05.01.2014 - 12.01.2014 32 °C
After wading through the litter to escape Bastimentos, it would be something of an understatement to say we were keen to move on. We were, in fact, desperate not to leave Panama thinking that the whole country was a hideous disaster. It wasn't an easy journey, given that bus drivers in Panama like to treat their passengers to radio like this. The principle seems to be: if your brain isn't bleeding, its not random enough yet. Try another foghorn.
We were also down one laptop charger. It had originally broken in Guatemala, and we'd got it fixed in about 3 hours, but then it burned out again. We must have gone to 8 or more repairs shops across Costa Rica and Panama and not one of them would agree to look at a charger. We learned a whole lot of technical Spanish vocab that we will probably never use again. We got very close to ordering one from a Costa Rican store, until the live chat sales rep hung up on us and went home for Christmas. And then eventually we set up an account with a Panamanian shipping company, gained an address in Miami, ordered the charger from the US, and twiddled our thumbs in the city of David for a week waiting for it to show up. Up to a point, it seems like in countries here with more developed infrastructure and procedures like Costa Rica and Panama, it can actually be more difficult to get simple things done!
David is an oppressively humid mid-size city not far from the western border with Costa Rica. Its not a tourist city, and we didn't see many gringos. Its a busy, fairly affluent place with a pleasant gentle buzz to it, and quite a bit cleaner than Bocas. We stayed in a great and spotless budget hotel called Residencial La Avenida, which boasted the world's most patient receptionist. She tolerated our stumbling Spanish, indefinite plans and Clos spillage on her sheets ("lo siento... un accidente... con un vaso de vino...eek"). And probably began to wonder if we were planning to live there.
Although David isn't a tourist city, its a short bus ride to Boquete - an pleasant mountain town, with a small tourist scene revolving around hiking and the annual Feria de las Flores y del Cafe - Festival of Flowers and Coffee. As luck would have it, they were holding that while we were in the area, and we caught the first day.
As you might guess, you're supposed to admire the flowers, and drink the coffee... but when we were there there was no water on site yet. and so no coffee! Couldn't argue with how flowery it was though.
And you can't have a garden without some terrifying gnomes.
As soon as we'd got our laptop charger, our budget decided for us that we had spent a bit too much time in relatively pricey Costa Rica and Panama, and also sadly that we could not afford to fly to Brazil and Argentina (where living costs are 3 times as much as most of Central America). Really, the chance to return to see more of Central America was tempting enough on its own, and we weren't too sad to jump on a bus and zoom northwards, back to Nicaragua.