All that aside, I finally took off for Panama! Before I left I had to prepare a fake ticket to show at the border, proving that I was leaving the country again. At first I took this quite lightly, but then a few people started mentioning Panamanian jails...not so much of a laughing matter. Still, I decided to take the risk, as I'm sure hundreds do every day. The journey started with a quick 2 hour shuttle to the border town of Sixaola. At the border we did the customary leaving tax->immigration (Costa Rica)->entrance tax->immigration (Panama), in total it cost me $11 to cross the rickety bridge made of loose 2x4's. On the other side we took another bus (1 hr) and arrived at a small costal village. Here I saw many funny looking boats, houses on stilts, and a bathroom for men that was simply a hole over the water. The boat picked us up and about 20 of us piled into it. At first we were traveling at maybe 2 knots. Then they kicked it into gear and we took off, bouncing side to side in the waves and wakes of other water taxis. The total cost of the trip with water taxi was $25 plus a few tips (I swear they always target Americans because we are so accustomed to paying tips).
Showing up at Bocas Town, on the island of Colon was picturesque. The entire waterfront is packed with brightly colored bars/restaurants/and docks. Once we got onto the mainland there were several helpful tour guides that asked us where we were all staying and biked us to our hostels, free of charge because the government pays them to provide info! After my friends and I found a hostel that we agreed upon (free coffee, pancakes, chocolate, water, and internet for $10 a night) we set out to explore the new town! We found a place with wraps, but in an hour they were having a special of two wraps for $7, so we opted for a beer at a waterfront bar first. The bar had a pool filled with seacucumbers and starfish and we sat while watching the boats and birds fly past. Then we returned to the converted bus wrap place and I gladly helped myself to two wraps (well, Tess stole a small piece of one, haha). The town started to come alive the later it got and we explored a little more, sitting on the water dipping our feet in the near-body-temperature water...a great first day here!