PANAMA – Bocas de Toro 

Pleasure to get into the San Jose airport and feel like I was back into a reality that was familiar to me, I don’t ever want to be pretentious and as soon as others people say “I dont mean to sound pretentious” I automatically judge them for being pretentious and here I am using those dreaded words, they seem to be needed here.  This journey is the journey inward, the journey that allows me to become more familiar with who I am and I am accustomed to a certain lifestyle, certain comforts, a certain level of cleanliness, and I squirm a little when I’m outside that zone I have noticed.  Costa Rica for the most part was outside that zone even in the so called 4 star hotel it still wasn’t quite right.  Now in Bocas I am another step outside of my comfort zone, staying for a month on a secluded island away from everything, the world has shifted on its axis.

Bocas del Toro is a province of Panama comprising of an island chain off the Caribbean coast, plus a section of nearby mainland with biodiverse rainforest. Isla Colón, the main island, is home to the capital, Bocas Town, a central hub with restaurants, shops and nightlife. Popular beaches include Boca del Drago. Also on Isla Colón is Starfish Beach, named for the numerous sea stars on its ocean floor.

Area: 1,798 mi²

Dolphin Bay cabanas is a 20 minute boat ride from Bocas town.  It is rustic, very close to being outdoors in a cute little cabana not completely closed, open air, minimal electricity, no hot water, but the most beautiful place I have ever been.  I feel like I’ve landed exactly where I am suppose to be for the next month to write.  To heal, to go deeper and expose more of my being, one more layer deeper into the proverbial onion.  I sit here on the deck of the kitchen, cafe, with Jelle, the owner busy in the kitchen preparing dinner for all his guests, beautiful soft jazz music softly playing in the background, a dog at my feet, a gently breeze blowing all around, lush green palm trees swaying in tune with each note.  I feel as though I have landed in a writer’s paradise; now all I need is for my laptop to actually show up.

I flew nature air, a tiny Cessna holding 15 seats most of which were empty, a short 45 minute hop that seemed like only minutes before we were touching the ground again.

As the buzz of the tiny engine filling all the spaces, I noticed the fleeting thoughts – this could be the end – each time I get up into the sky I am filled with an adrenaline, an excitement coorsing through my veins, a new experience, up high above the normalcy of ordinary life, above looking down on the tiny images that look like play toys and I imagine the lives led behind each of those closed doors. I wonder.  I daydream.  I fantasize.

I enjoy the mystery of the clouds and the privilege of being right with them although separated by a barrier keeping us apart, I daydream of climbing inside, a cotton batton hammock encompassing my entire body, filling every crease with fluffy foam, gently rocking, surrounded with a tenderness and warmth like the gentle hug like you can only get from your mamas arms, a place where there can be no wrong, a place where everything is just right.

The airport tiny to match the tiny plane, we stepped into the pouring rain and out onto the Tarmac, summoned into a small claustrophobic room no bigger than a small bedroom,  a broken down scanning machine to the right and two rooms straight ahead, one labelled immigration and the other, custom.

As we exited the plane everyone lined up to take our turn in the process of interrogation.  The first room passport check, confirmation that you are leaving the country and fingerprints; the second a big burly bald guy with latex gloves strapped to his enormous hands staring down at each unsuspecting guests with a look of sustain, almost daring you to have drugs or conteban.  Intimidating.  At his side, a uniformed guard, pudgy dark skinned man who simply watched it all go down.  Standing on the outside of the glass doors we just walked through a man dressed in army garb with a mangy looking mut on a leash to his side.  Surprisingly enough the dog turned out to be the drug sniffer – who would have thought!  I, in all my infinite wisdom, drank a steaming mug of delicious black tea with milk and enjoyed every gulp, not thinking the plane would be the size of an SUV and no bathrooms, needless to say, I had to pee which put me at the very end of the line and an hour long wait.  The good thing is by the time they got to me the big intimidating bald guy was getting bored and needed some interaction, each person stood before him stiff, solid, straight faced, scared nobody was saying a word.  He made eye contact with me and so a conversation ensued before long we were laughing and joking when my turn came he barely looked through my stuff but he did chuckle at “my tea for sad people”,  my opened jar of jiff peanut butter and the enormous load of tampons and pads I was packing, concerned they might not sell them in other countries; what’s even more ridiculous is its 50/50 if I will even menstate again!  Gotta be prepared!  Gawd!

A small tax payable upon entry to the country.  Everything penny counts.

Finally through security there he is Jelle, the owner of dolphin bay cabanas where I am to spend the next month of my life.  We walked from the airport right into town him lugging my rediculously large backpack suitcase that I would seriously never be able to carry on my back.  A super cute little town, we buzzed through quite quickly, I picked up some groceries, we boarded his boat through a construction site because the owner of the dock locks up between 12-2pm.

As we were shopping he checked out before me and paid a little towards his bill telling the cashier he would pay the rest later, unfazed by this, off he went outside to wait for me.  I paid for my groceries, prices are very comparable to home, $40 bucks for a couple small bags of food.  Stopped for gas where Jelle asked me for $10 bucks to pay for gas, red flag, I gave him $20 the cost of the pick up was to be $30.  Gassed up we headed out the the open ocean and bumped along until we maneuvered our way through this path cut from the mangroves with just enough room to maneuver the boat through and back out into the open ocean and headed to the place I will be calling home for the next 30 days.  It was exhilarating and exciting!

To the other side …
Dolphin Bay

A beautiful young woman named Bianca greets me and shows me to my cabana, a sweet little hut with a king sized bed; surrounded by a mosquito net to keep the bugs away, a night table with a fan, two cabinets to store clothes and a tiny bathroom all my own.  It is perfect.  The cabana is almost fully enclosed except one v shaped area above the bathroom is open to the outside world 🌎 of bugs, 🐍, scorpion 🦂, noseeums, fire flies, drunken Beatles and all that I don’t know, nor care too!

The beautiful Bianca
my new home for 30 days

As I lay in bed I hear  sounds of the jungle, howler monkeys, bugs chirping, sounds of the swaying trees and the gentle hum of the ocean.

The host makes breakfast and dinner for a charge, he provided a beautiful meal tonight, pasta, pork, salad, fresh spinach complete with red and white wine both of which I declined, strictly peppermint tea for me.  As the wine went down easily with the other guests I made my exit early and headed to bed for my first night in the jungle, on a secluded island all alone in my bungalow.  There have been moments where I wished real bad I had a nice warm body to snuggle up to.

As of this moment I am happy, I am safe, I think? I feel at home and welcome.



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