Leaving Boquete Panama
Leaving Boquete Panama left us saddened as we had come to enjoy living there with the cool weather, and all the fine restaurants. Our month passed too quickly, but we’ll plan to return soon.
Boquete to Bocas del Toro
We signed up for the shuttle down to Almiranda and the water taxi to Bocas Town on the day before. We were a little hesitant because of the fast ride around sharp mountain corners on the trip to Boquete. Short of hiring a taxi, it was the only way. We talked to Cristina at our apartment about our leaving and made arrangements to leave the keys in the morning. Time for one last lunch at the Boquete Fish House Mariscos, and a good one it was. Lobster sandwiches (only $8.00 each), yum!
In the early morning, we did our final packing, and headed off to Hostel Mamallena’s. We managed the three-block trip just fine; traffic was light, so dragging suitcases down the street was not a problem. The shuttle pulled up right at 8:00 and as soon as all the luggage and passengers were loaded, we got started. We were happy to note that this driver was a little slower, and much smoother through the corners. We didn’t have to hang on as tight, and the scenery seemed even more beautiful through the mountains.
Arriving at the dock in Almirante, the young men greeted us and moved our bags quickly to the boat. There were interesting cloud formations on the horizon during our boat ride to Isla Colon, which we tried to capture in pictures. The old man, who knows everything about Bocas Town, met us at the dock, and quickly directed us to the Bahia Hotel, a short walk away. It was still morning. After checking in, we went off to explore and find a place for lunch.
Isla Colon is one of eight major islands in Bocas del Toro. Bocas Town, on the south shore of the island, and is the capitol of Bocas de Toro Province and District. Population is nearly 13,000. The town is compact and easy to cover by walking. On the waterfront, there is mostly water taxis, restaurants, nightclubs, and hotels. Just past Bocas Marine Tours, where we landed, we found The Pirate Restaurant (Restaurante El Pirata.)
Dining was on the pier looking across the water toward Isla Solarte, and Isla Bastimentos Islands. They provided a beautiful background for the water activity in front of us. We watched the traffic on the water as we ate. Small boats of every description went about their business. Water taxis came and went between the islands and off into the distance to the mainland or some unseen island. At one point an older man pulled up to our dock in a dugout canoe powered by a small outboard motor. Lunch was very good, calamari and dinner salad.
Afterward, we walked east along the buildings by the shore and around the town, then back through the middle where the town square was. Quite a little town with mostly wooden structures of one and two stories, and an occasional taller hotel or condo building. The airport was just north of town. We walked west past our hotel a block to the western shore. Here we saw a U.S. Coastguard ship anchored out, and beyond, we could see the mainland. That night we went back to the Restaurante El Pirata for dinner and lingered watching the sunset, the harbor lights and running lights of the many boats moving between islands.
Back to Costa Rica and Belize
The next morning, we had breakfast on the veranda at our hotel, then got a taxi to take us to the airport. The ride to the airport was surprisingly short, but with our suitcases, it was worth the cost. We checked in with Nature Air and soon passed through Customs & Immigration. The flight was again spectacular as we flew over forest, valleys, rivers, and finally through a mountain pass near Cartago, and on to San Jose. At one point, we could see Volcan Baru near Boquete poking through the clouds in the distance.
We landed at Pavas Airport about 9:00 am, and took a taxi over to the Holiday Inn Express Alajuela. They checked us in and gave us a choice of rooms that were available. This example of service is why we returned to this hotel time after time. After stashing our luggage in out room, we walked up the road for lunch at Ali Limon. Later, we used the hotel free US calling to talk with family and friends, went to the casino for dinner, and relaxed. After breakfast and a leisurely morning, the hotel shuttle took us to the airport for our flight to Belize.
The flight on TACA was the reverse of the flight in July to Costa Rica. Business class, with a short stop in El Salvador, then on to Belize City, Belize. The only difference was that they offered us small glasses of juice and sparkling wine prior to takeoff in San Jose this time.
Next Time: Return Visit to San Pedro Town, Belize