Jason did a bang-up job looking after Jinja, but after a couple of months on the island it was time for him to move on to pastures new. Luckily, my friend Seppe (Joseph) from Germany was planning to be in Bocas for the next couple of weeks.
I met Seppe at the backpackers in Halifax, Nova Scotia while I was on The Odyssey Expedition. He was also travelling the world on cargo ships and was, at the time, waiting for a boat to Cuba. He also lent me his coat. I’m pretty sure I would have frozen if I he hadn’t. Lifesaver!
Seppe agreed to take over from Jason for a few days until I could get there.
In double-quick time, we had a party for my brother’s 40th…
I said goodbye to my mates in Liverpool…
Packed up my things…
Wished my mum and dad well…
And for the 99th time of the year (or so it felt), hopped on a plane back to Panama.
I took the overnight coach to Almirante, took the ferry boat over to Bocas Town, grabbed some groceries, met up with Ariel the Taxi Guy… and plotted a course due south…
As soon as we drew near, Campo ran to the boat dock and started jumping around, barking like crazy… he was so excited to see me! Seppe had been lounging in the big hammock awaiting my arrival.
The Western Approaches…
Jason had done an absolutely terrific job looking after the island, I couldn’t hope for a better caretaker. Campo was healthy and happy, the house was tidy and the jungle had been kept at bay.
He also created these fantastic maps of Bocas, the route in and out of Dolphin Bay and Jinja Island itself.
Jase, you utter LEGEND!!
While I was gone, the boat had some issues (of course it did, that bloody boat!) and so Mario and Fidel came over to help me get it running again. It had got to the point where to start the damn thing I had to take off the cowl, circle a rope around the top of the motor, squirt fuel into the carburetter and pull the rope like my life depended on it. It was one hell of a party trick. I really needed a new motor!
Seppe just kinda stood there and laughed at me.
Another thing that needed addressing was the Jinja Island walkway from the house to the boat dock. It was a bit of a mash-up various pieces of leftover wood – some of which seemed exceptionally tasty for the termites. Seppe and I had to replace a good few broken boards. We coating the undersides with motor oil, a termite-thwarting tip I picked up somewhere along the line.
I have no idea what I’m doing 😆
On our way to Rana!
Yep. That’s Ian and Vanessa, the previous owners of Jinja Island! They were in town for a few days. We caught up on our adventures over beer and pizza. They had been living in China, Ian had been writing more books and they had been working on motivational courses together.
It was great to see them again. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to show them around the island, but they had popped in a few days earlier (before I got back) to have a mosey. I hope they liked what I had done with the place.
Seppe hung out on Jinja for a week before continuing his journey through Central America. After dropping him off in Bocas Town I picked up some supplies, but before I could head back to Jinja, the heavens opened.
And, if I haven’t stressed this enough, when it rains in Bocas Del Toro, it really rains.
I retreated to the Toro Loco bar and waited for the storm to pass. I’ve been close to a lightning strike a couple of times in my life, once in the town of Bukittinggi in Sumatra and another time on my island. It’s not what it sounds like when there’s a bit of a distance between you and the strike, it just goes BANG! Like a bomb going off.
As you can hear on this video clip I filmed in the Toro Loco when lightning struck a tree in the park less than 50 metres away.
Once the storm had well and truly passed, I returned to Jinja on my little boat. I had a book to finish.