This Week in Bocas – October 11, 2021 – Edition #6 – “La Ruta de Cacao”
This week in Bocas del Toro we took a look at all the amazing stops along the route of cacao for the 2021 Showcolate Fair. It was the route of the storms that brought Christopher Columbus here 519 years ago this very week in Bocas del Toro history. It’s breast cancer awareness month and we are happy to share optimistic news about a community member who is winning her bout with the disease; and it is thanks to her very early detection. In this issue we also highlight the work of recent community and non-profit initiatives like the spay and neuter clinic from SNIP, tree planting by BRRI, the Unidos Por Bocas recycling center and Bocas Boat yard’s contribution to law enforcement.
On October 14-17, residents of Bocas del Toro are taking a trip to the mainland to the indigenous community of Naso Tjër Di for their annual cultural fair. We are excited for the return of the one and only BAPÉ at Coco Fastronomy on October 15 when they reopen at their new Hotel Bocas del Toro location. On October 16, Black Magic Bocas sets sail on its inaugural pirate cruise. Dance party on a 42 foot Spanish Galleon sailing around the Caribbean anyone?
More events, more on all these news stories and many promotions from the magnificent Bocas del Toro business community as you scroll along!
Zapatilla #2 on a beautiful Bocas del Toro day. Photo by Alfredo Jurado Martínez (@bocasislove on Instagram) on a Panama Sailing day trip. The Zapatilla islands are just one of the many amazing spots to explore in Bocas del Toro. Reserve your water adventure with Panama Sailing +507 6668-6849
This Week in Bocas History, 1502: Christopher Columbus becomes Bocas del Toro’s first European tourist
The year is 1502 and the Admiral of the Sea Christopher Columbus had just weathered a disastrous hurricane off the coast of Hispaniola Island. He and his crew are looking for a passage west to the Pacific Ocean and proceed to explore the coasts of modern day Jamaica, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica before entering what is now known as Almirante Bay on October 5th, 1502. This would be the first known European contact with the enchanted isles off the northern Caribbean coast of Panama, to which legend has it that Columbus himself would bestow the name Bocas del Toro, Spanish for “mouths of the bull.”
Editor’s note: While the legacy of Christopher Columbus and the genocide committed on the indigenous peoples of the Americas is not exactly to be celebrated, it is historical fact that Columbus and crew visited the archipelago of Bocas del Toro in the early 16th century. Many modern Bocas del Toro natives are proud of the fact that our community is a part of this monumental chapter world history. The editorial team of The Bocas Breeze finds it important to acknowledge history; the good, the bad and the ugly.
In 2019 the Bocas del Toro office of the Authority of Tourism unveiled a series of informative monuments placed around points of interest in Columbus’ 1502 Bocas del Toro landing that explain the history. The monuments can be found in Boca del Drago, Almirante, Isla San Cristobal, Isla Carenero, Isla Bastimentos and Isla Colon.
Bocas del Toro Names with Christopher Columbus Origin
Almirante: Christopher Columbus was ranked as the “Admiral of the Sea,” which Almirante is Spanish for “admiral.”
Isla San Cristobal: Spanish for “Saint Christopher” Island
Isla Colón: It’s no secret that the main island was named after Christopher Columbus, or Cristobal Colón.
Isla Carenero: Carenero comes from the Spanish verb “carenar”, or “to careen” in English, which is a nautical term for leaning a boat on its side for scraping and repairing the hull. As the history goes, Isla Carenero is where Columbus and his men did exactly that.
Isla Bastimentos: “Bastimento” is a Spanish word for provisions or supplies. Bastimentos boasts some lush jungle where things seem to grow well and there is “plenty of food,” or “bastante alimentos.” It seems likely the island was named after its ease of finding provisions or the fact that Columbus and his men were able to provision there.
