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    Is This the Isthmus? Tour – Panama Part 9

    Monday, July 24, 2017
    Bocas del Toro, Panama

    Welcome to Taxi 25 in Almirante, Panama.
    Welcome to Taxi 25 in Almirante, Panama.

    The water taxi speedboat at Taxi 25 in Almirante, Panama.
    The water taxi speedboat at Taxi 25 in Almirante, Panama.

    At 4:00 am, we rolled up to the bus stop in Almirante, where a phalanx of taxi cab drivers were waiting to drive us one mile down to the docks so we could catch a water taxi to the island of Bocas del Toro. Upon arrival, I discovered that the first boats don’t depart until 6:00 am, so we had a two-hour wait ahead of us. I hadn’t slept a wink all night, so I was completely delirious. My mind was seriously in the Twilight Zone.

    The water taxi speedboat prepares to dock in Bocas del Toro, Panama.
    The water taxi speedboat prepares to dock in Bocas del Toro, Panama.

    I showed one of the guys who works at the dock my ticket, which I had bought at the same time as my bus ticket. It said Taxi 25, but there I was at Taxi 23, or some such. He told me that I should buy a ticket to go to the island via his water taxi, and that I could use my Taxi 25 ticket for the return trip from the island. I had serious doubts about that, because today’s date was written on the ticket. So, I just walked down the road a little ways to Taxi 25 instead.

    Hostel Heike in Bocas del Toro, Panama.
    Hostel Heike in Bocas del Toro, Panama.

    After sitting on a rock hard bench for an hour or so, the office / waiting area for Taxi 25 opened up sometime after 5:00 am. I gave the ticket to the lady behind the counter. She did not seem very friendly at all. Then I sat for a while on another rock hard bench. Finally around 6:00 am, we boarded Taxi 25 and headed out of the docks. The whole boat was packed full with at least 30 or more people crammed on. As we cruised by the town, the driver went slow, I guess to keep the noise level down because it was so early. Once we reached the open sea, though, he really let it rip. That engine was really loud–so loud, in fact, I had to plug my ears shut because of my tinnitus. (Loud sounds make the ringing in my ears even louder.)

    Two veggie tacos at the Hungry Monkey in Bocas del Toro, Panama.
    Two veggie tacos at the Hungry Monkey in Bocas del Toro, Panama.

    After 30 minutes, we finally pulled into the docks at the ramshackle little town of Bocas del Toro, where I walked down the street looking for the Hostel Heike, which got some good reviews online. Even at this early hour, a tout hit me up to take an island tour, but I told him I was way too out of my mind with exhaustion and that I’d talk to him later. So, I proceeded back up another street until I found the Hostel Heike, where, luckily, someone was already at the front desk.

    The Pukalani Surf Cafe in Bocas del Toro, Panama.
    The Pukalani Surf Cafe in Bocas del Toro, Panama.

    For $12.00, I booked a bunk bed in a air conditioned dorm room with eight beds, and amazingly no one else was in there! As soon as my head hit the pillow around 7:00 am, I was out cold until noon. When I woke up, some guy was in one of the other beds. The locker for my bed wouldn’t open because the bed was pushed up against it, so I asked if I could move to the bed next to it. After a while, I started pouring sweat, and I noticed that they had turned off the air con. I guess hostels do that because most people go outside in the afternoon, so they want to save money on the electric bill.

    Fonda Anic Flor in Bocas del Toro, Panama.
    Fonda Anic Flor in Bocas del Toro, Panama.

    So, I asked if I could move into a fan room, where I could have a fan blasting on me whenever I’m in there. None of this sweltering in the middle of the day crap for me! Once again, I got an eight-bed dorm room all to myself. Yee ha! I just spent the rest of the day catching up on my travel journal entries, Photoshopping my photos and taking a nap. Later that evening, I went to talk to the tout I had met earlier, and booked a sightseeing tour around some of the islands for $30. He seemed surprised and happy that I kept my word. I told the guy I mainly wanted to snorkel, and he said we would get to snorkel for two hours at one spot and for an hour at another. We would also get to see some dolphins, starfish, and a sloth.

    Bocas Bambu in Bocas del Toro, Panama.
    Bocas Bambu in Bocas del Toro, Panama.

    Words and photos ©2017 Arcane Candy.

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