Having seen some of the sights in Bocas, we planned to head to the other side of the country to see the Pacific. This was by far our longest travel day, taking approximately 12 hours. We had to take a total of 5 buses from Almirante to David, David to Santiago, Santiago to Chitre-Las Tablas, and finally Chitre-Las Tablas to Pedasi. It was an incredibly taxing day, but worth it in the end.
We arrived in Pedasi after dark, with no place to stay and only our guide book to lead us. Luckily we were dropped off near a small hotel called Dim’s Hostal, which ended up being perfect.
Quiet, clean, and air-conditioned, the room also included an enormous complimentary breakfast of eggs, toast, cereal, coffee, fresh squeezed juice, and various fruits. We would have loved to explore Pedasi and its beaches, but our destination in the region was Isla Canas, a tiny sliver of land only separated from the mainland by a thin river.
Isla Canas is an extremely important nesting ground for several types of sea turtles, and seeing some turtles was our goal in heading to this nearly deserted island. With the help of the owners of Dim’s Hostal, we were able to get a hold of Patricio, a native of France, who was the owner of Hostal Pachamama .and he helped us arrange our stay.
Hostal Pachamama, Panama
Patricio and his crew hand-built several huts from wood and grass on a hand-cleared portion of the jungle. The location is gorgeous, with a mangrove-lined river to the North, and the Pacific Ocean to the South. There isn’t any air conditioning, and the electricity is run by a generator, so power is available intermittently.
This locale is most definitely not a place for those looking for luxury! That being said, the surroundings are beautiful, and the bungalows are as well kept as you could hope given their open air nature; we even had a pair of bats living in our ceiling! In fact, there was a wealth of animals on the property.
We ventured out with Patricio after dark to look for the elusive sea turtles, but we had competition. The 300 or so locals who live on the island hunt for turtle eggs every night, using motorcycles and spotlights to cover more ground. Turtle egg hunting is generally illegal in Panama, but the residents of Isla Canas have special permission to hunt for them; even so people like Patricio are working to conserve the turtles by gathering their eggs and hatching them themselves, as well as educating the locals on conservation. By showing the locals that they stand to earn more money by selling accommodations and turtle tours, Patricio hopes to make a difference with the local turtle population.
While we were unlucky in finding any nesting turtles that night, there was a new hatching that had taken place that day, and Patricio and his acquaintances released
Despite the lack of amenities on the island, we were still sad to leave. We grabbed the boat back to the mainland and started on another long series of bus rides; Panama City bound.