Bocas del Toro: It is believed Columbus gave Bocas del Toro its name, but exactly how and why is disputed. There are a few theories out there. One is that Bocas del Toro named after a large rock foundation that looks like a bull with its head down. Another is that the sound of waves crashing off rocks sounded to Columbus like bulls hissing or “mouths of the bull.” There is also a legend that the name came from a “cacique” (indigenous chief) named “Boka Toro.”
Black Magic Maiden Party Voyage Set for October 16, 2021
Speaking of Spanish Galleon ships touring Bocas, the Black Magic will start doing its day party cruises on Saturday, October 16, 2021. DJ Fat will be on board setting the musical vibe for the day. Check-in is 11:30am at Taxi 25, with the last call for passengers at 12:30pm. Tickets are $39 (reserve online, pay on-site).
The popularly photographed pirate ship had been hosting Wednesday and Saturday parties, anchored in the channel off the shore of Isla Colon. Now the ship has clearance to set sail for day cruises so get read for Black Magic to pull the anchor and let the adventure begin. The cruise goes to the Boca del Drago area, returning at sunset. This unique experience will be happening Wednesdays and Saturdays starting Saturday, October 16.
Congratulations to the whole Black Magic crew. This was not a simple undertaking to get this going. Your unique vision will undoubtedly add value to our community’s tourism offer.
What to Do in Bocas del Toro October 11, 2021 – October 17, 2021
Monday, October 11, 2021
12-7pm The Floating Bar – Lunes Loco (Family Day). Kid meals for $3 like hot dogs with chips and kid size chicken or cheese quesadillas and specialty kiddie cocktails for $2 like Pink Flamingo Lemonade and Bocas YooHoo ChocoMilk made with local Citizens of Chocolate cacao. There are Happy Hours for the ‘Big Kids’ from 12 noon until 5 p.m. 1/2 off all specialty drinks and $1 beers.
12-10pm (or later) Tequila Republic – Margarita Monday. Classic $3 margaritas all day. Best enjoyed when washing down the bar’s famous Dirty Burger.
5pm-late Barco Hundido – Blue Monday. Happy hour 5-9pm and Argentine-style empanadas from guest vendor CocinArte with the sounds of Nislo Rudas, Isaac Newton and Joel Richards
9pm Toro Loco – Live music with Lucio & Juicho. People are raving about this new musical collaboration.
Tuesday, October 12, 2021
8:30am-5pm Super Gourmet – Delivery day: fresh organic fruits/veggies and Mortons Bakehouse bread
12-7pm The Floating Bar – Beat the Clock Margaritas for Taco Tuesday! Order and drink your favorite Margarita before 2 p.m. and it’s only $2! $3 until 3 p.m. $4 until 4 p.m. $5 until 5 p.m.
12-10pm (or later) Tequila Republic – Taco-rita Tuesday. Only $8 for two tacos and a classic margarita.
8pm Toro Loco – Kinky Karaoke ft. Tim Jones “Just lose your inhibitions
8pm-2am La Neta Caribe – Martes Alternativo ft. DJ Fat. Pool tournament with 1st place prize of a bottle of Jack Daniel’s
Wednesday, October 13, 2021
8pm Bocas Brewery: Enrioke karaoke sessions. Enriquismo is your legendary local karaoke guide.
9pm-12am La Neta Caribe at Selina – Corriente Latina live music featuring an 8+ piece band: Los Impostores de la Salsa
Thursday, October 14, 2021
12-7pm The Floating Bar – Dollar Dinghy Thursday: “Arrive in a dinghy and get $1 off each and every drink you order! We also celebrate Taco Thursday, because Tuesday is just not enough! Choose any 2 Tacos for $5.00.”
5pm (until late) Barco Hundido – Latin Night: DJ Magic plays salsa, merengue and tropical music. Free entrance before 9pm.
8pm Bocas Brewery – Wasteless World Environmental Trivia. $2.50 per person to join. Drink craft beer, test your environmental knowledge, learn something while supporting Wasteless World’s efforts working toward the opening of a community-led plastic workshop that will take post consumer plastic and turn it into plastic lumber.
