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Tranquility and Diving in Bocas del Toro   1 | 2 | 3 | 4 

1 Dec 2001

We woke up around 5:20 am to get ready for our 7am flight to Bocas del Toro. We hadn't really made any big plans for Panama — we figured we'd visit the Panama Canal, and probably just rest for a couple of days. But a little more research at the last minute turned up two great opportunities: visiting the Caribbean-descended natives of the San Blas Islands to the northeast, or Bocas del Toro, a relaxing archipelago with great diving in the northwest. Since San Blas appeared like it would need more preparation that we had time for, we "grudgingly" decided to go soak up some sun, in an effort to put our more disappointing beach experiences behind us.

Unfortunately, I woke up a few times during the night, so for the third straight night in a row, I didn't get nearly enough sleep. This would end up setting the tone for the rest of the day, as I was clearly pushing my body to its limits. We skipped the shower, and by 6am, I regretfully had to wake our host, Michael, so he could drive us to Panama City's national airport.

For the first time on our trip, we had a line at the airport counter. And what a line it was: only about 8 people, but it took forever to move. We could see traces of Panama's love for paperwork ahead of us: one woman already had her baggage checked, and her boarding passes in hand, yet it still took a good five or six minutes for her to progress past the ticket counter.

The flight itself, on a plane only slightly larger than the puddle jumpers we had in the last few countries, was really bumpy in some areas. I don't know how Erin slept through it, but she did. It was enough to turn my stomach, though, for at least the next few hours.

Click to enlarge
Erin on Main Street

When we got to Bocas Island, we consulted a large map outside the "terminal" (again, just one small glass-enclosed building), then set out for our hotel...on foot. It was about six blocks away, and no taxis were around to take us down the packed dirt road, so there wasn't much other choice. I honestly have to say, I don't think there's every been a time in my life before now where I actually walked from an airport.

The walk was very quick, but the room wasn't ready, so we left our bag and had breakfast across the street. Then we hit the room and showered, and I started to realize just how exhausted I was. I had no energy, and could barely move. Nevertheless, I wasn't going to let one of our only two days here go to waste, so I got up and walked through town with Erin to find a dive shop, and maybe some snorkeling for later today.

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Last updated: 08 Jan 2002 10:53:05