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Bocas del Toro

March 26th, 2003
bocas031.jpgThis morning we had already at 5.15 AM a colectivo to the boat. The first boat from Puerto Jimenez to Golfito left at 6 AM. From there we shared a taxi to the boarder with Panama, where we arrived just after 8 AM. As the following direct bus to David did not leave before 10 AM, we took a taxi to David as we wanted to get the 2 PM flight to Bocas. But arriving there, it turned out that the afternoon flight was cancelled since a couple of weeks, although at their website it was still announced. There was still enough place at the morning flight of the following morning to Bocas. But as it was just 10 AM, we wanted to inform first about the buses tot Almirante. At 11.30 AM there was a direct bus. Since last year there was a new road from David to the west coast, in the past this trip took a whole day, now you are within 3 ½ hours at Almirante. From there we took the boat to Bocas Town at Colon. In Bocas Town we went to Casa Max,bocas015.jpg a pension of a Dutch couple Arie and Shirley Keppel. For frog lovers from Holland a notion. They knewwho were the best guides for frogs and where to go. So we rented for the next day a boat with Lionel as guide.

March 27 th, 2003
This morning it turned out Lionel was ill, but his replacement Leonardo should know to find the right places as well. So we left for Tierra Oscura, where we could find the blue pumilio. Already when we set foot ashore, we heard alreadybocas011.jpg many pumilio's whistling. A few meters further our first blue Darkland pumilio, a real beauty. And what was sitting next to him? An auratus, much greener as the Costa Rican ones. Soon with every step we took, several Darklands jumped away. We saw hundreds of them. We also saw several lugubris, often sitting next to Darklands, twice we saw them sharing the same small hollow. Unbelievable so many frogs so close together. So we stayed at this spot almost all morning. The Darklands were from deep blue to almost black, from bright blue with light blue legs to brownish blue.bocas004.jpg Amplify: When we were back home and showed some people our pictures, it turned out that the young colostethus we had photographed at Tierra Oscura was no colostethus but a dendrobatus claudiae (also called minyobates claudiae). A tiny frog that does not get larger that 13 mm. It was discovered a little while ago not far from the place we had been. 
After this we went to Isla de Popa. At the slope of the village Popa at the Wilson Creek, we found many green Popa's, a green back and a light blue belly and legs. Their skin was not smooth, more granulated, they looked a little like the green granuliferus. bocas023.jpgWe had lunch in the village at the community centre, watched by half of the community, not only kids, as seldom tourists are coming to this island. 
Our following stop was Red Frog Beach at Bastimentos. Halfway the screw of the motor felt off, so we drifted about for 2 hours in the burning sun. Then a boat of the same company, with a group of tourists, passed by. We could get aboard and go with them to Red Frog Beach. The guide of that boat had a mobile phone and called the company, in an hour Leonardo would be at Red Frog Beach with a new boat. 4 Years ago we also visited Red Frog Beach, at that time we had found plenty of orange/red Bastimentos pumilios's.bocas027.jpg Now they had built there several houses with gardens, so we had to search for the pumilio's. Nevertheless we still saw several of them. Also these orange/red Bastimentos are real beauties. When we walked back to the boat, boats are not allowed to tie up at Red Frog Beach, but at the other side, we passed a small banana plantation, here we found also several orange/red Bastimentos. At the end of the afternoon we went to the village Bastimentos, at the graveyard we could find with a little luck the yellow variant of the Bastimentos pumilio. Here we really had to search for, several orange ones, some a bocas039.jpglittle pale, like they were bleached from the sun, but finely we also found a few pale yellow ones, with more and larger black spots the the orange/red Bastimentos, 2 were even almost white. Then we went by boat to the other side of the village and we had to walk a little along the rocky beach. Here we could find the light green Bastimentos. First we only saw light orange Bastimentos, but after some searching, also some light green ones. Meanwhile the sun had set, so it was time to return to Colon. Leonardo was not a real frog guide, but he knew the places and at the most places you  bocas033.jpgcould find that many frogs, so you did not need a real frog guide. It was great to see that many frogs at one day!

March 28th, 2003
At Colon you could find at several places the green/yellow Colon pumilio. We asked Arie, what was the best place to find them. Everywhere at the island he said, but advised us to take a taxi to La Gruta, a bat cave in the middle of the island. Around there we could find many Colons and could we walk back along the road. It was about 6-7 km. La Gruta was a small village with small cave which had besides many bats also a caiman as inhabitant. The locals had put a Maria statue and altar next to the cave. La Gruta is quite cultivated, so around the cave and in the village no Colon, just some anoles. It was really very hot over there. We decided to walk back, about a km from the village the forest started, soon we found a small path going inland. After 15 minutes we saw the first Colon, and soon one after another jumped away in front of our feet.bocas042.jpg They really were gorgeous, a green back with brown spots or stripes and bright yellow bellies. Meanwhile the forest had turned into primary rainforest with many giants of the forest. After 1 ½ hour walking we had no idea which way we went due to all the curves, we hoped we walked towards the coast. We decided to walk one hour further to see if we could reach the coast otherwise we would turn around. We had decided to have a day of rest after all our travelling of the last 2 weeks and the sunburn of yesterday at the boat. Half an hour later we came at a hill where all the trees were cut, there were some cabins with Indians. We asked where this path went to, Playa Bluff they said. We had already heard that Playa Bluff was the most beautiful beach of Colon, for sure we could find a taxi there and return home, they confirmed this. It was just one hour walking, they said. First a few naked hills mor, where they had cut some giants of the forest, really a pity, such a beautiful enormous trees. Some were recently cut, others were laying there for quite some time. In the forest it was quite humid and the path muddy, but those hills were bone-dry, the soil was completely scorched. So no Colons anymore, but then we saw a cut giant with a small hollow with some water, with over 20 Colons in it. Before we had taken our camera, they already jumped into all directions. A little further we entered the forest again, and soon again Colons. It was quite a hike, up hill down hill after one other. bocas043.jpgWe were glad that after one hour we saw  the see at the horizon. Wiped out, with hardly any water left, we arrived at Playa Bluff. Just before arriving at the beach we saw an enormous basciliscus plumifrons, larger than all the others we had seen, but his crests were badly torn away. But arriving at the beach we saw nobody, no beach restaurant, really nothing. So a taxi back to Bocas Town we could forget. Far away we saw a little cabin, it turned out that the road started over there, although a tyre track was a better word. We saw a boy and asked for some information. Bocas Town was 9 km away, at this time of the year you seldom saw cars passing by. So we continued our walk. We ran out of water, as we had not planned to go for a long walk. It became a heavy walk without water in the full sun. Every now and then we passed some cabins and a few houses under construction, but no people. After half an hour a jeep passed by, we asked for a lift, but he did not react. After another 45 minutes a truck loaded with sand passed by and stopped to give us a lift. This was very welcome, he could take us till the peninsula, to the main road. There we entered the first shop to get some juice and water. We were just sitting for one minute in front of the shop, and a taxi stopped. Although Casa Max was not far anymore, just one km, we did not have the energy anymore to walk. We had some heavier and longer hikes before, but walking in the burning sun, for the last 2 hours, without water and a sunburn from yesterday, kills you. With more than 6 hours walking, we still not had the day of rest which we had planned. But to be honest, a day of rest is a waste for us, often we start to do something, which mostly takes all day. But for seeing the Colon pumilio, we do everything.

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