Raphael Kessler

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South East Asia 1999

  1. Vietnam - February 1999
  2. Thailand - April 1999
  3. Malaysia and Singapore - May 1999
  4. Indonesia - June 1999
Africa to home, the long way
- Africa
  1. South Africa
  2. Namibia and Botswana
  3. Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania and Kenya
  4. Uganda
  5. Ethiopia
  6. Egypt
- Middle East and Balkans
  1. Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Turkey
  2. Balkans
  3. Turkey
  4. Iran
- Asia
  1. Pakistan
  2. China
  3. Tibet
  4. Nepal
  5. India 1
  6. India 2
  7. India 3
  8. Sri Lanka
  9. Bangladesh
  10. Myanmar
  11. Thailand
  12. Cambodia
  13. Laos
  14. China, Macao and Hong Kong
  15. Mongolia
- North America and Caribbean
  Caribbean, USA, Mexico and Canada
- Scandinavia and Eastern Europe
  1. Russia
  2. Sweden
  3. Baltics
  4. Poland and Czech Republic
South America 2002
  1. Brazil
  2. Argentina
  3. Chile and Easter Island
Central America and Mexico 2002
  1. Panama
  2. Costa Rica
  3. Nicaragua
  4. Honduras
  5. El Salvador
  6. Guatemala
  7. Belize
  8. Mexico
South America 2003-4
  1. Trinidad and Tobago
  2. Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana
  3. Venezuela
  4. Colombia
  5. Ecuador and The Galapagos Islands
  6. Peru
  7. Bolivia
  8. Argentina
  9. Uruguay and Paraguay
  10. Bolivia 2
  11. Peru 2
Specific Pacific
  1. California to Fiji+ French Polynesia & Cook Islands
  2. Samoa, Niue and American Samoa
  3. Tonga and New Zealand
  4. Australia 1
  5. Australia 2



Hello there and here is the first of my Central American newsletters. You´ll be pleased to see that it is a short one.

As you probably know I flew into Panama City a little while ago to start my Central American tour. It turned out to be a slightly more engaging place than I thought it would be.

The city itself is not particularly interesting although there is a small colonial part of town (which is more interesting to see the variety of urban life than the architecture). The hostel I was staying in was particularly social and a good place to meet people and chill out.

I took a trip out to Miraflores with some folk staying at the same hostel which was interesting. Miraflores is one of the three sets of locks on the Panama Canal which is still considered a marvel of engineering, linking the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Watching the locks working from a viewing platform was more interesting than it sounds and an audio commentary was given which explained all that you were likely to want to know about there operation. It was impressive to see these ocean going ships barely squeeze into the lock (having been designed specifically to be as wide and as long as they will accommodate) and then be raised nine metres at a time to reach the Miraflores lake.

Otherwise my time in Panama City was rather uneventful but still enjoyable.

From there I went to Bocas del Toro which is in a small archipelago in the North East of the country on the Caribbean. The people there are a mix of Afro-Caribbeans and Hispanics with Caribbean English spoken my many.

Bocas is a nice place to take things easy, with a laid back feel. I stayed at another very social place and met more people with whom I would socialise etc.

I decided not to do anything to gruelling as the humidity and heat were fierce and I was still acclimatising (and also generally feeling lazy). One day I went with a few people to Hospital Point where we snorkelled and fished and another day went to the island of Bastimientos where after a walk through the forest seeing very large spiders got to Wizard Beach where there were good waves for body surfing and a nice beach for relaxing.

Whilst I was in Bocas it was the annual "Feria del Mar" - Fair of the Sea, which was interesting for some of the exhibits. Most of the government departments and the local tourist office had stands, a bank, Yamaha and Honda and the local fire department. In addition there were numerous stands selling crappy toys and some fairground rides. As was to be expected though nobody really paid these things much attention, heading straight to the bars and discos.


I decided to leave Panama after just a fleeting glimpse and head to Costa Rica. The border crossing was simple enough apart from the old dilapidated rail bridge that links the two countries which has loose boards and spaced out sleepers to walk across.

After some lunch, a wait for a bus, a walk of several kilometres and hitch-hiking a ride in the back of a truck I got to Puerto Viejo which feels more Caribbean than Central American. I don’t expect to spend long here as I want to see the treasures of the country itself, if I manage I’ll keep you posted.


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