Flora and Fauna of Red Frog Beach

As you walk around the Red Frog Beach area and Bastimentos Island it’s hard not to be in awe of nature.  The flora and fauna here is incredible.

Anything grows :  vines attach themselves to trees with “staple-like” arms winding up the trees; palm nuts that have falling from the tree sprout and root themselves where they fall.

Papaya Tree on Red Frog Beach

Papaya Tree on Red Frog Beach

Lemongrass growing at Villa 62 - Red Frog Beach

Lemongrass growing at Villa 62 – Red Frog Beach

You’ll find an edible fruit or plant at every turn – bananas, plantains, papaya, maracuya, noni, oranges.  We’ve even planted lemon grass (great for tea and numerous Asian dishes) that is flourishing at Villa 62.  This year we planted several pineapple trees, and some orange, avocado and mango seeds in hopes of having more edible plants on our property.

Everywhere you walk you see some sort of living species that you probably haven’t seen before:  sloth’s sleeping in trees; red frogs perched on a rock; white faced monkeys swinging from tree to tree; every color of butterfly and spider you can imagine; leaf cutter ants marching in massive lines with large pieces of leaf on their backs to their enormous nest hole – to name a few.

Simply look down into the water and you’ll see floating jelly fish, star fish cruising along the bottom and any number of fish swimming by.

Look up and you’ll likely see the aforementioned sloth or monkeys, tons of birds (parrots, kingfishers, hummingbirds) and a vulture or two (think of those great big ones right out of a “Looney Tunes” cartoon).

If you are heading to Red Frog Beach here are a few spots you are sure to see some of the flora and fauna:

As you exit the public boat dock at Red Frog beach have a look in the water – there are usually tons of jellyfish and crabs running around.  Look up and you’ll likely spot the resident sloth – last year (2012) it was a huge momma sloth perched in the tree; this year (2013) likely her baby moving about with a bit more speed nibbling the leaves.

If you head over to the marina boat dock you’ll again catch site of numerous jelly fish and crab and likely catch a glimpse of the resident barracuda in the water at the beginning of the dock.

While walking around Red Frog if you hear movement or something falling from the trees it’s likely the white faced monkeys on the move or nibbling on the strong smelling “figs” – the figs are small oval orange fruit.  If you see them on the ground half eaten and smell their strong fermented smell, you’ll likely see some monkeys in the area.

Take time to have a look in the many flowers throughout Red Frog and you’ll see hummingbirds and butterflies everywhere.

Leaf cutter ants at Red Frog Beach nature hike

Leaf cutter ants at Red Frog Beach nature hike

Take a walk up through the jungle at the Zip Line and you’ll highly likely spot a red frog perched on a rock.  NOTE:  some of the local indigenous children catch the red frogs to show tourists that come onto the island – they want a bit of pocket change for the privilege of viewing the said red frog.  If you are approached by a child carrying a wrapped up leaf tell him “no.”  As catching and carrying around the red frogs is killing the population of red frogs the island is named for.

As for flora – it’s all around you.  Every palm and banana/plantain tree you can think of.  Ferns growing out of rocks taking you back to memories of “Jurassic Park,” and even plants that were around when dinosaurs roamed the earth.  Beautiful orchids and fragrant flowers.

If you are looking for adventure and a hot bed of flora and fauna discovery, then Red Frog Beach is where you want to be.

A trip to Red Frog Beach is sure to provide you with adventure and fulfill any eco travelers agenda.

If you are looking for a guided tour about the flora and fauna of the Bocas del Toro archipelago head over to the botanical gardens.

 

Related Blogs

    Bocas del Toro Botanical Garden: Finca Los Monos

    Beautiful Ginger Flower

    We finally made it up to the Bocas Del Toro Botanical Garden:  Finca Los Monos (The Monkey Farm) run by David and Lin Gillingham.   In 1998 they bought the 20 acre farm and have worked to clear nearly half of the thick jungle to create a beautiful jungle garden oasis.

    The kids enjoyed the two hour hike around their property where we able to see the many flora and fauna that inhabit the archipelago.

    Scary "Dinosaur Jaw" like plant

    Scary “Dinosaur Jaw” like plant

    While there we saw numerous species of ginger plants, banana plants, balsa wood and even found out what the beautifully symmetrical palm trees are called – the Traveling Palm, originating in Madagascar.

    The kids were excited to see monkeys lounging in the trees and even spotted a sloth or two.  We found a small cayman in one of their ponds and observed a ton of beautiful birds (of note, 2 small kingfishers), butterflies, spiders (yes, even they can be beautiful) and frogs.  And finally some HUGE birds nests and a green vine snake!

    Fresh coconut water - "Pipa"

    Fresh coconut water – “Pipa”

    At the end of our tour we were treated with some “pipa” – fresh coconut water.  The kids were eager to try but it wasn’t their cup of tea.  And Lin also had some nice cool lemongrass tea.

    Of note if you are heading to the farm for a visit – be sure to tell your taxi driver to drop you at the Botanical Gardens vs. Finca Los Monos.  A new neighbor recently named their home “Casa de Los Monos” and inevitably someone gets dropped there and has to trek back to “Finca Los Monos.”  (This happened to someone on our tour who ended up missing the first part of the tour).  The botanical gardens are just past the Smithsonian Research Station.

