Basking in Bocas Del Toro !! – Panama

Red Frog BeachBocas Del Toro main pier

Hola from Panama

I got up and left the hostel relatively early to catch the bus back to David. Upon arrival I was ushered to an awaiting minibus which was going from there to Almirante. We are driven through cloud forrests and everything looks very similar to Columbia. At Almirante we are driven by taxi to the boat pier and a water taxi was almost full and was taking us to Bocas Del Toro. I have to say these Panamanians certainly have their transportation systems sorted. The main Island in Bocas is Colon, but it’s basically an archipelago of several islands. I think I missed the main street and headed down the coast road looking for accommodation. Erin from Boquete recommended one place but that looked like a complete dump and another place I checked out was full. I eventually stumble upon Hotel Angela which was out of my price range but had a friendly Kiwi receptionist called Nerissa. She was earning extra money working that job as well as her full term employment as a marine biologist. She recommended a place called Iguana run by her friend Raul. He came to pick me up and I had my own room on the other side of town complete with TV. I decided that I’d have a night of relaxation before venturing out and seeing what Bocas had to offer.

I get up the next morning and after a rather wholesome breakfast at cafe Lux head further in to town. After checking the web I found out that my Auntie Eileen has decided to come and visit me in Nicaragua (how exciting !!) so I decide to do a bit of research so that she’s properly innoculated and the like. It’s pretty hot today but although Bocas is known as the party area of Panama it is really easy to relax. Actually all in all I did have a very quiet day.

The following day I decide it’s time to go back in to the land of the living to socialise and move to hostel Heike which is in the centre of town. It’s really nice and is currently being managed by 3 really lovely Americans. I check in and get chatting to a girl called Katie who is in my dorm. I then head to Lil’s for brunch which includes a splash of her “Killin me man’s” sauce. Attached is a picture of the main Bocas boat pier that you can see from the restaurant. The place does have a very Caribbean feel to it, must be the sea !! After chatting with a few of the boat hustlers on the pier I decide to head to Red Frog beach for the day. I’ve heard this is the nicest beach in the area. My driver is Carlos and though he looks Panamanian, when I close my eyes and he speaks I could be anywhere in the Caribbean. I meet an American girl on the boat who lives there and gets me to carry a couple of her bags on to the island so I don’t have to pay the admission fee. Naughty but nice !! Red Frog beach is lovely and it’s safe to leave your stuff on if you fancy a swim (a picture of it is attached above). There’s nothing there apart from a cool beach bar. It’s located on Bastimentos, one of the quieter Bocas Islands. The accommodation in the main part of town on the other side of the island is far more rustic aswell. A boat is required to move to the two areas. I head back to Bocas around 4pm, courtesy of Carlos.

When I get back to the hostel Sean and Craig have arrived. Craig’s on a bit of a budget so Sean and I decide to go for an Indian. I have been craving that and a Donah Kebab for ages – I pity my local fast food places when I get back. To my horror the Indian is closed so we have a look around and find an Asian fusion place called Lemongrass. I order a green curry pie. Oh my word, I am definitely making that when I get home. It’s basically Thai green curry with mashed potato, topped with grated cheese which has been put under the grill. Delicious, I can assure you !! After that we go back to the hostel to find Craig. He’s been drinking far too much of the local rum with 3 Americans, Tony, Tim and Travis. How is it possible that people can get that drunk so quickly ? To line their stomachs we head over to the kebab stand and make the owner of it very happy as they keep ordering more. Well, it’s time to start partying in Bocas so we head to Mondo Taitu, the sister and party hostel of Heike. It’s the weekly 80’s night party, some people have even dipped in to the fancy dress box to make the occasion more realistic. After a few catching up shots we then have to have a shot of beer every time the music changes (it’s the rules you know !!). I am amazed at how many songs these younger people can name. Of course at my age I have no trouble, maybe I should have dug out the    ra ra skirt for the occasion, I have heard they are all the rage again at home – heaven forbid !!. I also bump into Mickey from Boquete although she’s definitely looking a little worse for wear. Next we head to Iguana bar, one of the owners gives us more free shots and Sean is trying to make a move on an Aussie girl called Terry, she is soooo drunk. Then finally we head to Barco Escondido, a bar with a sunken ship in the middle. Sean is still trying with Terry and Craig confesses to having a little crush on me. For God’s sake he’s only 22, time to head home !!

The next day after a well needed lie in I decide I’m just going to potter about and enjoy the town. I even manage to catch a little of the Champions League football. I book my boat ticket for the next day and head back to Lil’s – well the food is so good there and you sit right on the front, I just can’t help myself. In fact the water is so clear you can look down and see loads of starfish and other sea worthy creatures. I meet the boys back at the hostel and they decide to leave to head to a beach area near David. Really they want to mix it up with a few more of the local women, after all Bocas has far to many Gringas for them. I meet Mickey and as it’s ladies night agree to see her at her hostel later for happy hour. I say goodbye to the boys, they have been great fun. Then have quick lie down before my night out. I head back to Mondo Taitu for happy hour and then head to Aqua Lounge with Mickey and Dana. Aqua Lounge is situated across the water on another island, another party hostel, and we have the pleasure of free drinks until 11pm. It’s Mickey’s birthday so it’s constant rum and cokes all around. The US coastguard are also in town, not a bad posting if you can get it. We hit the dance floor and I catch up with Katie but just like Cinderella I’m home by midnight as I have to be compos mentis tomorrow.

I’m up and checked out and down by the boat pier in time for my 11am ferry. On the way I bump in to Harley (last seen vanishing off for a volcano hike) but i can’t stop to chat as I have a boat to catch, or so I thought!! It turns out that the tides are too low so I am going to have to wait until 2pm when the boat can leave. Oh well, time for a quick salad in Bongo’s before my next very special destination.

I’ve really enjoyed Bocas, even though I should have done a bit more sunbathing. What I like about it is the choice, I mean you can have the wildest time or the quietest time, it’s really up to you. I’m pleased to say I’ve had a bit of both. It is growing rapidly and they are in danger of running out of water. I heard there were rumours to build a 1000 home development on Red Frog beach which would just be disasterous. It must be because Panama has been voted the 4th best place in the world to retire. Yes, Panama is certainly coming up in the world. I do find the currency a little weird here though. It’s called the Balboa but you actually use US$ although there are some Panamanian coins. I was thinking maybe we could do that in England, you know join the Euro but still call it the Pound. All sounds like a win win situation to me !!

Oh well, time to pick up the rucksack and head on………

Transport count:

Plane = 24, Bus = 107, Train = 2, Boat =17, Sunglasses = 8, Mosquito Repellant = 10, Books Read = 28 1/2, Bags lost and then recovered = 2.

Take care all

Sally

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