We wake up at – who knows? My iPhone is struggling to work out where the f*** we are and keeps randomly swapping between Panamanian and Costa Rican time. My watch is Bluetoothed to my phone, so the only way of finding out the time is googling ‘What time is it in Panama’? No matter, it’s impossible to sleep past dawn when the howler monkeys wake up anyway.
So I get up and sit on the veranda and watch the monkeys, who are in the tree above the bar, until breakfast is served. It’s a very civilised affair – the owner lays the table on our veranda and brings pancakes with banana and chocolate, followed by eggs and toast. The old man is in seventh heaven as the fact the pancakes are covered in nutella means he gets two platefuls, which he swaps for a couple of pieces of his toast. Not the best deal I’ve ever made!
The combination of two full days of travel, plus sightseeing, on top of my recent illness have left me totally wiped out. So while the old man goes island hopping, I retire to a little cabin, complete with daybed, by the pool with a book. I’ve run out of books of my own, and the only English language book I can find here is ‘Death and the Penguin’: “In today’s Ukraine, all that stands between one man and murder by the mafia is a penguin”.
My relaxing day by my ‘private’ pool is interrupted by more guests checking in. They’re German. And religious. She comes over to introduce herself and tell me she’s here for the animals – she thanks God for the animals! I resist the urge to bury myself in my Ukrainian mafia v penguin novel and offer to show her where the sloth hangs out.
The old man returns around 4 pm. I have finally decided to move my idle arse and take a walk along the track to the main (only) road, which runs along the coast and I find him being dropped off by a taxi at the junction. I had planned to walk along the beach, but also at the junction is a lot of sewage discharging itself into the sea, which puts me off the whole beach idea.
Somewhat ironically, we’re on Isla Colon, surrounded by the contents of our own colons. I read that 95% of the island’s income comes from tourism, so it’s sad that so effort is put in to keeping the island clean, rather than resembling a rubbish tip surrounded by a sewer.
After the old man has told me about his day – island hopping wasn’t as straightforward as the guide book made it sound). In theory, water taxis run to the neighbouring islands. In reality, he was the only person who wanted a taxi and they refused to make the journey for just one person. After a 30 minute wait, the driver agreed to take him to his chosen island, Isla Bastimentos for $10 and pick him up later for another $10. The old man visited his island, paid a further $5 to walk on the beach, then eets his boat for the return journey, to be told the price has gone up to $20!)
We walk to the nearest restaurant, Skullys, for dinner overlooking the sea and select a table. It’s dirty and obviously hasn’t been cleaned since the previous occupants left. A waitress appears. I assume she’s going to clean the table, but she dumps a couple of menus in the mess and departs. While we’re perusing the menus and I’m wondering if they have a similar approach to cleanliness in the kitchen, it starts to rain. Luckily, the waitress hasn’t bothered coming to take our order so we leave.
Across the road is a tiny pizzeria, Ciao Pizza, where they make fresh pizza with home made sourdough in a wood fired oven. I order the vegetarian, which comes topped with an array of vegetables including aubergine. I wouldn’t think to put aubergine on a pizza, but it works. The rest of the evening is spent on the veranda eating pizza and drinking beer.
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