    Lin currently conducts tours on Monday’s at 1pm and Friday’s at 8:30 AM.  Call ahead to confirm.  There are also facilities for functions and weddings.

    Giant Birds' Nests

    Giant Birds’ Nests

     


    Related Blogs

      Snakes and Other Superstitions

      I was out on one of my favorite beach and jungle hikes around Red Frog today and ran upon my first snake.  It was quite a fright and surprising considering in my four months here last year I didn’t see one.  It was a good reminder that we in fact live in a jungle.

      I was also reminded of the book I just finished reading last night, Superstition, Pirates, Ghosts and Folklore of Bocas del Toro, Panama, by Malcolm Hendersen, a local expat in Bocas del Toro.  Malcolm provides a collection of legends and stories as told by the local inhabitants of the archipelago. Malcolm has captured the tradition of ‘story telling’ and recorded these entertaining local  folktales and folklore stories to ensure they are never lost. Tales of pirate treasures, ghost sightings and the myriad of superstitions gathered from various tribes and indigenous folk can be found in his book.

      I found his chapter on snakes and a Bocas shaman – the Snake Man – Corenlio Abrego, the most interesting.  Since I was a kid, I’ve been very afraid of snakes and sat in bed last night thinking to myself, after having read about the Snake Man, “what would I do if confronted with a snake again” (I nearly stepped on one as a kid at my Grandparent’s farm and was terrified to go back outside for days).

      After reading Malcolm’s book, perhaps the locals would see my “crossing paths” with the snake as foreboding or interpret it is as a sign.  Nevertheless, once I noticed I was about to step on the snake, his head raised for attack, I ran to the opposite side of the road and he ran back into the jungle.  I’ll take it as a sign that he was more afraid of me than me afraid of him!

      Related Blogs

        Red Frog Bound Again

        It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly a year since we were last at Red Frog!  On Thursday we begin our journey back to Bocas del Toro (by way of Seattle, Houston and Panama City).  It will be two days of travel but we will be well rewarded upon our arrival.

        The kids are excited to get back to the beach and pool and see all their friends at Tangerine School and some of our favorite staff at Red Frog and of course our trusty water taxi driver, Cholo.

        Cholo our Water taxi driver in Bocas del Toro

        Justin and I are looking forward to quality family time together again, just the four of us.  This year back in Vancouver has provided “the village” we so needed to help raise our children but also provide us the support we needed to be good parents and spouses to each other.  But the one thing we sometimes miss is the quiet and solitude of our time together as a family, alone on a quaint island without the commitments, “needs tos,” “has tos,” and constant schedule.

        I’m really excited about my “adult summer internship” at Up In the Hill, the coconut farm, organic toiletries and treats shop.  If you read my post last year about our first trip up to “Up in the Hill” you’ll know that I loved this little spot.  I’m excited to learn more about the farm, “living off the grid,” composting, brewing kambucha and the use of essential oils, all natural healing and the bounty of what the jungle has to offer.


        Related Blogs

          What I’ll Miss About Living At Red Frog Beach

          As I reflect on the past three and a half months living at Red Frog I started thinking about all the things I liked about living here and realized that it really has been an orgy for my senses.   Every day is a discovery of something new.

          Living in a jungle and remote island is one big sensory overload most days. The daily experience is intoxicating.

          Palm Trees at Red Frog Beach

          Red Frog Beach:  An Orgy for Your Senses

          Smell:

          • The beautiful assortment of flowers all over our island – some with incredible smells.
          • The smell of ocean air mixed with the rainy jungle earthy smell.
          • The smell of early morning fires of the local Indians.
          • Saturday morning baking – we started a tradition of trying to bake something tasty each Saturday and it always filled the house with a wonderful smell.

          Sight:

          This is list could go on forever but the highlights include:

          • A deserted Red Frog beach during an early (well not even early…10 AM) run.
          • The abundant flora and fauna – red frogs, sloths, ants marching in straight lines to their queen with giant leaves on their backs, more types of birds than I could even begin to name, palm trees, banana trees, etc.
          • Stella and Sebby’s face when they embarked on a new adventure
          • The clear glass like ocean on our early morning boat rides to Bocas

            Tasty frozen fruit juices at Cosmic Crab

          • Lightening lighting up the sky on nighttime boat rides home from Bocas
          • Star gazing on a clear night – you can see more stars than you think imaginable
          • The brightness of night-time when there is a full moon – it is more like daybreak or sunset it’s so bright
          • The darkness of night-time just after a full moon – you can barely see your hand in front of your face

          Taste:

          • Pipa – fresh coconut water that is a definite thirst quencher
          • Fresh clean water from our local freshwater well on Red Frog Beach
          • Coconut oil – I cooked with it often
          • Lemon grass – we could pick it right on our property and I learned to make some pretty amazing different recipes with it as well as lemon grass tea
          • Fresh juice smoothies – I especially got addicted to the local frozen lemonade and loved La Buga’s “Tiger Tail” which was blended lemonade and ginger
          • Patacones – such a bland accouterment but very addictive with a bit of hot sauce
          • Bocas chocolate – tasty, organic and local – it’s an acquired taste but a rum ball or pot de crème from Super Gourmet is incredibly satisfying!
          • Saltwater in my mouth  from a “rocking” by a big wave

          Touch

          • Coconut oil on my skin – coconut oil is used for everything here: lotion/massage oil, bug repellent and of course cooking.  It leaves your skin silky smooth.
          • The sway of the water taxi as we crossed from Red Frog to Bocas and back – took me right back to my childhood on my Dad’s boat or friends pontoon, I wanted to go straight to sleep and Sebby usually did!
          • Sand on my skin, between my toes and even in my mouth.

