Day One: Arrival

The turbo prop plane flies west along the northern edge of Panama. We drop below the clouds, revealing a rainy landscape of turquoise blue water, small be-jungled islands and now an increasing number of outboard boats dotting the sheltered Caribbean coast.

We land on the short runway of Bocas Del Toro. It rains steadily as we receive our bags and greet our dear friend Heather, her Panamanian husband Warrio and their gorgeous bouncing baby Belo.

A wheeled taxi through Bocas, then a water taxi to Rancho Bull, and we arrive at our friends’ lovely two-bedroom, third-story abode with a wrap-around veranda and vaulted ceilings. Warrio calls us out to the deck; a seven-foot baby boa constrictor waits in the grass below. Heather’s cat is intrigued and cautious. The boas don’t love the rain, he explains, and often seek a warm, dry place to weather the storm. Don’t we all?

A water taxi back to Bocas. We feast at Ultimo Refugio, joined by proprietress Katherine, a Washington DC ex-pat who soaks up some love from baby Belo while taking a break from the kitchen. Fresh seared ahi and mahi mahi take center stage.

Back at the house, i hop online, splitting time between the couch and the veranda. Almost 11pm, 75 degrees, rain gently beats against the roof, glistens on the ocean surface 150 yards away. Tomorrow is a full work day. The new chapter has begun.

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