Eli is officially better (has been) and we are lounging in island paradise, all is right with the world once more. After leaving Puerto Lindo we spent days trying to figure out where exactly to go from there. Our next workaway wasn’t for ten days. We decided to go to Bocas del Toro earlier that planned and on the evening of the 22nd we began the 10 hours journey. Now 10 hours on a night bus doesn’t seem bad at all especially for me I’m like a two year old in the middle of an over-tired tantrum, put me in a car and I’m out. The problem with the night bus was it was freezing. Penguins could live in there. Everyone warned us about how cold it was but we just brushed it off thinking that it would feel nice. I was wearing leggings, a jacket, and shoes, and I was still so cold. Eli was only wearing shorts and a t-shirt and didn’t get a wink of sleep. We arrived at Almirante at six in the morning. It was still dark and we had no idea what was going on. The bus driver just started taking everyone’s bags and throwing them in taxis. We were ushered into a taxi with two other people and away we went off to the ferry dock we hoped. Which is exactly where we arrive and we once again ushered into another boat on its way to Bocas del Toro. Once we arrived on Isla Colon, the main island, we were once again thrown onto a boat and heading off to Bastimentos the island that our hostel was on. Our hostel is called Bubba’s House and located right on the water.
We loved, loved, loved, this hostel. It’s family run and has a super homey feel to it. There are board games, hammocks to swing in, paddles boards, surfboards, swimming right off the dock. It’s perfect. On this glorious morning is when we met our first friends Donald and Katherine. Well, we kind of forced our friendship on them. Our room wasn’t ready and we all wanted to go to the beach so we asked if we could put our stuff in their room, and that sealed our fate of being fast friends. We spent the day at Turtle Beach in the National Parl playing in the waves and soaking up the sunshine. Donald and Katherine are from the South, more importantly Louisiana, and more importantly still, only an hour from New Orleans *happy dance*. They have a hilarious sense of humor about the stereotypes of the South. Donald is the embodiment of sarcasm and Katherine is a Southern Belle. A Donald quote “To be a Southerner it’s important to assert your rights. For example, the right to bear arms and the right to religion and in this case we mean the right to be Christian.”
Day 2 in Paradise:
We came down stairs to realize that it was pouring. When it rains here it pours. While playing a game of Yanif over breakfast, an Israeli card game that we learned from our Australian friends, we met Melissa and Conrad. We taught them how to play and we spent the morning chatting and playing cards until we decided to go into Bocas Town on Isla Colon. This is where we poached them from the New York girls they had been hanging out with and with the addition of the apologtic Canadians we officially became our epically awesome group of six. They are super awesome and love the Sims and dance music just like us! It’s a friendship crafted by the heavens. All of Bocas is so beautiful. We think it’s a mix between the French Quarter in New Orleans, from what we’ve seen in pictures since we haven’t been there yet, and the Caribe.
We walked around town for a little bit peeking into shops here and there. When it started raining again we sought cover in a restaurant that had an India, Boho theme. We weren’t really sure what to do so we decided to play Yanif until Happy Hour started in two hours. Once Happy Hour and the two for one specials started it was on. We’re on a budget so indulging in Happy Hour is financially responsible. At least that’s what we all told ourselves. We tried to order twelve Piña Coladas at the first bar but they were not having it, thus our dreams of having a ridiculous picture with 12 Piña Coladas were crushed. Our Happy Hour marathon having ended at seven, we wandered down the street looking for something else to fill our time. You see the water taxis aren’t cheap so going anywhere has to be an all day event. We ended up enjoying delicious pizza waiting for “nasty Monday” to start. What is Nasty Monday you ask? We had no idea but we were definitely going to La Igauna to find out. It ended up being an awesome dance party in this bar that was half on land and half on a dock. We had a blast dancing the night away. When it was time to go home we were a little nervous because it was pitch black and not a single water taxi we had ridden in had lights, but alas we should not worry because our captain insisted that he did have a light so we hopped in his taxi and away we went with nothing but a little flashlight lighting our way. We could literally see nothing as we zipped along towards Bastimentos. Having arrived feeling alive and exhilarated from our race through the dark Mel and I decided to end our fabulous day with a late night swim.
