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Grrr... go away!


Lietuviskas aprasymas zemiau

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Day 71: Go Away!

April 19, 2006

Turning into a beach bum-hammock-potato would not take long at Rocking J's (or elsewhere along the lovely Caribbean side of Costa Rica), but Panama, the last Central American country on our itinerary is waiting, and we couldn't be more exited to finally go there!

We choose to cross the border through the Sixaola-Guabito point, which is known to see significantly less traffic than its counterpart on the Panamericana. To our endless happiness, we enter Panama comparably quickly (at the Guabito post there are no 100-passenger tourist buses clogging up the entire immigration system for hours), cheaply (the only expense is $1 for the mandatory car insecticide spray) and rather uneventfully, except for the little incident related - again!! - to the border guides.

It all happened while trying to pass the one-way bridge to Panama (see the Costa Rica-Panama Border Formalities & Practicalities for more info about the bizarre bridge connecting the two countries). Immediately after the bridge we suddenly get approached by a fellow, who looks exactly like a typical border guide: worn-out blue jeans, a baseball cap, and an ID card attached to the front pocket of the shirt. The border guide-looking person says nothing but points to our car, then to his own eyes, and then to our car again - whatever that means…. Got it!! - He wants to guard our car while we are going through the customs formalities! No, thank you - nobody is going to attempt stealing or robbing a car in the customs territory anyway.
There is a long line of trucks waiting to pass the bridge after us, therefore we are in a hurry to get out of their way and totally impolitely ignore the guide, who turns out to be an extremely persistent kind! He keeps running after our car, blowing a whistle, waving his hands and repeatedly doing the "I'll watch your car" sign. At last the annoying guide stops chasing us, and we are finally free to park the car where we want and walk back to the customs office independently!

There are three officers waiting for us inside the customs headquarters, one of whom looks very familiar. No wonder! It is the same guy who was chasing us 5 minutes ago! Just as soon as we finish saying the greetings, here comes a very straightforward question: could we possibly explain for what reason we have just disrespectfully ignored the dear customs officer, who was trying to stop us at the checkpoint in order to inspect the car and give us permission to enter the country??? Ooooooops… :))) There is nothing but the truth we can tell them in reply: we thought that the inspector, whom we undoubtedly highly respect, was just another border guide or a car guard because he looked exactly like one of those guys….

To our greatest surprise, the tension suddenly vanishes, as everyone in the office burst into laughter. Except for the poor inspector, who has just gotten a new nickname that seems to be very much enjoyed by all of his cracking up colleagues. If a look could kill, we would have dropped dead at that very moment :))

The non-stop giggling goes on for another ten minutes until the offended inspector finally cannot hold it any longer and starts first moderately smiling, and then heartily laughing along with everyone. Another ten minutes later, our car gets inspected by the same "border guide", and we are now officially allowed to drive into Panama.

The very first difference we notice is that in Panama, unlike in Costa Rica, most of the roads are drivable!! What a nice little something for a change! If not the funky one-way bridges holding the traffic flow for up to an hour, the driving conditions in Panama most of the times could simply be called GOOD (and that's a big compliment when talking about the roads in Central America).

As for the stuff to see and do in Panama, the only thing currently on our mind is diving at the Archipelago de Bocas del Toro. The group of islands is only 36 km away from Costa Rica (a couple of hour drive from Guabito plus a 30-minute boat ride), and is famous for excellent diving, snorkeling, surfing, plentiful wildlife, colorful nightlife and the year-round warm waters of the Caribbean Sea.
The major gateway to the islands is Almirante, an extremely ugly port town. For those traveling by car, a visit to Almirante is, unfortunately, unavoidable: from there you can either go to Bocas del Toro by car/passenger ferry together with your car, or leave your vehicle in the guarded parking lot (USD 3 per day) and go to Bocas by water taxi. For us, the second option was the only one, as the ferry was not leaving until the next day, while spending a night in Almirante was completely out of the question: the place was so unattractive and the only hostel looked so bad that we knew we had to leave that place immediately even if the only way to get out meant swimming :) So, the Nissan stayed in the guarded parking lot for several days, while we took a water taxi to Bocas del Toro for some underwater fun!

Tip #1: There is only one main town on Bocas del Toro. The town, which is also called Bocas del Toro, is located on Isla Colon, and it is where most of the hotels, restaurants, dive shops and tour agencies are located. Both car/passenger ferry and water taxis take their passengers to Isla Colon. Tour agencies of Bocas will be more than happy to arrange a trip to other islands for you, but the majority of them are day trips and you will most likely be staying on Isla Colon.

