We mentioned to one of the guys in Boquete that we were planning to visit Santa Catalina. He strongly encouraged us to visit Bocas instead. We thought, why not? It’s the Caribbean. The drive to Bocas was along a windy mountain road. At one point, we had to pass through some check point. It was unclear to us the purpose of this checkpoint other than to deliver instructions for George to put a shirt on (he often drives shirtless because of the heat). Now, if you know George, you know he doesn’t like to be told what to do. Immediately after the checkpoint, he disrobed and ranted for the next 30 minutes about the encounter. I tuned out.
We had decided to leave Vida on the mainland and take a water taxi from Almirante. Driving into town, my hopes for Bocas were squashed. Almirante is run down and dirty. We were almost immediately tailed by a fella on a bike. He finally caught up to us at a stop sign. He of course had the solution to all of our problems, if we would just follow him. Normally these situations end poorly, but he led us to a very secure parking area complete with 6 dogs, 2 of which were rottweilers. I believe that rottweilers have one purpose in life, and that is to eat me, so I cowered in the car while George took care of the details. We made it safely to the water taxi, and for $4, we arrived in Bocas after 30 minutes. We hoofed it to the hostel where a lovely Italian showed us around.
The following day, we decided to rent some cruisers and bike out to Bluff Beach to do some wave frolicking. The beach was stunning with clear blue and turquoise water. On the way back we stopped at a beachside bar, since we had earned some cold beverages with all the biking and then the unimaginable happened. George located the only other Bulgarian in Central American. Oh the Bulgarian pride was oozing off of him.
After a fresh fish lunch, we headed back to the hostel. We planned to take it easy that evening, because we needed to be on the 6am water taxi to make the pacific coast that afternoon.
…or so lonely planet says. G and I being coffee junkies were obviously in whole hog. As an aside, I have no idea when I picked up the phrase ‘whole hog’. I’m just going to roll with it. It turns out much of the Panamanian produce and coffee is grown in the Boquete area. There is plenty of hiking, and the town itself is picturesquely back dropped by Volcán Barú.
We had heard from some lovely ladies that we met in Osa that Refugio del Rio was the hostel to be at and included a river and hot tub. Since we now have a full-blown bed bug anxiety disorder, we schemed on ways to sleep in our truck but use the hostel facilities. This turned out to be a piece of cake. The hostel sees lots of campers and overlanders. We snagged a spot in front of the hostel by the river. The wonderful little river drowns out all the sound at night.
Every Thursday, the hostel has a bbq open to the public at a steel of $5. G was able to top off the meat reserves, and I had piles of veggies and rice. Since I was first in line, I got my pick of the bounty.
Most of the subsequent days were spent abusing the internet (we had some trip planning to take care of). We did manage a few walks around town, a visit to the local panadería, as well as a few visits to the grocery store. At the grocery store we went balls to the wall and bought bags upon bags of coffee as well as several bottles of rum. Feeling a little lazy after a day of interneting, we ventured out to an underdeveloped hot springs. On that front though, I advise travellers to steer clear. I like my hot springs in two varieties: resort setting with all the amenities or pristine pool in a remote location. What Boquete offered were two mosquito baths complete with farm animals for your viewing pleasure (we heard there was a more developed pool in the area but didn’t get a chance to check it out).
All and all, I think the town is worth a visit if you happen to be in the neighborhood and the cooler climate is a nice break from the heat in the low-lying areas.
It is active planning again. Tomorrow we are crossing to Panama. We are researching shipping options for Vida (our beloved truck) from Panama to Colombia. At the same time we started reading for the best way for us to do the trip. The price for flying to Cartagena and taking a five day sailboat trip through the San Blas islands is almost the same, soooo … So, I quickly closed kayak.com and opened a website Teresa found with sailing options.
So, what’s the oops? I am reading this website and shooting quick emails to the captains of different boats. I had just prepared the next email and I was right to click send when I noticed this: