Waking up in Almirante, after endless chilly bus hours, we spent $1pp on a taxi to the dock, and then 6$ for the boat to Bocas. I decided we would immediately go to Isla Bastimentos and Red Frog Beach. By the time we got there, it was still not 8AM, and the restaurant wasn’t open yet. The newly renamed Bocas Island Lodge is a cool place with decent dorms and puppies for rent. Unfortunately we didn’t know there was no store in the area, and this led us to pack up after one night instead of eating overpriced restaurant food for every meal. But that day we went down to the beach and relaxed with the best fish tacos of the trip and a couple dece margaritas. At night we had the hostel theatre to ourselves for a late night movie.
Up with the chickens at the crack of dawn, we made a quick breaky of leftovers and then walked down to the gas dock (much closer than the “taxi” dock) and were able to flag down a boat to take us to Old Bank. After looking at a few places in Old Bank, we found the cheapest private room was $20 at Hostal Bastimentos. The hostel was satisfactory with plenty of hammocks, good wifi, and an expanded kitchen. If you want to use the kitchen, you’ll need your own lighter, sharp knife, and can opener, because they don’t have those there.
That day we planned to do a tour of the chocolate farm, but realized when we got Up On The Hill that the tours are only tuesdays at 10:30. So we sampled some raw cacao and chocolate truffles and headed back down. On the way up we stopped at a “shoes-off” veggie restaurant perched up in the trees. We shared a lentil burger while admiring a 4-day-old goat baby. On the way down we found a cool spot to swing in the hammock and lazed away the afternoon high above Isla Bastimentos.
Roots restaurant hooked us up with a couple fair priced, big servings of dinner as darkness fell and it began to rain. It rained most of Monday, but we still ventured out in it and got to see some kids playing baseball in an open air gymnasium with a stick and a soccer ball. Another boy was break dancing in between puddles under a leaky roof. The next day we used an entire frozen papaya with some leftover pina and cranberry juice boxes to create a couple deadly breakfast smoothies. We took another trail up the hill from the South end of town with our smoothie boxes. Up and over banana hill, we slipped on by towards Wizard Beach, avoiding the 20$pp chocolate tours.
The treacherous trail down to Wizard is a great test of balance and agility. You need to hop from root to rock and dodge mud puddles if you want to stay dry and clean. I found keeping my shoes on was invaluable. However on the way home I still ate it and landed on my ass. Wizard probably sees 30 people on the busiest of days. We had a nice pants-optional zone all to ourselves. We cut my hair, played cards and swung away the hours in my hammock. Despite feeling sick, Maggie was a trail trooper as we trode home towards Old Bank. On the way back, we stopped at Chavela Bar & Restaurant for specialty drinks, papaya salsa, and delicious island burgers.
We had chosen to fly back to Panama City, where Maggie would fly home from. And because our flight was at 8AM, it made sense to stay in Bocas town the night before. We wandered around Bocas and bought some souvenirs and a couple cans of Guinness; it was St. Patrick’s Day afterall. The flight was uneventful, and we got in to the city with more time than we knew what to do with. Cam was flying in at 2 and we spent a lot of the time until then lounging by the pool at Siriri hostel.
That night we went to the fish market (not the restaurant in Casco Viejo that looks amazing) and ate some overpriced corvina and ceviche. I’m pretty sure I got food poisoning from it. That night Cam and I ventured up to the top floor of the Hard Rock to see a great panorama from 62 stories above the city. Then I proceeded to throw up every hour until morning.
Maggie left me sick as a dog bright and early. Maybe I was lovesick. We did have a really amazing time together, and we weren’t sure if anything would come of it when we returned home. Luckily I had Cam now to distract me, and at 10AM we headed to the bus station and El Valle de Anton.