Our last day on Isla Basimentos… coffee? The best coffee and organic breakfast is found at a cacao farm at the top of Basimentos. Now what no one can tell you correctly is where it is or how long of a hike it really is. It’s called Up In The Hill Coffee and Gift Shop.
We flagged down a water taxi from our dock and told him to take us to the coffee house on the hill. He dropped us off at the dock and pointed and said follow the path up the hill. Simple enough… we paid our fare and set off. It was about 9:30 and the heat was just starting to build. We found the path marked clearly at first and set off UP. The first sign said 15 minutes to In the Up in the Hill Organic Farm… 15 minutes later a sign that said 7 minutes and 10 minutes later another sign that said 7 minutes. With sweat pouring from the intense humidity and continual up hill trekking… we finally came to a muddy path with a big sign that said 7 more…
Finally forty minutes later we came to a gate Up In The Hill! We had arrived. Honestly the last thing I wanted was a hot cup of coffee, so I settled on a big glass of water and lemongrass tea.
If you ever get to Basimentos you MUST go to this coffee shop/ cacao farm. The food was amazing… the atmosphere, although thick with humidity, was charming. We were visited by the local cat, dog, chicken and rabbit. Local wares for sale adorned the walls. Fresh cacao and coconut products were offered. They have tours thru the farm, you can watch cacao being pressed or just enjoy the ambiance. Prices were very reasonable and the food delicious.
Every island we’ve ever been on… a huge issue is trash. That’s not to say the islanders themselves are dirty. Islands are just the strainer for ocean garbage. We have seen many creative uses for this garbage; from bagging it up and using it as wave breaks to stop erosion to cute uses such as planters and works of art.
The gals that own the little beach cabin we are staying at here on Isla Basimentos have made a concerted effort to keep their area of the beach “trash free”. They say that recycling is just catching on here. We are instructed on what trash is good and what trash is bad. Instructed to toss uneaten food and food byproducts into the jungle, certain cans and different plastics go in bins, glass in another and paper in a third. Amazingly if you eat fresh, and who wouldn’t when it’s available, there’s not much left for the “other can”.
What an incredible day! One thing about the jungle in Central America is the sunrise. At the first crack of dawn the jungle comes alive. The crickets and frogs cease and the birds sound the wake up call for the world. Parrots screech as they fly in waves of brilliant green across the sky in daring acrobatics through the trees. The morning doves rise and begin their mournful songs. The cowbirds make their unworldly announcements to get your ass out of bed. It’s natures alarm clock.
If you are so inclined to open your eyes and meet the dawn, the sky reveals intense hews of pinks and crimsons that cut through the inky black night. The trees begin as shadows against the lightening sky and eventually turn lush green and show off brilliant colored flowers. It seems to take an eternity for the night to release itself from the day.
Coffee and breakfast on the deck overlooking the turquoise sea and silhouetted against the sky is the distant mountain ranges of the mainland. This is truly paradise. Wafting on the cool morning breeze is the smell of coffee, bacon and salt air. Time to start the day.
Chris has met a gal here from Canada and the two of them are going to hike to the other side of the island. I will stay put at the lodge and chill since my knee is still not quite healed enough for an uneven Trail. There’s an inviting pool with a volleyball net which will serve as my entertainment for the day.
Bambuda Lodge is an eco lodge on the small island of Isla Sorte. It’s nicely nestled in a jungle setting. Fully supported by the sun and rain water. Fairly rustic with trails leading to the different sleeping areas. They have tent camping, single rooms, private rooms and dorm rooms. Their kitchen turns out delicious food for ever culinary tastes. There’s a pretty fully stocked bar with local beer and wine, cokes and coffee. A resident dog names Sasha who enjoys smiling at everyone and taking hikes with the guests. Best yet… hot showers and a pool to enjoy. It attracts travelers from all over the world with reasonable rates for your stay. http://www.bambuda.net
My day was relaxing. I played volleyball in the pool with the guys for hours. There were Italians, a Norwegian, a couple Germans and a Canadian… a smile and laughter is the same in any language. I chased the shade around the deck to keep from ending up looking like a sunburned tourist for the rest of our stay. After 4 hours I began to worry as I had not seen a water taxi carrying Chris and Joanne from the beach that was their final destination. The day before a young gal was attacked on the same trail so two middle aged women would be a prime target. At 4 1/2 hours they came back, finally, both sweating and exhausted. They had not been able to flag down a water taxi from the dock after a half hour. They had met some German boys that were also lost and they eventually had to climb back up the ladder like steps 200 feet back to the trail and hike back to the lodge.
After a mid day nap at the pool we were ready to continue our relaxing evening with an incredible meal and good company.
It took twenty six hours to arrive in Bocas del Toro. We can’t really complain since it only cost $350 USD to get here flying first class all the way. Airline miles make most of our travels free but sometimes you have to take the available flights for the least amount of miles. Occasionally that means long layovers, getting in in the middle of the night and very little sleep. Another perk I would strongly recommend is a good credit card with perks like airline VIP club entrances. This really makes such long layovers more enjoyable instead of sitting in the terminal listening to the same announcements over and over. They allow you to have a private space, good food, free drinks and good WIFI.
After a total of about 4 11/2 hours of sleep we went to Nature Air for the final leg of our journey. There were 16 of us on a twenty seater prop plane. The wind had picked up and the thunder heads were building. The flight was quite bumpy as we flew our way between the fluffy clouds which gave the effect of flying a toy plane through a cotton candy machine.
We arrived safe and fashionably late… Island time. The immigration and customs was all in the same room and consisted of 2 old computers, a fingerprint machine and a guy who derived a bit of pleasure searching all you luggage, joking about what he found with his partner. When he was satisfied with all your belongings and was sure we weren’t gonna blow up the Island or smuggle in contraband he repackaged our items and sent us out of the room.
We went into the second room of the airport and were immediately inundated with taxi drivers wanting to take us to the town docks, arrange snorkeling and each vying to be our personal tour guides for our time in Bocas. Note: never take the first or second offer, the prices get a bit less by the third or forth guy.
TONY whisked us away in a taxi to a bar and restaurant right on the water arranged us a water taxi and told us he could arrange anything we needed for the rest of our trip. One thing to note about us… we don’t normally dig on “touristy things”, we’d rather experience wherever we are on it’s own terms. Exploring the people and customs. Trying to sniff out expats who live there. We find they generally will steer you to the local haunts and hook you up with a good local who will not take advantage of the gringos.
Welcome to Isla Sorte and Bambuda Lodge.