As soon as we left Coiba, we were approached by a number of dolphins who made their usual show. We could not resist making one more video of them!
We mentioned that we love Isla Las Secas, and, since it was on our way to the border with Costa Rica, we were happy to stop there for a night. As soon as we arrived we had an adventurous snorkeling experience being surrounded by a large school of good-sized barracudas; when they started circulating around us, we felt they were not only curious but perhaps also interested!
The following stop was Isla Parida, a beautiful island composed by several small islets where a few inhabited cabanas were spread around; it was a good chance to explore the area by dingy.
The most convenient place to check out from Panama is Puerto Armuelles, on the east side of the peninsula where the border with Costa Rica is. While sailing toward this little town, we had an extraordinary encounter: just 50 meters away from Zoe a large dark shape emerged from the water; at a first glance we thought it was a whale, but in fact its rounded fin made us figure out it was a shark whale and, actually, we realized they were two, likely the mother and her baby. After a first worried reaction for the vicinity of these huge animals, we stopped the engine and stood still for a while admiring them quietly floating a few dozen meters from us until they dived away.
When we arrived in Puerto Armuelles, we anchored just in front of a huge and run-down rusted peer and adventurously tided up our dingy to a pillar thanks to a boy who jumped into the water to help us. We were welcome by the port master; his name was Omar and took us to his office to comply with the first formalities. Then, when we asked him for advice for a good restaurant, he offered to take us with his car to a nice place where he used to help as waiter in his free time. The day after, while walking around to make provisions, we were approached by a very distinct lady, Maria, who realized we were Italians and shared with us her story. Many years ago she felt in love with an Italian tourist and didn’t hesitate to follow him to Italy where they married and had two kids. Unfortunately, his husband passed away a few years ago and she decided to return to Puerto Armuelles. She kindly invited us for lunch but we couldn’t accept because we needed to go back to our dingy before the high tide. The day after, on January 7th, we completed the formalities to check out of Panama and we were ready to leave.
While sailing toward the border with Costa Rica we thought back to our wonderful two year experience in Panama. We recalled our days in Bocas del Toro area, with its hundreds of mangrove islets and its picturesque village on the water; the voyage to Shelter Bay passing through the scenic island of Escudo de Veraguas with its primary forest and the turtle nesting, surrounded by a gorgeous coral reef; the river Chagra and its crocodiles; the San Blas archipelago consisting of hundreds of palm fringed and white sand islets; the Kuna population with its peculiar culture and way of leaving; the unique experience of crossing the Panama Canal; the Las Perlas Islands and, most remarkably, the Coiba National Park and the islands around it. Much less worth of mention are the cities, characterized by strong urban degradation that testifies the still unbalanced development of Panama.