            Hand in hand into the ocean at Red Frog Beach

          • The splash of waves against my body.
          • The hand of Sebby or Stella as we walked to the boat dock, explored the island or went for a swim in the ocean.
          • Sweat dripping from my body to be cooled by either a dip in the pool, ocean or a breezy boat ride.

          Sound

          The sounds of Red Frog Beach, I can’t even begin to describe it all to give it justice but I will try.

          • The sounds of the jungle are so overwhelming some times.  Crickets, all sorts of bugs, frogs, birds, etc.  All singing at once!  Wow.  I will miss this the most.
          • Middle of the night thunderstorms that jolt me out of bed.  I lie in bed and just listen to the wonders of nature.  They are powerful and amazing forces of nature that have the ability to clean the island, reshape the beach and completely knock down enormous palm trees.
          • The waves crashing against the beach – we can even hear them from our villa nearly 400 meters from the beach.
          • Hearing the locals of Bastimentos speak in their Guari-Guari, a local dialect used by Afro-Caribbean Panamanians.  It almost sounds like music as they “sing song” talk to each other.
          • Our family sing a longs – Justin loves to make up new songs to old lyrics and the kids love it too (and I admit, it’s a lot of fun for me too).  Our current favorite is “Punta Lava” – sung to the tune of “Oh Pretty Baby” – that we sing as we load up to head to Red Frog and have a drink by the ocean at Punta Lava (the beach bar)
          • The hum of a boat approaching as we wait on the dock for a water taxi to head into Bocas town.

            Boat ride in the early morning on the calm “glass like” water

          And my favorite sense of all?  The sense of calm we’ve all felt living here. The moments when we can just sit, relax and take it all in without the worry, stress and constant pull of life.

          It’s been a great adventure and we look forward to returning here some time soon.  We leave a week from Saturday and we plan to enjoy every minute we have left here.

          Related Blogs

            Side Trips from Panama: Colombia

            Living in or visiting Panama opens up a world of other destinations to explore within a short flight (or boat trip).  Recently we decided to take a two-week trip to Colombia to explore South America for the first time.

            While Colombia over the years has received a lot of negative press and has quite frankly been a very unsafe place to visit we decided to take the opportunity to explore this newly “re-opened” tourist mecca.  We were well rewarded, as Colombia is a beautiful country with warm and friendly people anxiously awaiting their country to become a top tourist destination again.

            View of Bogota from Monserrate

            That being said, we rarely saw any other tourists.  It’s unfortunate, as things have turned around for Colombia after years of crime, murders and kidnappings.  Though it should be noted that things are still in turmoil out in the countryside and even the cities see some violence.  You will see police and military police presence everywhere.  Justin found it comforting; I found it as a reminder that Colombia still has a way to go in regards to providing a safe destination for the average traveler.

            Colombia can be reached very easily via air from Panama City.  There are numerous flights each day into Cartagena, Medellin and Bogota (as well as a few others areas).  Each flight is no more than about 1.5 hours (most less).  And once you arrive in Colombia air travel is incredibly affordable from one city to the next (we found some flights as inexpensive as $22 each way).

            You can also arrive in Colombia via sailboat from Panama.  Though we looked into this option we ultimately chose to fly.  Many websites and people we met while we were planning our trip said it could be a beautiful but treacherous journey.  A lot of people are discouraging the crossing now due to inadequate boats making the trip, making for a less safe journey.

            Cartagena

            View of Cartagena from the Fortress

            Our first stop was Cartagena – a beautiful walled city with a breathtaking fortress right outside the walled city.  Here you will enjoy a great little picturesque village within a walled city full of history.

            Cartagena is the clear winner for top tourist destination and caters to tourists, both Colombian and international.  Prices here are the highest we experienced in Colombia.

            Cartagena Highlights:

            Women selling fruit in their colorful dresses.

            People watching in the many plazas around the walled city.

            A sunset drink at Café del Mar.

            Horse drawn carriage ride around the walled city.

            Renting a bike and exploring the walled city as well as a trip to the fortress.

            Cartagena Restaurant Recs

            Cande – we ate here on our arrival.  Very cute restaurant with local dishes.

            Food stands – surprisingly we found the most variety and best quality food stands/stalls in Cartagena.  We were unable to find nearly as many in Bogota or Medellin and the quality and taste was not as good.

            Bogota

            Bogota is the capital city and has the formality you might find in Washington, DC (as well as security around the Presidential Palace) but the business bustle of New York City.

