can see the front of the machine is a recycled jeep headlight and the funnel he uses to pour the beans in is a part of a muffler. The smells as it went from light to medium to dark roast changed from the smell of brownies, to that of popcorn, to burnt popcorn, to that amazing coffee aroma you get when you first open a bag of dark roast coffee.
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And this is the grinding machine. The grinder makes use of a jeep transfer case, chains, and other parts.
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CHOCOLATE TOUR AND THE NGÖBE

Backtracking a bit, while we were in Bocas we visited the Oreba cacao farm owned by the indigenous Ngöbe people and learned how they make chocolate by hand. Most of their beans they sell abroad but they retain some for their own use and to make chocolate they sell locally. It was interesting to learn the process but also to learn about how the Ngöbe live and their history.

The Ngöbe
The Ngöbe (also spelled Ngabe) are the third largest indigenous population in Panama. During colonization, the tribes along the coast escaped to the mountains and lived relatively untouched. Starting in about the 1800's, they returned to the coastal valleys and began raising cocoa among other things. Today, they have reservations, much like the American Indians, on which they live autonomously. Although they seem to have been able to retain their culture and their families more in tact than American Indians. Perhaps because the land they have is more suited to their ways of life. in any case, there are reservations all over Panama. Outside Boquete, the Ngöbe live in the mountains and rarely interact in town. They come down for coffee harvesting but little else. In the Bocas village we visited, they raise their own food and make their own clothes.
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The women are easily recognizable by their colorful dresses that they always wear, even in town in Boquete.
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The Tour
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Chocolate grows on small trees inside brightly colored pods. They flower right on the stems and trunks.
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The process involves breaking open the pods and removing the seeds, which are wrapped in a slimy white layer. Like the coffee, they must be fermented to remove this film, then they are dried in the sun, and roasted. At that point they are ready for export.
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To make the chocolate, they hand grind the beans and cook it with honey. It was really delicious.
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We're enjoying our time in Boquete and another post is on it's way soon! Don't forget to follow us @arrradventures on InstaGram for frequent updates and pics.

Posted by mrb430 11:32 Archived in Panama Comments (0)

Living is Cheap, Travel is Expensive

Planning for 2019

Today is Scott's birthday and marks almost one year since we left D.C. for good and hit the road. Our first year saw us in five countries, 53 different "homes", and one sailboat. We lost out pup, Cadeau, sold our final large possession, Ruby, and settled into the life of nomads.

SO WHAT'S NEXT?

We spent most of our time in Bocas talking and planning for what comes next. We moved from Bocas to Boquete, Panama for a week and then will head to Panama City for about a week, and then to Roatan Honduras for about three weeks. This we knew. After that, it was wide open and we only had an outline of ideas and places. Summer in Europe, yes! Spain and Portugal for sure. May and June, ok - check. Oh and the opportunity to go on a river cruise in June with my parents popped up so great! But wait, that costs how much?! Southeast Asia next winter, yes. But what was in between? And how do we spend six months in Europe when they will only let us stay in the vast majority of the countries for 90 days? Damn Schengen Visa!

SO IT WAS LIKE GREAT...WAIT NO...

So we tried on ideas. A month in Scotland and a month in England. Out of Schengen Zone, that's good. Wait, we really don't have England on the bucket list. But wouldn't a month in Cornwall be great? Wait, what's there to do in Cornwall? Do we really want to stay in a small fishing village for a month? Ummm...ok we'd need a car and travel around. But wait, a car for a month costs how much? And we have to drive on the wrong side of the road? And it's so small our backpacks might not even fit?? But, the hill country is beautiful, right? Ok, we need to book places. Ok, no problem...wait 98% of places are already booked? How can that be??

Ok, TWO months in Scotland. We'll do a Whiskey tour. Wait that would be July and August and, again, everyone agrees you really need a car to explore Scotland (not to mention a new wardrobe). And, again, a rental car for two month costs how much?! And we'd need to book housing all over and...wait for it...98% of places are already booked! I know, you'll say stay in Edinburgh. Have you ever tried to rent affordable housing in Edinburgh in July and August? I found a dormitory we could stay in for almost a hundred dollars a night!

