Leaving Bocas del Toro was definitely bitter sweet. I had an incredible time in my 5 (ish) days there, and even though I felt that I had managed my time really well and experienced a lot of what the islands had to offer, I wish there was more! But, everything comes to an end and I had to start making my way north so that when the time came to go home, I would be near the airport!
I had to catch a taxiboat from the Bocas del Toro island to the main land. I picked the PERFECT time (serious sarcasm here) to go, because it was a Sunday and there was a group of college students (at least 50!) who were also making their way in the same direction. Since they were a group, they were all sticking behind and I kept getting pushed back and back. Eventually (after almost TWO hours) I pretty-close-to demanded to get on the boat. Enough was enough!
When I got to the port on the main land and got off the taxi, I was bombarded (as usual) by about 5-10 different people yelling ‘Taxi!? Taxi, taxi!! Miss, where are you going?! Do you need a taxi? Where, where, where?! Taxi, taxi taxi!!!!’. This NEVER fails to be overwhelming, and the immediate reaction is ALWAYS to ignore them and just push past… which usually worked just fine. But of course, this time getting off the boat I had my arms full and when my big backpack was passed to me over the dock something fell out of it (it was only my water bottle, thank goodness) and I had to retrieve that from the water. As I was doing that, one of the taxi boys had grabbed my bag, put it onto his own back, looked at me and said ‘Where to miss?!’, turned around and headed away through the crowd. I was flustered and my arms still full and too many people were talking to me at once and I was down on the dock and my arm was in the water and finally somebody said to me ‘Follow him!’. (Duh!!) So I hurried after him! He took me to this other boy who apparently was in charge of the taxis and when I told them I juts wanted to go to the bus station, they said ‘No, no! But WHEEEEEERE are you going?!’. So I finally told them, David (pronounced Dahveed), and they hurried off (with my bag still!) to a taxi with another couple of people in it. The taxi driver propped open the trunk, the boys asked for their tips (for directing me and carrying my bags) and I was told it would be 10$ ($30 for the three of us) for the 3 hour taxi ride to David. Could this be real?!?! What a good deal!! It was. So I climbed in, got comfortable and became acquainted with my fellow passengers!
The couple that was in the car already was from Ecuador. He was Irwin the artist, and Lupa was a doctor. They didn’t speak much English at all, and as usual, my Spanish wasn’t all that great either. But during this three hour ride, we chatted quite a bit! They were so kind to me and really made me feel safe and comfortable with them. The taxi driver had me a little bit worried though, because I was explaining that I was wanting to get to Costa Rica via David, and he told me ‘No, no no, you go from Bocas to Costa Rica!’. So I told him ‘No, no no! This is how I’m going to do it!’ Sooo, I didn’t really know where I was going to end up. But, as always, that was okay.
We finally got to David and I parted ways with Irwin and Lupa since they were at a different part of the bus terminal. I gave them hugs goodbye and we exchanged information and then I hopped back into the taxi. He drove me to where I needed to be, and due to the confusion of earlier he went into the bus terminal for me to make sure that I could go where I needed to! I was indeed in the right place… but since it was a Sunday the buses stopped running much earlier that afternoon. This meant, I was stuck in David for the night. Great ! (Again, some serious sarcasm). Knowing nothing about this city, and just wanting to be back up in Costa Rica, this was a huge bummer. Plus, I was hungry! But, there was nothing I could do but make the best of the situation. The taxi driver drove me to a nearby hotel that he stays at when he stays in David and chatted with the receptionist to make sure that I would be okay there for the night and be able to get a taxi to the bus terminal in the morning.
There was a (very) brief moment where I was kind of excited for this excuse to spend a few extra dollars and get a hotel room all to myself, with a private bathroom and hot water! But that excitement shortly subsided when I realized that the room I was in was quite sketchy and had absolutely NO air flow. I walked in, turned on the light, turned on the fan, and opened the window (which literally opened up to the cement side of building right next to the hotel, just inches away). It was only for one night, I could do it, right?!
I wasn’t excited to spend much time in the room, and I was super hungry, so I left to go find some food. I headed out of the hotel in the direction that the taxi driver had pointed me in for his favorite restaurant, but soon I was walking in circles looking for an open place! Again, it was Sunday, so everything was closed. I kept walking and walking, not wanting to get too far away from my hotel (which, I had soon realized I didn’t know the name of it, so if I DID get lost I wouldn’t be able to find it again!), and eventually I walked into a fried chicken fast food joint. Now, this was something that I often struggled with when I was in Central America: being hungry, desperate, and having limited options, fried chicken was ALWAYS available, and always smelt so good. I never seriously thought about eating it, or got really close to doing so. But it was the only place open, and so I walked in with a little bit of hope that it would have a vegetarian option, stared at the menu, and walked out. No such luck. Off to wander some more. But shortly after I exited, I heard a shout. I turned around, and Irwin was there waving me back! He and Lupa had walked in as I had walked out. I walked back to him and we talked for a moment, and I explained I was looking for vegetarian food. He pulled me back in, ordered me some rice and an apple pie and we all sat down and ate together. It was still light out for a while and they had a couple of hours before they had to catch their bus, so they invited me to walk around with them. I had nothing better to do so of course I joined! They are incredible people. Through very little communication by language, I was able to learn so much about them and the caring, compassionate and generous people they are. It made a situation that could have been really unenjoyable, be really quite great. We walked around and every bird that they saw they would stop and stare and tell me what kind of bird it was. I hadn’t looked much at the birds there like they did! I guess I’ve just gotten in the habit of not noticing them, because here in Calgary they are usually just crows or magpies of pigeons or seagulls. In David, they were parrots and budgies.
I parted ways with them one last time, thanked them for the wonderful day spent together, and headed back to my room. I settled in, prepared to be bored for the next few hours, but then I realized there was a TV in my room ! A tiny, old little thing hanging from the ceiling. But it had one English channel and it was playing ‘Nemo’. I was so incredibly content with that!! I watched that until I fell asleep.
I had an AWFUL time sleeping that night. I kept having dreams about mice and cockroaches crawling all over me when I was sleeping, and the fan that was blowing air on my while I was sleeping kept moving my hair etc. which I also thought to be these creatures! I only got a few hours of sleep with all of this going on, but I made it! I survived the night. I made it through my unplanned, unwanted time in David.
I woke up early and headed to the bus station. I gave myself WAY too much time to get there, so I had quite a while to wait. I sat down to have some breakfast at a cafe in the terminal, and noticed this elderly lady sitting across and over from me. She was about 80 and her forehead was bleeding. I was looking at her a little bit, trying to figure out if it was old or new. And she started speaking to me in Spanish. I tried to tell her that I didn’t speak Spanish and that I didn’t understand what she was saying to me, but she just kept going. She was quite upset and I got the feeling that this had just happened to her. So I dug out my first aid kit and gave her some bandages and something to clean herself up with. She finished her breakfast and got up to find a bathroom. I finished just after her and realized that maybe I should go and help her. I quickly put on my pack and chased after her in the direction I last saw her go, but I didn’t end up finding her. I hope she was okay.
Finally, I got on the bus and was headed back to Costa Rica !!!