We got to Bocas and fell back in a routine, where the days, weeks, months ripple past like waves and before you know it a whole lot of water has passed under your keel.
In order not to bore you to death, we’ll give you a taster of life on board of the Exodus, using the Filthy Friday formula as a concept. With that we don’t mean we’ll make you drink till you drop. We won’t discuss the biggest island party crawl, where youngsters are taken to 3 islands, 4 locations, and party from 11am till 9pm and continue crawling around Isla Colon the rest of the friday night. Filthy Friday was once called Filthy Fucking Friday, until the PC police got to it and forced them to drop the ‘fucking’. Anyway, we will just use our own interpretation of this concept (the alliteration in the name of the weekday and its accompanying adjective) to describe a week in Bocas…
After a relaxing, pleasantly distracting weekend, we all have to get back in gear, back to trading and homeschooling, which does not put everyone in the best of moods. Some Monday blues are not out of the ordinary, especially concerning quizes and tests!
But overall, homeschooling is going well. Since September we worked down our minor backlog we incurred on our internet-based curriculum during the months we were homeschooling in the marina, with slower internet and more distractions. Working off the tablet on the boat, where absolute quiet is required for trading, works much better. Another big advantage is that we can just jump off the stern or bow and swim around the boat a couple of times as break, saying hello to the school of fish that has befriended Exodus, the pocupine puffer fish, and the rays.
We finished first grade end of November and have since put a serious dent in the curriculum for second grade. Having overcome the big hurdle of getting the basics of reading, writing and math into an at times reluctant student provided the teacher with the confidence we’ll bring this to a good end.
Turbulent Training Tuesday
Back in Bocas, we have seen our share of stormy nights, where we get up a few times to check on the anchor, and have to close all the windows, hatches, and companionway for the rain. In the anchorage there can be strong currents, wedging the boat in a certain position, whereas the wind blows in the rain from another angle…
Apart from being turbulent, Tuesdays are reserved for jiu jitsu training, with the option of taking part in the open mat on Saturday.
Naturally, jiu jitsu is not the only training on offer. In the past months, Gitane learned how to ride a bicycle without wheels. After being launched, keeping the balance while cycling proved not very difficult, but breaking and not crashing into cars or other road users at full speed was more challenging. Luckily, dad ran alongside to avert the little cyclist from potential harm. Meanwhile, we have also fixed up our rusted folding bicycles so we can all go for a bicycle ride.
And then there is the Exodus fitness programme: doing push ups, starjumps, burpies, pull ups in the park, and running away from poisonous toads.
Gitane also discovered Lacrosse. Lacrosse International recently started up a volunteer project in Bocas. It is great that Gitane has a chance to practise some ball skills and take part in teamsport. They offer training on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. In this fashion our afternoon programme filled quite quickly.
Wacky Wet Wednesday
Whereas October offered great weather, with lots of sunny days and clear water in the anchorage, November, December, and January have received far more rain than the previous year. Last year there was a 6 week drought in Bocas in December/ January, where there was not a single drop of rain for 6 weeks, causing major upheaval for so many businesses and locals that rely on the tropical rainforst rains to keep their watertanks filled to the brim. We have been waiting for a similar dry spell this year. So far the waiting has been in vain… Last year and november was a top time for divers, this year the surfers are having a swell time, waxing their boards and heading out to ‘las olas grandes’…
Wax on wax off mr Miyagi:
With all that wax flying around our captain, Arthur Miyagi, decided it was time to give Exodus a proper wax job. As we got back from Colombia with a new tender, a decision had to be made. We can’t have a trailerpark full of tenders attached to Exodus, and a boat that is not used starts to lead (or must we say carry) its own life, which means more headaches for the owners. We waved farewell to our diveboat.
Months of having dinghies, tenders, and dive boats alongside had left their mark(s) and sea, rain and UV had matted our boat’s plumage. First the sides had to be washed down properly in order to remove the paint stains and scrapes, accumulated dust, dirt, grime and seafroth. Next the waxjob could start. Hanging onto the sides of Exodus whilst balancing on the kayak made us feel a certain kinship to the karate kid: wax on wax off, mr Miyagi!
The result of course was stunning, looking all shiny and new. Pity it didn’t last…
And Exodus was not the only one looking prim and proper. On the islands, October and November are the quiet time, the low season, where all the restaurants, shops, hostels etc are getting a facelift before the busy December, January holiday season.