Tip #2: In the town of Bocas itself, everything is in the walking distance, while Isla Colon, which is the biggest of the islands, is only about 15km/ 9.5mi long and 7km/4.5mi wide, so bringing your vehicle to the islands is absolutely unnecessary. Besides, the car/passenger ferry is much more expensive than the water taxi. Could not get the exact price of the ferry ticket, but heard it cost USD15-50 depending on the size of the vehicle. Water taxis cost USD3 per person and have frequent departures throughout the day. The duration of the ride on a water taxi is about 30 minutes. There is a gated and guarded parking lot in Almirante, next to the water taxi stop, USD 3 per day.

Tip #3: In case you insist on taking your car to Bocas. According to the people we talk to at the port, the car ferry leaves daily at 9AM, while LP says only MWFSS - better check for the latest schedule. We did not notice any official timetable anywhere at the port, so just ask the locals. The duration of the ride on the ferry is 2 hours.

Click on the pictures to enlarge

The last country of Central America

Almost in Panama

Paskutine Centrines Amerikos salis


The survivor bridge: one truck at a time, and still awkwardly shaking. If you get lucky, you get to go to Panama!

The one-way bridge to Panama

Neskubedami, po viena, kad tiltas nesugriutu... laimingieji papuls i Panama!

The views from Almirante are much better than the views of it

Almirante views

Kitoj pusej Almirantes kur kas graziau, negu purviname uostamiestyje


On the way to Bocas

Almirante views

Vaizdelis pakeliui i Bocas

The main street of Bocas del Toro from our hotel room(had a room with a view! :))

Bocas del Toro streets

Pagrindine Bocas del Toro gatve pro viesbucio langa

The reggae burger place

Reggae burgers?

Karibietiski burgeriai - viena suvalges, soki regi ligi ryto!

The ideal "Zi & Dovi combo": beautiful sunset views with free Internet!! :)) (more info about the free Internet place in the following report)

Bocas del Toro harbor

Idealus "Zi & Dovi" vakaras - nuostabus saulelydis + "nemokamas" internetas :)) (saulelydzio vaizdelis nuo musu "interneto kavines" staliuko)

Nuvesk pelyte virs paveiksliuko, spustelk jos kaire ausele, ir paveiksliukas padides

71-oji diena: Eik salin!

2006 m. balandzio 19

Pietrytineje Costa Ricos dalyje butu galima maloniai praleisti nenuobodzias poros savaiciu atostogas: pliuskentis kiaura para/istisus metus siltoje juroje, skrudinti sonus sauluteje arba sedeti palmiu pavesy, anksti ryte vaikscioti po Cahuitos nacionalini parka ir spoksoti I zaismingai pusryciaujancias bezdziones ir tinginius (gyvunus! - ankstyva ryta zmogiskojo pavidalo tinginiai yra reciau pasitaikanti rusis); nuvykti I Tortugero nacionalini parka ir praplaukti Rio Tortugero upe Castoro irkluojamoj valtelej (ir taip per tris valandas suzinoti apie laukine gamta tokiu idomybiu, kokiu jokia knyga nera aprasiusi); arba nardyti dar siek tiek toliau I pietus nuo Puerto Viejo de Talamanca esanciame Manzanillo; o vakarais mokytis nauju sokiu zingsneliu tiku salsotekose, bendrauti su keliauninkais is ivairiausiu pasaulio saliu arba issiaiskinti, kad gi is tikruju naktimis vyksta Cahuitoje! :) Turistu siame Karibu juros ruoze palyginti nedaug, daugumos paslaugu ir prekiu kainos - vis dar kostarikietiskos, o balto smelio papludimiu - daugiau, nei isdristum panoreti.
Tokia butu rekomendacija saules, vandens ir gamtos myletojams, galvojantiems, kur originaliau praleisti atostogas, kad perpildytame pliaze nereiktu kovoti su kaimynais poilsiautojais del paskutinio kvardratinio metro smelio ar vieninteles palmes seselio. O mums, deja, jau laikas atsisveikinti su zavingaja tiku salimi. Iki Guabito miestelio Panamos pasienyje teliko gera valanda kelio.

