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The Mouths Of The Bull

December 28, 2011

We took a bus from Granada to San Jose, Costa Rica, and stayed over one night in order to catch another bus the next morning from San Jose to Bocas Del Toro, Panama. Bocas Del Toro means “mouths of the bull”; online research has turned up varying stories explaining where the name came from. I can’t figure out which one is true.

At the border crossing between Costa Rica and Panama, the bus dropped us off on the Costa Rica side, and once we had exit stamps in our passports, we had to walk across a rickety railroad bridge on foot to get to the Panamanian side.

You have to look down at where you’re walking, or you might stick your foot through the tracks.

After getting Panamanian entry stamps, we took a cab to Almirante, a town across the water from Bocas Del Toro. Then we caught a water taxi to the main town called Bocas Town, which is on Isla Colon. From there, we had to catch another water taxi to the lesser-developed island we’re staying on, called Isla Bastimentos. There are lots of colorful restaurant and hotel buildings on the waterfront in Bocas Town.

Bocas Del Toro province is banana country; we saw a shipping freighter full of containers of Chiquita bananas on the way to Bastimentos.

Luckily, we arrived just in time for a large and long-lived swell (it’s still going on!). We’ve been surfing the beach closest to our hostel, called Red Frog Beach, along with a few other breaks: Wizard Beach (it was big and choppy, with a lot of drift), Careneros Point (big, fast and super fun unless you ride it too far inside and the wave closes out and rakes you across the reef, ripping your shirt clear off you in the process, which happened to one of our friends while we were surfing together), and Black Rock (big but gentle and forgiving — fun with less fear factor).

Most of the breaks can only be reached by boat if you’re staying on Bastimentos. We pay a local water taxi guy to take us to drop us off at the break and come pick us up again three hours later.

Here are a few photos from Red Frog.


Michael body surfing with a handplane made by the talented Jon Wagner, who generously gave us two of his handcrafted beauties before we left New York:

I broke my board a couple of days ago — my first snapped board!

For Christmas, we and a few new friends made a delicious and decadent lobster dinner, with tons of garlic butter, potatoes dauphinoises, green beans, salad, coconut rice, and a flourless chocolate cake for dessert.

The next day, we worked it off by going for a four hour hike through the jungle .

We found strings of incredibly beautiful, secluded beaches.

One of the best things about Bocas Del Toro (besides the waves, of course!) has been the incredible jungle wildlife. Our hostel is literally set on the edge of the jungle, and we’ve seen some crazy critters. Insects are super-sized out here. Definitely not a good destination for the squeamish.

My favorite animals are the sloths. Click on the image below to get to the video we took of this cutie.

Bastimentos has been awesome. Everyone who knows Michael knows how much he loves observing wildlife, so it’s been heaven for him here. I’ve never been in true jungle before, and the jungle rainforest around us is stunning.

We’ll be here for New Year’s, then we’re heading to Santa Catalina on the Pacific side of Panama, a few days later.

¡Hasta la proxima entrada de blog!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. mike permalink
    December 29, 2011 10:51 am

    is it me or does Michael always have the better surf photo. And we all know that Del gets her waves. Enjoy guys and remember its an adventrue out there!

    • December 29, 2011 2:06 pm

      LOL! That photo of me (Delphine) does look pretty kooky, but it’s from the only sequence we have of me so far in Bocas. Great to hear from you, Mike, and we wish you and your family the best for the holidays and the year to come!

  2. December 30, 2011 8:16 am

    Gorgeous waves, food, wildlife and INSECTS! It is amazing fun to follow you to these exotic places. Tell me about the rock formations. Love you guys,

  3. December 31, 2011 11:37 am

    There aren’t many rocks here, mostly coral, but the rocks in Popoyo were beautiful — all smoothed out and soft from the waves. We are looking for the perfect 2-lb rock to send back to you by mail 🙂
    Lots of love from both of us!
    Your kids

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