Day 3 AKA the best day ever:
The night, before while challenging the owner of Toro Loco to a game he had invented, he told us that he had a catamaran that does day sailing trips. We enthusiastically told him that we wanted to go and so the morning of day three we headed over to the main island to catch our boat. This sailing day was seriously the best $40 we have spent this whole trip.
We sprawled out on the canvas in the front of the boat while we sailed to our first destination, Starfish Beach. On our way to Starfish beach we saw two Dolphins swimming in the ocean which was really cool. When we arrived at Starfish beach they gave us snorkeling gear and we swam around looking at all the starfish. I liked this beach the best because there were no waves and it got deep really quickly which made it really fun to swim at.
After snorkeling around for awhile we decided to explore the island a little more. While walking along the beach we discovered the most challenged fish we have ever seen. It was huge and had really weird eyes on either side of its head, it was swimming right along the beach pretty much trying to beach itself on purpose. Mel decided to see if she could catch it since it was swimming so close and after discovering that yes, indeed she could catch it she got a little freaked out and hesitated. This is when out of nowhere a little Panamanian boy, about four, appears with a rake screaming “damelo, damelo!” (Give it to me, give it to me) and starts to beat the fish with the rake. I think he was trying to rake it onto the beach but was just giving it a beat down. We all stood frozen with shock trying to figure out what was going on. I honestly thought blood was about to go spewing everywhere. Mel, having had enough, attempted to throw it back into the ocean as the kid screamed at her not to throw it in Spanish. That stupid fish had a death wish and came swimming right back up to the beach. We did what we could to protect it from four year olds with rakes and left it to its own fate. As we were walking back we got quite a nasty glare from the little boy. Back on the boat and slightly traumatized we ate a delicious lunch of Rosemary chicken and then headed to our next destination.
We stopped in the middle of a reef to jump off the top of the boat and go snorkeling, we saw some really cool tropical fish. We saw these little fish that were striped blue and yellow and when we threw pineapple into the water the would come swimming up and eat it. We also saw a nurse shark taking a nap on the ocean floor which was AWESOME. After an fantastic and relaxing day we headed back to Bastimentos to say sad farewells to Donald and Katherine because they were leaving the next morning.
Day 4 back to Red Frog we go:
Eli and I headed to Red Frog Beach one last time with Melissa and Conrad. We spent the day as you do at any beach, just hanging out in the waves and soaking up the sun. When we got back we had to once again sadly say goodbye to our friends because we were changing hostels (good thing we had already planned an extravagant road trip that started in Oregon, went through Calgary, and ended in Lousiana). We headed over to Bambuda Lodge were we have spent the last three days reading by the pool.
To our dismay upon arriving to Bambuda Lodge we learned that not only were we very isolated, there is nothing else on the island, but it had a closed kitchen which meant we had to buy their super expensive and not very good food. We went to the main island to get groceries because we could not afford to be spending $12 a meal plus tax. Grocery shopping was a little bit of a mission impossible. What do you buy that doesn’t need to be refrigerated or cooked?
- Mustard (tuna and mustard sandwiches? They aren’t the greatest but they aren’t bad) Also we can’t use a can opener thank gawd I brought a pocket knife because we’ve been using it to stab the can until it opens.
- Peanut butter and honey for PB and honey sandwiches
- Ritz cheese crackers
- And rum to drown our sorrows of horrible food.
So for the next three days we will be living off snack food until we leave for our workaway in Boquete. We are also headed back to Bubba’s house because we liked the homey feel of that hostel better. In three days next stop Boquete!
UPDATE: We are back at Bubba’s house and the first thing we see is the son playing chess against a guest and the little girl laying in the table with her roller skates on. Yep, this is exactly where we want to be.
¡Adiós from Bocas💙!