Week 2 of My Spanish Immersion Vacation in Panama

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"Week 2 of My Spanish Immersion Vacation in Panama".

Search our blog about all things Panama! From must dos, where to party or eat, to which beaches and hiking trails you shouldn't miss, in our blog you'll find great insider info about Bocas del Toro, Panama City and Boquete, as well as Panamanian culture, customs and traditions, and certainly tips and advice for learning Spanish! We've been writing about all things Panama for over 15 years and nothing beats local knowledge from the locals themselves.


🌎 🌍 🌏 CODE RED FOR HUMANITY!!! ❌ ❌ ❌

50% DISCOUNT OFF ONLINE PRIVATE LESSONS and 25% OFF ONLINE GROUP LESSONS when you submit your payment by FRIDAY NOVEMBER 12TH, the last day of COP26.

CLAIM DISCOUNT HERE!

Or find out more about ONLINE SPANISH LESSONS HERE...

🦠 Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic we're currently only offering ✅ Online Spanish Lessons and ✅ Spanish classes in a TRAVELING CLASSROOM instead of at the school, delivering a teacher directly to you in a COVID safe way wherever you are, be it your hotel, home, park, on tour, at the beach or in any other place where social distancing is comfortably and safely possible. CONTACT US TODAY!

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🙏 PLEASE 🛑 DON'T ✈ FLY TO LEARN SPANISH... LEARN SPANISH ONLINE!


🚨 On October 7th 2020 we declared a CLIMATE AND ECOLOGICAL EMERGENCY because we're facing an 😱 existential threat as Planet Earth is on track for a 🌡4°C increase in average global temperatures by the end of this century, which means 💀 BILLIONS OF HUMANS DYING along the way if we don't CHANGE COURSE NOW!

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🤔 So instead of 🛫 flying to learn Spanish 🛬 — it's not really essential travel, specially in the midst of the ongoing 😷 COVID-19 PANDEMIC — pumping even more C02 into the atmosphere that will end up crashing our common home, impacting countries in the tropics first, 🎧 LEARN SPANISH ONLINE 💻 from the comfort, convenience and safety of your office or home!

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🙏 And finally one last plea to help us ensure a just transition for our staff and Spanish teachers: please don't fly to learn Spanish because you can do it online without destroying our future as there's no Planet B regardless of what Elon Musk wants you to believe; besides dreaming of Mars, he also wants you to buy electrical cars as if that's the solution to this Planetary Crisis... spoiler alert: it's not!

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Week 2 of My Spanish Immersion Vacation in Panama

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Bob Van Beers, from the Netherlands, is currently finishing his third week at Habla Ya Boquete. These are his impressions about his second week of studying Spanish in Bocas del Toro. You can read about his 1st week in Bocas here...

My Spanish teacher, Rogelio, is also a JiuJitsu Blue Belt
My Spanish teacher, Rogelio, is also a JiuJitsu Blue Belt.

Monday

After class several new students joined me and my friends for a quick orientation of Bocas, followed by lunch at Tom's restaurant. In case you missed what I was up to during my first week, Tom's restaurant has affordable, local food and a beautiful view of the ocean and the boats anchored in the bay, making it one of the most popular food joints amongst fellow Habla Ya students.

Made it to Bocas del Toro, Panama! Now time for some Bocas style creole chicken for lunch

Posted by Bob van Beers on Thursday, March 3, 2016

After lunch I went home to catch up on some studying and prepare my homework for the next day.

Tuesday

On Tuesday, I went with a few friends from Germany, the US and Canada to buy some fishing lines, hooks and bait, and went fishing off one of the docks in Bocas. We caught several Lane Snappers and took them home after cleaning them on the dock. We used our catch of the day together with the hand grated coconuts we collected on Isla Zapatillas and cooked a delicious meal for all of us. It felt good to know that we were able to feed yourselves with freshly caught fish and coconuts in case we ever got stuck on these islands (hopefully one day!).


Bocas Town's docks are great for a quick splash or catching a quick meal!

Wednesday

Wednesday's after school activity was a trip to one of the caves on Isla Bastimentos, one of the other islands within the Bocas del Toro Archipelago. Our tour guide navigated his speedboat through beautiful mangroves past wildlife and even a couple baby alligators.

In the midst of the mangroves an opening exposed a dock where we then got off. After we were all given a headlamp we ventured into the cave, where we found thousands of bats, several big spiders and unfamiliar sounds. As we made our way to the cave we sometimes waded through waist deep water.

This hidden dock is where the real adventure began...
This hidden dock is where the real adventure began...

Don't expect hordes of tourists and fancy boardwalks when you sign up for this tour as it's a real adventure! The cave tour ended at a large water hole, where we were all allowed to cliff jump into the water. At the end of the afternoon our guide navigated all of us back to the exit of the cave and safely transported us back to Bocas. This tour was definitely one of the highlights of Bocas!

Later in the evening it was time to party! Although I was born in the Netherlands I currently spend my summers working as a tour guide in Canada and my winters working in Belize. I was therefore unable to attend my high school reunion in the Netherlands last January, but to my surprise I ran into two high school classmates at Aqua Lounge later that night, The two girls were backpacking in Colombia and Panama and happened to be in the same bar, so the rest of the night I partied with my new international friends as well as my former classmates. Sometimes it's hard to believe how small this world can be!

