Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Panga to Zapatillo Cays


Five of us chipped in to hire a water taxi for the day and we sped off around ten that morning for hours upon hours of truly magical moments.  It is days like this that I yearn for, live for, and are eternally grateful for.  From Isla Solarte we wound our way through mangrove-infested isles.  We saw sloths and jellyfish; the water was so clear we could make out the red starfish beneath us.  We stopped for bottled water at a yellow clapboard restaurant.  Intending to return for lunch, we all opted to stay out on the water instead, slathering ourselves with sunscreen and swimming until our skin puckered up like prunes.

When we approached one of the little Zapatillo Islands, my travel buddy gasped.  "This is what I dream about at night," he said.  "Turquoise water.  A coral reef.  A sandy white beach and a tropical jungle.  Wow!"

The Zapatillos, which mean "little shoes" in Spanish are two nearly identical islands within the Bastimentos National Marine Park in the Bocas del Toro archipelago in Panama.  They are surrounded by coral reefs so the snorkeling is superb.  The currents, however, swept us further and further out and we grew a bit alarmed.  My travel buddy and I are strong swimmers and we had brought along good fins, so we were able to enjoy the experience, but the others in our group were having difficulty.  Our panga driver, however, then took us out further to a shallow set of coral reefs and anchored his boat.  We all immediately jumped in and behaved like juvenile otters--diving, splashing, swimming and well . . . just having the time of our lives.

Turquoise water,  A coral reef.  A sandy white beach.  Wow!  There's simply nothing more to say.  It was pure magic.

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