After spending eight months in Panama, we prepared to leave the San Blas Islands, and head for Colombia. Our original plan was to be in Bocas del Toro by the end of June, and stay for a month. After that, it would be on to the San Blas for the month of August, and then head for Colombia in September. As we’ve well learned, weather rules the cruising world, and as a result, we didn’t arrive in Bocas until the first week in August.
Since we’d arrived late, and paid several hundred dollars to clear into Panama, I told Scott it would be a shame to rush through the country, so we slowed our plan. Almost three months later, we’d grown attached to the laid back, comfortable town of Bocas del Toro, and the scenic surrounding islands. We met new friends, and frequented stores and restaurants in town so much that we were recognized on the street.
We ate fresh made pizzas at Bocas Marina’s barbecue night, got to know most every happy hour special in town (Scott even came to like sushi!) and never got tired of the mountain views.
At Red Frog Marina, we were surrounded by lush jungle rain forest, and enjoyed the short walk through tropical scenery to the beach, for yummy tacos. The staff quickly became friends, and the sights and sounds of the property were truly beautiful.
Scott crawled through caves with bats, hiked trails on Red Frog’s property and explored the archipelago with the Aluminum Princess.
We went to Sunday parties at Ron Azul, attended many happy hours on Red Frog’s dock, survived crazy, crowded, high-speed panga rides to and from town and celebrated Thanksgiving at a terrific potluck with friends during our final days in the area.
It was hard to cut the apron strings and leave Bocas, which will always have a special place in our cruising memories, but there was more of Panama to see.
As we headed for the San Blas Islands, our route took us to more beautiful locations. The shoreline scenery at Escucdo de Veragus was almost otherworldly, and we spent hours in the dinghy taking in the sights.
Portobelo’s harbor was quiet and picturesque, and we enjoyed roaming the ruins of the many forts that surround the town.
At Captain Jack’s, perched on a hill in town, we were welcomed with cold towels, local info., and delicious food. We’d have liked to linger longer in Portobelo, but weather pushed us on.
Next was a pit stop at Linton Bay, for an overnight trip to Panama City, and a visit to the Panama Canal. We spent hours watching the huge ships close up, as they passed through the locks on their way to the Pacific.
Then it was on to our hotel for the night, where we continued to watch the ships pass by. It was also a treat to watch tv in English, and take roomy showers.
Our return trip toward Linton Bay was by train, on the Panama Canal Railway; what a cool way to travel! We spent the entire ride out on the observation deck, getting up close and personal with our surroundings.
We took advantage of a lull in the wind, and enjoyed a calm ride over to the San Blas Islands, where we enjoyed a tropical Christmas and spent almost four months surrounded by gorgeous water and uninhabited palm tree islands.
Scott fished almost every day, catching endless lobster, then using the heads as bait for delicious Trigger fish!
There were endless anchorages, some near the lush, mainland mountains and others surrounded by reef and palms.
We enjoyed getting food from veggie boats, and interacting with the friendly Guna people.
For somewhere so remote, our social calendar was quite busy! We made terrific friends here, who we’ll keep in touch with for years to come. There were many beach parties, as well as trash burning gatherings, which was always a good excuse to bob in the water.
During our time in the San Blas, we had our first official cruising visitor. Our friend Karen made the adventurous journey to see us, and we had a ball catching up, introducing her to our friends, and showing off our “neighborhood”!
Scott continued his explorations, by land and sea, and Howard spent his time in Panama as he does in every location we visit, playing, napping and watching for fishes….and occasionally sharks, and generally keeping us on our toes!
So now it’s time to move on, and leave where we’ve called home for the last eight months. We could spend years here, or very easily live here. The country is beautiful, and offers much to see and do on the water and inland, as well as in Panama City. Our departure is bittersweet, but we look forward to our next stop, and for the adventure to continue.
“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”