Picture of man walking through jungle trail

Coconuts, caimans and continuous rain

I finally made it to Bocas del Toro’s most famous resort: Red Frog Beach.  I had waited until the arrival of my university friend, Richard, but unfortunately we were not blessed with good weather.  In spite of the rain, we failed to see any red frogs, but did spot some caimans lurking inland.  Eventually, blue sky broke through and we were able to enjoy the beach and the surprisingly powerful waves.

Picture of Chris Atkin at Red Frog Beach in Bocas del Toro
Blue sky at last on Red Frog Beach

The following day we explored Black Rock Beach, which has quickly become one of my favourite places to relax.  This trip was particularly memorable as I picked up a fallen coconut, broke through the outer casing and eventually cracked open the fruit itself.  There are definitely worse ways to tackle a hangover!

Picture of the stages of cracking into a coconut on the beach
Cracking into a coconut

I was also surprised to see surfers catching waves offshore, away from the sheltered coastline.  You can expect to read an account of the surf here as soon as I find the time to get a board under my arm!

One of the reasons I’ve not surfed so far is because of the inclement weather.  December marks the start of high season in Bocas del Toro as hundreds of tourists arrive to take advantage of the large ocean swells.  Yet the final month of the year is also the wettest.  I’ve never seen rain like it, with the province hit by 59 hours of constant rainfall.  Both boats and flights have been cancelled and Richard’s stay in Bocas has inevitably been shaped by the poor conditions.

This month’s prolonged rain spells differ markedly from the pattern in November.  Then, the days were generally dry and sunny, before giving way to short, intense thunderstorms at night.  While talking about the weather is admittedly a very British trait, I am still amazed by the insouciance of the locals.  During a conversation with two Bocas residents on the covered deck of a waterfront bar, neither batted an eyelid or made any reference to the ferocity of a storm which required us to shout ever louder in order to be heard.

At school, I felt I was making good progress – until Richard arrived.  This week I was in a class with only one other student and her ambivalent attitude to attending classes meant that I was able to enjoy several private classes in her absence.  My timetable has since changed so that rather than having four hours of group classes in the morning, I will have private classes for two hours in the afternoon instead.  I’m hoping this will help to develop my speaking skills before my Christmas break.

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