At Least we Tried (Journey to Bluefields/Corn Islands)

It started off bad when we didn’t have internet at the Grand River Lodge – or anywhere around the Rio San Juan. Our Lonely Planet: Central America on a Shoestring book had given us limited information, however, we decided to attempt to get to the Corn Islands without flying anyways. Flying is obviously the most convenient way, but is also the most expensive way and can also only be done from Managua (which we were six hours away from via bus). The overland route it was via multiple buses/boats, and the adventure began. Continue reading

Our River Adventure up the Rio San Juan (ft. The Grand River Lodge)

We had woken up early (before 5:00 AM) to catch the first bus from San Jose, Costa Rica to the border town of Los Chiles, unsure of how far we could get in one day. Our “direct” bus gave a new meaning to the word; “direct” does not mean that the bus goes straight from arrival to destination city, it simply implies that you don’t have to transfer buses. During the six hours we were on the bus it must have detoured to a dozen towns and stopped over fifty times on the side of the road to pick-up or drop-off passengers. Our bus (like most buses in this part of the world) was a converted school bus and the seats are not meant for anyone taller than 5’5” (i.e. foreigners) and don’t have air conditioning making the stops even more painful as the wind ceased blowing. Continue reading

img_5462-768x1024

Our Unexpected 3-Day Jaunt through Costa Rica

After hearing about a water shortage in Bocas del Toro and multiple hostels shutting down, we opted to skip it and go to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica instead. We still took the shuttle we had booked and paid for towards Bocas; however, we skipped the boat and got on a series of buses instead. The busses were cheap and we got to the border no problem. At the border, we got our exit stamps (and paid a small exit tax), walked across the bridge separating the two countries and got our entrance stamps. Suddenly, there was a noticeable increase in the price of things. Continue reading

Exploring the Cloud Forests of Panama

Boquete was far from what we expected – although maybe that was our mistake. Described by Lonely Planet as “The mountain town of Boquete, the Napa Valley of coffee, is known throughout Panama for its cool, fresh climate and its pristine natural setting. Flowers, coffee, vegetables and citrus fruits flourish in Boquete’s rich soil and the friendliness of the locals seems to rub off on everyone who passes through.” When we got there, we quickly realized the only things to do in Boquete were tours, nothing was free. The only free thing people we met had done was wake up at midnight to climb the Volcano for sunrise – a grueling climb in the pitch black. We settled for a coffee tour (which turned out to be a very nice afternoon, the tour was in English and the farm was run by Canadian expats) and renting a scooter the next day. Continue reading

“Made in America” (Panama City)

A modern metropolitan city and home to the Panama Canal, our first impression of Panama City was something along the lines of – are we in the United States? When the US took over construction of the Canal their influence spread throughout the country, mainly in Panama City. They financed and built schools, shopping malls, entertainment centres, baseball diamonds, and a water treatment centre – everything that all of the American workers shipped to Panama would need to feel closer to home. In many senses, Panama City was made in America, or at least by America. Continue reading

Palmtrees, Blue Seas (San Blas Islands)

The Pan-American Highway stretches from Alaska to Argentina – with the exception of the Darién Gap – a 160km stretch. The Darién Gap is notably the wildest place remaining in the Western Hemisphere – covered in both mountainous rain forest and flat marshland. The area has a known guerrilla and narcrotrafficker presence (and the kidnapping and crimes that go along with it); thus, while it is still possible to cross the gap by land or foot, it is not recommended. With a land crossing out of the question we had the choice of flying or travelling across the Caribbean Sea. Continue reading