Friday, April 1, 2011

Segment 32: San Ramón, Costa Rica to Bocas del Toro, Panamá (February 24- March 15, 2011)

With Mom and Dad back in the states, and Jason and Sonia in Nicaragua, Jeff headed off solo for Panamá, to reunite at a later date with Jason and Sonia.

of course, sooner or later it had to happen: Pura Vida courtesy soap. Very Costa Rican.  At a hotel in Alajuela

cashew apples found near Heredia

sunset from a mechanics shop near Heredia where Jeff spent the night with a friendly Nicaraguan mechanic while a frigid rain fell outside.

...views of the forest while descending from the central cordillera, now on the Caribbean side...

Red Frog seen near the highway to Limón

gorgeous river, traversing the Caribbean slopes on the San José-Limón highway.

...gonzo entrance to a roadside banana plantation, needing a place to sleep...

camp companion in the above plantation

just past Limón- first sighting of the Caribbean since Playa Mahahual south of Cancún last July

uninterrupted rain has the rivers brown

Ringed Kingfisher
south of Limón, banana plantations dominate the landscapes

Blue-Grey Tanager

Great Kiskadee

this sign reads: "Beware agrochemical sprayings.  Don't enter the plantations without permission from the administration."  unless you need a place to sleep, of course.

Playa Manzanillo near Punto Viejo, Costa Rica, in between tropical downpours

camped in the forest near Playa Manzanillo, suffering a long soggy night of rain

Golden Orb-Weaver spider from above campsite

taking the backroads to the border, this flooded river was a crossing of about 500m

in Sixaola, the Costa Rica-Panamá border
truck drivers relaxing while waiting to cross the border

a rather surreal border crossing, across an old railway bridge

Laughing Falcon, now in Panamá

drying out after 3 days-plus of rain

first campsite in Panamá, near this abandoned house in the hills near Changuinola

at a comedor in Almirante... the people here are either West Indian descent, mulatto, or Indian.  Almirante hugs close to the mangrove swamps and waterways across from the Bocas del Toro archipielago, the next destination...

 colorful houses on pylons barely above the water in Almirante (photo C. Murray)

young girl standing and paddling home

Jeff on the crossing to Isla Colón, by boat taxi

slow-paced life on Isla Bastimentos, no cars  (photo C. Murray)

dusk view from predominantly West Indian Old Bank, the only town on Isla Bastimentos

unfortunately, the forces of evil have also arrived, quite some years ago... in this case, the carving up of fragile and rare tropical forest for vacation and retirement homes

...Montezuma Oropendola...

Summer Tanager

still-undeveloped Wizzard Beach on Isla Bastimentos.  Here Jeff met up with Katie, and we explored Bastimentos together.

snowy egret

our campsite on Wizzard Beach for 3 days

spider with macabre design on Isla Bastimentos

Ringed Kingfisher at Red Frog Beach

From Isla Bastimentos we returned to Bocas Town, Isla Colón to celebrate the Carnaval festival taking place, on March 8, 2011...

The following shots are of "Los Diablos", or The Devils:
                                                                   (photo C. Murray)

some great costumes, and wild dancing in the streets, while the devils brandished fierce snapping whips and engaged in animated whip-fights with each other, when not chasing members of the crowd:
(photo C. Murray)

Katie with friends from Hostal Bastimentos (photo C. Murray)

a lot of people turned out for this festival, which went on late into the evening:
women dancers

percussion-dominated parade

beauty queens

delicious fresh gingerbread sold in the street of Bocas Town

After Carnaval ended, we left to walk a beautiful loop around Isla Colón for 4 days, passing mostly through wild beaches, dense forest, and indigenous villages :

only a few kilometers from Bocas Town, we found this quiet beach for camping

(photo: C. Murray)

on our way towards Playa Bluff, this is Playa Paunch

a local Indian house in the hills of Isla Colón

making serious effort, and succeeding, in getting fresh coconuts:
(photos: C. Murray)

Katie on wonderful Playa Bluff

our paradisiacal campsite a few km down Playa Bluff, deserted and gorgeous:

coati tracks on the beach

greeting the new day with a wake-up swim

some nice trails through the forest on the way towards Mimbitimbi

Red-Lored Parrots dominate the island

mangroves near Mimbitimbi

local lobster-catcher near Playa Mimbitimbi

harvesting fresh coconuts on Playa Mimbitimbi... and making short work of them...

dusk from Playa Mimbitimbi

walking from Mimbitimbi to Boca del Drago through the forest


hawk in the mid-story

Golden Orb-Weave Spider, weaving (photo: C. Murray)

Rancho Siempre Verano (Always Summer Ranch).  One of various examples of exclusive foreign-owned property along this road, whereas most of the local Indians live in small tattered shacks (photo: C. Murray)

terns at Boca del Drago (photo: C. Murray)

now at Boca del Drago (photo: C. Murray)

(photo: C. Murray)

our spot on Playa Estrella near Boca del Drago (photo: C. Murray)

this is why its called Playa Estrella, for its abundant sea stars (photo: C. Murray)

these guys are hanging a sign which reads: Please don't touch the starfish (photo: C. Murray)

local boys at Playa Estrella (photo: C. Murray)

interesting translation and original use of English language, seen on church near Boca del Drago town

now at La Gruta, a small grotto, someone thought it a good idea to place religious icons here for some reason

stalactites at La Gruta (photo: C. Murray)

spider seen at La Gruta

dense draping of vines from the interior forest canopy

hummingbird spotted on the return walk to Bocas Town

Red-Lored Parrot outside vegetable shop in Bocas Town

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