8pm-2am La Neta Caribe at Selina – Reggae Night Bocas Party with DJ Fat and DJ Dillo
Friday, October 15, 2021
4-7pm La Buguita Ocean Lounge – Viernes de Mercadito ft. music by DJ Ivan Viña. Amazing products made from local producers: chocolate, bread, organic fruits & veggies, honey, teas, tonics, self-care, jewelry, clothing, artisanal crafts and new vendors are participating every week.
5pm (until late) Barco Hundido – Sunset Reggae ft. Selecta Lion Vibes. 2 x 1 beer & mixed drinks 5-7pm. Free entrance before 9pm.
5pm-10pm Coco Fastronomy reopens at their NEW LOCATION: Hotel Bocas del Toro. Live music from Joe Latin Sound and DJ Dillo on decks. The house of the famous BAPÉ is back!
6pm Calypso Cantina Friday Night BBQ with live music. The artist will be confirmed later this week. Check our Instagram stories for updates. Call +507 6616-6000 for reservations or a ride courtesy of the Marina from Captain Nacho (who graciously accepts tips).
8pm Bocas Brewery – Live music featuring Kurtis AKA Cortez AKA The Original Surfing Cowboy. Country style and always with inspiring and hilarious commentary on the microphone
8pm-2am La Neta Caribe at Selina – Caribbean Madness party with DJ Fat 8pm- 2am
8:30 Toro Loco – Chicha Fuerte – Rock n roll is the vibe at Toro Loco and Chicha Fuerte brings it. Covers of Pink Floyd, Guns N Roses and an eclectic mix of rock and Caribbean sounds in English and Spanish.
Saturday, October 16, 2021
10:30am – The Floating Bar – Float and Flow Yoga. Reservations are suggested because of limited space. The bar and restaurant open earlier at 11:30am for breakfast sausage, bacon, egg and cheese quesadillas and healthy Kombucha shots. Morning drinks like Fire Coral Cesars (The Floating Bar’s twist on a Bloody Mary) and Chica Choca-Tinis (made with local Citizens of Chocolate Cocao). Boat from Castillo’s dock at 10am and 10:15am from Buena Vista.
11:30am ( until sunset) The Black Magic – INAUGURAL CRUISE! Party on a pirate ship, cruising out to Boca del Drago in style. Music by DJ Fat. Tickets are $39 (reserve online, pay on-site).
12pm – Toro Loco – It’s game day. NCAA style. College football all day at Bocas del Toro’s favorite sports bar.
5pm (until late) Barco Hundido – DJ Rashing & DJ Melvin: Bocas style DJs on the controls. Free entrance before 9pm.
7pm – El Ultimo Refugio – Live music with Joe Latin Sound. Local music legends fill the air with calypso, salsa and other Latin-Caribbean rhythms.
7pm – 2am La Neta Caribe at Selina – Saturday Fever ft the stylings of DJ Melvin & DJ Fat and a fire show Full Circle Phenomenal
9pm- Bocas Brewery – Live music featuring Chicha Fuerte: rock, reggae, dancehall, reggaeton, special guests. A music group always full of surprises
Sunday, October 17, 2021
9am – 6pm – Yarisnori – Rondon is a traditional coconut milk fish stew. It is served up every Sunday at Yarisnori for $6 (accompanied by coconut rice).
12pm Toro Loco – NFL games on all day with $1.50 beers and $3 wells at Bocas del Toro’s favorite sports bar
8pm-2am La Neta Caribe – High or Deep Sunday. F_cking Josh ft. DJ Fat
Naso Indigenous Culture Fair October 14-17
The Naso people are one of the seven indigenous peoples in Panama. In December of 2020, President Laurentizo Cortizo granted the Naso their own autonomous region, making the Naso Tjër Di Comarca the newest of Panama’s officially recognized idigenous territories (comarca). Their homeland is shared within the province of Bocas del Toro, on the mainland, on the banks of the Teribe river, adjacent to the Costa Rican border.