            Bogota highlights

            Cable car ride pilgrimage up to Monserrate.  Breathtaking and overwhelming views of the expanse of Bogota.

            Gold Museum Bogota | Museo del Oro Bogota

            Ciclovia and Sunday Usuquan flea market – rent a bike through Bogota Bikes and bike to the expansive Usuquan flea market to see local textiles, jewelry and tasty local treats. Cicolovia is a Sunday activity where they shut down large portions of streets throughout the city (they also do this on holidays).  Great way to see the city.

            Parque 93 – quaint little high end neighborhood with tasty restaurants and a really nice playground/park if you have kids (note:  it’s patrolled by a security guard and there are video cameras everywhere).

            Zona Rosa and Zona T – great shopping, nightlife and restaurants

            Plaza de Boliva – we headed here on Colombian Independence day where there were a lot of festivities going on however, the entire plaza was blocked off for security.  We couldn’t get a straight answer if this was due to the holiday (weird…) or what.  Some said it was due to heightened security around the Presidential palace and others said due to repairs/renovations going on.  Needless to say it was a bit disappointing as we didn’t get to see the plaza.

            Museo del Oro – was a nice museum and history of gold in Colombian life.  There is also a gold museum in Cartagena but the Bogota museum is larger.

            Numerous other museums and plazas/parks – there are tons!

            Impromptu Colombian Pride Art in Usuquen Neighborhood Bogota

            Bogota restaurant recommendations

            Crepes and Waffles – you’ll find this chain all over Colombia.  Of course they have a variety of crepes and waffles in addition to a tasty salad bar (think a small slice of a Whole Foods salad bar).

            Cachao – a great Cuban restaurant in Zona T – we had great food here, amazing mojitos (you can even order by the bottle) and a wonderful live band started playing at 10 PM!

            Restaurants around Parque 93 – if you are looking for some comfort food there are several diners here serving both Colombian and western comfort food.  Great sushi place here as well.

            Andres Carne de Res – everyone will say “don’t miss” Andres but we felt it was an “over-rated” don’t miss.  There are actually 3 different Andres.  The original in Chia.  The new Andres DC in the Zona Rosa where you can eat lunch and dinner and then party the night away.  We had our kids and didn’t realize we couldn’t go there for our 8 pm reservation on a Saturday night so had to return the afternoon the following day (note:  kids are allowed in until 6pm so you could technically show up at 5:45 pm for an early dinner and possibly catch a bit of the nightlife scene before you leave if you are with your kids).  We unfortunately missed the nightlife scene here so perhaps that’s worth the trip!  There’s also a Andres cafeteria like restaurant in the Commercial Mall across from the new Andres DC in Zona Rosa.

            Medellin

            Medellin is definitely the edgier city of the three we visited given its long history of Pablo Escobar’s reign.  However it has recovered and is definitely thriving.  It’s the art and fashion capital of Colombia and you can see and feel that as soon as you arrive.

            I’d compare Medellin to Los Angeles’ “pretty people/scene” atmosphere mixed with the cool/edgy vibe of New York’s Tribeca.  Medellin was the most affordable city we visited.

            Medellin highlights

            Reclining Lady Botero Statue | Botero Plaza Medellin

             

            Arriving at Medellin’s international airport you have a scenic 30-40 minute drive through the countryside into the valley of the Andes mountains arriving at the bustling city of Medellin.  It sits right in the middle of the Andes with breathtaking 360 degree views.

            Cable car ride up to Santo Domingo.  Highly recommend continuing on to Parque Arvi – a beautiful national park perched atop the mountains outside of the city.  Here you can rent bikes (none with child seats), go horseback riding, camp, hike, zip line, escape the bustle of the city, etc.

            Botero Plaza – great way to get up close and personal to the many Botero statues throughout this plaza.  It’s also full of energy with locals going about their day.  There are several museums here as well.

            Shopping – great boutiques and local designers – both home goods and clothing.

            Medellin restaurant recommendations

            Carmen is by far the best restaurant in all of Colombia – a don’t miss.  Check out their tacos!  San Francisco trained Chef married to Colombian, Carmen!

            Hotels in Colombia

            A word on hotels in Colombia.  If you are traveling with children and trying to book online you will notice almost all sites require you book two rooms if you have two children.  We recommend going through a travel agent or booking site that allows you to note the age of your children.  Our children were 3 and 5 and clearly not old enough to stay in their own room.  We found this a bit frustrating but found two sites that were helpful in booking with children (and had great rates with very nice hotels).

            Tablet.com

            Hotels.com

            You will find that hotels in Cartagena are the most expensive but provide impeccable service and are very nice. Bogota is more of a business hotel destination in general and you can find affordable (for a large city) rates.  Medellin, given that it’s just now becoming more of a tourist destination has limited hotel destinations.  Though more and more hotels are popping up all the time. You will find the most affordable hotel rates in Medellin as of the writing of this blog post.

            You can read our hotel reviews of where we stayed here:

            Cartagena’s Quadrifolio

            Bogota’s Hotel Charleston

            Medellin’s Hotel Charlee

             

            Related Blogs

              Video Tour Of Red Frog Beach Villa 62- Bocas Del Toro, Panama

              A lot of people have been asking for a walking “video tour” of Villa 62 at Red Frog Beach.  Well here it is (and we apologize for the shaky camera work):

              If you’re interested in buying or renting our villa, just e-mail us!