Trick ‘n treaty Thursday
Another interesting event in Bocas is Halloween. All the businesses get involved to organise a superb party for all the kids in the Bocas del Toro region. A lot of effort is put in this by all. Buena Vista restaurant hosts it, using their porch as stage.
The road is blocked off so the neatly dressed up kids can go trick and treat in the surrounding businesses.
After that a whole show is a presented by a funny professional DJ, who is great with kids. Bucket after bucket after bucket of candy is thrown at the eager participants or on the unsuspecting parents.
Finally, all the kids line up for the best costume competition. It is amazing to see the creative, original dress-ups the kids come up with.
Gitane had been working towards this event as a project during homeschooling. As she had started loosing teeth, we concurred on putting a face to the enigmatic tooth fairy. A plan was hatched on what the tooth fairy would need and every item from fairy hat, wand, and wings to box of teeth and facepaint were home made.
After a long procession of about 60kids, more and more candies were thrown. It was already past 6pm when the award ceremony started. Gitane’s patience was rewarded. She won the price for best (and only) tooth fairy.
Friend or Foe Friday
Filthy Friday, where youngsters queue up to go party in different spots on lousy music, holds little appeal to us. However, our first weeks back in Bocas, was a time to reacquaint ourselves with the friends we made before, and add a few new ones. So on a Friday, we would head towards the sailors’ happy hour a.k.a ‘conspiracy hour’ in Marina Carenero. The first time we went, Gitane actually knocked on everyone’s boats to alert them to the fact that we were back, so we had a big turn out and a very warm welcome. We enjoyed some homemade ginger beer which mixes greatly with the local Abuelo Rum, but after a month of more than weekly visits and running the danger of becoming part of the wallpaper, we decided to tone it down a notch and get on with our own programme.
As for Gitane, she would describe this part as fun ‘n friend filled Friday. She has been having good times witg Igor, Colin and Amaya, and with Thea and Ryan from sv Ketchy Shuby.
Sandy Satisfying Saturday
Whilst the Filthy Friday crowd (and most of Bocas) is having a Sleepy Saturday, which in the afternoon turns into a Surfing Saturday, the Exodus crew gets up bright and early to have a Submerged Saturday or Sporty Saturday.
We have been going to our normal dive spot on a regular basis, but the Spanish mackerels have been rather scarce, neither the cero nor the serra have come to the rendez-vous. Conditions surely have something to do with it, as they are very different from last year this time. On a rather murky water day, Arthur ran into a giant bull shark at 15m, coming out of nowhere, eager for an easy snack? Since then the starter freedivers on the team have been approaching the waters with great apprehension, not wanting to be bullied or be turned in bulley beef…
The B-team has enjoyed following eagle rays around while they are feeding. They dig for fish and small critters in the sand with their snouts, or in Gitane’s words, ‘their Donald Duckface’. Apart from that, we hang around with the usual parrot fish, angel fish, fairy fish, lion fish, small rock cod and so on.
The down part of lifting anchor is that often our favorite anchoring spot gets taken. One time we were successful in keeping our spot by leaving behind a mock mooring buoy. The following week, however, our bottles attached to a dive weight were ignored and a fat steel boat had usurped our swing range therewith forcing us to anchor elsewhere.
Other activities include hopping on our bicycles or slot in some beach time. In any case, mostly we have a Satisfying Saturday.
We have also done some more exploring of Bastimentos, anchoring outside of Red Frog marina, and walking across to Red Frog beach. Or anchoring close to Old Banks village and following the muddy path across the hills to Wizard Beach.
End of October we attended the Rocktoberfest at the Lost Boys Blues Bar on Cayo Carenero. We were not sure what to expect, but from the sound of it, it couldn’t be bad: The event started in the afternoon, hosted several bands during the rock-mageddon, and offered entertainment for the kids. All of this, free of charge!
We were very pleasantly surprised by the Lost Boys band. Its members are comprised of several local bands. They put down an excellent performance which they called the Pink Flyod experience, complete with video and light show. As the members are from different bands, they all bring something unique to the table. From a French visiting guitarist to a Nicaraguan tuba player. Just as they really got us going on Led Zeppelin’s ‘Whole lotta love’, they blew a fuse and had to start the back-up generator that was hired for the occasion. It took a while to get that going, and left us longing for more…
This just confirms that there is amazing talent sprouting from this small town. It is great to meet people that follow their passion and share their talents: Alex from jiu jitsu, Maria from Lacrosse, the female lead singer from the Little Big Band, blues and rocker Eric who invested that much money in building a professional recording studio and venue for music shows…. Bocas has lots to offer!