An excerpt from my journal after a crazy day in Bocas Del Toro, Panama.
Activities (no waivers or instructions beforehand were given):
- locals took us out on a boat to an Amazonian river where sloths hung above and exposed roots made a labyrinth below
- we dock at some point and a man cuts bamboo trunks to use as hiking sticks through knee-deep slippery mud
- we hike through a lush rainforest, completely caked in mud. we end up at a cave discovered 11 years ago (the end has not been reached)
- we go spelunking. thousands of bats on the roof with dozens whizzing by our ears (French men were fearless as the rest of us cowered below). the water level was up to our eyeballs, the ground would sometimes disappear completely so i'd quickly cling on to the cave walls to stay afloat. my thumb, finger tips and elbows were all scraped. i definitely stepped on several of Ursula's creatures. one section we scaled a huge cliff with little to grip (below was a violent drop that would either lead to a '127 hours' situation or a serious injury) praying for our lives. we ended in a section with a deep pool for diving and a small waterfall and had to do it all again, reversed.
- after hiking back to boat, we go to a beach for lunch and quickly set off for another boat trip.
- we stop near an island's cliff and we're all handed snorkeling gear and taught how to speargun large fish for food. the local says, "last time within 3 minutes i saw a shark and a barracuda." "...what does a barracuda eat?" i asked. "flesh." he responded. because of the heavy rain that week, the water was too murky to see past a couple meters (terrifying!) so we went in search of another area.
- we find clearer waters and i hang onto a rope behind the moving boat looking underwater; plenty of starfish and coral.
- we dock at a bar in the middle of the water. BLOODY CEASER is on the menu... very strange that a Canadian drink would be here. i order one and the bartenders say they're from Barrie, Ontario, know my dad's restaurant and also claim they've met my mom on a beach 30 years ago. i'm floored.
- after an insane day, we're finally headed back to the city. Luke and I accidentally leave our muddy shoes on the streets of Bocas del Toro. oh well. this was worth every shoe i've owned.