January 21, 2015
We’ve had the enormous good luck to spend two full days in Bahia Honda, Panama, on our way from Golfito, Costa Rica to the Panama Canal. The Bay was recommended by books and by other cruising sailors, so we decided to make it a rest stop on the way.
It is among the most beautiful places I have ever seen. It is a wide, deep bay with a relatively narrow entrance, dotted with small islands and surrounded by lush, forested hills. A very small town exists on the northern shore of the largest island, and otherwise the population is limited to two small farms along the shore.
We were almost immediately greeted by locals who came out to chat in a variety of small boats. They expressed some interest in selling us fruits or vegetables, but mostly seemed to want to chat – no pressure. They brought out children, a dog, lemon grass, chilis, a banana leaf, and eventually a fish. One of the kids had an official, MLB-approved SF Giants baseball cap – a gift from a relative in the States. We barbecued the fish wrapped in the banana leaf and surrounded by the lemon grass. We spent seven dollars and gave the kids some chocolate. Everyone seemed satisfied with the extent of the commerce.
At night we found ourselves surrounded by calm waters, the black hills around us backlit by the clear, brightly starry skies. No cruise boats call here. Only three spots of light appear in the 360 degrees around us. The largest landowner here, an older farmer with many missing teeth, has refused to sell any of his land for development. His son explained that it would ruin the bay and leave the locals nothing but low-wage jobs.
Howler monkeys roar occasionally in the trees, parrots, frigate birds and pelicans make appearances from time to time, and mostly, nothing happens here. It is a lovely place, and we will be sorry to leave.