This year a fair will be held to showcase the culture of the Naso people featuring cayuco (canoe) races, archery contests, cacao grinding, traditional dances and the sale of locally prodiced artisan crafts, agriculture of the region and their traditional cuisine.
This is an opportunity to learn about the Naso culture and support their economy! Many Bocas del Toro residents are planning to visit. The fair is located in the community of Bonyic (Naso Tjër Di Comarca), which is accessible by taxi from Almirante. We have been recommended a taxi driver named Angel who is able to provide transportation to the fair: +507 6439-6414.
Also, Kawi Voyage is organizing special transportation, guided tours and activities in participation of the fair.
– Kawi VoyageThe Bocas Breeze editiorial team cannot make the trip this year, but intend to give the fair some form of coverage in an upcoming an issue with the help of our Bocas Breeze family of readers, friends, advertising businesses and follwers on social media. Count us in for the 2022 Naso Tjër Di Cultural Fair!
Restaurants, Bars, Cafés and Delis in Bocas del Toro
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Early Detection Saves Lives
October is breast cancer awareness month so we would like to take this opportunity to share some optimistic news from our friend Michelle Estes of The Firefly. Successful treatment stories like this one are more likely to be achieved by early detection. The Bocas Breeze team and Michelle would also like to extend a very important reminder to our lady members of The Bocas Breeze family to make sure they are having exams and regular check-ups.
Michelle Estes, via Facebook:
“After over 4 months of surgeries, tests, and Covid delays…I FINALLY have results. I have stage 1A Breast Cancer. It is hormone positive which I have read to be a good sign. Three of the 15 lymph nodes they removed were tested positive for cancer. It could have been much worse. It was luckily detected early enough to be treatable. I am not going to have to do chemotherapy treatments. (YAY) They have me on hormone pills. I am going to have to do a solid month of isolated radiation in that area to make sure they got all the cells. I am thankful to take the lesser of the two evils. It’s almost over…I’ve got this!
Thank you to all my friends for your thoughts and prayers through this ordeal. It means the world to me.
To all my girlfriends…I can’t tell you how important it is to keep in check with this! Do your exams and get regular check-ups…Early detection is the key. I don’t want to see any of you have to go through this.”
Read more on breastcancer.org with extensive information on administering proper self-exams and learning about the early signs and symptoms of breast cancer.
Where can one get a mammogram in Bocas del Toro? The closest option that we know about is the Hospital Chiriqui in David ($60). Unfortunately neither the island’s private clinic La Mar, nor the public hospital offer this procedure. If we confirm something closer to our community, we will announce it.
Where to Stay in Bocas del Toro
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BRRI Introduces 150 More Trees to Bocas del Toro at Ojo Bio
Earlier this year in June 2021, the team at Institute for Tropical Ecology and Conservation (ITEC) and Brian and Amy Wilcox of Dolphin Bay Hideaway launched the Bocas Rainforest Reforestation Initiative (BRRI) bringing together like-minded conservationists to restore forests in the Bocas del Toro province. Since then, each monthly tree planting activity has grown.
On September 30, BRRI went to Ojo Bio – Organization of Jungle and Ocean Biodiversity Panama – an educational research center in Bocas del Toro on the mainland where Mary Middlebrook and Brian Hummel hosted Ministerio de Ambiente de Panamá, Rotary Club Bocas del Toro, and the team at Dolphin Bay Hideaway to plant 150 trees on the property. More people, organizations and businesses are joining in – all with the shared intention of bringing more forestry and thus added agrobiodiversity to the ever-evolving beauty of the Panamanian Caribbean.
The next tree planting is scheduled for October 28th at the beautiful property of Michelle Welty Moore. To participate, contact BRRI on Facebook or email email@example.com.
