Thursday, we dropped off the rental car at Thrifty in Boquete. Remember I said on Day 2 that Thrifty ended up saving us? When we were driving around on Wednesday I screamed “there’s a Thrifty!” as we passed it. As it turned out, we could return the car there instead of driving the hour back to David to return the car to the airport.
Then we took a taxi for a 3 hour drive from Boquete to Almirante, which is on the Caribbean side of Panama. Almirante is not anything special, but the drive there is beautiful because you’re driving through the mountains, and there are big beautiful clouds and shit. Our taxi driver spoke to us in Spanish the entire way there, and we nodded obediently though I could only understand one out of 15 words.
Once we got to Almirante the taxi basically spit us out onto this water taxi that takes you to Bocas Del Toro, which is an island. When I spit out, I mean, we rolled up, the taxi driver popped the trunk, 15 young boys took our suitcases while demanding a tip and we sort of got hustled into this speed boat that was about to sink. It was a bumpy 20 minute ride to Bocas Del Toro, B was flanked by schoolgirls who were hunched over their bookbags taking a nap. A nap! These crazy kids.
We got spit out again at Bocas Del Toro. We trudged down the street to The Reef, a bar on the water with a dock, which was where the good people from our lodge, La Loma, were picking us up to go to yet another island. B looked at me when we made it to The Reef and was kind of horrified. He said he had a hard time picturing any other chick that would be cool with all the things we had just encountered. I offered that I can be cool, sometimes. But wow, if we saw a snake, I would lose my mind.
From The Reef we were picked up by La Loma folks and whisked to Bastimentos, another island further north from Bocas Del Toro, on a much more comfortable transfer.
La Loma means “the hill” and indeed, there was a large hill. There are 4 lodges, all open with some mosquito net around the beds. I loved it. It’s like some Swiss Family Robinson shit. A glorified tree fort, with plumbing and hot water and a lil bit of electricity. Ok, so, not even close to camping, but perfect for someone who is wanting to get a little bit closer to nature and doesn’t mind bugs.
La Loma is run by a couple, Henry and Margaret, who are awesome, and have carved out a cool niche for themselves. They have both a garden that yields enough produce that they can actually feed guests from it, and also a cacao farm. Henry gave B and I a tour of the cacao farm the last day we were there, though, not unlike the coffee tour, I only retain 5% of the information I can understand, thus, my memories mostly pertain of looking at the ground and investigating the cocoa pods teeming with insects feeding off of it.
Anyway, remember that I said they have a garden and can feed guests from it? The food at La Loma was amazing. It’s served as a group meal in the main lodge, and after a long day it felt really homey and amazing and actually made me miss my family a little bit.
Then we walked up the serious hill and passed out. Oh yeah, and then it poured. POURED rain. And I loved every minute of it while sleeping in my tree fort.
You can check out more photos on my flickr stream.