A Travellerspoint blog

Sailing on a Catamaran

January 14

Don had arranged a sailing/snorkeling trip for today, so we took the water taxi into Bocas around 9:00 am. The trip was supposed to start at 9:30 but the captain did not show up. So the owner, who wasn't planning on working today, had to take the 6 of us. Besides the two of us, there was a couple from Argentina and a couple from Germany. The catamaran owner is fluent in 4 languages, English, Spanish, German and Dutch.
Waiting for the sailing

Waiting for the sailing

Captain Marcel

Captain Marcel


We sailed over to dolphin bay and hung around for awhile, but only saw one dolphin at a distance. Then we stopped at a mangrove island so the snorkelers could swim around it and enjoy the coral. We also had our sandwich lunch there and had a visit from a young native man in his dugout canoe, selling coconuts.
Luis with coconuts and dugout

Luis with coconuts and dugout


Then back to sailing and stopped at another location off Solarte island for more snorkeling. Then back to Bocas, where after a couple of minutes wait, Harvey showed up to take us back over to Bastimentos. We got cleaned up and had a bit of a rest, then went out for supper to the Firefly restaurant. This restaurant is on the open ocean side of the island and serves a tapas style meal. So we each ordered a couple of dishes and enjoyed it very much.

Posted by katdill 17:50 Archived in Panama Comments (0)

Red Frog Beach

January 13

We had a very nice anniversary today although very wet! We had Harvey, the boat driver, take us to Red Frog Beach, which isn't too far away. He dropped us off at the dock and then we walked along the trail through the jungle to the other side of the island. We saw one little red frog on the way, which we only saw because one of the boat men was showing another group of tourists. They are very small!
Red Frog

Red Frog

Caiman

Caiman


We also saw a small caiman in a slough beside the trail. Once we got to the sunny beach, we walked along the length of it and enjoyed the view. After awhile we walked over and checked out the resort which is on the beach and then went to the Jungle Lounge for a light lunch.
Calabash gourd made into a light

Calabash gourd made into a light


We were shown another red frog there before we left. It was now overcast, not sunny anymore, so we decided to go in the water. The riptides are quite dangerous there, with lots of warning signs. So I didn't go very deep, but did get all wet and refreshed. After I got out and was just watching Don in the water, the rain started. It starts gently and then suddenly just pours - our rain water rinse to get all the salt off. And we had another frog pointed out to us. It seems if someone spots one, they share it with everyone in sight.
We walked back along the trail, soaking wet, in the pouring rain, to meet Harvey and have our very wet ride home. Then we could have a shower to clean the mud off and get finally dry. It has persisted in on and off rain for the rest of the day. Luckily we could have supper here, shark tonight, and so didn't have to go out and get wet again.

Posted by katdill 04:09 Archived in Panama Comments (1)

Trip to Zapatillas Cays

January 12

While sitting over breakfast we arranged with a young couple to go to Zapatillas for snorkeling. Our hostess phoned a boat driver, Keith, to come and pick us up. So away we went out to the Cays. It had been very rainy and windy here for several days before our arrival, but now is mostly sunny. The cays are out at the edge of this cluster of islands and is facing the open ocean. It was a rough ride out there, bouncing around in the chop. A couple of boats had actually overturned in the previous week, it was so rough! But we made it just fine. Gorgeous tropical island which is a National Park and protects hawksbill turtles, which lay their eggs there. I went for a walk on the trail down the center of the island, through the mangrove swamp, while the other 3 tried out the snorkeling. However, they soon gave that up, it was so choppy they couldn't see anything.
Tropical beauty

Tropical beauty


So off we went back inside the islands to Coral Cay, where there is a restaurant built out over the water. Had a great lunch sitting on the deck and the guys went snorkeling again. Don saw a large spotted eagle ray, that he was very impressed with. The next stop on the tour was another snorkeling location.Don jumping out of the boat

Don jumping out of the boat


They all went in while I waited in the boat. Don says "nice coral, but not many fish", at that location. Then we traveled on to stop and see a sloth, which was at the top of a tree and did not cooperate with getting its picture taken!

We then proceeded back to our hotel, to have beer and chill while awaiting a great fish dinner. Lots of great conversations and laughs with the other visitors here, who are young surfers mostly. We are definitely the oldest people here!!
Our accommodation from the water

Our accommodation from the water

Posted by katdill 04:45 Archived in Panama Comments (1)

Bastimentos Here We Come

January 11

We had breakfast on the veranda of our room, with the hummingbirds and other birds darting about. Just lovely! According to Wikipedia, there are 978 species of birds in Panama!
Rufous tailed hummingbird

Rufous tailed hummingbird

Bananaquit

Bananaquit


Then we packed up and took our luggage down to the office. We borrowed two bikes and rode around town having a look at it.
Good way to see town

