Monday, July 31, 2006

Isla Coiba

In Santiago, a city of 200.000 people 240km from Panamá City, was a big party this weekend. We went there on Friday after work. It took 4,5 hours to get there... the panamericana (panamerican highway) is not as highways are elseweher on the world ;-) Finally we arrived and spent a couple of nice hours hanging around drinking beer with friends.

On the next morning after a short breakfast we drove with the bus to the port where our boat to Isla Coiba waited for us. It was a nice boat trip of about 2 hours and I was lucky lying on the luggage to get some more sleep. Isla Coiba is a former jail colony (penal de coiba) and is now a national park. The park authority maintains a nice area there with a camp site and small huts with beds (I was the only one without a tent). Later we went to a small coral reef for swimming and snorkeling, where I've seen a reef shark, clown fishes, and - of course - lots of corals.

Later we gone back to our "base camp" and had a nice barbecue. Lots of people from the university were there and so I met lots of people I already knew. We drank sangria and rum with coke (ron de abuelo - a panamanian rum brand) and played some games... finally they auctioned some of the guys (including Ed ;-) Since I was also partying on the day before, I went to sleep early and it was raining all night... I was the only one with dry clothes on the next day :-)

After breakfast we jumped on the boat and went to the former jail site of the island. It was very interesting and we had a very friendly guide from Policia Nacional. I was a little bit concerned if really all of the prisoners left the island when I saw a guy with an automatic riffle. We have seen all the former jail buildings as well as the rest of the infrastructure, the graveyard, and the diesel generators.

Later we drove back to the island we've visited the day before to relax a little bit in the warm sea. We had to leave early because it's a long way back to panama city.

It was a very nice trip, you see a lot more if you travel with locals. This was my fourth Island, now I have 2 caribbean and 2 pacific islands on my list. I cannot really see a difference... ;-)

I think I will go to see some the panamanian mountain valleys next....

Link to my Isla Coiba album


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