Word to the wise…don’t cross borders on holiday weekends…

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On Saturday, we crossed the land border between Costa Rica and Panama.  Big mistake.  Who knew that Costa Rica celebrated Columbus Day?  Who knew that tons of Costa Ricans traveled to Panama for the three day weekend?  Who knew that a border crossing that normally takes an hour or so would descend into chaos and result in standing in line two full hours to exit Costa Rica and three full hours to enter Panama (with our bags)?  Ugh.  Note to self.  No more border crossings on holidays… (And, note to the backpackers that cut in line — karma is a bitch — and, by the way, your mothers would be ashamed of you — boy, do I sound old…).

That said, once we got to Panama we fell in love.  OK, not with our hotel.  Our hotel kind of sucks.  When our upstairs neighbor showers, the water drips into our shower.  Gross!  At least it is cheap and has AC…

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But we have fallen in love with Bocas del Toro, which is an island chain about 20 minutes from the border.  It feels kind of like Key West, but in a good way.  Very chill, very easy, very low key.

And traveling here during low season has some distinct advantages.  On Monday, Robert went scuba diving.  Alone.  Just him and the dive master.  No other tourists signed up. He even got to dive a shipwreck.  And he saw some cool wildlife, including something called a toad fish and several massive angel fish.

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On Tuesday, we sailed on a 42 foot catamaran.  Alone.  Just us and the captain.  No other tourists signed up but they took us because “we looked like nice people.”  (I’m guessing that means “yeah, they are pretty old, I don’t think they will be obnoxious.”).  The sail was absolutely fantastic.  We started at a beach called Starfish Bay.  Guess what lives there?  Yep, starfish!  Huge starfish — many of them were at least a foot in diameter.  I so wish we had a waterproof camera — this is the best I could do with my point and shoot.  There were also plenty of crabs and small fish swimming right near shore (including a really cool flounder).  While we were playing on the beach, the captain cooked up coq au vin (yes, seriously) and garlic bread.  Delicious!  Then, we sailed back towards town.  Robert even got to drive the boat.  He was pretty happy about that.  And, we got to snorkel (although the visibility was pretty bad).

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Next stop is Boquete, a small town in the highlands.  We head there tomorrow.

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