Panama Day 13- Hike to Volcan Baru

Volcan Baru is the highest point in Panama. From the top, on a clear day, you are able to see both the Pacific Ocean and the Carribean Sea.

The idea was to get to the top for sunrise. The hostel we were at, Mamallena, offered a shuttle to the bottom of the access road for $5.

We were told to bring money for our return, warm clothes, and plenty of food and water.

Beyond this, we were on our own. A group of about 8 of us were dropped off at the bottom of the road and the driver took off. It was just us and the darkness.

image

The only instructions we were given was when in question to go right, not to go to fast so we wouldn’t freeze at the top, and to pay the ranger on the way out. The hike was supposed to take about 6 hours up and the same return. It was 14.5 kilometers (about 10 miles!) each way.

The road was just a dirt road that went on forever. The moon was super bright so in the beginning of the hike we didn’t need flashlights.
image

About 30 mins into the hike, we had a nice night view of Boquette.
image

However, we still had a long ways to go. We were trying to pace ourselves as he had stated we could make it up in 4 hours but would freeze at the top (32 degrees plus wind chill.)

image

People were not happy with me for taking this flash photo in the darkness:
image

It slowly began to get cool as we climbed; but I stayed in a t shirt for the first few hours.
image

We began using our flashlights as trees started covering our path; we also began to ration our water and food supplies since we were all pretty understocked. There was no one out there except for us.
image

Now it was really becoming chilly- I threw on what I had, a fleece, long pants, and a wind breaker. My shirt was sweaty and cold.

Our group ended up breaking into 4 and 4, a slow group and a fast group. Our fast group was charging forward no longer heeding the warning to pace ourselves, only thinking about getting this freezing cold hike over with.

Finally, we came close to the summit where there was a shelter.

image

It was 5am and we were close to the summit. The winds were picking up, and the sun didn’t rise until 7. We were in the exact situation he had warned about. We decided to take a break here and try to nap/pass some time.

When we first stopped, we were a little chilly but not too bad since we were working hard climbing straight up the entire time. Our elevation gain by the end of the 14.5 kilometers was to be 2 miles.

Once we stopped, however, we really started to feel that 32 degrees. The sweat wicked the heat from our bodies, we were all lying quietly trying to stay warm. We hadn’t slept from the day before and were just plain exhausted.

image

There was talk bout starting a fire but none of us had a lighter. It was starting to get seriously cold. We were talking about huddling together. Finally, we decided just to carry on, keep walking, at a slow pace to keep our blood flowing. This seemed to work well.

We finally reached the summit around 6:30. I don’t know if it was warmer, or just felt warmer from hiking, but it didn’t seem all too cold up here and the wind wasn’t bad. The moon was still shining.
image

Slowly, the sun started to rise.
image

image

We weren’t quite at the top. There was about 10 minutes climb left.
image

We made it! We were all so glad to be at the top and that the hike was over. The rising sun instantly made us warmer.

image

image

image

At the top, there were about 10 more people that had taken their 4wd jeeps up the trail and had left at 4:30am to make it there for 7.

image

image

Once the sun was up, we could indeed see both oceans. It was a very nice view and we all sat and enjoyed it.

image

image

As the sun rose, we could actually see the shadow of the mountain. This was something I hadn’t seen before.

image

We stayed for probably 45 minutes, but what comes up must come down. We had a looong hike ahead of us.

Now, up sucked. Down was way worst. The 10 miles dragged on and on and on.. it never ended. We ran some of the way, walked quickly, but the signs didn’t lie we were not making progress as quickly as we would have liked.
image

On the way down, however, we were able to see the views we couldn’t see during the night before.

image

The lead four of us on the way up were also the lead on the way back.
image

It was 10:30am. We hadn’t slept, had run out of water hours ago, and were hungry and completely depleted. We finally reached the ranger station at the bottom!

image

The man there arranged for our taxi pick up, which we were not happy to walk another 2 minutes downhill to catch it. The guy wanted to charge us $16 for a $5 cab ride, but we were all too exhausted to argue.

We all agreed that we would never do the hike again, would never have done it if we had known what it was going to be like, and that if we were to do it again, we wouldn’t do it for less than $1000. Was it worth it? Probably when I look back on it. At that moment? No way in hell.