Successful SNIP Clinic in Bastimentos
SNIP (Spay and Neuter Incentive Program) was formed and organized by a few looking to address a pack problem in Paunch. With the help of volunteers and generous donations, SNIP works to educate and help the local population to better the health of the dogs, cats and the community through spay, neuter and veterinary care.
The group has continued hosting fundraising efforts with the last event at The Lighthouse on September 29 and it was a big success! They received an impressive $1,040 which is almost enough for two clinics. SNIP will cover the rest and plans for both clinics are already underway.
The last clinic was on September 30 in Bastimentos and though it was a very wet Bocas day, they were still able to spay and neuter 14 dogs. The group has been supported in fundraisers such as the Conscious Market but needs a regular donation location to continue making a difference. Alas, a GoFundMe page has been created! As always, donations go directly to surgery, hygiene, post-surgery meds and addressing threatening health issues. https://www.gofundme.com/f/snip-bocas/donate
Tours & Fun in Bocas del Toro
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Bocas Boat Yard Services Police and Aeronaval Vessels
Since 2018, the Bocas Boat Yard has been able to assist the national police and aeronaval vessels with haul-outs and maintenance once a month. The team at Bocas Boat Yard has been able to offer these services free of charge. It’s always amazing to see the way the business community is willing to use their resources to give support to public entities.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT! Unidos Por Bocas Recycling Project Advances
On September 9th, Unidos Por Bocas received its baler machine which will be able to crush plastics, cardboard and other recyclables. The non-profit group will be working with like-minded organizations to repurpose the crushed recyclables.
The machine was dropped off at its new home at the Unidos Por Bocas collection site. Yes, you read that correctly! The new recyclables collection site will be located in Las Cabanas / Playa Istmito. This is the building where the Bocas Brewery was originally. It was most recently known as “Sea Grapes.”
According to Unidos Por Bocas, they will soon be able to receive plastic, glass and other recyclables. Stay tuned for more information on what can be recycled, how it needs to be delivered and exactly when we can all start RECYCLING IN BOCAS DEL TORO!!!
Many thanks to the Unidos Por Bocas team, Bocas Container Sharing for the donated transportation of the machine and to all who have been supporting this incredible organization during the last 5 years.
If you would like to support Unidos Por Bocas’ efforts, there is an opportunity to sponsor one of the 100+ trash cans that were installed in 2016. They have held up so great over the last 5 years, though regular maintenance is inevitable.
Sponsorships cost $120. They contribute to the maintenance of the public trash bins and operation costs necessary to get the new collection site up and running. The sponsorship allows you to display a name or message on the bin. Businesses are encouraged to sponsor a Unidos Por Bocas bin so that they can show their commitment to working toward a cleaner Bocas del Toro.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved.
Essential Services in Bocas del Toro
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Featured Article: Showcolate Fair 2021
Celebrating cacao cultivation and chocolate production in Bocas del Toro
The 3rd annual Showcolate Fair this year was a success with active participation from Bocas residents and businesses in the chocolate baking contest in addition to the businesses who hosted their very own chocolate-themed event along La Ruta de Cacao. First place in the contest went to Buena Vista Restaurant team with a Showcolate twist on their classic BV Brownie. Charneille Daley took second place as well as People’s Choice with her stunning chocolate mousse dome. Read the full article here
Happy Hours in Bocas del Toro
Barco Hundido – 5-9pm every day | 1$ Miller Lite | 2 X 3$ national beers | $1 shots: gin, seco and clear tequila | 2 x $6 whisky on the rocks
