With a complete day to spend exploring Isla Colon Dan, Deborah, Myra and I set out walking. We decided by happenstance we followed the perimeter road that hugs the coast in the direction of the Bocas Airport.. The Airport on Isla Colon is walking distance from most hotels on the island and is open again.
Our first encounter was with a new 36 unit building that was listed as townhouses on the ANAM impact sign. As we looked we were greeted by Hans, the owner of the project. Hans discussed his project, the opportunities on Isla Colon and other islands and mentioned the market for hotel rooms was strong, while now, the market for land was weak. The message, according to Hans this is good time to buy land in Bocas del Toro. There is a new, controversial law someplace in process that will affect property rights of ROP owners. Hans thinks it will be a good thing, I have heard others say the opposite, so I would do my research before opening a check book.
After bidding goodbye to Hans we found our first public beach and as it was approaching noon and hot our first cold beer of the day. The first beach is just after you pass through an arch marking the beginning of the Isla Colon fairgrounds. In 2008 I went to the fair, this time we just found some shade,some chairs and cold drinks. The restaurant has a full menu at local prices and beer was $0.75 a bottle. From the beach I saw a large building across the bay and I was told it was the Playa Tortuga Resort. A quick use of my Iphone found their website and thier listing on Trip advisor. $347 a night seemed out of sight for Bocas but worth exploring so we decided to walk there.
On the road we encountered the National Police Station for the fair and more important the only restaurant I ever really enjoyed on Isla Colon, the Caribbean Burger truck, home of GREAT friend chicken. This truck, flat tires and all was parked at the park in town for several years dishing out great food after sundown. The new mayor decreed it gone and we found the relic. It is probably used at the fair inSeptember.
We hugged the coast, Myra hugged Dan and eventually we made it to La Tortuga. It was far less impressive than either the website or the image from across the bay.
But it did have a nice bar, a great view, good service and cold beer. The bonus is that when you spend $347 a night for a hotel room you can buy cold beer at 5:1, that is five time the price at a local bar.
After leaving the La Tortuga Bar we started the walk back and were saved by a taxi. Seeking lunch the taxi drivers first directed us to a local hangout in the fairground and then a chicken with rice place near the airport. An abbreviated version of the Culturas / Amigos lunch; Chicken, rice with lentils and a salad, pasta salad was $4.
With the heat of the day came a siesta, followed by my determination to followup on the comment of a taxi driver that Caribbean Burgers had a store front on the far side of the park. We found it, it was closed.
Caribbean Burgers was located accross from a bar called Toro Loco, a gringo bar that seemed to have a lot of local gringos as clients, the Culturas of Isla Colon They had a bar food menu, cold beer and they became our first stop of the evening. Service was good, the menu had clearly marked food prices and no listing of drink prices. When the bill came it was verbal and we have no idea what drinks cost but the total was realistic and we decided to find dinner.
For this second night we decided to try something more touisty for the experience, We started and planned to end at the new rather glamorous Bocas Bambu. The place was crowded but we were given a table immediately, given menus immediately and then ignored. The waitress, we think there was one, came an went. She took orders from around us, brought drinks to others and ignored us completely. If I had not showered shortly before I would have believed it was offending odor. In time after feeling socially inadequate we left. The man who seated us was very concerned but not enough to do anything about the problem.
Next the new restaurant at the Laguna Hotel, Cocina Exotica. Nice menu, we seated ourselves, a waiter brought over menus immediately and once again we were ignored for a long period of time. As 9 pm approaced we resigned ourselves to my initial lust for Caribbean Chick, if they were opened and left. In a note of irony the same waiter who had ignored us was at the table in seconds collecting our well perused menus.
Sadly, for me, Caribbean Bugers was still closed so we returned to Toro Loco for a late dinner of friend this and that. I was told Caribbean burgers usually opened by midnight and stayed open to about 5 am, go figure. I did try to return at 1 am for my grease fix but was denied egress from my room by Myra, I will need to wait for another time for artery clogging fried chicken.
Our return the next day was a four hour replay of the ride to Almirante with the exception of Myra doing some banana negotiations along the way.
We ended up with two large stalks of banana, guineos criollio (local non chicquita brand bananas) and the small thumb sized bananas that ripen very sweet. You do not find these little bananas int he stores here but you find different, new and often exciting expereinces along the roads throughout Panama.