After crossing into Panama and taking a shuttle bus to Almirante, I jump in a water taxi for a 45 minute ride out to Isla Colon, the main island of Bocas Del Toro. Once there I get some people together to do a night tour. I meet a girl Tui, from Germany and we convince a few more people to sign up with us. Andrew, a guy from Texas that I met in Puerto Viejo, also joins us.
The night tour is about 2 hours long, starts at 7:30pm and runs to about 9:30. It includes visiting a couple of the bioluminescent algae fields and swimming with the plankton. It is well worth the $25. I swam with the plankton back in Cambodia, on Koh Rong Samloem, but at the time the moon was full and bright so it was hard to see the little creatures very well.
Conditions this night in Bocas Del Toro are perfect. No moon at all and the captain takes us well away from the main island and its light pollution. We stop at two different spots to watch the algae light up in response to the flashlight wielded by the Captain. Then he takes us to a bay where we get out and snorkel around with the plankton. Unlike the algae which responds to light, the plankton responds to movement. We swim in the dark, lighting up the little bioluminescent creatures with our arms and legs. After a while the other guide with us, Omar, turns on a flash light and swims around with us to point out various other marine life for us. We spot fish, coral, starfish, and a sting ray.
That was the highlight of Bocas for me. Soon I head south, away from the coast and into the mountains to a town called Boquete.
My first morning there I do the Lost Waterfalls hike. It’s one hike with three different waterfalls along the way. I get an early start and I’m the only one out there. I don’t see another soul until I’m hiking back out. The waterfalls are pretty impressive but still can’t compare to the one in Montezuma.
The region is well known for it’s coffee so the next thing I do is take a coffee tour. I’m a huge fan of coffee, but honestly I know very little about it; how it’s grown, how it’s processed, etc. so I hope the tour will be educational for me.
Our guide takes us to a small coffee farm on the edge of town. Along with coffee plants there is a wide range of flowers, shrubs and trees designed to compliment the coffee tree. Some attract beneficial insects while others repel pests. Still others, like lemon and lime trees, add important minerals to the soil. Our guide shows us the beans in various stages of ripeness, the machine used to husk the skin off the bean, how the beans are dried, how the beans are sorted by hand according to quality, how they are roasted, and even how to make the perfect pot of coffee. Apparently, the French press is one of the best ways to prepare coffee. At the end of the tour we get to have a couple cups of some very delicious and very fresh coffee. We sit there and sip our coffee in the little garden of eden of a coffee farm.
Soon I’m off to the capital - Panama City.