I woke up at 5:30 AM in Panama City, grabbed my guitar and bag and headed to the small domestic airport. At 7:30 AM I was on my way to Bocas.
Part of Panama City.
To the far left is the Panama Canal.
The mouth of the canal.
Suburbs in the hinterland.
The flight to Bocas is only about an hour long. I started to get really excited when all I could see were islands and reefs. I don't want to say anything bad about the Pacific side of Panama, but I do believe that the Caribbean in many Central American countries is more colorful and vibrant.
Here we are dropping in to Bocas.
When I got to the airport I found a cool hotel called Lula's B&B. Their site is here. Rooms run around $50 a night, there is WiFi, the breakfast is superb, the hosts are very informative and it is located right across the street from the beach and several blocks away from the main drag, so it is quiet and restful.
Here is my room. AC, fan, hot water, private bath, etc.
Here is across the street from Lula's B&B.
I think I'm going to like Bocas, a lot. When I first arrived in Panama on Nov. 1 I journeyed to Lagatero (westside of Panama) where it rained for three days straight at the end of the rainy season and then instantly stopped. Ever since then it barely rains and is constantly sunny and extremely hot. The dry season is here and now everything burns... the green environment turns brown and the locals burn up everything. It gets really smoky. Everyone on the westside (Santa Catalina, Lagatero, etc.) said that the eastside (Bocas, Panama City, Colon, etc.) was rainy every day. Well, the rain has just ended on the eastside and for the next few months it will be very sunny. Luckily, I get to see the best of both sides of Panama. Hint: it is good to know the climatology and oceanography of the places you are traveling in.
Here is Hotel Angela, located near the B&B I am staying at, and the Chef currently there was once the Chef at the resort I am going to in a couple days. Later today I am going to visit him and do a little business. Cool thing about being a traveling Chef is that it is not only necessary to chat with Chefs from around the world and get to know different flavours, menus and environments, but to me this is desirable and very educational. The first few days of visiting a new place I spend most of my time eating at a variety of restaurants that carry different themes. After eyeing the menu up and down, left and right, I order something that strikes my appetite and/or invokes my curiosity. When the plate comes to table I dissect it and think of ways to reverse engineer it, only if it is a good dish of course. To keep from getting obese with all the rich foods I also sanction an hour or two every other day to sprint through the local area and thus get to know the area even more.
A fried chicken joint.
A trendy pizzeria bus.
The main drag.
On the one side of the strip are oceanfront restaurants, hotels and dive shops.
I'm seeing a lot of Caribbean tastes on the menus... e.g., creole shrimps.
First stop of the day was at a local fish restaurant. Lesson one of the day is that the only thing being caught near Bocas is octobus, lobster and prawns. Lesson two is that the prawns are much smaller here. Oh well, they still taste good. But, before I get ahead of myself... does anyone know if the fishing here is ecologically sustainable? I guess that's what I will be studying tonight.
It seems like I have waited two months for this moment. Bon appetit.