Buckets in Bocas?

Carole Jean crossing Panama border

Walking across the border

We booked a bus tour. This is uncharacteristic of us; we are not bus-tour types. We went to the travel agent in Atenas to buy a bus ticket out of Costa Rica to prove we had an ongoing ticket out of the country, and we walked out with package tickets to Bocas del Toro, Panama leaving on Thursday and returning Sunday. We are waiting for our residency status to be approved during which time we are allowed to stay in the country longer than the typical 90 day visa most tourists are granted. However, if we leave Costa Rica to visit say St. Thomas,  Nicaragua, or Panama, we may be asked to show a valid ticket out on re-entering the country. It reminds me of last call when I worked at Happy Jack’s Ski Lodge in Lake Placid, New York. At closing time, his booming voice would announce: “Last call. Last call. You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here!” Ah, but wait. You can stay here. You just can’t leave. If you do leave and come back, you have to prove that you plan to leave again. I’m so confused. We got so excited about the Bocas tour, we never did buy the bus ticket out of Costa Rica.

Bocas had been beckoning for months, and finally we were going. For less than the price of an airline ticket, we would board a fancy bus, relax while somebody else did the driving, stop for meals and duty-free shopping, be whisked through the border procedures by the tour guide, and get to Bocas del Toro, a group of islands, by mid-afternoon. Cool! The package included day excursions to several popular spots; the dolphin hang-out, the starfish beach, lunch at a unique over-the-water palm-roofed hut. After a quick and painless visit to the border patrol windows, our guide told us to be careful walking across the bridge, and he would pick us up on the Panama side and take us to the water taxi.

Bridge between Costa Rica and Panama

Be careful crossing the bridge!

My eyes were riveted to the ground. Between the railroad tracks and the uneven, loose boards, I could be in big trouble. I thought I was going to be launched into the air at one point when a big heavy guy behind me stepped on a plank I was just walking on. My heart lurched as I felt the end spring up. I only went up a couple of inches, but it felt like I was being jettisoned to the sky! Once safely back on the bus, we were taken to the water taxi, dropped off in Boca Town, a quaint, lively village, and taxied to The Tortuga, a luxury hotel just outside of town. We arrived in time for “Happy Hour” and pool luxuriating. The next morning, after a fabulous all-inclusive breakfast buffet, we were collected and taken on the tour. We were the only gringos in the group, so I paid rapt attention to the announcements so I could translate for my hubby.I heard something about a bucket. The word bucket conjures up a lot of images for me:

  • Bucket List (ever since the movie!)
  • Kick the bucket
  • There’s a hole in the bucket Dear Henry, Dear Henry….(song from yesteryear)
  • A drop in the bucket
  • Can’t carry a tune in a bucket
  • Sweating buckets

This one was new to me:

Bucket in Bocas

I do WHAT with the bucket?

Sign in Spanish

Instructions in Spanish

Sign at Bocas del Toro Restaurant (English)

Instructions in English

The choice would be to go in the little room, do your business, dump the bucket of water in and flush or you could just jump in the water, do your business and forget the bucket.

I will never think of buckets in the same way, but I am looking forward to to visiting Bocas del Toro again.

8 thoughts on “Buckets in Bocas?

  1. Sooo good! Your blogs never cease to entertain! Love the bucket story and the bridge crossing – oh my, for someone not keen on heights, that would have been totally terrifying!


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