We parked Red Beard at the fire station in Almirate ($3 USD/day) and packed up clothes for a couple days. Or, I should say we packed the only clean clothes we had and left the dirty laundry to fester in the bus. We hopped on a water taxi ($4 USD) and headed to Bocas del Toro.
Bocas Town is pretty much a party place, so we had to look at several hotels and hostels before we found something suitable. Our criteria isn’t high, but suitable for children is something we’re striving for, and because of this we had to pass on several. Some actually turned us away because of the kid. The backpacker party culture here means that drugs are everywhere.
Still, insects were our biggest concern. Doug and I had been eaten alive by mosquitoes and sand flies and we were keen on window screens, or even better, air-conditioning.
Finally, we found a place that fit the bill, although the service seemed to be lacking. Coming from tourist-friendly Costa Rica, Panama was somewhat a shock. Requests for the internet code, an extra towel and more toilet paper were all met with a scowl. “But we only have a little bit of toilet paper! It won’t last until morning,” Doug pleaded. They deliberately considered his request and slowly acquiesced.
The other knock on Bocas Town is that although it’s on an island, there is no beach in town. There are fantastic beaches all around, but they require a bus trip, a water taxi or a tour.