Day 85 - So Cat got here last night and I went to the airport to meet her and then had us booked into a nice hotel with a pool, overlooking the Panama canal, which was nice! Spent the day chilling by the pool and watching the boats and ships go past! Then in the evening we headed into the city and went to Casco Viejo the old part and had a walk round and got a nice nightime view of the city and then had a really nice dinner…my first steak for a while!!
Day 86 - Spent the morning by the pool and checked out of the hostel and put our bags in the storage! Then headed off to see the main locks of the Panama canal where all the ships pass through and we saw the locks and the filling up of water in the different sections and saw lots of boats pass through. Then went into the museum and learnt a little about the history which was very interesting. Over 22,000 workers died in the contruction of the canal just from malaria and yellow fever. There is a huge project going on at the moment to expand and modernise the canal! Then we headed back to the hotel and had a late lunch next to the canal at one of the many yacht clubs!! Then we had to leave the very nice hotel and begin backpacking properly and headed into town where I had got us a room at a nice little place called Luna Castle. Went out for an Italian for dinner and then got a taxi to the Panama City harbour and had a wander round and saw all the nice boats and yachts!!
Day 87 - Had to be up at 5am and get packed up to leave. A jeep picked us up at 5.30am to cross the width of Panama to the Caribbean side. It took 4 hours and was very off road through jungle where only a four wheel drive vehicle could have passed through. We eventually appeared from the jungle and arrived at the Caribbean sea. We were greeted there by the guy I had spoke to on the phone and booked accomodation with called Eulogio! We were visiting a very remote but beautiful group of islands called San Blas. They are an archipelago of 365 islands streching from Panama all the way round to Northern Colombia, over 260km. Most of them are tiny and uninhabited. Some are inhabited by and Indian tribe called the Kuna Yala people who are autonomous and govern themselves independantly from Panama. The island we stayed on was called carti and was very basic but fine. We had a bit to eat and then straight on a boat to visit an island for the day which was amazing. A little hut on it and that was it and crystal clear water and golden sand. Stayed there until 5pm and had lunch on the island of chicken rice and beans then back to Carti. Had a shower which was water pured over my head with a scoop from a big oil drum type thing filled with rain water! The dinner was fresh fish, rice and salad!
Day 88 - Up quite early and fried egg sandwiches for breakfast! Then off on a longer boat ride to a more remote island called Dog island. I cannot really desribe this place. It was incredible. There were two huts, about 12 people and about 20 other islands in sight and you could walk round the whole island in about six minutes. The only vehicle on the island was a helicopter from some of Panama´s wealthy elite who had flwon out there for the day. When he set off he put on a bit of a show for us and bagged a couple of laps round in the chopper before flying off!! The water was turqoise crystal clear and a nice temperature and the sand was soft….it was amazing basically! Then went to another little island on the way back which is nown as one palm tree island…because…you guessed it…..it has only one palm tree on the island!!! Then dinner and a shower and a little walk round when we got back and then an early night beacuse the sun had made us very sleepy!!
Day 89 - Up at 6.15am and got packed up ready to leave. Had some breakfast the got the short boat ride back to the mainland. The the four hour jeep ride back to Panama City! Got dropped off at the long distance bus terminal about 11.30am and found out our bus was to Bocas Del Toro in the North or West of Panama was not until 8pm. But that was fine as there was a huge shopping mall and cinema complex on th other side of the road. Had some lunch and then went to the cinema to watch the new Narnia film which was not great at all although Cat liked it. Then had a look round some of the shops and got some food to take on the bus with us. Then got the overnight bus to Bocas. It was not a great bus, not like the ones in South America. Seats didn´t recline much and no leg room. Anyway, we were pretty tired and slept and arrived to Bocas Del Toro mainland at 5.30am, rather tired!!