I can’t believe our trip is over in 10 days! It really has gone by fast. I’m so grateful that Kristian does what he does, that I can contribute to our business simply by writing this blog, and that 8 months ago, we finally learned how to manage our money and take this amazing, dream vacation using cash – and not depleting our savings! That has never been done in our 14 year history. I’m thankful to the Lord for second and third and fourth chances – for never giving up on us!
Good morning, Bocas del Toro! Happy 4th of July, America!
*** VIEW FROM OTHER SIDE OF BOCAS HOTEL OVER WATER ***
So excited to just get done with our disappointing breakfast and move on to better things!
It didn’t come as quickly as we hoped, for the internet situation at the hotel is getting worse. Not only is our room not receiving a signal, but the other rooms aren’t now as well. Kristian argued with management most of the morning, who didn’t seem to give a rip about the things that concerned us. Their attitudes have been “high and mighty” since we arrived and have now turned feisty. We had to get this figured out today since the internet is our business! I need to blog and Kristian needs to be able to communicate with his people. Around 11 a.m., a tech guy showed up for the 2nd time (the first time, he completely acted dumb and like there was nothing he could do – he didn’t even try to do anything), walked out onto our balcony, where the router is located and re-cycled it. Had we known that the router was there, we would have done that 2 days ago!!! So frustrating! After it was fixed, the management still made it sound like it was something on our end. They come in all kinds…
Some shots I got from the penthouse this morning:
*** SEVERAL PICS FROM PENTHOUSE ***
NOW we can move onto better things…
Today we’re going to walk down to Flying Pirates ATV Rentals! The boys have been so excited about doing this today. We keep seeing people flying down the streets and emerging from trail heads on ATV’s decorated with pirate flags on the back.
Flying Pirates ATV’s!
*** ATV’S PARKED AT BEACH BAR ***
Kristian called over there first and found out that we could rent 2 ATV’s for half a day (5 hours) for $120. Sounds like all-day entertainment to us! We headed their way and was greeted by a friendly American woman. She collected our information, informed us that one of the restaurants at Playa Bluff was having a 4th of July BBQ, and then drove us over to the stockyard where she and her husband, Steve, house their ATV collection.
Steve, a friendly “peg-legged” American man (the pirate!), originally from L.A., greeted us when we arrived and introduced us to our ATV’s for the day. He gave us a quick and thorough run-down of how to operate these fun-mobiles. I’ve never driven a motorcycle and apparently they are similar to operate. I was a little freaked out by the amount of instruction it took, but decided that if they rent these things to just about anybody, then surely I can figure it out.
Helmets on, we’re ready to roll! I took the lead, naturally. 🙂 We decided that we were going to head towards yesterday’s destination, Playa Bluff because Flying Pirates has rented land just beyond there. They have their own trails, accessible only by ATV’s and whoever else dares cross beyond where the well-beaten-down trail ends.
*** ALL 4 OF US ON ATVS, BEACH BAR ***
We had to navigate down the somewhat busy asphalt roads before we would be “safe” on the beach and dirt roads. It wasn’t as difficult as I expected, but more than a little unnerving to have little Karter wrapped around my stomach like a monkey, without seat belts, cruising at 40 mph. I guess it’s how I’d feel about taking them out on motorcycles, which I’m not too keen on.
I was very relieved to finally see the road end and the beach begin. This was a familiar scene, as we just drove this bumpy route yesterday. When you’re on an ATV, it’s not nearly as bumpy! I’m beginning to realize that this is going to be a really fun day!
*** KRISTIN & KARTER ON ATV ***
We tore down the beach and then hit the dirt and rock to road to Playa Bluff. We blew past that point and were eager to get to the restaurant that is having a little 4th of July celebration BBQ! It’s way out there, but we finally figure out which one it is – a cute little beach bar! We settle in and order their 4th of July special: cheese burgers with potato salad.
*** HUT WHERE WE HAD 4TH OF JULY ACTION 2 PIC COLLAGE ***
hile we wait for them to fire up the grill, we met some nice expats, Jennifer and Duffy, that have lived on Isla Colón for 10 years. They are trying to sell their beach house now and move back to the states. They are ready for a change of scene. They graciously offer to show us their house when we’re all done at the BBQ! We accept!
*** PIC OF WILSON THE SOCCER BALL ***
Look who else is here! Wilson!!!
Our lunch is served and it’s delicious! Both the burgers and the potato salad were the real deal. Mmm… We can’t resist their offer of fresh brownies with ice cream. It’s the 4th of July after all!
