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Bocas del Toro: Island Paradise

Panama's number one location!

semi-overcast 28 °C
View Triptacular on gadgetex's travel map.

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Having rung in the new year in Puerto Viejo it was time for a change of scene. Just a short boat ride from Puerto Viejo lie the Caribbean islands of Bocas del Toro. During our journey a fellow traveler showed us his brand new Lonely Planet guide which lists Bocas as their number one destination in Central America, so we knew we were in for a treat.

After a huge post-new-year queue at the border, a crossing over an old railway bridge and a water taxi to Isla Colon we found ourselves in Bocas town.

Thanks, it would seem, to the Lonely Planet recommendation, the accommodation in Bocas is some of the priciest we've seen in Central America with rooms in regular hostels costing as much as we splashed on a luxury room in Antigua.

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Luckily we'd found a much more affordable option which turned out to be a short hop away on Isla Bastimentos. And so we climbed aboard a water taxi to Basti enjoying the warm evening air as we skimmed past the colourful Caribbean stylings of Colon and the neighboring islands whilst our drunken boat driver enthusiastically, and repeatedly, wished us a happy new year.

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Waiting for us on Basti was our very own cabin on the seafront. Needless to say as we got off the boat we were excited.

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And that was when we realised we'd made a terrible error.

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Because Bastimentos is one great big rubbish tip. Children and adults alike can be seen dropping (throwing) rubbish where they stand despite the signs around the island begging them not to.

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Walking through town we were treated to the sight of piles of beer cans, polystyrene, old fridges, a steering wheel, old nappies, bottles, shoes, shattered plastic furniture and rusted heaps of old metal, all melting into the sea. Needless to say we didn't go for a dip.

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The island, which is a turtle nesting site, turned out to be so disgusting that we decided it would be best to leave the next day, but as luck would have it we both came down with a nasty stomach bug that night and were forced to spend another day bedridden on landfill island.

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And so the moral of the story turned out to be this: Make sure you read the smallprint, because you may end up on a landfill instead of Lonely Planet's island paradise. And don't go to Lonely Planet's number one destination unless you've got money up to the eyeballs.

Next time we visit the city of David to await delivery of a laptop charger and go to the mountain town of Boquete to see a flower and coffee festival with no coffee to drink.

Posted by gadgetex 20:06 Archived in Panama

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