Arriving in Bocas Del Toro, Panama

The water taxi arrived from Almirante to Bocas within 30 minutes.  Like lemmings, we all filed out onto the main street. I turned left and within minutes arrived at Casa Verde. TheBocas: Central Park (img1) girl in the office seemed a bit bewildered and heightened my stress of being up for nearly 2 days straight, as she searched for my reservation. Finally finding it, I tell her I only have enough for the first week now. I have to help her do the math since dividing an even number by 2 seemed to stump her.  She photocopies my passport (which she leaves on the copy machine) and writes a receipt (which she forgets to give me) and asks to give her 15 minutes because the room is not quite ready. I prompt her for the receipt, walk out the door and turn right back around “My passport?” Why was I feeling this was not going to go well?  (In all fairness, knowing now how crazy these places get the week before and during Carnival, she was probably just having a bad day)

The only ATM on the island charges an outrageous $3 per transaction (above your own bank fees).  Since it was 3:30, I’m glad I was not warned, until days later, that it often runs out of money late in the day. The town is small but they have a cute little central square with huge mangrove trees. I walked a little further and decided I definitely View from overpriced 'Pirate Bar'needed a cold beer. I popped into “The Pirate” bar with the Mount Everest of barstools – after a herculean effort to seat myself, I began to worry if I’d get a nose bleed. The indifferent woman bartender handed me a beer, which was grossly overpriced at $2.50, but the view of the inlet through a nice flower lined deck was beautiful (although I discovered later the at Buena Vista, a few doors down, has the same lovely view, better service and $1.50 beers).

After a trip to the grocery store, I returned to Casa Verde to discover the girl had locked herself out of the office (light on, radio playing), had no backup key, and could not give me my key because it was in the locked office. Swell.  She did give me another room (one that would sleep 4 people) and said she’d move me tomorrow. Shortly thereafter, she simply left. 2 guys came to check-in and I explained what happened and I thought she might have been going to look for someone named Juan. Since it’d been over an hour and I could walk the entire island in that time, I began to suspect “look for Juan” was code for “I’m outta here”. Scott and Jack (the Australian accent made it sound like Jake – which he became in my mind) introduced themselves and plopped down their gear to wait.

A tattooed guy came bustling in about 5:30 named Juan. He had not heard of the problem and promptly fired off a few expletives. He did manage to remedy the situation by moving me to an available single room for which there was a key, and Scott and Jack into the room I was originally given. Isla Pastores (as my room was named) had a refrigerator, new orthopedic double bed mattress, dresser, mirror and A/C with a remote control – life was beginning to look good… until I took a shower.  They actually had HOT water, although it alternated between scalding and chilly resulting in a lot of dancing in and out. At least it was hot and with 2 long, grimy days behind me, I decided that even a temperamental hot shower was heaven.

Next: Sunday Boating, Bocas Del Toro (visit the Gallery for more pix)

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