So here I am in Panama!
This is my view, just taken from my computer:
I jumped on a plane with a small rolly suit case, a small backpack and two guitars. The flight from Toronto to Panama was $400 USD. I learned that MIA stands for Miami International Airport and got a laugh when two american girls nearby sang "we're in Miami Bitch'. After the stopover I was very fortunate to sit beside a Panama Citizen who had married a Canadian and had traveled around and was happy to help a newbie jet setter. I got a great mini history of Panama with an interactive geography lesson as we flew over the country. We ended up sharing a cab and exchanging info as well.
When I landed I found Jenn and promptly bought a genuine panama hat (so add $18) and a bus ticket to Bocas del Toro of $28 with an important fee of 10 CENTS to enter the turnstile in order to get on to the bus. That was an annoying moment! Having to figure out where to get on the bus and the only reason they weren't letting us through was because they weren't telling us of a 10 CENT fee we needed to pay even though we already had the ticket.
While on the 9 hour bus ride there was a stop in which officers came abroad and checked for passports. Thankfully Jenn and I had them easily accessible but one traveler was not so lucky. As soon as he stepped off the bus for failing to produce his passport the bus was instantly on its way. The girl he was traveling with ran up to the front of the fast moving bus and asked the bus driver to turn around. The front of the bus got very excited as they yelled in Spanish 'help him'. Apparently the traveler didn't speak any Spanish and his passport could be in his bag that was still locked away under the bus. Besides that bit of excitement of having the bus turn around and still leave the guy by the side of the road the bus ride was dismal and cold. Lots of drooling, changing positions and having to move the guitars around which Jenn and I fondly referred to as checking on the kids.
Then after hours of restless sleeping we were rudely awakened at Almirante where we were told loudly over and over that we needed to get off the bus and onto a boat taxi by regular taxis drivers who were vying for our attention. After telling a number of them to 'Please back off, I just woke up' Jenn mustered up the voice to haggle and make sure we didn't get ripped off. I double checked with the bus baggage handler that we were going away with the right people. The Taxi was $1 total then the boat taxi ended up $4 each. Then we enjoyed a full breakfast, omelet, fresh tasty ripe fruit, coffee, toast for $7 while we waited to be picked up outside a supermarket.
The sun just set and bugs are trying to cover my computer screen so I'll finish the rest of the story tomorrow!