Don and I have been in Bocas now for 2 months. We realize we like staying in a place long enough to recognize not only folks in the anchorage, but in the town as well.
Tali visited us!
Bocas isn’t the easiest place to get to, as you have either to switch airports in Panama City or take a bus from the airport. Regardless, Tali graced us with a visit from her all consuming career as a Sous/Crew Chef on a 250′ yacht. We chilled and ate well, not surprisingly. Tali and I had an amazing massage in the rain forest at Red Frog Beach Marina, seeing dozens of red frogs along the way. Three weeks flew by way too fast!
Yes, you can monkey around on Monkey Island
We played with the rescued howler, squirrel, capuchin, and tamarin monkeys at Monkey Island. Mika, a howler monkey, prefers men and of course, would only would go to Don. She grabbed his nose to look at her, licked his eyelids, and wrapped her tail around his arm so he couldn’t run away. We heard a capuchin monkey speak parrot, since that is what it grew up with in captivity until it was rescued.
We drank chocolate rum as we stomped through a rainstorm garden tour
Originally a United Fruit Company (later Chiquita) plantation (see Forgotten Fruit of Bocas article here), we visited Dolphin Bay’s Green Acres Farm and Nature preserve, and attended a very informative plant tasting and macgyver-like cocoa making plantation. They maintain a lovely botanical garden and grow two types of the three cocoa pods used for chocolate making: Forastero and Criollo (no Trinitario).
Gadi remembered Don from the 1980s
The coolest thing is to run into someone who remembers you from 40 years ago. The owner of the Bocas Dive Center, Gadi, recognized Don from the cow “refet” in Kibbutz Grofit in Israel. He and his lovely wife Janet, generously allowed us to dock our dinghy with them throughout our stay. They also host Project Aware Foundation’s Beach Clean Up the last Sunday of every month which we attended in December. Check out Project Aware to find a beach clean up near you.
Freediving was a good challenge
We were able to take a two-day, Wave 1 Molchanov Freediving class at the Bocas Dive Center. Six time Freedive Panamanian National Record holder Maria Antonia Vergara taught Don and I, along with another Austrian student. A terrific instructor, Maria explained the science behind free diving, and then made us feel safe while we tried it out in difficult conditions including rain, waves, some type of sea lice, and at one point, we drift dove due to a slowly dragging anchor. I got down to 8.5 meters (28 feet) and have the video to show for it!
Check me out freediving and dancing on my way up here on Youtube).
We worked hard and ate well
In order to support my hunger for connectivity, Don added Google Fi to our melange of service providers (T-Mobile, Digicel, Movistar, Movil). Yet, the $40 Movistar unlimited data plan that allows you to hot spot worked best here in Bocas. In addition, I firmly joined the cafe culture of conference calls in cafes with A/C and wifi, and even made a few work calls at the Selina hostel workspace.
Favorite good eats included the incredibly warm Chabad folks at Falafel Bocas who hosted us for Shabbat dinner, honored Don with lighting the Chanukah candles, and joined us for a scuba clean up dive hosted by Bocas Dive Center. Then there was Cosmic Crab on Caranaro Island, Pane e Vino Trattoria, $1.50 tacos at My Happy Place, and provisioning at Isla Colon for basics, and fancy stuff at Super Gourmet. And, while they didn’t play real blues, Lostboys Blues Bar is a place to check out for their amazing venue, top quality sound equipment, and a terrific local warm up band.
Yo abla espanyol
We also took a weeks worth of Spanish lessons taught by locals at HablaYa, and were only attacked by the schools’ black cat once or twice. We studied 8-12 for five days, and felt we received an excellent educational experience.