I'm in the archipelago of Bocas del Toro at the moment. I've been here for 2 days and now I'm off to Panama City to go celebrate Carnaval with my pals.
This morning I went on probably the most unique experience on this trip, and definitely one of the most memorable vacation experiences. I went on a tour of a cave on one of the islands. This guy Oscar was our guide, and he is one of the only locals that knows the cave. We walked about 400 meters deep into the cave, sometimes through water that came up to our necks and a couple times had to duck underneath stalagmites and were totally submerged in water. We were equipped with helmets and headlights and got to see the bats, scorpions and crickets that all live in the cave. There was even one albino bat. At one point we all turned our headlamps off and got to feel how dark it really is in the cave. I admit that I was a little petrified and kept begging Oscar to turn our lights back on again. The limestone formations were unbelievable and like I said, this was probably the most excellent adventure thus far, although the 3 am stroll along the beach was more frightening.
On the way out of the cave we saw the elusive red frog, just one, and it is so small, about the size of your thumbnail. Oscar said they are all that small. We also saw 3 sloths, one of them had a baby sloth holding onto its tummy.
Yesterday I went snorkeling, and it was nice, although I totally spaced on putting sunscreen on my back and now am fried on one side. Ugh!
Chiriqui was lots of fun, despite being harassed by my tour guide. I guess since I'm a solo female traveler I'm just a target for harassment. Anyway, went on the white water rafting trip. We were doing class 3 to class 5 rapids. I fell out of the raft 4 times, and have the black and blue marks to show for it. The river was drier than usual, and so every time we hit a rock I went bouncing off into the water. Our guide Osvaldo was excellent at his rescue skills because once again, I live to tell. I kept thinking of that Tubthumping song.
We went hiking in the mountains, but didn't see any quetzal birds. The guide and some of the other travelers I met had seen them two days in a row on the same hike, but we were not so lucky I guess you can't be lucky every day.
So meanwhile here in Bocas del Toro, I've been staying on an island called Bastimentos, and I practically know everyone there in only 2 days. Imagine, a week here and I would become a local!
Only about 1 week left on this crazy adventure and then it's back to Cali, and searching for a way to replenish my bank account, but we won't think about that until Carnaval is over.