. Bocas town is a bit of a party zone & the nights out were great - you tend to meet many other travellers pretty quickly as the main area of Bocas is actually pretty small and itīs a very sociable place. The social bonding process is undoubtedly speeded by regular early evening drinking games in "Mondo Taitu" , a cool hostel & little bar which offered happy hour beers at 25p a bottle ! There also seemed to be "ladies nights" in one of the bars each night - which involves the girls getting virtually unlimited free alcohol (more extreme than the UK where it might be free entry or one free drink) ... I guess it has some business sense to it as naturally lots of girls getting free alcohol means lots of guys wanting to be in the same bar & buying lots of alcohol ... or else just stealing the girls free drinks :) Finally everyone rounds the night off into the early hours at one of two places , either Aqua or Barco Hundido. Aqua is a hostel & bar right on the seafront on another island called Caranero , but only across a 200m channel to get there (a one-dollar boat ferry takes people all night) "Aqua" lives up to its name by having a pool & diving board aswell as a bouncy trampoline outside in the sea ... so people have fun flinging themselves into the water before returning , dripping , to the adjacent bar & dance floor. Barcos used to be called the "wreck deck" as it is set around a little pool with an illumimated wreck below and also has a large deck area right on the seafront so you can sit with your drinks and feet in the water ..
. all very pleasant indeed. However , after three nights of Bocas town nightlife I decided I really ought to escape in order to preserve both my liver and my sanity -so I decided to head for the tranquility of the Chiquiri highlands & Boquete for a bit of a quieter time. Of course I enjoy the party nights on my trip a lot & itīs really easy to get sucked in for a longer stay with the new friends you make , but I actually find it best all round for me when I mix things up ie. have several quiet days , after which you really feel like some big nights out ... then I seem to enjoy everything more. As an aside, I was pleased to see my travel blog hit a major milestone today - there have apparently been 3,000 unique visitors to the "garygapyear" blog ... now I figure even allowing for a significant chunk of those "visitors" actually being me reviewing some entries from different internet cafe PCīs , that still leaves a surprisingly large number of readers ... so let me offer a thank you to all the garygapyear readers out there :) ... please keep coming back & reading the updates !
Had a lot of fun in my few days in Bocas Del Toro , a group of islands off the north west coast of Panama quite close to the Costa Rican border. Bocas is a hugely popular and very fast growing backpackers destination and its easy to understand why with the superb setting , watersports , beaches and buzzing nightlife. Highly enjoyable boat ride from Changuinola on mainland Panama to get over to Isla Colon , the main island of the Bocas Del Toro archipelago , which was where I was staying. The boat ride takes a very scenic route up an old canal that used to be used by the banana plantations years ago but is now vegetation and birdlife. In Bocas I enjoyed some great snorkelling on the coral reefs at "cayo crawl" and "hospital point" (so named because there used to be a hospital there a long time ago , not because its dangerous in some way) with lots of colourful fishes to see and clear blue water - much better snorkelling than Cahuita a few days ago. I also went on the boat out to "Dolphin Bay" and "Red Frog Beach , neither of which disappointed in living up to their names as we saw lots of dolphins jumping & flipping out of the water (really cool !) and the little red & black frogs near to the beach which is on another island called Bastimentos