.....the family does canal (five hearts)
Panama should be the country of hangovers (it seems to be our experience of it to date). We arrived off the boat and no one was faring well. A wet one hour boat ride was followed by a horror mountain road two hour drive with the only saving grace – air con. Not only is Panama the country of hangover, it is the country of wet heat. So our happy little family had one solution. MacDonald’s and the cinema. Who knew Panama could be cured in one swift move. So after a night in the Allbrook mall watching “Return of the Titans” and munching on fast food, we were ready to hit the sights.
This turns out to be one thing. The Canal! After a brief education lesson where we introduced The Panama Canal to Meg who had apparently missed ever hearing of that engineering feat, we braved the heat and headed out to Miraflores lock. Despite the fact that it is just a massive lock which lets tankers through, the canal was pretty awesome. The boats move through so quickly it’s incredible, the museum was so interesting and educational - and - it had air con. Woo hoo Panama Canal. A quick sightsee in the Casco Viejo taking in the stunning rundown colonial buildings, and that was the end of our family adventure in Panama City. Two days, two servings of fast food, and one movie (oh and a little sightseeing) before boarding a night bus to Bocos Del Toro.
Bocas was awesome - even with the rain and sand flies!! After a great night bus experience which involved grotesque bellies and Phil with his pants off, the family Straathof arrived in Almirante and hopped on the water taxi to Bocos’s main island, Colon (hee hee).
After some stealthy work by the organisational team we boated across to a flashpacking compromise with balconies, aircon and cable TV (which made Lee ecstatic as he got to watch his first west ham game in six months – and see them win to avoid relegation). But there was little time to relax, the whole reason we had hit Bocas for the weekend was Ladies night and there was dolling up to be done. So, by channelling my 23 year old self (back when I was fun), slipping into Meg’s hot pants, and smearing on slap for the first time in six months we hit the aqua lounge. And that’s about all I can say about that night. Free rum and coke’s (yes – strong and totally free) for the ladies, and the boys smashing bottles of rum with minimal mixer means very little can be said. Pictures say it all!!!
So waking up to pouring rain the next morning was a godsend. It called for some quality time in bed, some picture sorting, and lots and lots of mutual group sympathy. The family Straathoff “aka Wolfpak” was in pain. The most we managed for the day was ordering home delivered burgers (by boat) and walking around the island to grab some amazing seafood for dinner!
Monday started better however, being the last day the family was all together we decided to get some beach time and snorkelling in together. We grabbed some brekky and then jumped on a boat to take us to an island for some swimming. On the way we made Meg’s day. Before the sailing trip she’d never seen Dolphins in real life and the boat ride to the beach was full of them. They were trailing the boat, dancing in the wake, they were so gorgeous. It meant by the time we reached our secluded island beach we felt we had already accomplished something (yes, that’s right – seeing dolphins is an accomplishment for us at this point). So we grabbed beers and settled in for shenanigans and family portraits on the beach. After grabbing a quick bite in huts over the water, we snorkelled over to some beautiful fish and coral and headed back to farewell Phil (nine becomes eight – sob sob).
And so began the disintegration of the family. Meg, Leethal, Canada and I took Phil out to the airport to wave him off and then drowned our sorrows in our final happy hour. The next morning it continued as we left the Duchess in Bocos and the remaining seven headed to Almirante. Joy and Patrick headed off west, and Kev, Canada, Lee and I headed over the border. And that’s where we are now. I’m blogging in a 40 degree bedroom while Canada and Lee are lying on the bed talking sport and drinking beer (I think he’s missed boys – shhhhh don’t tell anyone).
So welcome to Costa Rica us. Two months to go, so we’re upping the pace (hence only one week and two stops in Panama), and tomorrow we’re heading further up the coast to see turtles lay eggs. Woo Hoo.
Love to you all
Em & Lee xx