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If the World Ends

March 2016

The next morning I was back in Bocas. Fidel had been good enough to drop in on Campesino and the chickens in my absence, make sure they had enough food and water. Campo greeted me at the Jinja Island boat dock, jumping around like a lunatic, desperate to tell me about all the exciting things that had happened while I was away. I love that dog.

Since it was my birthday week, I decided to have another Jinja Island party. I grabbed a bunch of friends from town, commandeered a couple of boat taxis and away we went!

One cake said “73”, this one said “17”. Near enough.

I had a couple more visitors to Jinja Island, Eric and Tori.

A couple of days earlier, I had jumped on the Jade Dragon, a party boat that travels around the archipelago, captained by Chris the Crazy Belgian Guy. I flagged it down from my island.

The Jade was on a bit of a bar crawl. It took me to the Blue Coconut, the fabulous bar on Solarte island, a few miles to the east of Jinja.

How fabulous? THIS fabulous.

After that it stopped at the Bambuda lodge, where I got chatting to an Irish girl named Olwyn. She asked what I was doing in Bocas. I told her I had won an island here and see that light over there…? That’s the light at the end of my boatdock.

She called bullshit (as everybody always does), so I invited Ollie and her mate Ruth over for a barbecue.

Between the three of us plus Eric and Tori, we polished off two slabs of beer, two bottles of Abuelo, a bottle of Barcadi and half a bottle of Morgan Spiced Rum. It was a damn good night.

Ollie and Ruth wanted to go visit Starfish Beach, so a couple of days later I arranged to meet up in Bocas Town and travel up to the top of Colon with them, just in time for lunch. Ruth went for the fresh lobster, while Ollie and I had fish, rice and plantain.

Then, in an awesome bit of serendipity, the Jade Dragon showed up at the beach. Chris invited us all on board for the trip back to Bocas Town. Beats the minibus any day!

That night, Ollie, Ruth and I checked out Bocas Town’s shiny new pirate bar (which I suspect is going to be a bit too high-class for us filthy Bocanauts). Ollie then returned to Jinja for one last hurrah before disappearing off on the Taxi 25 to Almirante, never to be seen again. *sigh*

My next visitors to Jinja Island were Cricket and her daughter Autumn from the US of A. They only stayed for a night, but we had a blast (they want to come back for a week in July with the rest of the family). 

In the morning, Cricket took my GoPro and went snorkelling the Jinja Island reef. Check out the pics she got…

I know, right?!!

Before I knew it, it was St Patrick’s Day! Hurrah! I met up with Rebeca and we went to see Nico play guitar at the Bocas Brewery, before indulging in some ping-pong with Nery at the Bocas Store. I’ve been in Bocas for almost two years now, and I still haven’t managed to get a picture of Loco Dave without him pulling a silly face. Maybe that’s just his normal face? Madness, I know. The night ended with some chop-chop chicken from the street vendor and dancing the night away to bad Latinopop in the student disco that is the Iguana Lounge.

The next visitors to Jinja were Nick and Amanda, a pilot couple from Virginia in the US. I took my boat over to Bocas Town to meet them and loaded the Jinja Ninja up with just about enough beer to get us through the week. Maybe!

The following Sunday, Lizzie’s boyfriend Martin picked the three of us up on a hired panga to take us to “Smithsonian Island” in Dolphin Bay, about ten minutes boat ride from Jinja. The story is that the guy who owned the land bequeathed it to the Smithsonian before he died, and it had been left to rewild (and for those of us in the know to explore).

While we were there, we saw this blue tree frog carrying a tadpole on its back. When it gets to the top, it will find a little pool of water in a leaf, drop the kid off and go get another from the base of the tree. He’ll keep doing this, one by one, all day long. Yep… it’s the males that do this! Good lads.

After mooching around Smithsonian Island (check out the spikes on the “monkey no-climb” tree!), Martin took the three of us to Rana Azul for island pizza. And, would you believe it, the Jade Dragon showed up and Chris offered us a boozy trip back to Jinja! That ship is like the Flying Dutchman! How could we say no?!

The next night, Nick, Amanda and I took the Jinja Ninja over for a barbecue at Carmen and Lazare’s place in Tierra Oscura. After a great evening (and superb food), I managed to successfully navigate my way back in the dark through the mangrove maze, taking it super slow and dialling my spidey-sense up to 11.

I was tremendously proud of myself… right up until the point when I cut the engine, glided skilfully into the parking bay without touching the sides, moved to the front of my boat, put my foot out to stand on the jetty… and missed by a mile.

CGI Recreation
I plunged into the water, only hip-height, but enough to submerge my damn phone. Into a Tupperware container of rice and fingers crossed. Graham, you idiot! Since I hadn’t had an island party in at least three weeks, I felt we were overdue another one. Martin and Lizzie manned the barbecue and we had a few boatloads of revellers on the island.

I could get used to this!

Graham Hughes

Graham Hughes is a British adventurer, presenter, filmmaker and author. He is the only person to have travelled to every country in the world without flying. From 2014 to 2017 he lived off-grid on a private island that he won in a game show, before returning to the UK to campaign for a better future for the generations to come.

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