Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Day Five - The Descent

We went to bed not knowing what the protests would bring on the Monday, but the dawn broke with the good news that all parties reached an agreement late in the evening. The roadblocks were being removed and although it would be late arriving to drive us onward, our car was in fact on it's way from David. (Hah!)

One thing I have not shown is the pavillion where we ate breakfast each morning. Isla Verda has you fill out a request and post it under a magnet on that green chalkboard the night before and an approximate time. The meal is prepared in front of the guests by a quiet young woman, peeling fresh fruit and boiling eggs or frying pancakes. Here you see John about to tuck into a bowl of yogurt with granola and fresh fruit. I enjoyed the fruit and boiled eggs and learned how many minutes she cooked them (to perfection. This is something of an issue in our house....)

Now the dawn indeed broke but the sun didn't follow. It rained just about the whole way to Bocas. And surprise! we were back in the truck with the suitcases wrapped in tarps in back. They survived and I was surprised. However, some 25 minutes from the landing to Bocas, we came to an abrupt stop, just a few cars behind a calamity. A beer truck, the big kind, must have approached the winding turn in the descent too fast, because beer bottles were everywhere, broken and the liquid was flowing freely down the mountain road. Needless to say, we were stuck. There was glass everywhere. I so mean everywhere. Well, what're ya gonna do? I got out and picked up a plastic crate and started shoveling the broken bits to the verge. Glad it wasn't raining here....

Here you can see something of the magnitude of the accident. We found lots of unbroken bottles, as well, in the brush on the side of the road. No, I didn't smuggle any. I figured the driver had hell to catch and didn't need more grief.
Now, this truck was AHEAD of us and all the mess and unbroken bottles were on the other side of the road, so really, the wonder is why he didn't HIT someone, being that far on the wrong side of the highway!

We eventually made our way to the dock, in the pouring rain now, and boarded a bumboat over to Bocas. Before we knew it, our luggage was grabbed and stowed by young boys working hard for some money and we were inside this ferry, headed for the island paradise, Bocas Del Toro.

Except the rain never ended. It worsened on the ride over.
Here is shot of a boat exactly like the one we rode. It's the small one in back with the yellow plastic raincover (thank GOD). The landing was only 3 buildings away from our hotel so we made a dash for it and checked in to a cute old-fashioned sort of hotel. Exactly what I would have chosen of the accommodations had been left to me.

After checking in and dropping off our stuff, we wandered around the town during a brief respite from the rain (finally!). It is fairly well consolidated in one area and the town has a nice square to hang around in with huge trees and a high canopy. Due to the unseasonably high rainfall, the grounds were also high in standing water. But the trees were abuzz with bird activity.

We made enquiries about hiring a boat and driver to go out in the morning snorkling and island hopping. I was still on the outlook for a sloth. I think I saw one during the morning drive over but since we whizzed poast in the rain, I'll just say I didn't. John made reservations at Guari Guari and we had a short lie-down before dinner.

The sun was setting as the taxi driver picked us up in town and down when he left us on the rain-slick road, standing at what can only be described as spooky house. We were on the rural out-skirts of town, in the middle of nowhere and surrounded by darkness. Even the stars were hiding. Before us was the brambling archway and hedge that obliterated the view of a veranda. The path itself was grass. OSHA would not approve. I wished for a trusty machete and found none at hand.

We ducked under the vines and the path opened up to this enchanting house with a few steps leading up to the deck, scattered with a dozen or so tables. None were crowding the others and only one was actually taken by diners. The host greeted us with a terrific smile and after picking up a cat off my chair (me-"no no, let it stay, I'll sit here..") , sat us down and tucked a mosquito coil by our feet. We could hear the sound of waves and realized the shoreline was just off the road where we were deposited. The cat sashayed to the kitchen door. We ordered drinks and listened to the menu. Guari Guari offers a 6 course set menu each night and tonight would start with cold gazpacho soup followed by stuffed mushrooms.

