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    Is This the Isthmus? Tour – Panama Part 11

    Wednesday, July 26, 2017
    Bocas del Toro, Panama

    Are these benches bright enough for ya? Do you need a pay phone? Bocas del Toro, Panama.
    Are these benches bright enough for ya? Do you need a pay phone? Bocas del Toro, Panama.

    Around 2:00 pm today, I ventured outside to rent a bicycle and explore a little bit of the island. Although there were scads of tourists riding around on bicycles. I could not find a place to rent one. Well, I did find one, but it was closed. There was also the Old Rasta Man on the next corner over, but his bikes looked too thrashed. I asked around if anyone knew where there was a bike shop, but the places people sent me were either closed, or there were no bikes there, because they were all rented. I got really frustrated walking in circles around town. By now, it was already well past 3:00 pm, and I was running out of time.

    A Caribbean-style clapboard house with shopfronts in Bocas del Toro, Panama.
    A Caribbean-style clapboard house with shopfronts in Bocas del Toro, Panama.

    Palm trees sway in Bocas del Toro, Panama.
    Palm trees sway in Bocas del Toro, Panama.

    Finally, in front of one small supermarket (of which there are two or three on every block), a tourist couple were returning their bikes. The chain had broken on the girl’s bike, and she tried to get a refund on her rental fee, which really angered the Chinese lady at the counter. Out front, I told another girl who worked there I wanted to rent the black bike that someone just returned, then I went inside to pay. The Chinese lady scanned my passport–I hate when they do that–then I paid $4.00 for two hours. When I went outside to get the bike, I was dismayed to see the girl had already locked it up, even though I told her I wanted to rent it, and she couldn’t figure out which key opened it. Finally, she managed to get it opened and I was off and running. Bocas Town is so small, that traffic is super mellow, which is a relief from the typical harrowing traffic everywhere else.

    Caribbean-style clapboard houses with shopfronts in Bocas del Toro, Panama.
    Caribbean-style clapboard houses with shopfronts in Bocas del Toro, Panama.

    A surfer dude lays back on a wave in Bocas del Toro, Panama.
    A surfer dude lays back on a wave in Bocas del Toro, Panama.

    Straight off the bat, I rode through a part of town I hadn’t been before, where I shot photos of a bunch of photogenically dilapidated houses and shops, then proceeded up the east coast of the island. Eye candy up in those parts included small abandoned roadside shacks, a luxurious home surrounded by vibrant tropical foliage, palm trees swaying in the breeze, and waves that looked big enough to surf. Indeed, two or three miles up, quite a ways after the paved road gave way to dirt, I came upon a surf spot, where I watched a few foreigners shred the waves.

    Why throw away an old canoe and a pile of computer monitors when you can make a sculpture out of them? Bocas del Toro, Panama.
    Why throw away an old canoe and a pile of computer monitors when you can make a sculpture out of them? Bocas del Toro, Panama.

    Shacks on the beach in Bocas del Toro, Panama.
    Shacks on the beach in Bocas del Toro, Panama.

    A bit further up the bumpy dirt road, the chain popped off my bike. Luckily, it hadn’t broken, and with a bit of struggle, I was able to put it back on. Otherwise, it would’ve been a long walk back into town, and I would’ve had to pay more money for keeping the bike out longer. After washing the grease and dirt off my hands in the sea just a few feet away, I headed back into town, where I shot some more photos and video of all of the colorful Caribbean-style clapboard houses. Too bad the only bikes available to rent are cheapo beach cruiser-types with no gears and bad geometry. A decent mountain bike would be perfect for the dirt roads around here!

    A skinny rainbow house next to a hut in Bocas del Toro, Panama.
    A skinny rainbow house next to a hut in Bocas del Toro, Panama.

    The Love Shack in Bocas del Toro, Panama.
    The Love Shack in Bocas del Toro, Panama.

    Later in the evening, I was walking by Bocas Bambu, where, for a couple of minutes, I checked out the fire dance they put on every night. It involves a man and woman who twirl around sticks and hoops festooned with goblets of fire. It actually looked pretty awesome. The only problem was it was performed to recorded music, which seems a bit lacking. Too bad they don’t have live musicians.

    Words and photos ©2017 Arcane Candy.

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