I missed my 10-year high school reunion in the Netherlands two months ago, but last night I ran into two former classmates on a tiny island in Panama! #makesomenoiseforboxtel

Posted by Bob van Beers on Thursday, March 17, 2016

Thursday

On Thursday I joined my friends at Dragon Tours for another Blues Cruise aboard the Jade Dragon. As a result of my passion for the ocean, as well as the fact that I can't turn down an invite for a good party, I spent a significant amount of time on the Jade Dragon and in the ocean during my time in Bocas.

There is something about being on the water that gives me the feeling of absolute freedom, and the feeling that I can go anywhere in the world. While various musicians were playing in the front of the boat, we passed beautiful islands, white sandy beaches and mangrove forests. We anchored at Starfish Beach at snorkeled in the crystal clear waters and saw dozens of starfish in the shallow water. The party vibe onboard the boat attracted more people so we left the beach with another 10 passengers. All together it was another epic day on the water!

Somehow I found myself on a Habla Ya boat party tonight with people dancing with turtles, live music and we got to swim in the bioluminescence! #epicnight

Posted by Bob van Beers on Saturday, March 5, 2016

Friday

Friday was my last day at Habla Ya in Bocas, as well as for two other classmates, so we covered some new topics and then reflected on what we learned during the past two weeks. In the afternoon I met up with several other Habla Ya students and we went for a walk along the waterfront, and then gathered at a local restaurant for some drinks and shared appetizers.

At 5.30 PM we all got together at Tungara Hostel for the Habla Ya boat party aboard the Jade Dragon (did I mention I spent a lot of time with them?). During the 4-hour boat ride students were able to play their own music on the catamaran's sound system, enjoy cheap drinks and swim and snorkel in the ocean. During my first boat party in Bocas two weeks earlier we were able to swim in the bioluminescence, but this time we weren't able to see this spectacular phenomenon unfortunately.

Just as expected we had an awesome time on the water and all returned happy to Bocas del Toro. Upon our return to the dock, the party continued at La Iguana, where memories were made for some of us, while others just got drunk and forgot what happened that night :P

Saturday

After sleeping in Saturday morning a couple of friends came over to the apartment and we decided to head over to the nearby brewery. Bocas Brewery is located in a small building just around the corner of my apartment. This micro-brewery produces a variety of craft-beers, including a unique ginger flavoured amber ale and a refreshing amber ale with mango and lime. The patio behind the brewery is shaded by a big tree and offers beautiful ocean views, as well as corn hole, ladder golf, and other (drinking) games. We all ordered a flight with four samples and shared two platters of nachos and loaded fries.

My new Bocas friends and I at the Bocas Brewery.
My new Bocas friends and I at the Bocas Brewery.

There's some great beer to be had at the Brewery which is located in the town's beach, only a 10 minute walk from Hablla Ya.
There's some great beer to be had at the Brewery which is located in the town's beach, only a 10 minute walk from Hablla Ya.

Because several Habla Ya students were leaving Bocas del Toro at the end of the weekend we decided to organize a small farewell dinner that night. We picked up 2.5 kg of mixed seafood, a can of sweet peas, limes, tomatoes and paella mix at the supermarket and headed over to the apartment. For a few dollar per person we enjoyed a nice meal, had a couple drinks and reflected on our awesome time in Bocas del Toro.

After our dinner we headed over to Bocas' only rooftop bar, for a live performance of Swiss jazz and blues artist Andy Egert. Laylow is a new addition to the nightlife scene and features fatboy lounge bags, table games, a wide selection of Belgian speciality beers and beautiful ocean views. We met several locals, other travellers and local expats and spent the night casually sitting together.

Sunday

Sunday morning I woke up with mixed feelings, and not only because of my hangover… I was happy to embark on a new adventure but also sad to leave Bocas del Toro and all my new friends behind. After I packed my backpack again and cleaned the apartment, a few of my friends and I met at Golden Grill for a last lunch together.

Golden Grill had been a frequent meeting spot during my two weeks in Bocas, and is what one of the locals described to me as the McDonalds of Bocas del Toro. It’s the place where you can get cheap breakfasts in the morning, meet friends for a quick lunch, and where you crawl up to the vending window at 3 am to satisfy your drunk hunger. People told me it was just because I was drunk, but I am convinced that the burgers are actually better at night than they are during the day! :P

After a last farewell I walked to the waterfront and jumped on a water taxi back to the mainland. From there I travelled by bus to Boquete, a small town in Panama's highland, and a hub for adventure tourism in the region. Make sure to read about my new adventures next week!

After two awesome weeks of partying,studying Spanish, awesome adventures and many new friends it's now time to leave the 'island in the sun', and move to the mountain town of Boquete! Thanks everyone!

Posted by Bob van Beers on Sunday, March 20, 2016

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Search our blog if you're visiting Panama! From must do's, where to party or eat, to which beaches and hiking trails you shouldn't miss, you'll find great insider info about Bocas del Toro, Panama City and Boquete, as well as Panamanian culture, customs and traditions, and certainly tips and advice for learning Spanish while in our country! We've been writing about all things Panama for over 10 years and nothing beats local knowledge from the locals themselves.


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