Day to day life is as relaxed as most people probably assume living on a boat in Panama is. While most of this year has been fun, exciting and amazing there have been points where it has been anything but relaxed. We are making the most of what we already know is the last few months of our trip. We spend some days doing boat projects, which consists of me trying to finish a 1/2 day project in a mere 3 days. Some days are for grocery shopping where we compare prices at the 5 or so markets so that we can save 20 cents per item for a total of 5 bucks. Sure this takes 2 extra hours, but time we have, extra money we don’t. Some days we will paddle our canoe or ride our bikes to a local beach and just walk around. We visited a cave here called La Gruta. The ceiling is absolutely filled with bats. We also went to this great gypsy-themed party at a wine bar, thrown by our friends Dylan and Darrion’s company. There was a band there, a girl and 2 guys, who called themselves Con Leche. They are great and ended their show with a cover of the Gogol Bordello song “Purple” that had the whole place dancing.
Every day here is different than the next, but the one constant is our daily trip with Gimpy to Bocas del Poopo. Bocas del Poopo (or BDP) is the name we have given to the sandbar located a few hundred feet from our boat. We paddle Admiral Gimpy to this sandbar every day for her to run around and take care of her Gimpy business. More often than not, we meet Meghan there with Penny and Bubby. Penny and Bubby seem to enjoy BDP much more than Gimpy, as they go absolutely nuts when they get there. She can take them off of their leashes and since it is an island they can run free, swim, fetch and be their crazy best. Gimpy usually takes care of business and will follow us around walking in the shallow water, but is plenty happy to just sit and wait as we play fetch with the big dogs. It is the perfect “self flushing” dog park for a couple of cruisers with dogs.
One day as we were paddling back to our boat we noticed a young couple paddling towards shore from another sailboat. We hardly ever see young cruisers so we were instantly attracted. We introduced ourselves and made plans to meet for beers. We soon went to the Rip Tide with them and had a laughter-filled night of telling stories and just enjoying great conversation. It turns out they were from Freemantle, Australia, and had been cruising for over a year and a half. They started in Canada where they bought their boat. Their names are Adam and Hannah, and we have since spent a lot of time with them and they have become really good friends of ours. One day we were just hanging out on the boat and it began to rain quite hard. We were feeling kind of restless and decided to take advantage of the rain and wash the boat (free fresh water!). Of course working in the rain is not something that one does completely sober, so we decided to catch a quick buzz first. We soon realized that we were completely out of alcohol and while we had enough will power to clean the boat in the rain, paddling to shore and buying alcohol seemed like too much work. We then realized that we had a bottle of Glenlivet aboard, which we had gotten from our good friends as a going away present and were saving for a special occasion.
We couldn’t think of a more special occasion than a rainy afternoon when we were out of alcohol. We went up to the cockpit and I noticed that Adam was up on the deck of his boat. I yelled to him through the pouring rain and invited the two of them over for some scotch. They swam over and the four of us enjoyed a bottle of scotch in the pouring rain. None of us, except for Shannon, were really scotch drinkers before this, but we all agreed that it was delicious. We had ice on board but no one even wanted it since the rain was so cold. Needless to sa,y the boat didn’t get cleaned but we all had a great day polishing off the bottle and enjoying the shower.
In mid-September we were visited by Conor and Meghan’s friend Ryan from Key West. We had met Ryan a couple times when we visited the Gorhams in Key West, and he was currently living on their old house boat, the Longboard. Ryan was on a surf trip to Costa Rica and came to Bocas to hang out with Meghan for a little bit. We all had a really good time, and he and I really hit it off, watching football at the Rip Tide and spearfishing the local reefs. One night we were invited by Dylan and Darrion to an overnight party at a nearby lsland named Loma Partido. We motorsailed about two hours away with Ryan on the Salty Dog and Adam and Hannah (we just call them “the leafs” as their boat name is “Leaf”) following us. Loma Partido turned out to be a beautiful tropical eco-lodge run by a very interesting and friendly woman name Mishelle. Ryan and I were all excited about spearfishing in a new location since Bocas del Toro is really overfished, but we soon realized that Loma Partido was no better, at least the spots where we checked.
The sun was going down so we gave up on the spearfishing and dinghyed in to join the party. There was live music from a few local bands, including Con Leche, and delicious authentic South African Curry made by Darrion. There were about 20 boats anchored offshore, and we met lots of good people. I was able to satiate my inner pyromaniac by helping with the bonfire, and they even had some late night fireworks to boot. We drank beers and explored the property and Ryan and I even got to do some jamming onstage at one point. It was probably a little too late in the night to be jamming if you know what I mean, but we all had a great time. We woke up the next morning and cured our (at least my) killer hangover with an amazing surf session back at Wizards beach.