In the morning, we decided we would leave Santa Catalina. I was impartial to staying another day and relaxing or moving on. My brother didn’t like that it was super hot (90’s), and wanted to head somewhere cooler. Santa Fe was in the highlands to was supposed to be cooler.
We caught the bus at the same point it had dropped us off in Santa Catalina, in front of Panama Dive Center. We grabbed some snacks from the mini mart for breakfast and jumped on the bus. We would need to catch several busses: One bus from Santa Catalina to Sona, Sona to Santiago (slight backtrack), then one bus Santiago to Santa Fe. Each leg was about an hour and a half.
On the ride from Catalina to Sona, one of the back bus tires blew out and made a loud bang. Everyone was started except for the bus driver that didn’t flinch an eye and was laughing and kept driving on like nothing happened as the tire continued to thump against the wheel well.
As soon as we entered Sona, the bus driver pulled over and called out for Santiago. Across the street, the other bus to Santiago had pulled over.
We all hurried on. An hour or so later we arrived at the Santiago bus terminal.
Santiago appeared more of a large town than a city. We asked around and found out our bus to Santa Fe left from the other side of the small terminal. We were hungry so headed across the street to a grocery market.
I also read in the Lonely Planet that Santa Fe did not have any ATMS so we each took out $200 cash.
Hungry, we ate at the diner in the grocery store. The price was right ($3), but the food was pretty gross (cold fried chicken, some shitty panini-type thing, cake, and warm pineapple juice).
The bus stopped many times on the way to Santa Fe and my brother and I were the only gringos on board. The last stop was supposed to be Santa Fe and the bus was almost empty so we were nervous we might have missed the stop as we assumed most people would be going to Santa Fe. But after verifying with the driver we soon arrived at the bus terminal in Santa Fe and started walking up the road looking for our hostel.
I had tried (and failed) once again to make reservations for our hostel on hostelworld. There were no hostels listed. So we took the recommendation from the book and headed to La Qhia.
It was really easy to find, there were signs right after we left the bus station.
and eventually decided to take a walk around town.
It was a beautiful place; quiet a little cooler (80’s), and super relaxing. There are supposed to be waterfall hikes, rafting, and mountain hikes all nearby.
We headed back to the hostel and met some people staying here. We had an awkward hostel dinner with an old Dutch couple and a younger couple from somewhere else in Europe. They served whole cooked fish with cold potatoes and soup. We decided we would not eat here after this and grocery shop to save a few bucks since we would be here for several days.
There was a younger European couple, a few girls from Germany, and a couple other guys from Finland.
We all hungout and played some card games had some wine and called it a night.
We had a tubing trip reserved for the next day at 11 am.