Bocas del Toro is one of the nine provinces of Panama where United Brands still has several banana plantations. Bananas are exported through the port of Almirante under the Chiquita brand which is easily recognized all over the world. I lived in one of these plantations for over fourteen years.
I recall there was large population of African-Caribbean descendants working for the then United Fruit Company. They were hard-working people and they all spoke English; albeit sometimes it was difficult to understand. After a while, I spoke fluent “guary-guary”. In fact, I was so good at it, that sometimes they thought I was an Antillean when they spoke with me over the phone. I smiled.
Changuinola had a rich African-Caribbean tradition and culture, as well as Isla Colon, which seats the local provincial authorities. You can also find Antillean descendants in the port of Almirante which has several houses built following the architectural style of the Caribbean Islands.
Isla Colon is a sweet spot for tourists who flock to this island from almost every corner of the world. After Panama City and Boquete, Isla Colon is the most visited tourist spot in Panama. The area is flooded with tourists in love with seawater sports, wildlife, white-sand beaches and lush tropical vegetation.
The Province of Bocas del Toro is located about 300 nautical miles from Panama City. In Spanish it means, “Mouths of the Bull”. Its name comes after the shape its beautiful islands when seen from the air.
The capital, Isla Colón, is one of Panama’s pillars of tourism. Local and foreign visitors come to this tropical paradise and are captivated by the ocean’s crystalline waters. Bocas del Toro is the home of the only marine park of the country, called Bastimento, that protects the marine fauna of the area. It is very distinctive of the region to observe the spawning of turtles. Its coral reefs are a delight for the most demanding divers. Once in Bocas, you can visit historic sites, islands, indigenous cultures, mighty rivers, banana plantations and even make a trip to Costa Rica after crossing the Sixaola Bridge.
Below are several pictures of wooden houses characteristic of Bocas del Toro. The snapshots were taken at Mi Pueblito during a recent tour to this picturesque venue located on the slopes of Ancon Hill in Panama City, Panama.