              Villa 62 – “Mona Lisa” Features:

              3 Bedroom, 2 Bath
              TOTAL 2782 sqft. Living Space
              1479 sqft. interior and 1304 sqft. exterior

              Main Floor Plan

              Elevations


              • Bedroom 1: Queen bed and private bathroom with double sinks
              • Bedroom 2: KING bed with shared bathroom
              • Bedroom 3: Double bed with shared bathroom
              • Partial sea view and great jungle view
              • Wrap-around covered terrace/Beautiful Patio Area (wrap-around lanai)
              • Private pool
              • 225 meters from the beach
              • Internet
              • Mobile Grill
              • Swimming Pool
              • Fully Furnished
              • Full Kitchen with all house wares
              • Granite Countertops throughout
              • Stainless Steel Appliances
              • Travertine Stone Flooring
              • Flat Screen TV and DVD Player
              • Satellite TV Access
              • I-pod dock
              • Air Conditioning
              • Fold out couch

              This villa is located on the 1500 acre Panama beach resort community. The villa feature a private plunge pools, granite counter-tops, stainless steel appliances and expansive patios with a partial Caribbean beach view and peaceful jungle view and the sound of a small creek of running water. Our villa can sleep 6 comfortably and we have a fold out couch to accommodate 2 more adults or children. We are a very quick walk to both Turtle and Red Frog Beaches (the closest of 2 villas on the entire property).


              Related Blogs

                “Water Everywhere And Not a Drop To Drink” – Operation Safe Drinking Water

                As many of you know we raised a little over $2500 for Operation Safe Drinking Water thanks to the generous donations of nearly 30 different families, friends, colleagues and even a few donors we have never met. Due to these efforts we were able to install two water catchment systems and buy school supplies and medical kits for the school.

                On the morning of the installation (June 28, 2012) we woke to strong rains and heavy storms.  It was ironic given that we were on our way to help children and families who were being surrounded by water from the downpour of rain but had not a drop of clean water to drink. We headed out none-the-less along with Justin’s Dad, Wellington Lee.

                We set-out at 8:30 AM on our first of many boat rides to get to and from the installation site.  It poured rain and we were all quite wet on our first leg from Red Frog beach to Bocas Town.  Then it was a wait for our host from Operation Safe Drinking Water, Joe Bass, in Bocas Town while the rain kept pouring.  Then on to our next boat taxi to Almirante – another wet ride!

                Second Boat Ride to Almirante - MORE RAIN!

                On our way to Bocas Town for first Leg of the Trip - Pouring Rain

                Waiting for Our Boat to Almirante

                We arrived in Almirante on the mainland and met our drivers for the day and installers, Dave Miner and Luis Morgan.  Amazing group of hard working volunteers.  We all jumped in the trucks to pick-up the tanks and head out to the school with the supplies, tools and piping.

                Our school - Miraflores

                Truck taxi ride to pick up the 2 tanks at Almirante hardware store

                The 2 tanks!

                Once we arrived at the school work quickly began to install the tanks.  We unloaded the trucks, delivered all the supplies and had a tour of the school and met some of the children.  Miraflores school has 141 students aged 4-15.  My limited Spanish allowed me to have a few conversations with the teachers, principal and students.

                Dave telling us about the old tank and new installation

                While we chatted and toured around the school (which also serves as a community meeting area including a chapel and sheltered area for gatherings) Dave and Morgan quickly started installing the first tank (Operation Safe Drinking Water tank #105).  This tank would be in addition to the current tank the school had which was inadequate for  the high needs of the school and community and needed repairs.  These tanks combined would provide about 1200 gallons of water for the school and village for drinking water, cooking and for bathing (many children had scabs and sores due to unclean water – most of the water they bathe in is full of parasites and bacteria).

                Hard at work on Tank 1 - #105

                We spent most of our time talking with the children and even had a wonderful time sharing Stella and Sebby’s coloring books, pencils and crayons we had brought to keep them occupied with the other children.  Joe, the CEO of Operation Safe Drinking Water, said he’d never seen the children so excited and would encourage other groups to bring coloring books/pencils, etc. along during the installation to engage more fully with the children.  (I was given a huge stack of their coloring book pages throughout the day – they were so proud – I complimented them as much as I could in my limited Spanish!).

                Hanging with some of the children at the school

                We were later presented with a scroll signed by all the students thanking us for the installation as well as a hand made “mola” cross body satchel (you can see me wearing it in a few pictures).

                Justin having fun with the kids showing them videos of themselves - they LOVED it.

                It was nice to meet all the children, teachers and community and learn more about the struggles they face on a daily basis – many of which will be cured by the simple act of having clean water to drink.  It is reported that on any given day an average of 75% of students are absent from school due to sickness from the lack of clean water (dysentery, skin issues, etc.).  Once tanks are installed the absentee rate drops to almost 10%, or less – a huge improvement.  Joe and Operation Safe Drinking Water hope to have hard figures from schools they are working with this year.

