Sunday, January 22, 2012


Leaving on a prop plane, flying over the Panama Canal and the Bridge of the Americas.

Our first view of Bocas Del Toro, through the clouds (and propeller).

Bridge of the Americas from prop plane First glimpse of Bocas del Toro

After three nights in Panama City, we arose at 4:30 am to catch a propeller plane to Bocas del Toro, a province in northern Panama along the Caribbean.  Comprised both of mainland and many small islands, Bocas del Toro seemed a magnet for young backpacking travelers looking for eco-adventures.  Bocas town, where we landed on one of the islands, has a distinctly Caribbean feel: wooden houses and businesses; lively music and spicy scents wafting from open-air restaurants; coconut trees laden with huge coconuts; warm breezes and occasional cloudbursts (serious downpours at night); water taxis, sailboats, canoes (both powered and paddled) plying the water – even a cruise ship arrived during our short stay.

Pat and Becky in Bocas town Typical Bocas home and coconuts

Pat and Becky on the main street in Bocas

Becky admires the coconuts in a yard in Bocas

Along the Bocas main street at night.

Typical Bocas water taxis.

Bocas at night Bocas water taxis

We settled into narrow, three story, tin roofed, wooden Hotel Olas, a few blocks off the main drag, hanging out over water.  I LOVED it!   It was the only time we rented two rooms: Pat and Becky shared the large suite on the top floor with its own spacious balcony; I had a second floor room just below them with a small private balcony adjacent to a comfortable, open air common area. 

Lobby at Hotel Olas 2nd floor lobby at Hotel Olas

Lounge and breakfast room, open on three sides, water underneath.

Second floor balcony lounge (with free WiFi, as was true throughout the hotel).

Private balcony of the third floor suite.  We spent a lot of time relaxing here.

This little house was my neighbor; the view is from my second floor private balcony.

Another view of the suite balcony Little house next door Hotal Olas

When I was younger (half the age I am now), I traveled many months and many miles solo, with a backpack.  Hotel Olas brought back intense, enjoyable memories for me.  I loved sitting in the upstairs lounge or the first floor, open air dining room, watching the young travelers plan their adventures while we seniors enjoyed our morning coffee and breakfast.  Out on the streets, walking past lively hostels, hammock-festooned porches, and outdoor restaurants, I recalled the sense of adventure and the pleasure of anonymity I felt during my solo travels.  It was a time of exploration and personal growth, and the fond recollections made my current adventure even more enjoyable.

Waiting in line for the water taxi Waterside view from Hotel Olas

For me, Bocas was both relaxing and invigorating, and I am so glad we took a few days to visit. We didn’t make time to visit the advertised deserted white sand beaches, to search out the bay of starfish to snorkel or hike – but my next post covers another highlight of our trip, our tour of a cacao plantation.


  1. ahh, Laurie. When you were backpacking solo around the world, I was having babies. Not much time for those kinds of endeavors, and I guess I tried to make up for them later in life, but of course it was never quite the same. Loved your story, and would LOVE to spend some time in that cozy place in steamy Panama on the water.

  2. Bocas sounds so lovely. I am with Becky. I would be admiring the coconuts too! So glad you had such a wonderful time. ~Wheresweaver

  3. Backpacking around the world when I was young would have been wonderful, but I couldn't afford it. Now that I'm older and it's more affordable, I would probably end up in some foreign jail :-/ Can I just live vicariously through you?

  4. Bocas sounds wonderful..your pictures are gorgeous...glad you enjoyed!!!

  5. You paint an intoxicatingly lovely picture. Cheers!