I don’t think it was worth hiking it in the middle of the night, freezing, with no sleep, but hiking Vocan Baru with a full night’s rest would probably be worth it. There was a lot of garbage on top and communication antennas. Some people said it was super beautiful, but I have hiked quite a few mountains (that I have not had to go through all this for).

After eating, we finally got to sleep around 12:30pm. Wow. That was intense.

Panama Day 10 & 11 – Bermejo Falls

There is tons of hiking around here, and we found out they are pretty long hikes. Both took us most of the day (6-7 hours). However, this included time to get lost since the directions on both occasion were horrible.

Pretty much you start off walking on the road, where the directions are fine, until you get off the main road where you pretty much are on your own.

The first day I forgot my camera, and we were unable to find the waterfalls we were hiking to. We found the path off the main road fine, however, the map of the trail showed 3 waterfalls in a loop, easy enough. In reality, it was 2 hours bushwhacking through muddy jungle.

The second hike was to Bermejo Falls.

We started off around 10am and started hiking on the road. There are roosters everywhere that don’t shut up from like 4:30am until 10am so it is hard to sleep in.

image

We hiked for about an hour on the road leaving Santa Fe and we ran into some cows.
image

There were also some nice views since it was so hilly.
image

image

image

According to the lonely planet, to get to the waterfall, you “follow past William’s inner-tube rentals; after taking the Bulava bridge take your first left to a steep uphill. Here the road becomes dirt; continue until the waterfall, following yellow arrow signs into the trail”

So we took the Bulava bridge as advised and took the steep uphill.

image

We came to the part where the “road became dirt” and we were supposed to “continue until the waterfall following arrow signs.”
image

So one would think you go straight here, not left, right? We also had another set of directions from the hostel that were equally confusing.

So we went straight here, which was the wrong way, until we were told by locals a couple miles [very steep uphill] in the wrong direction.

When we got back on track, we followed this road for about 25 minutes until we reached a church at a 4 way intersection.
image

We took a right here, and walked another 10-15 minutes walk until we came to a house with a sign across from it for the trail.
image

image

Bermejo Falls. This trail was super muddy like the last one even though we were in the dry season.

image

image

We crossed 2 little streams until we saw another sign for Bermejo falls.
image

Very shortly into the hike we saw a chicken and some chicks.
image

This path was all downhill in mud and worked its way into a little valley.
image

There were very few bridges along the way to help keep us out of the muck.
image

After a while we came to a fence and were unsure if we were going the right way, but went through anyway.
image

By now we could hear the water, although no defined path, we continued to follow the water upstream as instructed from the instructions from the hostel.

Eventually we came to a third, bigger stream. There were tons of banana trees along the way
image

I picked some on my own but they were tiny.
image

Then my brother found some bigger ones, so I climbed on his back and pulled down a tree and we got a big bunch of them.
image

We took some with us and the rest we left hanging on the side of the trail for other hikers.

We kept following this trail along the stream for another 10 minutes or so and we found it- Bermejo Falls!
image

We couldn’t see the actual waterfall, so after eating, we started to climb up. It was beautiful.
image

It took us less than 10 minutes and we carefully made our way to view the waterfall. Breathtaking.
image

Overall the hike was great. Top 10 spots for sure. There were very few tourists here (in Santa Fe in general). The trails were dense rainforest trails and the people are extremely friendly. Oranges and bananas growing everywhere.
image

Very relaxed atmosphere. Love this place.

Panama Day 9- Rafting Santa Fe

We left the hostel around 11 to do river rafting. There were a couple options, but we opted for the cheaper place which was $7 per person plus $1 for the taxi ride back. Our plan was to go with one couple, but the European group we had met the night before also wanted in so in the end there were 10 of us.

image

It was about 20 minutes walk downhill from the hostel. After crossing a bridge
image

We arrived at the tubing place.

image

The guy was only expecting 4 of us, so we had to wait while he inflated another 6 tubes
image

We were to exit the river just before the 2nd bridge.
image

We entered the water and the guide actually came with us. He didn’t have enough life preservers so I opted out. When I saw that even the guide was wearing one, it made me question my decision..
image

image

The ride lasted a little over an hour.. Most of the rapids were in the beginning. It was pretty intense tubing. I think that these are about the fastest rapids I would feel comfortable tubing on.
image

