This past weekend, Saturday-Tuesday, we all went to Bocas del Toro, an island off of Panama. We had to leave Costa Rica for 72 hours in order to renew our tourist visa here, since it is only good for 90 days and we are here for 105 (we aren’t allowed to have a student visa).

We had both a new bus and new bus driver from our other excursions, and this bus driver had no idea what was going on. He got lost so many times, it was ridiculous. I slept most of the nine-hour journey to the island.

When we reached the border between Panama and CR, we had to wait in line for a good 45 minutes to get our passports stamped on the CR side. At one point a few of us really had to use a bathroom. The only one available was in a wooden shack in the middle of a parking lot, and we had to pay 300 colones to use it. Ugh.

After getting stamped on the CR side, we had to cross a bridge to get to Panama and wait in line to get our passport stamped again. The bridge we crossed was really sketch. 

The boards were hardly nailed down, and they were nailed down on top of rotting boards. You could see through to the river in many places, and if you look closely in the above photo you can tell that it was once a bridge for trains. So sketch. Someone is probably going to fall through into the river at some point in the near future.

After we got our passports all stamped (which took such a long while, in insane heat and humidity), we took the bus another 45 minutes to our ferry. Our ferries were just tiny little boats that fit about sixteen people, four persons across to a bench, plus our bags on our laps. Fortunately, it only took about half an hour to get out to the island rather than the 45 minutes we were told.

The ride out there was beautiful though, for there were many different kinds of trees all along the shores. It was difficult to grasp that we were on the ocean.

I roomed with Laura and Caitlin, and once our stuff was in our room, we took off to find a place to eat since we hadn’t eaten since breakfast that morning.

The main street in Bocas is really touristy: many souvenir shops, many different types of restaurants, many hotels and hostels. There are also  probably fifteen small grocery stores lining this half a mile street.

We found a nice restaurant right on the ocean. The seating was right on the dock above the water, and while we waited for our food we got to watch the fish in the ocean. We even saw a sting ray zoom by at one point! 

After we finished eating, we ran into the other girls who had come to Bocas a few days earlier. We went back with them to their hostel and hung out until bed.

…Parts II & III to come later. :]