Different from the typical work weeks spent in San Miguel, this week I had a visitor and took some time off. Originally we planned on going to San Miguel and then out to Costa Rica, but things changed when we realized it would be costly and time consuming to get to Costa Rica. Instead, we looked at a map and saw a small island on the Caribbean side of Panama that didn’t seem too far away…Isla Grande.[singlepic id=4302 w=320 h=240 float=left]
Despite its name, Isla Grande is actually a small island in the province of Colon, only a 5 minute boat ride from the mainland. Here, the high season is not until January, allowing us to experience the true culture of the people. Many restaurants, bars, and hostels filled the street, closed and quiet as though the town were abandoned. Even then though, a few were open, and the one main store on the island was open everyday. Locals were the main occupants of the streets, listening to music, painting their boats, gutting their fish, and working on their homes. The hostel where we stayed had construction going on everyday. I noticed that our hostel (along with many other homes on the island) had rainwater collectors that they would use as a main source of water. The basins collected water and sent it through a filter, which was then used for all water needs (although I’m not sure I would personally drink it). If the island could just work on properly disposing their trash, it could almost be a well-off, self-sustaining island.[singlepic id=4300 w=320 h=240 float=right]
Not only would trash pick-up reduce the amount of litter, it would also bring out more of the beauty this island had to offer. When the sun was out, the ocean was that clear, bright turquoise blue. The small forest within the island contrasted the blue ocean with different shades of green. I would have thought the island was covered in beaches (like San Blas), but instead there were only a couple small beaches, and a pretty dense forest. Being a nature lover, I had to explore the forest, which turned out to be an amazing experience! In the forest I saw a variety of tropical plant and animal life from brightly colored fruits, to snakes, gi-ANTS, and huge, scary looking spiders! We climbed a tower where vultures sat atop, and got to see a birds eye view of the island, the mainland, and the surrounding Caribbean ocean. It was awesome! Just the right tropical biology that I wanted to see!