We passed the first bridge and it became more flat. How would you like to walk on this walkway?
image

At the second bridge we exited and deflated the tubes. Soon after a taxi arrived to pick us up.
image

While we were waiting we climbed up onto the bridge.
image

Somehow we managed to squeeze 11 people into the taxi (including the driver) for the 5 minute ride back to our hostel.
image

When we got back, we did a short “hike” down the road to a river, in the mean time playing a game we had invented, Orange Bowling. The roads were are so hilly and curvy and there are orange trees everywhere. So we would try to roll them around turns in the road and see whose would make it the furthest. More fun than it sounds.
image

We got the river and hung out for a few until we started getting bitten and left.
image

Panama Day 8- Santa Catalina to Santa Fe

image

santa fe panama

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.

image

hostel surf point

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.

image

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.
image

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).

image

santiago panama bus station

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.
image

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.

image

la qhia hostel santa fe

The hostel was beautiful, and super relaxing.
image

We lied in the hammocks for a couple hours
image

and eventually decided to take a walk around town.

image

santa fe panama

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.

After returning from the grocery store down the road (that sold giant machettes..) we met the other people staying in our dorm room.
image

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.

Panama Day 6- Isla Coiba

I ended up sleeping on a hammock, since my brother was sprawled out in the tent and it smelled like feet.

I had a light sleeping bag and bug net with me so the bugs weren’t a problem, but I overall didn’t sleep too great my back kept hurting and I got pretty cold in the middle of the night.

The next day, we woke up and cooked breakfast/lunch in the ranger’s kitchen. It was pretty well used and dingy but it worked. We cooked up some rice added cheese and potatoes onion garlic came out pretty good and we had enough for a couple meals.

Before the boat came to pick us up, we went for a little hike. There was a viewpoint that was only about a half hour walk from camp so we hiked over there.
image

From here you could see the beach we were staying at.

There was another view where you could see the other side of the island.
image

The main island was pretty big; about 10×40 miles. There were some other smaller islands all around it. Apparently until the early 90s The islands served as a prison so it wasn’t declared a national park until after that.

Along the trail my brother found some giant leaves
image

On the way down, there was another trail that connected to this one that apparently was a 3 day hike and a lot of people get lost on it. We hiked down it for about a half hour and it felt like true jungle.
image

The  boat was supposed to pick us up at 11:30, but they didn’t come until around 12:30 so we napped in the hammocks in the mean time.
image

We were annoyed because right before we left a cruise ship of like 60 old people stopped by and we saw them on the hike. This is when we had thought it was only going to be us 3 on this deserted island. The lonely planet was misleading the way it described the experience we would be having; yes, it was a very lightly inhabited island, however, we were only allowed to stay in one tiny location on this pristine island where everyone else was and all the tourist infrastructure was. I wouldn’t call running water, telephones, cabins, and air conditioning “very little tourist infrastructure.”

On the way back, I opted only to snorkel since the diving was very expensive.

They brought us to two locations, both of which were nice but not the same as diving.
image

I only saw fish.. apparently on the first dive there were a lot of sharks at the bottom and they saw a seahorse, second dive a turtle. What I really wanted to see was one of those whale sharks so I was a little let down.
image

After the hour plus boat ride back to the mainland, we had to find a place to stay the night. We didn’t want to go back to the place we were at the night before, as it was too far from town. The guy we had camped with, Christopher, opted to stay at the first place he saw in town, Rolo hostel. This place was $10 a night and seemed straight forward enough. However, I had heard there were nicer hostels along the beach.

Downtown Santa Catalina consisted only of the main strip where all the dive shops were etc, and one other road running off that that had  a lot of lodging/restaurants.

The walk was pretty long and it was dark at this point. It started downpouring so we dodged into a pizza joint for a few minutes trying to decide what to do. It was starting to suck because we had no place to stay, it was raining, and we didn’t know where we were.

When we got back on the road we talked to a couple german guys that said the place they were at was legit and right on the beach, surfer’s paradise.
image

We checked in; the place was a kind of shit hole but the guy was nice enough. We had a dorm room to ourselves, although the shower was inoperable and full of mattresses, so we had to use the one next door with no shower head and only cold water (not uncommon to other hostels around here).

