Vacation on Bocas Del Toro

On June 6th I boarded a plane from Fort Lauderdale to Panama City, Panama. I had decided to quit my job as a banker and sell all my belongings and move to Medellin, Colombia. After over 30 years in banking I had enough of the stress. The last straw was May 30th when my boss and I had an argument and I thought she totally disrespected me the way she spoke to me. I went home that weekend and thought hard on it and decided I had enough. All that money was just not worth it.

Fortunately my lease on my Miami apartment overlooking the Biscayne Bay was expiring in early June. The timing was perfect. I would have 2 months to get my affairs in order and just leave Miami without having to concern myself with getting a new place to live. 

I began the process of listing all my belonging for sale on numerous web sites. I held off on listing my bed and auto until 2 weeks before I was scheduled to leave the country.

I have always wanted to visit Panama therefore I purchased a ticket to visit my friend who was in the process of constructing a motel on the Island of Bocas Del Toro, Panama. He was planning to go to Italy in early June and indicated that it would be a perfect idea if I could stay on the property and house sit until he returned from Italy. I thought to myself this would be perfect. He had another friend staying at the property who was planning to leave and return to  Canada by the 3rd week in June. My friend planned to return from Italy July 5th.

I left South Florida as schedule on June 6th. However there are no direct flights to Bocas therefore I had to take a plane to Panama City, then wait about 6 hours until the next morning then take a smaller prop to the Island. When I arrived on Bocas my friend picked me up on a 4 wheel quad and took me to the motel (under construction), which was no where near the town, but about a 40 minute ride up North of the Island. Not what I expected. He was constructing the property way up on the mostly undeveloped portion of the Island. This was the beginning of a great adventure.  My friend showed me the property for one day then he took off to Italy.

When my friend first asked me to come house sit for him on Bocas I had a vision of a nice big house on the ocean with all the comforts of home. It turned out to be the total opposite. The property was about 50% completed and it was basically in the jungle. I had to battle tons of insects and unknow bugs. The ants were the worse. They were everywhere and they had a vicious bite. There were monkeys and sloth on the Island. You could hear the monkeys making noise every morning. I did see a few monkeys but thank God they were not friendly and stayed away from actually entering the property. I also saw a sloth but he was so far up the tree behind the property therefore I could not get any good pictures.

The property was directly across the road (dirt road) from  the ocean therefore I decided to make the best of the situation and turn my thoughts to all the great fishing for Snappers (Pargo) and Snook (Robalo) in the surf.  Unfortunately, that also turned out to be a big bust. The ocean was clean and looked very fishy, however, it was too rough to be able to fish in the surf. I was told it was the wrong time of the year for surf fishing. It was a great time of year for surfing.

It rained almost every night and a few times during the day. Found out it was the rainy season. I went into the town a few times but found out the only transportation van which took us to the town was very unreliable. It  was also expensive since it was the only option to get to town, unless you took your own quad. One day I took the public van to town and when I got off the van I specifically asked the driver what time was the last trip back up North to the motel and he said 5 pm. I saw the van sitting at the stop about 4:30pm and decided that since I had a round trip ticket and the driver knew I was going back on his van, then my seat was basically reserved. Not the case. I slowly passed the van at the waiting spot in town about 4:40pm and went to purchase some groceries. I retuned to the spot well before 5pm and the van was gone. I had to take a taxi ($15) to get back home that night. The next day I asked the van driver why he left me stranded and he said the van was full. It is first come basis. I had no idea. He also said the round trip ticked was only good for one day. Another day I took the van to town and it never showed up to take us home. He had engine issues.

Main building

It was hot and humid and the insects were very active especially at night when the lights were on in the kitchen. There are no street lights, therefore the insects and flying ants were attracted to the kitchen lights. I had to eat and fight the insects at the same time. Needless to say by the end of the 2nd week I had enough of the forest living. Every night when I prepared for bed I had to search the bedroom for insects and roaches and spiders before I felt comfortable in closing my eyes.  And yes I did have to kill a few. I guess the last straw was when thee washing machine broke down.

By the end of the 2nd week I decided to get a hotel room in the town of Bocas. It was a smaller room with no A/C or TV for $25 a night. However they had hot water which was a life saver. Although it was off season the town did have a lot of activity in the bars and restaurants. There was a large percentage of Europeans tourists. Lots of younger European backpackers and a few American surfers. At night I went fishing from the local docks and I did catch a few smaller Pargos which I gave to the locals. They were mostly smaller fish in the 9″ to 12″. However twice I hooked up on something so big I could not turn the fish and they just broke me off. There are some big fish out there at nights.


I stayed about a week in the town then decided to head to Panama City. Instead of taking  the local small prop planes to Panama City I decided to be adventurous and take the water taxi to the mainland, then a bus to Panama City. It was a 16 hour journey.

Second floor of main building