Today started off early as Dylan was getting the boat back to Turbo just before me. We have now sadly departed as he has to go back to Chile to fly home whereas I continue my mission to get to Mexico. I've now joined up with Bianca and Dean as we're going in exactly the same direction in the same amount of time. We left Capurgana at just after 8am towards Puerto Obaldia (PO), which was roughly a 30 minute boat ride. I managed to sit at the back of the boat this time but as it was smaller and the waves were bigger, I ended up getting soaked.
Once at PO we were escorted by the police/army to the migration building where our passports were looked at. We then laid our bags on the floor and waited for 10 minutes. As the region is a notorious drug smuggling route our bags were sniffed by dogs and then we had to go through a full bag search by the police. Of all the countries I've been to, this was a first. After this we had to find the migration office in the town to get stamped into Panama. We had to buy 2 A4-sized passport copies just down the road too. Once in we found the Air Panama office to get our bags weighed etc. We then ate a cheese roll before heading to the tiny air strip to wait for our plane.
In Panama City we were quickly guided away from the plane and into what only can be described as a big white but modern room. We waited here for 2 hours while the Colombians were investigated by the authorities. The whole thing was a total waste of time as they only asked us where we were from and where we were staying. Anyway, we left and headed to the bus station to book of bus ticket to Bocas del Toro on the Caribbean coast, which was $28.
After taking a taxi arrived at our hostel, Luna's Castle, in Casco Viajo. A lovely old school / Colonial part of the city, South of the skyscrapers. We looked around the area, played ping pong and had $1 beers before the evening started. We then went down to the bar for $0.50 happy hour beers at 9pm. The night wasn't too crazy though, which was fine as we wanted to explore the city...and the Canal!
We woke up and made the free pancakes that the hostel do before leaving to explore a bit more of the city. We were told the next boat is at 3pm so we chose to go to the Canal at 2pm. We also went with Ellen (Dutch) and Joel (Australian). We got to the banking district but it was a bit of a non-event so we had food and left for the Panama Canal. The humidity here is high, which oddly has a very intense dry heat at the same time.
We went around the museum at Miraflores for $10 (w/ student discount), which started off really informative but was stretched out over 4 small floors and gradually became repetitive. After watching a very touristy video we headed to the look out point for the ships to come down. The locks at Miraflores then move the ships up/down 8m. I think for me this is such an interesting place simply because of the global impact the Canal has. Without it imports would cost so much more and take a lot longer as they would have to go via the south of Argentina. After waiting for the ships and taking many photos we headed back as Bianca, Dean and I leave tonight for the Caribbean (again!)!