Bocas del Toro
8. May: Today I the day of our boat trip, so we're up at 6:40 and go for breakfast at the same 4* hotel-restaurant we went to the day before (the green-eyed, half-black waitress knew us already, we were the only customers on both days). Next, we walk to 'Bocas del Toro International Airport' to get our tickets for David. The counter seems quite professional, we are even asked our ages and how much we weigh. There are 25 pounds of luggage allowed per person. After that we go and fetch our laundry and I decide to discover a shipwreck which is in shallow water just in front of the bar before our Hospedaje. A dive-shop had told me about it the previous day, and since we already had our snorkels with us, this was a great way to take a quick look. I didn't really grasp where the wreck was, so I asked and was guided to it by a local. It was really immediately in the water right in front of the bar (Only then did I realize that the bar was called 'Barco Perdido', lost boat)! It is quite a large wreck and there are a lot of fish to be seen, including a nice box-fish.
At 9:30 the snorkelling tour is to leave and I'm surprised to see that at least 15 people have gathered for the tour! (there was a minimum limit of 6) It is a small boat with two rows of longitudinal parallel seats and we are cramped. We manage to get seats right at the front of the boat, the captain steers the boat and sits at the back. All the passengers wear orange life jackets except us and they seem to be part of a larger group of Belgians speaking Flemish.
First, we're off to a spot called 'Los Delfines' and zigzag through the water once we're there. Soon enough a number of dolphins arrive, they are quite near, some of them large animals, and they sometimes ride just in front of the boat's bow! Great! Next we go to 'Cayo Coral' which has a restaurant on stilts directly in the sea. The water is turquoise blue and clear, and there are a number of large fish to be seen. We get into the water and it takes a while to discover the reef, it is quite large and there so much to be seen. Very nice! There are lots of sponges (vase sponges, tube sponges), nice coral, some very large butterfly fish (the largest I have ever seen!) and actually quite a lot of various fish. Annewien is doing very well at snorkelling and we went twice. We had some cokes but not any lunch (it was too expensive and they had fish only).
We continued by boat to 'Red Frog Beach'. We don't arrive at the beach but rather at a pier where a gate admits us into a private plantation with a path to the sea. Along the way, our guide jumps into the bushes, grabs something in his fists and throws it to the ground in front of us! They're tiny little frogs, beautiful, bright orange, with dots! They are groggy from being thrown about and are immobile for awhile till they regain their orientation. That is time enough for us to look at and photograph them. Along the way there are Pineapple plants with small pineapples growing on them. 1$ is collected as entrance fee for each of us visiting the property.
The beach itself has nice sand and good surf and we play around in the high waves waiting for a really large one to come. We continue on with our boat, and now there are higher waves with lots of water splashing into the boat, making some of us very wet. I wonder if we're still going to the planned 'Punta Hospital', we do, and the water there is surprisingly warm. It is a kind of bay, with a number of small boats already there and some people in the water. Taking to the water snorkelling, we see that the coral is not particularly good, it's partly dead from the silt from all the boats and snorkellers. We do find some large parrot-fish and some other nice fish, but there are too many people and boats milling about.
At last we set to return to Bocas, this time not so much water enters the boat (good for my camera!), but it's started raining now and it's gotten cool. We let down the thick sheets of plastic protection on the sides and front of the boat, but the Belgian group guide woman actually sits out in the open and really gets beaten by the rain and the waves.
We're back to the Hospedaje to have a shower, have a nap and then set out to the 4* hotel/restaurant for dinner: Actual Italian Pizza and Tomato/Mozzarella Salad. he owner of the place seems to be an Italian lady. The food is so-so and expensive. I ordered a bit of the Italian 'house-wine', it turned out to be bad so they opened a new bottle. The service was slow as well. We thought it would be a good idea to check our e-mail after dinner, but the two PC's at the hotel were down due to technical reasons. We find an Internet Cafñ outside. We don't find any place to dance at this time, so we go back to our room, pack a bit and sleep.