The boat trip off Bocas del Toro wasn’t the smoothest in pouring rain. Having a window seat ensure that I had a job on my hands holding down the plastic window flaps in order to keep the spray out. Back on land we headed up to the mountain village of Boquete via bus. Most of the buses that Intrepid use on this tour are fairly blingy local buses that have been privately hired. The legroom isn’t great although tour guide Jorge made sure I got the front seat next to the driver, being the tallest in the group. This also gave me a prime view of some gorgeous scenery as well as the occasional slightly questionable driving maneuver. Many locals seemed to think that the bus was working the local routes and attempted to flag us down in the street! It also seemed to struggle with some of the steep hills during the drive. At one point the air-conditioning had to be turned off to enable enough power to travel up an incline!
Mountainous Boquete is certainly very different to the island of Bocas del Toro. For a start the temperature was about 15C less. While Bocas is a bit of a party town, nightlife in the mountains is virtually non-existent. A significant portion of Boquete’s population consists of an ex-pat retirement community. Many of the houses in the hills surrounding the village are in the million-dollar category, a sharp contrast to some of the more humble residences we passed during today’s drive.
The Boquete hotel was a bit of a funny one. First of all it was a really nice place, made up of about twenty log cabins. Inside they’re great and are probably pushing four star standard. This is the sort of accommodation that you’d pay over £100 a night for in the Lake District or Scottish Highlands. However it getting there was a pain in the neck. From Boquete village it’s a half an hour ride away, up a steep and narrow track. The hotel provides a free shuttle about half a dozen times daily but the last departure is at 3pm. Taxi drivers are reluctant to make the journey and you can’t hardly blame them due to the rough terrain. You are therefore effectively stuck in the hotel at night, a bit like the place in The Shining! There’s an onsite restaurant but last orders are at 7pm and the bar shuts at 9 o’clock. After that it’s either watch the telly or play cards in your room.