*** OUR 4TH OF JULY FOOD WITH OCEAN IN BACKGROUND ***
While we were eating, another expat who owns a restaurant on Isla Carenero, the Cosmic Crab (another guidebook-recommended restaurant,) introduces herself. Joan is super nice, and invites us to the Cosmic Crab for Sunday brunch! Cool! I’m starting to see a pattern of friendliness when it comes to the expats. I’m also beginning to see that they’re a tight-knit community. Everybody knows everybody.
*** 2 PICS OF BOYS IN HAMMOCKS ***
We finished lunch and followed Jennifer and Duffy to their home, 2 doors down from the beach bar. They showed us around, pointing to all the architectural details and all the ways that their house is “off the grid.” I’ve always loved that “green” appeal. Their home is completely self-sustaining utility wise. The house is situated on nearly an acre and includes a full-equipped guest cabin on the back end of the property. The boys ask us if we can live there. Not this time, but if anyone is interested in their 2 bedroom, 2 bath property, plus cabin for $495K, we have their information! It would make a great rental property!
On the road again…
Time to get back on our Flying Pirates and explore some trails! For the next few hours, we worked our way through the jungle, stopping at beaches and lagoons to cool off inbetween. We found a couple of lagoons, perfect for snorkeling and found some really cool shells. We had the opportunity to help out a Belgian man and his son, who’s ATV had flooded on the beach and were stuck. They couldn’t remember how to drain it, so Kristian lent a helping hand and got their engine running again. It was quite the adventure!
*** VID “ATV’s IN BOCAS DEL TORO – OFF THE BEATEN PATH…” ***
*** PIC OF KRISTIN AND BOYS ANKLE DEEP IN WATER ON BEACH BOUT TO SNORKEL ***
At one point, I lead us right into some deep mud. Karter and I were VERY stuck. It took Kristian and I about 20 minutes to jam enough sticks under the wheels and then finally having to lift the back wheels onto them to get out. I have to admit, I was afraid we were going to be spending the night with hungry mosquitoes in the jungle. That path dead-ended onto a beach, so we regretfully had to turn around and head back out through the mud we got stuck in the first time around to get out! Thankfully, our sticks worked for us a second time and we zipped on through.
*** 2 PICS OF BOYS NEAR RED QUAD ON BEACH ***
“You know, I’m bad, I’m bad, you know it!”
*** VID: “TAKING QUADS OFF THE BEATEN PATH IN ISLA COLON…” ***
We went as far as the trail allowed and by that time, the sun was beginning to set. We decided it would be wise to call it a day and make the long journey back to where we began: the stock yard.
Once we arrived, Steve offered us a Balboa (the local beer) and the boys got a bottle of soda, which they thought was rad, since Momma rarely lets them have it. We visited for a bit and Steve showed us his main interest: a gyrocopter and a parasailing contraption. The boys thought those were the coolest and Steve let them sit in one. I asked Steve how he had become a pirate, which he explained happened as a long-time base jumper. He had jumped off a building and hit a tree that pushed his foot up into his leg. Ouch! After many surgeries to try and fix his leg, he had become fed up and asked them to remove it. I have to admit, the peg is pretty cool – especially if you can start a “pirate” business as a benefit.
*** PICS FROM STEVE’S SHOP…HIS FLYING CONTRAPTIONS ***
In the course of conversation, Steve compared how easy it is to start a business in Panama compared to the states. He, like many others we’ve spoken to, said that in Panama, you can do what you want with very little hassle! He said it would have been so, so difficult to start an ATV business in the states. He never would have tried. The lawsuits alone… He started with 6 ATV’s, then added 6 more, then 12 more and now he has 40 and a thriving business!
They gave us a ride back to the hotel, where we scrubbed off the thick layers of mud that splattered every square inch of our arms and legs.
We were hoping that the Super Gourmet would be open for a quick, inexpensive dinner, but it wasn’t, so we headed next door to Carlos’ Steakhouse. All the tables are out on a concrete porch, and one table was even in the street! I love how people just do their own thing and everyone gets along. We ordered a 8oz. filet mignon which came with a baked potato and corn on the cob. The filet was cooked perfectly. $15 per meal. A shout-out to Carlos who gave us 4 whole meals for the price of 3!
We were so tired that we passed up the organic, homemade, chocolate ice cream that Carlos offered! If you know me, you KNOW how tired I really was to have passed! All I could think about was sleep. So we drug ourselves to bed and that was that.