Daniel the taxi driver arrives at 7:15 am as we pre-arranged. We toss our bags into the bed of his 4-door truck (taxi) and before 7:30 am we are standing in Mamallena Hostel checking in for the Carribe Shuttle to Bocas del Toro. The small bus is parked out front and looks like it might hold 18-20 people. Soon others people are arriving for the shuttle. Most are under 30 years old and are carrying hiking packs; our suitcases look terribly out of place. A small crowd gathers and the driver's assistants begin loading the packs and few suitcases onto the top of the bus. We board and find that the seats are very tight with a very narrow aisle. Because we do not want to put our case containing the camera gear and laptop on the top of the bus I have to put it on the floor and put my feet on top of it - at about seat height. Oh well, it's just a 3 1/2 to 5 hour trip! We have a full bus, 29 people including the driver.
The driver's assistants unload the packs and suitcases then 24 of us make our way to the water taxi, the others are transferring to another shuttle headed to Costa Rica. We are amazed as the crew loads all the packs and suitcases and then all of us into a water taxi. The boat appears safe, but we are definitely seated close to each other.