Panama Day 7- Santa Catalina

It was an open air room, and we had been concerned about mosquitoes, but we didn’t get bitten. It was a nice view to wake up to.
image

The hostel was in a very nice location, on a peninsula. I had a pretty bad sunburn on my back from snorkeling so was trying to stay out of the sun.
image

There was a nice lounge area where we spent the majority of our day with hammocks and lounge chairs. It was good to relax.
image

image

We were trying to decide what to do, as we were a hike from town and we didn’t have any food. Our plan was to maybe check out the beach then stay at the hostel in town. However, we saw some people eating then realized that the hostel served breakfast so we just ate there.

When we found out they also served lunch, we decided to stay for a while. There were no waves so surfing was out of the question, and anyhow my brother had a bad reaction to something in the water and was recovering so I didn’t want to surf without him.

So we walked down to the beach for a little while
image

While were were there, we ran into a couple girls we had met on the bus. They told us of the place they were staying that was really nice and only $8 a night versus the 14 we were paying so we decided to check it out. It was called Surfer’s Point.

This place was directly on the beach, versus the other place which was raised on a ledge so you had to hike down.
image

image

So once we checked in here we packed up our bags etc and moved over.

We ate dinner at the in house restaurant they had and met some dutch guy that had rented a car and driven here. He said the car rented by Avis was a complete shit hole nothing worked, including the 4 wheel drive. There was no GPS option and the roads had no signs, and he was in so much traffic leaving Panama City.

We checked out the sunset on the beach but couldn’t see it fully because of the clouds.
image

After dinner, we were trying to figure out what to do because there were no ATMs here and we were running very low on cash. We had initially planned on staying one more day here to relax, but we might be limited by our money.

Luckily, at dinner, we found out we could pay with a card at this hostel (my card didn’t work at the last hostel). So that re-opened the option to crashing another night. My brother wants to get our move on since he doesn’t like the heat here he wants to head to the highlands.

Our next stop was initially going to be Boquete but we opted for another place called Santa Fe. They are both similar in that they are out of our way a little bit (hour and a half), but beautiful mountain towns with waterfalls swimming holes hiking etc.

Santa Fe seems smaller and less traveled than Boquete, where as Boquete seems bigger and in the lonely planet says its where there are a lot of Western retirees which doesn’t much interest me to hangout with old people.

Panama Day 5- Santa Catalina to Isla Coiba

image

We left our hostel Hibiscus Garden 7am in order to make it to the dive shop by 8am. The drive was only about 20 minutes by a hostel provided shuttle, but we had to get food and water before we went to Coiba as we were told there was none available on the island.

Diving was expensive- we were told it was $115 for a two tank dive but oh, they forgot to tell us if we didn’t have our own equipment it was $15 extra, and entrance fee to Coiba was $20, and Tax, plus I rented an underwater camera for $25 and the battery died after the first dive. Thanks, douchebags.
image

Anyway- we got on our boat and my brother was doing a “discovery” dive so needed to get instructions
image

It took an hour to get to our first diver site which was right on the coast of mainland Panama.
image

We descended down the anchor line
image

First thing we saw was a (frogfish?) I couldn’t tell what he was
Pointing to at first since it was so camouflage.
image

There were plenty of fish and visibility was very good
image

image

image

Sharks
image

Sting rays
image

Star fish
image

Some other random fish
image

We took lunch and stopped at a beautiful beach
image

With tons of hermit crabs
image

I was really hoping to see a whale shark which are giant but we didn’t see any. There are also hump back whales here from June to September. There are also manta rays and turtles which we caught a glimpse of but I didn’t get a picture. We are snorkeling on our way back so maybe I’ll get some pictures then or fingers crossed a whale shark!

We arrived at Coiba and it wasn’t anything like we had expected.
image

From the lonely planets description we thought it was pretty much going to be us 3 on a deserted beach. Disappointingly, this was not the case.

There was running water, cabins, and way more people than we wanted. We were told we had to camp right in that area.
image

Looking at the photo I’m sure you don’t feel that bad for us..

