I had a few more days in Boquete in which I studied a little more and then attempted the level B2 DELE Spanish Exam. I knew it was going to be hard, needing 70% across all five sections of the exam, and although I’m not 100% sure, I think I would have failed. Not to worry, that was my first ever language exam so a good experience nonetheless.
In my last few days I learnt how to make Patacones with Miriam, a food that has been part of my staple diet for a very long time, and watched two films with the kids about talking eggs. I said goodbye on Friday with Amilcar, a talented drawer, drawing me a farewell picture to remember the family by. It was a really great experience staying with them and one I won’t forget.
The next day I headed to Bocas del Toro, something that has been on the places to go list for a long time. Although very touristy I can see why people go there, some beautiful islands in the caribbean and good nightlife. On the way I met Jen and Annika, a couple of American girls who had come down from San Jose for the weekend. We all went to Aqua Lounge, which is renowned for it’s parties, and spent the late afternoon jumping off the trampoline and swings into the ocean. We went for a walk around sunset and ended up eating Lobster for $7.50 at Gran Kahuna, another hostel around the corner. There’s many things I won’t miss about the food in Central and South America but cheap lobster is not one of them. The party that night at Aqua Lounge definitely lived up to expectations and conveniently I have no photo evidence of the night.
The next day I took a boat with the girls to one of the other islands where you could spot red frogs, amongst other things. It is renowned for its beautiful beach too but it was raining so that wasn’t much good to us. We went for a walk through the jungle and the girls shared some of their knowledge about the plants, with both studying Ecology at University. I mainly complained about how much better it could have been with no rain and a pair of flip flops. Jen also spotted the famous red frog, which was really, really tiny.
That night was open mic night at Aqua Lounge. Although there were a few guitar player/singers around, they were fast asleep in the dorm room having partied a little too hardy the night before. So instead we were treated to some hilarious freestyle rapping from a Panamanian guy Enrique who worked in the cafe at the hostel “Can you smell what Enrique is cooking? Chicken Sandwiches’. I couldn’t decide whether to stay another day or not and when I woke up to another overcast day I decided to head for Puerto Viejo in Costa Rica. Puerto Viejo is over run by tourism (hostel, cafe, hostel, yoga farm, hostel, organic produce, hostel etc), especially of the American variety, but pretty chilled nonetheless. Despite rain for the first half of the day the skies cleared and so I went to the beach on bicycle with Alena, Alizee and Clemence from my hostel.
That night we got involved in some drinking games, the swiss (french) version of circle of death was funny, especially when the rule everyone has to speak with a french accent was introduced. I introduced the girls to the game fingers and afterwards we met up with Winston and played some epic table tennis tournaments. I was happy to beat Daniel, an Irish guy, in an epic Federar vs Nedal style 5th set and then Alizee, who’s Dad was Swiss champion. She had a vicious forehand; a few less drinks and I think she would have easily had my number.
I dragged myself away from Puerto Viejo and hopped on a bus to San Jose for what would be my final destination in Central/South America, sniff sniff. On the bus I saw Rob, a nice Australian guy I’d spent the night hanging out with in Bocas. We got to the city and I went to where Chris and Chloe were staying to hang for a night. We went out for the final supper, so to speak, and I prepared for my job interview with Pfizer which was the next morning.
With that done I was New York bound and after 375 days it was goodbye Latin America! After being through 13 countries and travelling thousands of kilometres I felt mixed emotions, both ready for a change but sad to be leaving. I was ready to get back into some sort of routine, burn my travelling clothes, flush my toilet paper down the toilet and eat a salad.
Thanks to those who made the year what it was, a truly amazing and life-changing experience, particularly my fantastic travelling buddy Roh who I shared almost half a year with. Without those friends from home, family, and literally hundreds of amazing people I met throughout the trip, I wouldn’t have enjoyed it half as much. Until next time that’s it from me, Dan, and the beaten track.