Arriving into Panama I hit my 50th country, well ahead of my deadline of my 50th birthday! But I certainly dont intend to stop now and look forward to the countries ahead of us on our journey home. 

We organised a shuttle to take us from Puerto Viejo to Bocas del Toro in Panama. The border crossing on the Carribean coast between the two countries is infamous for its rotting wooden bridge sitting high above the river that you must walk across. Its a little less daunting these days however now that there is a much sturdier steel and concrete construction for the trucks to use beside it. Still, we had to watch where we were stepping, lest we plunge through for an unplanned swim. 

We had expected to have to pay $3, or maybe $6, USD to enter Costa Rica, but when we went through we werent asked for anything - yay! We had noticed a sign saying that officials at this border do not collect currency but it was in really bad spanglish so we figured maybe that was it, but one of the girls in the group told me later she had had to pay. Oh well, luck was on our side for a change!

After our driver practiced his rally skills between the border and Almirante we hopped onto a local speed boat to head out to the Island archipelago of Bocas del Toro. 
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50 countries!!
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Some local houses in Bocas
Bocas has become a firm favourite on the tourist circuit in Panama and its easy to see why. Bocas' laid-back Caribbean vibe is enhanced by the archipelago’s spectacular natural setting. The islands are covered in dense jungles of vine tangles and forest palms that open up to pristine beaches fringed by reeds and mangroves. Beneath the water, an extensive coral reef ecosystem supports countless species of tropical fish (although diving visibility is poor), while simultaneously providing some seriously gnarly surf breaks (including one responsible for breaking our hostel owners back!). We had googled a place to stay before leaving Puerto Viejo and had decided on Pukalani Hostel. It was a few minutes out of town and seemed a little more chilled out than the party hostels in the centre which was what we were after. The travel gods had a different plan for us it seems though. Hopping in the free shuttle the owner, Juan, informed us that once a month for the full moon he does a party at the hostel which most of the island attends and that we were in luck it was tonight! Well, time to celebrate hitting 50! 

Pukalani has a beautiful set up with rooms all looking out to the ocean and overlooking the pool for geusts to use and a pagoda over the water with a bar and pool table to hang out. In proper spanish style the party didnt get into full swing until about midnight, but the DJ was set up, fire artists were on display and everyone was having a really good time. An older american 'swinger' couple obviously hoped they could entice some of the younger clientele to join them in some extra curricular activities as they got butt naked and wandered around chatting to everyone, which provided a good amount of entertainment! no photos though - sorry to disapoint! haha.

We met a really lovely American couple called Brandi and Chris who haddn't really done the 'hostel/backpacking' thing before and had initially planned to spend 19 days chilling in Bocas but all the talk of the amazing things we, and others at the hostel, had seen and done saw them change their plans and decide to go exploring. I hope they have a good time!
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Pukalani by night
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Ginormous rhino beetle - theyre endangered so this is pretty cool
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Bocas town from the water
We had intended to do a few day trips out to the other beaches and islands surrounding Isla Colon (the main Island), but our attempts were thwarted by the weather (rainy season seems to have finally set in) and the fact that I developed quite a bad pain in my back/side. Ty managed to go out in the boat with Juan one day and snorkel off a wreck and go kayaking around the bay another day so at least he managed to see a few sites. 

Next stop: Panama City and its infamous canal
 





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