Ok, we'll house sit. So we signed up for house-sitting services. But wait...they're in the middle of nowhere and we would, you guessed it, need a car. What about a camper van - yeah, we'll camp! Wait, a camper van costs more than housing??? Ugh! Living on a budget can definitely cramp the travel thing. We were driving ourselves crazy!
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The options seemed limitless, until they didn't. Add to this we remember how tiring it was to move 35 times in North America. To always be looking for the next "home". No - that's not what we wanted to do again!

TAKING A STEP BACK

SO HOW DID WE EVER THINK WE COULD TRAVEL THE WORLD? Oh yeah, living not traveling! Didn't we say we wanted to live places and experience them? Didn't we love doing that in Mexico? Didn't we stick to our budget there? Three weeks in an apartment in Bocas and we felt like locals and stayed in budget. Right, we can do this. Criteria:
1. Enough lodging options to make a low cost option available = fair sized city
2. Many sights within day trip access by public transport = fair sized city surrounded by cool stuff with good transportation
4. Enough activity in the town itself to make hanging out over coffee and the paper a nice thing to do = small to mid-sized city
5. Representative of its surrounding area
6. Historical over modern

Ok, so we're looking for fair sized cities in cool places surrounded by interesting things that are easy to get to. That narrows it down!

So, Spain...sounds like Malaga! Portugal...sounds like Lisbon. France...sounds like Montpellier. 90 days in Schengen, done!

But what European countries are not in Schengen besides the UK? Croatia? Cool! That's beaches and islands right? Cyprus? No kidding?! A crossroads island steeped in history; Alex, I'll take Cyprus for $1000. And housing costs less than half the UK? And we don't need a car? And, well, how much more exciting is it to say we're going to Croatia and Cyprus over England and Scotland! These are called Arrradventures, not Arrr-ho-hum-de-hums.

AND TAKING A STEP FORWARD

So the rest of 2019, with some exceptions of course because rules are meant to be broken, will see us living in only eight different places, staying for a month or more, and living like locals. We're booking housing and finding great places at great prices, thanks to the month-stay discounts. We're spending our time looking at day trips instead of agonizing over how to piece together a million stops. Most importantly, we're no longer going crazy and spending hours and hours churning over what to do next.

Let's mark this moment and this post and see how we do! Right now, we're off to celebrate Scott's birthday, which happens to fall on International Whiskey Day!

More fun and photos to come real soon. In the meantime, keep up with us @arrradventures on Instagram.

Posted by mrb430 13:40 Archived in Panama Comments (1)

Watching the World Go By in Bocas


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CARRIBEAN RHYTHYMS

Sitting here on our deck over the water in Bocas Del Toro on Sunday morning, realizing we are a week into our three week stay, it feels like we could stay here forever. More than any other Caribbean Island we've been to, life is slow here and it suits us. It also helps that we've been here before. The drive to "see and do" is lessened and we can just relax.
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The Water

Bocas Del Toro is an archipelago of islands in the Caribbean off of Panama's northern border. It's made up of three main islands with other small ones close by. Only one island, Isla Colon, has cars. Almost all commerce and transportation is accomplished by boat. From our porch we watch the daily rhythms of the island unfold in the comings and goings of the ferry from the mainland, twice a day, the dive boat from next door, excursions morning and afternoon, the passenger speed boat from the mainland, every half hour, and the many tour boats that take tourists out each morning and come back each evening.
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From small, hand-crafted wooden canoes and sailboats to larger wooden "cargo-canoes" to the large ferry and everything in between, the waters are in constant motion with boats coming and going carrying all manner of people and supplies. The variety is amazing and we sit for hours just watching the show.

There is also the constant entertainment of the fish. There are a number of fish that jump across the top of the water, I suppose escaping prey, and they jump and splash and amuse us. They're really pretty needle nose fish with colorful blue tails. Hard to get a photo of though!
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We've also seen dolphins. And there are starfish in the water off our dock and we check on them to see where they've moved to each morning.
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The Islands

The three main islands are Isla Colon, on which Bocas Town is the main town and the only one with buses, taxis, and cars. Though bicycles are definitely the preferred mode of transportation. Isla Carenero, a very small island directly across from Isla Colon with bars, restaurants, and a few hostels and hotels as well as some private residences. Isla Bastimentos, a large island with the Afro-caribe town of Old Bank, and private residences, eco-houses and hotels. And finally, Isla Solarte, mainly private residences, eco-houses and hotels, also. All are only reached by water taxi.
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On Isla Colon, there are four water taxi companies operating from their own docks. On the other islands, you either call one or just wave them down and they come and pick you up. It's such an integral part of people's daily lives. Kids take the "school boat" to school, people take the boats to shop in Bocas Town. And it serves to slow the pace of life down. You just wait and the boat comes but not on your schedule, on theirs.

The Beaches

Bocas Town does not have any beaches in the town that are of the white sand and blue water variety. There is a beach just out of town in the first big bay but it's pretty silty. Makes for amazing patterns in the sand though.
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There are a few up the coast but primarily for surfing. The exception is Starfish Beach at the north end that is lovely. We were there last time and haven't yet been again.

Isla Carenero has a few small but very pretty beaches. It's only about two miles around the island and we really enjoy walking it's varied coastline.
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Yes, I bought a new noodle!

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Bocas Town

But the heart of Bocas Del Toro is Bocas Town.
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There are three main streets that hug the water (Calle 1, 2 and 3) on which there are shops, stores, hotels, hostels, restaurants, and bars. It's a colorful Caribbean mix of color and texture and it never stops being pretty and interesting.
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It's a bustling place where people are coming and going all day. Backpackers and tourists arrive on the twice daily planes from Panama City and walk into town to find their lodging. Lines form at the tour companies in the morning and in the evening the bars fill with people chilling out after their activities. There's a brewery, new to us this time, a great pizza place, and all kinds of food from local to upscale.

Scott and I walk through everyday to go to the grocery store, grab a bite to eat or a drink. Since most people only spend a few days here, we enjoy watching them hustling around as we just sit and while away the hours.

The Weather

It rains in Bocas - a lot. Make no mistake, if you come, plan for rain. Knowing this when we decided to come back, we have embraced it. It forces you to slow down, sit back, watch the rain, and wait for your time to get out. Our metal roof amplifies the pitter patter of short drizzles and the intensity of heavy rain. We find it incredibly relaxing and soothing. Sitting on the deck watching the rain hit the water - it's almost never wind driven but just falls straight down from the sky - and listening to it fall from our downspout passes the hours. Bocas reminds me a little of Scotland - the weather is always changing. The skies go from sunny to grey and rainy in a fifteen minute span.
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Of course when we got here they were in a bit of a drought and water was being trucked in from the mainland but due to our awesome powers of rain-making (see our post about being rainmakers https://arrrblog.travellerspoint.com/68/ and also in La Paz https://arrrblog.travellerspoint.com/72/) everything is back to normal.

The Vibe

There's just something about this place. We haven't been so relaxed in a long time. Yes, I know, we're always relaxing and chilling out but this is special! I don't know if it's the clouds and rain that come and go and slow us down, or being right on the water and feeling the Caribbean breezes as we lay in our hammock, or the fact that no one is in a hurry here. No one is pushing you to buy something forcing you to hurry along (so refreshing after Cartagena). The girls that stand out in front of restaurants at night to entice you in simply ask "looking for dinner?" Whatever it is, I know we will likely return to Bocas many times. Living here would be hard for the lack of long-term services but a month here and there may be just what we need.

Posted by mrb430 07:12 Archived in Panama Comments (0)

Sailing Cartagena to the San Blas Islands, Panama

Patience and Perseverance are Their Own Reward...


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...not to mention white sand beaches, palm trees, and turquoise waters.

We had read many stories about doing the sail from Cartagena, Colombia to the San Blas Islands, Panama and so felt pretty prepared for the trip and for things to not necessarily go as planned. Everything we read said you have to be flexible and prepared for delays. As a result, I purposely added three nights in Panama City after the sail before our flight to Bocas Del Toro. So glad I did but that was not the half of it!

Let me tell you the story. It's long and winding but represents just another day (or days in this case) of what it means to be a patient and persevering traveler.

LEAVING CARTAGENA

Will We EVER Leave Cartagena?!