Something came up in conversation that required a cell phone so John reached in his pocket to pull out his and found the phone was missing. He thought perhaps he dropped it as he pulled money out to pay for the cab. He borrowed an umbrella and flashlight from (and here again I wish I knew the man's name because he was really helpful during the whole evening. I'll call him Ozz) Ozz and dashed out to the road but found nothing.

Now Bocas is not a large town and there were only a handful of taxis that operated in the evening hours. But all the cabs look alike and are fairly new. Right about the time John was out there I saw a taxi pull up and I thought "Aha! The cab driver fond the phone and is returning it!!!!! Hurrah for mankind!!!!! That is wonderful!!!"

As John walked back to the table empty handed, Ozz approached as well and asked what sort of phone is it. iPhone. "Ah.... well that one will not be coming back....... " The taxi I spotted had pulled away again by now and more diners stepped up for a table. So much for warm thoughts toward my fellowman!

Ozz asked if we thought calling the phone might alert whoever had it and they'd answer. Good idea. He called but it only rang. By now, the soup was being served but I was feeling ill at ease. That phone. Do you really realize what all you have stored in a cell phone? Do you back it up occasionally? Can you replace all those numbers and addresses and photographs and who knows whatall we type as calendar events and passwords?

Needless to saw, I was so focused on this calamity, I forgot to photograph the gazpacho. It was delicious. Right on it's heels came the stuffed mushrooms with goat cheese and crushed pecans.
I loved the presentation. Mo and sat together on one side and shared each appetizer dish while John and Gary did likewise over there. I see now that the photo is sideways but even so, doesn't it look fabulous? It was. Too bad we were still trying to sort out what to do about the phone.

When I stew, I stew. Could we have left it in the room? I remember John plugged it in to charge as we were dressing..... well maybe but he also remembered unplugging it too.

Then the din sum stuffed with a whole shrimp arrived and I forgot to shoot that one as well.

Ah, crepes... can't remember what was inside but it was creamy and nice.

We talked about losing cellphones. "Remember the time that guy walked up to you, punched you and took your phone in Mexico? " "Yeah and when I was standing on the corner in the city and that guy ran past and grabbed it off the holster as he went? That was weird"

When you carry everything you need, like keys, passport, coins, cellphone etc around in your front pocket, it all has to come out to sort through as you exchange money...... he really thought it slipped out in the rain and darkness and confusion as we got out of the cab...... he was kicking himself and Ozz was as kind and solicitous as you could want. At this point, he was like a good friend I wanted to ask to join us in a glass of wine!

I wonder what this was, besides awesome in flavor. I think it was fish. I know it's sideways.

I was beginning to mesmerize myself with the notion that the phone was still in the room, ringing off the charger and the people next door were hating their neighbors something awful. There was NO WAY THIS man would drop something like an iPhone, the size of a deck of playing cards for short-sighted people and not realize it! I was eager to be back there and find out! Dessert:

Again, as beautiful as it was yummy; a slice of caramelized pineapple with a scoop of grape seed ice cream with raspberry sauce swirled on the side.

The rain stopped by now and the wine bottle was empty. Ozz called us a cab and we said good night, thanks for all your help. We got in and although we were slightly dispirited, we had a talkative drive home. I started it.

"Say, how many drivers are out tonight? What happens when someone leaves a cellphone in a cab?" He helped us narrow the possible drivers as we pulled up to the hotel, El Limbo, and John went to the room. By now, the driver had HIS phone out and was calling another cab. It was as slow night in Bocas.

John reappeared with the phone to his ear, and there was much rejoicing. I could hear him speaking to, who could only have been, Ozz on the other end happily laughing as well. What a great ending..... Guari Guari. I need to try that place sometime.


Rachel said...

Oh my god the beautiful beautiful foooooood.

Cats and Quilts said...

Yes the food was really very very really good. And the host was wonderful. I hate that I was unable to let go of the phone problem.