Start of our Extended Travels - Bastimentos, Panama
Our upcoming focus for the next month is learning Spanish through an immersion program, including 4 hours of class a day, in the Panama Caribbean. We came a few days ahead of time to unwind from upheaval and stress of selling our house in Boulder and packing our life in a to go container. For the first 5 days we are staying in Isla Bastimentos within Bocas Del Toro. Bocas is an archipelago of islands that have a low key island life with a mix of Panamanian and Jamaican influence. A number of immigrants from Jamaica came here to build the Canal railroad and work on banana plantations. Most people on the island speak a hybrid of English and Spanish, called Jamaican Creole.
We booked our short stay here with Airbnb. Our host, Pamela, was helpful at pointing us towards places to go, as this island isn’t very developed. No Yelp reviews here, but there are a few good eats on the island. Chavela is known for their burgers and Mami’s had some tasty local fare. 15 minutes walk to the middle of the island is a unique spot called Up in the Hill. An expat from Scotland has set up a quaint operation growing here own coffee and cocoa. You can get some tasty eats and ice coffee
Bocas has a number of prime surf destinations. The 2nd day we were here I hired a water taxi to take me around to a few of the breaks to get a sense of the crowds and type of break. More crowded than I expected at both Careneros and Paunch. Not alot of American surfers here, it seems Panama is a big international surf destination. Yesterday I walked over to Wizard Beach on the other side of the island. First time I had a break all to myself, albeit a walled up beach break. Ive met a couple of locals and hope to get some better surfint in the coming days.
Today was a bit cloudy, which worked out well for our cave tour. A few years back locals decided to make an rarely explored cave a tourist destination. It still has that feel of uniqueness and an element of discovery. When we first entered there were 100’s of bats on the ceiling and flying around. When walking in the dark, they fly right next to your face! Its a long cave at 2 km, and we turned around after an hour. It was recently discovered that there were ancient shark teeth in the cave. A French archeologist dated the teeth at 12 million years old and we actually found a few! We had quite an adventure with bats, stalagmites, spiders, crabs, caiman, snakes and cave jumping. We met another couple from Colorado who were also big travelers. Together we commiserated over the stranger than fiction political landscape.
Tomorrow we head back to Bocas town where we’ll be learning Spanish for the next month.