                While we enjoyed the children, Dave and Morgan and the rest of the team and fathers got started on the second tank (Operation Safe Drinking Water Tank #106) which would be installed near the kitchen so that there would be clean water to cook lunch each day for the children – for many children, their only meal of the day.  This tank would provide 600 gallons of clean drinking water.  Joe reported that he had visited many schools in the past where there were rice and lentils stacked floor to ceiling but unable to be cooked due to a lack of clean water.  This tank will be vital in providing a warm meal for each child each day.

                Coloring with the children

                Miraflores school recycling program

                Dave working on the 2nd tank for the kitchen ("Tank #106)

                It was also interesting to note that the school had its own recycling program – take note – if a small village in Panama can recycle – so can you!

                It was also interesting to see the older kids pitching in to clean the school and help the younger children out.

                We also spent quite some time writing the names of everyone who had donated to the cause on the tanks and where they were from.  We had donations from the US, Canada and England – a great amount of giving and this community was very thankful.

                We ended our day with some more pictures and Stella and Sebby passing out some lollipops to the kids.

                Our donor names on the tank

                Writing all our donors' names on the tank

                If you are planning a trip or vacation to a third world country I highly recommend taking on a small project like this to give a little bit back to communities that need a lot.  Small gestures like installing water catchment systems so that there is clean water to drink directly impacts the lives of so many.  There are numerous organizations around the world where you can volunteer your time or resources (even in your own backyard).

                And the final list of donors!

                If you are coming to Panama and would like to help out with Operation Safe Drinking Water I would highly recommend the hands on experience.

                If you are interested in learning more about how water catchment systems work you can learn more here.

                Thanks again to all our generous donors.  We couldn’t have done this without you!

                Donors names on the water tank

                Great day as a family helping other children and familiesWe have water!

                 

                Related Blogs


                Related Blogs

                  How To Get From Bocas Del Toro To Boquete

                  Earlier this week, we decided to leave the heat of Red Frog Beach and Bocas Del Toro, and head up into the mountains, to check out Boquete, the cool, quaint town in the mountains of the Chiriqui province.

                  We heard so many different things about how to get from Bocas Del Toro to Boquete, that at times, it felt quite overwhelming.  In this blog post, we’ll break down your different options from getting from Bocas to Boquete, share with you what we chose to do, and also provide you with some information about the fun things that we did on our journey.

                  (NOTE: we did this trip with our two children, ages 3 & 4.  If you are traveling by yourself, of there are only adults in your party, you might have a different perspective, so please note that we had a party of 4, of which two of them were young children).

                  We started researching our trip shortly after we booked our hotel: we got a killer deal to stay at The Panamonte, one of the oldest and most famous hotels in all of Boquete (Teddy Roosevelt stayed there back in the day).  The great deal we got came from one of our favorite travel sites: JetSetter.  JetSetter focuses on high end, luxury properties, and then sells rooms for them, at a large discount!  The catch is that you have to prepay (and you can’t get a refund, so you’re locked in), but we ended up saving over 40% off of the hotel’s published website.

                  (SIDE NOTE: Jetsetter is by invitation only.  If you’d like an invite, just “like” our Facebook Fanpage, and leave a comment with your email address and we’ll send you one)

                  Once we knew that we were staying at The Panamonte, we contacted them directly about transportation.  Their quote proved to be far too expensive ($214!) so we started exploring all of our other options.  In detail, we’ve covered all of your choices below when traveling from Bocas Del Toro to Boquete.

                  1. The Public Bus: This is without question the cheapest way to travel.  However, with 2 small children, we decided to pass on this option, especially after hearing that the public buses are quite cramped.  This was also quoted to us as being the longest driving travel time (5 hours?!) because you have to go through David
                  2. Shuttle Bus: There are several tour companies in Bocas Del Toro offering a shuttle bus to Boquete.  We saw prices ranging from $25-35 per person.  Some of these fares may or may not include your boat ticket from Bocad Del Toro to Almirante ($5 per adult).  More on this segment of the journey below.
                  3. Private Taxi: You can hire a private taxi to take you from the dock once you arrive in Almirante straight to Boquete.  Prices were all over the board when we were doing our research for the trip.  As we mentioned, The Panamonte quoted us $214, which seems exorbitantly high.  We heard other quotes of $180-200, from other Bocas “locals” as well, but again, this seemed excessive to us.  Upon arriving in Almirante, there were plenty of people offering transportation to David & Boquete.  However, we already had our transportation sorted out at this point, so we never inquired as to the cost.
                  4. Airplane: Unfortunately, earlier this year, Aeroperlas (a Panamanian airline) went out business.  Before they did, however, they flew a couple of times a week from Bocas Del Toro directly into David.  Once in David, you still had to travel 41 kilometers to get to Boquete.  Since this flight is no longer available, if you were dead set on flying (to avoid the long drive), could still do this.  However, you’d need to fly from Bocas to Panama City (Albrook airport), then take ANOTHER flight from Panama City (Albrook) to David, then drive the final 41 kms.  Not exactly efficient, certainly the most expensive (over $150 per person after taxes), but you would spend the least amount of time in the car.
                  5. Take A Tour: This is ultimately what we decided on, because we knew that part of the fun of heading to Boquete was the adventure travel in and around the area.  We booked our tour after seeing a poster and researching a hostel that is on the way, called Lost And Found Lodge.  This hostel actually offers a number of tours, and the prices vary depending on what type of tour you want to do with them.  We booked a “custom” tour, because we had our children with us, and we also weren’t interested in doing a coffee.  Lost And Found put together a great package for us, and it cost us less than the quote from the Panamonte, and also included lunch!  (More on the tour below).

