I celebrated my birthday over the weekend, and took the time to reflect on the past 5 years that I’ve been living in Bocas del Toro. Keep reading if you’re interested to learn about my experience living in Bocas del Toro.
I am originally from France, but for the past five years I’ve been living in Bocas del Toro. And to this day, I still enjoy my time here just as much on my first visit!
The things that used to impress me are now familiar. Don’t get me wrong; the Caribbean beaches are still beautiful, but it’s now the smaller moments of joy which captivates my attention on a daily basis.
Through this article, I’d like to share with you my experience of the top 3 things that bring Panamanians together and allowed me to get closer to the local community.
The music of Panama is as diverse and vibrant in flavorful variety as its people. The first time you enter into a taxi, on the street or at the beach, it will become clear to your ears the different sounds of musical genre, whether it’s salsa, soca, calipso, bachata, merengue, reggae as well as the traditional Panamanian music the tipico.
From childhood, Panamanians are immersed in music as a legacy handed down over generations. For any occasion, birthdays, family celebrations, nice sunset, dinner there’s always a good reason to turn up the volume. If you are curious to discover the traditional Panamanian music I would recommend you to come in November to attend the largest festival of the year.
Food is an essential part of everyone’s life and sharing a meal is one of the most universal things that bring people together. In everyday life, Panamanians tend to eat fairly basic dishes, we all know the famous chicken rice and beans, however during the holidays and celebration, they take the time to cook the most typical dishes: Hearty soup (even when it’s hot outside ), a rondón which is a seafood soup made with coconut milk, a fresh ceviche, a whole fried red snapper, and garlic lobster or crab (seafood are widely available in the region of Bocas del Toro).
In Panama you will find a large section of foreign fruit and vegetables and if you are visiting Bocas del Toro the best place to find those is to go to the side street market next to the park on the main island on Isla Colon.
Here’s a list of fruits and vegetables you don’t want to miss out if you come to Panama:
– Exotic root vegetables: Yuca, Otoe, ñamé, Jampi (usually boiled, mashed or fried)
– Rambutan, Mamoncillo
– Water Apple (hard to find but there’s couple trees at Red Frog Beach Resort)
And without forgetting the tropical fruit that we all know but which tastes much better here than elsewhere: oranges (they’re green but sweet), mangoes, pineapple, watermelon, passion fruit, and papaya
Panama is incredibly rich in biodiversity, a true green paradise for nature lover’s.
Flora and fauna can differ depending on the regions and surprisingly it’s even possible to not find the same plants and animals on two neighbored islands. Here in Bocas del Toro it’s mostly rainforest-covered islands with white-sanded beaches and coral reefs.
It’s always fascinating to have a conversation with locals about nature. To me, Bocatoreños have the soul of fishermans. If you’re visiting the archipelago there’s big chance that you’ll see people fishing at the end of docks, on board of a panga or a cayuco with friends or family of all ages. Some have learned to fish from young age six.
Bocas del Toro boasts a host of different species, here is a list of animals that you can spot during your next trip: dolphins, turtles, starfish, monkeys, sloths, iguanas, frogs, eagles, toucans, parrots and hundreds of other bird species. There’s actually more bird species that live in Panama than in North America.
Every time I spot one of these animals I feel extremely lucky to have been in the right place at the right time. Nature is unpredictable but if you want the best chances to discover the widest variety of flora and fauna in one place I recommend that you come and stay at Red Frog Beach Resort and don’t forget to keep your eyes out!
I hope you enjoyed my story. Feel free to reach out to me with any questions/comments.
Nina Le Bris