rainy Bocas del Toro

Posted from Bocas del Toro Province, Provincia de Bocas del Toro, Panama.

Bocas, oh Bocas. Why oh why did you rain on me Bocas?

Really. It was a bit much.

The surge in Bocas del Toro was unusually high. A system was moving through that created bigger than normal waves, so a few surfers from around the globe rushed to the island to partake, and ride the waves. At least some people were happy. As for me, I knew my sunny luck had to run out at some point.

It wasn’t all bad. Apart from our strange journey to get here, we did our best to make lemonade. Or turn the rain into sunshine. Or whatever way you explain it. It made for some amazing sunsets.

The town

The hostel I was staying at, Mamallenas, was the perfect place to relax and hide from the rain. The hostel bar was completely covered. They had an extended Happy Hour from 4-8 p.m. which I frequented for their killer pinã coladas. I was trying to become their best customer. Off the bar was a deck area where most customers sunned themselves when it made it’s rare appearances. There was also an area to jump in and take a dip. The current was rather strong, but easy for a competent swimmer.

Whoever designed the bar here had quite the vision. The pina coladas are amazing.

A month before I got to Bocas a young American tourist was strangled to death with her beach cover-up along a trail on Bastimentos Island. The tragic and brutal nature of this murder had me rather weary and nervous to travel around the area. People go to Bocas for the beaches. They go for the surf. They go because it’s a paradise. I, however, never left the town. The rain didn’t help my explorative nature.

Some houses in the town.

On one evening we went to see a band, Soulfire, play at the brewery on the island. Four of us walked there, but the hostel bartender told us that if it was just us two girls walking there that we should take a taxi. Searching on TripAdvisor and other travel sites said that robberies in Bocas were a little too common. Rather than miss out on everything, we decided to not take any unnecessary risks. We taxi’d if we had any doubt. But we didn’t explore much.

Diving

Panama Dive School. The snack hut next to it serves some great sandwiches and smoothies.

There are four or so dive companies on the island, so me and the Canadian girl I was hanging out with decided to spend our money at Panama Dive School. They gave us a discount for coming from Mamallenas. Usually two dives are $75. Because of the surge and the rain there were only a few sites we could dive where visibility would be tolerable. If it was any other time I would’ve waited out the weather, but I didn’t have time.

On the boat on our way out to sea.

On our first dive at Mangrove Point we saw a very rare, and very big cobia (which we all thought was a shark until the next day!) The owner of the shop, Tony, said he’d never seen one at Bocas before. My Canadian compatriot got it on video too.

We also saw a seahorse, squid and many of the usual suspects. But none of it matters after we saw the shark – which after video review turned out to be a cobia.

Food and entertainment

Almost everywhere we went for dinner there were people doing fire shows or having a wee jam session. Then the hat would go around looking for tips. Some of the shows were really good, but some were lacking that special oomph. Nonetheless we tipped.

One of the fire shows at Mamallenas.

There’s a lot of good shopping in Bocas, though most things are a bit over-priced. Sun screen and shampoo, however, were not as expensive as they were in Costa Rica. If you forgot board shorts or a bikini, you can get sorted out here.

Strolling through town inbetween the rains.

There’s also a lot of good places to eat. Though, my friend had some tummy issues nearly the entire time we were there. We found a great little Mexican place that we went to twice. There’s also a few good sandwich shops, as well as a few affordable seafood places.

A lady at a booth allowed me to take a photo of her amazing bead work. These are the coolest leg coverings I’ve seen.

The gist

Even though the sun was elusive I still managed to work on my tan a little. If I hadn’t let my fear get the better of me, I would have liked to have visited some of the beaches. People have said Bocas is like paradise. What little I saw of it, I have to agree.

From Bocas me and my Canadian friend took a bus to Panama City, my last stop on my Central American holiday.

One more sunset shot.

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