Saturday, July 10, 2010

Some excitement on the road west...

On Thursday morning we left Bocas. It took us a while to get out because the breakfast place we went to on Isla Colon was unbelievably slow. Some other tourists at the cafe told us that there were strikes at the Costa Rican boarder we had past through a few days before and that the road back to Puerto Viejo was blocked. This was fine with us since we were heading south west to the Pacific Coast. When we arrived at the bus station at Almirante, the TV was showing pictures of the border town, Changuinola, where a riot seemed to have broken out. Men with machetes stood in the streets and there were trees blocking the roads. There was an air of excitement at the bus stop, as Changuinola is only about 20 km away from Almirante. A truck arrived and about 15 suspicious men with backpacks got off. After about an hour of waiting for the bus, we were getting nervous. What if the violence spread to Almirante? Finally a little van pulled up and we were instructed to put our stuff in the back. The people onboard assured us that we were going to David, however the guy loading in our bags was tacit. Our fears of being taken back to Changuinola were only put to rest once the van started moving in the correct direction.

You can read about the strike here--

The ensuing drive was exceedingly long but very beautiful. It took us through the mountanous middle of the country, high cloud forests and big vistas. Late in the day we arrived in Boquete, one of the major tourist destinations in Panama. Apparently at one time, Boquete was the #1 expat retirement spot in the world and this was reflected in the slightly higher prices, nicer buildings, and a place called Shalom Bakery. (Interestingly enough, Shalom Bakery did not have challah on friday night...) We ate at a mediterranean place the second night where a local retired woman had what seemed like a weekly gig. A large crowd of American retirees had packed the place and ate Israeli food while listening to terrible covers of songs from the 50s and 60s.

Today we left Boquete early in the morning and travelled for 9 hours... all the way to a little surfing town on the Pacific called Dominical. Later dinner, maybe a movie. We were going to camp, but thank god for a solid roof, it is pouring.

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