School in Panama begins on March 9th, My friend Myra is a Professora, a teacher and her vacation is coming to its end. We decided to do a fast trip from Boquete Panama to Bocas del Toro, to Isla Colon, the most populated of the islands commonly called Bocas del Toro. We were joined by some other friends, Dan and Deborah, escapees from Valle Escondido.
We drove and briefly said they are continuing to repair the road between Gulaca and Chiriqui Grande, several new bridges are going into span the washed out road bed. When done it will be a vast improvement, for now the construction coupled with the dense fog that we encountered makes the ride slow and perilous. With flights having resumed from David direct to Isla Colon I would really recommend flying.
After parking the car we headed for the BMT, Bocas Marine Transport and took a water taxi to the island. I noticed a rather dramatic change, radios in the boats, new tops and enforced mandatory use of life jackets.
Myra and I stayed at the Hotelito del Mar, dead center in town. I have been there before and nothing has changed. If is perfectly located if you want to be in the center of what has become tourist town Bocas del Toro.The Hotelito was full so Dan and Deborah ended up about 10 minute walk out of town at the Angela Hotel. If I were to rate the Hotelito del Mar a 6/10 the Hotel Angela might make it to 4/10. Their room included three beds with a shower in the same room, non functional AC. Despite to offer of a free breakfast posted in the room, they discovered the hard way there was no such thing as a free breakfast in the Hotel Angela.
After settling in, we started a Bocas pub crawl in pursuit in eventual pursuit of dinner. We started at the Buena Vista for some happy hours Pina Coladas, they were very nice at $2.50 except they appeared to be missing the rum. After a round and some fried calamari we moved down to the Reef at the other end of the street. Rum was $1.50, six chicken wings for $6. The wings were really six, half wings. I requested the check and noticed the rum was billed at $2 each. this brought back a memory, they did this last time I was there also, that time for food. I need urge caution if you value your wallet t the Reef.
My reason for this line of commentary is the sum up that Isla Colon has become a tourist trap; unless you know where to go.
Deborah suggested heading off the beaten path and with a phone call to my friend Helena from Garden of Eden we were directed past the Reef, around the bend to the Ultimo Refugio. We actually missed the entrance until a man on the street asked if we were looking for the restaurant.
The wait was long but discovering the new drinks being offered at bar folded time and eventually a table cleared. The inside was charming, busy and fun. There were no tables but we were offered bar, drinks and the next opening. The white board menu was short and the theme fresh and fish.
Dinner was served well and in a reasonable time. Dinner was very good, the venue and service excellent and in all the experience great.
On Isla Colon head of the tourist path. More of that tomorrow in a day of walking, exploring and searching for another dinner worth eating.