Toboga – Island of Flowers

We purchased a ticket at the dock in Amador for the Isla Toboga fast ferry. We checked in with Steve, who runs the fast ferry business along with a logistical service for supplying  ships going through the canal. “We handle every request and have had some interesting ones like finding a captain’s favorite hot sauce, he explained.”  Steve is a very happy Canadian who arrived in Panama 8 years ago and never looked back.   So we departed Amador and Steve told us he would have someone meet us on the dock in Toboga to explain the points of interest and how to navigate the island on foot.

It was a 25 minute ride and I was searching for my elusive whale friends on the way but no luck.  I think it is just out of season for them.   I had done some research and was really interested in a church that was established on the island in 1512.  It seems that beautiful Toboga had been conquered and invaded a number of times by the Spanish, English, pirates and even during the construction of the canal,  was used to quarantine workers who contracted yellow fever and malaria.  We arrived at the dock a short time later and met our guide who told us where to find everything and explained how safe it was to walk anywhere we wanted.DSCN4979

We went on a Friday so the island was virtually deserted.  There were very few people around because they were at work.  So let me explain.   They mostly work at a neighboring island which is a refueling station for ships. They leave every morning for a 5 to 10 minute boat ride. Then they come home to their beautiful little island every night. Pretty sweet commute.

We decided to take our walking tour first before going to the beach which is unique in itself but more on that later.  We saw the steeple on the church and headed in that direction. The church is located in the town square.DSCN4982

The word charming barely covers it when describing the somewhat hilly walk along the ocean.  The narrow streets are barely wide enough for a small car and we saw only a few.  On this particular day it felt we had the whole island to ourselves.  The  walkway was dotted with multi color houses and buildings and small alleyways and streets. The beauty is really only surpasssed by the amazing smell of the multitude of flowers blended together in a beautiful perfume.  We arrived at the town square and noticed the church was closed. Our guy at the dock said just ask someone they will open it for you.  Trouble was there was not anyone around except two German backpackers, young women in their twenties.  We quickly noticed the angry clouds gathering and we looked for some shelter from the impending downpour.  The German girls found a spot in a doorway off the square.  We joined them and  learned they had been traveling for several weeks.  Their English was pretty good and we managed to have a nice conversation.  They were planning to go on to Costa Rica next.   They were going to try to climb the mountain on Toboga which promised a great view of the surrounding Pearl Islands.  The Mom in me had to bite my lip to keep from saying “not in those flip-flops, you’re not”.  The rain was stopping, and we wished the girls well and headed down to the beach.DSCN5003

So, the beach was very interesting.  A wide strip of soft sand with water on two opposite sides.  We spent a beautiful afternoon collecting shells, exploring and relaxing.

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We reluctantly started heading back to catch the ferry, but along the way we decided to stop for a beer at a little “fonda” or stand.  The beer was $1.00 which was great but the only nearby bathroom cost $1.00 to use so it was hard for us to reconcile having more than one.

Toboga is definitely worth another day-trip for more exploring and fun!  Can’t wait!

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