Imagine a country with tropical islands nestled off of its coast; surrounded by crystal clear turquoise water, colonial towns and cities living side-by-side with thriving metropolises on the mainland; from the tropical Caribbean coast to the wild pacific coast, cloud forests dominating the centre of the country; Panama is a geological lover’s dream, jungle, mountains and the tropical islands, it is part of Central America’s perfect Eden, the crowning top to South America.
Panama is still relatively untouched; its tourism trade however is starting to rise rapidly, and why not? The country is absolutely stunning; when planning our Central American adventure, I was most excited about visiting Panama, this would be the last country we visited before returning home to the UK, and it was going to be an absolute corker.
Lauren and I packed up to leave Costa Rica for the beautiful Panama, the journey was surprisingly easy from Puerto Viejo; a mini bus picked ourselves and a selection of other people from around the town to take us to the border crossing between Costa Rica and Panama. On the hour drive down south we drifted past banana plantations; stretching out as far as the eye can see, the land once mountainous up north was flat further down South, still the lush green I had grown to love in Costa Rica surrounded us either side of the road.
When we reached the border between Panama and Costa Rica, we got dropped off at the edge of a metal and wooden decommissioned railway bridge and told that to cross the border we had to cross the bridge, which ran high over the Sixaola River. The bridge from afar appeared to be perfectly stable it seemed like it would be a lovely stroll into Panama, however, the closer we got we noticed that the wooden panels of the bridge were rotting, in some cases the slabs were loose and often they were missing all together, so you could see the chocolate coloured river floating 50ft under us as we balanced with our backpacks across from Costa Rica. It wasn’t a long walk over the bridge but it was enjoyable; it felt like a ‘rite of passage’ into Panama, behind us our ‘hostel home’ in Nicaragua, the hippy commune in Puerto Viejo; ahead of us, island life and a beautiful city.