Current location: Studio apartment, Bocas Town, Colon Island, Panama
Price of beer in a bar: US$1 isn’t too hard to find, though you’ll often end up spending up to US$2.
Song currently stuck in my head: Days Go By (Dirty Vegas)
Instant coffee is playing methadone to my bean addiction these days; there’s real coffee in town but I haven’t priced it yet and the instant worked better when we were staying at Beverly’s Hill over on Bastimentos Island while we looked for apartments. My body recognizes it as being akin to actual coffee, but it’s not fooled. We arrived in Bocas del Toro, this province of mainland towns ignored by everyone except the modern offspring of United Fruit and of vacation quality Caribbean islands, about a week ago. We moved into our new place the day before yesterday. It’s a studio, which, after Placencia, we swore never to do again, but the layout isn’t cramped, the services are beyond anything else we’ve had (Hot water in the kitchen! An in-sink water purifier! A better mattress than any I’ve owned!) and the price is right at US$450/month for everything, including internet and cable.
The ride out here was as expected; a bus to from Boquete to David, another bus from David (same station) to Almirante, a boat to Bocas Town and a boat to Bastimentos. All in all it took about 5 hours and the scenery is beautiful, though Almirante’s floating filth might leave the more lasting impression.
We looked at a few other solid leads worth mentioning. There are some 2 bedroom apartments near the park, opposite El Toro Loco, that would have been a solid long term option but lacked the kitchenware and furnishing that we needed short term. Call 6654-3771 for more info. I really liked a large 1 bedroom second story apartment across from the police station with a big front porch for US$500/month not including electric. There was also a nice two story building with wide wrap around porches over on Carenero Island, US$1 by water taxi, that rents large rooms with private bath and TV/Cable but a shared kitchen for US$400/month with AC. But the sandflies are bad on that island and we liked the vibe in town. We dealt with a property guy named Tyson for that one and a few more. Another promising Carenero property was run by a woman named Renay, a nicely furnished, large ground floor apartment for US$450/month without electric.
In a class of it’s own is Up In The Hill, a cafe with a guest house (some reviews of each here) on the property. At US$400/month without internet we might have gone for this, but grocery selection is limited out on Bastimentos and this property was far enough off the main drag (and the paved sidewalk) that otherwise simple errands were going to be a chore. For a shorter stay it would have been incredible. It’s fully off the grid, using solar power, tanks of gas and captured rainwater across it’s two connected buildings (bedroom and kitchen/living/bath). Call 6607-8962 for info.