Good way to see town


Had lunch at Be Nice Nomade and rode back to Panama Paradise to get our luggage and get a taxi to the water taxi. In the water taxi with us, was a woman and her two daughters and a new double mattress. Watching them get the mattress from the boat to the dock was a little hair raising. I thought it was going to end up in the water for sure! But they did it. Then we were taken to the public dock and dropped off (and I almost ended up in the water!). Luckily Bubba's House is not far from the dock. Walking fully loaded down with luggage at 34 (feels like 39 with humidity) is not very pleasant! Got checked in and just cooled it for awhile. Had a mid afternoon rainstorm, which only lasted about 15 minutes. Then we went out to walk up and down the only street here, maybe a little more than 1/2 kilometer in length. Don got quite a bit of information about where to go to snorkel from our host. We arranged to have supper here at Bubba's House (we have to tell them ahead of time to participate in the one menu meal). Then we just cooled it until the 7:30 supper time. Everybody eats late in the tropics. We met a young couple staying here who we ate supper with. She is Dutch and he is a Texan and they live in Wales, now. They love to surf and snorkel and showed us some great pictures of the snorkeling they had done today.

Posted by katdill 04:52 Archived in Panama Comments (0)

Arrival in Panama

January 8th -10th, 2015

We flew out of Saskatoon Thursday evening and landed in Toronto. Had a very short night at a hotel and got up early to catch our flight to Panama.
Don had arranged for a tour guide to meet us and transport us from the airport to the bus depot. Denny was great and gave us lots of info about Panama during the ride. Like they only have 3% unemployment!! He dropped us off at the bus depot and then the fun began!
We bought our tickets to Santiago but we didn't know we needed a little Rapidpass card to get thru the turnstiles out to the buses. And we could not understand what the woman was telling us - so it took awhile, but we finally figured it out and got on our bus in time. Not as nice a bus as the Mexican ones we have been on. It was a double decker and we were up on the top level. Not much leg room, but fairly comfortable. We arrived in Santiago about 7:00 pm - to find our hotel was almost right next door to where the bus stopped. Good planning, Don! We then tried to find out if we could take a bus directly from Santiago to Bocas del Toro, or if we needed to go to David (big city) to catch a bus there. Don knew we had to arrive in Almirante, the town on the mainland where you take the water taxi, before 6:00 or we wouldn't make it due to darkness. At the hotel we had a couple of Spanglesh (half Spanish/English) conversations that were pretty funny. We also met a Texan man, with his Spanish friends who gave us some advice and directions.

After a comfortable night, we went back to the bus stop and found the bus that had just pulled in was full and if we waited for the next one, we likely wouldn't make it in time. So with the help of a taxi driver, we went to another bus terminal and got on a smaller bus, filled with locals. So they took us to David (sitting in the back row, jammed in like sardines in a can for 3 hours). We got to watch violent action movies in Spanish the whole way!! Very friendly people with cute kids sitting so patiently during the bus ride. At David we only had to cross the street and go a block to find the bus to Almirante. This was another small bus, but we got seats close to the front and had such a helpful conductor. When he found out we wanted to go to the water taxi, we made sure we were taken care of quickly once we arrived and were transferred into another taxi to take us to the water taxi. The road winds up and over the mountains, thru cloud forest. Some lovely views lower down, but soon we were so high that we could only see clouds!
View from the road

View from the road

One of the food vendors

One of the food vendors


At the height of the pass, we stopped and food vendors came on board. Had some of the best pineapple ever!! A little farther on, we had a 10 minute rest stop, so we could use the washroom and get some food at a restaurant. I put my camera away so I could eat my revel and so when we got to the sloth, I didn't get a picture of it. We stopped because a vehicle going the other direction had stopped. Two men were outside and one had an umbrella. He had the sloth hanging onto the handle with one hand and he was dragging it across the road. I guess they take so long to cross the road, they are in real danger of being hit, so they had stopped to speed him across the road. Unfortunately, we only have a memory picture of this! We haven't seen a sloth in the wild before.
So we made it to the water taxi and had a fast ride across to Bocas del Toro.
Windblown

Windblown

. We took a regular taxi to our accommodation, which proved to be very nice and they gave us a free beer on arrival! We walked towards downtown to have supper and luckily took along a flashlight. We thought we might need it to find our way back. We did!! While we were having supper at La Casbah, in fact, after we were done the appetizer, the power went out all over town!! They still managed to serve our meals, by candlelight, and then we started to walk back with the flashlight. It had started to rain, just a light drizzle at first. We stopped in at a grocery store to look for something for breakfast, and when we came out 5 minutes later, it was pouring. So we waited in the shelter of an awing, although we were already soaked!, for about 15 minutes until the rain let up and then made it the rest of the way back. So luckily, we always travel with a little flashlight and our headlights, so we could manage to find our stuff and get into bed. Of course, around midnight the power came back on, fridge cutting in, lights on, etc. so we turned them out and back to sleep.
So now it is Sunday morning, I'm sitting on the lovely veranda, being distracted by hummingbirds coming to the feeders, and other birds in the foliage!
Veranda view

Veranda view

We survived our trip here, actually enjoyed lots of it, other than some physical discomfort from so much bus travel and had some great adventures and met great people already. Can't wait to see what will happen today!

Posted by katdill 06:00 Archived in Panama Comments (1)

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