The journey into the Mouth of the Bull
We arrive into Almirante at 5 in the morning after leaving Panama City on the night bus. Eight other travellers sit with us on the pier as we wait for sunrise when the boats start. But the sun does not rise – instead the sky flashes lilac as lightning strikes and thunder starts to roll…And then comes the rain. Heavy rain…
A silver dawn emerges with the storm heavy around us. We board the boat and a clear canvas is pinned down above our heads. We start to wonder whether it’s possible to swim in hiking boots. Or whether the fumes from the diesel engine will lull us into an easy sleep first. Heavy with these thoughts in our minds we set off… First bumpy, then loud, then wet.
With lightning all around and the waves high, we look to our left and a girl is slowly falling asleep… we untie our shoelaces just in case…
After 30 minutes the storm subsides and we make our approach into Isla Colon, the main island in the Bocas district. Gringo Central – the streets are lined with colourful backpacker hostels, travel agents and dive shops – but it’s 7am and the street is grey and quiet.
We walk on further to the water taxis to Bastimentos careering as we do through the river of rain that is forming in the street ahead. $10 to the boat man and we ride back into the storm. After 15 minutes he drops us to the dock and tells us it’s a 10 minute walk from there. So we walk. The heavens are open showering us with their kisses, and our backpacks are getting heavier as droplets of rain inch their way closer and closer to the centre of what was once our dry salvation.
Finally we arrive – Bocas Bound. An anti climatic end to this epic journey into the Mouth of the Bull – however after a breakfast of Hojandes, a hot Panamanian doughnut followed by a hot shower we look out over the balcony and optimistically wonder whether the silver lining of the distant clouds are signalling the return of the sun and her blue sky friends…
In the end, it did stop raining but not before two days of torrential tropical downpour. Rain is a blessing in these parts however so I will not begrudge the weather; plus it did present us with a great opportunity to master our skills in giant genga and get our blog up and running – of course this post is about two months behind scheudule but you can blame our hectic lifestyles in Nicaragua for that, about which you will read soon enough!
So back to Bocas – we stayed on Isla Bastimentos – most travellers tend to stay on the main island of Isla Colon, but having been here four years earlier, we were privy to information that perhaps other travellers do not have – i.e. that Bastimentos has some of the best beaches on the planet.Hyperbole? Definitely not.
On day three when the rain finally stopped we headed to Red Frog Beach, which is essentially 3km of lonely jungle backed beach. How this place has remained a secret is pretty astounding – there are only two small hostels operating here – we can only assume that because 75% of the island is a national park the price of the land must act as a significant barrier to entry. We had some boozy rum punches at Palmires which if you believe the rumours around the bar, was recently sold to the current owners for $680k – not quite the investment we were planning to make but as the saying goes, there is a buyer in every market!
Whilst we were slightly disappointed to only have had one day in the sun, Rafal’s scarlet tan meant that we were ready to head to the mountain town of Boquette.
Bocas, we will definitely be back, again.