Close after midday we had finished all the paperwork for the shipping of our van and then we took a taxi to the city Colon. We heard many bad things about this town, but we never expected such a fucked up and dangerous city. We decided to stay one night in a hotel at city center. For lunch we went to a close restaurant and a nice guy recommended us not to go out when it is dark outside. Even at sunlight thefts and murders occur in this town.
We just went to a store for buying some drinks, which we wanted to consume in the hotel. Everybody was looking at us like they wanted to say: “What are you doing here? This is not a safe place for you!” And we didn’t feel comfortable. The glamour of the town from the beginning of 20th century after the completion of the panama channel was all gone. Decayed buildings all around, destroyed roads, strange people and garbage everywhere! At night we could watch from the bathroom window protesting people, who burned old tires on an intersection and shouting all the time. Wow, what a strange experience!
Next morning we went with a local bus to Portobelo and fixed a diving trip for the next day. We spent the rest of the day with exploring town. Portobelo was nowadays the biggest Spanish harbor of America, when they started the inquisition and exploitation of the country. Only two old forts and an old customs building remained from the settlement in the 18th century. We went for delicious dinner and returned to our scuba dive center, where we stayed overnight.
At 10:00 am we went out with the boat for diving. The visibility was not the best, but it was cool and we really enjoyed it. The dive spot is good, but the service of the hotel/restaurant by the dive center is fucked up and unfriendly. After waiting 2 ½ hour for the breakfast without success we regretted. After diving they offered lunch, but it would last 1 ½ hours. Enough is enough! We went to the town and got settled in a nice hostel.
It was carnival time and the locals are doing party every day at night from Thursday to Wednesday. Hundreds of people are part of a carnival parade, which amuses many watching people. For one night we joined some people from the hostel going to the party. Great drummers motivated us for dancing and we had fun. It was a great experience to see how they celebrate carnival. Traditions we had never seen before!
We have met a guy from Italy, who organizes tours (panamore.org) in this area, the day before. So we booked a cayuko-hiking-snorkeling tour for the next morning. At the beginning you get equipped with rubber boots and then you start the trip in a hand carved wood kayak. You cross the harbor, go into mangrove a forest and continue hiking through deep mud. After a chest deep river crossing you arrive at a coral beach, where you can do good snorkeling at some spots. It was a great trip, maybe a bit to less time for more snorkeling, but a cool adventure.
Next day we did nearly the same trip with two guys Carlos and Michi from Munich again. They try to find work on a sailboat, which goes to Colombia. We organized two double kayaks by our own, started in the morning and came back right before sunset. It was a funny day! We continued with a little party in the hostel, but everybody was tired and so it didn’t lasted very long.
We decided to leave next morning. Our next destination was Isla Grande!