We tried to set up our tent in another area but were told to move our tent because this is where the crocodiles liked to lie.
image

They had whale shark bones on display
image

We took a stroll around the island and saw lizards
image

And some weird hampster-rodent
image

Went to the end of a dock
image

And did some snorkeling
image

Tried to get creative with my underwater case
image

image

We spent the rest of the evening hanging out playing card games and passed out early after an exhausting day.

My brother smelled up the tiny tent we rented with this dirty socks and when I went in he was sprawled across the whole floor so I opted to sleep in a hammock. I had a light sleeping bag and bug net for my head so I was good.

Panama Day 4- Panama City to Santa Catalina

We woke up early in the morning to head to Santa Catalina. Since Peter had the same plan, we went along with him.
image

We headed to El Tumbes bus station and got our ticket to Sona. It was $10 and supposedly we had to catch it at 830 in the morning in order to make it to Santa Catalina in one day.

Santa Catalina has no direct bus; you have to either transfer in Santiago and take 2 more busses or transfer in Sona and catch a second bus to Santa Catalina.
image

The bus was completely full. I was lucky to get the wheel well seat directly below the blasting speaker, whereas others were fortunate enough to get the seats with AC leaking on their heads. They managed to rig something with their curtain to diverge the water which was entertaining to watch.
image

I had heard from several people that the busses crank the AC and are freezing; our bus started out comfortable then as the day carried on got uncomfortably hot as the AC began to fall behind the weather.

We stopped for lunch about half way through at some gas station which actually had pretty good food.
image

The ride to Sona was supposed to take 6 hours according to lonely planet but it only took us 3.5 even with the stops so we were confused when we arrived at our destination.

We were told the next bus wouldn’t be there until 130 and we had arrived at 12. Lonely planet said a taxi to Santa Catalina would cost $60 but we found a taxi that offered to bring us for $25 and I talked to another couple that said they paid $40 for a taxi.

This would have made sense seeing that the bus was $5 but everyone wanted to wait for the bus for some reason.
image

The bus finally showed up and they stashed our luggage on the roof.
image

This bus was equally crowded and filled with gringos.
image

The ride lasted about an hour and was equally cramped and uncomfortable. It was good having other travelers with us and it seemed that many of them were in the same situation in that they had no accommodation reservations. When I had checked on hostelworld the night before it appeared there were only 2 hostels and they were full but we figured there must be more.

One of the guys, Christopher, had a phone so called the place he intended to stay and confirmed they had availability. The name was Hibiscus garden and it was inland from Santa Catalina about 10kms. The road to Santa Catalina was very isolated. The hostel was no different.

After being dropped off we had to hike down a road about 15 mins in the sun and heat to the hostel
image

image

The hostel was very beautiful on the beach and super laid back and very quiet.
image

After hanging out in the lounge and having some water, he showed us to our open air loft
image

They also had some closed rooms available but chose to stay here because, I mean, look at it it was awesome.

The surprised the place had hot water, (super shitty) WiFi, and some AC rooms.

We went for a swim at the beach in the bathtub warm water where we were told to watch out for crocodiles.
image

image

Dinner there was excellent, best hostel food I’ve ever had. Apparently there is a well known German chef that chooses to work there for pennies just for an opportunity to live in this paradise. The food was about 3x what we normally pay for food here ($25?) But far less than you would expect to pay for it elsewhere in the world.

We had the woman at the hostel call in and reserve a diving trip to the nearby island of Coiba (world renowned diving location) as well as for a night to camp out on the island.

Panama Day 3- Panama Canal

I got up early again and had pancakes and bananas, again, for breakfast. The plan was to head to the Panama canal this morning since my brother was supposedly arriving in the afternoon and he had already been to the canal.

At breakfast I saw Lucinda who had gathered a group together since it was a popular destination. In total there were 6 of us.

