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The Caribbean Coast

by Shakia Stewart

Palm trees, coconuts, reggae music, rice and beans and jerk chicken – yes indeed, I’ve been chilling on the Caribbean coast over the last week and I have to say it is absolutely beautiful. I’ve been based in Puerto Viejo, a cool little town in the south where people come to surf, chill out, eat well, listen to live music and enjoy the nightly entertainment of fire dancers! Puerto Viejo is a great base for checking out other beach towns and national parks. From here you can easily cycle up to Cachita and check out the national park or cycle down to Manzanillo as I did on my funky pink bicycle yesterday, climbing up through the forest on the way to look out over the Atlantic from Punta Uva and scrambling over the rocks to secluded little beaches out of the way of the crowds.

Never missing an opportunity to add another country to my list of those visited around the world, I also took a mini break to Bocas del Toro, a group of islands off the coast of Panama coast. Tick! Panama is stamped in my passport! About an hour and half south of Puerto Viejo is where you find the border…crossing was a complicated and rather long experience! Lots of forms to fill in, stamps to collect, entry taxes to pay – and you MUST have proof that you are flying out of Costa Rica in order to get back in! The border is an old, delapidated bridge that crosses over the river that defines the end of one country and the beginning of another. A word of advice – don’t look down! The wonky boards and cracks in the ancient wood did not make me feel safe at all! Once past the border, I got another bus and then a boat out to Bocas del Toro. These islands had some amazing beaches, most only accesible by boat taxis which was lots of fun! Also discovered a club on the water offering free drinks for girls all night (sweet), and also a pool of sea water you could swim in whilst in the club! Amazing fun, spent the majority of my night in the water under the stars dancing to a random mix of reggae, salsa, house and merigue! Such a water baby…

Back in Puerto Viejo and I’m now sadly preparing for my return home. Things could be worse…right now I’m sitting on my balcony over looking the beach and drinking an ice cold Costa Rican beer. But I hear its cold back home – I’m not looking forward to the shock that will be my return to England in the middle of winter. I’d like to stay longer, can I stay, just a little longer, please, pretty please?!!

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