Bocas del Toro:
Bocas Town (Part 2)
Sunday, May 13th, 2012
The principal town in the islands is Bocas Town on the Island of Colon. It’s bigger and more developed than Puerto Viejo in Costa Rica, where I live. Its quaint character includes a number of four story buildings – old and new. There are some charming historic structures of over 100 years old. Many hotels and restaurants are built out over the water. Bocas del Toro is the place for Island life. Everything revolves around the water. Sailboats and motorboats abound. There are several marinas where the “cruisers” come in and stay for a while, living on their boats and coming in to town for entertainment. Many come to dive and snorkel and explore the lovely islands.
The culture in Bocas del Toro is similar to the culture in Puerto Viejo. Most of its inhabitants are of Afro Caribbean descent, coming either as slaves as far back as the 16th century, immigrants from the West Indies and later on workers building the railroad and the Panama Canal. And just like the people of Puerto Viejo, the people of Bocas are friendly as can be. There is also quite an expat population. Bocas del Toro is known as a “party town” and lots of young travelers from Europe and North America enjoy its night life.
On the excellent recommendation of a friend I stayed at Casa Verde. It’s a guest house that reminds me of my own Hidden Jungle Beach House in its old time Caribbean style and shared kitchen and baths. But Case Verde is much bigger than my place. It has seven private rooms and four dorm rooms, holding up to 35 people in all. For $33.00 a night I rented a private room with a double bed. I think I got the best room in the house. The rooms are named for the Islands. Mine was Isla Solarte. Located upstairs in a quiet spot, conveniently right next to the bathroom and shower, my private room was much more comfortable than the dorm rooms appeared to be.
Casa Verde is quite a lively place with a bar and restaurant and live music most nights. But out of respect for the hotel guests, things quiet down after 10:00 p.m. when the bar closes. My favorite part of my stay at Casa Verde was walking out my door and jumping off the hotel dock to swim. This is important in such a hot climate, as there is no swimming beach in Bocas Town.
My other favorite thing about Casa Verde is its staff. Every one of them was smiling and friendly. The receptionists, Magnolia and Nikelda were so kind and helpful. And they always called me “Sweetie” or “darling” or “my dear.” Ok, so they call everybody that – but when they say it, it makes you feel special.
Casa Verde has a “sister hotel” which I discovered on my trip to the famous Red Frog Beach.