Bocas del Toro –
Unfortunately, we cannot go sailing today… We got some emails back, though with no positive reply. Perhaps we were too spontaneously. After an amazing big breakfast we walk along the main street and opt for a tour to Zapatilla with
Waterboa… Deepboarding. We have to drive to another island (East of Bastimentos) first and pick up a group of 4 at a hotel. Quite cool, to have your stay this far from town, but you will also probably have to rely on water taxis for everything you are planning to do during the day.
Explore a little further and find the real Panama.
Dogs, chickens, children run wild.
Litter and poverty remind you
this is still the third world.
Caribbean soul lives on Isla Bastimentos.
I guess Old Bank is Bocas without all the gringos.
Girl get braids, women manicures.
They speak island lingo with English words.
Watch yourself when walking
on the Basti jungle paths
lest you be robbed in the wild
by men with machetes and masks.
Surfers get to play
at Wizard or Red Frog beach.
Keep following the coastline
for one of the most gorgeous beaches you’ll see.
A stunning boat journey
through the national marine park.
Arrive in deserted island paradise
with millions of stars after dark.
-by Camille Willemain
We are about 16+ people on the boat, so it gets quite a little cozy. Well, let’s hope this doesn’t end in one of those typical tourist tours. Once again the main spoken language is German – DE/AT/CH have a strong presence in Panama. We drive through small mangrove islands and reach a larger “Sloth Island”. As the name suggests, there are lots of them. However, you need a good eye to discover them in the trees because they hardly move to be noticeable. The captain moves the boat into little bays of the island, so we can look deeper into the mangroves. We get to see 3 sloths – the last one is only about 3m from the bow, but has his back turned towards us and doesn’t seem to have any reason to turn around (the next tour boat is already approaching behind us) despite all the shouting of the folks in the boat – I guess this little furball already knows the whole procedure – “Zero fucks were given that day”. But one of the Austrians is apparently in desperate need of a framed sloth photo for his nightstand… So, he jumps from the bow on the mangrove roots, runs to the other side of the tree and starts waving and shouting to get the sloths attention. For real?
Luckily, our boatmen have a little more common sense when it comes to those things. The dolphins in Dolphinbay are spared from the typical motorboat photoflash-hunt. The man at the wheel leisurely runs some circles and slowly moves towards Zapatilla – I heard some stories about dolphin groups, which were circled for tourist amusement by such boats and then got into the propellers. Don’t want this live experience.
We have a brief stop for a snorkeling break just before Zapatilla. Here you can find a very clean and healthy reef. Very very cool. Zapatilla is the farthest Island from Bocas Town and the interior of the island is also a nature reserve .
After snorkeling we are brought to the island and have a brief pause while the first 4 people are getting ready for the Deepboarding. I grab my camera, switch the SD card and take some shots. Eventually, it is the turn of our group for Deepboarding. A very cool experience. Since you get pulled at a fairly high speed, it seems like you can stay for a long period underwater. Reef and sea creatures pass by on your left and right side and you just have to conrol your board to get to the surface for some air. Wow.
After the trip, I realize that water is leaking into the case of my GoPro. Fuckfuckfuck – I had only taken the dome housing with me, since you can take more interesting pictures while snorkeling with it, but the pressure which builds up during Deepboarding is probably too large for it. I open the casing, get the battery & SD card out, leave the ports open and leave everything to dry in the shade. The battery contacts look quite corroded from (salt water and electronics are a bad combination), but it seems just few drops of water have gotten into the actual GoPro. Maybe I’m in luck… First, lets get something to eat and then we’ll see. After having some spaghetti bolognese right off Tupperware, I try to get the corrosion off the contacts with a Cola can closure ring and insert the spare battery afterwards. The Deep board recording seems corrupted, but the Cam and the other recorded Items on the SD card survived everything. Blessing in disguise indeed, and I got the understanding that the 30m-GoPro housing is just for snorkeling (I probably should have brought the 60m diving housing along instead).
After lunch we have a walk through the nature reserve on the island. The trail eventually transforms into a wooden bridge on stilts. From time to time you can see huge puddles of water, which are the remains of floodings. Apart from a hut and the bridge on stilts everything is kept natural. On our way from the eastern point past the north end and then to the southern point and back we can hear dozens of coconuts falling down. Especially the last section is totally overgrown by palm trees. Death by coconut? More common than you think here .
After having a siesta back in Bocas, we head to “Bibi’s on the beach” on Carenero for dinner.