Manzanillo: Beach & turtles

Crossing from Panama to Costa RicaHaving left Bocas, we headed to Guabito to cross the border into Costa Rica. To save ourselves the 2 buses, we decided to jump into a taxi to get there. As with all our taxi rides in Panama it was an interesting experiences. Our driver, a (would-be?)-gangster, cruised slowly through the towns with gangster-rap blaring, periodically shooting people out of the window with his fingers. We found this fairly amusing till he nearly hit someone, they came over to the car and he pointed down the side of his seat where a machete was lying. Anyway, after safely arriving at the border (a narrow wooden plank bridge over a river) we crossed by foot, just before a truck came through the other way. It would have been a scary experience having to jump out of the way with our bags of it if we’d been a few minutes later- we wonder whether anyone has taken an unexpected plunge into the river! Another few bus rides and we arrived at Manzanillo on the Carribean coast. Described as a sleepy place we were surprised to find the beach full of a few hundred locals partying, before we realised it was a public holiday. We joined them on the beach for a few hours but found the following day on the beach much more relaxing.

Manzanillo beachAs night fell we set out in a speedboat across the moonlit sea to a nearby beach where we hoped to see Leatherback turtles (up to 500kg and 2.4m long!!!) nesting. In quiet anticipation, we walked a few kilometres along the beach, staring across the waves eager to catch any glimpses of these giants. After our guide picked a spot, we settled down in the sand to watch and wait. Unfortunately, despite 6 hours of waiting during which time our eyes played many tricks on us, at 2am we started the walk back, disappointed not to have seen these magnificent creatures. We were slightly appeased when we came across some strange markings in the sand which our guide confirmed was where a turtle that had come in but decided that it wasn’t the right spot to nest and then we noticed that perhaps 25m away a dark lump was moving out towards the sea. We watched the turtle for a few more seconds and then it was gone. Not the experience we’d hoped for but better than no sighting at all.

Howler monkeys

A few photos here – none of the turtle of course.

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