03.28.2011 40 °C
Just after posting the previous blog we went for a swim and we started talking to one of the hotel guests, an American guy, who told us he was going to the Feria in the evening and that we were welcome to share a taxi with him. Having nothing else to do we accepted the offer. The feria is a 2 weeks international fair that takes place in March every year. People there exhibit cattles, horses and tractors! In the evening things heat up a lot with numerous open air bars and clubs playing extremly loud music and masses of people go out to have a good time. This was a very genuine experience of Panamean culture as we haven't met any tourist for the whole night - something very rare in Panama which has been colonized by Canadians and Americans.
We had quite a few drinks and, on the following day I wasn't really up to travel to Costa Rica... We then decided to leave our main backpacks at the hotel in David, take a lighter day pack with us and travel for 4 days on the coast South of David and give Panama another chance to surprise us.
We headed towards the small island of Boca Chica about 1h30 from David. There is nothing on the island except jungle, two fairly expensive resorts and a backpacker's hostel with two rooms in the middle of the forest. We stayed with Julio, the german owner of the hostel who settled here about 15 years ago. In the afternoon we went to the beach of grey sand and I wasn't very impressed with it. We then left to walk for a couple of hours into the jungle. We unexpectedly saw a lot of howler monkeys and watched them for a long while. This was very special to observe wild animals in their habitat.
In the evening, since their was no cooking facilities where we stayed, we walked 20-25min to the Boca Brava resort to get our dinner. The view of the sunset was nice and probably explained why the food was a bit overpriced.
After dinner we had to hike back to our hostel, through the jungle, at night with our torchlight. That was again very interesting as we could hear a lot of animals and we also managed to see an armadillo as well as some kind of big rodent who ran off very quickly.
On the next day, we went on a boat trip around the Chiriqui nature reserve, a set of islands surrounded by coral reef. We saw some nice fishes while snorkelling and we also spent 3 hours on a white sand beach surrounded by palm trees. Really nice.
We were then looking forward to walking into the jungle to spot some howler monkeys and other wild animals. We indeed saw a family having some dinner up in the trees. The next morning was the best breakfast we ever had as we watched monkeys jumping from one tree to another. The babies were holding to their mums and seemed undisturbed by our presence.
We then left to the beach of Las Lajas, about 90 minutes away, and spent one night there. There are basically a few cabins by the beach and a long stretch of at least 20km of white sand and palm trees on the pacific ocean.
The weather was a bit overcast but it cleared up for some amazing sunset views, one of the best we have seen during that trip with the one in Huanchaco, Peru, last January.
We stayed in a small hostal owned by an italian couple who settled there before they installed electricity and before roads were even built. In the evening we talked to a Swiss-Italian guy who had spent 3 years here enjoying the tranquility of the place. We would have probably killed ourselves after a week! We have met some incredible characters on that trip e.g. a French man cycling from Vancouver to Brazil, a french familly driving around South and Central America for 2 years in a camper van with their 4 year old son, a German couple taking their car from Germany and driving from the East coast of Canada to Ushuaia, ... or this guy stuck on the beach in Las Lajas for 3 years! This made us realise that almost everything can be achieved travelling wise and this will surely inspire us for our next adventures. George, if you are reading this, we're thinking about your plan to drive from London to Cape town... We should do it one day.. and take some mechanics courses first!
After an early morning swim at the beach we left to go back to David were the temperature was close to 40 degrees in the middle of the day. We enjoyed the swimming pool one last time before going for sure to Costa Rica tomorrow.