Having gone through the Panama Canal, the Big Pacific lay at our feet! Given that it was 8 months later than originally planned, we would wait with the crossing of the big ocean until the next season, opening up for the discovery of places we did not think we would visit during our journey: more of Panama, before moving on to Costa Rica. We knew it would be the rainy season, so was our change of plans a wise one?
Obviously, as the name implies, it has been raining a lot… Also, at this time of year, the wind appears to be on holiday – meaning: motoring, motoring, motoring… When thinking back at the 6 months we spent in Panama and Costa Rica, however, this is overshadowed by beautiful people and places. For the first time in history, Panama was qualified for the World Championship in football. We found out about that when we were waiting for the bus driver in Shelter Bay Marina to take us into town one morning. He never showed up, and the manager of the marina thus found out that the President of Panama had declared a spontaneous national holiday the day after the victory – to celebrate the qualification! On the buses in Panama City, destinations were replaced by “Viva Panama!”. Viva Panama indeed 🙂
At the lively fish market in Panama City, after having finished some delicious ceviche accompanied by a Balboa beer, a neatly dressed lady came over to us and boldly asked us to smile, whereupon she took a selfie with us – just like that 😉 We are apparently as exotic to the Panamanians as they are to us, but we are probably not as bold… On both sides of the border, payday (normally every 2 weeks) means have-fun-day, once you have endured the long queues at the ATM and the traffic jams to get to the shopping mall! Why wait until tomorrow if you can have fun (spend your money) today? For your newly earned money, you might also buy a lottery ticket from one of the ubiquitous sellers all over Costa Rica. And we were told by Warner that Christmas time is the best time, when the winning prizes go up! The cutest seller was probably the old crooked lady in front of Mercado Central in San José – she had been standing there for so long that there was a mural of her on the door into the market.
In Heredia, on our way back from a great coffee tour at Britt, we asked a lady about the direction to the bus stop. Instead of pointing it out, she literally showed us the way, although she thereafter walked in the opposite direction. That is kindness!
Puntarenas is famous for its “Churchill”, shaved ice with cola syrup (red and sweet), milk powder (?!?!), ice cream and condensed milk, named after a man, who in the 40’ies started experimenting with the “granizado”, and who happened to look like Churchill. People apparently drive a long way for this dessert on the beach of Puntarenas. Given that this city was our home for almost two months, we did taste it, but this would not be the reason for coming back 😉 Admittedly, Puntarenas is not the most exciting place on earth, but when spending a long time somewhere, you get some kind of connection to people, which makes it easier to stay despite rather sad surroundings. We now have friends in the “Ferreteria Apui”, who after our countless visits every time we needed new materials for Ella started recognizing us, and we were met with handshakes and questions about our progress 🙂 The dentist Gladys exclaimed that we were very brave, once she understood that we were not on a cruise ship, but our own ship, and the always smiling and helpful workers in Puerto Azul Marina were curious to know about our voyage.
While Guna Yala has already received its tribute, Bahia Drake has won our top 1 in Costa Rica. Maybe because it was our first real encounter with this country’s magnificent nature and wildlife. And maybe because it is a remote place, that is most easily accessed by boat. Or maybe because we fell in love with Greta, the dog from Finca Maresia, who became our dog for one day. No matter the reason, and despite rainy times, a change of plans is not necessarily a bad thing 😉