                  So we were to be picked up by our tour guide Nico, at 8:30am in Almirante.  This meant leaving Red Frog at 7:30am, taking the 20 minute water taxi over (from our usual boat driver, Cholo, who also takes our kids to school on his boat), and arriving at Bocas Marine Tours just before 8am.

                  Bocas Marine Tours runs a boat from Bocas to Almirante every 30 minutes.  The cost for adults is $5 one way, and we were charged a total of $12 for all 4 of us.

                  The boat left about 10 minutes late, but if you’re familiar with the water taxis in and around Bocas, this was a much smoother ride.  The journey to Almirante takes 30 minutes, but as I said, it was a nice smooth ride.  As we came into Almirante, we were even lucky enough to see one of Chiquita Banana’s huge ships!

                  When we landed in Almirante, Nico was there to great us.  (Side note: the locals will grab your baggage out of the back of the Bocas Marine Tour boat and then expect a tip for carrying your bag for you.  Normally I really don’t like this, but at the time, we had a HUGE bag (we packed a single bag for all 4 of us), and my back had been acting up again, so I was fine with paying the $1.  However, I have traveled in other parts of the part where the locals do the same thing, and I know that it can be annoying, so consider yourself warned).

                  We got into the car and headed out, driving for about an hour before we arrived at our first stop, which was the La Celestina Waterfall, located in the Palo Seco National Park.  The waterfall is actually bid hidden, and when we pulled over the car, Sebastian, our son (3) had fallen asleep.  Knowing that we still had a quite a bit of driving left to do, Nico (our guide), myself and our daughter Stella (4) got out of the car to check out the waterfall.

                  At this point in the day it began drizzling, so Stella (wisely) put on her coat.  Being a guy, and from Vancouver, I opted for no rain coat, and we set off to view the falls.

                  The only hiked in for about 15 minutes, but a note of caution: the rocks are wet and slippery.  Half of the time we were walking on slippery rocks, the other half of the time we were walking through water (although it never came up higher than my calves).

                  About to start our short hike to La Celestina Waterfall in the Palo Seco National Park

                  Hiking to La Celestina Waterfall in the Palo Seco National Park

                  Getting closer to La Celestina Waterfall in the Palo Seco National Park

                  Heavy water flow!

                  Stella and our guide Nico on the way to La Celestina Waterfall in the Palo Seco National Park

                  We finally made it to the falls! La Celestina Waterfall in the Palo Seco National Park

                   

                  By now the rain was really pouring down, and we were getting soaked.  We didn’t make it the entire way to the base of the waterfall, as Nico said we’d actually have to swim to accomplish that.  On a warmer, drier day we probably would have went for it, but once the waterfall came into view, we decided to turn back around and hike back out.

                  As we returned back to the car, we began the portion of the journey entering the mountains, and the rain picked up.  We were high in the “cloud forest”, and drove on for another good hour.  As we began our descent from the mountains, it was time to stop for lunch, at a small town named La Chichicosa, where we had a great lunch (fried pork with beans & rice) next to a rodeo!  The seats at the bar were actually saddles:

                  Saddles at the bar at a restaurant near the Gualaca rodeo

                  After lunch, we headed to part of the tour which I was going to be the most excited about: “Los Cangilones”, the river canyon in Gualaca where you can go cliff jumping:

                  After a half a dozen jumps into the clear, deep blue, refreshing canyon water it was time for our next stop: the Caldera Hot Springs.

                  (NOTE: if you’re traveling with small children, the hike into the hot springs is about a mile in each direction.  We didn’t realize this, and didn’t bring our camera, or anything else…just some water).

                  The hike went over a bridge, up a down a few paths, and past plenty of wildlife (a pig, some cows and horses, and the local monkey) until we arrived at the farm.  The family that owns the farm has a 99 year lease on the land from the government, and “manages” the hotsprings.  There are 3 different hot springs, one “medium” and two “hot”.  The kids were free, while adults paid $2 each.

                  Getting into a hot spring when it’s hot and humid out is sort of strange, but it was still nice to sit back and relax in the hot water.

                  After soaking ourselves, it was time to head out, band hike back out to our car.

                  From the hot springs, it was about 45 minutes until we arrived at the town of Boquete.  Before we pulled into town, we stopped at one of their famous coffee shops, for a photo before we actually pulled into the town of Boquete:

                  It was a long day, but arrived at the Panamonte safe and sound, and ready for a hot shower!

                  All in all, we were very happy with the route that we chose to get from Bocas to Boquete, and the tour with Lost And Found Lodge.  As a side note, on the return portion, we secured a private cab (straight shot, only 1 bathroom stop) in a nice car for $140 one way (obviously a lot cheaper than what The Panamonte originally quoted us).