Bocas Brewery – 7-9pm Tues-Sun | $3 mixed drinks | $1 national beers | buffalo wings or nachos $5
Buena Vista – 5-7pm every day | 2×1 margarita, rum, piña colada, whisky sour, screwdriver | 2x$3 beer | 2x$6 wine
Calypso Cantina @ The Bocas Marina – 4-7pm Mon-Thurs, 4-9pm Fri | $1.25 beers
Coco Fastronomy – 5-7pm Thurs-Tues (starting Oct 15) | 2 x 1 national beer, moijito, Cuba libre, caipirinha, margarita, sangria | bandeja boquitas $14.50, a sample of house specialty appetizers for the table to share
Endless Breaks – 2-5pm Mon-Sat | $1 beers | $3.50 cocktails
El Ultimo Refugio – 4:30-6:30 Tues-Sat | 2×1 national beers | 2×1 sangrias
La Buguita Ocean Lounge – 5-7pm Tues-Sun | 2 beers x $3.50 | 2 x $7 mojito, caipiroska, margarita, gin & tonic, Cuba libre
La Neta Caribe – 4-6pm Mon-Sun | $5 whisky sour, Cuba libre or sangria
Restaurante Yarisnori & Sunset Drago – Wed 9am-6pm $12 Heineken cubetazo (6 beers on ice in a bucket) | Thurs 3-6pm 2 x 1 margaritas
Tacos Chingones – 4-6pm Tues-Sun | $1 tequila shot | $1 national beer, $2 Mexican beer | 2 michelada x $6 | $3.50 margarita, Cuba libre, gin & tonic, daiquiri of the day
Tequila Republic — Mon-Fri 12-8pm and Sat 3-8pm | Every hour until 8pm is a happy hour with a different special. Try them all!
Toro Loco – Every day 12am-12pm $1.50 national beers and $3 well drinks
Map of Featured Businesses in Bocas del Toro, Panama
In Our Next Issue – October 18, 2021
Papa Gato Animal Welfare’s October 9 fundraiser at Tequila Republic was as successful as it was fun! They also recently had a very impactful clinic where they treated pets from many of the low-income families of Bocas del Toro.
Panama’s Minister of Tourism Ivan Eskildsen visited our community to present plans that the national government has for major investments in infrastructure as part of the Plan Maestro de Desarrollo Turístico Sostenible de Panamá 2020-2025, or “Panama’s Master Plan for Sustainable Tourism Development.”
Stay tuned to The Bocas Breeze for the details on this story in our next issue October 18, 2021
Upcoming Events in Bocas del Toro
October 20 – Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Monthly Bocas Talk The History of the Smithsonian in Panama by Carolina Cesar
October 23 – Conscious Market 12-4pm at Barco Hundido. Local producers selling products and always in benefit of a local cause; on this occasion it is for Hope Spot Bocas del Toro. There will be a raffle and open mic (SHH! Open Mic for musicians, storytellers and discussions).
October 23 – 31 – Buena Vista Restaurant – Kid’s Halloween Virtual Contest. Since 2005, Buena Vista has hosted an annual children’s Halloween party; decking out their restaurant and often getting permission to block traffic for the afternoon to hold down a street party. It’s always a big deal and a ton of fun for the whole family. The 15th annual BV kids’ Hallween party was held in 2019. The 2020 edition had to be an Instagram costume contest because of COVID-19 pandemic conditions and this year will be something similar. As children are not yet able to be vaccinated for COVID-19, Buena Vista would rather not host a big gathering with children. See above flyer for details. Thank you Buena Vista for not putting our community at risk of the spread of COVID-19.
October 31 – Project AWARE Dive for Debris ocean clean-up with Bocas Dive Center (the final Sunday of every month).
November 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 16, 23 and 28 – Bocas del Toro (and Panama) traditionally has holidays all month long. There are “Fiestas Patrias,” which are dates that have to do with Panama’s independence from Spain and Colombia. There is also Day of the Dead and the foundation of Bocas del Toro and Bastimentos. On any of these dates, government, schools, offices and some private businesses tend to shut down. November is sort of a hard month in Panama to get anything serious done, but normally -in non-COVID times- it is a month to have a whole lot of fun! Learn more about the significance of these dates in a 2013 article by editor Nicholas Corea.
November 16 – Los Tiburones de Isla Colon boxing event in the municipal gym and it’s Bocas Day!