24 Jan Bocas del Toro, Panama
Am just back in Panamá City after two days on Isla Colón, the largest of the nine islands in the Bocas del Toro archipelago. These islands are located on the extreme western side of Panamá, only 40 kilometers, or about 24 miles, from Costa Rica.
The first words out of my mouth when we stepped onto this island were “Key West!” Like most resorts that feed off the beautiful blue Caribbean waters, Bocas shares many characteristics of our south Florida resort. It crawls with plump, sunburned tourists and hops with hostels full of international kids who’ve not bathed for days. If you take a big whiff, you’ll catch a healthy waft of last night’s cocktail. Full of fruit, of course. Shark teeth and plastic woven wristbands are abundant in the souvenir shops, as are sarongs made in the Orient and jewelry purportedly handmade.
But if you look beyond the first impression you’ll find nature our children experience only through pixels. Our group of four stood mesmerized as a tree sloth, high in a tree, nursed her young. I carried with me a huge palm branch, enthralled with its intricately woven fibers. Starfish as big as a dinner plate, lay abundantly only feet from the shore line. And the frogs and birds of the rain forest . . . their sound almost symphonic.
I hope you’ll enjoy this visual tour of the area known as Bocas del Toro as much as I did. I begin with the moment we stepped off the bus and into our next means of transportation, a bright yellow water taxi. Hail Marys come in handy, whether you’re Catholic or not. The young driver, donning a bejeweled LA cap, instructed twenty-five of us (yes, I counted) to jump in and put on our life vests. This is where you surrender to the man in the tacky cap, and pray that you’ll see your kids “just one more time, dear God!”
I survived and was very happy to leave the island in an airplane.
Here is the sanctuary of an open-air Catholic church in the town called Bocas.