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Wojciech's Travel log

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You can lose everything, but nobody will take away what you saw and what you experienced...
............

Log entries 21 - 30 of 1936 Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10



Oct 17, 2017 12:00 AM Unique Providencia Island

Unique Providencia Island Once this was possession of England, often visited by the pirates like captain Morgan. Colombia captured Old Providence and nearby San Andres after gaining independence. But the English tradition is still alive here and most of it's 5 thousands people speak English. Passports are scanned on arrival, they control also your tourist card. Santa Isabel -
- main village on Providencia is very small. My "Pousada Lia" is conveniently located just opposite the pier. Mr Joe, the manager gave me the best room I had on whole this journey... Next door there is little buffet where they prepare ordered meals...
-You can change your dollars in the supermarket! The official rate is 2930 pesos but they are giving only 2600 - so it is highly recommended to pay using VISA in all places they accept it.
After a big laundry (it is so hot that everything is dry in the morning) I am ready for the walk aroun this beautiful island - it is only 7 kms long and 4 kms wide!



Oct 16, 2017 12:00 AM To Old Providencia Island

To Old Providencia Island I had the reservation for catamaran, but unpaid. Will they take me there?
Before sunrise I started walk to the pier. The streets of San Andres were empty. But in the little garden near marina I saw a group of the people staying in the line. It must be here! In the Shack surrounded by palms black skin lady were working with the laptop. -My name is... you cancelled my reservation because your bank didn't accept my credit cards.... -You will be OK!
Oh my God! Lucky me! I will be sailing anyway! I paid by card 280000 pesos - like 100 USD for roundtrip journey, got a boarding pass, sea sickness pill and bag of drinking water. Before boarding there was again detailed baggage searching by primitive policeman - not a pleasure!
We departed with 30 min delay - at 8.30. Little Catamaran has one cabin housing in the plane-like chairs around 60 people. Day was sunny, but the sea... Sea was rough! Advice to fast the belts really makes a sense on this route. Even a walk to the toilet is very serious problem. I used catamarans to get to Monserrat and to Barbuda but there the sail was much nicer! After 3,5 hours in the choppy sea I saw the Old Providence island. The first feeling was: it is similar to Pitcairn island - also mountainous and same size! Soon we docked in the tiny Santa Isabel village. One more dream came true!



Oct 15, 2017 12:00 AM To San Andres Island

To San Andres Island Taxi drivers in San Jose charge 30 USD for transfer to airport. Let you know that on Avenida 2, opposite the La Merced Church you will find little terminals of 2 bus companies offering to drop you in aeropuerto for 525-700 colones - around 1 dollar.
Since long time I was dreaming about San Andres and Providencia Colombian Islands. The day arrived! The only access is by air, so I am flying there with Avianca on free award ticket - Avianca joined Star Alliance...
San Andres lies 150 km from Nicaragua, but 1300 from homeland Bogota. We were landing in the clouds... In the airport they checked passports again and stamped Tourist Card (you must buy this card for 104000 Colombian pesos before boarding any flight to San Andres).
Then the customs were serching my luggage - why?
Finally I went out the terrminal building. Water onthe streets - heavy tropical storm was in the middle of the day.
I found my way to Sea Star Inn - little pension located in the side street.
A/c room with shared bath costs here 25 $. When I went to the town it was already dark. I was surprised by the number of giant and elegant duty-free shops. Colombian families are coming here for shopping. But I did not find any place to change my dollars to local pesos? No money changers, Bank is closed, tomorro is national holiday. Will they take me by catamaran to Providencia?



Oct 15, 2017 12:00 AM To San Andres Island

Taxi drivers in San Jose charge 30 USD for transfer to airport. Let you know that on Avenida 2, opposite the La Merced Church you will find little terminals of 2 bus companies offering to drop you in aeropuerto for 525-700 colones - around 1 dollar.
Since long time I was dreaming about San Andres and Providencia Colombian Islands. The day arrived! The only access is by air, so I am flying there with Avianca on free award ticket - Avianca joined Star Alliance...
San Andres lies 150 km from Nicaragua, but 1300 from homeland Bogota. We were landing in the clouds... In the airport they checked passports again and stamped Tourist Card (you must buy this card for 104000 Colombian pesos before boarding any flight to San Andres).
Then the customs were serching my luggage - why? Are foreign tourists so rare here?
Finally I went out the terrminal building. Water, water on the streets - heavy tropical storm was passing here in the middle of the day.
I found my way to Sea Star Inn - little pension located in the side street.
A/c room with shared bath costs here 25 $. When I went to the town it was already dark. I was surprised by the number of giant and elegant duty-free shops. Colombian families are coming here for shopping. But I did not find any place to change my dollars to local pesos? No money changers,



Oct 14, 2017 12:00 AM Bus to San Jose

Bus to San Jose Puerto Viejo has its kind of charm. It is sleepy, bit dirty and... expensive. Today I took the bus from Puerto Viejo to the capital of Costa Rica - San Jose. It is nice, a/c bus - the ticket for 5 hours travel costs only 10 USD. On the route we passed sea port of Limon and then climbed green mountains to the level of the clouds. Yes. there waa a fog in the middle of the day. After arrival to the capital I was walking to my cheap pension Trianon close to the National Museum. No, it is not a palace, but you can have here your room with shared bath and breakfast for just 14 $. Dona Aida - the host - is a charming person and offers also complimentary breakfast. I left my backpack and took the walk through the center of San Jose - Again after some 30 years... In the Saturday's evening the streets were full of local people. I was surprised by the new, stylish gate to China Town... but once you cross the gate you will see catholic church La Soledad and John Lennon sitting on the square bench. The ornate building of Correos and Telegrafos is still the nicest in the city... Once it was National Theater, but now it is not so bright...
In San Jose center many streets are converted to the pedestrian zones. Police is present, but I after sunset I decided to go back to my pension... Tomorrow I plan to fly to Colombia...