Costa Ricos-Panamos siena kirtom greitai, lengvai ir pigiai (vienintelis mokestis buvo $1 uz privaloma masinos nupurskima). Tiesa, viena savotiska nuotyki vis tik vertetu papasakoti. Vos spejam ivaziuoti I Panamos teritorija, prie musu begte atbega susitraukusi zmogysta. Variantu del jo apsireiskimo tikslo turime netgi du - arba bus pasienio gidas, arba nores "pasaugoti" masina. Gido paslaugu mums tikrai nereikia, o prie masinos muitines teritorijoje irgi vargu, ar kas nors isdristu listi. Todel inirtingai mojame zmogystai, kad eitu salin. Vyriskis atkakliai stovi salia masinos ir dar atkakliau rodo - pirma I Nissana, po to - sau I akis. (Taip ir galvojom, kad nores pasaugoti!!)
Galiausiai pasiseka atsikratyti ikyriojo potencialaus sargo (po sitiek pravaziuotu pasieniu su visokiais gidais ir sargais jau tvarkomes be didesnio vargo!), ir, ramiai pasistate masina netoliese esancioje aiksteleje, einame I muitines posta. O ten musu laukia du pasienieciai bei…. ikyrioji zmogysta, kuris, pasirodo, yra muitines inspektorius, turejes apziureti musu masina! :) Is karto sulaukiame klausimo, kodel atsisakeme paklusti inspektoriui. Isdestome priezastis, tuo prajuokindami visa muitine. Senjoras inspektorius, aisku, negaletu buti labiau nepatenkintas - jeigu zvilgnis zudytu, ta minute butumem krite negyvi ("pasienio gido" pravarde jam buvo priklijuota ta pacia minute!). Vis tik, viskas baigesi gerai - inspektorius, dar siek tiek papykes, atleido; maloniai paprasytas, teikesi dar karta nueiti iki masinos ir ja patikrinti; o juoko banga muitineje dar netilo net ir mums isvaziuojant. Laimei, dabar jau juokesi ir pats "sargas-gidas".

Aiskiausias zenklas, kad isvaziavome is Costa Ricos - akivaizdziai geresni keliai. Taip pat - labai keisti vienos krypties tiltai, prie kuriu, laukiant eiles pravaziuoti, gali tekti prastoveti gera valanda. (Vienu is tokiu tiltu padarytas ir ivaziavimas is Costa Ricos I Panama, todel, privaziavus pasieni ir pamacius ilga eile masinu, kyla vienintele mintis - prie sitos muitines strigom ilgam. Is tikruju, dauguma masinu tik laukia galimybes pervaziuoti tilta, o prie pasu kontroles ("Imigracion") ir masinos laikino importavimo dokumentu posto ("Aduanas") jokios eiles nebuvo). Pasukame laikrodzius valanda I prieki - jau dar arciau Lietuvos! :)

Pirmasis (ir geidziamiausias!) sustojimas Panamoje - Bocas del Toro salu archipelagas, esantis Karibu juroje, rytineje Panamos pasoneje, prie pat Costa Ricos sienos. Geidziamiausias todel, kad Bocas del Toro, kaip ir Honduro Islas de la Bahia (zr. Roatano dienorasti), garseja kaip dar vienas "nardytoju rojus". Dar vieno tokio paties gero rojaus kaip Roatanas mums gal jau ir nebutinai reikia, nes po to buna labai gaila isvaziuoti (o kartais net ir nelabai pasiseka :)), bet nardymo jau labai pasiilgom. Todel spaudziam gaza link miestelio pavadinimu Almirante (labai baisus miestas netoli pasienio, toj pacioj Karibu juros pakrantej), is kurio I Bocas reguliariai plaukia vandens taksi. Yra ir zymiai brangesnis, letesnis, bei reciau plaukiantis masinu keltas, taciau daug labiau apsimoka palikti masina saugomoj aikstelej uz $3 per para (jau Roatane pamatem, kaip "labai" mums tos masinos reikejo, tuo tarpu Bocas del Toro - dar mazesnes salos).

Taigi, kelioms dienoms paliekame Nissana Almirantej, ir uz gero pusvalandzio jau lipame is taksi Bocas pakranteje (pusvalandzio kelione vandens taksi kainuoja irgi $3). Dideliems zygiams (pavyzdziui, nardymui) siandiena jau per velu, taciau uztenka laiko issirinkti jauku viesbuti, apziureti miesteli ir - visai netycia - atlikti labai naudinga darba - vienoje kavinukeje pabandeme paieskoti bevielio interneto tiklu, ir - bingo! - uz keliu minuciu jau naudojomes salimais esancio prabangaus viesbucio internetu :) Pati kavine taip pat idealiai atitiko musu reikalavimus - turejo pakankamai rozeciu musu kompiuteriams ir negailejo elektros, o darbuotojai labai geranoriskai leido mums visam vakarui uzimti pati puikiausia staliuka ant juros kranto. Kol kas Bocas del Toro mums labai patinka :)

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