We were supposed to sail the evening of March 1st. However, we got an email that day saying there would be a one night delay as the crew had gotten in late from their last sail and needed time to prepare the boat. Also, a large party had cancelled and they were scrambling to fill the spaces. Knowing this could happen, we weren't terribly worried, canceled one night of our Panama City hotel and booked a nice hotel in Cartagena figuring we'd splurge a little. We then did our best to enjoy another day and night in the city. The truth is by that time we were ready to leave and were tired of the constant attention of people selling all manner of things ALL THE TIME and everywhere. It gets really tiresome and is one of the big drawbacks of Cartagena. Nevertheless we found a funky bar complete with all manner of Soviet-era memorabilia at the corner of a busy square and passed the evening people-watching, fending off "sales people", and playing with our camera exposures.
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Two Screws or Too Screwed?

The next day, we did not need to be to the boat until 8pm so we spent the majority of the day, after checking out, sitting in the lobby of our hotel reading, napping, and generally avoiding the heat and hawkers. We arrived to the marina about 7pm and proceeded to wait for someone to find us and talk to us about boarding. Eventually, a crew member came over and told us that soon we would all meet up and "talk about the engine". We thought that was a weird way to describe our orientation to the boat but let it slide. Come to find out, we actually did have to talk about the engine. You see, it was not in the boat as it was supposed to be but on the deck in pieces! Needless to say, we were not going anywhere. But they promised they "just needed two screws" and would get those tomorrow and we would be underway. Scott was properly incredulous that even if they got the screws they could get it put back together and running in one day but...We were all going to sleep on the boat so no need for another hotel room. There were six of us, Scott and I, another couple, and two single guys. The other couple and us had booked private en suite berths. Slight problem with that in that the engine compartment was beneath these and totally torn up. So we got small berths in the front of the boat. It was not a comfortable night. Of course, looking back from what I now know would come later, it wasn't that bad!

Do Not Plan Anything Important on Sunday in Cartagena

In any case, the next morning we were informed there was just a slight problem. It was Sunday. Come to find out, nothing happens or is open on Sunday in Cartagena. This includes hardware stores and immigration! Sometime in the morning, as we prepared to spend the day at the dock restaurant, which was also closed, waiting for answers, I decided to start looking at alternatives. We had now eaten a second night of our reserve in Panama City and if we didn't sail that night we would be at risk for our flight. Luckily, there was another boat leaving that night that had room for five. Two double berths for us couples and one single. That left our one friend out but he hasn't going anywhere anyway due to immigration issues that would not be resolved until the following day - because everything is closed on Sunday, remember.

A word on Immigration on these trips.
The sail goes both ways, Cartagena to Panama and Panama to Cartagena. Those arriving at Cartagena are brought to the dock restaurant and not allowed to leave until they are processed through immigration. This process involves the captain handing over all passports and the manifest to an immigration agent on the deck of the (closed) restaurant. This person then leaves to process the documents. Eventually, they return. For the unfortunate souls waiting, it was about a two-three hour delay! Do NOT arrive in Cartagena on Sunday!

Because immigration is technically not open on Sundays, nothing can happen except this process. So our passports had been stamped the day before and the manifest logged. This is good for 24 hours. Alas, we were not only changing boats (aka manifest changes) but also leaving after the 24 hour window expired. It was a nervous few hours as the captain negotiated with the immigration officials to make the changes. I'm pretty sure it also involved greasing a few palms but in the end we were cleared to sail. Except our poor friend who had a different screw up with his passport and would not be allowed to leave until it was resolved...on Monday.

When we finally arrived in Panama, our captain took our passports to the immigration office in the San Blas, had them stamped, and returned them.

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San Blas Immigration Office

We never had to appear in person, were asked no questions, and never had to do customs of any kind. The vagaries of the immigration process is one of the wonders of the world in my opinion. Anyway, we were all set to leave that night at 8pm.

Again, Will We EVER Leave Cartagena?

We spent the day drinking on the deck of our broken sailboat, toasting our good fortune at having another option, at not having to sail on a boat with a newly repaired engine, and mostly at the prospect we were actually going to leave. We had a wonderful sushi dinner back in the old town before returning to the marina, loading our stuff onto the Zoe catamaran, and FINALLY leaving Cartagena harbor.

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But don't go anywhere, the fun is just beginning!

