Experimental Tropical Marine Ecology

Getting to know Bocas
by -- April 8th, 2013

In between the times spent in the lab and out in the field, we explored the local town.It was just too far to walk, so we had to hail a cab. This wasn’t much of a problem as they were incredibly cheap, however none of us had a working phone with which to call a reputable cab number. This means that whenever we wanted to explore we had to stand on the side of the road, and jump up and down whenever a car drove past whilst keeping our fingers crossed that we weren’t attracting the attention of anyone with any kidnapping desires… Not that we looked like typical well-off tourists. Due to the prevalence of cockroches/spiders/geckoes in our shower, we had been embracing a more ‘au naturelle’ feel than normal, and i’m sure if anyone had tried to kidnap us, they would have thrown us out before long. The smell of gently molding clothes isn’t for everyone…


The local town of Bocas was very small, and had a delightful mix of hostels, local markets and tourist attractions. There were signs in English all over the place, proudly boasting of internet connection, zip-lines, delicious food, or knick-knacks that no one local would ever touch, but visitors love to buy for ‘memories’.  We did our fair share of touristing – we visited a couple of shops, and here was where we learnt about bargaining. Justin, who is from Puerto Rico, had told us that we should probably bargain for things – in fact, he got cross with us whenever we didn’t. However, the local business owners seemed remarkably less keen to do so. When Molly and I decided to be bold and see if we could lower the price of some hammocks that we’d set our eyes on, the shop keeper looked us up and down, and flatly refused to even enter into negotiations. Our questions of ‘best price?’ ‘deal for two?’ in incredibly broken spanglish were met with a raised eyebrow and a shake of the head. Slightly deflated, we bought our hammocks anyway, and then immediately cheered up: WE HAD HAMMOCKS!  We tried them out during our next siesta, with interesting results!


We also visited the town in the evening after dinner. It was cooler, but still warm and very pleasant to wander round. All the shop fronts lit up and the place came to life. There was music pouring from every direction, and all sorts of people had emerged from the woodwork and were walking around the streets, lounging by the side of the road and generally seemed to be having an incredible time.  There were a surprisingly large number of hostels, which I hadn’t expected. Clearly Bocas is a hot destination for backpackers, students etc, and the longer we stayed the more we could see how! This sweet little town turned into quite the party city after dark…  Unfortunately, we couldn’t experience all the faces of Bocas as we had those early starts every morning, but it’s something to definitely bear in mind for the future!

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