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buses in Panama

Buses in Panama are lots of fun. All the luggage goes on the roof, so 3 men work the buses, one to drive, one to go on the roof and tie up the bags and one to stand at the door shouting the destination to everyone. They blast out the music all the way, so it depends who you get to what type of music you get. The first journey was 4 hours so we got the reggaeton all the way. Seems it is big in Panama too. Then when people get on the bus they greet everyone with a buenas dias. It is so brilliant. It was a big fiesta in Panama. A three day bank holiday for the independence from Colombia and the Day of the Dead. So exciting to be in Latin America for Day of the Dead. I wish we had it in England. I think it is a wonderful concept. I followed a marching band around on the night, lots of people held candles. All the way round I thought of my dad and grandad. Then I had a rum and coke and thought of them some more. That{s what it{s all about.

Back in Costa Rica. Im waiting to get a boat to go to a bay where there is no electricity, a huge poplualtion of scarlet macaws and lots of tropical rain forest. Sounds exciting.

Posted by kael 08:59 Comments (0)



I decided to come to Panama. Not somewhere I´ve thought too much about, I´m a little bit ashamed to say. I was so close though it seemed a shame not to have a look. So I´ve come to these islands, called Bocas del Toro. I came by speedboat! It was exciting crossing the border. Not too much officialdom, we all had to wait in the sweltering heat while the lady had her lunch break. She is famous for her lunch break apparently. The Costa Rican side have a lunch break too, and there is a time difference of one hour, so for 2 hours the border closes for lunch. Much more relaxed way of going about things than all that nonsense at Heathrow and LA when I left. A man with one leg accompanied me and some spanish girls across the bridge, making sure we got our taxi to the docks and to the boat. Didn´t really need his help but he was really friendly and welcoming. Lots of children stared at us when we came across the bridge. I met a canny english couple too and had a drink with them while we waited for the lunch break to end. They live on a boat in Panama.

The journey took about 5 hours. Nearly all the way here, there were only banana plantations, owned by Chiquita. It seems Chiquita own practically all of the southern tip of Costa Rica and the north of Panama. I feel so far from home here, it really makes me realise exactly how far that banana travels to get to South Gosforth Fruiters. Life looks hard for the people who live in those endless strips of banana plants.

Panama is bright. Lots of lovely, bright sunlight. The roads are really wide and made of tarmac. Didn´t realise, but what a nice break from tarmac I´ve had. Most of the roads in Costa Rica, except in San Jose, are just dirt or gravel . So these big, wide roads look strangely alien.

So I´m coming to Panama with a completely open mind. Don´t really know anything about it, or the people. So let´s see what it holds...........

Posted by kael 14:36 Comments (0)

I saw a sloth crossing the road yesterday!!

That was a wonderful experience. It looked hard for it to walk, really painful on these long claws. At times i thought it was just going to give up and have a lie down instead. I didn´t have my camera.

So the Caribbean is full of lots of nice little encounters like that. People give you words of encouragement in the streets. A wise man told me to keep my head up and not look at the ground. He said for real, keep my head up high.

Today a lady braided the front bits of my hair. She put this nice gel on it too. My hair was so dry and horrible it felt nice and fresh just like she said it would.

I´ve toured the whole Caribbean coast now. Went to an amazing place that was only accessible by boat. The boat ride was magical just as i imagine the amazon to be. Caimans basking at the sides of the river and lots of birds. I had a brilliant guided walk on the beach at night too to watch a turtle laying her eggs. But while I watched i felt like i was intruding on a private momnet. I felt a bit guilty about it. But loved the beach walk. The turtle was huge.

Then I stayed at a seaside lodge in another town, I could hear the waves crashing against the rocks when i went to sleep. It was owned by all these young boys who sat around in rocking chairs, and hammocks listening to reggae. I love the pace here. That´s my kind of pace. The people have been friendly too. The Caribbean is like a different world to other parts of Costa Rica. San Jose feels a million miles away, not just a 5 hour bus ride.

I went swimming in the sea too. the beaches here have flowers on them, and lots of little crabs running around.

things are going well..................

Posted by kael 15:39 Comments (0)

Running away from butterflies

The butterfly garden was making me sad and giving me an upset stomach, so I left. It rained constantly and was always covered completely in cloud. I found the dark, damp nights alone a little claustrophobic. I didn´t like looking at the insects in the little glass boxes either. I wanted to let them all go, but I was supposed to catch more from the garden. So I decided that that wasn´t what I wanted to do for a month. There feels like so much I want to see here that there isn´t a month spare to do something I´m not happy with. After all, I may never get back to Central America in my life so have to make the most of it.
So I got up really early friday morning and got the 6am bus to La Fortuna, a touristy town with a massive active volcano overlooking it. It was very beautiful, but everyone kept speaking english to me and there were lots of North Americans everywhere. I stayed in a little cabin attached to a Costa Rican family´s house. The lady was really friendly and cooked me vegan breakfasts and called me isabelle (she liked my middle name, elizabeth more than karen).
So now I´ve had a rethink, and I have the travelling bug. I´m now in a jungle border town called Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui, where I stayed last night. I´m waiting to get a bus into the proper Caribbean. So my new plan is to travel on the local buses right down the Caribbean coast. It´s lovely and warm and dry (well, less dry) on this side. Something I craved a little after the wetness of Monteverde. So I´m just going to take it as it comes.....I like the idea of being able to go and do whatever I feel like doing. The butterfly garden experience made me really appreciate the freedom I have on this trip. There´s plenty of time later for restrictions and routines. But for the moment, I have 8 weeks left to learn how to speak some Spanish in the past tense and see some life in this beautiful country.

Posted by kael 10:14 Comments (0)

My brain is going to explode

I'm at the butterfly garden now. My head is hurting.....this morning I felt completely overwhelmed, and packed my bag and was ready to leave. Luckily the lovely girl in charge of the garden persuaded me to stay. There is so much to learn! All the insect names and their life cycles and relating it to Costa Rica and the whole animal kingdom and then on top of that trying to speak Spanish to the local people who work here. So this morning I woke up with no confidence and thought I could never give the tours and never be heard with my stupid quiet voice that cracks all the time. and my ear problem came back with avengence, making it even more hard to speak.

deep breath though......

this is really good experience for me. I could conquer my fear of public speaking if I can pull this off.

and i'm staying at the garden alone at night for the first week. which is quite an experience. massive spiders crawling up the walls right beside my head and crazy insect noises all around me. but this is why i came here.

so i'm trying not to run away and once again face my fears (not the spiders the speaking!).

the day got better though and i listened to lots of tours and tried to take in the information and chatted to the tica girls who work there, and then we all went out for a drink tonight.

so tomorrow i will give my first tour of the garden. unless i run away in the night......which i won't be doing...

Posted by kael 19:04 Comments (2)

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