THE SAIL

Now that we were finally underway, we knew that we had 30-36 hours of sailing on open seas until we reached the San Blas Islands where we would spend three nights lazing around before a night sail to Puerto Lindo on the Caribbean coast of Panama for our bus ride across the country to Panama City. What we didn't know was what that would be like.

Sailing on the Open Sea

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Originally, we were booked on a wood sailboat. The Zoe is a - wait for it - aluminum catamaran. Yep, were were embarking on this cruise aboard two giant beer cans held together but some more aluminum infrastructure. People will tell you that a catamaran is "more stable". What this really means it that it rocks side to side instead of front to back and you don't lean over in the winds (heeling). Pick your poison but for me the side to side rocking was nauseating and I've never been seasick on a sailboat. In addition, metal is not exactly quiet when the waves hit it and we had double the hull space for waves to hit. Top that off with the entire boat vibrating with each hit and needless to say it was a LONG 36 hours with two pretty much sleepless nights.

The Reward of the San Blas Islands Made It All Worth It!

So this is why you do it.
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The San Blas are an archipelago of approximately 365 islands and cays, of which 49 are inhabited. And you use the word "inhabited" loosely. They are dotted in groups across the waters and are virtually all surrounded by white sand and tourquoise waters and filled with palm trees. They are "owned" by the indigenous Kuna people who fought for their independence from Panama in the 1920's. They live simple lives with the men fishing, crabbing, and catching lobster, and the women making handicrafts to sell. They bring their wares out to the boats to entice you to buy them.
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On some islands there are small bars to sell beer and drinks.
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And around every corner there are amazing views.
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A Day is as Good as the People You Spend it With

We traveled with fourteen other people ranging in age from our age or a bit older to a young couple of nineteen. All but one other American were from Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium. Amazingly, or maybe not so given the European education system, they all spoke fluent English. Thanks goodness because our knowledge of those language is limited to a few choice words like Gesundheit. They also made the trip interesting and super fun. Sharing travel stories and good times, not to mention about ten bottles of rum, made the lazy days lounging in the water, on the beach, and on the boat some of the best days we've had.
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And Last but Not Least, Snorkeling

The San Blas do not allow scuba diving but the snorkeling is really amazing. The coral reef is incredible with more kinds of coral than I have ever seen and really pretty fish. I'm really enjoying my birding activities but learning to identify coral and fish may be next on the list! Here are some of our favorites. (Note: GoPro skills still a bit rough)
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Or if you prefer video.

After another long and sleepless night, we made it into port at Puerto Lindo about 5am and were able to watch the sunrise over the jungle and the marina.
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So all in all, it's an experience we wouldn't have missed but may not ever do again. Zoe was a great boat with lots of space for us all to relax and have fun. And even with all the noise, we're still glad we didn't sail on our original boat.
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And a last word on the perils. We heard that a boat traveling the Panama to Colombia route, that we had seen the day before at one of the islands, had lost power and was taking on water. The Coast Guard eventually rescued them during the night and everyone was safe but I cannot image how harrowing those hours must have been. The boat was saved but just barely. And so I can't close without saying a huge thank you to our captain Sebastien and our crew Fernando for a safe and successful cruise. Not only did they cook three excellent meals a day for fourteen people including fresh fish, lobster, and octopus, they helped us stay supplied in ice, beer and rum. Sebastien keeps a very clean boat, which was very welcome with fourteen people using two toilets! He has been doing this route for seven years, owns his boat, and is very conscientious about its upkeep. This is not true of many boats that are sailed by captains-for-hire. Definitely search out the Zoe if you are going to do this trip.
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RECOVERY

We arrived to our hostel in Panama City with Scott on the tail end of Traveller's Diarrhea (this is NOT a fun thing to deal with on a boat, by the way) and me with a runny and congested nose, the start of a cold, I guess. We showered, got something to eat that wasn't fish and rice, and got into bed at 4:30 pm. We did not get out of bed until about 8:30 the next morning! We spent a leisurely morning on the deck looking out at the beauty of Panama City before heading to the airport for our flight to Bocas Del Toro Panama.
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Stay tuned and remember to follow us @arrradventures on InstaGram for more frequent updates.

Posted by mrb430 08:10 Archived in Panama Comments (0)

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