Oct 13, 2017 12:00 AM Through the bridge to Costa Rica

Through the bridge to Costa Rica There are many water taxis ready to take you from Bocas to the port Almirante on the continent but budget travellers preferethe cheaper option - big car ferry departing at 10 am at selected days. They charge only 2 USD for 1,5 hour journey. After landing in Chiquita Bananas port I took the main road to reach local bus terminal. Little bus departed at 12 took me to the big town of Chiguanola (1.50 USD). There at the bus terminal I changed to the yellow school-like bus going to the border town of Guabito (1 USD). 100 m from the stop I found immigration office to get an exit stamp in my passport. Then I walked through the border bridge. Just after the bridge there is immigration post of Costa Rica. Here I got entry stamp of CR. Touts will bother you here offering minibus ride to Puerto Viejo for 10 $. Let you know that there is bus termi al hidden in the courtyard down from the post, only 60 m away. Here you can catch public bus to Puerto Viejo for jus 3 USD.
I reached Puerto Viejo around 3 pm local time. Palms, beach, reggae music. Welcome to Costa Rica!



Oct 12, 2017 12:00 AM Paradise islands....

Paradise islands.... Bocas del Toro consists of more then 10 islands of different size. They are almost flat and covered by lush, jungle vegetation. Several boat agencies on the waterfront in Bocas Town offer day tours to the islans. They all starts at 10 am and have similar program. Ticket cost me 30 USD including 10 $ nat. park fee and 2 soft drinks. Up to 12 people per boat.
At the begining we went to Dolphin's Bay. You must be lucky here. On that day only one dolphin was performing fo 9 boats with the tourists. Then we were sailing to the southern end of Iska Bastimiento to order the lunch - will be taken 3 hours later.... Then for 2 hours to the little Cayo Zapatilla with great beaches around. This was the highlight... I took here the walk around the cayo enjoying the nature - 2 hours is just enough to make a loop and to swim.
Then our boatman took us for 45 min to the snorkeling area - 5 m deep - to see fish and coral. After lunch we were sailing onward through the maze of mangroves to see the monkeys on the little island and plenty of starfish on the shallow waters - from the boat only... I was a bit exhausted when we returned at 5 pm, but it was another great day!



Oct 11, 2017 12:00 AM Meeting Polish priest...

Meeting Polish priest... Polish Catholic priest on remote islands of Bocas del Toro? Yes, I found him and this was very pleasant meeting. We spent few hours talking about the Panama, about travelling and the whole world. Father Jozef Gwozdz doest not look like a missionary - full of vigor and energetic. He works on the mission in Panama since 5 years and knows well local community. We also came to the conclusion that we have mutual friends: famous Polish biker Piotr Strzezysz and father Kowal working in Russian Kamchatka. All the best for the future, dear father Jozef!
I took a walk to the local cemetery - so different and so poor and then to nearby Cabana Beach where locals are swimming. But the sand here is not white, so I decited to take the boat tour to the smaller islands of the Bocas Archipelago. In Bocas Town at the waterfront there are many little agencies offering day tours by boat - the typical price is 30 dollars including 10 $ entry fee to the national park. I signed for one of them...



Oct 10, 2017 12:00 AM Bocas del Toro - Panama

Bocas del Toro - Panama You know that the islands fascinate me. Since long time I was dreaming about these little is lands... Bocas del Toro belongs to Panama and lie near the border with Costa Rica. Yes, you can get here from Panama City by bus, making a big loop - it is like 600 kms to Almirante and then use a ferry to sail to Colon Island. Long and time - consuming way... I decided to fly on little fokker 50 of Air Panama. 50 minutes in the air, great views, 100 USD...
From the tiny airstrip on isla Colon it was walking distance to Hostal Dona Irma. It is regular house where the locals live downstairs renting few cramp upstairs rooms to the tourists. Share bath, fan only (necessary also during the night). No mosquitos! I got a single room for 25 $ per night. See the view from my window on the picture - that's how the poor people live here... Then in the evening I experienced a big surprise. There is a school just on the other side of the street. from 6 pm till 8 pm the band of the drummers had a rehearsal there making such a noise that I soon suffered headache. Do you know Caribbean drummers?
The island is beautiful with tropical flowers, palms, banana trees and peaceful people (except those drummers, of course). It seems that I got another island to my collection....



Oct 09, 2017 12:00 AM Hot Panama City

Hot Panama City Panama City is full of contrasts. I took a walk to the old part of the town called Casco Viejo. Old, narrow streets are there full of police and soldiers so the tourists can feel safe, but on approach it is better to be alerted, keep your bag in front of you and try to avoid empty streets.
After some 20 years from my last visit Casco Viejo looks much nicer. They restored many colonial buildings. At the moment the cathedral is under refurbishment. I enjoyed especially Plaza Bolivar with San Francisco church and elegant Palacio Bolivar occupied by Foreign Affairs Ministry. National Theatre is also under renovation. But just nearby there are many historic buildings where only first floor is used and the upper part is in ruin. It is hard to understand that looking at the skyline of the new Panama City - one of the most impressive in America. In the late afternoon I will take domestic flight over the jungle to Bocas del Toro.

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