Thursday, September 3, 2009

Bocas Del Toro

We're in Panama right in the region of Bocas Del Toro on Isla Colòn (Columbus Island). The official name of the beach where we currently live is Bocas Del Drago, but most people associate this region in general with the "Del Toro" part of the name above. It's kind of confusing with all these different Bocas names, but so it goes. This island is part of a string of beautiful islands on the Caribbean side of Panama, directly off the coast. From most of the islands, you can see the mainland of Panama. Where we are living, in Bocas Del Drago, the ocean is literally only 22 "Michelle sized steps" away from our front door (that's our unit of measurement here). Neither of us can ever remember a time when we have stayed this close to the ocean and it's pretty nice. Every night we fall asleep to the sounds of the ocean....we have 4 large windows that we leave open to let the breeze in (they have screens). There are mosquitos here, so a bed net is imperative at night, but the days are so
spectacular that dealing with a net at night is worth it. We are currently renting a nice cabaña from the Institute for Tropical Ecology and Conservation - a school that offers class sessions twice a year. Right now they are not in session so we have the whole school to ourselves. It's basically us and the caretakers Enrique, Janet, and their lovely 1 year old daughter, Itzel. We have a lot of fun spending time with these guys. They help us with our Spanish and at times I help Enrique around the property and Michelle helps watch Itzel, etc. At the school we also have access to all of their snorkeling gear, a nice canoe, and a great library of resource books on the area.

In our spare time, we go running along the ocean side of the island on a road the locals call "Gringolandia". This is a very primitive side of the island where a few "gringo's" have in fact bought land and put up homes, but basically it is still all jungle there (all jungle, all the time). We were offered by one such gringo to house sit for him (free house for us, security for him) when he goes back to the states. It was tempting, but we have other ideas for what the next 6 months will hold. Moving along..... As we run through "Gringolandia" on the dirt road, we are treated to the sounds of howler monkeys and very interesting birds. It's a nice diversion from studying. There is also a reef right in front of the school where we can snorkel around when we need a break. In the other direction is a beach called Starfish Beach, which we quickly discovered was not an exaggeration. This beach is literally loaded with huge starfish and the water is so clear that it's easy to spot them.

Basically we are using our time here to catch up on our books and finish the "book" part of our journey into Spanish. If all goes well, we will move into a volunteer opportunity after this which will cinch down the language for us.....hopefully.

A couple extra photos:

Crossing the rusty bridge from Costa Rica into Panama

Our first trip out to Bocas Del Drago from Bocas Del Toro (the main tourist hub on the island). It's a half hour drive through the jungle. We had to pack all of our gear as well as a weeks worth of groceries. Even now, we only come into town about once a week to buy more food and hit the internet cafes a bit.

Our first day in Del Drago. The staff members in this photo have all gone back to the states now. Enrique, the caretaker, is in the center with the aqua shirt.


    And Aaron & I thought we were close! Do you swim in it?
    I have taken to swimming in the Pacific, after a long hiatus. It is so refreshing and the temperature is perfect. Much more fun than our pool. Is it safe where you are, re: strong currents, sharks, stingrays, etc... Do any locals swim in it? It sure looks like paradise! If that gringo cannot find someone to housesit for 6 months, have him contact me. Mark, since you are staying in some ecological institute, you might get a kick out of hearing that Chloe is now part of the Eco-Friendly-Freaks team. These youngsters go around collecting and recycling trash and do good and help conserve resources. Love following your blog.

  2. Thanks guys!! I just had a marathon reading assignment catching up with you two and Chris. I enjoyed every word. Can't wait to read more.


  3. What a fun place to be- it's beautiful! mark- LOVE the beard- you look awesome! Ans michelle you are beautiful as ever! love you guys!

  4. Would love to hang with you on the beach and splash around in the ocean. Jim Dyar is currently out in Telluride/Moab etc. and you guys in central America, makes me feel like an old barnacle stuck in least I can enjoy all these adventures via the computer.

    Safe travels & have fun,
    Stateside Lou

  5. As soon as you come home, we shall have a movie fest :D I miss you so much. and i'll definitely be here for your skype call. (btw, i have a skype account myself!) it's under I love your posts. They always motivate me to want to travel and start living life. You look lovely in your pictures. i love you


  6. Hello Mark and Michelle,

    It has been almost a month since you've written anything. You know the mother in me is wanting to make sure you are ok!!! The adventurest in me knows you are out having a blast and discovering all kinds of cool stuff to tell us later. Hope to hear from you soon. Miss reading about your adventures and miss hearing your voice!!! Look forward to catching up soon.

    Love ya both,

  7. Loved catching up on your adventures! At the risk of sounding like an echo, I hope all is ok with you too, and that you're just too busy to blog! Hope your birthday's fabulous!

  8. Dear friends!
    How nice to see you your pics from paradise beaches on a cold fall night here in Poland!
    kisses and hugs for you and remember I am waiting for you in Poznan!