                  We secured this ride from Boquete Safari Tours, who also took us on a mountain tour in Boquete.  We also have much more information on our time in Boquete (activities, meals, etc) in this blog post, so be sure to read it as well!

                  Related Blogs

                    Updates on Operation Safe Drinking Water

                    We want to sincerely thank all those who contributed to Operation Safe Drinking Water.  We raised nearly $2500.  Enough to install two water catchment  systems  as well as a sizable amount to buy school supplies, first aid kits, etc. for the local school.

                    As part of our own efforts we took Stella and Sebastian shopping for some of the school supplies while we were in Boquete so that they could begin to understand what we are about to do and be a part of the entire process.  Operation Safe Drinking Water will be purchasing the bulk of the school supplies, first aid kits, etc. from the remaining donations in a week and transporting it all to the installation site.

                    Shopping for School Supplies for Operation Safe Drinking Water

                    We will be installing the two water catchment systems on June 28.  We will be joined by Justin’s Dad, Wellington Lee, who was able to come into town to help us with the efforts.

                    Preparations are under way by the village as they are laying the concrete that the water catchments systems will be installed upon.

                    Special thanks to those who donated and will have their names written on the tanks when we install them on June 28.

                    The Mourabit family

                    Katherine Andrews

                    Nery Florez

                    Brandon Lee, Las Vegas, NV

                    The Milad family, Seattle, WA

                    The Howard Family, Vancouver, BC

                    The Robinson-Castellon Family, Vancouver, BC

                    The Del Vicario family, Vancouver, BC

                    Julie & Betty Miller, San Diego, CA

                    The Dee Family, Pittsburgh, PA

                    Katie, Maria, and Amanda Eng, Vancouver, BC

                    Wellington Lee, Vancouver, BC

                    Angela Lee, Marlow, England

                    The Allen Family, Virginia

                    The McCoy family, Cold Spring, NY

                    Michael Johnston, Vancouver, BC

                    Accesstheexperts.com

                    Megan Winsten, Washington, DC

                    The Wilberger Family, Ashburn, VA

                    Jennifer Kelly, New York, NY

                    Adam Grossman, Rochester, NY

                    Seth Auster, New York, NY

                    Deborah, Brandon & Alex Harlow, Salem, VA

                    The Kouwenhoven Family, Vancouver, BC

                    Tarik Abi-Karam, Las Vegas, NV

                    Teresa Mund, Vancouver, BC

                    Schaefer Family, Leesburg, VA

                    Craig Pentz, Washington, DC

                    Danny Towe, Salem, VA

                     

                    Stay tuned for photos, videos and a blog post after we complete the installation.

                    Again, muchas gracias to everyone who has supported us in this effort.

                     

                    ank all those who contributed to Operation Safe Drinking Water.  We raised nearly $2500.  Enough to install two water catchment  systems  as well as a sizable amount to buy school supplies, first aid kits, etc. for the local school.

                    As part of our own efforts we took Stella and Sebastian shopping for some of the school supplies while we were in Boquete so that they could begin to understand what we are about to do and be a part of the entire process.  Operation Safe Drinking Water will be purchasing the bulk of the school supplies, first aid kits, etc. from the remaining donations in a week and transporting it all to the installation site.

                    Shopping for School Supplies for Operation Safe Drinking Water

                    We will be installing the two water catchment systems on June 28.  We will be joined by Justin’s Dad, Wellington Lee, who was able to come into town to help us with the efforts.

                    Preparations are under way by the village as they are laying the concrete that the water catchments systems will be installed upon.

                    Special thanks to those who donated and will have their names written on the tanks when we install them on June 28.

                    The Mourabit family

                    Katherine Andrews

                    Nery Florez

                    Brandon Lee, Las Vegas, NV

                    The Milad family, Seattle, WA

                    The Howard Family, Vancouver, BC

                    The Robinson-Castellon Family, Vancouver, BC

                    The Del Vicario family, Vancouver, BC

                    Julie & Betty Miller, San Diego, CA

                    The Dee Family, Pittsburgh, PA

                    Katie, Maria, and Amanda Eng, Vancouver, BC

                    Wellington Lee, Vancouver, BC

                    Angela Lee, Marlow, England

                    The Allen Family, Virginia

                    The McCoy family, Cold Spring, NY

                    Michael Johnston, Vancouver, BC

                    Accesstheexperts.com

                    Megan Winsten, Washington, DC

                    The Wilberger Family, Ashburn, VA

                    Jennifer Kelly, New York, NY

                    Adam Grossman, Rochester, NY

                    Seth Auster, New York, NY

                    Deborah, Brandon & Alex Harlow, Salem, VA

                    The Kouwenhoven Family, Vancouver, BC

                    Tarik Abi-Karam, Las Vegas, NV

                    Teresa Mund, Vancouver, BC

                    Schaefer Family, Leesburg, VA

                    Craig Pentz, Washington, DC

                    Danny Towe, Salem, VA

                     

                    Stay tuned for photos, videos and a blog post after we complete the installation.

                    Again, muchas gracias to everyone who has supported us in this effort.

                     

                     

                    Related Blogs

                     

                    Related Blogs


                    Related Blogs