What with my post on the pandemonium I encountered in Panama City when I first touched down in my first Central American country and the title of this new entry, you might be beginning to think that I had a pretty awful time in Panama. While it is true that there were some significant lows during my time there, my time travelling in Panama was filled with plenty of highs as well – and the first few days that we spent in Bocas del Toro were one of those times.
After resting and recovering from our ten hour overnight bus ride from Panama City to Bocas del Toro, we decided to allow for a relaxing afternoon and made the short hike up to Up in the Hill, a small chocolate and coffee farm on Isla Bastimentos, where we were staying. There, we indulged in cold mochas, truffles, and the most perfect brownie I have ever had in my entire life.
With our stomachs slightly regretting the decision to make our first ‘meal’ after a long bus ride completely chocolate based, we stopped at the island’s main dock and took a seat on one of the many benches scattering the area. There, we did one of our favourite things to do while travelling: people watch. We saw newcomers like ourselves stepping off the boats and heading to their accommodations, dogs begging for food, and a group of young kids throwing rocks and pigeons that seemed to have a pretty good recruiting scheme going on because their numbers were much larger at the end of the night than at the beginning. We watched as the sun fell below the horizon line before heading off to find some real food for dinner.
The next morning, we made took the day to explore the beaches on the island – or at least the ones that you could walk to from where we were. We ended up knee deep in mud (more on that later), but couldn’t have had more fun – and the weather was absolutely beautiful.
The sky the morning of our third day on the islands didn’t seem to be warning us of any impending weather, and we spent the afternoon at Starfish Beach, on Isla Colon. By the time the sun was starting to set, however, we could tell that rain was moving in.
That night, it poured. The next morning, trying to remain optimistic, we headed over to the main island of Colon during a break in the rain and immediately regretted it. What had already been a choppy ride had turned into a full blown, stomach dropping five minutes, and we were absolutely dreading the way back – especially because it was impossible to tell when the rain was going to start up again.
We ended up taking refuge with food – first at Cafe del Mar for lunch, and later at the Buena Vista Bar & Grill for cocktails and another brownie. While I’m sure the view is a sight to be hold when nice weather shows its face, it was a pretty gloomy sight while we were there.
We had planned to join a tour to Zapatilla and Sloth Islands the following morning, but the combination of a faulty engine on the tour guide’s end and more rain, that didn’t happen. Instead, we stayed holed up in our guesthouse for the majority of the day, only venturing out for food. Once again, the views weren’t exactly the greatest…
The next morning, we packed up our bags and dashed at a break in the downpour, once again braving the choppy waters in order to make it back to the mainland to catch our shuttle for Boquete. On that shuttle, we met an American expat who so helpfully told us that, according to a cab driver he once had, although we were technically at the beginning of the dry season, every four years it took a little bit longer to start. Guess which year we were lucky enough to visit Panama in? That’s right, the year with the longer rainy season.
Of course, I’m not too worried about having been rained out of half of our days in Bocas del Toro (although it did suck). Yes, the rain really put a damper on our time (that’s one of the downsides to visiting a place that has so much to do outside), but because my dad is dating a woman from Panama, I’m pretty certain that I’ll return to the country sooner rather than later – and while I’d love to explore some new places, I have a feeling I’ll make my way back to Bocas del Toro as well so that I can finally get to do all of the cool stuff that I had been hoping to do the first time around. It’ll just take me a little bit longer than I thought it would.