Feeling cool again in Bocas del Toro:
Day trips are cheap and fabulous from this funky island town
I don’t know how they do it but y0ung backpackers are the first to find about these places. Before the luxury hotels spring up and cruise ships sail in, they are there.
The little funky town of Bocas del Toro in Panama was full of them. I don’t think they are called hippies these days, but they do remind me of the ’60s. I like to think of myself as having been a hippie.
My husband Dan and I were taking a three-week vacation in Panama. Before my research on the Internet, the only things I had known about Panama was that it was famous for its canal, it was in the same time zone as Ottawa, and it was warm.
I read that Bocas del Toro, on the island of Colón, had retained its original charm in spite of becoming a popular destination. Our kind of place: a small town with a laidback Caribbean vibe set in an archipelago of idyllic beauty, a place where we could just be easy, soak up some sun and eat catchof-the-day with perhaps a piña colada or margarita. We booked eight days at a hotel on the main street.
Bocas lived up to its reputation and made me smile as I felt transported back in time.
This colourful town seems to have as many hostels as hotels. Hostels such as the Gran Kahuna and Calypso stand on the main street alongside little shops with multicoloured woven hammocks, amateurish paintings and an assortment of earrings and bracelets. Brightly painted wooden buildings house restaurants with eating areas on stilts over the ocean. Water taxis outnumber land taxis by 10 to one.
Read the rest of the story here:
TIPS:Go in the dry season, between January and April.
Pack light. There are weight restrictions on internal flights.
U.S. dollars are the legal currency.
“We are seeking our own path in the world, but we have to copy the good things that other countries have done, for example what Singapore has done and what the Dominican Republic has done in tourism,” Martinelli told the Monitor following the recent investors conference, “Panama: Where the World Meets.”
Though it sounds like a tall order, Panama, which enjoyed 7.5 percent economic growth last year – more than double the Central American average – seems up to the challenge. According to projections from the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund, Panama will lead the region in economic growth over the next five years, thanks in large part to a five-year, $20 billion public-investment plan highlighted by a $5.25 billion expansion of the Panama Canal, to finish in 2014.
But there are signs that this pro-business government can’t have everything it wants all at once.
On March 3, Martinelli reluctantly announced his government was repealing its controversial Reforms to the Mining Code (Law – an initiative that his administration had hoped would bring in billions of dollars in revenue and convert Panama into one of the largest mining nations in Latin America within 20 to 30 years.
Backpedaling on it and the mining law are indications, he insists, that his government is listening to the people. Analysts, however, claim the reversals are more a symptom of his government’s failure to consult civil society on projects that don’t necessarily jibe with Panama’s culture or traditional development model. And it’s giving some the impression of an erratic government that is shooting out in all directions. “