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Bocas del Toro Lingo Tips and Tricks from our VP of Real Estate Sales, Lora Hassen

After almost 2 years living and working in Bocas at Red Frog Beach I have learned a few things. Keep reading to learn more.

Red Frog Beach is a whole different world
I have spent most of my adult life living in Colorado and I always thought it was a shame when visitors come to Denver but never see the mountains. The same goes for Bocas. If you come to Bocas but never see Red Frog Beach you are missing the best part.

The weather app is not your friend
There is no weather station in Bocas. This means that if you base your next visit on the weather app you may never come. Yes, we are in a rainforest, but did you know that about 75% of the rain in Bocas falls after dark?

Cash is King
Bring Cash. Many of the off the beaten path hangouts don’t accept credit or debit cards. There are a couple ATM machines in Bocas town but be ready to pay $4.95 per transaction and you will be limited to $250 per card per day.

Beach Vendors
Beach Vendors are far and few at Red Frog Beach. On a busy day a local may try to sell you some homemade coconut oil or an empanada. Sometimes you will get a visit from a massage girl who will rub you right on your beach towel but otherwise we really don’t have vendors. This means relaxing naps unspoiled by someone trying to guilt you into buying something you don’t need.
Side note: If you’re looking for Beach Souvenirs try Playa Estrella where you will find several shops set up with jewelry and some handmade items.

Here is a little lingo that might help you while you are here.

The most common form of communication in Bocas. Don’t be afraid to use the voice recording feature.

Invisible biting bugs found mostly at dusk and dawn. Although annoying they are not known to transmit diseases to humans. Sometimes found on the beach, in the mangroves or near swampy areas. A large concertation of Chitra bites in one place on your body is commonly referred to as the Carenero Tattoo named after one of our neighbor islands Isla Carenero Locals know that the best way to stop the bites is to avoid the bugs. Local grown coconut oil and lemongrass oil is the best repellant when you can’t avoid them. Many of the great restaurants on Carenero offer the repellant right at the table to protect their guests.

Noise at Red Frog is when the parrots come home to roost every evening. This sound is often followed by the sound of one of the world loudest bugs, these little guys sound like a backup alarm. Sometime the sound of the pounding rain as it falls on you roof after dark might also seem noisy.

Traffic at Red Frog is when a sloth or the white faced capuchin monkeys decide to cross the road and everyone stops their golf cart in the middle of the road to watch.

a common response to Hola

Con Gusto
a common response to Gracias

A water taxi or boat used to get from place to place across the archipelago also lovingly referred to as “La Lancha”.

Guari – Guari
Pronounced “wori wori” – The cross between English, Spanish, Creole and Jamaican that you will hear many of the locals speaking to each other.

Deep fired plantains that accompany most traditional Panamanian dishes.

Literally translated tomorrow. This could also mean “not today”!

15 Minutes
a time span of between 10 and 30 minutes

The Island that is home to Red Frog Beach. We share the island with The 13,266 hectare (32,781 acre ) Bastimetos National Marine Park and a local village accessible only by boat called “Basti” but referred to on some maps as Old Bank.

Bocas can be many things to many people. Bocas can mean Bocas town the main city in the Archipelago but people also refer to all of the archipelago as Bocas.

If you are someone who thinks of moving to the tropics every time you buy a Power ball ticket you will find it interesting when you walk thru town and see the lottery ticket vendors. Tickets are sold for between $1 – $2.

The Blue Coconut
A popular over the water bar restaurant located on Isla Solarte and playground to fun loving expats and Panamanians where you can snorkel or hang in a hammock while you enjoy a cold cerveza and BBQ ribs and chicken on the weekend.

The Floating Bar
Floating off the coast of Isla Colon you will find this fun place to hang out. The bar often hosts activities and events like Saturday morning Yoga stretch , family friendly fun Tuesday, Belly Flop Blues, or the monthly Glow Worm orgy held just after the full moon. At this event you can watch the bioluminescent glow of the Odontosyllis Enopia synchronized mating ritual.

Thing you might hear:

“Basti Basti”
The call of the water taxi driver welcoming you to his boat for a ride to Basti.

“Red Frog, Red Frog”
The call of a water taxi driver welcoming you to his boat for a ride to Red Frog.

“Pati Pati”
The call of a local sales person selling fried dough with beef, and spices inside.

“Tamales Tamales”
The call of a local vendor selling a complete meal in a portable form, a mixture of corn dough and filling wrapped in a banana leaf.

Shaved Ice ,the Bocas version of a Slurpy.

If you are looking for a new home in Paradise. I would love to show you around. I can’t give away all the secrets at once but contact me soon to set up an exploration tour and I will tell and show you more.

Lora Hassen
VP of Real Estate Sales
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