Bastimentos, Panama

Isla Bastimentos
After a ten hour bus ride and a one hour boat taxi from Panama City, I arrived in Bocas del Toro, an island off of Panama’s Caribbean coast.  It had a Wildwood, New Jersey feel so I hopped on the next available boat to the more remote and tranquil island of Bastimentos.  Bastimentos, with just a few motels and no automobiles, has yet to experience its inevitable blow-up of tourists.  It’s center is demarcated by a single one meter-wide strip of cement that houses a few bars, several boat docks, and a dive center.  Unlike in Bocas, the local black population, who speaks an incomprehensible Jamaican mix of English called Guari Guari, vastly outnumbers the gringo tourists.  An eight dollar room at Hostal Bastimentos would serve as my base camp for the next week.
On my first day, still sleep-deprived from a freezing overnight bus ride, I met up with Rob, the Dutch Pirate (www.thedutchpirate.com), who would teach my PADI scuba certification course.  At $220 a course, Bastimentos is one of the cheapest places in the world to learn how to dive, and as Rob’s 3000th customer, the classes and six dives ran quite smoothly.  To make the deal even sweeter I was taking the class soley.  I highly recommend him.
But unfortunately, my disappointment with Panama continued, as I again struggled to connect with the locals.  I gave into my gringo status, and took up English for a week, and chilled with my fellow travelers in the hostel.  I connected with a Danish couple (which is always a win-win situation), and we spent our nights cooking, sharing travel stories, and interpreting Dylan lyrics.  Graham particularly impressed me.  As a 17-year-old, he dropped out of high school to play for a professional soccer team.  He retired by the age of nineteen, and moved on to full-time traveling and part-time work.  He returned to finish his high school degree at the age of 23, and is now in a teaching university.  As one of the most intelligent and pensive guys I have ever met, he’s going to be a great English teacher.
Bastimentos served as a great place to write, enjoy remote beaches, reconnect with family, and recover from my travels in the Caribbean.  But after a week of just chilling, I was itching to get on with my travels to highly acclaimed Colombia.
Boating in to Bastimentos

Boating in to Bastimentos

After a ten hour bus ride and a one hour boat taxi from Panama City, I arrived in Bocas del Toro, an island off of Panama’s Caribbean coast.  It had a Wildwood, New Jersey feel so I hopped on the next available boat to the more remote and tranquil island of Bastimentos.  Bastimentos, with just a few motels and no automobiles, has yet to experience its inevitable blow-up of tourists.  It’s center is demarcated by a single one meter-wide strip of cement that houses a few bars, several boat docks, and a dive center.  Unlike in Bocas, the local black population, who speaks an incomprehensible Jamaican mix of English called Guari Guari, vastly outnumbers the gringo tourists.  An eight dollar room at Hostal Bastimentos would serve as my base camp for the next week.

On my first day, still sleep-deprived from a freezing overnight bus ride, I met up with Rob, the Dutch Pirate (www.thedutchpirate.com), who would teach my PADI scuba certification course.  At $220 a course, Bastimentos is one of the cheapest places in the world to learn how to dive, and as Rob’s 3000th customer, the classes and six dives ran quite smoothly.  To make the deal even sweeter I was taking the class soley.  I highly recommend him.

Goofing off at a local reef

Goofing off at a local reef

The kids were the only locals who would hang out with me.

The kids were the only locals who would hang out with me.

But unfortunately, my disappointment with Panama continued, as I again struggled to connect with the locals.  I gave into my gringo status, and took up English for a week, and chilled with my fellow travelers in the hostel.  I connected with a Danish couple (which is always a win-win situation), and we spent our nights cooking, sharing travel stories, and interpreting Dylan lyrics.  Graham particularly impressed me.  As a 17-year-old, he dropped out of high school to play for a professional soccer team.  He retired by the age of nineteen, and moved on to full-time traveling and part-time work.  He returned to finish his high school degree at the age of 23, and is now in a teaching university.  As one of the most intelligent and pensive guys I have ever met, he’s going to be a great English teacher.

Cooking with Graham at Hostal Bastimentos

Cooking with Graham at Hostal Bastimentos

Bastimentos served as a great place to write, enjoy remote beaches, reconnect with family, and recover from my travels in the Caribbean.  But after a week of just chilling, I was itching to get on with my travels to highly acclaimed Colombia.

Morning runs to beautiful Wizard Beach

Morning runs to beautiful Wizard Beach

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