We took 2 separate cabs and the driver agreed to $8 for each to the Miraflores locks.
image

The canal was a 15 minute drive from Casco Viejo. Full entry was $8 which included the viewpoint, a movie, and the museum.
image

There were a few levels for the view point, and it took about 45 minutes for us to watch a ship come through. It was pretty interesting.
image

Basically there are 3 locks on each side, the pacific and Atlantic sides. There is a big lake in the middle which is above sea level which is why they need locks to lift the ships then bring them back to sea level.
image

The canal was celebrating its 100 year anniversary and they were adding a 3rd channel that is bigger and deeper to accommodate larger ships.
image

The ships would queue up in the bay and have to wait 30 hours before they could proceed through the canal. In total it takes 8-10 hours for a vessel to go through and I heard they pay by weight about 20 grand to pass through.
image

The museum was pretty interesting and also took about 45 mins to explore. There were 3 levels that went over the construction and upgrade of the canal.
image

The movie was short and fairly entertaining but could have done without. It played twice per hour, alternating between English and Spanish. I thought the shipping route map was interesting.
image

On the way back the cab wanted $12, since obviously we needed them to get home and they knew that. We jumped in an unmarked taxi which was a little sketchy as the guy didn’t want to get in trouble by the cops for bringing us.

We got out at the fish market down the road and got some serviche, which is basically raw fish mixed with lemon, onions, etc. It was very fresh and very good. Was $7 for that and a soda which seemed very cheap for all that fish, squid, and lobster.
image

image

When we got back to the hostel, my brother was there. I was glad to see he made it.

We hung out for the rest of the afternoon just relaxing. We were trying to decide what to do the next day since we knew we definitely did not want to be in the city anymore.

We planned to head over to Santa Catalina where we could get to do some great diving on Coiba. I was told there are big things to see there like whales and sharks.

Our other option was Portobelo which actually sounded really cool. There were abandoned cannons there sunken underwater with coral and sunken warships you could dive. Ultimately, we decided against this since it was out of the way and we wanted to start covering so!r ground.

Panama Day 2- Isla Taboga

I woke up at 7:30am. I was still super tired/groggy/jetlagged, but I had made tentative plans with John to go to an  island near the city called Isla Taboga. It would be an all day event, and I wasn’t sure what else to do. Rather than sleep all day, I decided to get up to see if John was still around.

Sure enough he was, so we had a hostel provided breakfast of make your own pancakes and bananas. We thought the ferry was leaving at 8:30, but were later told 8am, so we ran out the door. John had also invited one of his roomates, Lucinda who was from Holland. We all ran out the door and caught a $8 cab ride to the ferry to Taboga.
image

There was a big line there, and we asked people in line what the deal was.
image

As it turned out, the ferry did leave at 8:30 and was to return at 4:30. Only one ferry was listed, but apparently there was another ferry that also came an hour later. Tickets were $14 round trip.

We weren’t sure what to expect there, and since we had trouble communicating, we ran out to get some food and water to bring just in case. There was also an ATM and since I had $2 to my name I took out some money and was happy to find that I had no problems using my ATM card.

image

The ferry ride was interesting in that we saw a bunch of tankers docked up waiting to go through the canal.
image

image

Soon the island came into view. The ride was 45 mins.
image

Right when we got off the ferry, a few guards had us all put our bags on one end of the dock while they came by with a dog and had him sniff all our bags. A little odd I thought for a small island.
image

Upon unloading at the beach, we headed to the beach.
image

We were offered to rent umbrellas for $5, but instead opted to sit in the shade by the shore. There was a huge pulley, we assumed abandoned there by a shipping vessel.
image

There was also tons of rusted iron-ore on shore, which was rusted so badly it looked like rock.
image

I don’t know if it was from a ship run ashore or what.

There was a big hill/small mountain at the end of the beach. So we decided to see if we could hike up it. Turned out at the top there was a tombstone.
image

image

The trail was very lightly traveled and there was plenty of bush whacking and giant spider webs/spiders crossing our path. We also saw a bunch of tiny (poisonous?) yellow frogs so stayed away from them and tried to avoid the giant spiders after I walked through one of the webs and had to brush it off.
image

There were also so big rusted out tanks along the hike, not sure what they must have been used for? Fuel for tankers?
image

Once we got back down, we had an hour or two until the ferry so we wandered around the tiny village.
image

image

image

At the end of the day, it started downpouring so we waited on the dock under cover for another hour until we could catch a ferry ride back.
image

We stopped at the bus station on the way back to look into tickets to our next destination, as well as walked around the giant mall that was there. At night, we went out to the hostel bar again for a little while and briefly checked out bars in the area. It was pretty dead and I was still super exausted I passed out